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Images that come unbidden: some thoughts on the Danish cartoons controversy.


In September 2005 the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten printed twelve editorial cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad. Objecting to their publication Danish Muslims held several public demonstrations. The demonstrations in Denmark were accompanied by two spells of worldwide protests in 2005 and 2008, which eventually ceased after the editors of Jyllands-Posten printed an apology for the hurt caused by the publication of the cartoons. The event remains much discussed in terms of the freedom of speech, with worries of self-censorship encountering the charge that the cartoons constituted hate speech (Klausen 2009). As Heiko Henkel (2006) reminds us, anxieties attending to the growing presence of Muslims in Denmark, and Europe more generally, serve as the necessary background to the controversy.

In this paper I shift the focus of discussion from the question of speech, as to whether the cartoons constitute free, hate or even blasphemous speech, to the aspect of them as images. Here I am drawing upon W. J. T. Mitchell's broad understanding of image as 'any likeness, figure, motif, or form that appears in some medium or other' (2005, p. xiii). (1) I undertake this shift by transfiguring an assumption undergirding much of the discussion: that by taking the cartoons so literally Muslims reveal their inability to disentangle satire from reality (Keane 2008). Substituting 'cartoons as images' for 'cartoons as speech', I take this assumption to be that Muslims do not have the wherewithal to relate to figural images that come from the world, particularly those that come unexpectedly and are shrouded in unclear elements, such as obscure intentions, illegible markings or even irony and sarcasm. There is a further assumption here that Muslim everyday life and religiosity does not provide a conscious address to such images, other than the pervasive sense that images are best to avoid.

There is a long tradition of figural representation within arts and aesthetics in Islamic history (Blair & Bloom 1996; George 2010). There are even widespread pictorial representations of the Prophet Muhammad in countries such as Iran with strong visual cultures (Fisher & Abedi 1990). However, a refutation of the assumptions sketched above cannot be achieved by simply pointing to these obvious facts or that Muslims in the present moment must of necessity live with images. Rather, the central effort in this paper is to show that religious texts and manuals oriented to guiding everyday life evince sensitivity to the appearance of images and their possible effects upon piety. There is recognition that images that come unbidden require attention in terms of ascertaining provenance, the correct interpretive framework and the rightful course of action. Furthermore, these texts even proffer images of their own to be consciously worked upon by believers in order to produce proper attachments to subjects of veneration. Unexpected or proffered, images are considered agential in so far as they have material effects. I end on the speculation that rather than see these modalities of relating to images as a minor tendency within the Islamic tradition, they may be thought of as the practice of imagination that has as strong a claim upon Muslim pursuits of religiosity as sense perceptions, intellectual cognition, even ardent faith (Corbin 1972). (2)

As the limits of a paper prevent an exhaustive survey of texts, I focus on those filaments of Islamic jurisprudence, hadis literature and specialist manuals that address dreams, particularly sexual dreams, and erotic visions. To my mind these best exemplify figural images that erupt into daily life and may be subject to textual censure in so far as they have doubtful elements relating to provenance, intention and interpretability, besides being sexual in nature. I also consider the spectrum of modes of envisioning the Prophet, gleaned from scholarly representations and hadis literature, as they exemplify those images that attempt to produce rightful attachments to the Prophet. I draw relevant ethnographic details of contemporary Muslim lives into my analysis of textual filaments to suggest the different milieus at which textual guidance is leveled and from which texts gain their continued applicability.

Images that Come Unbidden: Sexual Dreams and Erotic Visions of the Beloved

Unlike Freudian understandings of dreams that see in them efforts by the unconscious to produce psychic conflicts intrinsic to the individual dreamer, manuals of dream interpretation indicate that dreams in the Islamic context have both an individual and supra-individual dimension. Moreover, dream interpretation, taabir, is considered a religious duty rather than an analytic or therapeutic activity (Bulkeley 2002). Dreams may be classified by their possible sources, although the following classification does not exhaust the variety internal to dreams. Those dreams that are from God, the Prophet or holy personages, called ruya, are revelatory. Considered to bear kernels of prophecy, such dreams are said to indicate what is yet to come. The dreamer in this instance is a receptacle for a divine message. Dream visions, called ilham, may also originate from Satan or from jinns (genii), which take the form of whispers or waswasen in one's waking state. A third type of dream, which is closer to Freudian understandings of dreams, is the manifestation of the concerns, anxieties and weaknesses within the individual, expression of the nafs or earthly spirit of the individual. However, unlike Freudian understandings, these dreams are not the sites of psychic battles internal to the individual. In other words, their purpose is not that of a self turning against itself, but of a self revealing its weaknesses to itself. Consequently, much of the interpretation of such dreams aim at quick remedies to fortify the self so that it does not to succumb to its weaknesses.

