Photography & Modern Challenges (Read Online)



Foreword – Hazrat Moulana Ni`matullah A`zami (Daamat Barakaatuhu)

Bismihi Ta`ala

Moulana Muzzammil Ali Sahib presented to me the book “Photography and Modern Challenges” written by Moulana Zakariyya Makada Sahib. Notwithstanding the differences of opinion regarding digital photography, every person agrees that it is incorrect to use photography for Deeni purposes. Apart from the moral degeneration that television causes, it is the cause for a whole host of other evils and wrongs. It is incorrect to utilise every means whether permissible or impermissible for the propagation of Deen. Instead, Islam has ordained upon us to utilise for the dissemination of Deen only those means which conform to Deen. Furthermore, even if one wishes to propagate Deen via the television, there are many obscene pictures, musical tones and shameful acts one viewing the television will come across which one cannot safeguard himself from. Similarly, many adverts of an impermissible nature are aired between the so-called ‘permissible’ programmes. Safeguarding oneself from such wrongs is just an illusion which is a far cry from reality. Whenever a Shari’ee decision is taken, the outcome and evil consequences are taken into consideration. Therefore, the verdict of permissibility cannot be issued for the television to be used as a tool to propagate Deen.

It is my du`aa that Allah Ta`ala blesses the Muslims at large with the ability to practise on the commands of Shari`ah in totality and refrain from its prohibitions, and may He reward the author abundantly. Aameen.

(Hadhrat Moulana) Ni`matullah A`zami

Ustaaz of Hadeeth, Darul Uloom Deoband

4 Zul Qa`dah 1433


Foreword – Hazrat Mufti Ebrahim Salejee Sahib (Daamat Barakaatuhu)

Bismihi Ta’ala

One of the distinguishing traits of the Akaabir Ulama-e-Deoband was that with respect they openly and clearly expressed what they understood to be the correct position in the light of the Qur’aan and Sunnah. Hadhrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi رحمة الله عليه differed in several masaa’il with some of the senior Ulama of the time. Hadhrat Thanwi رحمة الله عليه clearly expounded what he regarded as the Haq (truth) in those issues and remained steadfast upon the view he had adopted.

The above has always been the stance of the Ulama-e-Kiraam. This is a sign of them being the flag bearers of the Truth. They did not refrain from expressing what they understood to be the truth out of consideration for anyone. In a respectful manner they supported what they believed to be correct. It was not their manner to hide the truth and refrain from expressing it.

May Allah Ta’ala keep this legacy of the Ulama-e-Deoband alive and grant His Divine assistance in such efforts. May Allah Ta’ala enlighten our hearts and guide us towards His pleasure. Aameen.

It is therefore pleasing that Moulana Zakariyya Makada Sahib has undertaken the task of discussing this crucial topic and explaining its reality. May Allah Ta’ala accept this noble effort and make it a means of benefit for the ummah.

(Hadhrat Mufti) Ebrahim Salejee

Principle of Madrasah Ta’leemuddeen

Isipingo Beach – South Africa


Foreword – Hazrat Moulana Muhammad Ilyas Patel Sahib (Daamat Barakaatuhu)

Bismihi Ta`ala

The rapid progress of technology has provided mankind with many useful items and instruments and also created many challenges. Among the various “two-edged swords” that technology has dished out, which are in almost every person’s hands, are the cell-phone and the internet. While the benefits of these items are numerous, the misuse or abuse of the same has already resulted in havoc and devastation in many people’s lives. Therefore, everything that technology dishes out is not to be immediately grabbed with both hands. First its position in Shariah must be properly ascertained, whether it falls within the limits of permissibility or not. If it is permissible, what are its limits? Despite being permissible in principle, would its use affect other Shari’ee objectives? All these aspects have to be carefully considered before any view can be expressed.

In particular, the question of digital photography demands that the highest levels of caution be exercised in ascertaining its Shari’ee position. This is demanded by the fact that the Shariah has sounded severe warnings against picture making. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is reported to have said: “Those who indulge in picture making (of animate objects) will be subjected to the worst form of punishment on the day of Qiyaamah” (Saheeh Bukhari).

In the eyes of almost every layman, a digital photograph and any other picture are one and the same – both are pictures. The highly academic debate whether there is any difference between the two or not is unknown to most people and way beyond their understanding. Furthermore, many experts have given detailed arguments to prove that a digital picture is really just that – a picture. This reality, coupled with the severe warnings in the Hadith already mentioned above, has elevated the issue of digital photography way beyond other issues wherein differing views have been expressed. This matter demands that the highest level of caution be exercised.

Moulana Zakariyya Makada Sahib (Sallamahu Ta’ala), a senior Ustaaz of Hadith at Madrasah Ta’leemuddeen, Isipingo Beach undertook the task of researching this topic in-depth and of evaluating the issue from various perspectives. May Allah Ta’ala accept it and make it a means of great benefit for the entire ummah. Aameen.

(Hadhrat Moulana) Muhammad Ilyas Patel

Senior Ustaaz of Hadith

Madrasah Ta’leemuddeen

Isipingo Beach – South Africa



As Qiyaamah draws closer, the fitnah and fasaad are ever increasing and trials and tribulations are incessantly raining upon the Ummah. The prophecy of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) which was explained to the Sahaabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) over fourteen hundred years ago is a reality today. Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (Radiyallahu Anhu) reports that Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said:

وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم كيف بكم أيها الناس إذا طغى نساؤكم وفسق فتيانكم ؟ قالوا يا رسول الله إن هذا لكائن ؟ قال نعم وأشد منه كيف بكم إذا تركتم الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر ؟ قالوا يا رسول الله إن هذا لكائن ؟ قال نعم وأشد منه كيف بكم إذا رأيتم المنكر معروفًا والمعروف منكرًا ؟ (مسند أبي يعلى 6/50, الطبراني في الأوسط 10/152) [1] 

  “O my Sahaabah, what will be the condition of my ummah when your youth will commit sin openly and your women will transgress all limits?” The Sahaabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) said, “Will such a time ever dawn upon the ummah?” Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “Yes, and even worse.” Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) then said: “O my Sahaabah, what will be the condition of my ummah when you will stop enjoining good and forbidding evil?” The Sahaabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) said, “Will such a time ever dawn upon the ummah?” Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “Yes, and even worse.” Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) then said: “O my Sahaabah, what will be the condition of my ummah at that time when you consider wrong to be right and right to be wrong?” (Musnad Abi Ya‘laa 6/50, Al-Mu‘jam Al-Awsat Lit-Tabraani 10/152)

 Amongst the most heinous offences and crimes in the sight of Allah Ta’ala is that one regards as halaal that which Shari‘ah has declared as haraam or that one considers haraam what Shari‘ah has declared as halaal. This was the primary cause for the destruction of the past nations (Jews and Christians). When they began tampering with the divine Shari‘ah of Allah Ta’ala to suit their whims and fancies, the azaab (divine punishment) of Allah Ta’ala rained upon them and seized them.

Allah Ta’ala had entrusted the preservation of the past Shari‘ah (divine laws) to its people. However, they tampered with their Shari‘ah and adulterated their heavenly scriptures. As for the Shari‘ah of Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and the Holy Qur’aan, since it is to remain until the end of time, Allah Ta’ala has taken divine responsibility of protecting and preserving it. The Qur’aan Shareef declares:

  إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ ﴿الحجر ٩﴾

 “Indeed, We are the Ones who have sent down the Zikr (the Qur’aan), and We will surely protect it.” (Surah Al-Hijr, Aayah 9)

 Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) foretold that while the Bani Israaeel were divided into seventy-two groups, his ummah will be divided into seventy-three groups. Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) thereafter said that only one group will be rightly guided. They will be those who “follow my path and the path upon which my Sahaabah tread”.

The book in your hands titled “Photography and Modern Challenges” deals with the fitnahs affecting the Ummah and in particular the mas’alah of digital photography. The book explores the Shari’ee ruling regarding digital photography by undertaking a detailed research of the Ahaadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), the verdicts of the Sahaabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) and the four Imaams of fiqh.

We earnestly make du‘aa to Allah Ta’ala to accept this humble effort and make it a means of establishing the truth of Islam and preserving the Shari’ah in its pure and pristine form. Aameen.


