The Jewel of Medina- Sherry Jones
“a tale of lust, love and intrigue in the prophet Muhammed’s harem.”
Three months ago U.S Publisher Random house, one of the biggest book publishers in the world decided to abandon publication of the book “The Jewel of Medina”. The reason, fearing the book might incite the same violent reaction as the Danish Cartoons.
The author Sherry Jones claims the book to be a work of fiction, saying: I had all the elements I needed for a terrific work of historical fiction: a remarkable heroine, little known in the west, a famous hero, a setting unfamiliar yet exotic and an exciting tale of love, war, spiritual awakening and redemption.
So how have those who have read it find it, “soft core pornography” says Denise Spellberg, Assoc. Professor of History and Middle Eastern Studies (University of Texas at Austin).
Possibly the most offensive scene to Muslims maybe a scene in which the Prophet Muhammed consummates his relationship with Aisha (R.A) who the book refers to as his child bride.
Disregarding and seemingly oblivious to the controversy surrounding the book, Beaufort Books in the United States and Gibson Square in the United Kingdom will publish it in October.
The question arises what should we as Muslims do.
Well for starters, object; object to history being distorted and twisted to suit the tastes of the 21 century. Remember people do not differentiate between fact and fiction; people do not make an attempt to establish facts, to see if they are portrayed correctly.
Secondly, thank random house for their decision (for whatever reason) not to publish the book.
And thirdly endeavour to get the book banned and censored in South Africa at least.
Hazrat Ayesha (R.A)
“I have come to defend the two oppressed people , women and orphans”(Hadith)
The impeccable character of Nabi (S.A.W) can never be questioned, nor is it possible for anyone in the world in any given time or era to be able to find fault in the flawless character of Nabi (S.A.W) which was in accordance with divine order .
How is it ever possible when Allah T’aala mentions in the Quraan
وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلى خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ
“And verily you are of sublime character”
However, like is the norm in western society, when something cannot be understood or when it is not in conformity to their lopsided understanding or their fallible criterion for right and wrong , then one will find from them acute and excessive opposition, even though unwittingly they are being paradoxical in their statements.
“Ignorance is the most ferocious enemy justice can have”
One wonders how is it possible for a world that condones and sanctions intimate relations at the age of 12 to have the audacity to accuse the most beloved of Allah (S.A.W) of inappropriate behaviour, when in countries like Spain, the minimum age of consent for all sexual acts (including homosexuality ) till 1995 was 12 . This was raised to 13 in 1999. In Mexico some states currently put the age of consent as low as “puberty “ while other states have set it as low as 12. In Japan the national age of consent is 13 regardless of sexual orientation or gender.
This is the 21st century where cohabitation with a girl or woman outside of marriage is accepted as normal in society, but the same in marriage is frowned upon.
Even during biblical times the marriageable age was puberty, which for a girl depending on region and climate was between 9 and 12. This was the accepted norm. Non biblical sources tell us that Mary (Mariam) the mother of Jesus (Isa) gave birth to Jesus between the ages of 12 to 14, by this time she had already been betrothed to Joseph for marriage, Although no verses in the bible allude to his age, scholars believe he was much older, some put his age at about 43. In the Talmud (Sanhedrin 76b) reference is made to the fact that it is preferred that women are married when they have their first menses.
Remember, Hazrat Aisha (R.A) was the third wife of Nabi (S.A.W). Nabi (S.A.W) first married Hazrat Khadija (R.A) at the age of 25, and she remained his only wife for 25 years, which we can safely say were his prime physical years. After Hazrat Khadija’s (R.A) demise our Nabi (S.A.W) married Hazrat Saudah bint Zamah. He then became betrothed to Hazrat Aisha (R.A.). In fact Nabi (S.A.W) was about 50 years of age when he married Hazrat Aisha (R.A).
Looking at the chronological sequence of the marriages of The Prophet (S.A.W) it is apparent that excepting Hazrat Khadija( R.A), ALL of the marriages of The Prophet (S.A.W) were after he reached the age of 50.This is the age of sexual decline. If one studies the circumstances leading up to the marriages, one would find that they were either for social reform, political or educational reasons.
What is puberty? Webster’s (1913) tells us: “The earliest age at which persons are capable of begetting or bearing children, usually considered in temperate climates to be about 14 years in males and 12 in females”
Maybe the best argument against those who propose any sinister motive for the Prophet’s (S.A.W) marriage to Hazrat Aisha (R.A) is that, nowhere has it been documented that in her old age long after the demise of the Prophet (S.A.W), has she lamented her close association and bond with the Prophet (S.A.W). In fact, contrary to that she always used to speak fondly of her time with him. Whenever she used to refer to him she would add the words “may Allah bless him and grant him peace”. This can only be words used by a wife who definitely loved and missed her husband.
In Africa and in Asia the social norm was for a girl to marry at a young age. Taarikh Tabri tells us that before being betrothed to Nabi (S.A.W), Hazrat Aisha(R.A) was engaged to a person by the name of Jubayr ibn Mut’im, son of Mut’im ibn ’Adi. Nowhere is there documented any objection to her first or second engagement, definitely this was a social norm of the time like it was in other contemporary societies.
So, in summary, what has to be understood is that marrying at a young age had been the norm of that time. It may not be norm of our time, but social norms which define our sense of morality tend to evolve through time, what may have been moral 1400 hundred years ago may not be considered moral today. Which begs the question: is it right or wrong? Can something be moral and wrong or be immoral but still right? Fundamentally, what is right and wrong depends on what criteria is used to differentiate between the two. Our antagonists may use their intellect, which in itself is defective, but we, on the other hand, depend on Divine Order which is faultless.
What society may have considered to be wrong a hundred years ago, today society considers it to be right and even condemns those who find fault with it. Take homosexuality for example. A hundred years ago, to be homosexual was to be condemned and would result in severe punishment. Today, even some churches condone it, to the extent that they have even ordained homosexual ministers. The same can be said regarding pre-marital sexual relations; today it is accepted and almost a norm of Western society, while a hundred years ago it was not! Does this make it right?
Now, given that any injunction or situation can be abused, jurists will have to exercise extreme caution when advising such an action; however, this would not disregard the fact that it is fundamentally permissible.