A film called “Innocence of Muslims” has sparked violence in the Arab world that persists this morning. Why is this obscure movie causing such an uproar among some Muslims? Two facts explain the crisis.
First, Islam prohibits depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, lest they lead some to worship a man rather than Allah. To Muslims, the religious portraits of saints and other biblical characters so common to Christian worship can become objects of veneration and thus idols. They forbid representations of Muhammad, Jesus, Moses, and all other Islamic prophets.
Second, while the Prophet must never be depicted, he must always be respected. When speaking of Muhammad or other prophets of Islamic history, a Muslim will typically follow his name with “peace be upon him” (abbreviated PBUH in Muslim writings). Any art that demeans the Prophet is seen as a direct attack on the religion he founded.