Thursday, 9 October 2008

The New Fire - The Jewel of Medina

It' s those blood thirsty, hot blooded raging Muslims at it again. The jewel of Medina is the latest book by American Sherry Jones who wanted to write a fictional book, based around the Prophet SAW and his youngest wife, revered by Muslims worldwide. Interestingly she has been very outwright wanting to engage with Muslims about the book, assuring all that she doesn't want to paint Islam or Muhammad SAW in a bad light - in fact she views him as a very gentle and loving husband, as well as Aisha being a dazzling character who always interested her. However the problem may not be in the fact that Jones has a calculated plan of spiteful vengeance which she wants to unleash on Muslims and the beloved revered people of their faith; but rather the paint which she brushes her story with. Aisha, she claims is a woman subjugated and controlled by men and contemplates the freedom that other women observe. The Prophet SAW is depicted as having some sort of lustful fixation with women through his repeated marriages. More than anything, the book distorts the context of the time these people lived in -Women, wealth, fixation on the lures of life actually came to mean very little, in fact they became a drop of water compared to the ocean which then occupied them - Allah and the Hereafter he promised.
Jones' discussion about women's place in the book is pinged around the scales of value perceived for women in the West and the lenses of Western values are what Jones sees through. Women's happiness is deemed by how much equality and freedom they are granted with in life. But Islam and the Muslim women of the early days around the blessed Prophet SAW were more than intellectually aware of what value meant for women; what real liberation meant and that the entire emphasis in life for Muslims transcended beyond petty concerns that seem to flood the minds of people in the society we live in. Muhammad SAW and Aisha, in Joneses book, are not the Muhammad SAW and Aisha which we know through undisputed historical documentation, rather they could be a Tom Dick or Harry from Western society, with all their longings about satisfying oneself and asserting one's freedom.
Lastly, the freedom of speech lark all over again. And frankly I'm a bit tired of it. Cuz let's call it how it is. It's not really 'freedom of speech' is it, more like 'the let's see how far we can push the Muslims game'. No one contests the ability to have honest sincere and productive dialogue. But why would a society want to encourage us to act on the freedom to insult and offend? None of us would knock on our neighbours door and start rudely insulting every member of their family and the way they live their life - We'll see them on the way to work the next mrning, and will need them to kindly keep an eye on the house when we go on holiday. Living with people, requires the need to hold respect for one another - actively.
And it would be near impossible for Jones to have ignored the high esteem with which Muslims hold these people in their history. To the extent that they will not stand images of them being created, send blessings after their names everytime they are mentioned and would never dream of misquoting them. Therefore to walk the rope of deciding to get into the minds of the Prophet of the Muslims and his revered wife and make-up their thoughts, can't have been an innocent, naive choice of action. As one reviewer said, if Aisha was alive, she could have sued for libel.

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