Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fire's burning, fire's burning...

And so, with depressing predictability, some nutjobs, egged on by a few radical/cynical clerics, have firebombed the home office of the U.K. publisher who plans to put out The Jewel of Medina. This is the novel that was dropped by its U.S. publisher for fear that some nutjobs might do something crazy – like firebomb their offices.

Just as depressing is the thought that, yet again, a book that is, in all likelihood, a middlebrow snorer, has become a symbol of free expression.

To be glibly philosophical about it, it's some small consolation to know there are people out there who think books are still important enough and dangerous enough to be worth throwing Molotov cocktails at.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The novel The Jewel of Medina, written by Sherry Jones, violates several principles of honesty, factual representation, and respect that is due not only to the unaware reader but most importantly to the historical and religiously revered person of Hazrat Aisha, wife of the Holy Prophet Muhammed (pbuh). The Jewel of Medina is categorized as a historical fiction novel, this label in itself is contradictory, because fiction is defined as an “invented story” and history is an event with a factual and recorded base. It is unfair and dishonest to “invent” a story about a factual or real person. On the official website of The Jewel of Medina, the novels is said to be “extensively researched and elegantly crafted,” so the author has basically taken bits and pieces of Hazrat Aisha’s life and person and crafted a tale. What Jones has done is added the necessary “drama” to a historical life which was based upon virtue and piety, all in order to promote her novel. It seems that as of late, all a writer has to do is pick some aspect of Islam, write something controversial enough to ignite the ire of Muslims, and the result; supporters from all walks of life supporting the author’s right to freedom of speech, not to document the truth, but to create an obvious distortion of the facts. Does freedom of speech mean that we can take an aspect of history and tweak it here and there to suite our fancy, surely our predecessors had more in mind when they fought so hard for this right. Hazrat Aisha is referred to as mother of the faithful amongst Muslims. It is her virtue, piety and religious knowledge that gave her the honour of being viewed as a scholar, an advisor and a woman with grace and strength. Jones’s depiction of the event of the lost necklace is full of historical errors and so sensationalized that it gives no justice to the actual event and the innocence of the character of Hazrat Aisha. The accusations made in the case of the lost necklace against Hazrat Aisha were falsified 1500 years ago, and it was the piety of Hazrat Aisha and divine revelation that absolved her, just like in the case of Mary and the virgin birth. In an interview Jones stated she added to the story and character of Hazrat Aisha to make her a role model for Muslim women, what Jones does not understand is that Muslim women do not need a sexualized version of Hazrat Aisha, they were quite proud and content with the factual pious Hazrat Aisha. The addition of culturally and historically foreign concepts and presentation of Hazrat Aisha’s character as a 21st century teenager is so distant from the reality of old Arabia during the dawn islam. Additions such as “flowing colorful robes and kohl-darkened eyes and perfumed arms filigreed with henna,” are very unlike from the simple and frugal life lived by Hazrat Aisha. Or the presentation of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) having a harem full of beautiful women, which is quite different from the marriages he had to widowed or divorced women of middle age. If an attempt is being made to discuss any historical person, the truth and the facts must always be the first priority of the writer, for otherwise it is a great injustice to the person being discussed, for all there struggles to be so easily changed by the stroke of a pen, all in the name of freedom of speech. What of our right to know the truth, why does which so easily get trampled upon?
By H. Malik