Manama: Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Shaikh Abdul Aziz Al Shaikh said that screening the Iranian movie “Mohammad: The Messenger of God” is not permitted from a religious point of view.

“Prophet Mohammad, Peace Be Upon Him, has well-known and specific physical and moral qualities, and the movie makers insist on something that is not realistic,” he said. “The Prophet is well above the movie. This movie is a sacrilege and it distorts Islam,” he said in remarks published by the London-based Al Hayat daily.

Anyone who wants to highlight the life of Prophet Mohammad should spread his sayings and teachings, and not through a movie made by “spoilers”, he added.

“People are warned against watching the movie because those behind it are not trust-worthy and rely on lies. They are not honest,” he said.

State sponsored

The state-sponsored movie, directed by Iranian director Majid Majidi, was released on August 27 in Iran. The movie was shot in Qum, Iran, and South Africa and its cast consists of several Iranian actors. It is Iran's biggest-budget production.

Several religious scholars, mainly Sunnis, have asked for a ban on the movie.

In Egypt, Al Azhar, one of Sunni Islam's most prestigious seats of learning, called on Iran to ban the film, describing it as  “debasing the sanctity of God’s messengers.”

In India, a Sunni organisation, Raza Academy, on Monday wrote to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and state Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to ban the movie in India and take “legal action” against the movie’s music composer A R Rahman, an Indian composer, singer-songwriter, music producer and musician.

According to the organisation, showing pictures or portrayal of the Prophet is blasphemous under Islamic traditions, the Indian Express reported.

Raza Academy’s joint secretary Mohammad Arif Rizvi said that the movie hurts the “sentiments of Indian Muslims” by showing a person playing the Prophet.

Sacrilegious depictions of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in movies, cartoons or novels have often been deemed blasphemous by Muslims.

In 2005, cartoons published by a Danish newspaper sparked violent protests that resulted in deaths, attacks and boycotts.

In 1989, Iran's late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling on Muslims to kill writer Salman Rushdie for the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses.

Khomeini reportedly said the fatwa was to make sure “no one will dare insult the sacred beliefs of Muslims henceforth.”