RELIGIOUS GUIDANCE ON THE DEPICTION OF PROPHETS (PEACE BE UPON THEM) IN MOVIES
Islamic Position on the depiction of Prophets
- Prophets and Messengers are highly revered in the Islamic faith. Prophets are considered by Muslims as unique and revered individuals with no equal comparison. Muslims also regard prophethood as a sacred1 institution and therefore the depiction of any prophetic figure is not permissible. This is also the position held by the Darul Ifta’ of Egypt2 and the Islamic Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League3.
Islamic Position on Prophet Nuh (Noah) a.s.
- Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) was appointed as a Messenger of Allah. His struggle in calling his people to submit to the One God was recorded in verses of several chapters in the Quran4. There is even a dedicated chapter (chapter 71) in the Quran which is named after him. These are thus the main sources of reference for Muslims with regard to the history of Prophet Nuh.
- In the Quran, Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) was a man who cared dearly for his family and was not involved in any attempts to kill anyone of his family members as portrayed in some problematic narrations. He was also recorded to have faced serious oppositions from his people on the message that he conveyed. He was mocked and ridiculed for calling them to the Oneness of God, and for them to abandon their hedonistic and destructive lifestyles. Despite all that, he was a patient man who continued his efforts to reform his society for 950 years5. However, only a handful accepted his teachings, and even his son and wife defied him6.
- Prophet Nuh had tried his best to convince as many people to believe in his message, but they continued their insults and accused him of being a mad man. This was when he asked Allah to save him and the believers from the decadence of the rest of the community. Allah then commanded him to build an ark. He was then instructed to bring on board his followers and pairs of various animals. This is so that they will be saved from the catastrophic flood.
- We are fully aware that there are alternative narratives of our Prophets, including Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) which may be different from our Islamic narrative. We believe that in facing these problematic depictions of prophetic figures, individual discretion need to be critically exercised. Muslims must ensure that our narratives of prophetic figures must be based on sources from the Quran, authentic hadiths (Prophetic traditions) or books from established Islamic scholars like Stories of the Prophets (peace be upon them) by Imam Ibn Kathir. We would also encourage Muslims to consult our religious scholars when in doubt and to deepen their knowledge on the histories of our prophets.
OFFICE OF THE MUFTI
ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS COUNCIL OF SINGAPORE
1 Al-Bajuri, Tuhfah Al-Murid, Damascus, Maktabah Daar Al-Beiruti, 1st print, 2002, pg 315
3 At its 20th session held in Mecca, Saudi Arabia from 25 December till 29 December 2010.
4 Amongst those verses are found in surah al-A’raaf:7, ash-Shu’araa’:105-122, Hud:22-34, Hud:36 – 48
5 See Al-‘Ankabut, 29:14
6 See At-Tahrim, 66:10 and Hud, 11:42-43