Fitnahs and Trials

Challenges facing the ummah

From the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), the ummah faced various trials and tribulations. Some related to the kuffaar who were bent on destroying and demolishing the structures of Islam, whilst others related to the Munaafiqeen who persistently and tirelessly worked towards creating doubts and confusion among the Muslims. Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and the Sahaabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) defended Islam and taught the ummah the manner in which they should contend with such problems.

In the time of Hadhrat Abu Bakr (Radiyallahu Anhu), the fitnah of irtidaad (apostasy) broke out in the ummah. At that crucial juncture, Allah Ta’ala divinely aided Hadhrat Abu Bakr (Radiyallahu Anhu) in combating the forces of kufr and preserving the Shari’ah of Islam. His words to Hadhrat Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) as recorded in the books of Hadith ring out aloud, not in the ears, but in the hearts of the believers until this day:

أينقص الدين و أنا حي

 “Will any weakness creep into Deen while I (Abu Bakr) am alive?”

In the era of Hadhrat Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu), the Roman and Persian emperors, Kisra and Qaisar, mobilized their seemingly impregnable armies of a few hundred thousand against the Muslims. At that critical occasion when Islam was under attack, Allah Ta’ala divinely supported Hadhrat Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu). Hence, Deen remained secure and protected. In the period of Hadhrat Uthmaan (Radiyallahu Anhu) when the fitnah spread among the Muslims in Armenia and Azerbaijan in relation to the various dialects of the Qur’aan, Allah Ta’ala inspired Hadhrat Uthmaan (Radiyallahu Anhu) to compile the Qur’aan and preserve all the dialects in the manner it was revealed. During the Khilaafat of Hadhrat Ali (Radiyallahu Anhu), when the deviated sect, the Khawaarij, detached themselves from the Sahaabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) and the rest of the ummah, and began reinterpreting Deen and the Qur’aan, Allah Ta’ala divinely empowered Hadhrat Ali (Radiyallahu Anhu) against them. Hence, wars and battles were fought and the fitnah was eradicated and wiped out.

In essence, whenever a fitnah arose in the past centuries of Islam, from the era of Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), the Khulafaa-e-Raashideen, or in the era that followed, regardless of whether it related to the fitnah of Khalq-ul-Qur’aan, the Shias, Khawaarij, Murji’ah or Mu‘tazilah, etc., and whenever Islam was under attack or any aspect of the Shari’ah was targeted, there always existed a group of the ummah who stood up for the defence of Islam. They were prepared to sacrifice their wealth and property, as well as to lay down their lives for the protection and preservation of the Deen of Islam.

عن ثوبان أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم قال لا يزال طائفة من أمتي على الحق منصورين لا يضرهم من خالفهم حتى يأتي أمر الله عز و جل (ابن ماجة 1/3)

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “There will always be a group from my ummah who will be divinely assisted to remain firm on the truth. Those who will oppose them will not be able to harm them until the decision of Allah Ta’ala will come.”(Ibnu Maajah 1/3)

One of the greatest fitnahs of this time

Over the last five decades, the world has made such astounding progress and advancement in technology that was never witnessed in human history. The means of communication have expanded extensively through modern day inventions such as the television, cell phones, computers, internet, etc. Hence, a person in the east can communicate with a person in the west with complete ease and comfort whilst sipping a cup of tea. Volumes of information can easily be accessed in a matter of seconds from websites around the globe. One is able to find solutions for complex problems from health to finance or most issues that affect our daily life. At the press of a button, one is confronted by an explosion of information from all over the world.


Technology, the cause of moral and spiritual degeneration

Indeed, there are innumerable advantages and enormous benefits that man can reap by means of these modern day inventions. However, due to his curious nature and inquisitive mind, man began to explore any and every way of using these inventions. He did not restrict himself to the halaal avenues only. Instead, he broke all barriers and began to drown himself in haraam. As is well known, technology (the cell phone and internet) was not born alone. Rather it brought along with its birth a host of fitnahs and a tsunami of immorality and vice. Hence, the result is nothing but widespread corruption and havoc being created in the world.

Many of the numerous cases of broken homes and broken marriages are the direct result of the misuse of the cell phone and internet. By the press of a button, one is able to view the worst of sins committed on the face of this earth. Every imaginable way that can spur up man’s carnal desires and arouse his sexual passions is accessible by all and sundry without any restrictions. Illicit relationships are initiated through social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc. Man has surpassed all limits and has broken all bounds in disobeying Allah Ta’ala via these mediums of so called “human advancement and progress”. The kuffaar through these modern day inventions have succeeded in exporting their western culture across the globe. They have managed to reach even the most sacred sanctuaries of Islam i.e. Makkah Mukarramah and Madinah Tayyibah. Through the “blessing” of Facebook, Mxit, Twitter, etc. one is able to freely interact with the opposite sex, present a video of his/her personal life and display it before the world without going to Hollywood. In short, the degeneration of Islamic morals and values in the Muslim ummah is taking place faster than an avalanche on account of these “hell phones, webs and nets of shaitaan”.


How does technology (cell phones, internet, computers, etc.) affect our Deen?

Consider these modern day technologies and inventions from an Islamic point of view. While technology has made the almost impossible, possible in terms of making libraries of Islamic information available within seconds, it has however destroyed the fabric of Islam in the ummah. The aspects of precaution and prudence, reliability and authenticity, which are required in matters of Deen, are replaced with laxity and leniency. Hence, we notice that whenever people are faced with any Deeni mas’alah or problem, the first thing they resort to is surfing the net to see what they can come up with. From a wide array of views which are propagated by anyone and everyone, including Salafis, modernists, Shias, Qaadiaanis, etc., one is free to choose what makes most sense to one’s own logical reasoning or supports his situation. The path adopted is very often motivated purely by one’s personal desires. The need to refer to the “doctors” of Deen no longer remains.

The Deeni commitment and dedication that existed at one time in the world no longer exists. People consumed by personal interest utilize these modern day inventions and technologies to find justifications for themselves in fulfilling their desires. Over and above, through the internet the masses have access to the various commentaries of the Qur’aan and Hadith, thereby engaging themselves and encouraging others towards self-study. The outcome of such self-study is nothing but reaching incorrect conclusions and erroneous deductions. Thus, instead of following the pure and pristine brand of Islam that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) brought to us, they choose “a new brand of Islam” for themselves. Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) prophesised the coming of such critical times in his Mubaarak Hadith:

وروي عن أبي مالك الأشعري أنه سمع النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم يقول لا أخاف على أمتي إلا ثلاث خلال أن يكثر لهم من الدنيا فيتحاسدوا وأن يفتح لهم الكتاب يأخذه المؤمن يبتغي تأويله وما يعلم تأويله إلا الله والراسخون في العلم يقولون آمنا به كل من عند ربنا وما يذكر إلا أولو الألباب وأن يروا ذا علم فيضيعوه ولا يبالوا عليه (الترغيب و الترهيب 1/152)

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is reported to have said: “I especially fear three shortcomings in my followers. Firstly, due to abundance of material wealth and possessions, jealousy will spread among them for one another. Secondly, they will begin to freely discuss the Holy Qur’aan (without expert guidance), whereas many meanings are such that cannot be understood by anyone except Allah Ta’ala. (In regard to such verses), the well-versed scholars of the Book say: “We fully believe in it, and that it has come from Allah Ta’ala” (thus how much more careful should the common people be). Thirdly, the religious scholars will be neglected and people will not pay any attention towards their teachings”. (At-Targheeb Wat-Tarheeb 1/152)

وعن المقدام بن معدي كرب عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال ألا إني أوتيت الكتاب ومثله معه ألا يوشك رجل شبعان على أريكته يقول عليكم بهذا القرآن فما وجدتم فيه من حلال فأحلوه وما وجدتم فيه من حرام فحرموه وإن ما حرم رسول الله كما حرم الله (مشكاة المصابيح ، ص 29)

