Faith And Fiction

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It is tricky business to write about religious figures, particularly in fiction — witness Salman Rushdie's Satantic Verses or Nikos Kazanzakis' Last Temptation of Christ. The Jewel of Medina, an as yet unpublished novel about the youngest wife of the prophet Muhammad, has put its author, Sherry Jones, in the midst of a whirlwind of debate about religion, fiction, fear, and history. Meant to publish on August twelfth, the book was pulled in May by the publisher, Random House, and Jones is now seeking a new publisher. The bare bones of the story are explained in this statement from the Ballantine division of Random House:

After sending out advance editions of the novel The Jewel of Medina, we received in response, from credible and unrelated sources, unsolicited cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment.
We felt an obligation to take these concerns very seriously. We consulted with security experts as well as with scholars of Islam, whom we asked to review the book and offer their assessments of potential reactions.
We stand firmly by our responsibility to support our authors and the free discussion of ideas, even those that may be construed as offensive by some. However, a publisher must weigh that responsibility against others that it also bears, and in this instance we decided, after much deliberation, to postpone publication for the safety of the author, employees of Random House, Inc., booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the book. The author and Ballantine subsequently agreed to terminate the agreement, with the understanding that the author would be free to publish elsewhere, if she so chose.

The Jewel of Medina author Sherry Jones, sent us this statement:

I'm distressed to see The Jewel Of Medina and its termination used as a tool to promote divisiveness and hatred. There's an "I-told-you-so-those-Muslims-are-evil attitude" that makes me cringe. I started writing Jewel for the pleasure of presenting A'isha to the western world; I finished it, and its sequel, with the hope that these books would become bridge-builders to another culture and increase understanding of Islam as it was originally intended. I know I can't control the discourse, but I still harbor the highest, most idealistic hopes for these books. Let's keep it civil. And let's remember: There have been no terrorist threats over The Jewel of Medina. Only warnings of possible threats.

Asra Nomani, a journalist and writer who has read the book, wrote this op-ed in response. An historian asked to comment on the book, responded in kind. Today, we'll talk to her about it, and hope that you'll weigh in. You can read excerpts from the book on the Talk of the Nation webpage. Do you think Random House did the right thing?

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I find it ironic that there is a hesitation to publish this book given the willingness of Random House and other major publishing hosues to issue books that are critical in whole or in part of the Catholic faith. I fully recognize the fallicies of the Church both historically and in modern times, but I believe that it is hypocritical to "protect" one religion, while conceivably providing ammunition to people that are disposed to criticize the Catholic church and faith. I just finished reading Ken Follett's book Worth Without End, which portrayed The Catholic Church in both positive and negative lights. This novel is an example of a work that demonstrates history with all of its warts. It is not clear why one group's faith would be immune from such examination.

Sent by Hallie | 2:50 PM | 8-11-2008

Christians have suffered The Last Temptation of Christ, The Da Vinci Code, and many other books that paint our founders' lives in less-than-flattering colors, with only a few protests. It is sad that so many others respond differently when their religions are treated as Christianity has been.

Sent by John Rasmussen | 2:53 PM | 8-11-2008

How far will we take this awkward response to Islam? There are books, which are purportedly non-fiction, critical of various aspects of Christianity and Judaism. There are factions of both religions deemed to be potentially volatile. The existence of those groups did not halt the publication of those books.

Consider the movie "Borat" for heaven's sake! Does anyone really think that wasn't going to be massively offensive to even secular Jews? Not really sure, but I doubt anyone considered not making the movie based on that issue.

Beyond that, consider the wonderful literary works of David Mahmet or Tony Kushner. Both have written significant works critical of Judaism and the tenets of a faith from which both spring. Both widely printed.

This tip-toeing around the issue does nothing. It's FICTION. Random House should be ashamed.

Sent by Pam Faulkner | 2:54 PM | 8-11-2008

How sad it is that we can safely show a movie such as "The Last Temptation of Jesus Christ" and not fear for bombings and murders, yet any slight on Islamic egos illicit murderous rampages. Please get out of the Middle Ages.

