As the United States Supreme Court judges sit in their chamber, to their right, front, and the left sides are friezes depicting the 18 greatest lawgivers of the world.
The second frieze to the right features a person holding a copy of the Quran, the Islamic holy book. It is intended to recognize Prophet Muhammad as one of the greatest lawgivers in the world, along with Moses, Solomon, Confucius, and Hammurabi, among others.
Here is what the Supreme Court’s website says about this frieze:
Muhammad (c. 570 - 632) The Prophet of Islam. He is depicted holding the Qur’an. The Qur’an provides the primary source of Islamic Law. Prophet Muhammad’s teachings explain and implement Qur’anic principles. The figure above is a well-intentioned attempt by the sculptor, Adolph Weinman, to honor Muhammad, and it bears no resemblance to Muhammad. Muslims generally have a strong aversion to sculptured or pictured representations of their Prophet.
In the year in which the frieze of Prophet Muhammad was erected, Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, and Charles Evans Hughes was the Chief Justice. It is not known how the court deliberated on this architectural contribution. No one at that time thought it inappropriate to include Prophet Muhammad as one of the greatest lawgivers of the world at the chambers of the United States Supreme Court. This was despite the fact that American society at that time was not as diverse as it is today. Women had just acquired the right to vote, and Japanese-Americans were about to be sent to concentration camps.
While the learned people in our country knew of the contribution of Prophet Muhammad, our neighbors today are given regular doses of misinformation about the Prophet and Sharia, the path of the Prophet, more commonly described as Islamic law.h
For more Muslim perspectives about Sharia please visit Sharia101.org.
Please also read Rose Wilder Lane’s Discovery of Freedom. She is the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, of Little House on the Prairiefame. She considered Prophet Muhammad, Prophet Abraham, and the American Revolution to be the three major sources of freedom in the world.
Muhammad: A Prophet For Our Time, by Karen Armstrong, published by HarperCollins
Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources, by Martin Lings, published by Inner Traditions
© 2011 Abdul Malik Mujahid