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The hadith is very explicit that those who make and keep graven images (أصنام) as well as painted pictures of objects or living things (صور) will be damned and not allowed into heaven. As such, Islamic scholars have traditionally condemned both actions as haram. This sentiment is also known as aniconism. Modern Arabic uses the same word for a painted picture as for a photograph, so there is controversy amongst modern Islamic scholars whether photography or even cinematography should be allowed. Depictions of living things have been documented at specific times and places in Islamic history. In general the strictest attitude to aniconism is found in modern Salafism, while the most relaxed attitude is found in Sufism and Shi'a Islam.
Narrated 'Aisha (the wife of the Prophet): Um Habiba and Um Salama mentioned about a church they had seen in Ethiopia in which there were pictures. They told the Prophet about it, on which he said, "If any religious man dies amongst those people they would build a place of worship at his grave and make these pictures in it. They will be the worst creature in the sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection.
Narrated `Abdullah: When the Prophet (ﷺ) entered Mecca on the day of the Conquest, there were 360 idols around the Ka`ba. The Prophet (ﷺ) started striking them with a stick he had in his hand and was saying, "Truth has come and Falsehood will neither start nor will it reappear.
Narrated Ibn `Abbas:
When Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) arrived in Mecca, he refused to enter the Ka`ba while there were idols in it. So he ordered that they be taken out. The pictures of the (Prophets) Abraham and Ishmael, holding arrows of divination in their hands, were carried out.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "May Allah ruin them (i.e. the infidels) for they knew very well that they (i.e. Abraham and Ishmael) never drew lots by these (divination arrows). Then the Prophet (ﷺ) entered the Ka`ba and said. "Allahu Akbar" in all its directions and came out and not offer any prayer therein.
Narrated 'Aisha: When the Prophet became ill, some of his wives talked about a church which they had seen in Ethiopia and it was called Mariya. Um Salma and Um Habiba had been to Ethiopia, and both of them narrated its (the Church's) beauty and the pictures it contained. The Prophet raised his head and said, "Those are the people who, whenever a pious man dies amongst them, make a place of worship at his grave and then they make those pictures in it. Those are the worst creatures in the Sight of Allah.
Narrated 'Aun bin Abu Juhaifa: My father bought a slave who practiced the profession of cupping. (My father broke the slave's instruments of cupping). I asked my father why he had done so. He replied, "The Prophet forbade the acceptance of the price of a dog or blood, and also forbade the profession of tattooing, getting tattooed and receiving or giving Riba, (usury), and cursed the picture-makers
Narrated Aisha: (mother of the faithful believers) I bought a cushion with pictures
on it. When Allah's Apostle saw it, he kept standing at the door and did not enter the house. I noticed the sign of disgust on his face, so I said, "O Allah's Apostle! I repent to Allah and H is Apostle . (Please let me know) what sin I have done." Allah's Apostle said, "What about this cushion?" I replied, "I bought it for you to sit and recline on." Allah's Apostle said, "The painters (i.e. owners) of these pictures will be punished on the Day of Resurrection. It will be said to them, 'Put life in what you have created (i.e. painted).' " The Prophet added, "The angels do not enter a house where there are pictures."
Narrated Said bin Abu Al-Hasan: While I was with Ibn 'Abbas a man came and said, "O father of 'Abbas! My sustenance is from my manual profession and I make these pictures." Ibn 'Abbas said, "I will tell you only what I heard from Allah's Apostle . I heard him saying, ' Whoever makes a picture will be punished by Allah
till he puts life in it, and he will never be able to put life in it.' " Hearing this, that man heaved a sigh and his face turned pale. Ibn 'Abbas said to him, "What a pity! If you insist on making pictures I advise you to make pictures of trees and any other unanimated objects."
Narrated Al-Qasim: Aisha said that she hung a curtain decorated with pictures (of animates) on a cupboard. The Prophet tore that curtain and she turned it into two cushions which remained in the house for the Prophet to sit on.
