Fury over Prophet Mohamed drawing in Grade Two book

 Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya organising secretary Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Top Muslim clerics are up in arms against a Nairobi publisher for using a caricature depicting revered Islamic Prophet Mohamed in one of its books.

Mentor Publishers Managing Director Josephine Wanjuki said they have recalled the book Mentor Encyclopedia Grade II following uproar from Muslims.

“We undertake to delete the offensive drawing from all our subsequent editions. We have recalled all the books from the vendors, stores and wholesales,” said Ms Wanjiku.

On Wednesday the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya organising secretary Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa said the content of the book was sacrilegious to the Islamic faith. “It is an insult and contempt from Mentor Publishers as they have chosen to do what is unprecedented. There are no pictures of the prophet anywhere,” said Sheikh Khalifa.

He said the Muslim clerics are questioning why the publisher did not use the picture of another person to promote the children’s colouring exercise but decided to settle on the prophet.

Sheikh Khalifa said the offensive publication coincided with the Islamic festival of Mawlid, a celebration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad.

He said the publisher appeared keen to demean the figure of the Muslim holy prophet while at the same time programming young children to disrespect the holy prophet. “We are therefore not taking sarcastic apology and demand that they publicly burn all offensive material,” he said.

Mentor Encyclopedia Grade 2, which is the cause of the IRE of the Muslim faithful, came into the spotlight last week after parents realised one of the exercises in the book involved colouring a picture that represented the holy prophet.

But the publisher said it has set up collection centres in Nairobi and Mombasa to mob up the books and apologised to Muslims. “We have reached out to the Muslim Education Council, Jamia Mosque Nairobi, and other stakeholders to express our regret in this matter,” said Mentor.

According to Sheikh Rishad Rajab, a Muslim scholar and cleric at Jibran Mosque Mombasa, Islam does not encourage drawings especially that of the prophet.

“This may lead to idolising of the prophet and elevating him to the status of a god, which is a big sin as Islam is monotheistic and only Allah is to be worshipped,” said the scholar.

“That’s why we do not have depictions of the Holy Prophet in any form as it is Haram (forbidden),” he added.

Kenya Muslim National Advisory Council National Chairperson Sheikh Juma Ngao termed it a provocation to Muslims and an aggression against religion.

He warned that unless the book is withdrawn entirely from the market, they would call for demonstrations against Mentor Publishers and sue for damages.