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Muslim sensitivities around Prophet Mohammed




Source: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/12/ambassadors-killing-shines-light-on-muslim-sensitivities-around-prophet-mohammed/





Why Mohammed's image is sacred in Islam



Ambassador's killing shines light on Muslim sensitivities around Prophet Mohammed



By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editors

(CNN) - Violence over depictions of the Prophet Mohammed may mystify many non-Muslims, but it speaks to a central tenet of Islam: that the Prophet was a man, not God, and that portraying him threatens to lead to worshiping a human instead of Allah.

“It's all rooted in the notion of idol worship,” says Akbar Ahmed, who chairs the Islamic Studies department at American University. “In Islam, the notion of God versus any depiction of God or any sacred figure is very strong."

“The Prophet himself was aware that if people saw his face portrayed by people, they would soon start worshiping him,” Ahmed says. “So he himself spoke against such images, saying ′I′m just a man.′”

The prohibition against such portrayals was on stark display Tuesday, as mobs in Egypt and Libya attacked U.S. compounds in response to a film that vilifies the Prophet Mohammed, who founded Islam in the 7th century. The attack on the U.S. personnel in Benghazi, Libya, was orchestrated by extremists who used the protests as a diversion, U.S. sources told CNN Wednesday.

The attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi killed J. Christopher Stevens, Washington's ambassador to Libya, as well as three other Americans at the compound.

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The film that′s believed to have inspired the violence depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a child molester, womanizer and ruthless killer, going a big step beyond violating the basic Muslim prohibition against depicting the Prophet, even in a favorable light.

There are questions about who is behind the movie. Initial reports identified a supposedly Israeli-American real-estate developer named Sam Bacile, but it's unclear if that person even exists. A member of the film's production staff told CNN that the producer's name was listed as Abenob Nakoula Basseley.

In Sunni mosques, the largest branch of the faith, there are no images of people of any kind. The spaces are often decorated with verses from the Quran.

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Mohamed Magid, an imam who leads the Islamic Society of North America, says the Muslim prohibition on depicting prophets extends to Jesus and Moses, who Islam treats as prophets.

“Pictures and images are prohibited from being worshiped,” Magid says.

There have been historical instances of Muslims depicting the Prophet, says Omid Safi, a religious studies professor at the University of North Carolina who has studied the issue.

"We have had visual depictions of the Prophet in the form of miniatures and pictures in the Iranian context, the Turkish context, the central Asian Context,” says Safi, author of the book "Memories of Mohammed." “The one significant context where depictions of the Prophet have not been image-related has been in the Arab context.”

“As you go farther east, away from the Arabian Peninsula, you find depictions of the prophet in art,” said Johari Abdul-Malik, the imam for Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia. He noted that images of the teachings of the prophet were sometimes used to bridge gaps in illiteracy.

But even depictions of the Prophet by Muslim artists has been a sensitive issue.

Akbar, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United Kingdom, says that Muslim artists in the 15th and 16th centuries would depict the Prophet but took pains to avoid drawing his face.

“It would be as if he was wearing a veil on his face, so the really orthodox could not object - that was the solution they found," Akbar says.

In a Muslim film called “The Messenger,” which circulated throughout the Muslim world in the 1970s and 1980s, the Prophet is depicted only as a shadow.

Adbul-Malik said that in the Quran, there is “no statement from the prophet requesting his image not be recorded.” The passages relating to a ban on creating images of the prophets come from the hadith, recordings of the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed and his closest companions. The hadith is not viewed on the same plane as the Quran but as important to understanding the Quran.

Scholars of religion say Muslim opposition to portraying Mohammed wasn′t generally violated in earlier centuries because of a gulf between much of the Muslim world and the West.

In the age of globalization, non-Muslims and critics of Islam have felt free to depict Mohammed, including in offensive ways.

In 2006, a Danish cartoonist′s depiction of the Prophet wearing a bomb as a turban with a lit fuse provoked demonstrations across the world.

Akbar says that until relatively recently, depictions of Jesus tended to be reverential, but Christianity has had a decades-long head start in dealing with negative portrayals of Jesus in film and art.

Culture clash between U.S. freedoms, Muslim beliefs underlies embassy riots in Middle East



Source: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/20120917-culture-clash-between-u.s.-freedoms-muslim-beliefs-underlies-embassy-riots-in-middle-east.ece 



From wire reports

Published: 17 September 2012 12:05 AM



Updated: 17 September 2012 02:11 AM

CAIRO : Stepping from the cloud of tear gas in front of the U.S. Embassy here, Khaled Ali repeated the urgent question that he said justified last week′s violent protests at U.S. outposts around the Muslim world.

