September 12th, 2012
12:06 PM ET
Ambassador's killing shines light on Muslim sensitivities around Prophet Mohammed
By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editors
(CNN) – Violence over depictions of the Prophet Mohammed may mystify many non-Muslims, but it speaks to a central tenet of Islam: that the Prophet was a man, not God, and that portraying him threatens to lead to worshiping a human instead of Allah.
“It's all rooted in the notion of idol worship,” says Akbar Ahmed, who chairs the Islamic Studies department at American University. “In Islam, the notion of God versus any depiction of God or any sacred figure is very strong."
“The Prophet himself was aware that if people saw his face portrayed by people, they would soon start worshiping him,” Ahmed says. “So he himself spoke against such images, saying ‘I’m just a man.’”
The prohibition against such portrayals was on stark display Tuesday, as mobs in Egypt and Libya attacked U.S. compounds in response to a film that vilifies the Prophet Mohammed, who founded Islam in the 7th century. The attack on the U.S. personnel in Benghazi, Libya, was orchestrated by extremists who used the protests as a diversion, U.S. sources told CNN Wednesday.
The attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi killed J. Christopher Stevens, Washington's ambassador to Libya, as well as three other Americans at the compound.
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The film that’s believed to have inspired the violence depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a child molester, womanizer and ruthless killer, going a big step beyond violating the basic Muslim prohibition against depicting the Prophet, even in a favorable light.
There are questions about who is behind the movie. Initial reports identified a supposedly Israeli-American real-estate developer named Sam Bacile, but it's unclear if that person even exists. A member of the film's production staff told CNN that the producer's name was listed as Abenob Nakoula Basseley.
In Sunni mosques, the largest branch of the faith, there are no images of people of any kind. The spaces are often decorated with verses from the Quran.
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Mohamed Magid, an imam who leads the Islamic Society of North America, says the Muslim prohibition on depicting prophets extends to Jesus and Moses, who Islam treats as prophets.
“Pictures and images are prohibited from being worshiped,” Magid says.
There have been historical instances of Muslims depicting the Prophet, says Omid Safi, a religious studies professor at the University of North Carolina who has studied the issue.
"We have had visual depictions of the Prophet in the form of miniatures and pictures in the Iranian context, the Turkish context, the central Asian Context,” says Safi, author of the book "Memories of Mohammed." “The one significant context where depictions of the Prophet have not been image-related has been in the Arab context.”
“As you go farther east, away from the Arabian Peninsula, you find depictions of the prophet in art,” said Johari Abdul-Malik, the imam for Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia. He noted that images of the teachings of the prophet were sometimes used to bridge gaps in illiteracy.
But even depictions of the Prophet by Muslim artists has been a sensitive issue.
Akbar, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United Kingdom, says that Muslim artists in the 15th and 16th centuries would depict the Prophet but took pains to avoid drawing his face.
“It would be as if he was wearing a veil on his face, so the really orthodox could not object – that was the solution they found," Akbar says.
In a Muslim film called “The Messenger,” which circulated throughout the Muslim world in the 1970s and 1980s, the Prophet is depicted only as a shadow.
Adbul-Malik said that in the Quran, there is “no statement from the prophet requesting his image not be recorded.” The passages relating to a ban on creating images of the prophets come from the hadith, recordings of the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed and his closest companions. The hadith is not viewed on the same plane as the Quran but as important to understanding the Quran.
Scholars of religion say Muslim opposition to portraying Mohammed wasn’t generally violated in earlier centuries because of a gulf between much of the Muslim world and the West.
In the age of globalization, non-Muslims and critics of Islam have felt free to depict Mohammed, including in offensive ways.
In 2006, a Danish cartoonist’s depiction of the Prophet wearing a bomb as a turban with a lit fuse provoked demonstrations across the world.
Akbar says that until relatively recently, depictions of Jesus tended to be reverential, but Christianity has had a decades-long head start in dealing with negative portrayals of Jesus in film and art.
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
There's nothing like a good movie to bring out the idiots in this world. You know the one that that god did not create.
The Joker was living on the gumit dole.
someone said that Islam is a disease i tell him that Islam is most spreading religion in the world weather you like it or not but you are asking why ??? that's the question
This shows the true face of Islam. If an opinion goes against their beliefs, then the opinion must be killed.
