What a snowman in Saudi Arabia has to do with the Charlie Hebdo cartoons

Snow is rare in Saudi Arabia so when freezing temperatures resulted in snow falling many used the opportunity to build things, including snowmen and even a snow camel. However, a cleric responding to a question after the event said building replicas of living things is not allowed.

The instruction to not build snowmen is based on the same religious teachings that don’t allow for images of the prophet Mohammed.

In the teachings used alongside the Quran, there is a Hadith which warns that statues and images of living things could lead to idol worship. As there is only one God in Islam, worshipping idols is not allowed and so neither is the creation of objects that could become idols.

This is the basis for banning all representations of living things in Islam. It is also why shapes, patterns and writing features so prominently in Islamic art and decoration. Given the importance of Mohammed to Islam, creating an image of him is even more problematic.

But then it gets complicated. There are images of Mohammed that have been created throughout history both by followers of Islam and those that are not. Sometimes he has been depicted with his face covered by a veil or as a flame-like halo. One reason for the variation is that Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims differ on how strictly this needs to be applied. Sunni Muslims make up the majority of Muslims and are most spread out geographically which means the most Muslim communities would not want any images of Mohammed to be published.

The further aggravating factor is that the occasions most recently when depictions have been published, they have also been negative. The combination of these three factors has drawn anger and criticism from Muslims and the response certainly from people who don’t accept or understand why it is an issue has been further antagonism.

This is an element of a larger issue about how Islamic communities respond to the measures various countries have taken against Middle East countries under the banner of combatting terrorism even though significant civilian casualties have not succeeded. Some may argue it has sustained or even increased the chance for future terrorist acts.

This is not intended to resolve the debate about freedom of expression, justify the beliefs of Islam or comment on how to combat terrorism. It is hopefully a first step in inviting further reading and discussion about a complex subject.

Sources: Snow Story http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/12/us-odd-saudi-snow-idUSKBN0KL15N20150112

Snow Picture credit http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/saudi-fatwa-banning-snowmen-triggers-heated-debate-1.1439821

Wiki entry on images of Mohammed http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DepictionsofMuhammad

A piece on the “ban” of images of Mohammed following the Danish cartoons publication http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2010/05/06/why-islam-does-not-ban-images-of-the-prophet/2383

Hadiths http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadith

An imam responds to questions about the depiction of Mohammed http://o.canada.com/news/charlie-hebdo-depictions-of-prophet-muhammad-574875


Recommended

by NEWSROOM AI

702 welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the 702 community a safe and welcoming space for all.

702 reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

702 is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
How to win elections and influence people

How to win elections and influence people

You could say elections are being disrupted.

Technology disrupted tax income, but nobody escapes taxes

Technology disrupted tax income, but nobody escapes taxes

Digital companies have had a good run, but new taxes are coming.

Solving puzzles and mysteries, and what all of us may be missing about it

Solving puzzles and mysteries, and what all of us may be missing about it

At last, a way to future proof yourself against the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Boredom, loneliness and addiction

Boredom, loneliness and addiction

The best way to describe our relationship with the internet is “it's complicated".

The world is reliant on fertilizer and this is who controls most of it

The world is reliant on fertilizer and this is who controls most of it

One country holds as much as 70% of the world’s phosphate and we can’t feed the world without it.

How Instagram captured the moment

How Instagram captured the moment

An app so simple even Steve Jobs would have been proud.

Popular articles
Madiba’s private secretary Zelda la Grange opens up about money (hers and his)

Madiba’s private secretary Zelda la Grange opens up about money (hers and his)

Bruce Whitfield interviews La Grange about her and Madiba's attitude to money (hopes and fears, successes and failures, etc.)

How to make money through ‘buy-to-let’ (using very little of your own money)

How to make money through ‘buy-to-let’ (using very little of your own money)

Bruce Whitfield interviews Francois Janse van Rensburg, author of “Making Money through Buy-To-Let in South Africa".

Meet Elmar Conradie, CEO of low-cost FlySafair (world’s most on-time airline)

Meet Elmar Conradie, CEO of low-cost FlySafair (world’s most on-time airline)

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Conradie for his “ShapeShifter” feature.

Still recourse for family after NPA leave Zuma's son scot-free for fatal crash

Still recourse for family after NPA leave Zuma's son scot-free for fatal crash

NPA allegedly let Duduzane Zuma off the hook, despite a magistrate ruling he must be held liable for a woman's death in car crash.

UPDATE: Chilling WhatsApp from Marli van Breda's ex-boyfriend read out in court

UPDATE: Chilling WhatsApp from Marli van Breda's ex-boyfriend read out in court

Marli van Breda's ex took the stand in the trial of triple murder accused Henri van Breda.

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

WIN R2000! But only if you can prove you're a whiz of the MTN Biz Quiz by answering the following three questions...

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Is social trend Blesserfinder, where girls are allegedly matching up with rich 'benefactors' in exchange for sex, a real thing?