Narrated Aun bin Abu Juhaifa: I saw my father buying a slave whose profession was cupping, and ordered that his instruments (of cupping) be broken. I asked him the reason for doing so. He replied, "Allah's Apostle prohibited taking money for blood, the price of a dog, and the earnings of a slave-girl by prostitution; he cursed her who tattoos and her who gets tattooed, the eater of Riba (usury), and the maker of pictures
Narrated Ibn Abbas: The Prophet entered the Ka'ba and found in it the pictures of (Prophet) Abraham and Mary. On that he said' "What is the matter with them ( i.e. Quraish)? They have already heard that angels do not enter a house in which there are pictures
; yet this is the picture of Abraham. And why is he depicted as practicing divination by arrows?"
Narrated Ibn Abbas: When the Prophet saw pictures in the Ka'ba, he did not enter it till he ordered them to be erased
. When he saw (the pictures of Abraham and Ishmael carrying the arrows of divination, he said, "May Allah curse them (i.e. the Quraish)! By Allah, neither Abraham nor Ishmael practiced divination by arrows."
Narrated 'Aisha: Um Habiba and Um Salama mentioned a church they had seen in Ethiopia and in the church there were pictures. When they told the Prophet of this, he said, "Those people are such that if a pious man amongst them died, they build a place of worship over his grave and paint these pictures in it. Those people will be Allah's worst creatures on the Day of Resurrection . "
Narrated Ibn Abbas: Abu Talha, a companion of Allah's Apostle and one of those who fought at Badr together with Allah's Apostle told me that Allah's Apostle said. "Angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a picture
" He meant the images of creatures that have souls.
Narrated Abu Juhaifa: The Prophet cursed the lady who practices tattooing and the one who gets herself tattooed, and one who eats (takes) Riba' (usury) and the one who gives it. And he prohibited taking the price of a dog, and the money earned by prostitution, and cursed the makers of pictures
The Prophet said, "Angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or there are pictures
I never used to leave in the Prophet house anything carrying images or crosses
but he obliterated it.
We were with Masruq at the house of Yasar bin Numair. Masruq saw pictures on his terrace and said, "I heard 'Abdullah saying that he heard the Prophet saying, "'The people who will receive the severest punishment from Allah will be the picture makers
Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar : Allah's Apostle said, "Those who make these pictures will be punished on the Day of Resurrection
, and it will be said to them. 'Make alive what you have created.'"
Allah's Apostle returned from a journey when I had placed a curtain of mine having pictures over (the door of) a chamber of mine. When Allah's Apostle saw it, he tore it and said, "The people who will receive the severest punishment on the Day of Resurrection will be those who try to make the like of Allah's creations
." So we turned it (i.e., the curtain) into one or two cushions.
Narrated 'Aisha : I purchased a cushion with pictures on it. The Prophet (came and) stood at the door but did not enter. I said (to him), "I repent to Allah for what (the guilt) I have done." He said, "What is this cushion?" I said, "It is for you to sit on and recline on." He said, "The makers of these pictures will be punished on the Day of Resurrection
and it will be said to them, 'Make alive what you have created.' Moreover, the angels do not enter a house where there are pictures.'"
Narrated Abu Talha: Allah's Apostle said, "Angels (of mercy) do not enter a house where there are pictures
.'" The sub-narrator Busr added: "Then Zaid fell ill and we paid him a visit. Behold! There was, hanging at his door, a curtain decorated with a pictures. I said to 'Ubaidullah Al-Khaulani, the step son of Maimuna, the wife of the Prophet , "Didn't Zaid tell us about the picture the day before yesterday?" 'Ubaidullah said, "Didn't you hear him saying: 'except a design in a garment'?"
Aisha had a thick curtain (having pictures on it) and she screened the side of her i house with it. The Prophet said to her, "Remove it from my sight, for its pictures are still coming to my mind in my prayers
Narrated Salim's father: Once Gabriel promised to visit the Prophet but he delayed and the Prophet got worried about that. At last he came out and found Gabriel and complained to him of his grief (for his delay). Gabriel said to him, "We do not enter a place in which there is a pictures or a dog."