The appeasement of Islam by the West will lead only to submission of our values
Irony of this is the fact that a low budget movie managed to cause a bigger affect in casualties than many high priced drone strikes. The pen is mightier than a sword.
look at the facts what happened in middle east was an ending or a sum of the media attacks on Islam as Muslims we refuse to
curse god or Mohammed or Jesus or Moses we are responsible of our actions and hoped for long time others to be responsible as well we refuse the idea of doing whatever you like like an animals we are humans we should respect and appreciate life and god ,for example when we fast as Muslims many of our Christians partners at work hide their food i say that what manners and respect means we know that what happened was done by few people but it was also allowed by authorities as i refuse killing innocent people whoever they are but i refuse cursing prophet Mohammed
You must be new around here. Media attacks? They lie about everything as a matter of course.......'1Jo 5:19 [And] we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.'
If you live in the West or go on the internet which is a Western invention and you are a Muslim you are saying it is okay to see material that depicts Mohammad in all kinds of ways. The movie they are saying that they are rioting about was on Face Book. Those Muslim had to go onto the Western invention called the internet in order to view it. When they went on the internet they were saying it is okay to view Western views that are often not Islamic views. The rioters are totally responsible for their own actions. The movie is not to blame. If you don't like Western culture which includes comedy and artistic depictions of Mohammad and Islam stay out of the West and stay off the Western created internet. Muslims can create their own Islamic friendly internet.
There is no excuse for their rioting. The movie they found was on the internet, a Western made device. Muslims who do not want to get offended need to stay out of the West and off the internet which is a Western device.
look at the facts what happened in middle east was an ending or a sum of the media attacks on Islam as Muslims we refuse to
curse god or Mohammed or Jesus or Moses we are responsible of our actions and hoped for long time others to be responsible as well we refuse the idea of doing whatever you like like an animals we are humans we should respect and appreciate life and god ,for example when we fast as Muslims many of our Christians partners at work hide their food i say that what manners and respect means we know that what happened was done by few people but it was also allowed by authorities as i refuse killing innocent people whoever they are but i refuse cursing prophet Mohammed last messenger
Well said Sherry. I agree with you all the way. These people will use any excuse to kill. It was not about a movie. It was a formulated plan on behalf Al Quieda. Pretty much all over event. Movie was a ploy. Wake up people. Ever here of 9-11?? Tim Nolan. You sound like a bleeding heart for "these people". Go there, and then come back and see if you still feel the same way. Where do they get off thinking it's ok to kill Americans, becuase they are "offended"?
The facts tend to favor your views: accurate mortar fire coupled with rocket-propelled grenades. One of the policemen guarding the compound was seen taking photos of it hours before the attack. The safe house that te staff was moved to came under attack almost immediately from mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. This tpe of attack has to be planned, requires precise measurements and inside information as to the location of the safe house. One thing NOT being reported in any of the US news media: the ambassador's dead body was dragged around the streets, with people stoppng to take pictures along the way. So much for "they carried him to the hospital" ....
Street riots usually do not have automatic weapons, rockets and grenades. It appears that Al Quida is involved becaused the US nailed the #2 man in the terrorist organization.
It doesn't excuse the attacks, But if the Libyan and egyptians can't provide the protection our embassy needs, I think we should cut off all aid, and break off diplomatic relations. Let them see how far they get without our help. This is all the more reasons to end our dependence on arab oil. Lets quit supporting these fanatics and their countries. If they want to tolerate terrorists in their midst, fine, but we don't need to put anymore money in their pockets.
Children have adult supervision.
Now this is precisely why they let you go from the
Evangelical Fortune Cookie Company.
Nothing. They both believe anything they're told, and neither one has the emotional maturity required to question authority, tradition, or doctrine.
1.5 million Conservative Jews and their rabbis have solved the problem:
origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.
New Torah For Modern Minds
“Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.
Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.
Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.
The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel – not one shard of pottery."
Did you ask them when they did their last blood sacrifice?......'Hbr 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.'
They're digging in the wrong place, you, ahem, idiot. Mt. Sinai is in NY. I saw it on a map.
How funny. I was at work when I supposedly posted this, and was nowhere near a computer.
Poor little herbie.
There is no herbie.
Check out this video on YouTube:
ISLAM IS DISEASE.
Why bomb embassies and consulates and kill innocent people? Why not send a band of suicide bombers to the film makers, directors and producers?
Because it's not about the movie.
I seem to remember some anti christian films made by muslims that show christians getting their heads sawed off. lets remember those reporters, civilians and soldiers who were used in those films when we talk about this anti islam film. the United States doesnt kill in the name of religion and we sure dont post such killings on the interet as propaganda.
The movie was made by atheists to create chaos while hiding in a closet.
Our Muslim brothers should seek, find and bomb all them (atheists)inside their rat holes instead of US embassies and consulates.
Maybe you should read the article first.
The guy who made the movie is a coptic xtian, and is a follower of Terry Jones, another xtian.
And then you go and say how there should be even more violence commited to kill atheists.
I guess all that jeebus loving did not register with you.
