Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Storm in a teacup?

Just read an article about a new book by a Muslim woman that has generated a lot of anger, excitement and discussion. The reason that I am reproducing this article is that it fascinated me that a woman published a book like this. It made me wonder whether the reaction was so because it was written by a woman and would it have been less vitriolic if the author had been a man?

Article Reproduced

Book on Prophet’s sex life draws anger, threats
DUBAI (Farrag Ismail,

Muslim leaders have issued fatwas calling for the death of the female author of a controversial new book, Love and Sex in the Prophet’s Life, which was circulated at the Cairo International Book Fair last month.

In a statement to, Egyptian writer Passant Rashad said the book tackles sex as a branch of science, deemed as important in Islam for its role in preserving the human race.

“I wanted to explain sex from the real Islamic perspective and to make it the reference for having a healthy sexual life,” Rashad said.

“When I mentioned the prophet I meant to demonstrate how his relationship with his wives was the perfect example of a healthy sexual life that is devoid of the complications Arabs try to impose on it these days.”

But the book has drawn sharp criticism.

Independent Egyptian MP Mustafa al-Gindi complained to the Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosny, earlier this month saying the book insults the Prophet and his wives, especially his third wife Ayesha.

“The book contains parts about positions and orgasms, which is totally inappropriate for a book that had the prophet’s name in its title,” said Gindi.

A religious TV channel in Egypt denounced the publication and hosted a series of sheikhs – Islamic leaders – who accused her of apostasy and called for her killing, even if she were to repent.

“I kept silent, hoping this campaign will end or those sheiks will contact me to discuss the book, but none of that happened. Now I fear for my life,” Rashad told, saying she is not an apostate and would never insult the prophet.

On the contrary, Rashad said she aimed to refute the myths propagated by the enemies of Islam, who portray the prophet as obsessed with women.

In the aftermath of the fatwa, Rashad said that a bearded man came to her house on Thursday and threatened her.

“He banged on the door at two in the morning and asked my husband if I was the author whose bloodshed is sanctioned. He told him that many problems are coming my way, then left.”
At the same time, Islamic thinker Gamal al-Banna called for an end to the fatwas on writers.

“This is a backward way of understanding Islam. We have to eliminate this torrent of fatwas through reasoning and refutation of these lies. It is only then that those bloodshed Sheiks will find no audience.”

He called upon Arab information ministers to ban televised fatwas that wreak havoc in society and make intellectuals live in constant fear.

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