Mr Faulks? Could we have a word?

The Telegraph, with slightly cruel mockery, has poor Sebastian Faulkes saying in the headline that he really can’t put down the Koran – giving us the irresistible impression that he can’t put it down because he has been wired to explode if he does.

While we Judaeo-Christians can take a lot of verbal rough-and-tumble about our human-written scriptures, I know that to Muslims the Koran is different; it is by definition beyond criticism. And if anything I said or was quoted as saying (not always the same thing) offended any Muslim sensibility, I do apologise – and without reservation.

Well there you go. Some people (though not all ‘Judaeo-Christians,’ whatever the hell they are) can put up with criticism and joking about their ‘scriptures’ but Muslims have defined the Koran as beyond criticism and so everyone else has to defer to the way Muslims have defined the Koran, or else. Or else what? Faulks of course is careful not to say, but we know he has it in mind, poor bastard. Anyway – however obvious it is, it’s still worth pointing out that the fact that People X have defined something as beyond criticism does not impose an obligation on all people in the world to agree with People X and not ever criticize the thing that has been defined as beyond criticism. It’s also worth pointing out that the whole idea is pathetically childishly stupid and a hindrance to reasonable thinking.

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…

Yeah, that’s very moving – but can we move on now? Fourteen centuries later? We have other forms of entertainment now – we can even hear voices! Arabs in the peninsula have other things to do, we have other things to do, everyone has other things to do – so can we get over it already?

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