[WikiEN-l] Muhammad images Part I

daniwo59 at aol.com daniwo59 at aol.com
Tue Feb 19 00:09:41 UTC 2008

This message consists of two parts: Please read both before  commenting. 
I've been following the discussion about images of Muhammad with some  
interest, and with your permission, I'd like to make a few comments on it. It is  
not an attempt to resolve the problem—and I believe that there is a problem—but 
 rather to offer some thoughts as to how the problem is currently being  
To begin with, there seems to be some misunderstanding about the history  of 
the ban on images of Muhammad. To clarify this, there seem to be several  
schools of thought here. Note that much of what I am writing summarizes Wijdan  
Ali's "From the Literal to the Spiritual: The Development of the Prophet  
Muhammad's Portrayal from 13th Century Ilkhanid Miniatures to  17th Century Ottoman 
Art  (http://www2.let.uu.nl/Solis/anpt/ejos/pdf4/07Ali.pdf) 
    1.  Pictures are permitted: This seems to have been  the case in the 
thirteenth century, and the images may have even served a  pedagogical purpose. It 
seems to me that this position is closest to the one  Wikipedia is now 
    2.  No pictures of Muhammad are permitted: This  seems to be a later 
interdiction, and is not universally accepted. According  to my source above, some 
Shi'i artists continue to portray Muhammad even  today. Nevertheless, it has 
become accepted among more mainstream  fundamentalist groups, including 
Wahhabis (a Sunni group, especially prominent  in Saudi  Arabia) and Iranian Shi'a. 
    3.  Veiled images of Muhammad are permitted: This  seems to have come 
into vogue in the 16th-17th centuries  and could, perhaps, serve as the basis for 
a compromise  position.
Complicated? Yup. The uninitiated already have to start figuring out who  the 
Ilkhanids were, what the exact differences between Sunnis and Shi'is are,  
and how Wahhabism fits into all this. Wikipedia is a good place to start, but if 
 you have some time, I'd suggest Hourani's "History of the Arab  Peoples." 
Nor does the fact that something was accepted once mean that it is  accepted 
now. For example, Abbasid poets wrote extensively of the joys of women  and 
wine, and in the 11th century a Persian poet, Omar Khayyam,  wrote: 'Wash me in 
wine when I go. For my burial service use a text concerning  wine. Would you 
find me on the Day of Doom, look for me in the dust at the  wine-shop's door." 
Yet no one would suggest that modern Persia should  permit wine based on a 
ruba'i by Khayyam, and don't even get me started on Abu  Nuwas. So, the question 
is: what is the accepted norm for today? 
see Part II

**************Ideas to please picky eaters. Watch video on AOL Living.      

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