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8 years ago  ::  May 27, 2010 - 1:18PM #1
Teed
Posts: 35

As I understand it, Muhammad's  original prohibition against making pictures of him was motivated by  two reasons: 1) Muhammad was personally a very modest man, who did not  want people to treat him as anything more than God's messenger and 2)  the danger that people would see Muhammad himself as an idol or intermediary, rather than directly  experiencing God as "closer than the jugular vein."


The irony is that modern interpretations of this prohibition have  turned its original purpose on its head. Muhammad is now seen as so  sacred and so special that no one is allowed to make pictures of him. I  would ask Muslims who are outraged by these pictures to consider that  they may be guilty of violating Muhammad's teaching by idolizing him in  this way. I cannot make such a judgment, for I cannot see into anyone's  heart. But I would like to ask the community of Muslims about this. Isn't this a real danger that a good Muslim should be concerned about? And if so, shouldn't this ban on drawing pictures be reconsidered?


Secondly, because this is the original intention to this command, it seems to  me that it should not apply to non-Muslims, and it certainly shouldn't  apply to insulting pictures. Obviously the people who are making those  spiteful cartoons are not in danger of making a Muhammad a partner with  God, whatever their other failings. Muslim of course have a right to be insulted by these pictures, as anyone has a right to be insulted by hate speech directed at them. But are they required to take action against the people who made the pictures? Also, what about non-insulting pictures made by non-Muslims? There is no danger of idolatry in such a case, so why should Muslims be concerned about them? The idea that Muslims have an obligation to impose their values on non-Muslims with this issue violates not only the western principles of free speech, but also the Islamic ideal that there should be no compulsion in religion.


This issue is creating a lot enemies for Islam, and therefore it is appropriate to ask oneself just how important is this ban against pictures of Muhammad? If an issue is vital for the principles of a religion, than of course it should be honored by all those who accept the religion. But if it turns out to be based on a questionable interpretation of that religion's sacred texts, it would be appropriate to reconsider the ban.


I would be grateful for some scholarly help from those Muslims who are familiar with contemporary and historical debates on these issues. Abdullah, are you out there? I need your help on this one. What is the basis in the Koran and/or Hadith for the ban on images of Muhammad? What do Islamic scholars, past and present, say on these issues? Let's take a look at these arguments. Perhaps there are other interpretations of the texts which would enable Muslims to tolerate images of Muhammad under certain contexts.


 


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8 years ago  ::  May 30, 2010 - 7:22AM #2
Jessica
Posts: 1

Well, I think we get upset is because Muhammad destroyed images of Pagan Gods because he thought it was idoltry, which Muslims believe against. The fact that people are drawing Muhammad counts as idoltry. In all honesty, I'm not sure what Muhammad would have said to him being drawn (we live in different times, you know), but it's almost like the United States following the Constitution. The piece of paper was made for us 200 years ago, before computers and phones, yet we still follow it when it comes to someone breaking laws. I think the same thing applies here -- it is written down for us not to submit to idoltry, so we get angry. I hope this made sense.

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8 years ago  ::  May 30, 2010 - 8:12AM #3
Abdullah.
Posts: 882

Hi Teed! 


I really dont know much about this myself so i'll need to research it up a bit before i can give a detailed answer, but as sister Jessica said, the reason why pictures of animate living creatures are prohibited [with all their facial details, or with the head part of it, without which a living creature cannot survive] is so to not [directly or indirectly] encourage/influence idolatry for it is thought that idolatry started of from images/statues of living creatures, particularly of the humans, and I suppose it may be thought that pictures of Prophets may potentially induce more of an idolatry inclination is some people for great personalities are venerated even more when in the image form 


there are basically two opinions in Islam about pictures and photos of people; the stronger view in my opinion is that apart from absolutely necessary pictures/photos, the rest are prohibited, [see link:  qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.asp?HD=1&ID=...  ] however i've just found an article by shaykh Ahmed kutty who seems to adhere to the other view on this, but nonetheless it seems that pictures and photos of leaders and heroes are prohibited due to the more reverent disposition of people towards them thus having the potential for idolatry: 


Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, answers:


"Photography as a medium of communication or for the simple, innocent retention of memories without the taint of reverence/shirk does not fall under the category of forbidden Tasweer.