Miqdaam bin Ma‘di karib (Radiyallahu Anhu) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “Behold! I have been given the Qur’aan and its likeness as well (the Hadith). The time has drawn close when a man will eat to his fill, then while resting on his couch he will say: “Hold firm to the Qur’aan only, (and not the Hadith). Whatever you find in it as halaal regard it as halaal and whatever you find in it as haraam regard it as haraam”, whereas whatever Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) declared haraam (in his Mubaarak Hadith) has the same status as Allah Ta’ala declaring something as haraam”. (Mishkaat pg.29)

عن ابن شهاب أن أبا إدريس الخولاني عائذ الله أخبره أن يزيد بن عميرة وكان من أصحاب معاذ بن جبل أخبره قال كان لا يجلس مجلسا للذكر حين يجلس إلا قال الله حكم قسط هلك المرتابون فقال معاذ بن جبل يوما إن من ورائكم فتنا يكثر فيها المال ويفتح فيها القرآن حتى يأخذه المؤمن والمنافق والرجل والمرأة والصغير والكبير والعبد والحر فيوشك قائل أن يقول ما للناس لا يتبعوني وقد قرأت القرآن ما هم بمتبعي حتى أبتدع لهم غيره فإياكم وما ابتدع فإن ما ابتدع ضلالة وأحذركم زيغة الحكيم فإن الشيطان قد يقول كلمة الضلالة على لسان الحكيم وقد يقول المنافق كلمة الحق. قال قلت لمعاذ ما يدريني رحمك الله أن الحكيم قد يقول كلمة الضلالة وأن المنافق قد يقول كلمة الحق قال بلى اجتنب من كلام الحكيم المشتهرات التي يقال لها ما هذه ولا يثنينك ذلك عنه فإنه لعله أن يراجع وتلق الحق إذا سمعته فإن على الحق نورا. (سنن أبي داود 2/632)

Yazeed bin Haroon, a student of Mu‘aaz bin Jabal (Radiyallahu Anhu) reports that whenever Mu‘aaz (Radiyallahu Anhu) would deliver a lesson or lecture he would commence by saying, “Allah Ta’ala is the Just King who decides all affairs. Destruction is for those who doubt this.”

On one occasion, whilst sharing some advices with the people, Mu‘aaz bin Jabal (Radiyallahu Anhu) said: “Many trials will appear in the days to follow. Wealth will become abundant and the study of the Qur’aan will become widespread. The Believers and hypocrites, men and women, young and old, slaves and free people, all will independently study the Qur’aan and reach incorrect conclusions. Some people (aspiring for leadership) will begin to think within themselves, “What is wrong with the people? Why are they not following me whereas I have studied the Qur’aan? Perhaps they will follow me if I introduce something new (not supported by the Qur’aan and Sunnah).” (Mu‘aaz (Radiyallahu Anhu) thereafter cautioned the people saying,) “Beware of such people who bring about innovations in Deen. Innovations in Deen are clear misguidance. I further warn you against the error of a wise man (righteous guided Aalim). For indeed, Shaitaan at times causes a wise person (righteous guided Aalim) to utter a word of misguidance and a hypocrite can utter a word of truth.” Yazeed says that I then asked Mu‘aaz (Radiyallahu Anhu), “How will I be able to distinguish the misguidance uttered by a wise person (righteous guided Aalim) and the truth spoken by a hypocrite?” Mu‘aaz (Radiyallahu Anhu) replied, “Yes undoubtedly, refrain from (following) such statements of the wise person (righteous guided Aalim) which when it is circulated among the people it becomes a target of objection (among the learned scholars). However, this should not divert you from him (righteous guided Aalim) for it is possible that he will retract. Furthermore, accept the truth whenever you hear it for indeed the truth is accompanied with noor (Divine light).” (Abu Dawood 2/632)

Picture making and Photography

Picture making in Islam

The picture making industry has advanced in leaps and bounds through these modern day inventions. It has broken all records in perfecting the art of photography. From ink to film and finally to an array of light sensitive sensors, man no longer requires the effort to manually sketch and design the picture. The technology that he has engineered called digital photography automatically fulfils the task. The question we ought to ask is: “Is this also not the very same picture-making which Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) prohibited us from over fourteen hundred years ago? Is this not the very same picture-making with regard to which Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) sounded severe warnings in his Ahaadith for those involved in its production?” Consider the following Ahaadith:


Warnings of picture making

حدثنا الأعمش عن مسلم قال كنا مع مسروق في دار يسار بن نمير فرأى في صفته تماثيل فقال سمعت عبد الله قال سمعت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول إن أشد الناس عذابا عند الله يوم القيامة المصورون (صحيح البخاري 2/880 ، صحيح لمسلم 2/201)

It is reported from Imaam A‘mash رحمة الله عليه, who narrates from his Ustaaz, Muslim رحمة الله عليه  that Masrooq رحمة الله عليه was once in the house of Yasaar رحمة الله عليه, when his sight fell on some pictures. He immediately narrated the Hadith he heard from Abdullah bin Mas‘ood (Radiyallahu Anhu) who related from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) that he said, “Those involved in picture-making will be subjected to the worst forms of punishment on the day of Qiyaamah.” (Bukhari 2/880, Muslim 2/201)

عن نافع أن ابن عمر أخبره أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال الذين يصنعون الصور يعذبون يوم القيامة يقال لهم أحيوا ما خلقتم (صحيح لمسلم 2/201 ، صحيح البخاري 2/880)

Abdullah bin Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) reported that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “Those involved in picture making will be severely punished on the Day of Qiyaamah and Allah Ta’ala will say to them, ‘Give life to what you have created!’.” (Muslim 2/201, Bukhari 2/880)

حدثنا سعيد قال سمعت النضر بن أنس بن مالك يحدث قتادة قال كنت عند ابن عباس وهم يسألونه ولا يذكر النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم حتى سئل فقال سمعت محمدا صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول من صور صورة في الدنيا كلف يوم القيامة أن ينفخ فيها الروح وليس بنافخ (صحيح البخاري 2/881 ، صحيح لمسلم 2/202)

Qataadah رحمة الله عليه said, “I was once in the company of Ibnu Abbaas (Radiyallahu Anhu) when someone posed the question regarding picture making. Ibnu Abbaas (Radiyallahu Anhu) said that he heard Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) saying: “The one who creates a picture (of an animate object) will be commanded on the Day of Qiyaamah to infuse the soul in it, and thereby give life to it. However, he will never be able to give life to it (hence he will face severe torment and punishment in the fire of Jahannum).” (Bukhari 2/881, Muslim 2/202)

The view of the four Mazhabs on picture making

The four Imaams of fiqh, viz. Imaam Abu Hanifah, Imaam Maalik, Imaam Shaafi‘ee and Imaam Ahmad رحمة الله عليهم were all unanimous upon the prohibition of picture making of all animate objects. This is clearly seen in their classical works of Islamic Jurisprudence, as discussed hereunder.


Hanafi Mazhab

وفي التوضيح قال أصحابنا وغيرهم تصوير صورة الحيوان حرام أشد التحريم وهو من الكبائر وسواء صنعه لما يمتهن أو لغيره فحرام بكل حال لأن فيه مضاهاة لخلق الله وسواء كان في ثوب أو بساط أو دينار أو درهم أو فلس أو إناء أو حائط وأما ما ليس فيه صورة حيوان كالشجر ونحوه فليس بحرام وسواء كان في هذا كله ما له ظل وما لا ظل له وبمعناه قال جماعة العلماء مالك والثوري وأبو حنيفة وغيرهم (عمدة القاري شرح صحيح البخاري 22/70)

Allamah Badruddeen Aini states: The author of At-taudheeh explains that our Fuqahaa رحمة الله عليهم are of the opinion that producing the picture of any animate object is ruled as the worst form of haraam sins and is counted from among the major sins. Producing pictures of animate objects is haraam, irrespective of whether the picture is regarding things that are disdained and disgraced (such as a picture on a floor mat which is walked upon) or not. The basis for the impermissibility (of picture making) in Shari’ah is producing something that resembles the creation of Allah Ta’ala. It is immaterial whether the picture was imprinted on a cloth, rug (floor mat), coin, note, utensil or on a wall, regardless of whether it has a shadow (i.e. it is a statue) or it does not have a shadow (i.e. it is a sketch). As for inanimate objects (e.g. trees etc.), it is permissible to draw them. This is the preferred view of Imaam Maalik رحمة الله عليه, Sufyaan Thauri رحمة الله عليه, Imaam Abu Hanifah رحمة الله عليه and others.

