Supposedly, the ban on the depiction of Mohammed (the prophet, not the oil baron or the gas station attendant or the goat-herder) was put in place to prevent Mohammed being a figure of worship to take away from the god of Islam. They didn’t want a repeat of the status of saints or the Virgin Mary in Catholicism.
But the universal uprising (four months late) over the cartoons published by a few newspapers run by non-muslims in the West suggests to me that this strategy has backfired. By giving Mohammed a special place in non-depiction, Islam has turned him into an invisible idol, idolized by his absence. Remember, they’re supposed to be focusing on submission to the will of their god, not on his prophet.
Of course the fact that muslims refer to him as the Prophet and always put Peace Be Upon Him after his name and are required to name him as a prophet of their god suggests that it’s not just in non-representation that Mohammed has been idolized in practice if not in theology.
Islam is hardly unique in such conceits, but it would be a good thing for thoughtful muslims to remember as they charge the gates in the name of non-idolatry…that’s pretty much the definition of idolatry you’re displaying, there.