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’.
Faulks, who turned to the Koran while researching his latest novel, said: ‘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.
‘There is also the barrenness of the message,’ he told The Sunday Times. ‘I mean, there are some bits about diet, you know, the equivalent of the Old Testament, which is also crazy.
‘But the great thing about the Old Testament is that it does have these incredible stories. Of the 100 greatest stories ever told, 99 are probably in the Old Testament and the other is in Homer.
‘With the Koran there are no stories. And it has no ethical dimension like the New Testament, no new plan for life. It says ‘the Jews and the Christians were along the right tracks, but actually, they were wrong and I’m right, and if you don’t believe me, tough–you’ll burn for ever’. That’s basically the message of the book.’
Faulks read the Koran to help him write A Week in December, which will be published next month.
The novel, which is set in present-day London, has a cast of characters including the wife of Britain’s youngest MP, a female Tube train driver, a hedge fund manager and a Glasgow-born Islamic terrorist recruit.
Ajmal Masroor, an imam and spokesman for the Islamic Society of Britain said Faulk’s statements ran the risk of stirring religious hatred against Muslims.
‘Attacks on Islam are nothing new, but the danger is this will have a ‘drip, drip’ effect.
‘People don’t seem to understand the consequences of saying things like this could be quite severe. History tells us it can encourage hatred.’
In 1989, a fatwa was issued for the author Salman Rushdie, after the publication of his book The Satanic Verses the previous year. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of Iran at the time, said the book was ‘blasphemous against Islam, and called for Rushdie to be executed.