Narrated 'Aisha (the wife of the Prophet): I bought a cushion having pictures on it. When Allah's Apostle saw it, he stopped at the gate and did not enter. I noticed the signs of hatred (for that) on his face! I said, "O Allah's Apostle! I turn to Allah and His Apostle in repentance! What sin have I committed?" He said, "What about this cushion?" I said, 'I bought it for you to sit on and recline on." Allah's Apostle said, "The makers of these pictures will be punished (severely) on the Day of Resurrection and it will be said to them
, 'Make alive what you have created.'" He added, "Angels do not enter a house in which there are pictures."
Narrated 'Aisha: The Prophet entered upon me while there was a curtain having pictures (of animals) in the house. His face got red with anger, and then he got hold of the curtain and tore it into pieces. The Prophet said, "Such people as paint these pictures will receive the severest punishment on the Day of Resurrection
Narrated Ibn Abbas: The Prophet said, "Whoever claims to have seen a dream which he did not see, will be ordered to make a knot between two barley grains which he will not be able to do; and if somebody listens to the talk of some people who do not like him (to listen) or they run away from him, then molten lead will be poured into his ears on the Day of Resurrection; and whoever makes a picture, will be punished on the Day of Resurrection and will be ordered to put a soul in that picture, which he will not be able to do
Narrated Aisha: Allah's Apostle said, "The painter of these pictures will be punished on the Day of Resurrection, and it will be said to them, Make alive what you have created.' "
'A'isha reported: Umm Habiba and Umm Salama made a mention before the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) of a church which they had seen in Abyssinia and which had pictures in it. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: When a pious person amongst them (among the religious groups) dies they build a place of worship on his grave, and then decorate it with such pictures. They would be the worst of creatures on the Day of judgment in the sight of Allah
Abu Talha Ansari reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Angels do not enter the house in which there is a picture or portraits. I came to 'A'isha and said to her: This is a news that I have received that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) had said: Angels do not enter the house in which there is a picture
or a dog, (and further added) whether she had heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) making a mention of it. She said: No (I did not hear this myself), but I narrate to you what I saw him doing. I bear testimony to the fact that he (the Holy Prophet) set out for an expedition. I took a carpet and screened the door with it. When he (the Holy Prophet) came back he saw that carpet and I perceived signs of disapproval on his face. He pulled it until it was torn or it was cut (into pieces)
and he said: God has not commanded us to clothe stones and clay. We cut it (the curtain) and prepared two pillowa out of it by stuffing them with the fibre of date-palms and he (the Holy Prophet) did not find fault with it.
A'isha reported: We had a curtain with us which had portraits of birds upon it. Whenever a visitor came, he found them in front of him. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upop him) said to me: Change them, for whenever I enter the room) I see them and it brings to my mind (the pleasures) of worldly life
. She said: We had with us a sheet which had silk badges upon it and we used to wear it. This hadith has been transmitted on the authority of Ibn Muthanna but with this addition: 'Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) did not command us to tear that."
A'isha reported: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) came back from the journey and I had screened my door with a curtain having portraits of winged horses upon it. He commanded me and I pulled it away.
A'isha reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) entered (my apartment) and I had hung (on the door of my apartment) a thin curtain having pictures on it. The colour of his face underwent a change. He then took hold of that curtain and tore it and then said: The most grievous torfnent for the people on the Day of Resurrection would be for those who try to imitate Allah in the act of creation
A'isha reported: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) visited me. and I had a shelf with a thin cloth curtain hangin. over it and on which there were portraits. No sooner did he see it than he tore it and the colour of his face underwent a change and he said: A'isha, the most grievous torment from the Hand of Allah on the Day of Resurrection would be for those who imitate (Allah) in the act of His creation
. A'isha said: We tore it into pieces and made a cushion or two cushions out of that.
This haditli has been reported on the authority of Abu Mu'awiya through another chain of tranmitters (and the words are):" Verity, the most grievously tormented people amongest the denizens of Hall on the Day of Resurrection would be the painters of pictures. The rest of the hadith is the same.
