The “American Qur’an” – art or blasphemy?

October 13, 2009 at 1:10 pm 6 comments


This is an image from the “American Qur’an”, a series of pictures matching Sura or specific chapters from the Islamic holy book to recent American disasters such as Hurricane Karina, and wildfires in California or else scenes from contemporary America: gangsters, migrants labouring in fields, etc.

So far the artist Sandow Birk has copied half the Qur’an’s 114 Suras onto 16 x 24 inch panels, in a style reminiscent of urban graffiti.

They are now on display in San Francisco and Culver City near Los Angeles. Eventually the plan is to the turn the panels into a book reported.

Birk admits the concept is Christian: “When you go to a church here, the minister read a passage from the Bible and then he spends 30 minutes talking about, “How does this passage relate to your life in the 21st century?” That’s a familiar way that Americans have of dealing with religious texts.”

Creative certainly but is it blasphemy? The Qur’an forbids the making of idols, says this piece in the LA Times, the hadith contains restrictions on the use of figurative imagery. The issue, it concludes, is open to interpretation.

Obviously, the question of which verses Birk matches with which event is highly interesting. For 9/11 depicted above for instance, he choses Sura 44 (10-12)

44:10 But watch thou (O Muhammad) for the day when the sky will produce visible smoke

44:11 That will envelop the people. This will be a painful torment.

44:12 (Then they will say): Our Lord relieve us of the torment. Lo! we are believers.

Is this just a case of match-up-the-verse-to-the-event? Or is this a call to convert to Islam? Amboy’s take? [it]”implies that the 9/11 attacks were Allah’s punishment for not accepting Islam.” What do you think?

Source:  Siasat News


Entry filed under: Islam. Tags: , , , , , , .

Future Laptops! The most powerful verse in Quran!

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. nadia  |  October 13, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Birk reiterated a disclaimer from his artist’s statement noting that his art project is not meant to be a sacred book. “Really, technically, this wouldn’t even be considered a Koran by Islamic scholars because it is not written in Arabic,” he said.

    BUT personally, I am not comfortable with this form of art at all – even though he’s trying to show Islam in a positive light – because:

    a) his interpretation of the verses and the context with which they are being portrayed are inaccurate.

    b) there are images of human and/or animals

    c) I think this art is disrespectful, considering how much sacred this Book is for us Muslims.

    ~ Yes, right. He needs a hidayath to understand the true face of Islam.

  • 2. Behbood  |  October 13, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Chalo isi bahane se ye loug hamari paak saaf kitab padh toh rahe hain…. even though any sort of manifestation is not allowed…

    ~ Bas Allah hidayath dey and destroy the evil plans.

  • 3. Abid  |  October 14, 2009 at 2:56 am

    Very interesting; that’s the only way i really can describe it!


  • 4. Specs  |  October 15, 2009 at 10:11 am

    I’m offended. Even if, as he says, its not ‘technically’ a Quran, no one gave him permission to play around with verses of our sacred text. :@ And to use it ‘in his own interpretation’… this isn’t a plaything that anyone can pick things to have fun out of.

    ~ We can understand that to the core but not the non-muslim until unless he has an instinct of understandability.

  • 5. Haris Gulzar  |  October 19, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Although unacceptable, but this gives me a feeling that at least the author (if not others) is guilty of not being a muslim. What makes it unacceptable is the relating of events with verses. I mean, the context in which the verse you mentioned was revealed might be totally different than what the author of this book interprets…

    ~It is to show that how the author has taken into the wrong context of verses and relating with the events. May Allah save us from the traps of Shaitan..Aameen.

  • 6. Nasreen  |  October 22, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Ameen to Haris’ dua.

    As salaam walaikum bro,

    This is no way of promoting Islam. They are taking passages out of the Quran and changing the meaning of the ayahs. If people relate an ayah referring to 9/11 as punishment, is that going to bring them to Islam or increase their hatred for it? Plus, nothing in the Quran relates directly to the 9/11 incident and this kind of art form should not be related to/associated with the Quran as paintings, idols of people, etc is not allowed in Islam.

    Perhaps they should have atleast consulted sheikhs before they went ahead and did this.

    ~Exactly, Sister, this is not the way to propagate Islam, in fact he is not promoting but demoting the features in Islam with this way. May Allah make us all human being understand the traps behind every evil plans by Shaitaan and it’s followers..Aameen.


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