Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

I am not interested in living in a world where people feel they are justified in killing others simply because they’re offended.

Therefore, I am participating in Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. If you are offended by depictions of your prophet, I apologize, but I feel that the principle of freedom of religion is more important than not offending you. If you say that it’s only a few extremists who would want to kill people over this, then I say to you: clean your own house, then we’ll talk. If you’ll stand up in your mosque tomorrow and condemn violence against blasphemers, then we’ll talk.

The picture below is a miniature illustration on vellum from the book Jami’ al-Tawarikh (literally “Compendium of Chronicles” but often referred to as The Universal History or History of the World), by Rashid al-Din, published in Tabriz, Persia, 1307 A.D. It depicts Mohammed supervising the rebuilding of the Kaaba.

In other words, it’s an image of Mohammed drawn by a devout Muslim. There are many such images.

A Reformation In Islam

Interesting news from Turkey: a team of scholars has been revising and re-interpreting the Hadith — collections of sayings of Mohammed that have quasi-sacred status in Islam — in light of the assumption that they were intended to interact with the culture of the day, and that they must be re-interpreted in light of today’s culture:

Some sayings accepted as being genuinely spoken by Muhammad have been altered and reinterpreted.

Prof Mehmet Gormez, a senior official in the Department of Religious Affairs and an expert on the Hadith, gives a telling example.

“There are some messages that ban women from travelling for three days or more without their husband’s permission and they are genuine.

“But this isn’t a religious ban. It came about because in the Prophet’s time it simply wasn’t safe for a woman to travel alone like that. But as time has passed, people have made permanent what was only supposed to be a temporary ban for safety reasons.”

The project justifies such bold interference in the 1,400-year-old content of the Hadith by rigorous academic research.

Prof Gormez points out that in another speech, the Prophet said “he longed for the day when a woman might travel long distances alone”.

So, he argues, it is clear what the Prophet’s goal was.