Muslim b. Subaih reported: I was with Masriuq in the house which had the portrayals of Mary (hadrat Maryan). Thereupon Masriuq said: These are portraits of Kisra. I said: No, these are of Mary. Masruq said: I heard Abdullah b, Mas'ud as saying Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) had said: The most grievously tormented people on the Day of Resurrection would be the painters of pictures. (Muslim said): I read this before Nasr b. 'Ali at-Jahdami and he read it before other narrators, the last one being Ibn Sa'id b Abl at Hasan that a person came to Ibn 'Abbas and said: I am the person who paints pictures; give me a religious verdict about them. He (Ibn 'Abbas) said to him: Come near me (still further). He came near him so much so that he placed his hand upon his head and said: I am going to narrate to yor what I heard from Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). I heard him say: All the painters who make pictures would be in the fire of Hell
. The soul will be breathed in every picture prepared by him and it shall punish him in the Hell, and he (Ibn 'Abbas) said: If you have to do it at all, then paint the pictures of trees and lifeless things; and Nasr b. 'Ali confirmed it.
Anas b. Malik said: I was sitting with Ibn Ahbas when he gave religious verdicts but he did not say that it was Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) who had said that. However when a man said to him (Ibn 'Abbas): I am the painter of these pictures. Ibn 'Abbas said: I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: He who painted pictures in the world would be compelled to breathe soal in them on the Day of Resurrection, but he would not be able to breathe soul (in them)
Abu Zur'a reported: I visited the house of Marwan in the company of Abu Huraira and he found pictures there. whereupon he said: I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Allah, the Glorious and Exalted, said: Who is a more wrongdoer than one who tries to create creation like Mine creation
. Let him create an atom or a grain of wheat or that of barley. This hadith has been transmitted on the authority of Abu Zur'a and he said: Abu Huraira went to the house of Sa'ld or Marwan which they had built in Medina and he (Abu Huraira) saw a painter who had been painting pictures in his house, whereupon he told that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) had said like this, but he made no mention of the words:" Let him create the grain of barley."
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Angels do not enter the house in which there are portrayals or pictures.
Narrated Ali ibn AbuTalib: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Angels do not enter the house where there is a picture, or a dog, or a person who is sexually defiled.
Narrated Ali ibn AbuTalib: Safinah AbuAbdurRahman said that a man prepared food for Ali ibn AbuTalib who was his guest, and Fatimah said: I wish we had invited the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) and he had eaten with us. They invited him, and when he came he put his hands on the side-ports of the door, but when he saw the figured curtain which had been put at the end of the house, he went away. So Fatimah said to Ali: Follow him and see what turned him back. I (Ali) followed him and asked: What turned you back, Apostle of Allah? He replied: It is not fitting for me or for any Prophet to enter a house which is decorated
Narrated Ali ibn AbuTalib: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The angels do not enter a house which contains a picture, a dog, or a man who is impure by sexual defilement.
We see from Abu Dawud Number 4913 and 4914 that only children were allowed to play with dolls:
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: When the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) arrived after the expedition to Tabuk or Khaybar (the narrator is doubtful), the draught raised an end of a curtain which was hung in front of her store-room, revealing some dolls which belonged to her. He asked: What is this? She replied: My dolls. Among them he saw a horse with wings made of rags, and asked: What is this I see among them? She replied: A horse. He asked: What is this that it has on it? She replied: Two wings. He asked: A horse with two wings? She replied: Have you not heard that Solomon had horses with wings? She said: Thereupon the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) laughed so heartily that I could see his molar teeth.
Pictures and children’s toys
Image-making is of two types: one by hand and the other by means of machines.
Image-making by hand is haraam, and is in fact a major sin, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) cursed the one who does it. He did not differentiate between images that have a shadow (i.e., three-dimensional) or those that are simply drawn (two-dimensional), according to the more correct scholarly opinion, because of the general meaning of the hadeeth.
With regard to image-making by means of machines, i.e. cameras, there is a difference of opinion among the later scholars on this matter. Some of them forbid it and some of them allow it.
In order to be on the safe side, it is better to avoid that, because it is one of the doubtful areas. And whoever is careful with regard to doubtful matters will protect his religious commitment and his honour. But if he needs to do that for a specific purpose such as proving his identity, there is nothing wrong with that because if there is a need, the matter is no longer doubtful.
