Jihadists in Bangladesh find that a picture is only worth six words: Stop that or we’ll kill you. Sharia Alert. “Bangladesh: Photography students receive death threats,” by Angilee Shah for AsiaMedia:
Students and staff at Pathshala, the Dhaka-based South Asian Institute of Photography, received death threats over the weekend from proponents of Islamic law in Bangladesh. The letters, sent to at least three students and 16 staff, faculty and board members, allege that the school’s photographers are violating Islamic law in their
The letters were individually addressed and mailed to Pathshala and to students’ home addresses. While it is unknown who made the threat, the author claims to be a leader of Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), an organization banned by the government and known for its militant activities. The page-long form letter, one of which was seen by AsiaMedia, outlines alleged goals of JMB and warns students and staff to stop “all kinds of
photography except natural photography,” “all kinds of movie [sic] and movie posters,” “cultural program” and “fine arts.” The author writes that addressees and their families will be killed if these activities continue.
In Islam, idolatry is forbidden and in some of the strictest traditions, representing people in a form such as photography is considered a form of idolatry or a practice which can lead to idolatry.
Many Islamic jurists have considered photography exempt from prohibitions on graven images, seeing them not as humanly generated images, but as a record of things made by Allah. Nonetheless, photographers are often regarded with suspicion of immorality, and that suspicion is supported by the words of Muhammad himself:
Narrated Aisha: I stuffed for the Prophet a pillow decorated with pictures (of animals) which looked like a Namruqa (i.e. a small cushion). He came and stood among the people with excitement apparent on his face. I said, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is wrong?” He said, “What is this pillow?” I said, “I have prepared this pillow for you, so that you may recline on it.” He said, “Don’t you know that angels do not enter a house
wherein there are pictures; and whoever makes a picture will be punished on the Day of Resurrection and will be asked to give life to (what he has created)?” – Bukhari 004.054.447
Narrated Abu Talha: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying; “Angels (of Mercy) do not enter a house wherein there is a dog or a picture of a living creature (a human being or an animal).” – Bukhari 004.054.448