The point to be made with respect to this brief survey of dreams and their interpretation within Islam is that dreams are not products of one's fancy, unreal or hallucinatory. They come from an elsewhere that has the status of the real, even if an invisible and inaccessible real (Corbin 1972; Mittermaier 2006). Consequently, dreams call for some speculation as to their provenance. At the same time independent power is imputed to them in so far as they have the capacity to erupt into everyday life and leave distinct tracks upon it.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of dreams of sexual content. Given the privileged status of sexuality within Islam and the continual efforts to integrate religion and sexuality within the bounds of the normative (Bouhdiba 2001), such dreams do not meet with immediate censure. Rather they call for inquiry into their origins and the course of action directed by them. For instance, some divine messages have been relayed by means of sexual or erotic images. In a hadis recounted by Kelly Bulkeley (2002), Ayesha, the Prophet's wife, relates that the Prophet told her that she was shown to him twice in his dreams before he decided to marry her. Both times an angel came to him carrying her draped in a silk cloth and both times the Prophet commanded the angel to 'uncover her' and so he beheld Ayesha. Babar Johansen writing about the marriage contract within Hanafi law, one of the four Sunni schools of religious jurisprudence, explains that viewing a woman's exposed body with one's eyes indicates that one intends to marry her or to own her as a slave:
   Only if a man intends to marry a woman may he look at her with
   avidity ... The lustful look on the other person's uncovered shame
   zones is conceived of as a form of appropriation of that body, and
   is, for that reason, allowed only between wives and their husbands
   or between male slave-owners and their female slaves. (1996, p. 75)

Seeing Ayesha unclothed in his dreams revealed to the Prophet that he was to marry her. In another example of revelatory dreams with sexual content provided by the famous fourteenth century manual of dream interpretation by Ibn Sirin, a dreamer who sees himself giving the call to prayer (azan) while making love to his wife is told that his dream indicates that he loves his wife dearly (Hashmi n.d.).

The agential quality of images is also registered by the tradition in the physical reaction that dreams provoke, more specifically nocturnal emissions. It is noteworthy that semen is not given the status of an impure substance, as najas, substantively and inherently impure but rather janaba, as sexual pollution, in so far as semen is seen to cancel one's vazu or ablution. Thus re-doing ablution effectively rights that state. In her study of the Sunni law of ritual purity Marion Holmes Katz writes:
   According to al-Shafi'i [the second Sunni school of religious
   jurisprudence], personal pollution can be incurred through the
   expulsion of substances, that are themselves pure, most notably
   semen. The element of impurity arises, not from the purity status
   of any of the substances involved, but from the unfathomable decree
   of God. Consequently, ablutions restoring the human person to a
   state of purity are not instrumental processes removing physical
   pollutants, but pure acts of submission to the commands of the
   creator. (2002, p. 168)

Here too an inquiry into provenance, the message communicated and the rightful course of action is not out of place, with some speculation that such dreams come at God's will rather than the weakness of the self. However, in these instances there is less of a tendency to tarry upon the source of the dream and more upon the steps by which to repair the body thrown out of its familiar posture of humility towards


But such control is not necessarily an easy task, a fact acknowledged within the texts as an elaboration of the power of the image to disrupt the rhythms of daily religiosity. Katz writes that in the instance of a sexual dream although one can shake off the event of the dream and restore one's state of purity, there is always the likelihood that one will re-visit the images at a later date. And it is this re-visiting that catapults an inexplicable event, which carries no judgment in and of itself, into a sinful act.

