British teacher Gillian Gibbons and her allowing pupils to call a teddy bear Muhammad
Question: Ever since this issue about the teddy bear named Muhammad has surfaced, I have grown concerned. I never thought about the issue like that before. I want to know what the ruling is. I have videos of "Adam's World" with a very fanciful looking puppet named Adam who teaches children about Islam. Is it right or wrong to name plush toys and puppets with the names of prophets? If not, should I dispose of these videos? Also, my daughter has named her plush toys with different names. She has a toy horse named Ahmed, a toy cat named Aisha, and a toy rabbit named Muhammad – these are the names of her uncles and her aunt. Is this alright? Am I sinning by letting her keep these names for her toys?
Answered by Sheikh Muhammad Muhammad Sâlim `Abd al-Wadûd
There are two issues that need to be addressed. The first is the question of whether or not the person incurs sin. The second is the appropriateness of the action itself.
With respect to the sinfulness of the act, the first thing to consider is who the person is who named the animal character with the name of one of the prophets (peace be upon them all). If the person who did so was a small child, then there is certainly no sin involved, since a small child is not legally accountable.
If the person is an adult, then the question of sinfulness rests with the person's intention. If the person intended by giving the character or toy a certain name as a means to insult or belittle one of the prophets, then the person has committed a sin. Deliberately insulting any of the prophets is a serious sin. It does not matter which of the prophets it is, since we as Muslims do not differentiate between the prophets in their right to be accorded our respect.
If the person did not intend any insult by doing so, then the person incurs no sin.
Now, we shall turn our attention to the appropriateness of naming cartoon characters or toy characters by the names of the prophets.
It is certainly wrong to make any inappropriate representation of any of the prophets. If a person presents a cartoon character, a puppet, or an animal character as representing one of the prophets, then the person is doing something wrong. The person might have a good intention behind doing so, but the act itself is incorrect. If the person does so in ignorance and without any bad intention, the person will not be sinning. However the person should be informed of the mistake and should cease doing so as soon as his or her attention is drawn to the matter.