Sent by Chris | 2:56 PM | 8-11-2008

I read a advance copy of the book and was captivated. The author did a facinating job of opening this world that westerners do not understand in a beautifully and emotionally inspiring way.

Sent by Theresa | 2:57 PM | 8-11-2008

I am disturbed that Random House would choose to make such a political statement by not publishing this novel. This is a novel correct? Political motivations have no place in fictional publications. Were there concerns or postponements about "The Red Tent" or publications about Mary Magdelene? How a certain group may react to a novel should be of no concern to a publishing company.

Sent by Liz Soskin | 3:04 PM | 8-11-2008

I'm surprised that Random House allowed this particular manuscript as far down the publishing road as it did. Maybe the intent was to allow the Muslim community a chance to get upset yet again, about the west deigning to have a thought regarding their prophet.

Maybe by creating this little controversy, Random House is only allowing the public to get a glimpse of what the Muslim community is really made of, warts and all.

Maybe the Muslim community around the world, needs to take a hard, serious look at themselves from someone else's point of view and decide just how they would like to be viewed by the world.

Maybe the West should do the same. I am certain there is plenty of BLAME, for our present state of affairs, to go around.

Sent by Steve Monteleone | 3:07 PM | 8-11-2008

Random House says this:"...the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment."

Hmmmm...isn't this exactly what the objectors to the publication and issuance of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America said about what the British Monarchy might say?

Sent by Amable | 3:08 PM | 8-11-2008

Random House did what it felt was best for itself as a company. However, this book should be published, regardless of Random House's participation or not. Asra made excellent points on the radio, the publishing of this book should not be determined by fear based on negative and false views of Islam. By choosing not to publish this book based on fear of violence is letting the wrong, closed minded people choose what information free people should be able to view and interpret for themselves. I will be looking out for this book and will read it as soon as I can find it.

Sent by Yasmin | 3:14 PM | 8-11-2008

As secular muslim, a logical free thinker and living with a strong house of women with heavy feminist backgrounds while myself am son of the matriarch of my family, I can see why randon house would be afraid of extremist elements in the Islamic world. But in truth, it does not matter, whether it be fiction or fact, we need dialogue to control the politics of power and abhorrant fear in the muslim world. This book, is nothing compared to salmon rushdie, or even as insulting as Dantes' Divine comedy and his travels through hell only to find Mohammed (pbuh) raosting in the levels of hell for false prophets. If it did bring about war, so be it, logical moderates would actually be moved to stop this extreme form of fundamentalistism that have eroded our relgion as tolerant or even open. If Mohammed saw his people today I doubt Islam would have lived another decade or so after seeing what ravenous animals they became in the pursuit for power and control. But conflict does have one positive, it brings awareness unlike any other form of diplomatic foreign policy. It causes people to learn, understand, debate, discuss, and even assimilate those that are interested into this Islamic realm. Eight years I doubt people would have cared what a muslim was, what Islam is, now even this discussion can be an effect of this decade long conflict.

Sent by "Adam" | 3:14 PM | 8-11-2008

No good can ever come from the publication of these books. The author may have noble intentions of "presenting Aisha to the Western world", however to do it by marring her character is unacceptable. I, as a muslim, am disappointed by this representation of one of the Prophet's wives. For all muslims, Prohpet Muhammad was the best of humanity. He had no faults and his wives' status was raised simply because they were married to him. They too are most revered and to think or even suggest that Aisha had or tried to have an affair with another man is deplorable not to mention offensive. This is not how muslims want the West or anyone else to know one of the post pious and revered women in Islam.

Sent by Burki | 3:20 PM | 8-11-2008

The irony is that by fearing to publish, Random House has gotten more publicity -- and probably attracted far wider interest -- than it would have if it had not stopped publication.

Sent by Kathy McAuley | 3:23 PM | 8-11-2008

who cares about the fate of Random House. the book will be published by someone who is not afraid to bring a story to the world. a story that should be told dispite the implications it might bring. fear is what we should fear. Ignorance and intolerance is what we all really should be afraid of.

