This is another area where there is a lot of controversy. I have
included this page because I feel it is necessary to look at the evidence and
then to follow the proper course. This is why I have chosen not to have
any pictures of living things on my pages. They may make the site look
prettier but they are according to the Sunnah of the Prophet ()
forbidden. Again many may argue but the evidence is sufficient.
Ruling on photographs
My question is : IS the taking of PHOTOGRAPHS ALLOWED, I know drawing pictures
of living things is not allowed -but what about taking photograph's of people
etc.), can you supply me with some evidence please. I need this information
Praise be to Allah.
Photography (tasweer) means the taking of pictures of living, animate moving
beings, like people, animals, birds, etc. The ruling is that it is forbidden on
the basis of a number of reports, such as the following:
'Abdullah ibn Mas'ood (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Those who
will be most severely punished by Allah on the Day of Resurrection will be the
image-makers." (Reported by al-Bukhari, see al-Fath, 10/382).
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Allah, may He be exalted,
says: 'Who does more wrong than the one who tries to create something like My
creation? Let him create a grain of wheat or a kernel of corn.'" (Reported
by al-Bukhari, see Fath al-Baari, 10/385).
'Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "Shall I not send you on the
same mission as the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be
upon him) sent me? Do not leave any built-up tomb without leveling it, and do
not leave any picture in any house without erasing it." (Reported by Muslim
and al-Nisaa'i; this is the version narrated by al-Nisaa'i).
Ibn 'Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) reported that the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Every
image-maker will be in the Fire, and for every image that he made a soul will be
created for him, which will be punished in the Fire." Ibn 'Abbaas said:
"If you must do that, make pictures of trees and other inanimate
objects." (Reported by Muslim, 3/1871)
These Hadith indicate that pictures of animate beings are haram, whether they
are humans or other creatures, whether they are three-dimensional or
two-dimensional, whether they are printed, drawn, etched, engraved, carved, cast
in moulds, etc. These Hadith include all of these types of pictures.
The Muslim should submit to the teachings of Islam and not argue with them by
saying, "But I am not worshipping them or prostrating to them!" If we
think about just one aspect of the evil caused by the previewence of photographs
and pictures in our times, we will understand something of the wisdom behind
this prohibition: that aspect is the great corruption caused by the provoking of
physical desires and subsequent spread of immorality caused by these pictures.
The Muslim should not keep any pictures of animate beings in his house, because
they will prevent the angels from entering. The Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "The angels do not enter a house in
which there is a dog or pictures." (Reported by al-Bukhari, see al-Fath,
But nowadays, unfortunately, one
can even find in some Muslim homes statues of gods worshipped by the kuffar
(such as Buddha etc.) which they keep on the basis that they are antiques or
decorative pieces. These things are more strictly prohibited than others, just
as pictures which are hung up are worse than pictures which are not hung up, for
how easily they can lead to glorification, and cause grief or be a source of
boasting! We cannot say that these pictures are kept for memory's sake, because
true memories of a Muslim relative or friend reside in the heart, and we
remember them by praying for mercy and forgiveness for them.
Taking pictures with a camera involves human actions such as focusing, pressing
the shutter, developing, printing, and so on. We cannot call it anything other
than "picture-making" or tasweer, which is the statement used by all
Arabic-speakers to describe this action.
In the book Al-I'laam bi naqd kittab al-halaal wa'l-haram, the author says:
"Photography is even more of an imitation of the creation of Allah than
pictures which are engraved or drawn, so it is even more deserving of being
prohibitedů There is nothing that could exclude photography from the general
meaning of the reports." (p. 42, see also Fatawa Islamiyyah, 4/355).
Among the scholars who have discussed the issue of photography is Sheikh Naasir
al-Deen al-Albaani, who said: "Some of them differentiate between
hand-drawn pictures and photographic images by claiming that the latter are not
products of human effort, and that no more is involved than the mere capturing
of the image. This is what they claim. The tremendous energy invested the one
who invented this machine that can do in few seconds what otherwise could not be
done in hours does not count as human effort, according to these people!
Pointing the camera, focusing it, and taking the picture, preceded by
installation of the film and followed by developing and whatever else that I may
not know aboutů none of this is the result of human effort, according to them!
Some of them explain how this photography is done, and summarize that no less
than eleven different actions are involved in the making of a picture. In spite
of all this, they say that this picture is not the result of human action! Can
it be permissible to hang up a picture of a man, for example, if it is produced
by photography, but not if it is drawn by hand?
Those who say that photography is permitted have "frozen" the meaning
of the word "tasweer," restricting it only to the meaning known at the
time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and not
adding the meaning of photography, which is "tasweer" or
"picture-making" in every sense - linguistic, legal, and in its
harmful effects, and as is clear from the definition mentioned above. Years ago,
I said to one of them, By the same token, you could allow idols which have not
been carved but have been made by pressing a button on some machine that turns
out idols by the dozen. What do you say to that?"
(Aadaab al-Zafaaf by al-Albaani, p. 38)
It is also worth quoting the opinion of some contemporary scholars who allow the
taking of photographs but say that the pictures should not be kept: "The
angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or pictures." (See al-Sharh
There are many bad things involved in the making of pictures. Besides the
element of imitating the creation of Allah - which is an accusation denied by
many of those who make pictures - reality bears witness to the great extent of
immorality and provocation of desires caused by the previewence of pictures and
picture-making nowadays. We must remove or blot out every picture, except when
it is too difficult to do so, like the pictures which are overwhelmingly
previewent in food packaging, or pictures used in encyclopedias and reference
books. We should remove what we can, and be careful about any provocative
pictures that may be found.
"So keep your duty to Allah
and fear Him as much as you canů" [al-Taghaabun 64:16 -
interpretation of the meaning]
Photographs which are essential are permitted - such as those required for
identity documents, or for identifying or pursuing criminals [e.g.
"wanted" posters and the like - translator's note], or for educational
purposes which cannot be achieved otherwise. The principle in Shari'ah is that
we should not exaggerate about what is necessary.
We ask Allah to accept our
repentance and have mercy on us, and to forgive our excesses, for He is the
All-Hearing Who answers prayers. May Allah bless our Prophet Muhammad.
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