CAIRO – The controversial biblical movie Noah, scheduled for release in Egypt within a few weeks, has sparked outrage among Egyptian Muslim scholars who demanded its ban over depicting Prophet Noah (peace be upon him).
Depicting prophets in art is a “crime; not art, that is harmful to the image of prophets,” Sheikh Sameh Abdel Hameed, a member of the Salafi Call, was quoted by Youm7 on Wednesday, March 5.
“Depicting prophets opens the door for doubting the behavior of prophets … Actors cannot accurately mimic the behaviors, manners and appearances of prophets,” Abdel Hameed added.
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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 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.
In both Jewish and Christian traditions, Prophet Noah is acknowledged as a righteous man in a world crushed under the weight of sin and disbelief.
The Qur’an and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, teach us that Prophet Noah was a beacon of hope among the descendants of Adam in an era where sin and lawlessness had overtaken the people.
Egyptian scholars have urged authorities not to allow screening the movie that insults prophets in Egyptian theatres.
“Egypt has a special place in the Islamic world and movies that damage Islam or harm prophets should not be displayed in the country,” Abdel Hameed, the member of the Salafi call, noted.
Other scholars have called for “destroying” any movie theatre that displays the blasphemous film.
“The Senior Scholars should call for an urgent meeting to discuss the matter and sue movie theatres because prophets, their voices, and even their shadows cannot be depicted … Prophets are holy people,” said Mahmoud Mehanna, member of Al-Azhar’s Senior Scholars.
The movie has also stirred mixed reactions among social networks users.
“OMG did you even READ the bible when making this movie. This film is no way what happen to Noah,” user Arthur J. Carlson Jr. wrote on the movie page at Facebook.
“Hope they keep close to the bible,” Salvatore Alioto wrote.
“I saw the previews, it looks fantastic, cannot wait to see the movie,” Kay White posted at Facebook.
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.
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