Oppression of women: Blame cultures, not Islam

Dear Reader,

In researching “The Jewel of Medina,” I was surprised to find that the Prophet Muhammad was quite progressive when it came to women’s rights.

During Muhammad’s time as leader of the new Islamic community in Medina, women fought alongside men in wars, prayed alongside men in the mosque, and served among the Prophet’s inner circle of Companions. Muhammad listened to his wives and encouraged them to speak their minds, despite the criticism of his male followers. And he gave women rights they had never possessed before, including the right to inherit property. That’s something women didn’t have in the United States until the turn of the 20th century!

In spite of my findings, however, many persist in believing what they want to believe about Islam, including its inherent oppression of women. Today’s story on Women’s eNews, however, supports my claim. Titled “Muslim Feminists Confront a World of Obstacles,” the story covers the International Congress on Islamic Feminism in Barcelona, Spain, and quotes Muslim women from all over the world about the important issue of women’s rights within Islam. Here’s the link:

http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/3848

Keep reading,

Sherry

“Jewel of Medina” coming to Sweden

Dear Reader,

I am pleased to announce that I have recently accepted an offer from Stockholm publisher Earbooks for Swedish rights to “The Jewel of Medina.” This is the newest deal cut by our Scandinavian agent Phillip Sane of the Lennart Sane Agency, who promises more publishing opportunities in the near future. “Jewel’s” German publisher, Pendo Verlag, already holds German distribution rights in Sweden.

The contract, on which the ink is barely dry, adds Sweden to a list of 20 publishers, including Beaufort Books of New York, the book’s U.S. publisher, which launched the book Oct. 6. The book is also available in Germany, where it was published Nov. 2; Italy, where Newton Compton published it Oct. 16, Serbia, where Beobook published it in mid-August, withdrew it, then re-published it Sept. 14 (and where it was the number-one best seller for two months); and Denmark, where Pressto Kommunikation published it Nov. 27. In Spain, Ediciones B plans to debut the novel Feb. 4, 2009.

Publication is pending in Hungary, Russia, Greece, Macedonia, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Romania, Albania, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Poland, and Bulgaria.

Keep reading!

Sherry

A Helena Good Time

Dear Readers,

Hundreds of hardy Montana souls braved the bitter cold and ice to hear me deliver my speech as part of the Carroll College President’s Lecture Series on Thursday, Dec. 4. Everyone kept asking if I wasn’t cold in that little ol’ cocktail dress, but I told them I’m still a Montana gal!

Besides, who could be cold with a title like this: “Too Hot for Random House: ‘The Jewel of Medina’ and Self-Censorship?” (I still want to sell “Too Hot for Random House” coffee mugs! Talk about making lemonade out of lemons…) In it, I talked about everything from the controversy around my book to my research, to the plot and characters of my book, to my hopes that both “The Jewel of Medina” and its sequel will inspire bridge-building, empathy, and, ultimately, peace.

In my speech, I spoke against the culture of fear in which we’ve been living, not only in the U.S. but across the world, but I also exhorted my audience not to blame all Muslims for the heinous acts of a criminal few. I spoke about living life courageously and with love, as A’isha did. My message must have reached hearts as well as minds, for at the end Professor Barry Ferst invited me to come back next year for the college’s interfaith conference, and the crowd honored me with a standing ovation. Afterwards, I signed books until they ran out, and took orders for a few more. This, folks, is why I keep reminding people that I am a Montana gal…

Keep reading,

Sherry

Why I love Montanans: Some 300 of them turned out for my Dec. 4 lecture in Helena, and bought all the books for sale there. Photo by Michael Smith.
Why I love Montanans: Some 300 of them turned out for my Dec. 4 lecture in Helena, and bought all the books for sale there. Photo by Michael Smith.