Saturday, 10 January 2015

What if someone drew a nice Mohammed?

It strikes me that there is one simple action that can challenge people to move beyond some pretty dumb standpoints that they hold. Muslims need to relax about depictions of prophets. There is no need to fly off the handle about the depiction of prophets, either laid down by scripture, or as a means of dealing happily with the modern world.
Equally there is no need to deliberately provoke the ire of Muslims by disrespecting something they hold dear. Cartoons that depict Mohammed disrespectfully are deliberate acts of divisive button-pushing and should be condemned. They also fail to challenge the root of the prohibition of depiction of the prophet in Islamic culture. If Islam prohibits "anything that could become a source of idolatry" publishing a picture of a revered prophet mid sex act with something wacky isn't going to challenge that. What muslim is going to adopt that representation as an idol? That's not satire. It's not clever. That's being a dick.
What we need in order to move forward is a positive depiction of Mohammed reacting with despair to the actions of those who have considered it acceptable to murder people in his name.
Such a depiction would challenge both those who seek to offend in the name of free speech, and those who insist that any depiction of their prophet is offensive.
If you're going to deliberately offend people, at least focus your offence on those who would benefit from their views being challenged. And do it in such a way that more moderate members of their community have an opportunity to point at your work and say "They do have a point you know." Instead choosing to produce work that would likely offend all followers of a religious faith and a considerable number of people with other faiths or none... is just incredibly dumb.
On the other hand vigorously prohibiting depictions of prophets just creates a perception of Islam as a prickly, sensitive religion worshipping a god that can't overcome the competition of a few idols. If Islam and the western world are to more peacefully co-exist, this is a cultural norm Islam could well benefit from letting slide.
I'm really disappointed that no one has created such a positive depiction of a despairing Mohammed. I'd do it myself, but I can't draw... and I'm a wuss.

I wrote this blog after reading this article:
The too long; didn't read excerpt of the above article is below:
"According to Aslan, the Koran does not explicitly prohibit depicting the Prophet Mohammed, and there have been images of Mohammed, his family, and other prophets throughout history. "The history of Islam teems with images of the Prophet Mohammed. You see this in the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries."
Still, the idea that depictions of Mohammed are disallowed didn't come out of nowhere. Islam, Aslan explained, like Judaism, is an iconoclastic religion that does not permit God to be anthropomorphized — that is, portrayed as a human being — and prizes textual scripture instead.
Over time, Islamic scholars extended that tradition to cover Mohammed and the other major prophets as well, and discouraged artists from depicting them in images. That has created a strong cultural norm against images of Mohammed, even in the absence of a religious law against them.
According to Mogahed, there is now a "commonly understood" rule against depicting the prophet, which is seen as part of Islam's prohibition of anything that could become a source of idolatry. The worry, she explained, was that statues or images of the prophet could be used as idols — that people might call upon them to intercede with god, which would be against religious law."