Q&A with DEEPAK CHOPRA AUTHOR of MUHAMMAD Why do you think the time is right for a novel about Muhammad?
People realize that being enemies with the Islamic world is not a choice they want to make. Globalism means that the world is getting smaller. It’s time to close the gap that makes Muslims seem far away when the truth is that no one is far away anymore.
What did you learn about Muhammad that surprised you?
Among all the founders of the world’s great religions, Muhammad is the most like us. He never described himself as a saint or as superhuman. He called himself a man among men.
Why isn’t the story of Muhammad’s life better known in the West?
A good question. I have had Muslim friends since childhood and yet never looked into the life of the Prophet. It’s easy to forget to look past your own faith and upbringing.
How do you think Muslims will respond to your portrayal of the Prophet?
Muslims may not see the Prophet they were taught about as children, but I think they will be surprised at how much empathy his life has created in this book.
Are you concerned that some Muslims may be offended by the book?
If I had that in mind, it would have been impossible to begin to write. I walked a path with Muhammad
for a year while telling his story. Fundamentalist Muslims do the same thing every day, but it is vital to recognize that there are other paths besides theirs.
Why did you choose to write a fictionalized account of Muhammad’s life instead of a straight biography?
To tell Muhammad’s story through the reactions of those who knew him. Except for the sketchiest of facts, the people surrounding Muhammad throughout his life have no voice in history. My desire was to give them a voice.
Do you feel that Islam is largely misunderstood in the West?
Sadly, the average person knows Islam only from the very worst side. Looking at the evening news with fear and anger is a challenging way to understand anything, much less something as ancient, diverse, and complex as Islam.
What do you hope readers will take away from the book?
Several things: An enjoyable and compelling story. A better understanding of the origins of Islam and Muhammad. And a cure for us-versus-them thinking.
You’ve written novels about Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. Who’s next? Believe it or not, God Almighty.