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Offline Reader Questions

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Dr. Shabbir's Views on Graven Images
« on: May 14, 2012, 12:20:00 AM »

Salam, What does 'graven images' mean in the post below by Dr. Shabbir? Is it meant to be general or specific? Also, is it true that Muslim scholars used Jewish traditions into hadith. thanks.

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Dr. Shabbir's Views on Graven Images
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2012, 12:34:52 AM »
Salamun Alaikum.

While I wholeheartedly agree that there has been considerable influence of Hebrew 'traditions' (not necessarily scripture) into Islamic secondary sources, I would have to strongly disagree with the following statement in the post:

"Literally, the Second Commandment forbids any shapely engraving. 'Graven Images' is understood to be making sculptures of any kind which is strongly forbidden in the Bible (Book of Exodus). Think how much talent of the caliber of the master sculptor Michelangelo, the world would have missed only if they followed the Second Commandment!"

This is absolutely incorrect and very misleading in my humble opinion from the perspective of any serious academic scrutiny or the view of an avid Biblical theologian.  Many serious scholars and theologians will agree that the reference in Exodus 20 pertains to graven images / idols that act in the capacity of God and intended for worship.

God Himself cannot be represented by created things. This is not a reference to general images / statues for the Bible is clear that even Solomon made statues for the temple which is in turn confirmed by the Quran (34:13)


“They made for him what he willed: synagogues and statues (Arabic: Thamatheel), basins like wells and boilers built into the ground. Give thanks, O House of David! Few of My bondmen are thankful”

2 Chronicles 3
3:1 Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
3:10 And in the most holy house he made two cherubims of image work, and overlaid them with gold. 3:11 And the wings of the cherubims were twenty cubits long: one wing of the one cherub was five cubits, reaching to the wall of the house: and the other wing was likewise five cubits, reaching to the wing of the other cherub. 3:12 And one wing of the other cherub was five cubits, reaching to the wall of the house: and the other wing was five cubits also, joining to the wing of the other cherub. 3:13 The wings of these cherubims spread themselves forth twenty cubits: and they stood on their feet, and their faces were inward.
The commandment in Exodus 20 verse 4 is not isolated from the previous commandment (3) where it says 'You shall have no other gods before me". If the verses are read in context, the meaning is clear.

Exodus 20 (NAS)

(3) You shall have no other gods before Me. (4) "You shall not make for yourself an idol (Hebrew: pehsel*), or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. (5) Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them... (part)

The Hebrew 'pehsel' refers to an idol or a carved image (but in this context one intended for worship).

One would do a great disservice to the previous scriptures by misquoting or reading them out of context. True believers would never dare to that with the Quran nor should they with any other scripture. As believers, we all have a duty to remain consistent, respect the Bible (OT and NT) and be just with it as there are words of God present in those scriptures despite the accretions of man (See Comma Johanneum)

"And do not follow that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed! the hearing and the sight and the heart - of each of these you will be questioned"

I hope that helps, God willing.

Your brother in faith,


13th March 2013

This thread is now closed and a direct link to this post is now available at the dedicated Q&A page.

'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
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