Recently Random House axed the publication of The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones, a historical fiction novel about A’isha, Muhammad’s youngest wife.
As expected, the backlash from the Muslim communities that claim to represent the Muslim community, as well with other self-censoring non-Muslims, pressured Random House in their decision. They believed that a book, which none of whom had read, that characterizes Muhammad and the umma (Muslims) of yesterday would be insensitive, disrespectful and dangerous.
Judge for yourself. Although the book may never see the light of day, Sherry Jones published the prologue on the blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.
From what I read, The Jewel of Medina, is just the opposite: It is sensitive; it is respectful. However, it is definitely dangerous, as any art about Islam that isn’t a simple praising of all things Islamic will be. But the more we are reluctant to tread that ground, the more dangerous any Muslim stories that are not cherry picked right from the Qu’ran will be. Whether or not you are offended by this book, the Muhammad cartoon or any other fictional medium depicting Islam past or present, artistic interpretation of Islam is necessary to inspire discourse — debates and rebuttals and talking points and essays and interest.
Islam is now the biggest religion in the world. It cannot be protected like a baby in the front yard anymore. It has to be treated the way every other religions and philosophies are treated. It has to be treated fairly. And in art, everything is fair, so long as it comes from the heart of the artist.