Controversy Surrounding The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones

Update, September 3rd : A new Publisher has been named.  Click here to read about it

There is a controversy bouncing around the internet about the book deal being cancelled for The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones.  I thought I would provide a link to the first chapter that was published on SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.  There is also a great discussion going on there.  You can click here to read the first chapter and you can click here to read the discussion on the website.  The following was a post from Publishers Lunch today about the controversy.  You can read Sherry Jones responses at her website here. 

 jewel.jpg

The Novel About Muhammed Cancelled by Ballantine
A WSJ opinion column by Asra Nomani recounts the events that produced Ballantine’s cancellation in May of Sherry Jones’s debut novel THE JEWEL OF MEDINA, “a tale of lust, love and intrigue in the prophet Muhammed’s harem.” Nomani  says “the series of events that torpedoed this novel are a window into how quickly fear stunts intelligent discourse about the Muslim world.”

Random House Group deputy publisher Tom Perry says that the company received “from credible and unrelated sources, cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment.” They postponed publication “for the safety of the author, employees of Random House, booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the novel.” Last month a termination agreement was executed so that agent Natasha Kern could shop the book to other publishers.

The column attributes the beginning of the protests to associate professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas in Austin Denise Spellberg, who says “You can’t play with a sacred history and turn it into soft core pornography.” Spellberg, after reviewing a galley sent for review and endorsement, spoke with someone who runs an e-mail list; that alert was expanded upon by a blogger, which led to someone posting as Ali Hemani iterating a seven-point strategy to make sure “the writer withdraws this book from the stores and apologise [sic] all the muslims across the world.”

After the posting, Spellberg (who publishes with Knopf) alerted editor Jane Garrett to what she viewed as potential danger: “Denise says it is ‘a declaration of war . . . explosive stuff . . . a national security issue.’ Thinks it will be far more controversial than the satanic verses and the Danish cartoons.” Three weeks later Libby McGuire informed the author and agent the book was postponed indefinitely for “fear of a possible terrorist threat from extremist Muslims” and concern for “the safety and security of the Random House building and employees.”
WSJ

More From Author of Cancelled Novel
We’ve heard from Sherry Jones, author of THE JEWEL OF MEDINA, the novel cancelled by Ballantine covered in yesterday’s Lunch.

Jones tells us that “because of my termination agreement with Random House, I am prohibited from commenting on the circumstances surrounding that termination.” But from her perspective, “Despite Random House’s statement, I’m not aware of any warnings of possible terrorist attack from any other source than Denise Spellberg. I know that Shahed Amanullah’s email had nothing to do with any of this, because I was the one who discovered it, and the resulting discussion, on the Husaini Youths website.

“Although I’ve been aware from the start that my books might offend some people, I’ve never been afraid of physical harm because of them. I wrote these books because I felt called to write them after researching A’isha for my own purposes. My passion for her story trumps the fear factor. I’ve expected controversy, yes, but never terrorism.”

Separately, Jones writes on her blog that “all I did was try to portray A’isha, Muhammad’s child bride (believed by most historians to have married Muhammad at age nine and consummated the marriage at age 11) in the context of her times.”

As to Spellberg’s charge that the novel is “soft porn,” Jones replies: “There are no sex scenes in this book. The novel, whose bibliography includes 29 scholarly and religious books, is a work of serious historic fiction detailing the origins of Islam through the eyes of the Prophet Muhammad‘s youngest wife. It’s a book about women’s relationships and experiences at a time in history when a religion was being founded in the midst of conflict.”

Separately, agent Natasha Kern says that she will have news of foreign rights sales for the book to announce shortly.

Random House supplied us with their full statement to the Wall Street Journal, and deputy publisher Tom Perry “underscore[s] that our decision was not based solely on the opinions of Ms. Spellberg.”

The publisher says that after distributing galleys of the book, they received “from credible and unrelated sources, cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment.

“We felt an obligation to take these concerns very seriously. We consulted with security experts as well as with scholars of Islam, whom we asked to review the book and offer their assessments of potential reactions.

“We stand firmly by our responsibility to support our authors and the free discussion of ideas, even those that may be construed as offensive by some. However, a publisher must weigh that responsibility against others that it also bears, and in this instance we decided, after much deliberation, to postpone publication for the safety of the author, employees of Random House,
booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the novel.” As reported, both parties subsequently agreed to terminate the publishing agreement.

About Tracy

Tracy is the founder of Bookroom Reviews, a site that assists parents in finding the best family friendly products, websites, and resources for children of all ages.
Tracy is a Des Moines area mom to three boys, an iPad addict, photography nut, avid reader, gadget lover and blogger for over four years. Feel free to contact her anytime.

