May 19, 2010

Drawing Mohammed

So, tomorrow is supposed to be Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. The Seattle artist who originally called for the day has backed way off her support for it. The Facebook page cited in that link has also backed way off its original stance.

Which is all pretty sad, in my opinion.

So why is it so awful to depict an image of Islam's most revered Prophet?

Back in The Day, during the infancy of Islam, many Muslims failed to adhere "properly" to that Commandment about not worshiping false idols (or any God but the one true God). After the Prophet died, some Islamic factions began worshiping Mohammed much like Christians before them worshiped Jesus. (We won't get into the But Jesus is the Son of God! argument here.) Temples, monuments, statuary, and the like were created to honor Mohammed.

Other Muslims decided this sort of thing had to be nipped in the bud, and it was declared that any image of the Prophet was blasphemy. Factions fought one another. Temples, monuments, statuary, and the like were forcibly destroyed. Having even a picture of the Prophet in one's home was a possibly fatal offense. The no-worshiping-Mohammed group won out over the worshiping-Mohammed group, and the Mohammed imagery taboo became dogma. Mohammed himself had been pretty firm on the no false idols thing--he accused Christians of being polytheistic with their Jesus-worshiping ways.

As these things happen, the original intent of the Mohammed taboo was obscured by the rule itself. It was just plain blasphemous to depict the Prophet, regardless of reason or religion or whatever. So today we have fundamentalists who think it's okay to threaten to kill my beloved Matt Stone (and, you know, Trey Parker, too) for portraying Mohammed in a bear suit.

Some people think those of us who are not Muslim should be more culturally sensitive and respect the wishes of Muslims who believe depictions of their Prophet to be blasphemous. I'm all for cultural sensitivity. To a point. The line is drawn when one group of people tells another group of people that they are bound to the laws of a religion they don't participate in.

I am not bound to Islam anymore than I am bound to Catholicism. I don't ask priests to absolve my sins, and I don't ask anyone to approve of my doodles. I do not happen to live in a country run by religious rulers, and no one can force me to accept any belief system (or at least act like I accept it) other than my own. It's religious freedom, freedom of speech, and all that good stuff I enjoy as the citizen of a democratic nation.

It would be kind of a lame thing to die for--drawing a picture of some guy who has been dead for nearly 1500 years--but it is important to take a stand when one group tries to force their religious beliefs on another. No matter how crazy or small that group might be.

Posted by Jennifer at May 19, 2010 07:11 AM | TrackBack


Who are you and how did get rights to post under Jen's name?

Posted by: Pete at May 19, 2010 10:03 AM

Har. Har. :-p

Posted by: Jennifer at May 19, 2010 10:51 AM


Mohammed (turban, eyes, nose, mouth, beard)

Posted by: Harvey at June 7, 2010 12:40 PM