Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Drawing Muhammad.

I'm sure you probably know, but if you draw Muhammad, particularly in a way that doesn't show him in the best light, a few people will kick up a fuss. 

This fuss could be anything from protests in the street, threatening to kill you, or, as we saw in Paris, murdering you and your colleagues. 

Nobody should be held in such esteem that 1400 years after their death it's forbidden to draw them. 

The following is from the Background section of the Wikipedia article 'Depictions of Muhammad' check the article for citations: 
In Islam, although nothing in the Qur'an explicitly bans images, some supplemental hadith explicitly ban the drawing of images of any living creature; other hadith tolerate images, but never encourage them. Hence, most Muslims avoid visual depictions of Muhammad or any other prophet such as Moses or Abraham
Most Sunni Muslims believe that visual depictions of all the prophets of Islam should be prohibited and are particularly averse to visual representations of Muhammad. The key concern is that the use of images can encourage idolatry.
It's the last line that gets most of my interest. Concern about encouraging idolarity. 

I'd like to leave that there for a moment and take you back to May 24 1991. This was the original air date of episode 5 of the TV show 'Dinosaurs'.1 

Episode 5 is called The Howling and is about a rite of passage of the same name. When a young male dinosaur comes of age, he has to howl at the moon in order to prevent a prophesied disaster. It's a tradition that's gone on for generations. In this episode Robbie, the adolescent male of the family, reaches the age where it's his turn to howl at the moon and therefore averting the foretold apocalypse. 

Only Robbie refuses. He thinks it's a silly superstition and it's ridiculous that he could keep anarchy away by simply howling at the moon. The community disagrees and trouble brews. Robbie's father supports his decision, which angers his friends. Fights break out, people panic and slowly, but surely, the community spirals down closer and closer to anarchy. 

It seems like the prophecy is coming true, but not because of a magic spell, but because of the belief in superstition and the panic when it's not adhered to. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Why did I bring this up? Well I'm sure you can see the similarities. Robbie not howling at the moon inadvertently caused the chaos that howling at the moon was supposed to prevent.2  

Similarly, Muslims being outraged when Muhammad is drawn have inadvertently given Muhammad a level of idolarity not afforded to anyone else. They wanted to keep him off the proverbial pedestal but have put him on one so high that an attempt to knock him off is met with murderous consequences. 

If Muslims don't want Muhammad idolised, step one should be to stop idolising him. Stop adding PBUH after his name, stop protesting him being mocked, and absolutely stop the insane and completely barbaric practise of killing people who make fun of him.3  

1 Dinosaurs aired from 1991 to 1994 and was a live action show that (from IMDB) "followed the lives of a family of dinosaurs, living in a modern world. They had TVs, fridges, etc. The only humans around are cavemen, who are viewed as pets and wild animals." I'm not sure it was historically accurate.
2 *Spoiler* Robbie relents, howls at the moon, peace is restored.
3 It's interesting to note from the same Wikipedia article mentioned above that in Shia Islam images of Muhammad are quite common.


  1. That is a wonderfully succinct argument with a flawless analogy. Your point is excellent! I would never have thought of it and yet, now it seems so blatantly obvious.

    I want the entire world to read it—the Muslim world, in particular.

    I wish I could shake your hand.

    Andy Stout

    1. Apologies for the lateness of my reply, but thank you very much for the feedback, I'm glad you liked it. Very happy for you to try to get the world to read it :)