Wikipedia:WikiProject Islam/Images of Muhammad

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The issue surrounding depictions of Muhammad on Wikipedia has been of considerable dispute. Some users argue that such images which may be highly inflammatory to some Muslim readers should not be used, or should be used lightly at the very least. Others disagree with this sentiment on the basis that Wikipedia is not censored and that the images are acceptable as they don't offend "typical" Wikipedia readers.

Wikipedia policies and guidelines[edit]

Editors base their relative arguments on various Wikipedia policies and guidelines.

Wikipedia:Profanity[edit]

From WP:PROFANITY:

Words and images that would be considered offensive, profane, or obscene by typical Wikipedia readers should be used if and only if their omission would cause the article to be less informative, relevant, or accurate, and no equally suitable alternatives are available. Including information about offensive material is part of Wikipedia's encyclopedic mission; being offensive is not.

Editors forward that the typical Wikipedia reader would not find these depictions offensive, and that they do indeed add more information of value to articles.

Opposing editors against inclusion of depictions of Muhammad state that such depictions should be restricted to where they are most pertinent, such as Depictions of Muhammad. Usage on other articles, it is argued, do not add any real informational value, as the depictions are not contemperaneous- having been developed centuries after Muhammad's death. As some Muslims typically find depictions of Muhammad to be highly offensive and blasphemous, some editors believe that image usage should be kept to a minimum.

Wikipedia: Not censored[edit]

From WP:NOT#CENSORED:

Wikipedia may contain content that some readers consider objectionable or offensive. Anyone reading Wikipedia can edit an article and the changes are displayed instantaneously without any checking to ensure appropriateness, so Wikipedia cannot guarantee that articles or images are tasteful to all users or adhere to specific social or religious norms or requirements.

Editors argue that Wikipedia must not be censored for religious reasons or because content may be perceived objectionable or offensive, especially when such content may have encyclopedic value.

Wikipedia: Undue weight[edit]

From WP:UNDUE

We should not attempt to represent a dispute as if a view held by a small minority deserved as much attention as a majority view. Views that are held by a tiny minority should not be represented except in articles devoted to those views. To give undue weight to a significant-minority view, or to include a tiny-minority view, might be misleading as to the shape of the dispute. Wikipedia aims to present competing views in proportion to their representation among experts on the subject, or among the concerned parties. This applies not only to article text, but to images, external links, categories, and all other material as well.

Undue weight applies to more than just viewpoints. Just as giving undue weight to a viewpoint is not neutral, so is giving undue weight to other verifiable and sourced statements. An article should not give undue weight to any aspects of the subject, but should strive to treat each aspect with a weight appropriate to its significance to the subject. Note that undue weight can be given in several ways, including, but not limited to, depth of detail, quantity of text, prominence of placement, and juxtaposition of statements.

According to this policy:

  • The viewpoint of a minority should not be expressed as the majority. The degree of representation on Wikipedia should be proportional to its prominence.
  • Undue weight does not apply merely to viewpoints, but to article content in general: "Undue weight applies to more than just viewpoints. Just as giving undue weight to a viewpoint is not neutral, so is giving undue weight to other verifiable and sourced statements. An article should not give undue weight to any aspects of the subject, but should strive to treat each aspect with a weight appropriate to its significance to the subject. Note that undue weight can be given in several ways, including, but not limited to, depth of detail, quantity of text, prominence of placement, and juxtaposition of statements."
  • Undue weight applies not only to article text, but to images, external links, and all other material as well.

Some editors argue that the depiction of Muhammad is verifiably a rare and minority tradition in 1400 years of Islamic history, and consequently should not be overstated in articles through excessive usage or undue prominence, else it would constitute a violation of the letter and spirit of WP:NPOV.

Other editors, although not denying that the creation of artistic images is a rare occurrence, however argue that images of Muhammad in the form of Jyllands-Posten caricatures have been printed all over the world (though the newspapers often represented a fringe group within the country):

Countries where one or more of the Cartoon images were published in some form

Printing of images, they say, is no longer a minority tradition and so UNDUE does not apply. Editors of the opposing viewpoint state that judging merely according to recent events in the press constitutes recentism, and does not reflect the rarity of the depiction of Muhammad in Islamic tradition (which are the subject of dispute, and not the recent caricatures). They also argue that no other Encyclopedias publish such images.

Quotes[edit]

  • "There is nothing in the Quran that forbids imagery the way it is condemned in the Hebrew Bible," John L. Esposito [1]
  • "To say that Islam is anti-imagery is to have a very limited understanding of the religion," said Linda Komaroff, curator of Islamic art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Islam isn't just one flavor or one interpretation".[1]

Prohibition of images, a Wahabi view[edit]

  • The modern-day blanket prohibition of portraying Islam's sixth century messenger can probably be credited to the strict teachings of Wahabi Islam, said Jonathan Bloom, an Islamic art historian at Boston University. Wahabi is the Saudi Islamic sect founded in the 18th century that is the official ideology of Saudi Arabia.[1]

Conclusion[edit]

  • From the application of the above policies and guidelines, it can be concluded that Wikipedia is not censored for images that are not offensive to the typical reader of Wikipedia and therefore, removing these images is against Wikipedia policy provided they meet Wikipedia's guidelines for inclusion.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Muhammad's image: Revered prophet of Islam has been depicted in art for hundreds of years. San Francisco Chronicle. 2006-02-11.