Textbook containing Prophet's sketch withdrawn

Hyderabad, India - A Class 4 textbook carrying a sketch of Prophet Mohammed has been withdrawn from all centres by the publishers, Arkbird Publications, which has also apologised to Muslims following protests by the community.

The textbook, 'Millennium Moral Values', was being used for Class 4 students in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and other states.

Though the lesson, titled 'Goodness Wins', is aimed at highlighting the kindness of the Prophet Mohammed through an incident, the drawing evoked protests from the community.

According to the story, a woman used to throw garbage on the Prophet when he passed through a lane everyday. One day, when the woman did not come out to throw the garbage, the Prophet enquired about her. On being told that she was sick and bedridden, he tended to her till she recovered. The woman was ashamed of her conduct and apologised to the Prophet.

The sketch accompanying the story shows a woman lying on the bed, a man standing by the bedside and a pious man calling on the ailing lady.

Muslim leaders said while the story was carried with good intention of making children familiar with the great values of the Prophet, drawing any sketch of the Prophet was strictly prohibited.

'Some elements have been trying to hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims both at the national and international levels,' said Akbaruddin Owaisi, leader of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) in state assembly.

He wondered how the publishers failed to realise the implications of publishing the sketch, when the protests over caricatures of the Prophet in Danish newspapers had rocked the entire world recently.

Arkbird Publications, which also has its offices in Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow and Patna, apologised to Muslims and announced that it was withdrawing the book from all the centres.

M. Narender Rao and M. Ravinder Rao, the owners of the publication house, said they were sorry for hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims and clarified that it was not done intentionally.

Arkbird Publications books are included in the syllabus of many private schools in various states.