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Friday, February 17, 2006

Why are Paintings of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) Sacrilegious?

Mike Ghouse

When Islam reached its potential bringing the entire Arabian
Peninsula into its fold, Prophet Mohammad became the statesman, the
general and the religious leader.

His teachings of belief in one God, equality of humankind and seeking
spirituality made his followers put him on the pedestal. As has
happened with all the great prophets, people were considering even
the dirt he walked on as holy.

Even to this day, we hang pictures; make statues of our heroes and
our leaders. Every king of era, or head of a town or state, had his
portraits in public places and some of them had their statutes placed
in every town. At that time period, people had the habit of making
individuals divine.

Although he was the chosen one to deliver the message of God to
mankind, the Prophet himself remained a simple soul. A few things
relating to the subject about him;

In one of his sermons, he had said, that I am as human as you are,
and when I die, please do not bury me in a special grave, bury me in
an unmarked grave like every one else.

I am a mortal and a messenger, the only one you have to worship is
God and not anyone else.

He stressed on individual responsibility to the point that he said to
his own daughter that, on the day of reckoning, it will be her own
deeds that will be her salvation.

He lived a simple life, although he had the whole world to him, he
chose to live in a small house and with no material accumulation. He
was the King, but he did not live in opulence, he wanted to lead a
spiritual life by example.

Does every Muslim follow his teachings to the Core? No! We are humans
and we do make mistakes, an allowance has been made by God through
the concept of forgiveness.

Can the world make judgments about Islam and Muslims with the acts of
less than 1/10th of one percent of Muslims? (1% of 1.3 Billion = 13
Million – 10th of a percent comes to 1.3 Million – state department
had released figures last year that about 450,000 people have
enlisted in organizations that believe in violence. It is 1/30th of
1% and to call the protest a representation of Muslims is grossly

The prophet saw the dangers in misplaced divinity, he wanted people
to worship the one supreme God and not put any one or anything else
on par with him. By the way, as in other faiths, God does not have a
gender in Islam.

He made a ruling that no one should paint his portrait, or put up his
statue anywhere, he was making a strong point that people should, at
not time make any mortal human, the divine. Only God is to be
worshipped and no one else.

Over the years, Muslims have guarded this principle with great care.
You will never see a Muslim worship any one but God. Muslims draw
their pride in his teachings of equality, simplicity and
spirituality. This is one simple reason why Muslims consider any
painting of the prophet as sacrilegious. When Muslims stand shoulder
to shoulder to pray to God, all distinctions between intellectuals
and ordinary, rich or poor vanish, and when they chant Alla hu Akbar,
i.e., God is Great, they are saying we are mortals and all of us are
on par, and only God is great. It is to bring humility every time we
recite Alla hu Akbar.

Those of you who would like to learn about the Prophet thru a western
scholar, please read "Muhammad" by Karen Armstrong, it is available
at all the bookstores.

Mike Ghouse
Foundation for Pluralism


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