Comments

  1. I for one am bummed, because I was really looking forward to this book! I enjoy this sort of historical fiction!

  2. All I can say after reading all that is wow~!

  3. I actually had Dr. Spellberg for a class at UT. I thought she was a great professor, and an extremely intelligent woman. We didn’t agree on everything, but she was extremely fair and open to different perspectives. The fact that she trashed this book probably indicates that it was just that – trashy. When you submit your book to someone and ask for criticism, you should expect criticism – especially when you ask a history professor, an expert in the field. I read historical romance ebooks all the time, but I would never, ever ask one of my history professors for a review of them. Random House pulling this book has, I believe, less to do with Professor Spellberg’s critique and more to do with fear of a backlash. As a business, they are well within their rights to do so. And the fact that this book has generated so much buzz before even becoming available is great for Sherry Jones – someone will snap this book up immediately, and everyone will want a copy. It’s a win-win.

  4. Odd,Sara pasted the same comment on my blog post The Jewel of Medina.

  5. I read most of the prologue of the novel, and as a Muslim I found it disgusting and drawing an unacceptable image of Aisha- May Allah be pleased with her- and the Muslim community at that time. My conclusion is that either the writer is ignorant of the Muslim history, especially that related to the Prophet household; or she is intentionally draw a distorted image of the Muslim community at that time.

  6. Sam Brown says:

    Aisha is a very controversial figure in Islam itself. She is hated by some for her intrigues and opposition to the house of Ali, the son in law of the prophet. There are some currents in Islam which deny the prophet’s marriage to Aisha was ever consummated. It was tribal politics and all that. But a book of fiction is all -by definition- fiction. No more, no less.

  7. For Sara,
    Dr. Spellman is clearly NOT an intelligent woman. She is a dreadfully frightened wimp, siezing upon her opportunity for 15 minutes of fame, by demonstrating that she can take full advantage of the onslaught of fear that parades before Islam. Denise is a particular discredit to her gender (which is entirely subjugated under Islam), and deserves to live under the barbarism of Sharia Law.
    Prior constraint, censorship, is banned by the First Ammendment to our constitution, whether the pussies at Random House cower in fear or not. As this death cult continues its march through Europe, the U.S. may or may not remain the last bastion of Freedom of expression on our little planet. This sign of further weakness sends a clear message to both Sunni and Shia alike: we have them (us) right where we want them.
    During the month of Ramadan (September… including the 11th, of course) the ICNA and Imam Siraj Wahhaj are placing large ads on 1000 New York City subway cars promoting Islam in the United States. This, in the very city they sent nineteen of their better educated lunatics (all had college degrees, many advanced degrees) to fly airplanes into the WTC, as well as the Pentagon, and (failingly) the Capitol.
    This barbaric global power needs to be stopped. It is an offshoot of all religious delusion, which must be met head on. Whether Muslims are offended, or you consider it trash, hundreds of thousands of Americans have died to provide Sherry Jones the right to write it, publishers the right to publish it, and readers the right to read it.
    Thomas Jefferson must be spinning in his grave, and any of us who allow this to persist should be ashamed of ourselves (including you Sara, and Denise Spellman). I will fight this midieval, stone age, barbaric religious lunacy tooth and nail. The first step is to educate pandering, cowardly, muticultural apologists like yourself.
    My grandchildren deserve better than to be treated as infidels when this jihad train steamrolls our American freedom.

  8. To Micheal Labbe,
    Rather than rant about religion in general and Islam in particular, you should read those portions of “The Jewel of Medina” that are available on the Internet; You can see for yourself that this work is a piece of trash.
    BTW….I notice you don’t allow comments on your blog.

  9. I agree that the controversy is great publicity. There are now a ton of people who know about this who wouldn’t have sans uproar. It’s genius!

  10. Robert,
    Spell my name right. It’s right there in front of you. I welcome any responses to my website, my email address is there for all to see.
    Trash or not, drivel or genius, popular or disdained, agreement or dissent… I don’t see where any of that has to do with the right to free speech. Do you? Are you willing to hand over to someone else the right to determine what you might hear, what you can read? I should hope not. Where are your priorities?
    Michael Labbe
    malabbe@aol.com

    Have at it, Robret

  11. Oh Robret,
    By the way, choke on your eucharist. Even the elderly virgin of Macedonia, a woman outrageously calling herself “Mother” Theresa, couldn’t find any hint of the divine in your favorite wafer. Perhaps I’ll say a couple of prayers over my cereal this morning and turn it into the body and blood of Elvis. Or, would that be delusional?
    Michael

  12. Hi Michael,
    I am so very sorry that my typo has upset you so much.
    Robret

  13. I think it is disgusting that Sherry is being censored. This is America. Freedom of speech anyone? If anyone has a problem, they need to get over it. As for the muslim community getting upset, they need to get a clue!

