[WikiEN-l] Muhammad images Part II

daniwo59 at aol.com daniwo59 at aol.com
Tue Feb 19 00:10:12 UTC 2008

To get to the heart of the matter, it is worthwhile to understand why  
portrayals of Muhammad are haram, forbidden. People are claiming that it is  because 
Islam prohibits human images in general. But this is only partially  true. In 
the PDF I cited above, (p. 9) it explains that: "For a Muslim, the  Prophet 
epitomizes the perfect man whose worldly attributes cannot delineate his  
spiritual ones. In Islam, no way can the shell of a body describe the person …"  It’
s not simply some edict to prevent idolatry. It is a belief that no image can 
 adequately portray the greatness of the man. By comparison, imagine the 
uproar  if we were to depict the Crucifixion with an overweight Jesus with acne 
and a  bulge in his loincloth, while Mary Magdalene mourns in fishnets and a 
corset.  Whether you like the comparison or not, to a devout Muslim any depiction 
of  Muhammad is like that. It cheapens him. 
So what do people do today? In 2007 I wrote a book about Judaism for kids  as 
part of a seven part series about religions of the world. I checked out the  
companion volume on Islam, and in fact, there were no pictures of Muhammad  
there, even though he takes up about one-half of the content. It would be  
interesting to see how other reference works handle this problem. Is it a  problem 
of POV? Sure, but there is also an inherent POV in insisting that  pictures be 
used, i.e., "We reject the religious sensitivities of the Muslim  community." 
So what is the solution? I don't know. I would like to think that the  
pictures would be permitted, but at the same time, I would hope that they really  be 
needed, and not just stuck in the article to make it pretty and to piss off  
the Muslims. How do the pictures add to the article? Would the absence of  
certain images, accompanied by an explanation as to why they are absent, be more  
educational? Would the choice of only veiled images resolve the issue? 
Perhaps  all the "explicit" images could be moved to a more scholarly article on the 
 history of Islamic iconography.  
Like I said, I don't know, but this is, indeed, a valuable debate and  
discussion on tolerance—from both sides. It is best handled with greater  
sensitivity to the concerns of the Muslim readers, after all, they are certainly  part 
of the target audience. Most important of all, it should not be perceived  as 
an Us v. Them debate. That benefits no one. 

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

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