Aug 12, 2008, 09:03AM

Sexing Up Mohammed

A new book has been pulled from publication by Random House because it could be potentially offensive to Muslims. The Jewell of Medina is a fictional account written by journalist Sherry Jones about A'isha bint Abi Bakr, the wife of the prophet Mohammed, and according to one Muslim history professor is equivalent to soft-core pornography. Citing fears of inciting violence, Random House cancelled the scheduled release, as if one book would really affect the underlying fundamentals of terrorism.

Former journalist Sherry Jones wrote "The Jewel of Medina" to try to combat stereotypes about Islam.

"What I really strove to do with this book … is to get women's voices into Islamic history," Jones said.

The novel, a work of historical fiction from the point of view of one of the Prophet Muhammad's wives, would have been published today by Random House. But scholars, including University of Texas history associate professor Denise Spellberg, warned the publisher that the book might be offensive to the Muslim community.

The novel focuses on the early years of A'isha bint Abi Bakr's life and marriage to Muhammad as well as her role in the development of early Islam.

Spellberg, who wrote a scholarly work on A'isha's life, warned Random House that the novel might incite threats of violence. The publishing company decided in July not to publish the book and released its rights.

"The combination of sex and violence sells novels," Spellberg said. "When combined with falsification of the Islamic past, it exploits Americans who know nothing about A'isha or her seventh-century world and counts on stirring up controversy to increase sales."


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