An Iraqi Shiite prays in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary at a Christian church in Baghdad, Iraq.
I started a thread about this on the whyislam form, because it really bothers me. Unfortunately more people want to debate worshiping idols and so forth, which wasn't really my point.
I was sent an email through an interfaith group I participate in, by one of the Christian members. It should be stated that while there are many Jews and Muslims in the group, there are very few Christians--I find that interesting. So the title of the email was Picture of Muslim and Christian Solidarity... and then the email began "...if only the world could see it."
The email and the photograph both deeply troubled me because this woman--who is described as a Muslim, appears to be making du'a in front of a statue. Not just any statue, but a statue of the Virgin Mary. Since when do Muslims worship in front of statues, really? How does this show solidarity with Christians anyway? I certainly don't respect any oppression of Christians in Iraq but I don't see that praying in front of a statue (and dare I say, to a statue, or to Mary?) is doing anything about it except compromising Islam, compromising tawheed even!
There is no value in interfaith communication, in my opinion, if one faith has to compromise its beliefs for another--and that's not just about Islam, or for Muslims, but anyone.
So when this lady describes this as solidarity, an Iraqi Shi'a praying in front of a statue of Mary, I think that an essential part of Islam, absolute monotheistic belief in Allah, is being misunderstood. I feel like in our own da'wah in this group and for interfaith work in general from now on, the differences in Islam need to be highlighted, so that what you see in this photograph is not ever seen as representative of Islam or Muslims, and so that reason why is fully understood.
How can a Muslim who is devoted solely to Allah, and believes in the absolute lordship of Allah, who would never associate any partner with Allah in love, gratitude, supplication, fear, and who understands that the attributes of Allah belong to him alone... how could a Muslim do this, I really want to know.