[Foundation-l] Wikimania and the Muhammad pix

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Thu Feb 21 20:30:35 UTC 2008

David Gerard wrote:
> On 20/02/2008, teun spaans <teun.spaans at gmail.com> wrote:
>>  "increase its educational value, null."
>> May i disagree on this point? They at least show, i suppose, as some of the
>>  illustrations on the Muhammed articles are some centuries old, that the
>>  opinion on this subject has varied over the centuries.
> Indeed. I was unaware, until the present discussion, just how widely
> this viewpoint - that images of Muhammad are verboten in all
> circumstances - is in fact highly disputed.
While it may not be educationally necessary in a literate society, in a 
pre-literate society representational images can be very powerful.  In 
illustrating some activity of Muhammed some representation of that 
activity can be a powerful educational tool for those who cannot read.  
Unfortunately, the power of abstraction comes from reading.  The Qur'an 
certainly speaks of Muhammed, and thus creates pictures of him in 
words.  Logical consistency would suggest the absurdity that these word 
pictures should also be forbidden.  Abstract reasoning allows readers to 
understand that any representations of Muhammed or Jesus are not based 
on original photographs.

We cannot underestimate the power of images, symbols and myths as 
entities in their own right.  These powers make no scientific sense at 
all, but that does not diminish their influence.  Many Americans can be 
very upset when they see their flag being abused, yet to the strictly 
logical mind it is just a piece of cloth.


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