وظاهر كلام النووي في شرح مسلم الإجماع على تحريم تصوير الحيوان وقال وسواء صنعه لما يمتهن أو لغيره فصنعته حرام بكل حال لأن فيه مضاهاة لخلق الله تعالى وسواء كان في ثوب أو بساط أو درهم وإناء وحائط وغيرها ا هـ فينبغي أن يكون حراما لا مكروها إن ثبت الإجماع أو قطعية الدليل بتواتره (رد المحتار 1/647)

Under the topic of ‘wearing clothes with animate images’ Allamah Shaami رحمة الله عليه writes: “From the explanation of Imaam Nawawi رحمة الله عليه, we understand that there is consensus that producing animate images is haraam. He further states that irrespective of whether the picture is disdained and disgraced or not, in all cases it will still be haraam. The basis for the impermissibility (of picture making) is producing something that resembles the creation of Allah Ta’ala. It is immaterial whether the picture was imprinted on a cloth, rug (floor mat), coin, utensil or on a wall, etc. Therefore, it is appropriate to classify it as haraam and not makrooh, especially since it is established through consensus or an authentic proof via a sound transmission.

وكذا النهي إنما جاء عن تصوير ذي الروح لما روي عن علي رضي الله عنه أنه قال من صور تمثال ذي الروح كلف يوم القيامة أن ينفخ فيه الروح وليس بنافخ فأما لا نهي عن تصوير ما لا روح له لما روي عن ابن عباس رضي الله عنه أنه نهى مصورا عن التصوير فقال كيف أصنع وهو كسبي فقال إن لم يكن بد فعليك بتمثال الأشجار (بدائع الصنائع 1/116)

Similarly, Allamah Kaasani رحمة الله عليه says that the prohibition is in regard to animate images due to what has been narrated from Ali (Radiyallahu Anhu): “Whoever produces an image of an animate object, then on the Day of Qiyaamah he will be commanded to give life to that image, whereas he will not be able to give life to it.” There is no prohibition in regard to inanimate objects due to the narration of Ibnu Abbaas (Radiyallahu Anhu) where he prohibited an artist from producing animate images. The person responded: “How should I then acquire an income?” He replied: “If this is your only source of income then sketch inanimate objects.”


Maaliki Mazhab

والحاصل أنه يحرم تصوير حيوان عاقل أو غيره إذا كان كامل الاعضاء إذا كان يدوم إجماعا، وكذا إن لم يدم على الراجح كتصويره من نحو قشر بطيخ ويحرم النظر إليه إذ النظر إلى المحرم حرام وغير ذي ظل كالمنقوش في حائط أو ورق فيكره (حاشية الدسوقي على الشرح الكبير 3/201)

The renowned Maaliki scholar, Allamah Dusooqi رحمة الله عليه explains: In brief, producing statues is Haraam, be they of humans or animals, provided it is a fully developed statue with all the limbs, irrespective of whether the statue is sculpted from something that will remain (e.g. stone) or from something which will not remain e.g. producing a statue from melon peels. Looking at such a statue will also be haraam, since looking at an impermissible object is haraam”.

(قال) ابن القاسم: وسألت مالكا عن التماثيل تكون في الأسرة والقباب والمنار وما اشبهه؟ (قال): هذا مكروه قال: هذه لان خلقت خلقا (المدونة الكبرى 1/213)

Allamah Ibnul Qaasim رحمة الله عليه mentions that I enquired from Imaam Maalik رحمة الله عليه regarding pictures that are drawn on armour, swords, watch-towers etc. Imaam Maalik رحمة الله عليه replied: “It is makrooh.” Thereupon, Imaam Maalik رحمة الله عليه explained the reason for its prohibition i.e. it was created (by man).

Note: Though there are several views recorded in the Maaliki kitaabs regarding pictures of animate objects, however, the preferred view of the Maaliki mazhab is that pictures of animate objects are impermissible (Makrooh-e-tahrimi). This is also recorded in “Sharhu Mukhtasar al-Khaleel 3/303 [2]


Shaafi’ee Mazhab

قال أصحابنا وغيرهم من العلماء تصوير صورة الحيوان حرام شديد التحريم وهو من الكبائر لأنه متوعد عليه بهذا الوعيد الشديد المذكور في الأحاديث وسواء صنعه بما يمتهن أو بغيره فصنعته حرام بكل حال لأن فيه مضاهاة لخلق الله تعالى وسواء ما كان فى ثوب أو بساط أودرهم أو دينار أو فلس أو اناء أو حائط أو غيرها وأما تصوير صورة الشجر ورحال الابل وغير ذلك مما ليس فيه صورة حيوان فليس بحرام هذا حكم نفس التصوير وأما اتخاذ المصور فيه صورة حيوان فان كان معلقا على حائط أو ثوبا ملبوسا أو عمامة ونحوذلك مما لايعد ممتهنا فهو حرام وان كان في بساط يداس ومخدة ووسادة ونحوها مما يمتهن فليس بحرام ولكن هل يمنع دخول ملائكة الرحمة ذلك البيت فيه كلام نذكره قريبا إن شاء الله ولافرق في هذا كله بين ماله ظل وما لا ظل له هذا تلخيص مذهبنا في المسألة وبمعناه قال جماهير العلماء من الصحابة والتابعين ومن بعدهم وهو مذهب الثوري ومالك وأبي حنيفة وغيرهم (شرح النووي على المسلم مع صحيح لمسلم 2/199)

Allamah Nawawi رحمة الله عليه states: “Our companions as well as other scholars explain that picture making of all animate objects is declared as the worst form of haraam actions and counted from among the major sins due to the severe warnings reported in the Mubaarak Ahaadith. This law (the prohibition of picture making) applies regardless whether one produces the picture of an animate object that will be disgraced or not. The basis for the impermissibility of picture making in Shari’ah is producing something that resembles the creation of Allah Ta’ala. It makes no difference whether the picture was imprinted on a cloth, a rug (floor mat), a coin, a note, a utensil or on a wall. However producing pictures of inanimate objects such as trees or carriages, etc. is permissible. The above-mentioned laws apply to the actual picture making. As far as keeping a picture of animate objects in one’s possession, the following laws apply:

  1. If it is hung on the wall, or it is imprinted on clothes that are worn, or imprinted on a turban, or anything else which is not despised or disgraced then keeping it in this manner is haraam.
  2. If it is imprinted on a rug/floor mat or on a pillow or a sheet placed over a donkey or anything that is despised, it will be permissible, irrespective of whether it is a thing that has a shadow (i.e. a statue) or it does not have a shadow (i.e. a picture of an animate object).

In essence, this is our mazhab and this is the preferred opinion of the Sahaabah (Radiyallahu Anhum), the Taabi‘een and those who followed them, such as Imaam Maalik رحمة الله عليه, Sufyaan Thauri رحمة الله عليه and Imaam Abu Hanifah رحمة الله عليه. (Ash Sharh lin-Nawawi)

( ويحرم ) ولو على نحو أرض وما مر من الفرق إنما هو في الاستدامة ( تصوير حيوان ) وإن لم يكن له نظير كما مر بل هو كبيرة لما فيه من الوعيد الشديد كاللعن وأن المصورين أشد الناس عذابا يوم القيامة (تحفة المحتاج بشرح المنهاج 7/540)

Allamah Ibnu Hajar Haitami رحمة الله عليه mentions that pictures of animate objects are impermissible, even though it may be sketched on the ground and even though there may be no likeness for it on earth. This action (of sketching an animate object) is itself a grave sin regarding which severe warnings have been sounded in the Hadith. Those involved in picture making are cursed and on the Day of Qiyaamah, they will be subjected to the worst forms of punishment.

