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Talk:Muhammad/FAQ

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Many of these questions arise frequently on the talk page concerning Muhammad.

Information.svg To view an explanation to the answer, click the [show] link to the right of the question.

Q1: Shouldn't all the images of Muhammad be removed because they might offend Muslims?
A1:

There is a prohibition of depicting Muhammad in certain Muslim communities. This prohibition is not universal among Muslim communities. For a discussion, see Depictions of Muhammad and Aniconism in Islam.

Wikipedia is not bound by any religious prohibitions. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia that strives to represent all topics from a neutral point of view, and therefore Wikipedia is not censored for the benefit of any particular group. So long as they are relevant to the article and do not violate any of Wikipedia's existing policies, nor the laws of locations where Wikipedia's servers are hosted, no content or images will be removed from Wikipedia because people find them objectionable or offensive. (See also: Wikipedia:Content disclaimer.)

Wikipedia does not single out Islam in this. There is content that may be equally offensive to other religious people, such as the 1868 photograph shown at Bahá'u'lláh (offensive to adherents of the Bahá'í Faith), or the account of Scientology's "secret doctrine" at Xenu (offensive to adherents of Scientology), or the account at Timeline of human evolution (offensive to adherents of Young Earth creationism). Submitting to all these various sensitivities would make writing a neutral encyclopedia impossible.
Q2: Aren't the images of Muhammad false?
A2:

No claim is made about the accuracy of the depictions of Muhammad. The artists who painted these images lived hundreds of years after Muhammad and could not have seen him themselves. This fact is made absolutely clear in the image captions. The images are duly presented as notable 14th to 17th-century Muslim artwork depicting Muhammad, not as contemporary portraits. See depictions of Muhammad for a more detailed discussion of Muslim artwork depicting Muhammad.

Similar artistic interpretations are used in articles for Homer, Charlemagne, Paul of Tarsus, and many other historical figures. When no accurate images (i.e. painted after life, or photographs) exist, it is a longstanding practice on Wikipedia to incorporate images that are historically significant artwork and/or typical examples of popular depictions. Using images that readers understand to be artistic representations, so long as those images illustrate the topic effectively, is considered to be more instructive than using no image at all. Random recent depictions may be removed as undue in terms of notability, while historical artwork (in this case, of the Late Medieval or Ottoman period) adds significantly to the presentation of how Muhammad was being topicalized throughout history.

These depictions are not intended as factual representations of Muhammad's face; rather, they are merely artists' conceptions. Such portrayals generally convey a certain aspect of a particular incident, most commonly the event itself, or maybe the act, akin to the Western genre of history painting. The depictions are, thus, not meant to be accurate in the sense of a modern photograph, and are presented here for what they are: yet another form in which Muhammad was depicted.

None of these pictures hold a central position in the article, as evident by their placement, nor are they an attempt to insult the subject. Several factions of Christianity oppose the use of hagiographic imagery (even to the point of fighting over it), but the images are still on Wikipedia, exactly for what they are—i.e. artistic renditions of said people.

Q3: How can I hide the images using my personal Wikipedia settings?
A3:

If you do not wish to view Muhammad images, you can create an account and read Wikipedia while logged in. User accounts offer a number of preference settings. See Help:Options to not see an image for additional information.

Below, you can find a guide to hide images of Muhammad if you have an account.

If you have an account or want to create one, you can change your personal settings so that you don't have to see Muhammad images, without affecting other users. This is done by modifying your CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) page, which is individual to each user. To do this:

  • Sign in or create an account
  • Click on this link to modify your personal stylesheet
    • If no page is there already, just go ahead and create a page
  • If you want to disable the depictions included in this specific article, add the following line to your css page:

body.page-Muhammad div.depiction {display: none;}

This will permanently hide all images on the "Muhammad" article for you so long as you are logged in.

You also have the possibility to only block a list of specified images. See here for an example.

Alternatively you can hide just the depictions on the page by clicking here and adding importScript('User:Eraserhead1/HideImages.js'); to the page.

If you do not have an account, and do not wish to register an account, you can disable images by going to the mobile version of the website (en.m.wikipedia.org), then going to "settings" and choosing "images off". Note that this will remove all images from Wikipedia pages.

Experienced JavaScript programmers can hide depictions of Muhammad on the desktop site using Greasemonkey or a similar tool.
Q4: Why does the info box contain a stylized logo and not a picture of Muhammad?
A4: This has been discussed many times on Talk:Muhammad and many debates can be found in the archives. Because calligraphic depictions of Muhammad are the most common and recognizable worldwide, the current consensus is to include a calligraphic depiction of Muhammad in the infobox and artist's depictions further down in the article. An RFC discussion confirmed this consensus.
Q5: Why is Muhammad's name not followed by (pbuh) or (saw) in the article?
A5: Wikipedia's biography style guidelines recommend omitting all honorifics, such as The Prophet, (The) Holy Prophet, (pbuh), or (saw), that precede or follow Muhammad's name. This is because many editors consider such honorifics as promoting an Islamic point of view instead of a neutral point of view which Wikipedia is required to maintain. Wikipedia:Naming conventions (people) also recommends against the use of titles or honorifics, such as Prophet, unless it is the simplest and most neutral way to deal with disambiguation. When disambiguation is necessary, the recommended form is the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
Q6: Why does it look like the article is biased towards secular or "Western" references?
A6:

Accusations of bias towards Western references are often made when an objection is raised against the display of pictures of Muhammad or lack of honorifics when mentioning Muhammad. All articles on Wikipedia are required to present a neutral point of view. This neutrality is sometimes mistaken for hostility. Note that exactly the same guidelines apply to articles about Christianity or any other religion.

In addition, this article is hosted on the English-language Wikipedia. While references in languages other than English are not automatically inappropriate, English-language references are preferred, because they are of the most use to the typical reader. This therefore predisposes the material used in this article to some degree (see WP:NONENG).
Q7: Why can't I edit this article as a new or anonymous user?
A7:

Persistent disruption of the page has forced us to disable editing by anonymous editors and new accounts, while still allowing edits by more experienced users who are familiar with Wikipedia's editorial policies and guidelines. This is likely to remain the case for the foreseeable future.

In any case, the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License grants everybody the right to republish this article elsewhere, and even to modify it themselves, so long as the original authors are also credited.
Q8: Can censorship be employed on Wikipedia?
A8: No. The official policy is that Wikipedia is not censored.
Q9: Because Muhammad married an underage girl, should the article say he was a pedophile?
A9: This question has been actively discussed in Talk:Muhammad, and those discussions are archived. According to most traditional sources, Muhammad consummated his marriage to his third wife Aisha when she was nine years old. This was not considered unusual in Muhammad's culture and time period, therefore there is no reason for the article to refer to Muhammad in the context of pedophilia.[1] Even today, in parts of the world, the legal age of consent is as young as eleven years old, or any age inside of a marriage. In any case, any modern controversy about Aisha's age is not best dealt with in a biography about Muhammad. See the articles on Aisha and Criticism_of_Muhammad#Age_of_3rd_wife_Aisha for further information.
References
  1. ^ C. (Colin) Turner, Islam: The Basics, Routledge Press, pp.34–35