Moonies

Consider this. Imagine a religious cult 'Moonies', who believe that Moon is a sacred God, and that any attempt to draw, take a photograph of or land on the Moon is an act of extreme blasphemy and badly hurts the feelings of Moonies. Now, based on how Moonies feel, should it be banned to draw, take a photograph of or land on the moon? Suppose that NASA decides to go ahead and publishes a detailed catalogue of Moon's topography. Moonies go wild with anger and there are world-wide protests, and one of the NASA photographers is actually murdered. So one person in protest against this violence decides to start a movement on facebook "Draw a Moon Day". Would the Moonies be justified in protesting against it and asking for a ban on Facebook?

You tell me.

[From a comment i made on Kellogs.]

Comments

F. said…
Inspired by the word lunacy? But no, I don't agree with your example. The moon is not an abstract concept, it has a physical presence and is actually visible to everyone.
Awais Aftab said…
@ F.

And how does moon being a physical object affect the analogy?
F. said…
So what the moonies are doing is, they are asking everyone not to draw/photograph something everyone can see. What Muslims do is, they ask people not to draw/photograph something that nobody has actually seen. The first would be asking for denial. The second is asking for, well, no creative interpretation of a certain conceptual entity.
Awais Aftab said…
@ F.

Agreed that its not something everyone can see, yet the person in question, Muhammad, is a crucial part of religious history and has a 'presence' [abstract of course, but a presence nevertheless] which any person with a consciousness of history cannot ignore. Imagine a cartoonist who draws every religious-historical personality, but has to stop his marker when it comes to this? It is denial still, my dear.
F. said…
Bad example aside, I understand the point you're trying to make. I've already explained my reasons for being against the Draw Muhammad project so I'm going to take it and mentally separate it from that project, and say: Good point.
F. said…
How can you actually draw someone nobody's seen? What I mean to say is, I could draw any face and say it's a prophet so-and-so and neither I nor anyone else would be in any position to verify that claim. That's still not denial because what the heck am I denying? The actual identity of that which I would have to accept or deny is unknown.
Awais Aftab said…
@ F.

Yes, your reasons (as explained earlier) were justified. But i think your objections would have been nullified if the Draw Muhammad Project had actually been a contest of "Draw a historical illustration of Muhammad for a History Book".

That is, the point i am focusing here in this post is that is it justified to react against illustrations of Muhammad that are not by their nature ridiculing or racist or islamophobic? Muslims would say Yes, but the whole point of this thought experiment is to try to bring some objectivity to the issue.
F. said…
Hmm, what a character that would make. Very Queen of Hearts, that.
"The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. 'Off with his head!' she said, without even looking round."
This goes for both, those who claim their Prophet has been offended by a random picture "of him" and those who claim they are being denied their right to draw a religious/historical/mythological/whatever figure.
Awais Aftab said…
@ F.

How can you actually draw someone nobody's seen?

I don't think this is an issue which affects the validity of the analogy at all. A drawing doesn't have to rest on the physical resemblance; just portraying an idea is enough.

Moon is a physical presence, so drawing it involves relating to a physical object.
Muhammad is a person of the past and still possesses a historical presence; in this sense "abstract", hence drawing him wouldn't be about relating to him physically, but relating to an idea.

Why should it affect the analogy?
F. said…
I cannot actually draw Muhammad. So the offense is delivered not through what I draw but how & why I draw. If I draw a pedophile soliciting sex from a child and label it "Muhammad", Muslims will not get offended because I dared to 'draw Muhammad'. Think about it.
Awais Aftab said…
@ F

But what if a artist draws a scene of Conquest of Mecca, with Muhammad sitting on a horse inside the Kaaba watching his followers destroy the idols around him.

Muslims would still find it offensive because someone dared to draw Muhammad.
F. said…
Ideas and how they are perceived vary from person to person and between groups. Physical objects have qualities that are generally perceived the same way. The moon is round, the moon is pale, etc. What does Muhammad look like? You make a man in his forties, from the right time period. He has a beard, you know, and various other details. But how can you say this is him? It could just as well actually look like someone else. Muhammad's neighbor, Muhammad's coworker, Muhammad's grocery stall owner, Muhammad's guy-he-saw-on-the-street. How do you know, man?
When you draw the moon, you draw the moon. But when you draw such a person, you draw only a person and then YOU say it looks like a certain historical figure to you.
Awais Aftab said…
@ F

Yes, you are right. But you are explaining the difference between drawing the moon and drawing a historical person. But this difference has no bearing on this particular analogy:

"Drawing Moon should be banned because it offends the Moonies."