  14. Steve (Brussels) says:

    Muslims cannot stand the factual evidence that Mohammed married Aïcha when she was 6 and penetrated her when she was 9. Ayaan Hirsi Ali was the first apostate to comment on this and bluntly call Mohammed a pedophile. For saying so she now has to live surrounded by bodyguards. And all of us are gradually forced to believe that Islam is a religion of peace or suffer the consequences of brutal retaliation.

    To many senior people here in Europe it makes them feel that neonazism or neofascism is reappearing and sneaking in through an authoritarian burka religion called islamofascism. Islam (submission) is the opposite of democracy but the Muslims are using and abusing democracy and democratic institutions to establish their own dictatorship disguised as religion. In order to control the minds of the people every dictatorship starts controlling the media.

  15. Robert,
    It’s hardly your typo.
    Michael

  16. Brendan Doherty says:

    How different levels of civilization view a problem. The Roman Catholic Church may be VERY upset with Charles Webb’s “Sex With the Virgin Mary” sold on Amazon. But their response is one of quiet surpression and prayer. In America terrorism and the threat of terrorism should not be an option

  17. guitarplayer says:

    Why not sell it as a ebook, then no publisher is needed.

  18. I hope she sells millions of copies whenever some courageous publisher prints it. I know how she feels. I’m a painter, and my long time agent has refused to display some of my work because it deals with the same subject. I spell her name differently. http://www.kolbjorn.com

  19. While applauding Ms Jones for attempting to write the novel she has, I have to say that it is always dangerous stepping into unknown territory, and as I imagine Ms Jones is a non-Muslim a brave though perhaps foolhardy thing to do, unless it was a ploy to gain fame and recognition.

    Having read the prologue I am not impressed with the novel, the first few paragraphs give a feel to the book and the feeling is clumsy. Ms Jones demonstrates that she is neither familiar nor comfortable with the society she is writing about, and makes a few glaring errors – such as referring to Allah, or Al Lah simply as al Lah the lower case simply referring to a god any god (“Thank al-Lah you have made it home safely, my A’isha,” he murmured.)whereby in the context the reference should be to The God, the ONLY God Al Lah or Allah.

    I have no problem with the novel apart from its clumsiness – maybe the author needs to spend more time with Muslims.

  20. bari kazee says:

    By the same criteria, “The DaVinci Code” would not have been published for fear of Christian backlash. Would’ve loved to see that upheaval. Why are we so much more lenient with Muslim bigotry?

  21. I am a muslim and would like to offer a perspective. This controversy is not new. One would have thought that after the Danish cartoons people would be sensible enough to let sleeping dogs lie. Evidently not. This controversy invariably is pitched as a right to freedom of speech issue. “As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, ‘The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.’ The muslim nose begins when you insult his prophet, his religion. I thought westerners would be familiar with the concept of respecting someone else’s beliefs even if we don’t agree with them. As muslims, we never disparage anybody’s religion or prophet. Why can’t westerners show the same degree of civilised conduct? Tell me, which muslim is hurling abuse at Christ, Moses or at anybody’s religion and i will condemn that action. I don’t think anybody has a god given right to abuse or insult others.

  22. Dave Myers says:

    Moslems publish hundreds of thousands of anti-semitic books every day in the middle-east and elsewhere. Akbar claims “we never disparage anybody’s religion or prophet.” Liar! What planet are you on with your anti-western hatred? Your so-called religion is in the gutter.

  23. Thank you to the brave writer about the fact of Mohammed’s wives.
    It is true and fact she was 6 years old wrote marrige contract and took her to his bed when she was 9 years old.

    A’ishah reported that the Prophet wrote the marriage contract with her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old. Hisham said: “I have been informed that `A’ishah remained with the Prophet for nine years (i.e., till his death).” (Al-Bukhari 7: 65)

    The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with `A’ishah while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death). (Al-Bukhari 7: 88)

  24. Yes she was 9 when the marriage was consumated. So what? In that time women were old maids if not married at 12 or 13. That’s not what makes this book offensive and if you can see why it would be seen as offensive by muslims then you probably don’t have an understanding bone in your body. Not surprising since its the culture in the west to spit on ur neighbor (or rob them) rather than helping them at all.

  25. Steve (Brussels) says:

    Amazing that muslims always request RESPECT for their Prophet and his ideology. As far as we know from the Quran and the hadiths, the Prophet was a pedophile, a rapist, a mass murderer, a looter and a lecher. The Prophet has also claimed: “I have been made victorious through terror” (Sahi Bukhari).
    Most non-muslims are not brought up to appreciate and respect such type of raunchy individual.

