Kenyan Publisher Apologizes to Muslims

Photo Credit: UNESCO

On Oct 7, parents of schoolchildren in Nairobi, Kenya, posted on X, formally known as Twitter, that their children’s school encyclopedia contained a drawing depicting the image of the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him). The company who issued the encyclopedia, Mentor Publishing Company Co Ltd, immediately apologized for the drawing and said the book would be retracted. Parents were advised to return the books to the place of purchase. 

Nation, an African online news outlet, reports Muslims across the country are alarmed. “Who checks the publishers?” parent Aminah Muhammad asked on X. “Do they have proofreaders? How could this pass?” She wondered whether the government is paying attention to content provided to students from publishers. 

Mrs Muhammad found the improper content while checking her son’s homework. 

Galgalo Gurre, another parent from Mombasa was also faced with the insult while monitoring her daughter’s homework. “This is so wrong in so many ways. What was the intention? I had to call her school teacher who was equally astonished,” she said.

Parent Prins Adan stated on X, “This is a big insult to the Muslim ummah.” 

The description of the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is spoken of in Islamic literature and memorized by Muslims all over the world, but drawings of his blessed face or the face of any Prophet of Allah is forbidden as a practice in Islam.

The publisher stated that they reached out to the Muslim Education Council, Jamia Mosque Nairobi, Masjid Al Armen and other stakeholders about the offense. They expressed regret and stated it would never happen again. “We will continue liaising with the Muslim Education Council to ensure compliance,” Mentor Publishing Company assured parents concerning their grave “mistake.” 

Citizens Digital news, reporting on the incident, quotes a statement from Mentor Publishing’s director Josephine Wanjuki: “We sincerely and wholeheartedly apologize for the error concerning our Grade 1 Mentor Encyclopedia books, where we inadvertently inserted a drawing and mistakenly identified it as the image of Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him].”

The publisher said they were deleting the offensive drawing from all subsequent editions of the book going forward, according to Citizens Digital.

According to the news and information website, Minute Africa, “While Christianity remains prevalent in Kenya, Islam has steadily grown and now constitutes over 11 percent of its population.” 

Surprisingly, the publishing company still published an image that would be offensive to the Kenyan Muslim population.

Mentor Publishing states on their website that their vision is “to be the champion in publishing well-researched and high quality learning materials in primary, secondary and tertiary levels.”

If the publishing company had conducted proper research, they would have found such an error would be disrespectful and would cause insult to Muslims worldwide.

Adeelah Ahmad