US university fires professor for displaying images of Prophet Muhammad in class

US university fires professor for displaying images of Prophet Muhammad in class
Hamline University in Minnesota apologised for the 'inconsiderate, disrespectful and Islamophobic' actions of a professor, who displayed images of the Prophet Muhammad in an art history class.
2 min read
06 January, 2023
The incident at the US university prompted backlash from its Muslim Students Association [Getty]

An American university has fired a member of its staff after they allegedly displayed pictures depicting the Prophet Muhammad in an online class, causing outrage among some of its Muslim students.

The incident, which dates back to October, took place at Hamline University, a liberal arts college in St. Paul, Minnesota, where an adjunct lecturer apparently showed medieval paintings depicting the Prophet Muhammad in an online class on global art history, reported the British website 5 Pillars on Wednesday.

The lecturer, whose name was not disclosed, shared two 14th and 16th century paintings depicting the Prophet.

The first work was "a 14th-century depiction of the Prophet receiving his first revelation from the archangel Gabriel" by Rashid al-Din, while the second aws the "Prophet with a veil and halo", painted by Mustafa ibn Vali, 5 Pillars reported.

Prior to displaying the images, the lecturer reportedly issued a verbal and written warning regarding the content of the class, allowing students who felt uncomfortable with viewing the images to leave the classroom, according to Hamline's student paper, The Oracle.

Visual depictions of the Prophet Muhammad or any other prophet of Islam are considered to be prohibited by the vast majority of Muslim scholars.

The issue was subsequently raised by the president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), who attended the class.

Aram Wedatalla complained to the university's administration, saying that the lecturer's actions were "disrespectful and offensive" to Muslims.

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"As a Muslim, and a black person, I don't feel like I belong, and I don't think I'll ever belong in a community where they don’t value me as a member, and they don't show the same respect that I show them," he told The Oracle.

One month later, the university did not renew the professor's contract, calling their actions "undeniably inconsiderate, disrespectful and Islamophobic".

The professor apologised to the MSA for making students "uncomfortable", stressing that they never "intended to disrespect the students in her class" in December.

Some academics at the university have criticised the board's decision and even issued a petition calling for the professor's contract to be reinstated.

The university's president, Fayneese Miller, said: "Respect for the observant Muslim students in that classroom should have superseded academic freedom".