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The Islamic stance on the use of images for religious purposes was formed at a time when the Christian Church was involved in its own controversy about the subject. Christianity, like Islam, had originally followed Jewish precepts on the matter of images. In the course of time however this influence had receded, but the various Christians communities and sects had came to adopt very different views on the subject. In fact there were serious arguments within the broader Church for centuries as to whether it was proper, or not, to use images of Christ, the saints and the martyrs as an aid to worship. Naturally, as in all theological matters, the partisans on either side were equally fervent in their beliefs. Islam encountered this controversy, and was obliged to intervene, when it conquered the Christian middle-East.|
From an Islamic standpoint, the Christian use of images in their liturgy, together with the dogma of the Holy Trinity and various other articles of their faith, simply proved the extent of Christian departure from pure monotheism. To Muslims they were all anathema. In 721 (102 AH) the Umayyad Caliph Yazid II ordered all images (including those in mosaic) to be removed from the Churches within his domains, and all coins bearing figures of the Christian Emperor to be replaced with de-Christianised versions. In the process, Islamic primacy (and self-righteousness) was asserted and Christian faith and practice backfooted.
The effects of this Islamic iconoclast campaign on the Church, both within the conquered territories and in the heartland of the Byzantine Empire, were to be very far reaching. The loss of vast swathes of their territory to the Muslims had already severely shaken Byzantium. There were many who blamed the Churches wealth and arrogance for invoking this divine punishment, and the long-running dispute concerning the use of images became the focus of a power struggle, and a virtual civil war, within the remaining part of the Empire. The Iconoclast Controversy raged on for well over a century, involving the Emperors themselves, some of whom were partisans for, others against, Icon-worship. Much blood was spilt in this crisis, which saw a constant fluctuation of fortunes between the opposing factions.
In the end the Iconophiles won the day in Byzantium. Icons were restored to the Churches in 843 CE (an event that is still celebrated in the Orthodox Church), and their use has continued right up to the present. For the Muslims, of course, the whole episode provided further confirmation (if any were needed) of the grievous errors accompanying Christian belief.