Joseph Normen Bell's Love Theory in Later Hanbalite Islam, with Hanbali being the third Sunni school of jurisprudence, suggests how difficult it is to resist the lure of gazing. Although Bell addresses the act of gazing upon one's beloved and the exchange of glances, I find his descriptions to be instructive on how it is that images may exert attraction, even compulsion upon their viewers. In the chapter titled 'Glances, Gazing and the Vision' Bell speaks of the Hanbalite scholar Ibn al-Qayyim who writes admiringly of love, both sacred and profane, but discourses lengthily on the problem associated with it:
   It is the old question whether love is voluntary or involuntary .
   The correct view, according to Ibn al-Qayyim, is that the first
   stages of love--glances, exposing oneself to temptation, and
   contemplating the beloved--are voluntary actions, whereas the
   involvement which follows is involuntary and inescapable. Love is
   analogous to drunkenness: to drink is a voluntary action; to get
   drunk is the unavoidable consequence. (1979, pp. 125-6)

In other words, it is not always clear if one beheld the beloved or is captured by the beloved, helplessly looking on. In such situations, it is not readily evident how intention and volition are to be determined, how self control is to be asserted or at what point fitna or disorder breaks out. Here I draw my understanding of fitna from Stefania Pandolfo's Impasse of the Angels in which one of her Moroccan interlocutors relates that:
   If we extend this fitna gharamya [fitna of love] to phenomena that
   apparently do not concern love . I mean, if we extend to a whole
   society what happens to a man if a woman seduces him and sets him
   ablaze ... the society is itself on fire! Fitna of riches, fitna of
   children, fitna of invasion, razing and war, fitna of blood, fitna
   of women ... It is all fitna, one fitna, and it has no cure! (1997,
   p. 98)

The fitna of capture by love or sexual ardor does not stay contained but threatens to spill over into other aspects of one's life and lives together. While Pandalfo is referring to the threat to social life seen to inhere in the attraction between sexes, I take her to provide some sense of the threat underlying sexual dreams or erotic visions of one's beloved. This threat makes all the more necessary textual awareness and swift remedies in attending to images.

In this section I have attempted to indicate the alertness towards spontaneous images within different texts of the Islamic tradition, specifically those that aim to guide Muslim everyday lives. Given the centrality of the Prophet to the Danish cartoons controversy (it puzzled some commentators that Muslims would be more pained by cartoon images of Muhammad than the photographs of atrocities against Muslims in Abu Ghraib (Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times quoted in Chute & DeKoven 2006), where does the image of the Prophet sit within this awareness of images within the tradition?

Seeing the Prophet in One's Mind's Eye: Images for Self-formation

Although most Muslims of my acquaintance do not hesitate to state that there is a religious ban on the figural representation of the Prophet, they acknowledge that there are exceptions to this. For instance it is interesting, one remarked, that Muslims are exhorted to see the Prophet in their mind's eye in their efforts at self-formation (Khan 2006). And the hadis literature provides a broad spectrum on the Prophet's modes of being ranging from the way he held himself to the manner in which he behaved with others. Such textual records seem not only to provide material for forming mental images of the Prophet but also to hint at the need for active visualization to see the Prophet in one's mind. Yet contemporary scholarly writings that present Muslim modes of relating to the Prophet are quiet on this aspect of envisioning (except Hirschkind 2006). I consider two such writings that address the Danish cartoons controversy but have little to say on how mental images of the Prophet may have some traction in Muslim lives, before I provide an analysis of what kind of image may be entailed by the hadis literature in their readers.

In 'Religious Reason and Secular Affect' Saba Mahmood (2009) makes the point that it is inadequate to cast the Danish cartoons controversy as a clash between free speech and blasphemy as it confines the controversy to a linguistic framework. Within this framework the issue of pain caused to Muslims can only be understood as damage caused by linguistic/legal infraction. To better understand the nature of pain delivered by the images, one has to understand the manner in which Muslims relate to the Prophet. It is worth quoting her in full, as I am interested in plumbing both the richness of her depiction and the elision it effects. Mahmood argues:

In this literature [referring to Islamic devotional literature], Muhammed is regarded as a moral exemplar whose words and deeds are understood not so much as commandments but as ways of inhabiting the world, bodily and ethically. Those who profess love for the Prophet do not simply follow his advice and admonitions to the umma (that exist in the form of the hadith) but also try to emulate how he dressed, what he ate, how he spoke to his friends and adversaries, how he slept, walked, and so on. These mimetic ways of realizing the Prophet's behavior are lived not as commandments but as virtues; one wants to ingest, as it were, the Prophet's persona. (Mahmood 2009, pp. 846-7)

Further on she writes that the Prophet exists in a relationship of immanence to Muslims in being embodied by them. This 'assimilative mode' of engaging the Prophet has no place for a 'communicative' or 'representational' relationship to the Prophet.

