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The permissibility of depictions of Muhammad, the founder of Islam, has long been a concern in the religion's history. Oral and written descriptions are readily accepted by all traditions of Islam, but there is disagreement about visual depictions. The Quran does not explicitly forbid images of Muhammad, but there are a few hadith which have explicitly prohibited Muslims from creating visual depictions of figures. Most Sunni Muslims believe that visual depictions of all the prophets of Islam should be prohibited and are particularly averse to visual representations of Muhammad. The key concern is that the use of images can encourage idolatry. In Shia Islam, however, images of Muhammad are quite common nowadays, even though Shia scholars historically were against such depictions. Still, many Muslims who take a stricter view of the supplemental traditions will sometimes challenge any depiction of Muhammad, including those created and published by non-Muslims. The question of whether images in Islamic art, including those depicting Muhammad, can be considered as religious art remains a matter of contention among scholars. They appear in illustrated books that are normally works of history or poetry, including those with religious subjects; the Qu'ran is never illustrated: "context and intent are essential to understanding Islamic pictorial art. The Muslim artists creating images of Muhammad, and the public who beheld them, understood that the images were not objects of worship. Nor were the objects so decorated used as part of religious worship". However, scholars concede that such images have "a spiritual element", and were also sometimes used in informal religious devotions celebrating the day of the Mi'raj. Many visual depictions only show Muhammad with his face veiled, or symbolically represent him as a flame; other images, notably from before about 1500, show his face. However, depictions of Muhammad were rare, never numerous in any community or era throughout Islamic history, appearing almost entirely in the private medium of Persian and other miniature book illustration. The key medium of public religious art in Islam was and is calligraphy. (via Freebase)