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Is it Disbelief to Draw Pictures?

Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

Question: Assalam alaykum,

I was told that we cannot pray for a muslim who has died or allow them to buried in a muslim graveyard if they are known to have made sculptures in this life. Are muslim image makers outside of Islam and eternally punished as those who commit shirk are?

Answer: Wa alaykum salam

Shukran for your question.

The primary narrations related to your question were transmitted by Imams Bukhari and Muslim. They are:

“The most severely punished people on the Day of Judgement will be image-makers.”

“Those who make images will be punished on the Day of Judgement and it will be said to them, ‘Give life to what you have created.’”

Thereafter, scholars differed regarding the meanings of these reports. In his Fath al-Bari, ibn Hajar has a lengthy discussion from which the following are important to consider.

Taswir or image-making

Some scholars like Khattabi, considered the image-making mentioned in the narrations above to refer specifically to three dimensional images. The majority however, including Imam Nawawi, considered the warning to apply to both three and two dimensional images.

What is important to consider here is that scholars differed, and while one may subscribe to a certain opinion, the views of our scholars demands our respect. Our respect for the opinion of the scholar and those who follow that opinion.

The intention with which the image was created

The majority understands the warning issued by the Messenger, Peace be upon him, in the narration to refer to the one who created the image/idol with an intention of either worshiping the idol himself, or for the idol to be worshiped by others. Another interpretation suggested that it refers to onwe who creates an image with an intention of competing with Allah in His creation. Both instances are cases of disbelief, and the action would therefore remove the person from the fold.

If however, the image-maker did not create the three or two dimensional image with an intention of worship, or to compete with Allah in His creation, then he is merely considered sinful in the first instance according to Khattabi, and in both instances according to others.

Thus it is clear, that the artist who created sculptures for the sake of art – not for worship or competing with Allah in His creation, is not out of the fold of Islam. He may be sinful, but this does not mean that we should not pray salah upon him when he dies, or bury him in the graveyard of the believers. Had this been the case, we should not be praying upon or burying in the Muslim graveyards, most Muslims on the face of the earth, who all engage regularly in the disobedience of Allah.

May Allah protect us all from sin, make us from those who are close to Him, and grant us all beautiful endings, Amin.

And Allah knows best.
Abdurragmaan Khan

p.s. image-making in the above answer refers to images of creation bearing souls, such as animals and human beings.

Wassalam
[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan


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.

Photos of the Prophet, Peace Be upon Him

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. 

Abdul-Rahim

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Decorative, Ornamental Animal Drawings

Ustadh Tabraze Azam is asked about the permissibility of using decorative and ornamental images of animals within one’s home.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Is it permissible to use wallpaper with bird drawings/design on it?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Usually, it would be best to avoid wallpaper which has depictions of animate life on it unless the wall will be covered by something else, such as bookshelves and the like, whereby the wallpaper won’t be visible. Such pictures are something that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, strongly interdicted.

However, if the pictures are very small, such that their details cannot be clearly seen, or they are silhouettes or mere outlines, the ruling would be otherwise as they don’t fit the definition of an interdicted picture. Nevertheless, it is still generally superior to avoid them as much as possible.

Please also see: Can I Have Pictures in my House? Can I Pray in a Room having Pictures in it? and The Maliki View on Pictures of Humans and Animals.

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Is It Permissible to Use Books That Have Drawings of Angels?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Assalam aleykum

Is it permissible to use books for educational purposes that have drawings of angels? I’ve seen works by Muslims that includes illustrations where angels are depicted like humans with wings.

Answer: assalamu alaykum

The basis is that illustrations of animate objects, which include angels, is permitted when used for educational purposes as in the case with children’s books. Therefore, using such books would be permitted.

However, one should avoid illustrations that (a) clearly define the features of an animate being, such as a body with a face with eyes, ears, and a mouth and (b) may lead to incorrect conceptions of what these beings represent in our tradition.

In the case of angels, one should use images that are an outline of a body with wings without clearly defined features of the type you describe. However, if you do use the types of images described in your question, this would not be sinful as there are mainstream and acceptable scholarly opinions that would allow it, which can be adopted in educational contexts.

See: Is It Permissible to Buy and Sell Children’s Books With Illustrations?

The Maliki View on Pictures of Humans and Animals

[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas  graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman where he spent five years studying Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Oxford and continues his traditional studies with scholars in the United Kingdom.

How Should I Dispose Material That Has Religious Imagery?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Assalam aleykum

I bought some dates which are packed in wrappers having pictures of the Kaaba and the Prophet’s mosque (peace be upon him). How should I dispose it?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

It would be best to dispose such material that has religious imagery of the type you describe in a respectful manner. It would seem that the easiest way for you to do this in the case of wrappers is to tear/shred them such that the picture of the Kaaba and Masjid al-Nabawi are no longer distinct or comprehensible.

You should note that the matter is treated more seriously when it relates to actual Qur’anic verses, the name of Allah, His prophets, or His angels. For details regarding this see:

How to Get Rid of Unwanted Islamic Literature

Would it be Permissible to Use a Paper Shredder to Dispose of Material with Qur’anic Verses on them?

[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.

Can I Publish a Magazine Displaying Pictures of People?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Assalam aleykum

I am planning to work on a magazine for preteen girls.

Can I include pictures in the magazine? Cand I design (drawings) characters of a girl and her friends to go into the magazine?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

As long as the pictures are appropriate from an Islamic viewpoint, there is leeway when it comes to incorporating them in your magazine especially in light of its stated purpose.

For more, please see: The Maliki View on Pictures of Humans and Animals

[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.