The above well describes the manner in which the Prophet informs the context of being Muslim but oddly leaves him bereft of the power to impinge on people's imagination as a vision. This may be because Mahmood assimilates image making within representation, as if unable to imagine images that are not representational in character. (3) But then how would one explain people's insistence that they have seen the Prophet in their dreams?

The representation of the Prophet receives an interesting fillip in Faisal Devji's provocative article 'Back to the Future: The Cartoons, Liberalism, and Global Islam'. He argues that Muslim outcry over the Danish cartoons has to be understood in the context of globally dispersed Muslims, disenfranchised in their individual nation-states who now espouse a politics and ethics that rise above these nationstates. Their inchoate yet widespread outrage at the mistreatment of the Prophet serves to provide them a global platform by which to learn of one another's existence. He states:

Muslim protesters did not represent some religious tradition that needs to be schooled in the lessons of modern citizenship. Rather their protests brought into being a hypermodern global community whose connections occur by way of mass media alone. From the Philippines to the Niger, these men and women communicated with each other only indirectly, neither by plan nor organization, but by the media alone. (Devji 2006)

The Prophet plays a very new role within this mediated space:

As in the Rushdie affair, the prophet insulted by some Danish cartoons is not a religious figure of any traditional sort. In 1989 it was Mohammed as husband and family man who stood impugned in the eyes of protesters. Many protesters in the new century continued to express their hurt by comparing the prophet to members of their 'family', hardly a religious role for him to play and one of dubious orthodoxy in any case. (Devji 2006)

In Devji's understanding, the Prophet is not an exemplary figure to be embodied. In fact he is not a religious persona at all. He has been assimilated into kinship relations such that when his reputation is sullied, it translates directly to the impugning of members of one's family. Another way to understand this is that the Prophet is a Muslim amongst other Muslims. When he is wronged, Muslims are wronged en masse. By protesting in his name, Muslims are in effect 'representing' themselves as a community. While Devji uses the concept of representation to name what he claims to be a new relationship between Muslims and the Prophet, he limits its use to political representation alone. And nothing in his writings suggests Muslims take steps beyond representing themselves by means of the Prophet to representing the Prophet to themselves.

While very illuminative of Muslim relations to the Prophet, there is little in these two articles to suggest that images of the Prophet, or more precisely modes of imagining the Prophet, are extant within the textual tradition or everyday practices of piety. Yet there are distinct ways in which texts elicit viewing scenes in which the Prophet is present. Let me demonstrate what I mean by means of booklets of hadis literature frequently found in the streets of Lahore, Pakistan. In such books one typically finds a section on the Prophet's teeth, another on hair, while another on his mode of greeting. These sections of the books allow privileged access to one aspect of the Prophet at a time without fusing these aspects together. Akbar, a librarian friend of mine in Pakistan, provides an ethnographic example of this mode of perceiving the Prophet. He once highly recommended a biography of the Prophet saying that it described him in such a 'very filmy way' that one could almost imagine oneself riding on horseback behind the Prophet. Akbar felt himself to be riding behind the Prophet with great certainty. Here the Prophet's back served as the means to perceive him in the manner I described above in which an aspect of the Prophet's body gives one confidence of having seen the Prophet.

This discontinuous mode of appraising the Prophet is also to be found within individual sections of hadis booklets but with an additional element of envisioning involved. The following is my translation of the section 'Sparkling Teeth' in a book titled Your Cultured Behavior and Mode of Dwelling [Aap ka Tehzeeb wa Tammadun]. It is noteworthy that the Prophet is often referred to as Aap, meaning 'You' or 'Your' as a sign of respect, but a second person greeting also immediately presences him in an uncanny fashion within the scene:

