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Muslim Countries Ban Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’

Bahrain, Qatar, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates won’t show the film

Lily Wilf
April 02, 2014

A number of Muslim countries have banned the screening of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, citing the film’s depiction of a prophet, which is prohibited in Islamic tradition. Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates banned the film in early March, and Indonesia followed suit last week, The Washington Post reports.

The film is based on the Hebrew Bible story of Noah and the flood, and stars Russell Crowe in the title role. A version of the story is told in the Quran, in which the main character is the prophet Nuh. Though the Quran does not explicitly ban representations of the prophet Muhammad, Islamic scholars established a prohibition on portraying all Islamic prophets for fear they might become objects of worship, which by extension could be considered be a form of idolatry.

Cairo’s Al-Azhar University issued a fatwa against the film, citing the prohibition on depicting prophets, and urged Muslims not to watch Noah. A statement from Al-Azhar’s Highest Scholars Committee read, “Such productions contradict the higher stature of prophets and messengers, and affect the constants of Islamic law. They also provoke believers’ emotions.”

The ban on Aronofsky’s Noah, however, is by no means widespread. Most Muslim-majority countries have not objected to the film’s screening, and many observant Muslims in the United States have reportedly seen the film since its release last week.

Lily Wilf is an editorial intern at Tablet.

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