The Jewel of Medina is an as yet unpublished book about The Prophet Mohammed and his child bride, Aisha. Several commenters and reviewers have indicated its quality as a novel might not be very good. But Random House paid a $100,000 advance for the book, had arranged for foreign publication, Book of the Month Club selection, and Quality Paperback Book Club selection. It's not like Random House deals exclusively in high fiction; they publish Danielle Steele romance novels, for crying out loud.
Random House pulled out of publishing the book last minute, when they somehow got the idea that bad Islamic terrorists might retaliate against the publisher for the book's content. In the meantime, at least one book prize committee has announced that they will not consider any Random House submissions until this book is published, due to the cowardice exhibited in pulling the title:
...we can not pretend that this type of cowardice will disappear without serious remonstrance. Until The Jewel of Medina is actually published, The Langum Charitable Trust will not consider submissions of any books, for any of our prizes, from Random House or any of its affiliates. We do this reluctantly, since our most recent prize in American historical fiction went to a Random House title.
Salman Rushdie, the most famous author to deal with threats and censorship due to his book's content vis-a-vis Islam, is supporting publication of the book on free-speech, rather than literary, grounds.
The Atlantic says they haven't seen "evidence that he read The Jewel of Medina or liked the excerpts." But Rushdie is currently in the Random House stable of authors (although they didn't publish Satanic Verses):
“I am very disappointed to hear that my publishers, Random House, have cancelled another author's novel, apparently because of their concerns about possible Islamic reprisals,” Rushdie said. “This is censorship by fear and it sets a very bad precedent indeed.”