Islam and the tolerance of art

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.


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2 Responses to “Islam and the tolerance of art”

  1. George Fischell Says:

    In an attempt to justify this despicable lack of courage, Random House has played the left wing justification of not wanting to offend anyone. This is blatant bull since the publisher has never ever considered anyone’s feelings – the ONLY consideration has been the balance sheet.

    When American corporate policies are changed to accommodate the sensitivities of foreign terrorists, they cease being an American company and become an American based mouth piece for every group with a gun. When a few terrorists hiding in a cave are able to dictate the list of approved readings to a large publisher, it is time for that publisher to give up and close their doors – they are no longer a publisher, merely a propaganda copy shop for the terrorists.

  2. assaultofknowledge Says:

    George, I thank you for sharing your thoughts, but your extremely black and white views are party the problem here. Terrorists are not to blame here, several religious spokespersons are. Random House may have pulled this for fear of a violent backlash, they may have not, neither you or I can say for sure.

    We need to have an intelligent discussion about how far people can go with religious criticisms, not hyper-angry splurges of disapproval. From both sides. To dismiss the people who burned embassies and murdered a nun after the Muhammed cartoon as terrorists is to broaden the definition of terrorism so much that it could lose its relevant meaning. What we need to teach here is constructive protesting, and how to rebut. What the opponents of The Jewel of Medina should have done was allowed the book to be published, and if they read it, and have a problem, they can refute, rebut, counterattack with words. Words: What this controversy is all about.

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