It is a beautiful painting found in a 14th-century Persian manuscript, the "Compendium of Chronicles", a history of Islam. It shows the Prophet Muhammad receiving his first Quranic revelations from the angel Gabriel. Christine Gruber, professor of Islamic art at Michigan University, describes it as "a masterpiece of Persian manuscript painting".
Last October, an instructor at Hamline University, Minnesota, displayed the painting during an online class on Islamic art. The instructor (who has not been named) had warned of what she was about to do in case anyone found the image offensive and did not wish to view it. No matter, a student complained to the university authorities.
David Everett, Hamline's associate vice-president of inclusive excellence, condemned the classroom exercise as "undeniably inconsiderate, disrespectful and Islamophobic". A letter written by Mark Berkson, chair of the department of religion, defending the instructor and providing historical and religious context for her actions, was published on the website of The Oracle, the university's student newspaper, and then taken down because it "caused harm". The instructor was "released" from further teaching duties.