The cleaning of the mouth is not possible without the cleaning of the teeth. The mouth will be free of smell the more it is cleaned. You cleaned your teeth as much as possible with a miswak (a twig of a specific tree which is said to be good for oral hygiene) and you used it vigorously so as to expel all the foreign elements from your throat . If it were possible, you would have made it necessary for each of us to use the miswak during our ablutions. However, the intent was to clean our mouths and not the use of miswak. As you did not wish to burden us, you emphasized the cleaning of the mouth instead. The cleaning of the mouth was so important that you would tell us that when the Angel Gibrail would discourse with you, in the midst of speaking of other matters he would urge, 'Oh Prophet of God, keep firm on the use of the miswak. I would use the miswak with such force that I would feel as if I had wounded myself' . A time even came when you lay at death's bed, racked with fever and weakness. The son of Abu Bakr came into the room with a fresh miswak in his hand. Your noble sight fell upon the miswak. Bibi Ayesha saw you looking at the miswak. She recounts 'I secured the miswak from my brother and gave it to you. When you were unable to use it due to your weakness, I softened it with my teeth and presented it again to you. And so I was granted the heavenly favor of having my spit mixed with the spit of my husband and master. (Jameel n.d.)

In this hadis recounted by Ayesha, the Prophet's wife, the mind's eye travels along the path of the miswak from the son of Abu Bakr's mouth, to that of Ayesha's hand, to the Prophet's hand, to Ayesha's mouth and back to the Prophet's mouth. The overall effect of this is to produce a sense of participating in tracing and re-tracing of the Prophet's figure, of knowing confidently that one has seen him in one's mind's eye, without ever arriving at a final or fixed image of the Prophet.

The above hadis of the Prophet at his deathbed and Akbar's book allowing one to experience riding alongside the Prophet are two distinct examples of images provided by texts by means of which to see the Prophet in one's mind's eye. I have tried to suggest that the mode of seeing elicited from readers is that they look upon the Prophet through one of his aspects or through tracing his form without aiming at a final pictorial representation of him. Having so far considered images that come up unexpectedly in the earlier section and those that the pious reader is invited to see in this section, I now turn to speculating whether we have thus exhausted the scope for images within the tradition.

The Imaginal and the Imagination in Corbin

In 'Mundus Imaginalis or the Imaginary and the Imaginal' Henri Corbin (1972) distinguishes between the commonplace understanding of the imaginary as make believe and the imaginal, a word of his choosing to name that order of reality within the tradition of Islam which is not empirical but no less real, the alam al-mithal (see also Pandolfo 1997). In Corbin's description of this order of reality he says it is not characterized by ideal archetypes in the manner of a Platonic world of images. It is characterized by ceaseless movement as intimated by his description of the imaginal as a place that is a non-place, which situates and consists in situating rather than being situated (1972, p. 10).

Corbin describes the imaginal as a metaphysical necessity within the Islamic mystical tradition. Not perceptible by sense impressions or intellectual cognition, it requires its own organ or faculty of perception, that of the imagination. Imagination attunes the person to this face of the world. In the example of the Prophet above, Muslims are bidden to imagine the Prophet using the miswak. Extending Corbin's insights on the imagination in Islamic mysticism to this example, I claim that it takes an active mode of imagining to view the Prophet in such a manner, to see him as one who secrets a dimension of reality that is neither entirely otherworldly, nor this worldly but real nonetheless. And this dimension of the real finds actualization in the mental images that form in the space between guiding texts and their subjects.

Corbin's writings make explicit for me the importance of the imagination as a faculty that is affirmative of image making within Islam. While Corbin limits this practice of the imagination to a few initiated Shi'i mystics, I argue that elements of it exist within Muslim everyday life and acts of religiosity. Nowhere is this more evident than in the writings of Charles Hirschkind whose interlocutors, young Egyptian men, see worlds in the words of their favorite Islamic preachers. Here is how a commentator in Hirschkind's book positions seeing with respect to listening to sermons. Speaking of a famous preacher by the name of Shaykh Kishk, Hirschkind's commentator bids:

Kishk uses wa'z and irshad [guidance] to show people the truth of the world through which they are rushing headlong. Thus, the sermon is not an escape from the world, but rather a view of the world which the khatib makes possible by setting himself off at a certain distance from it. As we know, when we get too close to something, we see only a small part of it, but most of if we miss. Thus, we need to travel to the other world, the world of death, in order to see this world with dead eyes [uyun mawta]. Thus we can say that the emphasis on death is not purely a concern for death itself, but more a concern with reformulating life anew, with new criteria. (Hirschkind 2006, p. 201, emphasis in original)

Seeing this world from an elsewhere, here the world of death, allows one to ascertain the rightful attachment to this world. While early in his book Hirschkind claims these images are sound images to possibly distinguish them from figural representations, I employ W. T. J. Mitchell's argument in claiming all images bear a kinship to one another. (4) In Hirschkind's case, the sound images that he describes are as much structured by the practice of seeing and the faculty of imagination as by the cultivated practice of listening.