( ويحرم تصوير حيوان ) للحديث المار ولما فيه من مضاهاة خلق الله تعالى قال المتولي وسواء أعمل لها رأسا أم لا خلافا لأبي حنيفة رضي الله تعالى عنه وقال الأذرعي إن المشهور عندنا جواز التصوير إذا لم يكن له رأس لما أشار إليه الحديث من قطع رؤوسها اه وهذا هو الظاهر تنبيه قضية إطلاق المصنف أنه لا فرق في تصويره على الحيطان أو الأرض أو نسج الثياب وهو الصحيح في زيادة الروضة (مغني المحتاج 3/303)

Allamah Shirbeeni رحمة الله عليه of the Shaafi‘ee mazhab says that pictures of animate objects are impermissible in the light of the Hadith due to it resembling the creation of Allah Ta’ala. Mutawalli رحمة الله عليه says: “It (the prohibition) applies equally irrespective of the image having a head or not, contrary to Imaam Abu Hanifah رحمة الله عليه. Azra‘iy رحمة الله عليه says: “According to us it is acknowledged that a headless picture is permissible due to the Hadith explaining that the heads should be removed.

Note: The generality of the statement of the author demands that there is no difference whether the (animate) image is sketched on a wall, the ground or on a cloth.

Hambali Mazhab

(ويحرم) ولو على نحو أرض وبلا رأس إذ ما مر بالنسبة للاستدامة وما هنا في الفعل (تصوير حيوان) وإن لم يكن له نظير كما مر للوعيد الشديد على ذلك (نهاية المحتاج إلى شرح المنهاج 6/376)

Allamah Ramli رحمة الله عليه says that pictures of animate objects are impermissible even though it may be sketched on the ground and without a head. The basis of the impermissibility is due to it having stability and remaining all the time. As for animate images then, it is haraam even though there may be no likeness for it on earth. This is due to the severe warnings sounded in the Hadith regarding picture making.


يحرم تصوير ما فيه الروح ولا يحرم تصوير الشجر و نحوه. والتمثال مما لا يشابه ما فيه روح على الصحيح من المذهب, … يحرم تعليق ما فيه صورة حيوان, و ستر الجدار به, و تصويره على الصحيح من المذهب (الإنصاف 1/334)

Allamah Murdaawi رحمة الله عليهin his kitaab ‘Al Insaaf’ says, “Producing pictures of animate objects is haraam. However, producing pictures of trees etc. and statues that do not resemble animate objects is permissible, … to hang an animate object and to hang a curtain with animate objects is haraam.”

وصنعة التصاوير محرمة على فاعلها لما روى ابن عمر عن النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم أنه قال : الذين يصنعون هذه الصورة يعذبون يوم القيامة يقال لهم أحيوا ما خلقتم و عن مسروق قال دخلنا مع عبد الله بيتا فيه تماثيل فقال لتمثال منها تمثال من هذا قالوا تمثال مريم قال عبد الله قال رسول الله : إن أشد الناس عذابا يوم القيامة المصورون متفق عليهما والأمر بعمله محرم كعمله (المغني لابن قدامة 10/199)

Allamah Ibnu Qudaamah رحمة الله عليه, the famous Hambali scholar writes: It is totally haraam to produce an image of an animate object. Hadhrat Ibnu Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “Those involved in picture making will be severely punished on the Day of Qiyaamah and Allah Ta’ala will say to them, ‘Give life to what you have created!” Masrooq رحمة الله عليه said that on one occasion I accompanied Abdullah bin Mas‘ood (Radiyallahu Anhu), we entered a house wherein there were (animate) pictures. Abdullah bin Mas‘ood (Radiyallahu Anhu) enquired regarding one of the pictures, “Whose image is this?” They replied: “It is the image of Maryam.” Abdullah bin Mas‘ood (Radiyallahu Anhu) then quoted Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) as saying: “Those involved in picture-making will be subjected to the worst forms of punishment on the Day of Qiyaamah.”

ولأن الصور قد تعبد من دون الله وفيها مضاهاة لخلق الله فالصلاة عندها تشبه بمن يعبدها ويعظمها (شرح العمدة 1/505)

Ibnu Taymiyyah writes: “The impermissibility of picture-making is on account of the fact that it would be worshipped and in it is مضاهاة لخلق الله i.e. the one drawing an animate object is resembling Allah Ta’ala in the power of creation. The one performing Salaah before it resembles the one worshipping it.


Fatwa of Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood Sahib رحمة الله عليه

Producing a picture of any animate object is haraam. This is irrespective of whether it is produced through wood, sand, iron, gold, or whatever other material is used, like drawing with a pen on paper or on some surface, or a using a machine to capture a picture. There can be no permissibility for this at all. [3]


Fatwa of Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Shafee‘ Sahib رحمة الله عليه

For producing a picture, the situation of the mas’alah does not change whether it is produced using colourful pens or whether it is captured through a machine (camera). [4]


Fatwa of Hadhrat Mufti Rasheed Ahmad Ludhyaanwi Sahib رحمة الله عليه

It is haraam and a major sin to produce the picture of any animate object, whether it is a large portrait or a small picture, whether it is on paper or cloth or through a camera. Similarly, it is impermissible to print it. [5]


Opinion of Hadhrat Allamah Binnori رحمة الله عليه

The warning that has been sounded in the Hadith regarding picture making applies to pictures of all animate objects. The entire ummah has consensus on its prohibition. However, may Allah Ta’ala destroy ‘western modernisation’ which has began to prove permissible that which is accepted as haraam by consensus. [6]

It is not only our Akaabir, but the Fuqahaa of the entire Ummah have consensus on the fact that a photo is haraam. However, a picture of half the body or less will be allowed for passport reasons and other necessities and the consequence of this will fall on those who have made such laws. [7]


The basis of the prohibition of picture making

Hadhrat Mufti Shafee‘ Sahib رحمة الله عليه has written in his book “Tasweer ke Shari‘ee Ahkaam”, pg 57: “Upon examining the Ahaadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) one understands that there are two underlying factors for the prohibition of picture making:

  1. مضاهاة لخلق الله (the one drawing an animate object is resembling Allah Ta’ala in the power of creation) and this factor is glaringly found in digital photography.
  2.   It is the cause of shirk and idol worship in the world.

Numerous Fuqahaa of the various mazaahib have stated that the basis of the prohibition of picture making is مضاهاة لخلق الله. Among those Fuqahaa are:

  1. The Shaafi‘ee scholars, Allamah Nawawi رحمة الله عليهcommentary of Muslim Shareef, vol. 2, pg. 199, and Allamah Shirbeeni رحمة الله عليه Mughnil Muhtaaj, vol. 3, pg. 303.
  2. The Hanafi scholars, Allamah ‘Aini رحمة الله عليهUmdatul Qaari, commentary of Bukhari Shareef, vol. 22, pg. 77, and Allamah Shaami رحمة الله عليهRaddul Muhtaar, vol. 1, pg 647.
  3. The Hambali scholar Ibnu Taymiyyah رحمة الله عليهSharhul Umdah, vol. 1, pg. 505.
  4. The verdict of Imaam Maalik رحمة الله عليه also alludes towards the basis of the prohibition of picture making being​​ [8] مضاهاة لخلق الله.


The history of idol worship

In the past Shari‘ahs there were many practices that were regarded lawful, but are unlawful in Islam. Wine was declared lawful for the previous nations. Observing purdah between the sexes was not compulsory upon them. Prostrating oneself before somebody as a mark of showing honour and respect was also permissible. Among the many other permissible practices for the past ummahs was the practice of picture making. However, after a while the practice of picture making gradually opened the way to shirk and kufr.

Imaam Baghawi رحمة الله عليه reports that Wadd, Suwa‘, Yaguth, Ya‘uq and Nasr were the names of five righteous servants of Allah Ta’ala who lived in the period between Aadam (Alayhis Salaam) and Nuh (Alayhis Salaam). Their people held them in high esteem and followed their example. Even after their death, people followed their footsteps and obeyed the Divine injunctions of Allah Ta’ala. It was not long thereafter that Shaitaan gave them the idea of making pictures and statues of their righteous elders and placing them before them at the time of worship. Shaitaan told them that their worship would be perfectly in order and that it will enhance the quality of humility in their Ibaadat. Hence, people fell into this satanic trap, began carving statues of their pious predecessors, and placed them in their places of worship. When they saw the statues of their elders, their memories were refreshed and they experienced a special motivation. Many years later that generation passed on and a new generation was born. Shaitaan played another trick with them. He misguided them in believing that their elders worshipped statues and idols. They fell for this trick and began worshipping idols. Thus, in this manner, idol worship commenced in the world.