How many guns do you own?
Were the muslims your brothers on 9/11?
Funny how you fundies rally around each other when it is convienent to your cause.
I guess here, that cause is to kill anyone who does not believe in your fairy tale.
No, there isn't more more violence to kill all atheists. It is less violence to kill them because there are less of them. They are only less than 2% of the world populace. And I SPECIFICALLY referring to atheists and does not include agnostics and unaffiliated.
"atheists are bunch of cowards and gutless jerks"
Seems like you are the uninformed, uneducated jerk here. Let's see who is involved in this entire mess: religious people – plain and simple. And because you are so off base, you exemplify the problem.
As per the article: "There are questions about who is behind the movie. Initial reports identified a supposedly Israeli-American real-estate developer named Sam Bacile, but it's unclear if that person even exists. A member of the film's production staff told CNN that the producer's name was listed as Abenob Nakoula Basseley.
Apparently, it was you who didn't read the article. OR, you just plainly lying. You must be an atheist.
Actually yingyang, atheists are now 7% of the world population.
And the countries where atheism is the highest are the the countries with the highest standard of living.
But I thought your whole jeebus schtik was about unconditonal love. Why are you promoting killing?
Maybe you need a jeebus refresher......
@old ben & niknak
Do you guys know how to read?
Yes, a life long atheist.
And yes, I can read. They guy is a coptic xtian. Go look it up as it has been reported on many news sites already.
And why are you, a jeebus loving xtian promoting bombing and killing?
If your god is indeed real, won't it make you answer for the hate in your heart?
@ old ben and niknak – arguimg with this person is akin to playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how skilled you are at chess, the pigeon will roam aimlessly across the playing surface, sh!t on the board, knock over the pieces, then strut around declaring victory.
How true Rail.
But at least the pigeon would not come armed with a gun and shoot me.
"atheists are bunch of cowards and gutless jerks" blabbed junk unrelated to the article.
I can read just fine, you nutcase. And when reading, I don't let myself fall into the trap that you always fall into – twisting and turning facts to meet my own personal "enlightened" agenda. Dingbat agenda is more like it.
lol, love the analogy.
Remember this yet?
"Maybe you should read the article first."
Why you're telling me now to "Go look it up as it has been reported on many news sites already."? Is this article is a "many news sites"?
You can do better than that..LAD!
If I were a pigeon I'll never play chess with witless a emu. And I will not sh!t anywhere on but your bald face.
7%? REALLY?!! Care to provide a link here that support such claim?
It's better for atheists to STFU an being thought a liar than open their bigmouths and take away all the doubt.
Let me see if I got it: Muslims believe Muhammad can't be portrayed in any way. Therefore, they object when ANYONE - Muslim or not - portrays him. That is, they're arrogating to themselves the authority to force the entire planet - Muslim and non-Muslim alike - to live according to this precept of their religion.
I suggest the more mature response would be for them to admit that they don't possess this authority; that there will always be someone, somewhere who refuses to obey their religion; and that rampaging and rioting isn't going to coerce them to do so. In other words, they need to freaking grow up fercryinoutloud. Yes, I get that a lot of them live in Third World mud-&-wattle hovels ... but tha's no excuse for grown adults to act like little kids throwing a tantrum 'cause mommy made them go to bed early.
Gimme a break and cut the lame excuses. This is about one thing only: Religionistic immaturity. Islam has infantilized these people. It needs to undo that damage and stop the infantilization of its followers.
Take a look at the photos of the attacks and tell us you are going to "suggest a more mature response" to the mob. It pains me to think that so many in the west believe that these issues will be resolved by negotiation and diplomacy. It is apparent that they do not want to negotiate and be diplomatic
The ironic thing is that depictions of Muhammad are prohibited to preclude idol worship of Muhammad, but in fanatically prohibiting images of him that is exactly what they've done.
This issue is going to keep returning, we live in a global communications net so what any idiot publishes can be seen in the Middle East in nanoseconds. But we have are conducting a war in Afghanistan right now and this behavior costs lives, Lincoln suspended habeus corpus.
Of course, by the time a raging mob has formed, a mature response is already out of the question. What I am saying is, grown adults would not have formed such a mob in the first place. Muslims' religion has infantilized them. What needs to happen is for them to grow up and become un-infantilized. I've heard that a lot of "mainstream" Muslims are upset by their fellow religionists' behavior, but I'm not aware that any of them are planning to reform Islam in such a way as to eliminate the infantilizing element of their faith.
What they want is merely to distance themselves from others who make their religion look bad. Unfortunately, in the eyes of outside observers such as myself, that ship has already sailed: the religion ALREADY looks bad. Distancing can't make it look any better. The religion as a whole needs to be altered, in a fundamental way, before it can look better.
