The "American Qur'an" - art or blasphemy?
Bess writes: This is an image from the “American Qur’an”, a series of pictures matching Sura or specific chapters from the Islamic holy book to recent American disasters such as Hurricane Karina, and wildfires in California or else scenes from contemporary America: gangsters, migrants labouring in fields, etc.
So far the artist Sandow Birk has copied half the Qur’an’s 114 Suras onto 16 x 24 inch panels, in a style reminiscent of urban graffiti.
They are now on display in San Francisco and Culver City near Los Angeles. Eventually the plan is to the turn the panels into a book reports AP.
Birk admits the concept is Christian: “When you go to a church here, the minister read a passage from the Bible and then he spends 30 minutes talking about, “How does this passage relate to your life in the 21st century?” That’s a familiar way that Americans have of dealing with religious texts.”
Creative – certainly – but is it blasphemy? The Qur’an forbids the making of idols, says this piece in the LA Times, the hadith contains restrictions on the use of figurative imagery.
The issue, it concludes, is open to interpretation.
Obviously, the question of which verses Birk matches with which event is highly interesting. For 9/11 - depicted above - for instance, he choses Sura 44 (10-12)
44:10 But watch thou (O Muhammad) for the day when the sky will produce visible smoke
44:11 That will envelop the people. This will be a painful torment.
44:12 (Then they will say): Our Lord relieve us of the torment. Lo! we are believers.
Is this just a case of match-up-the-verse-to-the-event? Or is this a call to convert to Islam? Amboy's take? [it]"implies that the 9/11 attacks were Allah's punishment for not accepting Islam." What do you think?
This is a situation that Muslims often hate to see, verses from the Qur'an (or any Holy Text for that matter) being taken completely out of context. This artwork is merely the artist trying to use the controversy that surrounds Muslim issues to generate talk and interest. The verses used are entirely the artists interpretation and a deliberate attempt to define a meaning.
The other concern that many Muslims will have is the use of figurative work alongside the holy verses of the Qur'an. Again the artist must have known this is an issue and widely held interpretation (hence the lack of any figurative work in mosques), so it seems quite deliberate.
Islam is not like Christianity and nobody speaks for God, in Islam, or what has occured in any given situation. Muslims largely regard 9/11, along with other senseless terrorism, as one of the most disgusting and un-Islamic acts against humanity.