What’s the Ruling on Graphic Designing and Posting Digital Drawings of People?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

What’s the ruling on graphic designing and posting digital drawings of famous deceased figures (Muslim and non-Muslim) on social media, with captions of praise?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to what pleases Him.

Depicting animate life, such as those described, is unlawful, and Allah knows best.

Prohibition of Depicting Animal Life

Making pictures of animate life is one of the major sins (kaba’ir). [Dhahabi, Kitab Al-Kaba’ir]

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

(1) “Every maker of pictures will go to the fire, where a being will be set upon him for each picture he made to torment him in hell.” [Bukhari]

(2) “Whoever makes an image shall be required (on the Last Day) to breathe a spirit into it but will never be able to do so.” [Bukhari]

Could it be Brought to Life?

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Those who make images will be punished on the Day of Resurrection, and it will be said to them: ‘Bring to life that which you have created.’” [Agreed Upon]

Many scholars appear to regard the depiction of images with incomplete features (having no nose, eyes, neck, etc.) as lawful. Therefore, their makers are not included in the warning because these pictures are not “competing” with the creation of Allah.

If you could make your pictures like those mentioned above, they would be permissible to draw, which applies to all non-detailed images, even though they are living beings, and Allah knows best.

How to Repent?

If one has committed a major sin (kabira), one should immediately turn to Allah in repentance.

Allah Most High says, “O My slaves who have wronged themselves! Never lose hope in the mercy of Allah. Verily Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, He is the Most Forgiving and the Most Merciful.” [Quran, 39:53]

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The one who repents from sin is like one who never sinned.” [Ibn Maja]

Conditions of Repentance

Imam Al-Nawawi explained that the following are conditions for genuine repentance when one’s sins are between oneself and Allah:

(1) One must immediately cease sinning.

(2) One must regret one’s sins.

(3) One must resolve never to return to the sins.

Without any of the conditions mentioned above, repentance will not be valid.

Repentance from Sins Connected to the Rights or Property of Others

When one’s sins involve the rights or property of others, then the three conditions mentioned above apply, along with the following:

(4) One must absolve oneself from the rights of the person/s affected. If, for example, the sin is stealing wealth or property, you should return the items to their rightful owner.

Repentance without the fourth condition would not be sufficient to waive any of the rights owed to others. One must restore the rights of the victim/s.
[Nawawi, Riyadh al-Salihin]

I pray that this benefits and that Allah guides us all.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.