Sent by "Pat" | 4:03 PM | 8-11-2008

If one notes that 'Aisha was only NINE YEARS OLD at the time of the marriage consummation (reference Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 64 & 65), this dreadful romanticization becomes child pornography.

Decency, rather than fear of reprisal, should have been the basis for killing this book.

Sent by Rik Moreno | 4:29 PM | 8-11-2008

Not all scholars agree on A'isha's age. Even the hadith and sira disagree. And then there is the very meaning of the word "consummation," with some arguing that the hadith cited above, attributed to A'isha, meant merely that the marriage contract was completed at that age. Nothing is clear-cut when you're talking about events that occurred 14 centuries ago. In my book, A'isha is 14 when she and Muhammad become intimate. Contrary to what's been suggested, I don't offer details, by the way.

Sent by Sherry Jones | 5:17 PM | 8-11-2008

Commercially this seems like a shrewd move on the part of Random House. They create this controversy to get free air time on NPR and I can assume the likes of Hanity, Beck, Savage, et al, then publish the book using one of their subsidiaries to cash in. When "The Life of Brian" was released the greatest advertisement was the Church of England protesting it.

Sent by Will | 8:29 PM | 8-11-2008

It never fails to amaze me how companies have no problem publishing fiction that slanders Christianity (Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code') as well as nonfiction that slanders Christianity (Richard Dawkins' 'The God Delusion'). But when it comes to Islam, suddenly it becomes "a tricky business" where they don't want to "offend" anyone.

What hypocrisy.

Sent by Maureen Cruz | 8:39 PM | 8-11-2008

alah noes what they will want to squash next. print it and let the devil take the hind post, if you don't it will give them more power the next time. they are bullies. this is america!

Sent by sonia | 9:13 PM | 8-11-2008

While it is unfortunate that Random House has not decided to publish the novel, "Jewel of Medina," it is their decision to make. Clearly there are obvious reasons as to why this decision was made for this book, even though it has never been stated what might be found objectionable.

While other books have been published that have been received by some of the religious public as heresy, I don't know of any other religious sects that go to such extremes as those found in the Islamic faith. I sadly suspect that Random House does not want to be sued in the event of a reaction to the book that results in injury or death, to someone or something. The fear of a lawsuit does not just reflect on the cowardice of Random House, but also on our litigious society in general.

As with Salman Rushdie, the largest danger of publishing this book, if there is one, is not to the public, but to Sherry Jones. Clearly a risk she has assumed to take.

When a publisher is convinced the profits of the book will out weigh any potential court actions, the book will be published. With all this publicity, another publisher will soon step forward. Then we can read the book, avail ourselves to the criticism, in whatever form it takes, and decide whether Random House was in fact over reacting, and learn something about Islam in the process.

Sent by Lynn King | 2:36 AM | 8-12-2008

Commentators need to give appropriate weight to the fact as to who was approached to vet the book and what their credentials are in the field. It was on Sherry Jones request that Random House sent the book to Denise Spellberg, an associate professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas in Austin. Jones knew of Dr. Spellberg's book, "Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of 'A'isha Bint Abi Bakr."

Spellberg, asserts that the main problem with the book is a lack of historical credibility: " My concern as a professional historian was that this did not meet the claims of being extensively researched." "I don't have a problem with historical fiction. I do have a problem with the deliberate misinterpretation of history. You can't play with a sacred history and turn it into soft core pornography."

Sent by Jeff | 12:20 PM | 8-12-2008

The Muslim can even learn from the Roman Catholic Church. When the recent novel "Sex with the Virgin Mary" by Charles Webb was published the Church was very upset but they did not threaten to bomb Amazon.com but were responsible in their unhappiness. We cannot lose our freedom of speech because some extremist are upset. We must draw a line in the sand against all forms of terrorism

Sent by brendan doherty | 3:10 PM | 8-12-2008

The novel under discussion should surely be published,and Random HOuse by its caving in to an imagined Muslim extremism has really set a poor example of political/literary courage. If we do not speak and stand up for our beliefs, such as freedom of speech, then we become Muslims ourselves.