Since Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is the final messenger of Allah Ta’ala, and his Shari‘ah is the last Shari‘ah which will remain till the Day of Qiyaamah, Allah Ta’ala protected it from every practice that could possibly lead to shirk, kufr or open the doors to transgression. Hence, the Shari‘ah of Islam has strictly forbidden the practices of consuming wine, intermingling of sexes, prostrating before someone and picture making.


Digital Photography

Is digital photography the same as picture making?

The name “digital photography” itself reveals its true identity and position. It clearly indicates that there is no difference in the reality of a picture produced through digital photography, compared to the picture drawings that were existent from time immemorial. However, since there has been some debate around the issue, the need was felt to undertake a thorough examination of this question to reveal whether digital photography comes within the scope of the prohibition of picture making.


The process of picture making through digital photography

There are three stages in the production of a digital picture. [9]

  1. In the first stage the camera’s multiple light sensitive sensors capture the brightness of each pixel.
  2. These sensors thereafter convert the captured brightness of each pixel into a digital value. E.g. Red=46, Blue=70, Green=100
  3. The software in the camera (firmware) or on a computer then reads the value recorded for each pixel (in step two) and displays the image on the screen (generated by the camera).

Thus, there are several stages through which the digital photo passes, before it is displayed as an image. Each picture is first created and then displayed. This is very swiftly followed by the creation and display of the next picture.

From the above discussion, it is clearly evident that all digital cameras, be they standalone cameras, cameras built into cellular phones, CCTV, web-cams, etc. produce images within milliseconds and then display them (even before one captures it or saves it to memory [10]).

Note: In principle, digital photography resembles the conventional method of picture making. One first gathers the material, e.g., paint, painting brush, paper, etc. Thereafter, one skilfully combines the materials to produce the picture. Similar is the case of digital photography, the camera joins the necessary material (as mentioned above) and puts it together in order to produce the picture.


Proof of the view that digital photography is not a picture

The claimants of digital photography being permissible contend that it is unlike a normal picture. A normal picture has a physical form and remains existent all the time on a paper, wall or any other object, whereas the images appearing through digital photography do not possess any physical form. Hence, the prohibition that came from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) regarding pictures does not apply to this modern day invention. Instead, these digital images (appearing on the screen) have a closer resemblance to a reflection of a mirror than a physical picture. Just as the reflection of a mirror does not possess stability and nor does it remain existent all the time, similar is the case with digital photography.

In short, those who declare that digital photography is permissible base their view on two points:

  1. Digital photography resembles the reflection of a mirror.
  2. Digital photography differs from the physical picture that existed in the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).


Response to the first proof

Resembling digital photography to a reflection of a mirror, merely because both are unstable and do not remain existent all the time, is incorrect. A close examination of both will reveal the noticeable differences between them.

Firstly, the reflection on a mirror occurs naturally without any action of man. Hence, man will not be accountable for that which he does not have any control over. As far as digital photography is concerned, it is a creation of man and operates through his actions. Therefore, he will be accountable for it.

Secondly, the reflection on a mirror is subject to the original object being before the mirror. Once the original object moves away, the reflection no longer remains. This is not the case with digital photography. It does not require any object to remain before it.

Thirdly, the reflection of a mirror is not preserved for a moment on the mirror after the original object moves away from it. Conversely, a photo/image captured and stored digitally can be made to appear on the screen whenever one wishes, long after the object has moved away.

Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Shafee’ Sahib رحمة الله عليه states:

A reflection of a mirror is only a representation of the object before it from which it cannot be detached. Therefore, the reflection that appears on a mirror, water, etc., remains only for the duration that the original object remains before it. The moment it moves away, the image disappears as well. The shadow of a person standing out in the sun is seen on the ground beside him. The existence of the shadow is subject to the person. In whichever direction he moves it will follow him.


Response to the second proof

It is an accepted fact that digital photography never existed in the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Hence, no explicit law regarding it is found in the Qur’aan or in the Hadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). At the same time, the religion of Islam is a complete way of life that provides guidance in all conditions. Allah Ta’ala says:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا

 “Today I have perfected your religion for you and completed My favours upon you and I am pleased with Islam as your religion”. (Surah Maa’idah, Aayah 3)

Hence, when the Deen is complete, it is impossible to imagine any problematic situation arising regarding which there is no solution in the Deen of Islam. However, whenever a newly developed situation arises, it is the responsibility of the Fuqahaa to analyse it in order to ascertain in which category the new situation fits.

Furthermore, it is insufficient grounds to claim that digital photography is not the same as picture making since digital photography did not exist in the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). There are many things that never existed in the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), yet the Fuqahaa declared them as impermissible after ascertaining their correct position and status through Ijtihaad and Qiyaas. Consider the different types of drugs that exist nowadays such as cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, etc. These drugs never existed in the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), yet the Fuqahaa have issued the ruling of impermissibility upon them. This will be discussed in detail under “The discussion of the prohibition of drugs in Islam”.


Various ways of proving that digital photography is the same as picture making

There are essentially four ways through which one can understand that digital photography is the same as a normal picture.


1. Strong resemblance

The end result of a person capturing something by means of digital photography strongly resembles the end result of drawing a picture by hand. Based on the strong resemblance and the common end result, the law that applies to picture making will apply to digital photography. The Hadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is general in this regard:

كل مصور في النار

Every picture maker will dwell in the fire of Jahannum”.

عن سعيد بن أبي الحسن قال جاء رجل إلى بن عباس فقال إني رجل أصور هذه الصور فأفتني فيها فقال له ادن مني فدنا منه ثم قال ادن مني فدنا حتى وضع يده على رأسه قال أنبئك بما سمعت من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول كل مصور في النار يجعل له بكل صورة صورها نفسا فتعذبه في جهنم وقال إن كنت لا بد فاعلا فاصنع الشجر وما لا نفس له. (صحيح لمسلم 2/202)

Sa‘eed ibnu Abil Hasan رحمة الله عليه reports that once a man came to Ibnu Abbaas (Radiyallahu Anhu) and said, “I am a picture maker. Explain to me the Islamic verdict regarding picture making.” Ibnu Abbaas (Radiyallahu Anhu) asked him to come forward and he went forward. He asked him to come closer to him until he placed his hand on his head. Ibnu Abbaas (Radiyallahu Anhu) then told him, “I will inform you of what I heard from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). I heard Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) saying, ‘Every picture maker will dwell in the fire of Jahannum. Allah Ta’ala will create one creature for every picture he made and it will then punish him in Jahannum.’ If you wish to draw a picture, then draw the picture of a tree or a lifeless creation (for this is permissible for you).” (Muslim 2/202)

2. Progressive form of drawing

The second way for one to understand that digital photography is the same as a normal picture is that digital photography is just a progressive form of drawing a picture with one’s hand. Technology has replaced the conventional method of drawing by hand. However, in terms of the end product being a picture, both are the same. In fact, every person believes beyond a shadow of doubt that digital photography has far exceeded and surpassed a normal picture in the art of picture making. Hence, one would understand that the prohibition that applies to picture making necessarily applies to digital photography.


3. Capturing, storing and displaying

The third way for one to understand that digital photography is the same as a normal picture is that digital photography resembles a picture in the aspect of capturing, storing and displaying, though the method of both differs. In the case of a normal picture, it is captured (in the form of drawing) on a material surface, (page, wall, etc.) which allows one to view it whenever one wishes. Similar is the case of a digital photo. The image is first captured, stored, and thereafter displayed on the screen. Hence, one is able to view the digital picture whenever one wishes. The only difference is that through modern day technology, the formation and capturing process takes place in rapid succession. The pixels and rays of light are used to form picture after picture within seconds. However, the focal point is that the second picture only appears after the first picture disappears. Each person understands that these pictures had to be created in order to appear on the screen. Therefore, digital photography will be regarded as a picture immaterial of the process of formation or the duration of time that it remains on the screen.


