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Guru of just about everybody including Oprah, Deepak Chopra is known for his many self-help, inspirational bestsellers. But for his latest book project he is trying out fiction–religious fiction I suppose you could say, since Chopra has chosen to fictionalize Muhammad’s life. In this weekend’s New York Times Magazine, Deborah Solomon (who is one of the best interviewers around) talked to him about this novel. Some of the highlights include, Chopra on the possibility of the book becoming controversial:
Solomon:
“The Muhammad who emerges from your book is not completely admirable. He’s a fearful and illiterate orphan who runs from his visions before he finally becomes a warrior. Are you concerned someone will issue a fatwa against you?”
Chopra:
“I wrote the book factually and with respect. Beyond that, I can’t control anyone’s reaction.”
And on the relationship between the writing of the Koran and the Jews:
Solomon:
“You are pretty inventive in a chapter narrated by Eli, a Jewish scribe who is employed by Muhammad to follow him around and write down his every observation.”
Chopra:
“Medina had a Jewish population. The Jews were the ones who knew how to read and write. The Arabs, including the Prophet, were mostly illiterate. A writer of historical fiction has poetic license.”
I’m not the biggest fan of Chopra, but the book sounds interesting, if not a bit of a stretch in the “poetic license” department. The highlight for me in this interview, however, was not so much the parts about Chopra’s new book, but instead his answer to Solomon’s question about whether or not he believed in God–“Yes,” Chopra responded, “but not as a dead white male.”
“Muhammad” releases on September 21.

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