Sent by James Dalglish | 9:36 PM | 8-12-2008

In an ideal world, they should have published this book. I would never have read it anyway, because I find romance books centered around "Arabia" dull and uninspired. In MY opinion. But...yeah, a book is a book. If we believe the freedom of the press is limitless, and if National Enquirer can run, then so can this book, technically.

However, I feel like I still have no clue what this book is about. Is it a historical romance fiction novel, or is it a historical fiction novel that contains romance? Maybe it's best not to put all your eggs in the basket, not for your first novel in a post-9/11 world. It may not be as scandalous as the Satanic Verses were, but I feel like the author is being a bit naive with her own novel.

Also, when we talk about the Da Vinci Code, we forget the author who wrote it. Dan Brown considers himself Christian. He is a Christian man who wrote a novel about Christianity. It was a also labeled a thriller with some minor romance in it. It referred to history but was set in the present. You cannot compare it to the Jewel of Medina without mentioning those things.

Lastly, I do not know what to say when Ms. Jones has apparently given her novel's bibliography on her blog. Eh, she should have just posted excerpts from the book!

Sent by Taibah | 5:14 AM | 8-13-2008

One more case of literary censorship makes me wonder, after all these Islamic threats and murders all over the world, to what extent Islam itself is a kind of terrorist organization. The Koran explicitly sanctions the killing of "polytheists" for example, and as is well-known apostates from the religion are punishable by death (recall the Afghan case last year when such an apostate was given sanctuary by Italy). So perhaps what we need is books which examine Islam itself to determine to what extent this impression is true or not.

Sent by James D | 11:53 AM | 8-13-2008

I think when the people who are saddened that this book is not published even though books repulsive to Christianity and Judaism were published, do not understand why it is important for that for accurate history, facts are separated from fictions. "Jewels of Medina", based on the excerpt I read, does not represent fact. I don't think Muslims around the world would have any problem if anyone published a book that's solely facts regarding this topic. Rather, the author Sherry Jones, who has not seen Aisha with her own eyes, or talked to her or heard her first hand, takes on the task of explaining Aisha through Jones' eyes. That's not accurate history, and the reason we have such accurate history of the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions are because facts about their lives, not personal opinions about what others thought of them are passed down.
The fact that fact-based fictitious movies and books like "Passion of the Christ", "Da Vinci Code", "Borat", "10 Commandments" are created is because the followers of those religions are obviously ok with their history being recreated. It is one thing to criticize facts, another thing to reinvent it, or put in your personal opinion into it.
If Sherry Jones truly wants to introduce Aisha to the Western world for what she was, and if Sherry Jones truly wants to tell the Western world about the love story between Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Aisha (peace be upon her), she doesn't need to reinvent the wheel. The facts are there. And they are beautiful and romantic as is. When we read accounts narrated by Aisha about her interaction with her husband, passed down to us by meticulous effort to keep the history pure, our hearts are still warmed.
It is respect that we try to emulate the true characters of these great people from the past instead of reinventing or marring them- this way the future generation will still have the accurate information.
It is saddening what happened to the other religions with fictitious books, but it's the responsibility of the followers to ensure their history in untempered with. It is important for us that our history is not fictitious because it's integral for our living as Muslims around the world, over time has turned to these characters as role models. When the true character of these historical figures are marred, that gives radicals the power to confuse and mislead people- much of which is the cause of the violence and problems in today's world.
So request to Sherry Jones to reconsider her approach because she has a noble intention, just not the right approach.

Thank you.

Sent by Sarah N | 5:31 PM | 8-13-2008

Well, here's an example of prior restraint - a practice that is at odds with everything the United States is supposed to stand for. More and more, though, I'm wondering what we do stand for. The same publishers who harp on freedom of speech now turn around and ignore it.