    And second: Muslims teach their children that Christians are pigs and Jews are monkeys. Furthermore there are 10 things in islam that are naji (unclean): 1.urine 2.feces 3.semen 4.dead bodies 5.blood 6.dogs 7.pigs 8.sweat from animal eating naji things 9.alcohol 10.kouffars (non-believers).
    I belong thus to the tenth category or maybe to the seventh?

    Sorry but I do’nt RESPECT all that type of crap.

  26. Uhh yeah.. for u listing the 10 naji things…

    You do realise theirs strong proven scientific evidence for each of them..?
    EVEN the tenth one.

    Gosh, listen to the bunch of you racist westeners that have no cultural patience.

  27. Kat Carres says:

    I Slam the death cult of islam! How dare islamists try to sell the satanic lies of their ‘allah’ that our Creator ALLOWS the evil of Paedophilia ie. the FACT that their “profit” Molested aisha at age 6 and then Raped her at age 9! A child CANNOT consent to sex and anyone who defends these actions is under the spell of satan himself!

    Just read the islamic hadiths, the life of mohamed and the quran to establish that ‘allah’ = satan………….FACT!!!!

  28. Publish and be damned , Someone somewhere would publish this book
    Its time the people in the western world started to stand up to this third world cult called ISLAM ,There is no place for such a violent religion now

  29. lets face facts the so called ‘last prophet of god’ did marry a nine yr old
    whom, according to the haddiths, he had been dreaming of since she was two.

    he did kill and enslave the entire local population and that the message changed
    from one which included a certain amount of tolerance to out and out genocide oh apart from the
    jews and christians who pay the HUMILIATION TAX=jizza.

    look at the last few verses ‘god revealed to mankind’
    ISLAM IS, sadly, GENOCIDE

  30. sorry should have said marry a 6 yr old and consumated, as the haddeths say, when she was 9

    google ‘usc islam’ for the religious texts- quran and hadeeth -which are pretty spot to paper copies on and include child rape, beheading , stoning to death and their are sections where
    muhammed (pbuh) orders the local towns people who havent attended friday prayers to be burnt alive in there houses or where he says any person who gives up islam should be
    murdered by the believers….

    look at the ordcer of revelation of the quran(not order as ordered biggest to smallest) see what god orders in sura 9 etc….

    the nutters doing the violence and oppresion are the true muslims as far as i can see

    why does our media, whixh i was brought up to believe was trrue and just, skip around this and why do muslims crack up when the truth, from their own religious texts, is put before them??

    no prizes for guessing either????????????

  31. Respected Hadhrat Ayesha is completely above what mean people talk or relate to her clean character.But its rather an issue for such ingnorant people what they are carrying to the other world for themselves for which they are solely responsible and certainly not Prophet Jesus (Peace be upon him)will be saving them. And above all the ladies today cannot imagine how Pure,Sincere and Clean the hearts, souls, character, characterisitics were of the wives of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon all of them). You cannot perceive and achieve a 1 percent of that chastity and moral height even.If this lady jones want to create some artisitic piece of literature, there are billions of other ideas and characters to focus on.This is to me just the cheapest source of getting fame in the world,doesn’t matter if that is in a pathetic manner but their names will come on media at least.Woe to such people whether they are salman rushdie or this lady.Only disrespectful people or people (muslims) who donot regard their own mothers,daughters,wives would encourage such third-grade writings.

  32. bensherman says:

    you plan hate but Allah the Most Merceful
    since 9/11 800000 americain convert to Islam, some of them never knew about Islam since Alhamdou Allah they found out what the mossad and sionisme are trying to do to humainkind

  33. bensherman says:

    i dear anyone of you to write a book
    freedom to write
    why hitler killed 6 million jews

  34. Prophet Mohammad’s wife is mother of all Muslim. I think Shery Jones is not aware about it. If she wants to show her innocence she needs to consult with Isamic Scholars. I hope Shery will realise it and she must take initiatives to amend her views after consultation.
    Please don’t create distance amoung religions.

  35. I have read a few of the comments that all u idiots are posting here. I just find it strange that none of u respect each other and each others religion, yet you expect to live in harmony. So from what I see Michael Labbe,Robret and all of u are not even worth the filth under my shoes. Cheers for now.

  36. Upon reading the various comments I can see that Islam has been attacked very hashly by many non-muslims. The responses of the muslims have been measured and polite. Something to think about.

  37. Musalmuna says:

    I am copying and pasting a very educated article by Usama Hassan. My main reason to copy it here (an apology to brother Usama that I am pasting it here but it is much needed) is only to spread the information that some people out of ignorance keep on saying that Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him and his family) married to a child.Its a response to them.Kindly read it fully.Our freedom of speech should be educated and reasonable.It shouldn’t aim at attacking personal/religious aspects of anyone.

