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An Addict Meditates on Idolatry

This clay Mollah (a.k.a. mullaa, mullAh, Axund, priest, cleric) is the fine craftsmanship of an (alleged) addict in Iran who died many years ago. He sat outside the Bazar Vakil, made clay figurines and collected alms. What was his name? What was his story? What drugs was he on?

Now consider his work. We have here a MollAh made of clay. It is a statue, a graven image, an idol, like a Buddha statue. But not of Buddha. Of a mollAh. (A generic MollAh. Not the Prophet himself. Do you think I'm insane? Mo here stands for "mollAh").

But speaking of Mohammad, I hear he got his start in the religious arts with some idol smashing back in his youth. Islam is clearly, emphatically against idols (You might have noticed some flak over the Danish cartoon depictions of Mohammad, PBUH). So making an idol out of a MollAh - someone who preaches against idolatry - is, at the very least, ironic.

Let's keep in mind that this statue was not commissioned in any way by any Muslim organization. It's just the tinkering of a poor (alleged) addict. The misguided addict probably did not worship the statue, although he may have led some people astray. So you can't use this artifact to say that Iranian Muslims are Idol worshippers. Graven images BAD! Idolatry BAD!

But wait! This leads me to point out a troubling trend: while pictures of the Prophet are banned, pictures of mollAhs and AyatollAhs - notably Khomeini and Khamenei, ABOUND in public spaces in Iran, glorifying the clerics and giving off the unsettling impression that idolatry is taking place, before your very eyes. Idolatry, celebrity. They are even the icon in the top right corner of the official IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) website. (Sure, it's tiny on the website, but omnipresent).

Well then. Before you come crashing into my house to smash my clay MollAh to disabuse me of my sin of idolatry, what's up with all those other graven Mollah and Sheikh images out there in the Muslim world?

I'm thinking these need to go.

It was bad enough that Saddam Hussein had his statue and picture everywere in Iraq. But that kind of self-aggrandizement and celebrity-seeking doesn't seem limited to the kings and dictators. It's just the thing for Middle-Eastern Rulers to do. And if the rulers are clerics, they succumb to the temptation of idolatry as well. When the Shah was in power in Iran, it was Shah pictures everywhere. Even in the school books. Page one, Shah, page 2, the rest of his family. Now it's Page one, Khomeini. Page 2, Khamenei. Idolatrous! Pervasive!

These images are plastered all over the place. Every school, public building, shop, inside of books. Iranian idols.

This plethora of Mullah and Sheikh pictures in Muslim countries is especially odd given that the religion specifically warns against it. Their main prophet (Mohammad, PBUH (Peace be upon him)) is rarely shown in pictures/drawings, as you know from the cartoon fiasco. If he IS shown, his face is whited out.

It's as if, instead of putting the halo behind him, they put it in front of his face. Like he was appearing on a Fox TV program and they were protecting his identity.

Is there a double standard at work? Or have the men all fallen sway to a terrible temptation? Are their souls in danger? Someone needs to warn them. Graven Muslim Idols.

Women Spared the Temptation of Idolatry

And why do I say men? Because of course, everything is done to keep women's images off of any surface. Check out the Women's Day poster (detail at right). This even extends to the grave. Iranian graveyards are really cool. It has become a trend to have the image of the deceased on the gravestone, either painted on tiles or engraved in the stone. But only if the deceased is male. If female, she gets the blank face treatment. Invisible even in death. Very annoying. But not irreversible. One day, I hope those faces get filled in and we find out who those women were. Unsung, unseen, uncelebrated members of the human race.

In conclusion, it appears that in practice, the Prophet himself, Mohammad (PBUH) and women in general are spared the temptation and sin of idolatry. The rest of the population are in grave danger of hellfire. Yes, all the guys and also the prophet's son-in-law Ali (whose action hero visage, posing with his double-edged sword, are all over the place) will have a lot to answer for in the afterlife as all these images are gathered and used as evidence against them on Judgment day. Idolaters! Shocking, shocking.

Are you supposed to show graven images or not?


Khomeini wants YOU as a new recruit



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Depicting Muhammad

Some more notes on the temptation of idolatry in Islam.

Ali Rocks!




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