Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Romantic Novel on Muhammad's Young Bride Provokes Rage, Blather

By Edward Nawotka

Written by American novelist Sherry Jones, the book imagines Muhammad's young bride as a sword-wielding, sexy zealot. It is unlikely the three Muslim firebombers have read a word of this controversial novel, since it goes on sale today in the U.S. and around the world later this month.

That's not to say the book's content hasn't been widely disseminated, thanks to the hardworking Denise Spellberg, an associate professor of history and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas at Austin. In phone calls to the book's publisher and a Muslim Web site, she said it was offensive and incendiary.

``I sincerely believe that if Professor Spellberg hadn't described my book as pornography we wouldn't have had this problem,'' Jones said when reached by phone, referring to the attack on her publisher's house.

Spellberg, who was happy to discuss her opinion of ``Jewel of Medina'' before the firebombing, did not answer phone calls and e-mails this week.

Her 1994 scholarly work, ``Politics, Gender and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of A'isha bint Abi Bakr,'' was a source for Jones's novel. She got involved in the book's publication when Random House, Jones's original publisher, asked her to write a promotional blurb. What she read struck her as ``turgid,'' Spellberg said in August from her office at the University of Texas.

Virginity Lost

In the book, Aisha bares her breasts to Muhammad and recalls the ``scorpion's sting'' of losing her virginity to him. Later she has a near-adulterous dalliance with another man:

``With our bodies, we brushed each other lightly -- my breasts to his chest, his thigh to my most intimate place, my toes to his shins. An aroma like musk rose from his body. My moan of pleasure surprised me, luxuriant as the purr of a cat stretching in the sunlight.''

``Out of 424 pages there are maybe 12 lines like that,'' Jones said. ``Sure it's steamy, but it's not pornographic.''

Spellberg found the book an ``egregious abuse of Aisha's life,'' citing among other things her use of a sword and call to jihad.

Jones ``distorted, invented, overwrote, and abused the past. As a scholar I see it as problematic,'' Spellberg said. ``At a time when many accept the stereotype that Muslims are violent because of their faith, the image of Aisha wielding a sword she never held in history would seem to promote that.''

Inner Jihad

Jones defended the fictional sword swinging as a ``metaphor for her strength'' and said the meaning of jihad is established in the context of the book as ``an inner struggle'' and not a holy war as it is generally defined today.

Nevertheless, Spellberg decided to sound an alarm, telling Random House that the book could be trouble. The publisher, which had already sent out advance galleys and set up an author tour, canceled the book in May.

A statement from Thomas Perry, deputy publisher at the Random House Publishing Group, cited ``credible and unrelated sources'' who said ``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.''

Spellberg also alerted Shahed Amanullah, the editor of the website altmuslim.com, about ``Jewel of Medina.'' Amunullah thinks Random House, not Spellberg, should bear the responsibility for canceling the book.

Freaking Out

``It was really the publisher who freaked out,'' he said in a telephone interview. ``They should have been able to take legitimate criticism and derision. They should have also taken what she said as a suggestion and not a clarion call.''

``Professor Spellberg may know the historical context, but she is not in a position to know what the Muslim man on the street is thinking or how they will react,'' Amanullah said.

Spellberg's academic colleagues are conflicted by her actions.

``It puts us all in a tough position,'' Peter Awn, a professor of Islamic religion at Columbia University, said when reached by telephone. Awn sat on Spellberg's dissertation review committee when she was awarded her Ph.D. from Columbia in 1989. ``You may say it's a stupid thing to publish this, but I would still defend the right to publish it. When we get to the point that we're threatened by ideas and words, we're in trouble.''

After Random House's cancellation, interest in the book boomed. By September, Jones's agent had sold rights to 10 foreign publishers. Beaufort Books got the U.S. rights for free in exchange for a profit-sharing arrangement with Jones. Gibson Square Books, whose publisher's house was firebombed, bought the British rights.

O.J.'s Publisher

``If it weren't for the controversy, it's not likely I or many others would have even heard of the book,'' Eric Kampmann, president of Beaufort Books, said in an interview.

Kampmann gained a reputation for courting controversy when he published O.J. Simpson's pseudo-confession, ``If I Did It,'' in 2007, following that book's cancellation by HarperCollins. He says his interest in publishing ``The Jewel of Medina'' is strictly business.

``This is not a free-speech issue; it's a free-market issue,'' Kampmann said. ``Most first novels don't sell that many copies. I'm investing real money in the book and I'm expecting a nice level of sales.''

Kampmann isn't worried about publishing ``Jewel.''

