Friday, February 17, 2006

The Big Picture

I'm puzzled by news coverage of the cartoon row, which continues to feature explanatory nut graphs like this one from Reuters:

Weeks of sometimes violent protests by Muslims across the world against the cartoons have triggered fears of a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam. Muslims believe images of the Prophet are forbidden.

Now, I'm no expert on Sharia or the hadiths, but I have read a bit about them and from what I understand, depictions of the prophet are forbidden to Muslims. The books I have on Islamic rules, written before this event, make no mention of this being a problem for non-Muslims that requires riots and death contracts.

Having pictures of real people in your house is a sin, according to fundamentalist Muslim schools of law. Fine, I even understand that, in an 8th century kind of way. The early Muslim spiritual fathers were trying to enforce strict monotheism on people raised in polytheism and idolatry. Like the early Christians, they had to work tirelessly to keep the people from simply turning the new religion into a fresh form of the old one.

So Muslims sin if they depict the prophet. And Allah will punish them for it. But what do they care if we do it? We kufr already are bound for an eternity of burning in gehenna, and our every action is an offense to Allah. Why would they care so much about us committing a sin that only is forbidden to them? Why, suddenly, this explosion of rage against us over "forbidden" images of the Prophet.

I have my own theories, and I bet you do, too. But for news media outlets to keep talking of "images of the Prophet are forbidden" as the only explanation is transparently stupid.