The Wall Street Journal: You Still Can’t Write About Muhammad

August 23, 2008 at 4:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The Wall Street Journal has an interesting opinion piece on how liberal academia is preventing even somewhat fictitious novels about Islam to be published in the United States: You Still Can’t Write About Muhammad.

 

Starting in 2002, Spokane, Wash., journalist Sherry Jones toiled weekends on a racy historical novel about Aisha, the young wife of the prophet Muhammad. Ms. Jones learned Arabic, studied scholarly works about Aisha’s life, and came to admire her protagonist as a woman of courage. When Random House bought her novel last year in a $100,000, two-book deal, she was ecstatic. This past spring, she began plans for an eight-city book tour after the Aug. 12 publication date of “The Jewel of Medina” — a tale of lust, love and intrigue in the prophet’s harem.

 

It’s not going to happen: In May, Random House abruptly called off publication of the book. The series of events that torpedoed this novel are a window into how quickly fear stunts intelligent discourse about the Muslim world.

 

[…]

 

This time, the instigator of the trouble wasn’t a radical Muslim cleric, but an American academic. In April, looking for endorsements, Random House sent galleys to writers and scholars, including Denise Spellberg, an associate professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas in Austin. Ms. Jones put her on the list because she read Ms. Spellberg’s book, “Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of ‘A’isha Bint Abi Bakr.”

[…]

 

In an interview, Ms. Spellberg told me the novel is a “very ugly, stupid piece of work.” The novel, for example, includes a scene on the night when Muhammad consummated his marriage with Aisha: “the pain of consummation soon melted away. Muhammad was so gentle. I hardly felt the scorpion’s sting. To be in his arms, skin to skin, was the bliss I had longed for all my life.” Says Ms. Spellberg: “I walked through a metal detector to see ‘Last Temptation of Christ,'” the controversial 1980s film adaptation of a novel that depicted a relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. “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.”

 

 

This paragraph begs me to raise a number of remarks:

 

1. Isn’t it hypocritical that Ms. Spellberg doesn’t mind watching films depicting Jesus in a manner offensive to Christians, and yet minds a novel on Islam?

 

2. “I don’t have a problem with historical fiction. I do have a problem with the deliberate misinterpretation of history.”

 

Fiction is a distortion from reality. So her two statements here contradict each other.

 

And to set the record straight, there is nothing fictional about Muhammad raping Aisha when she was nine years old, demonstrated by a large number of Sahih (authentic) hadiths like these:

 

Sahih Muslim: ‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house when I was nine years old.

 

(The novel sets Aisha’s age of consummation to be 14, though.)

 

3. “You can’t play with a sacred history and turn it into soft core pornography.” Muhammad and his companions did not mind talking about his sexual adventures with his harems, so what’s the problem with that?

 

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 6, Number 298:

Narrated ‘Aisha:

The Prophet and I used to take a bath from a single pot while we were Junub. During the menses, he used to order me to put on an Izar (dress worn below the waist) and used to fondle me. While in Itikaf, he used to bring his head near me and I would wash it while I used to be in my periods (menses).

 

 

Bukhari Vol.1 Book.6, Number.299
‘Aisha said: “Whenever Allah’s Apostle wanted to fondle anyone of us during her periods (menses), he used to order her to put on an Izar (dress worn below the waist) and start fondling her.” ‘Aisha added, “None of you could control his sexual desires as the Prophet could.”

 

Bukhari Vol.7 Book.62 Number.6
Narrated Anas: The Prophet used to go round (have sexual relations with) all his wives in one night, and he had nine wives.

 

Bukhari Volume 7, Book 71, Number 660:
Narrated Aisha:
Magic was worked on Allah’s Apostle so that he used to think that he had sexual relations with his wives while he actually had not (Sufyan said: That is the hardest kind of magic as it has such an effect).  

 

 

Sahih Muslim, Book 8, Number 3460:

Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said to me: Jabir, have you married? I said: Yes. He (again) said: A virgin or one previously married? I said: Messenger of Allah, with one who was previously married, whereupon he said: Why didn’t you marry a young girl so that you could sport with her and she could sport with you, or you could amuse with her and she could amuse with you?

 

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 5, Number 268

Narrated Qatada:

Anas bin Malik said, “The Prophet used to visit all his wives in a round, during the day and night and they were eleven in number.” I asked Anas, “Had the Prophet the strength for it?” Anas replied, “We used to say that the Prophet was given the strength of thirty (men).” And Sa’id said on the authority of Qatada that Anas had told him about nine wives only (not eleven).

 

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 5, Number 270:

Narrated Muhammad bin Al-Muntathir:

on the authority of his father that he had asked ‘Aisha about the saying of Ibn ‘Umar(i.e. he did not like to be a Muhrim while the smell of scent was still coming from his body). ‘Aisha said, “I scented Allah’s Apostle and he went round (had sexual intercourse with) all his wives, and in the morning he was Muhrim (after taking a bath).”

 

The opinion pieces continues:

“She thinks there is a very real possibility of major danger for the building and staff and widespread violence,” Ms. Garrett wrote. “Denise says it is ‘a declaration of war . . . explosive stuff . . . a national security issue.’ Thinks it will be far more controversial than the satanic verses and the Danish cartoons. Does not know if the author and Ballantine folks are clueless or calculating, but thinks the book should be withdrawn ASAP.” (“The Jewel of Medina” was to be published by Random House’s Ballantine Books.) That day, the email spread like wildfire through Random House, which also received a letter from Ms. Spellberg and her attorney, saying she would sue the publisher if her name was associated with the novel. On May 2, a Ballantine editor told Ms. Jones’s agent the company decided to possibly postpone publication of the book.

 

On a May 21 conference call, Random House executive Elizabeth McGuire told the author and her agent that the publishing house had decided to indefinitely postpone publication of the novel for “fear of a possible terrorist threat from extremist Muslims” and concern for “the safety and security of the Random House building and employees.”

 

This is not the first time publishers of books on the embarrassing aspects of Islam face pressure against their work. However, this case is unique because the dhimmi publisher had not even faced any public pressure from Muslims to cave into in the first place. To my knowledge, the publisher has not received any

 

This is an indication that Muslim terrorist tactics have worked on some dhimmis. Their violent reaction to any novel on Islam, any criticism of Islam, and any silly cartoon on Muhammad, has successfully made some publishers think twice before allowing anything about Islam to be placed on paper. It’s an extremely unfortunate reality that, even in America, we have dhimmis who are allowing Muslims to censor others.

 

The irony is that, while Ms. Spellberg attempted to stifle Ms Jones’ book through fearmongering, Ms. Jones is getting so much publicity on the matter that she will likely find another publisher easily.

 

Sherry Jones had a blog here this month, but it’s no longer there. Clueless as to why.

 

(By the way, be sure not to do your business with Random House.)

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