    (written by Usama Hasan):
    Sat 11 Oct 2008 “As-salamu ‘alaykum. We know of primary-school girls aged 8 beginning their monthly cycles in our local school and mosque.
    If Ayesha RAA was indeed nine years old when her marriage was consummated, having been brought up in a harsh desert environment, my hunch is that she would have been as mature, physically and emotionally, as any 16- or 18-year old modern city-dweller.
    Similarly, Usama bin Zayd RAA was a military commander over an army of soldiers, many of whom were several times his tender age of 17.
    However, there are many indications that the age of Ayesha RAA at marriage was much higher – see below, discussion welcome. Allah knows best.


    Was Ayesha really 6 years old when she married Muhammad?
    by Abdul H. Fauq
    http://www.quranicteachings.co.uk/ayeshas-age.htm

    A few comments about Muhammad’s marriages are in order. Muhammad married his first wife, Khadijah, several years before his announcement as a prophet of Islam. Khadijah was a reasonably well-to-do woman of Makkah and was 15 years his senior. Muhammad was 25 and Khadijah was 40 at the time of their marriage. This loving and caring monogamous relationship continued for 25 years until her death. Muhammad, now over 50 years of age, married a relatively aged woman by the name of Saudah. It is thus important to note here that Muhammad’s twenty five prime youth years were spent in purely monogamous relationship with a lady 15 years his senior. This speaks volumes about this man’s piety and loyalty in spousal matters as well as about the fact that his later marriages could not have been motivated by any human wild sexual desires. In 620-621 A.D, he and his devout companions migrated from Makkah to Medina. Then a couple of years later, he married Ayesha, a daughter of his closest companion, Abu Bakr, in the 3rd Hijrah (Islamic calendar–623-24 A.D). This information coming from diverse historical and Hadith sources is widely agreed upon and therefore can be, a priori, considered authentic. Based on this information, and a host of other related bits and pieces detailed below, it can be shown that Ayesha could have been at least 16-19 of age at the time of her marriage with Muhammad (pbuh). The following is the detail of the analysis of these historical and Hadith accounts.
    1. Several books of Hadith (Al-Bukhari and Al-Muslim, Abu Dawood, among others) and Islamic history (Tabari, among others) report that Ayesha was married to the Prophet at 6 but her marriage was not consummated until she was 9. Although, this information is widely quoted and found in many Hadith and history books, it must be noted that most of this information has come from a single person, Hisham bin Urwah, who is the last narrator of this Hadith Isnaad (chain of narration) on the authority of his father. Thus, this Hadith is primarily a single Hadith. Some other narratives mention the same Hadith but their narration has been found weak and unacceptable. In general, a Hadith has more credibility if it is narrated by more people independently from diverse chains of narrators. In this case, there is basically only one source.

    2. Despite the abundance of information available during the 71 years that Hisham bin Urwah lived and taught in Medina, it is rather odd that that no one else—not even his famous pupil Malik ibn Anas—reported Ayesha’s age from Hisham in Medina. Furthermore, all the narrators of this Hadith were Iraqis. Hisham is reported to have moved to Iraq in his later years. An extensive list of biographical sketches of all narrators including these Iraqis is available in some books.

    3. Yaqub ibn Shaibah is reported to have said, “narratives reported by Hisham are reliable except those that are reported through the people of Iraq”. Malik ibn Anas (d. 795), a student of Hisham in fact discredited all narratives of Hisham that were reported through people of Iraq.
    (Tehzibu’l-tehzib, by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Arabic, Dar Ihya al-turath al-Islami, one of the most well known books on the life and reliability of the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh), vol 11, pg 48 – 51).

    4. It is reported that Hisham bin Urwah’s memory suffered in his later years to the extent that some of the traditions reported from Hisham bin Urwah could not be trusted for authenticity.
    (Mizanu’l-ai`tidal, by Al-Zahbi , Arabic, a book on the life sketches of the narrators of the Hadith, Al-Maktabatu’l-athriyyah, Sheikhupura, Pakistan, Vol 4, pg 301).

