1. Islam forbids carvings of statues of men and animals. At one time painted portraits of such were also forbidden. The Turkish Caliphs used to have their portraits painted but they were hidden from the public.
2. But now with the advances in photography it is impossible for Muslims to ban photographic pictures of men and animals. Certain Ulamas declared that still pictures may be exempted but not moving pictures. But now the pictures move and speak. Muslims now just ignore the breaches in the rule against painted or photographed portraits, moving or speaking. Even the religious scholars now have their pictures taken.
3. But many draw a line with regard to carvings and sculpture of men and animals. The early Muslims used to disfigure the faces of some of the statues they found in the lands they expanded into. But for a very long time the statues were not defaced. It is only lately that many of these carvings were destroyed.
4. In Egypt not only are most of the statues of the pharaohs preserved, but new copies of the statues decorate the streets of Cairo. In Malaysia we have the National Monument and the statue of the first Prime Minister of the country.
5. Apparently Muslim thinking about statues are ambivalent.
6. In pre-Islamic times the Jahiliah, the ignorant Arabs, used to worship Uzza and Lat, oddly-shaped rocks as their gods.
7. When Islam came these gods were destroyed and Muslims were forbidden from carving and keeping statues. This is because the early Muslims may worship them as gods.
8. It is the worship of these carvings as gods which is forbidden. The Quran is emphatic that no other god may be worshipped accept Allah. And Allah cannot be carved in the form of statues.
9. Today’s Muslims are more intelligent. That is why they don’t worship portraits or statues. They know these are not gods.
10. When I was small, dolls that look like human beings were frowned upon by some conservative Malays. But as the toy industry grew, dolls could not be banned.
11. But statues of human beings in stones are less easily produced. So the ban is confined to statues of men and animals.
12. The Islamic injunction is against regarding the carved images as gods to be worshipped. Islamic art is confined to geometric designer.
13. The modern Muslims know that these are not gods and they don’t worship them. We no longer hold the ceremony at the Cenotaph (Tugu Peringatan) as that may be construed as a kind of prayer. But we don’t have such ceremonies in front of the statue of the first Prime Minister or the eagle in Langkawi. We are not breaching Islamic injunction.
14. The day some Muslims place joss-sticks and genuflect before the Eagle in Langkawi, that day the offending Muslim should be told that they are not following the injunctions of Islam. They should be told that the eagle is not god to be worshipped.
15. So far no Muslims have ever prayed before or worshipped the Eagle of Langkawi. Destroying it would not make the Malays more Muslim.