'Controversial' biography of Muhammad

Bangla Academy shuts down Rodela stall
Nure Alam Durjoy

The translated book of the publication house allegedly hurts religious sentiments

Bangla Academy has shut down the Rodela Prokashani stall on the allegation of publishing and selling a translated book on Prophet Muhammad's biography, which “hurts religious sentiment of people.”

Dr Jalal Ahmed, member secretary of the Amar Ekushey Book Fair, said: “The stall of Rodela Prokashani was shut down on Monday for publishing and selling a book [translated], Twenty Three Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad, which allegedly hurts people's religious sentiments.”

“According to article 13.13 of Fair Regulations 2015, none is allowed to sell books at the fair that can hurt religious sentiments. The publication house breached the guidelines of the fair and it was banned accordingly.”

The book, penned by the well-known Iranian writer Ali Dashti, hit the world market in 1985.

In the book, Dashti chooses reason over blind faith. He strongly denied the miracles ascribed to Muhammad by the Islamic tradition and rejected the Muslim view that the Quran is the word of God himself.

Instead, he favours thorough of all orthodox belief systems and argues that the Quran contains “nothing new in the sense of ideas not already expressed by others.”

“The stories in it are taken in identical or slightly modified forms from the lore of the Jews and the Christians, whose rabbis and monks Muhammad had met and consulted on his journeys to Syria, and from memories conserved by the descendants of the peoples of Ad and Thamud.”

The book has been translated by Abul Kashem and Saikat Chowdhury in Bangla, and Rodela Prokashani published it afterwards.

The official website of the publication house has also been found hacked by the hacker group Cyber 71.

The group hacked the site on Sunday, and left warnings about publishing the translation of the controversial book.

The Dhaka Tribune has tried several times to contact the publisher for his comment over the issues, but he could not be reached over the phone.

Later, while talking to the Dhaka Tribune, Rodela Prokashani staff said that “Rodela is a progressive, free thought, and creative publication.”

“Rodela invites those writers who basically search for progressive, thoughtful, and research-based knowledge for its readers.”

Islamist political group Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh also protested against the publication and further demanded confiscation and banning of the book in the country.

“This book contains false, fabricated and misleading information about Islam, its prophet Hazrat Muhammad, and the Quran,” they said in a statement made by secretary general Junaid Babunagari of Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh.

Bangla Academy officials said two other publication houses, Shishighor and Shishu Prokash, also were warned by the authorities concerned over a copyright issue.

And a publication house, Boipoka, was shut down for a similar reason.

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