4. Resembling the creation of Allah Ta’ala

The fourth way for one to understand that digital photography is the same as a normal picture is that Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has explained in his Mubaarak Ahaadith that the underlying factor for the prohibition of normal pictures is مضاهاة لخلق الله(the one drawing an animate object is resembling Allah Ta’ala in the power of creation). Hence, wherever this factor is found the prohibition will apply. As it applies in the case of a normal picture, then why should it not apply to digital pictures? In fact, this factor is found in a digital picture to a greater extent. One is able to view the picture in motion which seems so real to the onlooker.


The prohibition of drugs in Islam


One could argue that digital photography did not exist in the Mubaarak era of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), hence it is not a picture and thus permissible. The answer to this is that there are various types of drugs available which never existed in the Mubaarak era of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). However, the Fuqahaa have declared them as haraam. This raises the question that: “On what basis did the Fuqahaa declare them as impermissible?” It is obvious that the Fuqahaa examined the properties and nature of drugs. After a thorough examination they ascertained that the property of iskaar (intoxication) found in liquid intoxicants such as khamr (wine), etc., is also found in drugs. Hence, the law of prohibition that applies to liquid intoxicants will also apply to drugs.

Furthermore, though drugs never existed in the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), they will still be impermissible since they fall within the general application of the following Hadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam):

كل مسكر حرام

All intoxicants are haraam”.

Since the underlying reason for liquid intoxicants being haraam is found in drugs, the same rule applies to the latter. Similarly, though digital photography never existed in the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), it will still be impermissible. The reason for being prohibited is that the factor of prohibition found in normal pictures i.e. مضاهاة لخلق الله (the one drawing an animate object is resembling Allah Ta’ala in the power of creation) is also found in digital photography. Hence, digital photography will also be impermissible. Furthermore, the Hadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam): كل مصور في النار (“Every picture maker will be in the fire of Jahannum”) which applies to picture making will also apply to digital photography of animate objects.


Second Objection

One could say that digital photos differ from conventional photos since these pictures have neither substance nor stability as opposed to a normal picture! This argument is incorrect. What is it that appears on the screen? Is it not a picture? It is obvious that it is the picture of an object that was captured prior to it appearing on the screen. The only difference that exists between the two is the manner and process in which they are preserved and stored. When Allah Ta’ala and Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) have declared pictures as haraam, then the manner and method of producing the picture will not bring about any change to the law. The argument that “in order for it to be a picture it has to have substance and stability” is not substantiated from any clear nass (textual proof, viz. Qur’aan and Hadith). Hence, how could one rely upon mere assumptions which do not conform to the general Ahaadith which clearly state that all animate pictures are impermissible, and that the one who indulges in this falls within the ambit of the curse of Allah Ta’ala and Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is reported to have said:

إن أشد الناس عذابا عند الله يوم القيامة المصورون (صحيح البخاري2/880)

Those involved in picture-making will be subjected to the worst forms of punishment on the day of Qiyaamah.” (Bukhari 2/880)


The main argument in favour of the permissibility of digital photography is that it is not a drawing or an image in itself. Rather it is the combination of numerous pixels that appear as an image.

If this is accepted, what will be the ruling with regard to the following situation:

An artist has thousands of pieces of paper in all colours. Each piece of paper is no bigger than the size of a little dot. He now painstakingly arranges the dots on a flat surface in such a manner that creates a clear image of a human being. The dots, or little pieces of paper, are themselves disjointed. They have merely been placed next to each other in a particular sequence, thereby creating the image. These disjointed pieces are then “saved” by carefully placing a glass over them. Any person with the slightest understanding will agree that this certainly constitutes “picture making.” Digital photography does the same. It could be said that when the image is not reflected on the screen, it does not appear as an image anywhere. However, when one clicks on the “open image” command, one has done exactly what the artist has done in hours of painstaking effort. Both have combined numerous dots to create an image. The artist did it manually over many hours while the next person did it in a second with the use of technology.


Supporting arguments

Halaal and Haraam

The Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) teaches us that whenever one is faced with a doubt between something being Halaal and haraam, one should adopt the path of caution and refrain from it. This is highlighted in the following Ahaadith:

عن أبي الحوارء السعدي قال قلت للحسن بن علي ما حفظت من رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم ؟ قال حفظت من رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم دع ما يريبك إلى مالا يريبك فإن الصدق طمأنينة وإن الكذب ريبة (جامع الترمذي 2/78)

Hasan (Radiyallahu Anhu) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “Abandon that which puts you into doubt and adopt that which does not create any doubt. For verily truth is a source of solace and falsehood is a source of doubt (hence if something creates doubt, it is most likely that some element of falsehood exists therein).”

عن النعمان بن بشير قال سمعته يقول سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول وأهوى النعمان بإصبعيه إلى أذنيه إن الحلال بين وإن الحرام بين وبينهما مشتبهات لا يعلمهن كثير من الناس فمن اتقى الشبهات استبرأ لدينه وعرضه ومن وقع في الشبهات وقع في الحرام (صحيح لمسلم 2/28 )

It is reported from Nu‘maan bin Bashir (Radiyallahu Anhu) that once while pointing towards his ears he said “I had personally heard Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) saying: “Halaal is clear and haraam is clear. Between them are unclear and doubtful things. Many people are unconcerned about these things. The one who refrains from unclear and doubtful things safeguards his Deen and secures his respect in society. The one who gets involved in doubtful things eventually falls into haraam”.

This principle is explained in the books of Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh). A person has a glass of water which he intends drinking. However, five people claim that one teaspoon of urine had been added to the water whilst another ten people claim that no urine had been added to the water. What will one do in such a situation? Will one drink the water? One will certainly exercise caution and refrain from such water due to the doubt which was created. Similar is the case of digital photography. To the layman it is no different to any other photography. Even the experts call it a picture. As for picture making, numerous Ahaadith prohibit it. The four Imaams of Fiqh have declared it impermissible in the light of the Ahaadith. The six famous Imaams of Hadith (Imaam Bukhari, Imaam Muslim, Imaam Abu Dawood, Imaam Tirmizi, Imaam Nasaai and Imaam Ibnu Maajah رحمة الله عليهم all have included the Ahaadith prohibiting picture making in their compilations. Imaam Bukhari رحمة الله عليه has dedicated ten chapters in his masterpiece “Sahih Al-Bukhari” towards explaining the severity and admonitions of picture making. Thus, even if some Ulama declare it permissible, the dictates of caution is that one should refrain from it.


Deeni expediency demands closing the doors

Several proofs have already been explained in detail, which clearly explain the impermissibility of digital photography. On the contrary, some Ulama declare digital photography to be permissible. However, they restrict its permissibility to viewing photos and images of things that Shari’ah allows one to view in real life. As for that which is impermissible to see in real life, such as ghair mahram women, nudity, etc., viewing digital photos of such things is impermissible according to them as well.

For a moment, let us accept the view of those who declare digital photography as permissible on the basis that the image produced is not a picture. Despite this, there is an established principle of Shari‘ah called “sad-duz-zaraai‘” or “sad-dan-lil baab” (closing the door) which demands that digital photography must still be declared as impermissible. There are many instances where technically something is permissible, but due to compelling external factors, it is declared impermissible.

For instance, consider the example of the television. There are certain pictures and scenes that appear which are permissible for one to view, such as pictures of inanimate objects, e.g. plants, trees, mountains and beautiful sceneries etc. However since this (viewing inanimate objects on the television) will lead one towards getting involved in viewing the impermissible, the verdict of general prohibition is issued and the doors are completely closed. Hence, buying, selling and viewing television are all impermissible.

In the like manner, if digital photography is technically regarded as permissible, there are compelling external factors that demand that it should be declared impermissible based on the principle of “sad-dan-lil baab” (closing the door). The gross abuse and the abundant vice that are linked to digital photography via the cell-phone, television, internet, etc., are sufficient grounds to close the door.


