Another Mohammed sculpture that CAIR tried – and failed – to remove

The Prophet Muhammad (center) is among the “lawgiving” figures that line the North Wall frieze inside the U.S. Supreme Court chamber. U.S. Supreme Court website

Perched above the press seating area inside the U.S. Supreme Court chamber is a marble image of Prophet Muhammad.

Sculpted in a frieze, the Muhammad statue carries a sword and the Quran and stands in the company of more than a dozen other “great lawgivers of history.” They range from Moses to Confucius to Napoleon to John Marshall, some of whom appear in an accompanying frieze along the south side of the room…

…[I]n 1997, some Muslim leaders called on the Supreme Court to remove the image inside the chamber.

According to a Washington Post article at the time, the Council on American-Islamic Relations [CAIR] and other Muslim groups wrote to the court urging that the statue’s face be sandblasted. Then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist refused, issuing a letter that said it would be “unlawful to remove or in any way injure an architectural feature in the Supreme Court building.”

The “controversy was generally laid to rest, in part through a fatwa” authored by Sheikh Taha Jaber al-Alwani, an influential Islamic scholar, according to a 2009 article in Hamline University’s Journal of Law and Religion.

The Islamic legal opinion written by Mr. al-Alwani concludes:

What I have seen in the Supreme Courtroom deserves nothing but appreciation and gratitude from American Muslims. This is a positive gesture toward Islam made by the architect and other architectural decision-makers of the highest Court in America. God willing, it will help ameliorate some of the unfortunate misinformation that has surrounded Islam and Muslims in this country.

In a culture whose literary heritage is replete with disdainful images of the Prophet Muhammad . . . it is comforting to note that those in the highest Court in the United States were able to surmount these prejudices, and display his image among those of the greatest lawgivers in human history. Isn’t that effort a noble gesture that deserves from us, who believe in him as the Prophet and Messenger, every encouragement, esteem, and gratitude instead of disapproval, condemnation, and outrage?

…Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told Law Blog on Wednesday that he now considers the matter closed…


Note that The Wall Street Journal is braver than the The New York Times: it actually displays the photo.

In this article from last week, concerning another Mo statue on courthouse in New York, NYT says “The New York Times has chosen not to publish photographs of the statue with this article.”

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  • Exile1981

    Actually if you look at the whole issue of portraits of mo you’ll find that for the first nearly thousand years it was ok to do pictures of him and there are numerous korans from that time which show images of him. So of those are early enough that they may have been done by people who actually saw him. It was only in the 1600’s that a Caliph decided that making the pictures was bad and outlawed it. So the rule they all quote is not Mo’s rule or even one from the koran but one from someone who decided to outlaw pictures of all people… except naked women.

  • cmh

    It should be removed

    • dance…dancetotheradio

      And if we were to remove it they would demand that it stay.

  • DVult

    In the US, American rules are in play. Puslum rules or wishes should not be given any consideration. if you want to come here and start bossing us around then don’t come at all.

  • Yusuf_Al_Kafir

    ‘God willing, it will help ameliorate some of the unfortunate misinformation that has surrounded Islam and Muslims in this country.’

    Yes, media stories about a statue of Mohammed holding a Koran and a weapon (sword) would go a long way in dispelling the myth that ‘Islam is a religion of peace’.

  • Drunk_by_Noon

    Maybe it should be removed, just not out of any sense of accommodating Muslims.
    What law, or law concepts, does the United States or the west have that were adopted from Islam or Mohammed?
    I say: ‘not a one’!

  • Yo, Mo: you might wanna not… clutch the scimitar on the sharp bladey part under the hilt.

    Actually, carry on.

  • ntt1

    The death cult did enough sandblasting for a millienna with their destruction at Bamyan.

  • eMan14

    I’m not sure I’d want to remove it. The fact that he holds a sword and the Quran speaks for itself. And anything that would annoy CAIR, I’m all for.

    FYI the people portrayed on the North Wall Frieze are Justinian, Muhammad, Charlemagne, King John, Louis lX, Hugo Grotius, Sir William Blackstone, John Marshall, and Napoleon.

  • tom_billesley

    Just tell ’em it’s Zoroaster, not Mo’. and that Mo’ didn’t make the cut because of his plagiarism.

    • tom_billesley

      His image is similar enough for the statue to pass.

  • Xavier

    It will be removed after Obama dissolves SCOTUS.
    So, within a year or so.