I read the editorial in the Wall Street Journal. If the writer is correct, Sherry Jones was never consulted before the decision was made to kill the book.
I would have hoped that she would have at least gotten that much respect.

As for Sarah N's complaint that the book is not factual -- it's fiction. Sherry Jones is a novelist, not an evangelist.

Sent by Afi Scruggs | 12:23 AM | 8-16-2008

First and foremost, this is a work of fiction. While it is based on historical figures, the fact it is fiction should be a code word to everyone in the world that liberties have been taken with historical accuracy.

But we also have to remember that as a culture the west has been expanding the concepts of fiction since the days of the Greeks and it is such a part of our psyche that we can observe and make decisions on a work's viability based on our personal belief systems. Unfortunately, some of the Muslim world cannot.

It remains quite disturbing to me that over 50 percent of Muslims in the middle east are illiterate, and cannot read at a level, or critique a movie, where the differences between fiction, non-fiction, satire, farce and irony are understood for what they are.

I could delve into various aspects of theology, but then I would be writing all day and I would miss seeing "Tropic Thunder" this afternoon ... a great farce if there ever was one!

Sent by Mark Kelly | 12:26 PM | 8-16-2008

publishing companies did not have any problem when it came to publishing a lop-sided look at the love life of Jesus, even though that was offensive to Christians and strictly fictional.

Sent by Gary Morehouse | 2:20 PM | 8-18-2008

I think they are afraid of violent retaliation from the Muslum community abroad. Where as most Christian communities are peacable and just sit back and take it. Freedom of speech in this contry has been regulated by a growing minority of people.

Sent by chris | 4:15 PM | 8-18-2008

The greatest hypocrisy of all this is that, in the Arab world, many books, articles, cartoons, etc. say the most bigoted and outrageous things about Jews and Christians (just go to MEMRI.org to read examples). So I don't really care if some power-hungry imam half a world away incites a bunch of illiterate fools to riot, especially over a book none of them has read. We live here in a free society, and if we intend to keep it free, we have no choice but to gird our loins and publish.

Sent by Susan | 7:17 PM | 8-18-2008

In regard to Sherry Jones' book "The Jewel of Medina," Islam Online--not exactly a bastion of extremism, although it suggests Barack Obama is more Semitic than Muslim--posted a review of the book by writer and poet Marwa Elnaggar. She admits to being "fully prepared to enjoy" herself; but having read the book, she could only "marvel" at the failure to understand Islamic or even Arabic customs, and the ignorance and mistranslations of basic facts (such as they can be described) of the life of A'ishah that are well-known to Muslims, and her relationship with the prophet Muhammad.

But this is to be expected from a non-Muslim author writing from a western and vaguely feminist vantage point. However, I'm not sure this kind of "humanizing" of the prophet and his wife is radical enough to cause much more than casual disdain from believers. After all, Da Vinci Code "secrets" like Mary Magdalene being married to Jesus and having a child are for most Christians pure fantasy unsupported by even one scrap of ancient literature, and nothing to give a second thought to (or waste money on the movie sequel).

Sent by Mark | 11:12 PM | 8-21-2008

As regards the decision to pull Sherry Jones's "The Jewel of Medina:" Has Random House considered that the de-jure right of free speech only exists for us if it also exists de-facto? As a corporation whose reason for being is the preservation and proliferation of the written word, they need to understand that if we have the legal write of free speech, and it is not exercised out of fear, then that right is lost to us. This is a battle that will continue to be fought one word, one book at a time--and by failing Ms. Jones, Random House has failed us all.

Sent by Michael D. Mullins | 4:49 AM | 8-23-2008

Random House must publish this book, If for no other reason than to show that the bombings on 9-11 will not frighten America forever. We must toughen our resolve and declare that we, The United States, will not be bullied by a bunch of homicidal maniacs half way around the world. Muslim extremist must not be allowed to run rampant.