    5. Even though Ayesha is reported to have been born about eight years before Hijrah (around 614 A.D.), one can find another narrative in Bukhari (kitabu’l-tafseer) whereby Ayesha is reported to have said that she was a ‘young girl’ at the time of revelation of the 54th chapter of the Qur’an which came 9 years before Hijrah (around 612 A.D). Thus, according to this tradition, Ayesha was a young girl (Jariyah—as she calls herself and not an infant in which case she would be sibyah). Additionally, this narrative stands in direct contrast to the one reported on Ayesha’s age by Hisham bin Urwah. This puts Ayesha’s age significantly higher than 9 as reported by Hisham bin Urwah—possibly 15 or even higher. Obviously, if this narrative is held to be true, it is in clear
    contradiction with the narratives reported by Hisham ibn Urwah. There is no compelling reason as to why this tradition should be considered less accurate vis-à-vis Hisham’s narrative).
    (Sahih Bukhari, kitabu’l-tafsir, Arabic, Bab Qaulihi Bal al-sa`atu Maw`iduhum wa’l-sa`atu adha’ wa amarr).

    6. According to many narratives, Ayesha participated in the battles of Badr and Uhud. No one younger than 15 was allowed to accompany the Prophet’s army in the battle of Uhud. This applied across the board to all participants, men and women alike. The battle of Uhud took place around the 2nd Hijrah, a time line close to her marriage with the Prophet. Obviously, she was at least older than 15 at that time.

    7. A narrative regarding Ayesha’s participation in the battle of `Uhud is given in Bukhari, (Kitabu’l-jihad wa’l-siyar, Arabic, Bab Ghazwi’l-nisa’ wa qitalihinna ma`a’lrijal; that all boys under 15 were sent back is given in Bukhari, Kitabu’l-maghazi, Bab ghazwati’l-khandaq wa hiya’l-ahza’b, Arabic).

    8. Most historians have consensus on the age of one of the oldest female companions of the Prophet, namely, Asma, the elder sister of Ayesha that was ten years older than Ayesha. It is also reported in Taqri’bu’l-tehzi’b as well as Al-bidayah wa’l-nihayah that Asma died in 73 Hijrah when she was 100 years old. Clearly, if Asma was 27 or 28 years old at the time of Hijrah, Ayesha was 17 at the time of Hijrah and 19 at the time of consummation of her marriage with Muhammad.
    (For Asma being 10 years older than Ayesha, see A`la’ma’l-nubala’, Al-Zahabi, Vol 2, Pg 289, Arabic, Mu’assasatu’l-risalah, Beirut, 1992. Ibn Kathir confirms this fact, [Asma] was elder to her sister [Ayesha] by ten years” (Al-Bidayah wa’l-nihayah, Ibn Kathir, Vol 8, Pg 371, Arabic, Dar al-fikr al-`arabi, Al-jizah, 1933). For Asma being 100 years old, see Al-Bidayah wa’l-nihayah, Ibn Kathir, Vol 8, Pg 372, Arabic, Dar al-fikr al-`arabi, Al-jizah, 1933). Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani also has the same information: “She [Asma (ra)] lived a hundred years and died in 73 or 74 AH.” Taqribu’l-tehzib, Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani, Pg 654, Arabic, Bab fi’l-nisa’, al-harfu’l-alif, Lucknow).

    9. Tabari informs in his treatise on Islamic history that Abu Bakr had four children and all four were born during the pre Islamic period. The pre-Islamic period ended in 610 A.D, a fact that makes Ayesha to be at least 14 years of age at the time of her marriage around 613-624 A.D.
    Tarikhu’l-umam wa’l-mamlu’k, Al-Tabari, Vol 4, Pg 50, Arabic, Dara’l-fikr, Beirut, 1979).

    10. Ibn Hisham, the historian, reports that Ayesha (ra) accepted Islam quite some time before `Umar ibn al-Khattab which only means that Ayesha (ra) accepted Islam close to the time of first revelation (around 610 A.D). This means she must have been at least a young girl at that time. Assuming she was barely 6 or 7 at that time this information puts the age of Ayesha at 20 or more at the time of her marriage with Muhammad (623-624 A.D.), (Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah, Ibn Hisham, vol 1, Pg 227 – 234 and 295, Arabic, Maktabah al-Riyadh al-hadithah, Al-Riyadh).

    11. Tabari reports that before migrating to Habashah, Abu Bakr planned to hand over his daughter, Ayesha to Mut’am’s son to whom she was engaged. But fearing persecution by the Quraish, Mut’am refused and his son divorced Ayesha. The migration to Habashah happened 8 years before Hijra. Obviously, at the time she was ready to take on responsibilities as a wife (possibly 9 or 10 years of age). If she married Muhammad in the 2nd Hijrah (623-624 A.D), she could not be less than 19 years of age (a secondary reference for this argument is: Tehqiq e umar e Siddiqah e Ka’inat, Habib ur Rahman Kandhalwi, Urdu, Pg 38, Anjuman Uswa e hasanah, Karachi, Pakistan).