"Drawing Muhammad should be banned because it offends the Muslims."

The issue is not the technicality of drawing, but the offense being taken. The difference that u have mentioned doesn't imply in any way that it is wrong to ban the drawing of Moon but okay to ban the drawing of Muhammad. So, the difference you mention doesn't affect the issue in question.
F. said…
It wouldn't be the first time someone's drawn Muhammad. I used to have an encyclopedia as a child that had a picture of Muhammad praying alongside his followers. It was made by a Muslim artist from the middle ages, I believe, and nobody killed him nor did anyone burn the encyclopedia. (It was a secondhand one passed on to me from one of my father's students.) Don't forget this whole mess started with caricatures that were supposed to offend.
F. said…
But it does, because the nature of what you're drawing is different.

"Photographing naked adults in intimate positions should be banned because it offends people."

"Photographing naked toddlers in intimate positions should be banned because it offends people."
Ron said…
Just one small question:

Why so much protest among Pakistanis??

No other Muslim country is as "over sensitive" as Pakistanis are....are u guys somewhat superior to rest of the muslim world?

Read what is happening in Malaysia:

http://pakteahouse.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/mass-madness-over-the-internet/
Ron said…
@F
Have a read:
This one is perhaps the most logical and rational piece on the topic:

http://pakteahouse.wordpress.com/2010/05/22/facebookgate/
Awais Aftab said…
@ F.

The nature of drawing may be different but there is one thing in common in the analogy: the status as a blasphemy. Drawing Moon is a blasphemy of Moonies, Drawing Muhammad is a blasphemy for Muslims. That's the basic point.
F. said…
Your analogy is not general enough to be taken as a mere question on blasphemy. It's very targeted, which means subtle differences in details have to be looked at.
裕以 said…
無一事而不學,無一時而不學,無一處而不學。.............................................
Dur-e-Aziz Amna said…
Uh-oh.
Did you know that 'Moonies' is a colloquial/slightly derogatory term used for an actual religious sect, members of the Unification Church?
:p
Awais Aftab said…
@ Dure

I didn't know that, honestly. Lolz.
Komal said…
People don't know what Jesus looked like either. He's also a 'presence'. Yet Christians depict him all the time (too much, IMO, but that's another issue). The same applies to all historical figures whose appearance we're not certain of.

Not knowing what Muhammad looked like is irrelevant to Awais's point.

Also, one can make reasonable guesses about what he looked like. He was an Arab, so presumably had a typical Arab appearance. He was male and had facial hair. From then onwards it's reconstruction, but that is not inherently offensive (just inherently less-likely-to-be-accurate, which is not the same thing).
Raheel said…
Greeting,

Awais and all others..it is important for you to know that drawing of Prophet Muhammad (S) image is itself not considered blasphemed but drawing photos of any living thing is considered forbidden. This forbiddence is not self created by Muslims today but was made so by Prophet Muhammad by the orders of Allah.

It is forbidden to draw image of any living creature in Islam and one can understand how it would be if some others do so with Prophet Muhammad(S) himself...
Momekh said…
First off, Islam has never denied drawings - of living people or anything. It is the 'misinterpretation' of one hadith that has lead many to believe this. But to the point you are making, about Moonies and banning Moon drawings.

I'd like to point out that the issues of 'banning' drawing of Moon is not the point here.

If I know that you praise the Moon daily and really get offended by it, I wouldn't draw it. If for 'academic reasons' you 'have' to draw the moon, then WHY would I object? It is for 'academic' reasons, hello... meaning that most of the 'world' will take it like it takes everything else. E.g. the picture of the Prophet PBUH in an encyclopedia etc.

Are you implying that 'Draw Mohammad Day' was for 'academic' or 'research' reasons? Heh.

I don't draw the Prophet PBUH because my concept of respect doesn't allow such things. Just like I won't celebrate the Prophet's birthday, and forget about him for the remaining years. The Prophet PBUH has greater influence on me than pretty much anything in my life, so yes, I get offended if someone WANTS to offend me, but I won't react and let them win. But that's me (and a lot of other people who hold this view).

P.S. The wonders of stereotyping dictates that people who believe in God are narrowminded and people who don't are openminded. Of course, stereotypes are a dangerous thing. All are innocent unless proven guilty. That is the benefit of doubt one must give to all, regardless they are the court of law or not.
Raheel said…
@ Momekh...you have your point there in your message but onething I would like to say on you first paragrapgh that it is not an interpretation/misinterpretation of one Hadith but understanding of many Hadith that indicate and orders the forbidence of making pictures...