Sent by Jim Norris | 11:01 PM | 8-24-2008

Strictly from the standpoint of a non-Muslim (Christian)woman, I cannot see the problem with the book. If the Muslims fear ridicule of their culture so much, let them know how much ridicule they suffer from prohibiting this novel and its sequel to be published. Had this been about Jesus Christ and his so-called mistress/wife, the publishers would never have thought twice about publishing it.

Sent by Clyta | 2:35 AM | 8-25-2008

This will be sorted out, and the book WILL be published -- eventually and somewhere if not by Random House. The controversey now will only increase interest and book sales later. I'd be willing to read it in chapters, online!
Based on the excerpt, it's a good read. Give us more!

Sent by M. Korshak | 5:35 PM | 8-25-2008

i believe that this book should be allowed to be published as long as the writer is willing to deal with the consequences. This is like another Satanic Verses episode as in a person writes about Islam, gets persecuted and their life is endangered. as long as this lady is willing to get the harassment and can handle the death threats as salman rushdie did then i think it is okay.

Sent by aman | 3:55 PM | 9-20-2008

Asri Nomani has read The Jewel of Medina and tells us her opinion on the book. She feels the book should have been published because as she summarizes it is critical to understand a culture through historical fiction. There may be moments that will be offensive to Muslims but like any good story it's a tale of redemption and reconciliation. We should be allowing literature that would move the Muslim world forward in good and in bad.
From my perspective as a student learning about the Muslim culture, I can learn everything I need to, to understand the Muslim world completely through facts but to live the Muslim world is another thing. Sherry Jones did both of these and wrote a fictional book on the life of Muhammad's wife, Aisha. Even if she got some facts wrong, this was only her understanding of the Muslim culture.
My perspective on the controversy over The Jewel of Medina can only be from what I know about Muslims and the way of life they live. I am very saddened if people find the way to share their opinion through violence and hurting others who might not share the same opinion as themselves. I believe this book should have been published so that we can be enlightened by everyone's different perspectives on the life of Muhammad and his wives so that we can then make our own judgments about the book, The Jewel of Medina.

Sent by Vasiliki | 5:10 PM | 9-20-2008

Asra Nomani's finds that the book the Jewel of Medina really talks about lesser known facts about Islam but there are situations in the book that can be very offensive to Muslims. Nomani thinks that there can be ways to build a stronger bond between the Muslim world and the Western world. She also thinks that the Muslim world can take on situations and figure it out.

From my perspective as a 15 year old Caucasian Christian, I feel that Random house made the right decision by not publishing the book because there is no point in offending the huge population of Muslims which is not worth the risk of the author and the Random house employees. Salman Rushdie already had a very similar situation with his book The Satanic Verses and his life was threatened and other were killed over the book. Random house would be putting their reputation and many of their employees lives at risk if this book was to be published. Conflict and violence is not good which is why avoiding it should always be at the top of people's lists.

Sent by Chance | 6:33 PM | 9-20-2008

As a Christian, American teenager, I find it easy to agree with Asra Nomani. She praised The Jewel of Medina and did not support Random House's decision to cancel the publication. I believe that The Jewel of Medina could bring Islam to life in the United States and give greater understanding of this religion to Americans. I believe that this book could build a bridge between our two religions rather than destroy our fragile relationship. The reason Americans are so prejudice against Muslims relates to our ignorance. Not all Muslims are Middle Eastern, and only a small group of radical Muslims resort to violence. Then, why do Muslims struggle to get through airport security? Why do some Americans think that Obama is a Muslim? Ignorance. The novel is, of course, fiction. However, I believe that The Jewel of Medina will encourage Americans to learn more about Islam and maybe even try to set things right.

Sent by Hannah | 2:33 PM | 9-21-2008

What a range of opinions! This certainly is an interesting debate... from my perspective as a non-Muslim girl, exactly the same age as A'isha in the first chapter and prologue, I agree with Asra Nomani; the book should not cause this much worry. Writers have been stirring up controversy for years, and normally it's not to offend anyone, just to express an idea or opinion. The ironic part is that the author did not realize that she was stirring the water just as much as Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses did... indeed, she thought her novel would unite people by sharing perspectives.
I believe that Random House was somewhat right in not publishing "The Jewel of Medina," if only so that no one gets hurt. However, it's very sad that that has to be the case; historical fiction is not something that anyone should feel the need to fight over. The Da Vinchi Code did not cause a holy war with Christians; neither should the Jewel of Medina with Muslims.