One finds a number of traditions from the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, condemning people who make Tasweer, which denotes painting or carving images or statues. It was closely associated with paganism or shirk. People were in the habit of carving images and statues for the sake of worship. Islam, therefore, declared Tasweer forbidden because of its close association with shirk (association of partners with Allah). One of the stated principles of usul-u-Fiqh (Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence) is that if anything directly leads to haram, it is likewise haram. In other words, Tasweer was forbidden precisely for the reason that it was a means leading to shirk.


The function of photography today does not fall under the above category. Even some of the scholars who had been once vehemently opposed to photography under the pretext that it was a form of forbidden Tasweer have later changed their position on it - as they allow even for their own pictures to be taken and published in newspapers, for videotaping lectures and for presentations; whereas in the past, they would only allow it in exceptional cases such as passports, drivers’ licenses, etc. The change in their view of photography is based on their assessment of the role of photography.


Having said this, one must add a word of caution: To take pictures of leaders and heroes and hang them on the walls may not belong to the same category of permission. This may give rise to a feeling of reverence and hero worship, which was precisely the main thrust of the prohibition of Tasweer. Therefore, one cannot make an unqualified statement to the effect that all photography is halal. It all depends on the use and function of it. If it is for educational purpose and has not been tainted with the motive of reverence and hero worship, there is nothing in the sources to prohibit it."

Read more: www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?pa...


hope this helps 


Peace!

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8 years ago  ::  May 31, 2010 - 1:59AM #4
Teed
Posts: 35

Thanks, Abdullah.

We will, of course, have to wait until we see the results of your further research, but it looks so far like nothing said by any Islamic scholars implies that Muslims should try to force Non-Muslims from making pictures of Muhammad or anything else. What you have said so far seems to confirm what  I said before: that insulting pictures by non-Musims are even less dangerous than flattering or reverential pictures by Muslims, because there is no chance of them being partners with God. Also, as far as I can tell so far, there is no reason that Muslims should try to stop non-Muslims from making pictures of Muhammad any more than they should try to stop non-Muslims from eating pork. Looking forward to seeing whether your further researches confirm this.

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8 years ago  ::  Jun 06, 2010 - 12:34PM #5
Miraj
Posts: 5,021


Salaam, Teed,


Caution was advised in depicting humans as a means of avoiding idolotry. However, there are not only depictions of the Prophet (pbuh) in Muslim literature, there is at least one carving of him holding a sword and he Quran on the north frieze of the Supreme Court building in Washington, DC, as shown above.  Justice is called for many, many times by Allah in the Quran, so it is appropriate, imo, that the Prophet of the Lawgiver be included among others who are honored there.


 Here is a link to more depictions from classical sources.


There is a general, fall back position that is used to disallow many things from non-Muslims, and that is that non-Muslims cannot be permitted to do or have anything that would elevate them to or above the "status" that Muslims see themselves. If non-Muslims are not challenged when they do something such as creating images of the Prophet, they can gain control over media that could come to define his representation, and that would be bad, especially considering the negativity and ignorance attached to many of the more recent images.


Personally, I don't have a problem with non-Muslims or anyone depicting the Prophet in positve ways, but the political discourse, which I follow intensely, is so warped toward ignorance that even the lexicon is controlled by anti-Islamists to the extent that the US administration is pummeled relentlessly for correctly refusing to use erroneous terms like "Islamic terrorism" which infers that errorism is somehow Islamic.


What we desperately need is not more death threats against anyone who dares to challenge the "ban" on depicting the Prophet, but greater input to the debate by Muslims who have essentially been left out of the wider discussion of conflicts and solutions involving Muslims and non-Muslims, who tend to be content to speak only to each other.


Salaam


miraj

Disclaimer: The opinions of this member are not primarily informed by western ethnocentric paradigms, stereotypes rooted in anti-Muslim/Islam hysteria, "Israel can do no wrong" intransigence, or the perceived need to protect the Judeo-Christian world from invading foreign religions and legal concepts.  By expressing such views, no inherent attempt is being made to derail or hijack threads, but that may be the result.  The result is not the responsibility of this member.