“We never insult any prophet - not Moses, not Jesus - so why can′t we demand that Muhammad be respected?” Ali, a 39-year-old textile worker, said.

When the protests against a U.S.-made online video mocking the prophet Muhammad exploded in about 20 countries, the source of the rage was more than just religious sensitivity, political demagogy or resentment of Washington, protesters and their sympathizers here said.

It was also a demand that many of them described with the word “freedom,” although in a context very different from the term′s use in the individualistic West: the right of a community, whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish, to be free from grave insult to its identity and values.

That demand, in turn, was swept up in the colliding crosscurrents of regional politics. From one side came the gale of anger at America′s decade-old war against terrorism, which in the eyes of many Muslims in the region often looks like a war against them. And from the other, the new winds blowing through the region in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, which to many here means most of all a right to demand respect for the popular will.

“We want these countries to understand that they need to take into consideration the people, and not just the governments,” said Ismail Mohamed, 42, a religious scholar who once was an imam in Germany. “We don′t think that depictions of the prophets are freedom of expression. We think it is an offense against our rights,” he said, adding, “The West has to understand the ideology of the people.”

Even during the protests, some stone throwers stressed that the clash was not Muslim against Christian. Instead, they suggested that the traditionalism of people of both faiths in the region conflicted with Western individualism and secularism.

Youssef Sidhom, editor of the Coptic Christian newspaper Watani, said he objected only to the violence of the protests.

“This reaction is expected,” Sidhom said of last week′s protests, “and if it had stayed peaceful I would have said I supported it and understood.”

In a context where insults to religion are crimes and the state has tightly controlled almost all media, many in Egypt, like other Arab countries, sometimes find it hard to understand that the U.S. government feels limited by its free speech rules from silencing even the most noxious religious bigot.

In his statement after protesters breached the walls of the U.S. Embassy last Tuesday, the spiritual leader of Egypt′s mainstream Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, declared that “the West” had imposed laws against “those who deny or express dissident views on the Holocaust or question the number of Jews killed by Hitler, a topic which is purely historical, not a sacred doctrine.”

In fact, denying the Holocaust is also protected as free speech in the United States, although it is prohibited in Germany and a few other European countries. But the belief that it is illegal in the U.S. is widespread in Egypt, and the Brotherhood′s spiritual leader, Mohamed Badie, called for the “criminalizing of assaults on the sanctities of all heavenly religions.”

In the West, many may express astonishment that the murder of Muslims in hate crimes does not provoke the same level of global outrage as the video did. But even a day after the clashes in Cairo had subsided, many Egyptians argued that a slur against their faith was a greater offense than any attack on a living person.

“When you hurt someone, you are just hurting one person,” said Ahmed Shobaky, 42, a jeweler. “But when you insult a faith like that, you are insulting a whole nation that feels the pain.”

Mohamed, the religious scholar, justified it this way: “Our prophet is more dear to us than our family and our nation.”

Others said that the outpouring of outrage against the video had built up over a long period of perceived denigrations of Muslims and their faith by the U.S. or its military, which are detailed extensively in the Arab news media: the invasion of Iraq on a discredited pretext; the images of abuse from Abu Ghraib prison; the burning or desecrations of the Quran by troops in Afghanistan and a pastor in Florida; detentions without trial at Guantanamo Bay; the deaths of Muslim civilians as collateral damage in drone strikes; even political campaigns against the specter of Islamic law inside the U.S.

“This is not the first time that Muslim beliefs are being insulted or Muslims humiliated,” said Emad Shahin, a political scientist at American University in Cairo.

While he stressed that no one should ever condone violence against diplomats or embassies because of even the most offensive film, Shahin said it was easy to see why the protesters focused on the U.S. government′s outposts.

“The message here is we don′t care about your beliefs - that because of our freedom of expression we can demean them and degrade them any time, and we do not care about your feelings.”

David D. Kirkpatrick,

The New York Times

Muslims respects Jesus as a great Prophet, but in the west sometimes, there is little respect to Jesus, Here are just a few examples:



Jesus's mythical birth

The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth - CNN Belief Blog - CNN.com Blogs

Mythical Jesus

Jesus Myth - The Case Against Historical Christ

Was Jesus gay?

Was Jesus Gay? -   John 21:20

Jesus as an openly gay man | Michael Ruse | Comment is free ...

and the list goes on and on.