Depictions of Muhammad: apparently not that bad?


Matt Stone and Trey Parker know full well that, if they are killed by members of the Religion of Peace, they will be martyrs, and it’s grossly unlikely that anyone would want to give them that kind of historical distinction. But I have to say, the worst part of this whole recent situation is that if they are killed (as Revolution Muslim has so completely unthreateningly asserted should happen), they will be killed for no real reason whatsoever.

I say this not merely because I do not subscribe to the fundamentalist Sunni Muslims’ belief that their prophet Muhammad must not be depicted. Nor, on the whole, any other religious delusion they happen to believe. Rather, I say this because Comedy Central has evidently lost its nerve and ensured that the South Park episode in question — Matt and Trey’s third involving Muhammad — actually didn’t involve Muhammad at all. Rather, after all was said and done, the guy in the bear suit (yeah, really) turned out to be Santa Claus. And they censored every instance of his name being spoken til the big reveal at the end, so you never heard “Muhammad” even once through the course of the episode. Matt and Trey went on to censor the obligatory moralistic “you know, I learned something today” speech at the end, as their way of suggesting that censorship has won. The fundamentalists actually won this round. There’s not a shred of Muhammad in the very episode they’re cheesed off about.

And yet, still, we have the suggestion by some fuckwitted, violent assholes on the intertubes, that Muslims should kill Matt and Trey because they talked about Muhammad. Not that they’re CALLING for it — just that they say that Muslims SHOULD do it. Even though it turned out not to be Muhammad at all. And you’re the religion of peace? Though, listen, guys, could you pick some better martyrs for us, please? I don’t really particularly want to have to mark the deaths of two libertarian douchebags that occasionally intersect with the truth just because they decided to bring it to some deluded hypocrites.

Let’s leave all that aside for the moment. What of this insistence by the more violent members of this so-called religion of peace, that one must never depict in pictures their prophet, on pain of death? Well, let’s go to the horse’s mouth, so to speak — the Qu’ran.

Sura 21, 52-54:

Behold! he said to his father and his people, “What are these images, to which ye are (so assiduously) devoted?” They said, “We found our fathers worshipping them.” He said, “Indeed ye have been in manifest error – ye and your fathers.”

So it forbids idolatry — e.g. don’t go worshipping that graven image. (Oops, wrong religion.) Representative art itself? Not so much… at least, not from the Qu’ran. That actually comes from a Hadith — fan-fiction written several hundred years later that are ex-post-facto considered canon. In this case, as far after the fact as 810 CE by Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari in Sahih al Bukhari.

In its Volume 9, Book 93, Number 648 (they must be immense fanfics!):

Allah, Most High said: “And who is more unjust than those who try to create the likeness of My creation? Let them create an atom, or let them create a wheat grain, or let them create a barley grain.”

And in Sahih Muslim, 24, 5272: “All the painters who make pictures would be in the fire of Hell.”

Not just likenesses of Muhammad, but likenesses of anything are affronts against Allah. Statues, paintings, photos, even a doodle of a stick figure in the sand if the stick figure is even vaguely recognizable as a human. It’s a wonder, then, that there are so many official historical visual depictions by Muslims!

I got most of the information contained in this blog post on the origin of the restrictions from the Wikipedia article Depictions of Muhammad, where there are a good many depictions of their prophet, most of which are respectful. To date, no editor of Wikipedia is known to have been murdered by insane fundamentalist religion-of-peace-niks over posting the pictures. Nor, to my understanding, have any of the painters.

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Wiki sez this is ‘The Investiture of Ali at Ghadir Khumm, MS Arab 161, fol. 162r, AD 1309/8 Ilkhanid manuscript illustration.’

It’s such a shame that the Muslim world won’t just accept some of this amazing medieval art as part of their cultural legacy. At least the Shi’a are mostly liberal about respectful depictions.

So why are they going apeshit over depictions now? I’d say because fundamentalism is on the rise in just about every religious denomination out there, save maybe Jainists and Jedi Knights. I mean, even the Pastafarians are girding for war (by carbo-loading on fettuccini carbonara I guess?). And it’s no wonder they have to tighten their grip on the already deluded, when they are losing as much ground in the world as they are to the forces of rational behaviour and scientific understanding of the universe.

I’d almost feel bad for them, even while I work tirelessly toward the end of supplanting their superstition-based worldview in the political sphere. I am of the opinion that you can believe what you want, except if you use that faith-based framework to make decisions that should be more rightly made using facts and data and empirical evidence — e.g. anything to do with politics. So, while they’re busy threatening everyone’s death over our beliefs clashing with their beliefs, we’re making inroads toward peeling the less susceptible to religion’s easy answers away from their mental trap, and thus dwindling their population base. Their threats and bluster and actual acts of terrorism are actually, unwittingly, helping our cause.

They can kill us as individuals, as they did with Theo Van Gogh, but in making martyrs for the cause of freedom of speech, they’d be murdering their own belief system in the long run — they’re giving Allah a death by a thousand cuts. Given the horrors religion has wrought in the names of… well, more gods than you can shake a stick at, that’s a good thing for humankind.

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