In an article published in the Sunday Times 23rd August, the author Sebastian Faulks made certain comments about Mohammed and the Koran (The online version of the Daily Mail is rather more explicit about what he said):
*Author Sebastian Faulks risks Muslim fury by describing the Koran as the 'depressing rantings of a schizophrenic’
Best-selling novelist Sebastian Faulks has risked incurring the wrath of Muslims by dismissing the Koran as just ‘the depressive rantings of a schizophrenic’ with ‘no ethical dimension’.
The author of Birdsong and Engleby also claimed that, compared to the Bible, the Islamic holy scripture is ‘barren’.
Today 24th August he seems to have a different view:
The best-selling author apologises if his comments about the Koran have offended Muslims.
One of the books I read as background to my novel was Islam: A Short History, by Karen Armstrong. She writes movingly of how Arabs in the Peninsula longed for a voice-hearing prophet of their own to match the many Jewish prophets, famed for hearing the voice of God over many generations, and the twin voice-hearers of Christianity, Jesus Christ and John the Baptist.
Of course, the Prophet Mohammed was the most prodigious of all voice-hearers, and as Inayat Bunglawala, of the Muslim Council of Britain, noted yesterday, he has often been accused of being “possessed”. Sometimes the words of the Koran do have a slightly ranting rhythm to them – though this may be due to the translation, and Arabic has a different natural intonation from English.
But to me the idea that anyone could have achieved what the Prophet achieved in military and political – let alone religious – terms while suffering from an acute illness of any kind seems completely absurd. I believe that only a healthy and lucid person could have achieved what he did – and I am very happy to make that belief clear.
Are there any lessons to be drawn from this?*