“It is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn’t. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read.” — Oscar Wilde
The latest controversy in the Muslim world appears to be furore over Sherry Jones’ latest work of fiction, “The Jewel of Medina.” However, like everything else reported in the mainstream media about Islam, things are not always what they seem.
“The Jewel of Medina” is our version of that truly horrific work of fiction, “The Da Vinci Code.” I should clarify my position here, as I’m offended by both books, but not because of their religious themes, but rather they are offensive from a literary and grammatical perspective. 😉 Having had the misfortune to read the truly appalling trashy novel that was Da Vinci, I am simply staggered that the book has received the publicity, and widespread sales that it has, not to mention the kind of fame achieved by the bland and mediocre author, Dan Brown.
Both books have a number of commonalities:
- They both take religious themes, adapt them and fabricate some pseudo-history in order to achieve some controversy and subsequently generate sales.
- Both are extremely badly written. “The Da Vinci Code” mainly consists of chapters that are approximately five pages each, in order to retain the attention of its core audience, most of whom are probably finding reading books a new experience. Does that sound arrogant and patronising? It was supposed to. 😉 Likewise, the excerpt of “The Jewel…” speaks for itself.
- Both claim to be “extensively researched.” However, anyone who has read an iota of Islamic history will know that “The Jewel…” contains no historical facts whatsoever. According to the BBC website (emphasis added by myself):
“Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet, as well as one of the great leaders of early Islam, is portrayed as conniving, hot-tempered and lascivious. The Islamic texts document him as a consistently staunch defender of truth and justice, an upstanding character.”
Given the fact that the book contains numerous factual errors, this should help to reinforce the fact that it is merely a work of fiction, not a historical account by any means. I don’t believe that any book should be banned, as censorship merely adds to the notoriety of the novel and simply generates more sales for a mediocre author, who otherwise would have slipped by under the radar, relatively unnoticed inthe literary world .
What is particularly interesting in this case is that Random House (the publishers) “banned” the book, over “fears it could incite violence” i.e. before there were any signs onf any reaction at all. It’s clear that a “ban” adds a layer of credibility to an unknown author. Having read the first chapter of the book, it’s apparent that the book is a trashy novel, an “Islamic Mills and Boon” if you will, that will only appeal to people who don’t read books, much like Da Vinci.
So, for the record, Muslims don’t care. The Satanic Verses, this is not. It’s true that perhaps a small minority of people may be offended by this book, but the majority of Muslims don’t care about yet another bland author’s attempt to implement some savvy marketing and sell some fictional soap opera story masquerading as a historical and factual account.
Despite the claims by the media that Muslims want to ban this book, rather it’s the publishers who want people to think that Muslims want to censor it, in some desperate and rather tragic attempt by the author to achieve some credibility for what is none other than a poorly-written novel in the vein of a“Muslim Bridget Jones.”
I would highly recommend reading a review on the BBC’s website by blogger, Shelina Zahra Janmohammed.
The bottom line is that Muslims must realise that they are being played, like puppets on a string.
The accusation that Muslims constantly want to ban “everything” is not only fallacious but also deeply divisive, creating an “Us Versus Them” mentality. However, rather than adopting a “victim” mindset, Muslims need to speak out, in order to put an end to the idea constantly perpetuated in the media, that they are in favour of censorship.
For more information, please read Shelina Zahra Janmohammed’s review of The Jewel of Medina, published by the BBC News Magazine, available here.