``We have received absolutely zero threats,'' he said. ``I don't expect a problem to happen here. There are proportionally far more Muslims in the U.K. than in the U.S. -- and the ones who are here are most likely citizens who respect our laws governing freedom of speech.''

Jones, too, maintains that Muslims won't take offense.

``If they read the novel they will see I am very respectful of Aisha and Islam,'' she said. ``I just think people should read the book before they judge it.''

42 comments:

三合 said...

No pains, no gains..........................

有甚麼新歌 said...

從未遭遇失敗的人,對自己或是別人,都是一知半解的。........................................

無尾熊可愛 said...

thank you for you to make me learn more,thank you∩0∩

明秋 said...

Actions speak louder than words. ........................................

葉雅慧 said...

let us be happey everyday!!........................................

于芷奇名 said...

haha~ funny! thank you for your share~ ........................................

惠IdellA_Fecteau1231蘋 said...

色情網小說色情秀一夜聊天室女同聊天聊天室二免費看日本女優免費看外國片免費看色短片免費看做愛片免費看做愛短片免費看彩虹頻道免費看影片a片免費看線上影片免費限制卡通免費限遊戲免費真人影片免費情色影片線上直播免費男同志片後宮電影院免費成人短片線上看免費成人短片論壇免費成人短片觀看免費成人愛影片免費成人電影線上觀看免費成人圖貼免費成人影片g免費成人影片go2免費成人影片免免費成人影片網站免費成人影?凹凸色色卡通圖片免費即時通視訊情色文學交友覓戀會館

BurtonClary031 said...

I love readding, and thanks for your artical. ........................................

士弘YajairaC_Tai0731 said...

文章很棒~感謝!!..................................................

Glennie9654 said...

thx u very much, i learn a lot

韋于倫成 said...

我們不是因為快樂而歌唱,而是唱歌使我們快樂..................................................

倩亮 said...

沒有友情,人生何樂?........................................

HaroldM22 said...

your son/daughter is so cute............................................................

紫倫妍勳 said...

Well begun is half done. ............................................................

ShilaLong嘉雯 said...

友誼能增進快樂,減少痛苦 ............................................................

huntb said...

Actions speak louder than words. ....................................................

明文吳 said...

我們不是因為快樂而歌唱,而是唱歌使我們快樂......................................................................

林奕廷 said...

路過看到好的blog,不推對不起自己.................................................................

文群文群 said...

Poverty tries friends.....................................................................

韋志韋志 said...

良言一句三冬暖,惡語傷人六月寒。.................................................................

倩亮倩亮 said...

當一個人內心能容納兩樣相互衝突的東西,這個人便開始變得有價值了。............................................................

王名仁 said...

人有兩眼一舌,是為了觀察倍於說話的緣故。............................................................

JasonBirk佳琪 said...

It takes all kinds to make a world.............................................................

吳婷婷 said...

你個blog影d相真係好靚!!! ..................................................................

嘉剛怡元 said...

偶爾上來逛逛,下次不知是否還有緣再進來,先祝您平安順利!!!............................................................

冠宇 said...

一隻穿雲箭 千軍萬馬來相見 這麼棒的文章 幫你頂先!..................................................................

宋瑞正宋瑞正 said...

Pen and ink is wits plough. ............................................................

淑娟淑娟淑娟 said...

用心經營的blog~有一天你會紅!.................................................................

錢靜怡錢靜怡錢靜怡 said...

喘口氣,看個文章,謝謝您的格子囉~~............................................................

DaniloM_W志竹olff0615 said...

人不可以求其備,必捨其所短,取其所長............................................................

惠敏謝 said...

Poverty tries friends.............................................................

家唐銘 said...

缺少智慧,就是缺少一切..................................................

筱朝宜財 said...

絕不要羞於承認自己不知道的事。..................................................

建邱勳 said...

絕不要羞於承認自己不知道的事。..................................................

宜明文潔 said...

男女互悅,未必廝守終生,相愛就是美的。.................................................................

麗王王珠 said...

我對自己的信心已超越別人對我的評價................................................

劉王育正劉王育正 said...

感謝你的分享 要繼續發表好文章喔..................................................

玉韓韓韓婷韓韓韓韓 said...

生存乃是不斷地在內心與靈魂交戰;寫作是坐著審判自己。............................................................

王辛江淑萍康 said...

很棒很期待新的內容............................................................

幸平平平平杰 said...

人生有如洶湧的波濤,如果沒有岩石的阻擋,怎能激起美麗的浪花?.. ... ............................................................

瑰潼 said...

認識自己,是發現妳的真性格、掌握妳的命運、創照你前程的根源。............................. ....................................

黃英吳思潔吳思潔邦 said...

看到好文章心情就很好 ^^............................................................