"Jesus, unlike Muhammad, had interesting things to say. Muhammad had nothing to say to the world other than, ‘If you don’t believe in God you will burn for ever’. ... It’s a depressing book. It really is. It’s just the rantings of a schizophrenic. It’s very one-dimensional, and people talk about the beauty of the Arabic and so on, but the English translation I read was, from a literary point of view, very disappointing."Faulks' words were picked up by various other papers (such as the Mail, which suggested he was "risking Muslim fury") and now he has issued an unreserved apology for any offence he may have caused in a piece for the Daily Telegraph:
"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."He also carlified his suggestion that the Prophet Muhammad might have been schizophrenic, telling the Guardian:
"While I believe the voice-hearing of many Old Testament prophets and of John the Baptist in the New might well raise psychiatric eyebrows today, it is absurd to suggest that the Prophet, who achieved so much in military and political – quite apart from religious – terms, can have suffered from any acute illness. Only a fully cogent and healthy person could have done what he did."Of course, Faulks' efforts to apologise and clarify his words will lead to suggestions that he is self-censoring, mindful of the Muslim reactions to Rushdie's Satanic Verses and, more recently, Sherry Jones' The Jewel of Medina. However, he has told the Guardian that he had "overstated" during the Sunday Times interview:
"If such an overstatement is taken out of its heavily nuanced context, then pulled out of the printed article and highlighted, it can have a badly distorting effect. I blame myself more than the reporter – or whichever subeditor thought it was good idea to pull out the more undigested bits and try to make a silly season scandal ... I unreservedly apologise to anyone who does feel offended by comments offered in another context."If this is the case, is Faulks not right to set the record straight? Or is he merely playing into the hands of those who would like to suppress any criticism of Islam? Let us know what you think.