In Conclusion

When Muslims respond to the cartoons of the Prophet with revulsion and hurt, it is not only because they experience these cartoons as hate speech or blasphemy. They respond to the aspect of the cartoons as images, in so far as these images communicate the affect of hate. Perhaps we can just leave the widespread Muslim expression of pain at that, as the Wittgenstenian gesture of 'I have reached bedrock and my spade is turned. Then I am inclined to say "This is simply what I do"' (Wittgenstein 2009, p. 91). That is to say, inchoate pain may simply be an expression that one's reactions are untranslatable into the form of life from which the cartoons emerge and that sustains the cartoons.

On the other hand this pain may already incorporate the work of addressing these images. There is after all a modality in place for doing so. These images being real one can ask where they come from (although it is clear that they do not come from an elsewhere in the form of the divine, the imaginal or even the world of death). The images being understood to have both individual and supra-individual elements, one can inquire into the abstract forces enabling them, in the form of the state or the workings of the law. The images call for interpretation, perhaps in the manner of dreams. And it is understood that there is no innocence in beholding these images as one may be held by them. The relationship to images is fraught with ambiguity over whether one is looking voluntarily or one is seized, whether one risks sin by revisiting these images in the mind's eye or whether one is tormented by these images as in the nature of the whispers of Satan. With knowledge of these risks, the interpretation of these images raises the question of what is the correct course of action? Is it that that of a quiet assertion of the procedures of ablution as in the case of noctural emissions or a heightened vigilance against the forces of fitna tearing apart the community?

What I wish to emphasize in asking us to consider that there may be a treatment of the Danish cartoons as images within Muslim expressions of pain is not only that there is address to images from within the Islamic tradition and Muslim everyday life, one that calls for deliberation at each step and the positing of further steps and responses. But that this address may aim at the practice of control of which Corbin speaks 'that protects imagination from straying and from reckless wastage' (1972, p. 13). Although the Wittgensteinian gesture of the spade turned may be a necessary one for Muslims to deploy given the divisive nature of the present moment, the value of thinking through the image aspect of the cartoons lies in at once affirming and protecting the centrality of the imagination in pursuits of religiosity.


I wish to thank Aaron Goodfellow and the Women, Gender, Sexuality (WGS) Program at Johns Hopkins University for the invitation to participate in a very exciting conference and this accompanying collected volume. I wish also to thank Veena Das for her encouragement in writing this paper and Bhrigupati Singh, Sharika Thiranagama, Rebecca Brown, Sylvain Perdigon, Andrew Bush, Omar Qureshi, the participants at the conference and two anonymous readers for borderlands, whose detailed comments were very helpful in making this paper fit for public eyes. I particularly wish to thank my mother Munawar Shafiq who willingly served as a sounding board for this paper at its initial stages and whose knowledge of the hadis literature and dream interpretation were invaluable to me.


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Naveeda Khan

Johns Hopkins University


(1) I keep in mind W. J. T. Mitchell's earlier qualification that images are grounded in specific forms of life and accompanying conventions of language (1984). In other words, it will not do to claim that images are entirely distinct from words, for instance, although they are not entirely reducible to words either.

(2) I am very grateful to Sylvain Perdigon for helping me to clarify this part of my argument.

(3) By 'representation' I understand Mahmood to refer to the products of the ocular regime of modernity in which the world is enframed as pictures separate and distinct from the modern subject and placed before him/her for his/her use. This Heideggerian concept is most usefully applied to the Muslim context by Timothy Mitchell (1991).

(4) W. T. J. Mitchell shows how despite efforts to excise those images that seem to be more unstable than others (verbal or mental images) from within the history of images, this excision only serves to underscore the tenuous nature of all images and their entanglement with conventions of language.

Naveeda Khan is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. She is the editor of Beyond Crisis: Reevaluating Pakistan and has completed a book manuscript The Library of Becoming: Pakistan between Aspiration and Skepticism. Her writings are to be found in Cultural Anthropology, Social Text, Theory and Event, Anthropological Theory among other journals and books. Her new research project takes Naveeda from studying everyday life and religiosity in urban Pakistan to the political theological efforts at assimilating climate change on islands in the river system in Bangladesh.
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