Photo: Marion Doss

When Is It Permissible to Pray Wearing a Shirt With a Picture?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam’aleykum,

1. Is it permissible to pray wearing a shirt with a picture of a skull?

2. Is it permissible to wear (or have) pictures without eyes (a bear without eyes, for example)?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

The interdiction is in praying in clothing which contains depictions of animate life because of the clear prohibitions relating to avoiding such pictures.

However, if such a depiction is small such that its features aren’t clearly discernible, or is missing a vital limb or has its head effaced, then the dislikedness would no longer remain.

[ShaykhiZada, Majma` al-Anhur]

Please also see: Is It Permissible to Wear Items With Animal Logos on Them? and: How Can I Avoid Worshipping a Picture While Praying? and: Can I Have Pictures in my House? Can I Pray in a Room having Pictures in it? and: Praying in a Room with Pictures

And Allah alone knows best.

في مجمع الأنهر: (ولُبْسُ ثَوْبٍ فِيهِ تَصَاوِيرُ ) وَهُوَ فِي نَفْسِهِ مَكْرُوهٌ لِأَنَّهُ يُشْبِهُ حَامِلَ الصَّنَمِ فَكَيْفَ فِي الصَّلَاةِ …( إلَّا أَنْ تَكُونَ صَغِيرَةً ) جِدًّا بِحَيْثُ ( لَا تَبْدُو لِلنَّاظِرِ ) إلَيْهَا إلَّا بَعْدَ تَدْقِيقٍ ، ( أَوْ لِغَيْرِ ذِي رُوحٍ ) مِثْلُ الْأَشْجَارِ وَالْأَزْهَارِ ( أَوْ مَقْطُوعَةَ الرَّأْسِ ) أَيْ مَمْحُوَّةً فَإِنَّهَا إذَا كَانَتْ كَذَلِكَ لَا تُعْبَدُ فَلَا
تُكْرَهُ اهـ

wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: Vera & Jean-Christophe

How Can I Avoid Worshipping a Picture While Praying?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Outside my house, there is a lot of Mary statues and the qibla almost faces their side. When I go to the mosque, there is a picture of Isa outside the mosque and I fear I may be worhipping it and committing shirk. I sometimes fear lines may look like a cross. If im praying in congressional or alone, I fear that I may be worshiping the person in front of me. Can you help me?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

What is interdicted is directly facing a statue or picture of an animate being in your immediate vicinity. If it is distant, small, missing vital limbs, not in front of or above you, or being used in a humiliating manner, it is not prohibitively disliked, and in some cases, not disliked at all.

As for thoughts and whisperings of shirk and the like, you should ignore them and seek refuge in Allah from them. Wild thoughts don’t change the apparent, namely that your prayer is for Allah.

I’d advise taking the following free class: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Beliefs & Worship (STEP) And find some righteous company. Our religion is a social religion, and the company you keep can have a tremendous impact on your spiritual life.

See also: Can I Have Pictures in my House? Can I Pray in a Room having Pictures in it?

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

What is the Ruling on Taking Photographs of Humans ?

Answered by SeekersGuidance Answers Service

Question: Assalamu alaykum,

What is the ruling on 1) taking photographs of humans and 2) drawing animate objects?

Answer: walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.

(1) Contemporary scholars have differed on this issue:

a) The position of the overwhelming majority of Indo-Pak and some Arab scholars is that photographs of human or animal life are not permissible for the very same reasons that paintings of these are not permissible. They state that the ruling on picture-making does not change by changing the tool with which the picture is produced. Whether an image is produced by painting it or using a camera, as long as it is an image of a human or animal, it will remain unlawful (haram).This is the position of Shaykh Mufti Taqi Usmani and most of my other teachers. It is, without doubt, the more precautious and arguably stronger opinion.

b) The second position on the issue, held by most Arab Scholars (from all four Madhabs) and some from the Indian Subcontinent, is that there is a difference between photos and the prohibited picture-making (taswir). Shaykh Muhammad Bakhit al-Muti’i of Egypt, a 2oth Century scholar known for his knowledge and piety, wrote a whole treatise titled al-Jawab al-Shafi fi Ibahat Surat al-Photography in support of this view of permissibility. His basic understanding is that the reason behind the prohibition of painting pictures (in the words of the Hadith) is challenging Allah in His Creating of living creatures. In camera photos, however, one does not produce an image through one’s own imagination; hence one is not challenging the Creating of Allah as such. It is merely a reflection of a living being already created by Allah Most High.

These are the two positions of contemporary scholars on the issue. There are great scholars of knowledge, wisdom and piety on both sides of the fence; hence, it would be wrong to criticize anyone for following any one of these positions. It is a matter of genuine and valid difference of opinion. It is not an issue where one may condemn another, and one must respect others’ right to follow their conscience.

Please see: Photographs: Please Clarify Your Position

(2) What is strongly impermissible is to draw the entire human body with all its details, or the face and neck with all its details (except when necessary for immediate educational purposes and the like).

As for drawing an outline of the human body, without detailed features, and labeling the various parts, or drawing the details of a particular part (such as the heart), this is permitted, and this is not disliked if for a reasonable purpose (such as education).

Please see: Are Drawings for Educational Purposes Permissible?

SeekersGuidance Answers Service

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

What Is the Ruling of Praying in Front of the Picture of an Animal?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalam ‘aleykum,
What is the ruling of praying in front of the picture of an animal?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
The general ruling is that it is disliked to pray towards a picture, or in a room containing pictures, as it bears resemblance to a form of worship.
However, if the picture is not in your normal line of sight– i.e. not in your field of vision when looking towards your place of prostration, as per the sunna– the dislikedness would be lessened, and if high up, may be excused altogether.
This is in the case of a complete, detailed picture of a living being. Otherwise, it would be considered an outline and excused.
See also: Can I Have Pictures in my House? Can I Pray in a Room having Pictures in it?
And Allah alone gives success.
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.