Al-Azhar says in its fatwa condemning the film that depictions of prophets “provoke the feelings of believers.” There is a whiff of menace to this — what might they do when their feelings are provoked? The Qur’an tells believers to assuage the fury in their hearts by fighting unbelievers: “Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and will disgrace them and give you victory over them and satisfy the breasts of a believing people, and remove the fury in the believers’ hearts. And Allah turns in forgiveness to whom He wills; and Allah is Knowing and Wise.” (9:14-15)
HOLLYWOOD – As controversy surrounding the new Hollywood blockbuster ‘Noah’ increases, three Arab countries have banned the new movie before it premiers, with more countries expected to follow suit.
“Censors for Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) officially confirmed this week that the film will not release in their countries,” a representative of Paramount Pictures, which produced the $125 million film starring Oscar-winners Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins, told Reuters on Saturday, March 8.
“The official statement they offered in confirming this news is because ‘it contradicts the teachings of Islam’,” the representative said, adding the studio expected a similar ban in Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait.
The $125 million film, Noah, depicts Prophet Noah who suffers visions of an apocalyptic deluge and takes measures to protect his family from the coming flood, according to the movies website IMDb.
Directed by Darren Aronofsky, the American biblical epic movie is due to be released by the end of March.
The film has drawn much criticism for depicting the Prophet (pbuh) and not abiding by the original story.
An outcry by several religious organizations, saying that the script had strayed from the original tale, had forced producers to add a message at all trailers and poster that clarifies that the film is not based on the biblical version of the story
“The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide,” read the message that was added to trailers
“The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis,” the message added.
Expecting an Egyptian ban too, the movie was also condemned by Al-Azhar, the highest seat of learning in the Sunni Muslim world, who issued a fatwa against the film on Thursday.
“Al-Azhar … renews its objection to any act depicting the messengers and prophets of God and the companions of the Prophet (Mohammad), peace be upon him,” it announced in a statement.
They “provoke the feelings of believers … and are forbidden in Islam and a clear violation of Islamic law,” the fatwa added.
In 2004, a similar controversy erupted after the release of “The Passion of the Christ” movie, which depicted the 12 last hours in the life of Prophet Jesus (pbuh).
In 2012, a television series depicting the life of second Muslim Caliph Omar ibn al-khattab also sparked a heightened debate in the Arab world with thousands opposing the depiction of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) or his companions.
Muslim scholars oppose the depiction of the Prophets in any form of art.
This means a movie maker should not do that, nor should any Islamic organization, mosque or institute promote such a movie/series, by showing it to their congregation.