Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat answers questions on images of the Prophet found online.
I am confused. The photos that are on Google and YouTube of the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, are they real or are they just uploaded by others to misguide Muslims?
I pray you are well.
Depicting the Prophets and Companions
Is is not permissible to depict the Messenger of Allah – or any other prophet, Allah bless them all and give them peace, in picture or video format. This is a matter of consensus and the verdict issued by al-Azhar University in 1968, the Islamic Research Council in 1972, the Egyptian Fatwa Ministry in 1980, and others more recently.
There are many reasons for this. One of them is that it opens the doors of derision directed to the prophets, Allah bless them and give them peace; whereas Allah has honored them to the highest degree. We live in a time where anyone and everyone can comment on matters online. Sadly, there are those whose vile comments are leveled against the greatest of people – due to ignorance, animosity, or sheer malice.
Therefore, the aversion of this is given precedence over any and all other potential benefits. Looking at such images, therefore, would have the same rulings.
Any pictures you do find, if they are there to depict his beauty, they cannot do it justice. And if they are there for any other vile purpose – it is best not to sully your sight with them.
The ruling has also been extended to depicting the Companions. Many of the sources used to produce such material are not sound, therefore there is the element of falsely ascribing events and quotes to people in this. There are other matters which further support this ruling.
Seeing the Messenger, Blessings and Peace Be upon Him
I recommend that you study the beautiful life and qualities of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. Those who throw themselves into this and those who send many blessings upon him, are often blessed with seeing him in their dreams.
In a narration found in Sahih al-Bukhari, he said, “Whoever sees me in a dream will see me in a waking state; Shaytan cannot take my form.” Some of the ulema, such as Imam al-Suyuti, have commented on this hadith saying that some of the righteous – such as Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili and others – see him in a waking state during their lives. For the generality of believers, this usually happens at the point of death, and through this great blessing they attain a good death. (Jassus, Qasim; Sharh Shamaʾil al-Tirmidhi)
May Allah honor us with the vision of His beloved, Allah bless him and give him peace, in this life before the next. Amin.
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.