    12. A famous Sunni imam, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, reports in His Musnad, that after the death of Khadijah, Khaulah came to the Prophet (pbuh) and advised him to marry again. She had two propositions for the Prophet: Either Muhammad could marry a virgin (bikr), or he could go for woman who had already been married (thayyib)”. Khaulah named Ayesha for a virgin (bikr). It is common knowledge that the term bikr in the Arabic language refers to a well formed lady and not to a 9 year old, playful, immature lass. If she were nine, the word used by Khaulah would have been jariyah and not bikr.
    (Musnad, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Vol 6, Pg 210, Arabic, Dar Ihya al-turath al-`arabi, Beirut).

    13. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani has reported that Fatimah, Muhammad’s daughter, was five years older than Ayesha and that Fatimah was born when the Prophet was 35 years old. Thus, Ayesha, according to Ibn Hajar, was born when Muhammad was 40 and consummated her marriage when he was 54 or 55. That makes Aysha at least 15-16 years of age.
    (Al-isabah fi tamyizi’l-sahabah, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Vol 4, Pg 377, Arabic, Maktabatu’l-Riyadh al-haditha, al-Riyadh,1978)

    Finally, it must be pointed out that Ayesha’s age at the time of her marriage has never been an issue. If it were, his enemies must have picked up on this issue as they did to him on some other issues. Also, the reader must note that none of these Hadith reports concerning Ayesha’s controversial age of marriage with the Prophet goes back to the Prophet himself. In other words, it is not the Prophet himself who said Ayesha was 6 or 9. These reports came from a single individual and the Iraqis reported from him when he grew old and his memory started failing.
    In conclusion, this article is an attempt to prove that the books written 200-300 years after the death of Muhammad, while providing a good deal of historical information about him are not free from faulty, less than perfect and self-contradictory materials. These should not be taken as the final word for a Muslim. There is a Final Word for a Muslim and that is the Book of God, the Holy Qur’an—the book that defines the marriageable age for a man or woman when he or she attains soundness of judgment (Al-Qur’an 4:6). If Muhammad is a model for mankind, if he followed the Qur’an all his life, if Allah stands witness to his rock-solid character, there is no way that he could have taken a 6-9 year old, immature young, playful girl as a responsible wife.”

    Answer for another question asked by someone on another website:(Why Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon had many wives?,why can’t women have more husbands?,Mary (Peace be upon her),history vs fiction?

    If I wouldn’t have given the answer for the first question,non-muslims would have been saying that Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) married to a child.Now other points that have been raised, have very clear answers.
    1.Islam is a religion,(even in Christianity and in Moses Laws too),adultery is abslotely forbidden and punishmensts are being ordered for the adulteres.In the times of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) there were certain cases in which men traditionally wouldnot marry women if they were a widow,divorced (either anyway or a woman once married to an adopted son but divorced later).Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) through out his blessed life setup examples for people to follow them.Now we see people marry divorced,widows etc.
    Therefor Islam forbids illegitimate sexual relationships and encourages lawful weddings.In the world we see women in large number.Hence to discourage adultery it is much decent to marry more than one and give them a respectful status.Moreover Allah has set a clear condition in the Quran that if a man can make justice to his more than one wives only then he should marry, otherwise he should stick to one woman hence the self-respect and ego of the other ladiess are not hurt.
    2.Its a very good question. To make it easy one can easily do a scientific research for the results of women with multiple sexual intercourse.A woman who has more than one husband will have several sexual partners at the same time and has a high chance of acquiring venereal or sexually transmitted diseases which can also be transmitted back to her husband even if all of them have no extra-marital sex. This is less likely in a man having more than one sexual partner, and none of them having extra-marital sex. The above reasons are those that one can easily identify. Biologically, it is easier for a man to perform his duties as a husband despite having several wives. A woman, in a similar position, having several husbands, will not find it possible to perform her duties as a wife. Moreover,If a man marries more than one wife, the parents of the children born of such marriages can easily be identified. The father as well as the mother can easily be identified. In case of a woman marrying more than one husband, only the mother of the children born of such marriages will be identified and not the father. Islam gives tremendous importance to the identification of both parents, mother and father. Psychologists tell us that children who do not know their parents, especially their father undergo severe mental trauma and disturbances. Often they have an unhappy childhood. It is for this reason that the children of prostitutes do not have a healthy childhood. If a child born of such wedlock is admitted in school, and when the mother is asked the name of the father, she would have to give two or more names! I am aware that recent advances in science have made it possible for both the mother and father to be identified with the help of genetic testing. Thus this point was applicable for the past, and may not be applicable for the present.You can watch this link too.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y69bL-aPthc
    3.Islam says that virgin and virtuous Mary never married anyone,she was a pious and chaste young girl.In Quran there are several revelations about the miraculous birth of Prophet Jesus (PBUH)and his being risen to the Heavens alive.
    4.Next I would like to state that one can surely write a fictional Novel, but is there any NEED to specifically relate to a religious historical figure in the Novel who is revered by millions of Muslims in the world. Can’t someone respect the dead. Ms.Jones can make her heroin any other name given the fact that its a novel.
    5.I am often surprised when I notice non-muslims saying that Muslims have no religious tolerance because I always look at the comments made by them on different sites so much extreme, intolerant, abusive and ridiculing our religious figures.There are very few people who equally respect Islam as muslims do.
    There is another link which contains answers from an Islamic point of view, that may be asked by the non-muslims.
    http://www.aswatalislam.net/DisplayFilesP.aspx?TitleID=50027&TitleName=Z

