Can I take a photo of a person and post it while other people may be in the background (not the main focus of the photo) without taking permission from every single person? Is it violating their privacy since they are already appearing like that?
Wa alaykum as-Salaam
Thank you for your question.
One of the five leading maxims in Islamic law is that “custom is a basis for judgment”. This means that the customs or norms of people will determine the legal ruling that applies to a particular practice [Ashbah wa al-Naza’ir].
Take, for instance, the ruling applicable to picking up and consuming fruit that has fallen from a tree differs from one custom to another. In a community where the norm is that that one is permitted to consume such fruit, the legal ruling states it is permissible, otherwise it is not [Ashbah wa al-Naza’ir].
As regards to your question, customs differ not only from one community to another but also can differ from one location to another. When it is generally understood that people do not mind being photographed, it is permissible to take photographs, otherwise, it is not.
Sometimes, people do not mind being photographed but would take issue with the photographs being uploaded onto a public platform. When one is uncertain of the custom of a particular community or location, it is always best and safe to ask those being photographed if they give consent to use their photograph.
And Allah knows best.
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.