With regard to keeping pictures, this is also of two types:
The first type is keeping images that are three-dimensional. Keeping them is haraam. Ibn al-‘Arabi narrated that there is consensus on this point. See Fath al-Baari, p. 388, vol. 10). He said: This consensus has to do with things other than girls’ dolls.
It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: “I used to play with dolls in the presence of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and I had friends who would play with me. When the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) entered they would hide themselves and he would call them to come and play with me. Narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 5779; Muslim, no. 2440.
The second type is images that are not three-dimensional. These are of different types:
1- Those that are hung up to be venerated and respected, as in the case of pictures of kings, presidents, ministers, scholars etc. This is haraam because it involves exaggeration about a created being.
2- Those that are hung up for the sake of memory, such as hanging up pictures of one's friends. This is also haraam, because of the hadeeth narrated in Saheeh al-Bukhaari from Abu Talhah (may Allaah be pleased with him), who said: “I heard the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: ‘The angels do not enter any house in which there is a dog or an image.’” Narrated by Muslim, no. 2104).
3- Those that are hung up for the purpose of adornment. These are also haraam because of the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah who said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came back from a journey and I had hung a patterned curtain on which there were images over (the door of) a room of mine. When the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) saw it, he tore it and said, ‘The most severely punished of the people on the Day of Resurrection will be those who tried to imitate the creation of Allaah.’” She said: “So I made it into one or two cushions.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 5610; Muslim, no. 2107.
4- Those that are treated with disrespect, such as images in carpets and pillows. Al-Nawawi narrated from the majority of scholars among the Sahaabah and Taabi’een that these are permissible.
5- Those that have unfortunately become widespread and are difficult to avoid, such as images engraved on coins etc which have become a problem for the Muslim ummah. It seems to me that there is no sin on the one who acquires these without wanting to acquire images.
With regard to dolls that children play with:
An exception is made in the case of children’s toys, which are not regarded as haraam or makrooh. But what are the toys which are exempted? We know that the toys of the past did not have eyes and lips and noses as they do nowadays. I think it is better to avoid these toys and limit oneself to those the kind of toys that were known previously.
See Fataawa al-‘Aqeedah by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, p. 66, 663, 679
And Allaah knows best.
Partial images in cases of necessity
It is clear that image-making is one of the blameworthy actions of the jaahiliyyah which Islam came to oppose. It is well established from clear, saheeh mutawaatir ahaadeeth that it is not allowed, and that the one who does this is cursed and is warned of torment in Hell, as in the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Abbaas which is attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “Every image maker will be in Hell, and a soul will be given to every image which he made so that it might torment him in Hell.” (Narrated by Muslim).
This applies to all images of animate created beings, humans and others. There is no difference between three-dimensional and other images, whether they were taken with cameras or produced by painting, engraving or other methods, because of the general meaning of the ahaadeeth.
Whoever claims that photographs are not included in the general prohibition or that the prohibition applies only to three-dimensional images and those that cast a shadow is making a false claim, because the ahaadeeth concerning that are general in meaning. There is no differentiation between one kind of image and another. The scholars have clearly stated that the prohibition applies to photographs and other kinds of pictures, such as Imaam al-Nawawi, al-Haafiz ibn Hajar and others. The hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah concerning the story of the curtain is clear, and what it indicates is that an image which is on a curtain is not three dimensional, rather it is a kind of drawing on cloth, but despite that the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) counted it as trying to match the creation of Allaah.
But if the image is originally incomplete, such as a head-and-shoulders picture, etc., and there is removed from the picture that without which is could not live, then it may be understood from the comments of many of the fuqahaa’ that this is permissible, especially if there is a need for such partial pictures. Whatever the case, one has to fear Allaah as much as one can, and avoid that which Allaah and His Messenger have forbidden.
“And whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty).
And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine”
[al-Talaaq 65:2-3 – interpretation of the meaning]
Min Fataawa Samaahat al-Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem (may Allaah have mercy on him)