In July 2011, three Iranian filmmakers announced a plan to create a film trilogy about the life of the Prophet Muhammad – the first feature films depicting the Prophet ever to be made in the Muslim world. The announcement sparked controversy in Muslim countries, in light of fatwas that prohibit any portrayal of Muhammad, his family, his Companions and other prominent figures from early Islam in works of art.Considering the fatwas against depicting Muhammad--and the riots that broke out in response (not to mention the death threats--what would motivate these filmmakers to go ahead and make this movie?
The movies were supposed to be shot in Morocco, but were eventually shot in Iran after Morocco refused to be involved. The filmmakers recently announced that the filming of the first movie, about Muhammad's childhood, has been completed; this evoked a new wave of condemnation from clerics, especially in Egypt, and also in Saudi Arabia. Criticism was also voiced by columnists in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, who attacked Iran and called on Muslims to prevent the film's distribution.
Even granting that they are not foreigners (and Kufar) as in the case of the Danish cartoon artists and are not going to mock Muhammad as in the case of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses--what is their reason for making the movie?
The director of the Muhammad trilogy, Majid Majidi, said that the first movie in the series attempts to show the nature of Arab society at the time of the Prophet's childhood, and the other circumstances that led to his emergence in that particular era. Explaining his motivations for making the trilogy, he mentioned that there are few films about Muhammad, compared to films about the prophets Jesus and Moses, and that Muslims are consequently ignorant about the Prophet and his life. He said that he also wanted to counterbalance various films and publications that harm Muhammad, the Koran and Islamic values, such as Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses and the insulting cartoons published by a Danish newspaper in 2005. He added that spiritual and moral values are foremost in his mind in making the movies, and that the trilogy presents Muhammad as the embodiment of these values. Responding to concerns that the films will stress the Shi'ite point of view, he promised to do all he could to keep them free of propaganda and politics.This is a change for Iran from a year ago. Just last July The Daily Mail reported Iran threatens 'serious action' over BBC plans to screen documentary series on Muslim prophet Muhammad:
The BBC is courting controversy with its plans to broadcast a documentary series about Muslim prophet Muhammad.Iran has clearly changed its mind.
Three-part series The Life of Muhammad has already been blasted by officials in Iran, who claim the country will take 'serious action' if it is screened.
The Iranian minister of cultural and Islamic guidance, Mohammad Hosseini, who has yet to watch any of the series, has branded the film an attempt by the 'enemy' to 'ruin Muslims' sanctity'.
'The BBC's decision to make a documentary on the life of [the] prophet Muhammad seems dubious and if our suspicions are proved to be correct, we will certainly take serious action,' he told Iran's Fars news agency.
Maybe they want to show Iran is just as good at protecting the image of Muhammad as the Saudis are.
Technorati Tag: Iran and Muhammad.
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