Note, Christians do much the same thing ... such as, every time Marion "Pat" Robertson shoots off his mouth. The infantilizing power of religion is not unique to Islam. This is a lesson ALL believers can and should learn ... and they should do something about it NOW, not ... well, someday, when they get around to it, maybe ... !
So, Psi Cop, did you ever see Pat Roberson attack anyone? Betcha didn't. I appreciate it that you try to make Christianity look similar to Islam, but it simply isn't. Pat Robertson has a right to speak, and you should be willing to defend that right. I am sorry that you dislike Christianity, but that is your right.
I regularly produce likenesses of Mohammad, Jesus, Buddha, the Trimurti, the Jewish prophets, Satan, and L. Ron Hubbard. Then I wipe and flush them down the toilet.
I guess "freedom to hate" is more dear to Americans than the lives of hard working honest service men serving this great country. We need to realize that the human emotion of love is a powerful one, and Muslims love their Prophet more than anything else in this world. It is also true that people react differently to insults to their loved ones. Unfortunately the media shows the 1% that riot on streets and burn flags (which is actually against the teachings of Muhammad).
We must stop our hypocrisy of "freedom of expression". There is no "freedom of expression" in this country because there are a ton of things I can list that Americans will get offended by and may riot on streets. Think about it. Do we ever get offended? Will we get offended for instance if someone draws up a picture of us molesting our own children? Or would be proud of the "freedom to insult" people? I hope the Coptic Christians don't get slaughtered because someone wanted to express their hateful "freedom of expression" in public.
Yes, we get offended, but we do not riot, burn and kill. Only the Muslim community does these things. And we are so scared of offending them, that we censor ourselves. Remember David Letterman and how they put a fatwa on him. Or the creators of South Park? I have an article where they said they'd behead Britney Spears because they didn't like how she dressed. This is what they do. ALL THE TIME. This is all they know. Only Muslims riot and kill at the drop of a hat.
Re posting to follow comments.
Well said Sherry. I agree with you all the way. These people will use any excuse to kill. It was not about a movie. It was a formulated plan on behalf Al Quieda. Pretty much all over event. Movie was a ploy. Wake up people. Ever here of 9-11?? Tim Nolan. You sound like a bleeding heart for "these people". Go there, and then come back and see if you still feel the same way. Where do they get off thinking it's ok to kill Americans, because they are "offended"?
thank you for your good explanation of the situation taking place because i from Libya and i have partners at work from different countries France England name it and no one harmed them even by a word
Re: "We need to realize that the human emotion of love is a powerful one, and Muslims love their Prophet more than anything else in this world."
The answer to this is simple: Maturity. Grown adults who are mature, are capable of controlling their emotions. They can be offended, but choose not to riot and rampage. You make it sound as if this is too much to expect ... but it's not. Around the world, billions of people are offended or irked or peeved by something, every day of their lives, yet they choose not to riot and rampage every single time. If they did the human race would have died out long ago.
People can and should control their emotions. We can't afford to just assume they'll never be able to. If we just keep making excuses for their bad behavior, it'll continue forever ... and that won't do us any good.
Just wait till they can produce an atomic weapons and spread the technology. It wont be the embassies over there.This started on 911.Not a coincidence. The Twin towers is just a warm-up and people who will to die for a cause don't really negotiate they just stall for time.Atomic weapons are not that complicated.A critical mass and a good triggering system is all it takes.
Was that an opinion? Or, a suggestion.
PSUGOP : how do you know if he was really a bad person or not ? o-o
-,- idk why ,,, some ppl in this world are really dull ~
The latest outrage by Muslims has nothing to do with a small film but rather the unrest and attacks on US Embassies is a culmination of the rising tensions and deep-rooted hatred amongst civilizations in a divided world (Matthew 12:25,26). For a better understanding of the history of Islam and the Middle East we invite you to read the articles ‘World History and Developments in the Middle East’, ‘Clash of Civilizations’ and ‘CNN Belief Blog – Sign of the Times’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca
All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.
Revelation?? Everyone knows whoever wrote that was high as a kite. Evidently it was St. John the Opium Addict.
This poster is a TROLL on this blog, they have been proven LIARS over and over again – and they are only here to sell their book to support their cult. Click the report abuse link to get rid of this TROLL!
Such behavior is only primitive with no intellect whatsoever, but only as a natural brute beast, which knows only its senses. And still they would suppose themselves justified. Sorry, but the tree shall always be known by its fruit, no matter how much it try's to disguise itself with legitimate looking fruit, yet it shall remain an illegitimate tree, because it harbors illegitimate fruit.