To the editor:
Your Feb. 12 article by Associated Press writer Nasser Karimi on the recent cartoon controversy stated that Muslims oppose representations of Prophet Muhammad "for fear they could lead to idolatry."
Indeed, the Koran has very harsh words for those who engage in idol worship. It warns Muslim males not to marry women who may be idol worshippers or to give their daughters to men who do the same. It says "a believing bondwoman is better than an idolatress" and "a believing slave is better than an idolator." (Surah II, 221)
However, idols/statues are an integral part of religious traditions like Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.
London's Financial Times recently carried an interview of M. F. Husain, a world-famous Muslim painter, in which he justified his nude painting of the Hindu goddess Saraswati who, holding a book and a veena (lyre), is considered the symbol of knowledge and music. And in Bamyan, Afghanistan, the Taliban blew up the world's tallest 2000-year Buddha statues saying they were un-Islamic. As far as I know, there has been no Muslim condemnation of Husain, and there was only a mild verbal criticism by a small section of the Muslim community of the terrible destruction of the Bamyan Buddhas.