My newest book, a collaboration with artist Chuck Harrison, teaches children about religions and where they come from. A lot of people have asked if that includes Muhammad and Islam, and the answer is yes.
I wrote about the Book of Religions yesterday, and explained that kids can create their own religion using the book’s animated instructions, but I didn’t talk about how Chuck and I handled the issue of Muhammad (and his visual portrayal) in the text itself. We threaded the needle carefully with the Belief Book and the Book of the Gods, but with this one we tackled the controversial issue head on.
For starters, Chuck’s cover has a not-so-subtle dig at the issue of censoring Muhammad’s face. Several people have noted that the cover has an outline around one character’s face, showing that he couldn’t be drawn. Here’s that image, along with the alternative art Chuck produced.
This isn’t our only reference to Muhammad in the book. In the “Religions From Around the World” chapter, we delve into Islam in a way that young kids can understand.
We’ll start with the second most popular and fastest-growing religion on the planet, Islam, a close relative to Christianity and another branch of Judaism. Islam is based on the teachings of its founder, Muḥammad, who believers (called Muslims) say was sent by God to help people. Muslims believe the purpose of life is to worship God, or “Allah,” and to give to charity without other people knowing (zakat). They also have strict rules against drawing their leader. In fact, some people have been killed just for making a cartoon of Muḥammad.
Here’s a picture of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, but because no one is allowed to draw him we really don’t know what he looks like. It’s a total mystery!
This is a pretty tough topic, even for some adults, but Chuck and I felt it warranted a mention. After all, religious taboos, extremism, and sacred cows are all part of the modern religious landscape, for better or worse.
We hope you’ll check out the book, and maybe leave a review!
Yours in Reason,
David G. McAfee
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