The Muhammed Image Archive....
Here's a link to the largest compendium of images of Muhammed on the web...
Back in September of 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten started the recent wave of controversy by publishing 12 (mostly innocuous) Mohammed cartoons as a commentary on the absurd dilemma endured by a Danish author who was having difficulty finding any artist willing to illustrate his upcoming book about Mohammed. To everyone’s astonishment, the publication of the cartoons sparked worldwide outrage on the part of Muslims, who apparently thought that there were no images of Mohammed in existence, and thus these 12 Danish cartoons were breaking some kind of taboo.
Within hours of that story hitting the American media nearly five years ago, I began (out of curiosity) to poke around the Internet looking for other pictures of Mohammed, aside from the Danish cartoons. It didn’t take long before I found one, then two, five, ten, forty! On a whim, I downloaded them all and quickly posted a page on my site zombietime which I ambitiously titled: “The Mohammed Image Archive.”
And at that moment my life changed.
The page was an instant hit in the blogosphere, and by day’s end was linked far and wide. And I discovered that I was not the only one curiously poking around the Internet looking for Mohammed pictures: My in-box was quickly flooded with submissions from readers who had discovered this or that unusual Mohammed portait in some forgotten corner of the Web.
So I updated my page. And then updated it again. And again. And then I had to split it into two pages. Then three. Before long the Archive had 13 different themed sections, ranging from respectful and scholarly Islamic Depictions of Mohammed in Full to the outrageously blasphemous Extreme Mohammed, and everything in between. Updating the Archive practically became full-time job — unpaid, needless to say, since I have no ads or other income-generating widgets on my site. The page design was (and still is) minimalistic; my excuse is that the simple design helps the pictures load quickly, but the real reason is that my HTML skills are rudimentary at best.
Within a few months, the Archive had grown to become far and away the largest assemblage of Mohammed imagery anywhere in the world. And since that time, it has quadrupled in size, at least. I now find myself the curator of a global resource, mankind’s only repository of every known image of Mohammed, “the 7th-century founder of Islam” (as I carefully describe him with studious neutrality). This is the curse of perfectionism: once you start on a project like this, you can’t stop until you have every single Mohammed picture ever created, regardless of era, quality, style or intent. Several examples from the Archive’s massive collection are featured throughout this essay.
Detail of Mohammed riding his magical steed, from a miniature in the illuminated manuscript called The Apocalypse of Muhammad, written in 1436 in Herat, Afghanistan (now in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris).
Why do I maintain the Archive? Do I hate Islam? Am I a Muslim? Am I trying to start a war? No, no, and no. The reason is simple: The Archive is an unambiguous declaration of my devotion to the principle of free speech, and free thought. No one can tell me what I can or cannot say. The very fact that millions of people are trying to impose a ban on something is motivation enough for me to shout it from the rooftops.