Sherry Jones is no Salman Rushdie, said Shahed Amanullah in Rushdie’s name was often invoked in the press this summer when the 46-year-old Jones had her first novel pulled by its U.S. publisher because of fears that the book would incite radical Muslims to violence. But where Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses prompted Iran’s religious leader to issue a 1989 fatwa calling for the author’s execution, neither Jones nor the offices of Random House have received any actual threats. And where Rushdie’s controversial book sharply challenged Muslim teachings, Jones’ The Jewel of Medina is intended as a celebration of the relationship between Mohammed and Aisha, the onetime child bride known as the Prophet’s favorite wife. “They’re a great epic couple, really,” says Jones. “The love story just drew me in.”

The firestorm hasn’t killed Jones’ dream, said Nicholas K. Geronias in the Associated Press. The Jewel of Medina has been picked up by publishers throughout Europe, and last week it was announced that the novel would soon be released in the U.S. by the same small house, Beaufort Books, that last year published O.J. Simpson’s hypothetical murder confession. Jones, a Montana journalist who began studying Islam after 9/11, says she hopes that the conversation about the book can now move on to the themes she intended it to raise. Early Islam, she says, championed “women’s empowerment” and valued forgiveness and peace. “What I see as the Islam Mohammed envisioned has, in crucial ways, been changed."