  38. Jim Fabris says:

    The Jewel of Medina Farce

    All these people crying, “What about free speech!” and “Censorship!” because Random House belatedly decided that it was not in their best interest to publish a trashy novel that was sure offend a whole lot of people, gave me an excellent idea for a farce. Here is a synopsis:

    A young man named Ali writes an excellent first novel based on his experiences growing up in Muslim the West. Unfortunately, no agent will even read his manuscript. At first he is disgusted over The Jewel of Medina. It, after all, is making Sherry Jones, a second rate hack, rich and famous while he, a true artist, languishes in obscurity.

    He has a change of heart. Using the pen-name Allen, he concocts a western identity and writes a novel that is even trashier than Jones’s, filled with blasphemous depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. His plan succeeds brilliantly: publishers begin a bidding war, scholars of Islam attack the book, naïve westerners defend the author’s freedom of speech, and Muslim fundamentalists hunt down the nonexistent “Allen.”

    Giddy with success, and hungry for credit, Ali decides to play both sides. Using his real identity, he writes a another novel about Mary, who gets pregnant by a rabbi, and tricks Joseph into marrying her with a story about an angel who tells her about her immaculate conception. In a press release Ali says he hopes his book will “humanize” Mary, Joseph and Jesus and “create a platform for discussion” between Christian and Muslims.

    This book also creates a storm of publicity when it is condemned by the Vatican and Christian fundamentalists. An English grad student, however, notices stylistic similarities between the two books and outs Ali/Allen for the fraud he is. Muslim and Christian fundamentalists join forces to hunt him down.

    Meanwhile, an unscrupulous agent realizes that Ali has thoroughly discredited himself, so he steals Ali’s original manuscript, publishes it under his own name and wins Pulitzer Prize for literature.

    That’s my plot synopsis. If any agents or publishers out there are interested, I would be happy to consider writing it.

    Jim Fabris

  39. I just read the novel.

    Frankly, i dont see whats so debatable here. The novel describes a barbaric time when people belived in many gods, and it only took one man (YES, a man) to unite them into believing in ONE GOD through persuasion, or fear, or battle, or a combo of both.

    Secondly, he was prone to earthly things such as, yes LUST, and thus had wives and concubines under the pretence of “this is for the greater good of islam” and my fave “this will help with our alliance with (insert tribes name)” :) And we are yet meant to believe that when he spent each night with each woman, he had no impure thoughts or pleasure, he was only thinking about the good of the people or religion or whatever? PLEASE :)

    And when he shakes and convulses in an apparent “vision” he receives from God himself who allows, no no no, DEMANDS of him to take another woman as his wife (I forgot which one, but one of many that Aisha objects to) ? :) I laughed, how seethrough is that….and i bet thats as closely described as how it happened in actual fact. Muhammed mustve been bored with the 25 yr old monogamous marriage to hatdija…

    We are forgetting that these were primitive times, where people had primitive beliefs and were willing to shed blood over them (and still are apparently)….so hence, there is “nothing wrong” with marrying off a child in order to have an ally.

    And I’m sorry if y view doesnt appease, but thats just my subjective opinion!

  40. its funny how there is probably no historical evidence for half the things written in this book
    but then again it is fictional
    but even though its fictional its a little dangerous to write a “fcitional” story about the main lets say characters of the second largerts religion in the world because its followers obviously beleive its “factual” and therefore its hard to tell just how much fiction is necesery or accpetable
    i understand that she wants to write in a story manner but this isnt about the life of i dont know martin luther king or something
    but about the leaders of the islamic faith
    salaamz
    btw thankyu robert for posting this and allowing me to read the first chapter i found it very intresting

  41. oh and im sorry about the typos :s

  42. battler bill says:

    what a hole lot of balooney, hooha, and waste of time crap…hasn’t anybody on the net got the time to go outside their door once a while to format their hdd between the ears and think positively on the universe…what the lot of you are doing is perpetuating the same old game of killing each other based on idealogy, culture, religion, whatever…give it a rest…get a life

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