Understanding Islam – Part 12 (Images)

Many have heard of the images of Muhammad portrayed by a Danish cartoonist.  It caused untold riots by Muslims in many areas of the world, attacking Danish government buildings and demanding the images be stricken from view.  The pictures can be found at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=12146.  There are also comments provided at that site, one from a Dane is worthy of reproduction (posted in July, 2007):

“Hm, weird that the effect of offending so peaceful a religion is that our flag and embassies are torched…they reason why the newspaper in question printed the cartoons was that they wanted to challenge the viewpoint that cartoonists were afraid of offending Muslims.

The irony here is that the reactions clearly demonstrate that Muslim people are very readily offended.

Another incredibly ironic twist is that it wasn’t until Danish imams toured the Arab world with the drawings approx. two months after the publication that the strong reactions started – most of the imams in question had ties to Hizb-ut Tahrir, which is banned in most northern European countries because they’re considered extreme, but which is allowed in Denmark because of our general tolerance.

Then there are a couple of things to note about the flyers which the imams handed out on their tour. I’ve read a translation, and the following makes me question the purity of their motives:

-it says that mosques aren’t allowed in Denmark and that we persecute Muslims.

Not true – we have a couple in the larger cities as well as graveyards exclusively for Muslims. When the cartoon controversy was at its peak, Muslim organizations had the freedom to hold demonstrations as they wished – the only larger one I can recall was held in front of our parliament, mostly attended by members of Hizb-ut Tahrir.

-there was an image of a man with a pig snout. By far the most offensive image in the flyer, but it was actually taken from a French newspaper and was a photograph from a squealing contest.

There have been demands that the Danish government take action towards Jyllands-Posten, but that can’t happen. Jyllands-Posten is privately owned and protected under the freedom of speech.

Religious people from other countries don’t control what our newspapers print, and they never will.”

Yale University Press was to publish a book on the subject of the controversial cartoons, the book The Cartoons That Shook The World, the author Jytte Klausen.  However a decision was made to exclude reprints of the cartoons for concerns as to attacks by Muslims for doing so.

From the Associated Press in January:   “January 2, 2010 –  A Somali man was charged Saturday with two counts of attempted murder for an attack on a Danish artist whose 2005 cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad ignited riots and outrage across the Muslim world, authorities said. The 28-year-old Somali – who had ties to al-Qaida – broke into Kurt Westergaard’s home in Aarhus on Friday night armed with an ax and a knife, said Jakob Scharf, head of Denmark’s PET intelligence agency. The 75-year-old artist, who has been the target of several death threats since depicting the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb-shaped turban, pressed an alarm and fled with his 5-year-old granddaughter to a specially made safe room.”

Some Imam’s agreed to curtail further admonishment and attacks arising from the cartoons published in 2005 if the Danish Government agreed to freedom and protection of their Islamic faith in that Country and that an apology be issued by the publisher stating the cartoons were not meant or intended to mock the Islamic religion.  Thus by demanding ‘respect’ they will back off.  

The Question – Images of Muhammad

First as to a question often raised, and about which much controversy has arisen: are images of Muhammad forbidden?  Visit the website for a more extensive review.    http://www.answering-islam.org/Muhammad/pictures.html

Quoting from the noted website: “Numerous passages in the Qur’an prohibit idolatry, and worshipping statues or pictures, but there is not even single verse in the Qur’an that explicitly or implicitly says not to have any pictures of Muhammad. This bears repeating: There is not a single verse in the Qur’an that prohibits making or having pictures of Muhammad or people or animals or trees. In fact, there are some verses in the Qur’an which mention images in a positive context and which therefore presuppose that some statues or images were approved by God, see the article Muhammad and Images.  – http://www.answering-islam.org/Muhammad/Inconsistent/images.html

However, the vast majority of Muslims are Sunni Muslims, who regard six authorized collections of hadiths as the highest written authority in Islam after the Qur’an. The hadiths are records, often very detailed, of what Muhammad taught and did. There are apparently multiple quotations to show that these teachings are not confined to just one writer/collector, but are spread throughout the different hadith collections.

Where multiple trustworthy hadiths agree, Sunni Muslims will take this as binding. In other words, people today are kicked out of Islam, or even killed based on the hadiths.

Pictures of Muhammad are “not exactly” forbidden in the hadiths either. The hadiths do not single out Muhammad’s picture. Rather, in the hadith we find the prohibition of all pictures of people or animals, which would include pictures from a camera.”

You must decide for yourself.  Certainly mocking another’s religion is not very nice, certainly not politically correct, yet in the desire for freedom of speech and/or religion, those so mocked may express the fact they are offended, yet the reactions and the demands put forth by many Muslims to the cartoons went much to far and demonstrate in my mind not only a lack of tolerance, but a rigidity and total disregard for anything but a religion that many question.  It is a form of coercion reflective of the nature of the control of those within the body of their idolatry.  An example as recent as noted in today’s news (Jan 26, 2010) of a father and daughter in Egypt that converted voluntarily to Christianity fearing for their lives.  They have been on the run from fanatics wanting their death, as they want from any apostate.  That is intolerance to an extreme and no one in this world should tolerate such behavior.  Mocking such actions would be justified, in picture or word.  Muslims that suggest, tolerate, condone, excuse, enforce, or compel the death of an apostate, and do so in the name of Allah are showing the world that this religion of Islam is flawed.   It is not humane.

We pray for all who believe, and all who also believe in freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the freedom to honor the God of their choosing, doing so without the shackles of authority precluding their people from seeing the light as they see it, not as seen through the eyes of controlling ayatollahs, or imams, or caliphs, or in fact any dictatorial leader. 

Let the images be printed and seen and understood.  Let the opinions and reflection of others be heard.  Possibly some will agree, others will not, but we can all agree on the freedom of the press.  What is in print should be expressed clearly as an opinion, or be accurate and fully researched before published.  As to opinion we have the right to agree or disagree, but not to kill or to destroy property or even threaten to kill or destroy.

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