Thursday, 8 January 2015
Muslim Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad
Considering recent events, this is a good time to point out that the ban on depictions of the Prophet Muhammad are not universal in Islam. There have been eras in the past where Muhammad was depicted in visual form, and he continues to be depicted in parts of the Muslim world today.
The above picture is taken from the Siyer-i Nebi: The Life of the Prophet, written in Cairo circa 1388 and illustrated in Constantinople (modern Istanbul) in 1595. The book contains several images of Muhammad. This one shows him and his followers marching on Mecca accompanied by angels. In all of the images the prophet's face is covered. More illustrations from the book can be seen at the website for Bilkent University in Turkey.
The University of Bergen also has a webpage of Muslim art show Muhammad. One of them is this Shia image from Iran. Most Persians have never followed the belief that Muslims are forbidden to create images of humans, and this has extended to including Muhammad in their art. Most Sunni believe that such depictions are wrong, but as the Ottoman image proves, this hasn't always been the case.