Islamic Depictions of Mohammed with Face Hidden

In order to sidestep the prohibition against actually depicting Mohammed, artists in Muslim societies sometimes showed him with his face blank or hidden. This way it could be claimed that they never actually drew Mohammed -- only his clothes.


Note: Scholars have written in to say that some of the faceless Mohammeds shown here were likely to have been originally drawn with faces that were later scratched out.

The Prophet Mohammed in a Mosque.

Turkish, 16th Century, painting on paper.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The artist depicted Mohammed in very long sleeves

so as to avoid showing his hands, though his neck and hints of his features are visible.

This is a miniature from Siyer-i Nebi,

a Turkish religious biography of Mohammed completed in 1388

and later lavishly illustrated with 814 miniatures under the reign of

Ottoman ruler Murad III, being completed in 1595.

Many of the miniatures depict Mohammed,

and this particular one shows Ali bin Abu Taleb beheading Nasr bin al-Hareth

in the presence of Mohammed and his companions.

Newly born Muhammad in his mother's arms being shown to his grandfather and Meccans.

From Turkish book painting (date unknown).

University of California, San Diego.

Islamic image of the Qur'an being revealed to Mohammed during a battle.

Source unknown.

Indonesian allegorical scene of Mohammed riding a mythical beast

-- possibly a depiction of his "Night Voyage."

Date unknown.

Mohammed at the Kaaba. Miniature from the Ottoman Empire, c. 1595.

The Topkapi Museum, Istanbul

Mohammed with the Angel Gabriel. Miniature from the Ottoman Empire, c. 1595.

The Topkapi Museum, Istanbul

Mohammed praying at the Ka'aba in Mecca.

Turkish miniature from the Ottoman Empire; date unknown.

The Ascent of Mohammed, as depicted in a Persian manuscript.

Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, c. 1570.

From the collection of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.

Mohammed upon his winged steed al-Burak ascending into heaven.

Mohammed (with face not visible) lying (possibly dead) in a grotto,

with anachronistic Mongol warriors looking on.

Indian or Asian painting of Mohammed receiving visions.

Mohammed astride a mythological beast;

provenance unknown.

Mohammed preaching.

Origin unknown.

Mohammed ascending to Paradise.

Mohammed (face not visible) in an illustration

of an episode from the Qur'an.

Additional online images of Mohammed with his face hidden:

Angels visit Muhammad to prepare him for the Miraj. Detail from The Progress of the Prophet,

Turkey, 16th century

Ascent of the Prophet to Heaven. Persia, 1550


Ascent of the Prophet to Heaven. Persia, 1550


Muhammad and Abu Bakr visit poor Bedouins







The book The Legacy of Jihad features an illustration of Mohammed (sitting alone, to the right, his face covered) observing the massacre of the Jewish tribe the Banu Qurayzah; from a 19th-century Kashmiri illustration in the British Library

Muhammad on Buraq. Persia, mid-16th century






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