CAIRO: Al-Azhar renewed Sunday its rejection to an Iranian film depicting Prophet Muhammad, the premier of which postponed, saying the depiction of the prophet “disregarded his spiritual prestige.”
In a statement coinciding with the film’s scheduled premier, Al-Azhar said prohibition of depicting Abrahamic prophets should not be limited to only their faces, but also to their physical appearance and voices.
Depicting the prophets is prohibited in Sunni Islam, whose followers believe that no one can depict the character of a person who bears a divine message; many Shiites schools of thought, however, say there is no specific prohibition exists against depicting prophets in movies.
The film premier was scheduled Sunday, during Iran’s 33rd Fagr International Film Festival, but was postponed since as it is not ready yet for screening, said director and Oscar-nominated Majid Majidi in remarks to Mehr News.
He added that the movie audio is being prepared, and that he conducted two years of research about depicting the prophets and said the movie aims to unite the Islamic world.
In February 2014, the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance spokesperson Hossein Nooshabadi said that the film, which depicts the childhood of Prophet Muhammad, will be displayed internationally, Mehr news reported.
“The film starts with [the prophet’s] adolescence, and childhood is shown through flashbacks. We chose the period before Muhammad became a prophet…this film contains no controversies and no differences between the Shiite and the Sunni points of view,” Majidi was quoted as saying.
The trailer of the film has not been released, however, some of the footage scene and the main characters’ photo are up on the internet. The film location is built on a big area outskirts of city of Qom.
Al-Azhar and Dar al-Iftaa expressed its objection to the film “Noah” in March 2014; which depicted the Prophet Noah, although Egypt did not ban it in theaters. Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates did ban the film.
Egypt did, however, ban the U.S. movie “Exodus” in late 2014 in which Moses was depicted.