Friday, January 16, 2015

Have Pictures of Muhammad Always Been Forbidden?

By John McManus
Detail of image from a 16th Century Iranian manuscript showing the ascension to Heaven
Most Muslims say that pictorial depictions of the founder of Islam are forbidden - but has that always been the case in all of the Muslim world? Yet there's no ruling in the Koran explicitly forbidding the depiction of the Prophet, according to Prof Mona Siddiqui from Edinburgh University. Instead, the idea arose from the Hadiths - stories about the life and sayings of Muhammad gathered in the years after his death. Siddiqui points to depictions of Muhammad - drawn by Muslim artists - dating from the Mongol and Ottoman empires. In some of them, Muhammad's facial features are hidden - but it's clear it is him. Many of the images of Muhammad which date from the 1300s were intended only to be viewed privately, to avoid idolatry, says Christiane Gruber, associate professor of Islamic Art at Michigan University. [link]