Drawing the prophet: Islam’s hidden history of Muhammad images
Ban on depictions has not always been absolute – Islam has a rich heritage of images and icons dating back to the 13th century
Educated readers and people of good will will benefit greatly from the knowledge and underlying scholarship presented here, particularly In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo atrocity and tragedy.
To many Muslims, any image of the prophet Muhammad is sacrilegious, but the ban has not always been absolute and there is a small but rich tradition of devotional Islamic art going back more than seven centuries that does depict God’s messenger.
Mecca in a 1918 illustration from La Vie de Mohammed, Prophete d’Allah. Photograph: Print Collector/Getty Images
It began with exquisite miniatures from the 13th century, scholars say. Commissioned from Muslim artists by the rich and powerful of their day, they show almost every episode of Muhammad’s life as recounted in the Qur’an and other texts, from birth to death and ascension into heaven.