Why are Muslims so angry about cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad?

Posted By Levi

January 12th, 2015 7:28pm


Over the last few years, the publication of images of the Prophet Mohammad has angered many Muslims and caused violent outbursts. The terrorists who killed twelve journalists from the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo last week cited the publication of cartoons mocking Mohammad as the reason for the attack. They said they found such images to be insulting and offensive to the Prophet.

Of course, you don’t attack and kill people simply because they offend you.

The question many people are asking is this:

Why are Muslims so angry over the publication of cartoons of their prophet?

Generally, Muslims are opposed to images of Mohammad and other prophets because of fear that they could lead to idolatry. They worry that statues or images of the prophet could be used as idols and that people might call upon them to intercede with God which would be against religious law. In the eyes of many Muslims this is blasphemy – the act of showing insult or disrespect to God and religion.

Does the Koran, the holy book of Muslims, forbid depictions of Muhammad?

Strictly speaking, it doesn’t. There is nothing specifically in the Koran that prohibits images of Muhammad, God or other major prophets.  However, some restrictions are found in what is called the Hadith – a collection of sayings and actions of Mohammed which Muslims use to guide their daily lives.

But here is where it becomes just a little complicated. Not all Muslims are opposed to this.

Sunni Muslims, who represent the majority of Muslims, are much stricter in observing the ban on images of the Prophet than the Shias. In Iran, where the Shias are the majority, one can find pictures of Mohammad in the various market places.

Pictures of people in religious scenes—like pilgrims on the Hajj—are also allowed. These are more likely to be displayed in the home than at a mosque, and some conservative Muslims will refuse to pray in their presence. However, images of Allah is strictly forbidden by Muslims in general. Allah should not be drawn under any circumstances.

But according to some Islamic experts, many Muslims are simply ignorant of their history.

According to Omid Sufi, a Professor of Religious Studies, Islam has a long tradition of depicting the various prophets.

Over the last thousand years, Muslims in India, Afghanistan, Iran, Central Asia and Turkey did have a rich courtly tradition of depicting the various prophets, including Prophet Muhammad, in miniatures. These miniatures were patronized by pious Muslim rulers, and were often richly illustrated with verses from the Qur’an, and the biography of the Prophet’s life. Yet very few Muslims today, and even fewer non-Muslims, are aware of this rich heritage. “

It is important to point out that Islam is not the only religion that prohibits images of religious figures. This prohibition extends to Judaism and Christianity as well. The Bible is very clear on blasphemy.

Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.” (Leviticus 24:16)

Furthermore, the Second Commandment:

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: (Deuteronomy 5:4)

For these reasons you will not find imagery in many Christian churches. For most part, Jews generally avoid depictions of God. More conservatives Jews won’t even write the word “God.”

Twitter: @Levianthony123

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