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8 years ago  ::  Jun 10, 2010 - 5:56PM #6
visio
Posts: 3,743

The bottom-line is not so much of of what images and all their portrayals;  it is the intent on the public publication of those images.  Different Muslims will read those intent differently.   In different parts of the world where there are multi-religion communities, there is no hard and fast rules detailing, to the minutest about freedom of expression and or human rights and getting them documented in gold in their constitution.  And yet, in these countries, both the people and the administration are sensible-, wise-  and disciplined- enough to respect the integrity of others in their neighbourhood.  Above all, they are conscious enough about the consequence of their action.   Freedom of expression and right of speech as are practised in the West contradicts with the discipline and mannerism of maintaining the right speech as cultured in the East.  Muslims, as indicated in the Al-Quran, are commanded to maintain right speech and patience at all time and under all circumstances.   For this to be accomplished they have to be very sensitive to others.   The downside to this is that, it is not what is spoken or expressed is important, but, what is the intent behind it.   It is not so much the issue of rationalising  whether images of Muhammadsaw or any other Muhammads  can be drawn or not.   How many times in the past Muslims have declared this as sensitive issues.  Western scholars of Islam in the past knew it.  Western scholars in the present know it.   The same stuff  is being replayed like CNN.
To me, this is not about religion, but, about the die-hard culture of Western Anglo Saxonian Barbarism and Hypocrisy.  The Communist Chinese Administration has done a better job of respecting and protecting the rights of its 100+ million Muslims to be respected as humans. It is in the culture of maintaining the right speech.  It is not simply right of speech, a hallmark of a mob-culture on the media-streets which the Western (Judeo-Christian) politicians are preaching the rest of the world together with democracy that is only good on the paper of the gilded documents.   .
                 

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8 years ago  ::  Jun 14, 2010 - 1:03PM #7
Teed
Posts: 35

I appreciate hearing your opinion, Visio, although I disagree with it. The fact that you claim that China has more "freedom of speech" than the USA seems to me to be a reductio ad absurdum of your position. Nevertheless, this is not an Islam/West distinction, as so many people claim. It isn't easy to explain the difference between drawing Muhammad, and shouting fire in a crowded theater, (where I think there is a legitimate difference) and drawing Muhammad and drawing the Holocaust (where I think there is no legitimate difference.) I would be both tolerant and distainful of both "drawing days", but would accept the ban on shouting fire in theaters.


 


However, I don't think this difference is supported by Islamic scriptures, as far as I can tell, and what I want to do is discuss that issue. What I'd like is more information along the lines that Abdullah gave me. I've seen nothing in the Koran, or in my limited studies of the Hadith, that requires Muslims to actively interfer when Westerners draw pictures of Muhammad. Consequently, I don't see any clash of fundamental values here. If there were, we might have to have a serious discussion about the differences and similarities between drawing a picture of Muhammad and shouting fire in a theater. But as far as I can see, that discussion is about our own opinions, not about Islam, because Muslims are not required to interfere with non-Muslims in this case. In fact, because of the "Let there be no Compulsion" principle (which is repeated dozens of times in the Koran) it seems to me that Muslims have an obligation to let Westerners make any sorts of pictures they want.

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7 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2010 - 1:40PM #8
Abdullah.
Posts: 882

May 31, 2010 -- 1:59AM, Teed wrote:


Thanks, Abdullah.

We will, of course, have to wait until we see the results of your further research, but it looks so far like nothing said by any Islamic scholars implies that Muslims should try to force Non-Muslims from making pictures of Muhammad or anything else. What you have said so far seems to confirm what  I said before: that insulting pictures by non-Musims are even less dangerous than flattering or reverential pictures by Muslims, because there is no chance of them being partners with God. Also, as far as I can tell so far, there is no reason that Muslims should try to stop non-Muslims from making pictures of Muhammad any more than they should try to stop non-Muslims from eating pork. Looking forward to seeing whether your further researches confirm this.




 


Hi Teed,


 


My apologies for taking so long to give you the update, but i had totally forgot about this thread Embarassed


 


from what I have seen about objections to pictures meant to depict the prophet Muhammad [saw] is that Muslims are usually offended due to the offensive nature of the pictures themselves, i.e, the pictures would be drawn in a way that would offend, such as as we've seen with the 'turban bomb' picture, etc, hence this is the reason why Muslims put up such a fuss about it, but personally, I think it would be best if all Muslims ignored such things and not let it bother them; the Prophet [saw] himself did not let insults bother him too as far as he could help it; once when some enemies called him a derogatory word by changing his name slightly, he thanked ALlah that their abuse was directed at something else for his name was not that Smile, so here is a good example of how he did not let such things bother him at all and just shrugged it off


 


hope this helps


Peace Smile

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