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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Visual Depiction of Prophets Causes Muslim Countries to Ban 'Noah'

  • Religion Today Blog
    Carrie Dedrick
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2014 Apr 01
  • Comments

“Noah,” the $125 million film based on the biblical story of Noah’s ark, was banned last week in Indonesia. The film has been forbidden in Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates since early March.

The problem is not the story itself; the Noah story is in the Quran by another name, Nuh. Instead, the problem with the film is the visual representation of prophets, something that is not allowed in Islamic culture.

According to Religion News Service, the hadith, a collection of Muhammad’s words and lessons, states that the prophet Muhammad should never be visually depicted. The visual depiction of other prophets is not addressed, but Islamic scholars have avoided the practice for many years.

Executive director of the Islamic Institute of Boston said, “To rule out any possibility of abuse, the scholars went to the extreme, and decided to prohibit these drawings.”

The visual depiction of prophets is a gray area for some, but the line is usually drawn between art and blasphemy, but it is often hard to determine where that line falls.

Hatem Al-Hajj, dean of the Shariah Academy of America wrote, “If a discerning adult saw such a work for a certain expected benefit, while being alert to the negative aspects of such depiction, and the possible inaccuracy of the content, then there may be room there for permissibility, given the work doesn’t have other violations.”