Sent by Brennan | 3:25 PM | 9-21-2008

From my perspective as a 14-year old white, christian male, I believe that this book should not be published, but should be able to be published. It should definitely be able to be published because of the freedom of speech law in America, but I highly advise against it. It should not be published because look at the past books/cartoons that have been interpreted as offending Muslims. In the instances of The Satanic Verses and the Danish cartoons of Muhammad, people were killed. Murdered. We already know that this book has offended at least some of the Muslims that have read this book already, and only a few have even gotten the chance. By this, we know that once this book is released into the worldwide Muslim community, death threats and murders are almost for sure to ensue. Even though this book will not offend all Muslims, we know for a fact that it is an offensive book to most devout believers of the Muslim faith by depicting one of Muhammad's wives, Ai'sha, as an adulteress and other scandalous things that have not been researched thoroughly and are probably made up. I think that Random House made the right decision not to publish this book, and that all other publishers should refuse to publish it also for fear of their business and lives.

Sent by Lars | 4:27 PM | 9-21-2008

Asra Nomani, who has read the book feels that it should be published. She feels the book helps acknowledge Aisha and show what an amazing life she had. Asra feels the book has some parts that muslims might be offended by, but its a tale of redemption and reconciliation and it helps people see historical figures they wouldn't normally know about.
From my prespective as an American, i feel that the book should be published because its a violation of free speech. I feel that if the author aknowledges that its historical fiction, she should be able to publish the book. I also think that since the book was written with the intention of bringing light to the life of Aisha and to show the amazing life she lived; most muslims would feel that it will help others understand them better. They would feel that instead of the book adding tension between western and muslim worlds, it will help westerners understand muslims.

Sent by stephanie | 5:09 PM | 9-21-2008

As A fifteen year old christian american i think that the the Jewel of Medina should be published. Although it may offend some people, it will also help to build a better understanding of islamic culture for many who would otherwise be clueless. The books intention was never to offend, and if some people don't like it they don't have to read it. It is my opinion that The Jewel of Medina if published would broaden cultural knowledge and increase acceptance of islam.

Sent by Juliet | 5:13 PM | 9-21-2008

It's very interesting when two Muslim scholars (Spellberg and Nomani) have such different opinions on the effects of The Jewel of Medina. Nomani sees the book as very valid and as a work of historical fiction. Spellberg named it as completly inaccurate and extremely offensive. I think that "inaccurate" remark is unbased seeing as Sherry Jones spent years reseaching (and how can the book be "accurate" when only a few Hadith refer to the wives of Muhammad). As a white, non-Muslim, Western high school student, I cannot say that the book would personally offend me or any of my family, but for a Muslim conterpart of mine the book could be sacrilage. I believe that if a book can incite opinions of such extreme difference, the issue should be brought up front. When Spellberg warned Random House, other Muslim scholars held no such extreme opinion. I agree with Nohami when she states that we shouldn't only take the opinions of the lowest common demoninator as the only stopper.

Sent by Matthew | 5:15 PM | 9-21-2008

In my opinion books with literary merit should not be censored or not published for any reason. After reading the excerpt I think that this would be a very good book and it deserves to be published. I also think that the fact that everyone is scared of there being a militant uprising against this book is foolish, because not once did the author say that this was exactly what happened. In fact she said the complete opposite by calling her work fiction. If the people of Islam cannot handle a work of fiction, then they themselves need a dose of reality. Because not only are they stopping themselves from what looks to be good reading,they are stopping everyone else worldwide and that is unfair to the people of world and the people of Islam.

Sent by Andre | 7:07 PM | 9-21-2008