A central tenet

CNN ran a solemn backgrounder piece yesterday explaining Why Islam forbids images of Mohammed aka Why images of Mohammed offend Muslims. (It has more than one title, don’t ask me why.)

(CNN) Violence over depictions of the Prophet Mohammed may mystify many non-Muslims, but it speaks to a central tenet of Islam: the worship of God alone.

No doubt it does, but so what? A central tenet of Islam may be relevant to Muslims (or it may not; it should be up to them), but it’s not relevant to anyone else. By the same token, a “central tenet” of Catholicism is not relevant to non-Catholics. It’s not even relevant to many Catholics, and it’s certainly not relevant to everyone else. Adherents of religion X don’t get to force the rest of the world to defer to the tenets of X, however central they may be.

So we get to go on being mystified, and disgusted and repelled, by violence over images of Mo, because we get to choose for ourselves which strictly religious taboos we will obey, if any. Other people don’t get to enforce their strictly religious taboos on the whole world.


  1. johnthedrunkard says

    Any explanation about the vast number of images of Mohammed in Persian and Indian art?

    Once again the ‘community leaders’ get to dictate what does or doesn’t ‘go’ in a community far beyond their control.

    And, of course, the ban on ‘graven images’ is ready to be invoked by any Christian or Jewish sect that wants to attack any other.

  2. Margaret says

    So this is claiming that Muslims are offended that some non-Muslims are worshiping Mohamed (by drawing pictures of him)?

  3. Saad says

    (CNN) Violence over depictions of the Prophet Mohammed may mystify many non-Muslims, but it speaks to a central tenet of Islam: the worship of God alone.

    What a stupid thing to say. Replace the word “violence” with “offense”, and I’ll agree.

    Being offended DOES NOT automatically translate to violence. Murdering people is NOT the logical and natural next step once one has felt offended. That quote sounds like it’s attempting to excuse murder as a response to blasphemy.

  4. says

    So what? Jews don’t eat pork; shall we conceal the existence of pigs? Scientologists are afraid of clams (no shit, really!) shall we ban representation of clams because it reminds them of Xenu? Christians don’t like the work on Sundays do stores have to be closed then? Oh, um.

    The issue is when religious-inspired “dislike” turns into an attempt to change everyone else’s behaviors and violence is resorted to when it doesn’t. The first is stupid and should be resisted, the second is immoral and illegal.

  5. zubanel says

    Exactly. Anyone who inflicts their own self limitations based on their preferred beliefs about reality on others, loses the right to consideration. There is no more need for anyone to give a shit what someone else’s religion is or the limits it imposes. But the moment someone acts to enforce their religion on another, their religion is no longer relevant and certainly not worth consideration in the matter with respect to how they are thought of or treated.

  6. Jean says

    A central tenet of Islam as opposed to the first three christian commandments. That makes sense…

  7. says

    Jean@#6 – to be fair, most American christians only know the Cecil B. DeMille version of the ten commandments, so they wouldn’t have any idea what the muslims are going on about.

  8. aziraphale says

    Seems to me that the Charlie Hebdo cartoons are almost guaranteed to deter anyone from worshiping Mohammed, should the idea have occurred to them.

  9. rjw1 says

    “So what?” Yes, indeed that’s a question we all should ask.

    Who cares what the ‘explanation’ for the prohibition is, throughout history, believers have attempted, often successfully, to present their superstitions as universal moral imperatives and force infidels to comply. The message from Muslims is, “assume the dhimmi status Kufars, or die”.

  10. moarscienceplz says

    Actually, making an image of *any* living thing except plants is forbidden. So those pictures of “martyred” suicide bombers that are kept by many friends and relatives are a sin, too.

  11. enkidu says

    So what, indeed! Besides which it is mostly bull shit. Far from being dictated by god almighty, Islam was cobbled together from bits of Judaism and Christianity. The Christian iconoclasts (image breakers), one side of a very vicious conflict within Christianity, were out of favour in the Byzantine empire at the time Islam was emerging, many were (self) exiled to the Arab areas beyond the imperial frontier. This is the most probable origin of the taboo on images of Mohammed.

  12. Holms says

    Two of christianity’s commandments forbid a) worshipping other gods and b) making any ‘graven image or likeness’ of any thing in heaven or on earth or under earth, i.e. no images of anything at all.

    Therefore, everyone needs to be christian and no images of anything ever.

  13. lorn says

    While my understanding of events is certainly not encyclopedic it occurs to me that, as far as I know, none of the depictions of Mohammed that have been used as excuses for attacks were drawn with worship in mind. The Islamic extremists advocating murder and acting as apologists for murder are clearly not interested in stopping people worshiping Mohammed anywhere near as much as they are driven by a need to kill people who ridicule Mohammed. The first may be interpreted as a holy commandment for Muslims, the later, not so much.

    Typical of the lot, neither of these seem like worship-worthy depictions.



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