Controlling the masses

After declaring digital photography as permissible, it is practically impossible to thereafter attempt to control the masses and stop them from exceeding the limits. Instead, declaring its permissibility will only widen the doors of fitnah. Until now, generally the masses who were committing vices and sins through these mediums regarded their actions as impermissible. Once they learn that digital photography is permissible they will trivialize the sin and attribute it to Islam. They will believe that Islam promotes digital photography, so whatever we are viewing is endorsed by Islam. Furthermore, the masses generally do not possess the potential to discern and differentiate between right and wrong. If the matter is left to their personal discretion, they will not only view such pictures that the Ulama declare as permissible, instead, they will start viewing the impermissible under the name of Islam. It all starts with taking pictures of animate objects, thereafter it progresses to a little news and sports, and the next thing you know, it ends up with a “bit” of movies. One would no longer require a television to commit those heinous sins as he would be able to easily perpetrate them via the internet or cell-phone. Hence, broadcasters that operate in the name of Islam such as Islam channel etc., even broadcast “Islamic movies”, talk shows where even women appear etc. All the viewers engage in the zina of the eyes and become the targets of la‘nat (the curse of Allah Ta’ala), as described in the Hadith. The notion that “if the general masses are clearly explained the ruling, they will automatically remain within the boundaries of Deen and refrain from transgressing the limits” is very far from reality. The obligation rests on the shoulders of the Ulama to protect the parameters and boundaries of Shari’ah. Anything that may lead to the boundaries and limits of Deen being compromised should be prohibited. Hence, we understand that the expediency of Deen demands that we close the doors entirely and we do not leave it to the discretion of the masses to differentiate and discern between what should be viewed and what should not be viewed.


The temperament of Deen

Legalising digital photography will effectively open the door to unrestricted evil and uncontrollable immorality. This will lead to the moral and spiritual degeneration of the Muslim ummah. It is well known that most people are driven by human temptations and worldly interests. This tendency will eventually lead them to utilize digital photography as a means of fulfilling their carnal desires and worldly interests. Thus, we witness that whenever a conflicting situation of choosing between Deen and dunya arises, most people compromise their Deeni obligations on account of worldly interests. Hence, in view of the evil repercussions and disastrous consequences, we understand that permitting digital photography is undoubtedly not in keeping to the temperament of Deen.


Marrying the Ahle Kitaab (Jews and Christians)

During the khilaafat of Hadhrat Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu), Hadhrat Huzaifah (Radiyallahu Anhu) was appointed as the governor over Madaa’in. When Hadhrat Huzaifah (Radiyallahu Anhu) reached Madaa’in he married a woman from the Ahle Kitaab. No sooner did Hadhrat Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) learn about it, he wrote a letter to Hadhrat Huzaifah (Radiyallahu Anhu) commanding him to divorce her. Hadhrat Huzaifah (Radiyallahu Anhu) wrote back asking Hadhrat Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) whether he regarded marrying women from the Ahle Kitaab as haraam. Hadhrat Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) explained: “I do not regard marrying women from the Ahle Kitaab as haraam (since the Qur’aan allows it), but I command you to divorce her as soon as you read my letter.” Hadhrat Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) then explained that the reason for him discouraging Hadhrat Huzaifah (Radiyallahu Anhu) from marrying their women was due to them lacking purity, modesty and morality. If the Muslims were to begin marrying them, there was a potential danger that their evil habits and shameless ways would enter the homes of Muslims. In some narrations, it is reported that Hadhrat Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) also told him that due to him being the governor of that place, if he married their women, the Muslims of that area would emulate him, as it is natural that people are inclined to adopt the ways of their leaders. Hadhrat Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) further explained that due to the beauty and fair complexion found in the Syrian (Ahle Kitaab) women, the Muslims would prefer them over the Muslim women. If this were to happen, who will marry the Muslim women? The unmarried Muslim women will face hardship and difficulty in their Deen and subsequently this will lead to fitnah in the ummah.

Look at the marvellous foresight and unique vision of Hadhrat Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu). May Allah Ta’ala reward him abundantly on behalf of the entire ummah. He practically demonstrated through his words and actions the parameters and boundaries of Deen as well as its temperament and spirit. Although, it was permissible for Hadhrat Huzaifah (Radiyallahu Anhu) to marry the Ahle Kitaab woman as is categorically stated in the verse of the Holy Qur’aan, however, in view of the evil repercussions and disastrous consequences, not marrying them was preferred as this was in keeping to the spirit and temperament of Deen. Hence, we conclude that the permissibility of an action does not necessarily mean that it is something that is desired and preferred, due to it not conforming to the temperament of Deen. [11]


Performing Salaah in “Jammie’s”

The “temperament” of Deen is clearly understood in other aspects of Deen. Consider the example of an Imaam who has been appointed to lead the Salaah in a Musjid. If the Imaam comes to perform the Salaah only wearing a piece of cloth which covers the area from the navel till beneath the knee (e.g. Jammie’s), will this conduct be acceptable? Though we all agree that the salaah performed with this amount of clothing is valid, yet we will vehemently object, knowing well that such a Salaah is inconsistent with the temperament and spirit of Deen (the Sunnah). Certainly, Salaah in jammie’s was not the gift for which Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) miraculously journeyed to the seven heavens.


Women in the Musjid

Another glaring example to illustrate the parameters and temperament of Deen is that of women performing Salaah in the Musjid. In the Mubaarak era of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), women were allowed to attend the congregational prayer in the Musjid. However, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) encouraged them to perform their Salaah in their homes. Consider the following Hadith:

عن عبد الله (رضى الله عنه) عن النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم قال صلاة المرءة في بيتها أفضل من صلاتها في حجرتها و صلاتها في مخدعها أفضل من صلاتها في بيتها (سنن أبي داود 1/91، مكتبة حقانية)

Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “The Salaah of a woman in her room is more rewarding than the Salaah in her outer room, and the Salaah in the chamber of her room is more rewarding than the Salaah in her room.” (Abu Dawood 1/91)

Later on, in the era of Hadhrat Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu), on account of the fitnah prevalent, the women were prevented from attending the congregational prayer in the Musjid.

عن عمرة بنت عبد الرحمن أنها سمعت عائشة زوج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم تقول لو أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم رأى ما أحدث النساء لمنعهن المسجد كما منعت نساء بني إسرائيل قال فقلت لعمرة أنساء بني إسرائيل منعهن المسجد قالت نعم (صحيح لمسلم 1/183)

Aaisha رضي الله عنها said, “Had Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) witnessed the condition of the women and what they have initiated, he would have surely prevented them from attending the Musjid just as the women of the Bani Israaeel were prevented.” (Muslim 1/183)

Hadhrat Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) and Hadhrat ‘Aaisha رضي الله عنها understood Deen better than us. They understood that in the era of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) women were permitted to attend the congregational prayer due to the absence of any fitnah in the era of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). However, despite that, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) preferred women performing their salaah at home. On account of understanding the temperament of Deen, Hadhrat Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) and Hadhrat ‘Aaisha رضي الله عنها were convinced that had Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) been present at that time, he would have certainly not permitted the women to attend the congregational prayer. The Sahaabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) and the ummah present at that time wholeheartedly embraced the verdict of Hadhrat Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu).



Another common example illustrating the parameters and temperament of Deen is that of taqleed. All those who subscribe to following one of the four mazhabs agree that the injunction of following a specific Imaam or mazhab does not feature anywhere in the Qur’aan nor the Mubaarak Ahaadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). However, on account of the serious harms and the colossal confusion that general taqleed (i.e. randomly following any ruling of any Imaam) would create, the doors of general/unrestricted taqleed have been closed to the ummah and strictly following one of the four Imaams of fiqh in all masaa’il is regarded compulsory.

From the above-mentioned examples, it becomes completely evident that if the various other factors of impermissibility (as already detailed) were not applicable, the dictates of the “temperament” of Deen itself is a sufficient basis to render digital photography as impermissible.


Mass confusion in Deen

Another vital factor to consider on the issue of digital photography is that declaring it permissible, even by some Ulama, will certainly lead to confusion in the ummah. The reason is clear. Picture making is clearly prohibited in the Ahaadith. Conventional photography has been prohibited by all our Akaabir (elders) and Muftis. With this background, the declaration of digital photography as permissible is bound to confuse the masses. Moreover, the advancement in technology has placed a digital camera in the hand of almost every man, woman and child. The issue is therefore not restricted to a particular sector of society. Such a situation requires that extreme caution be exercised when considering any decree that will affect the established principles of Deen or change the current situation of the ummah.

The Ulama of the ummah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) are obligated to save the ummah from all those avenues that will lead them to ruin and destruction. Among the chief reasons for the previous nations being destroyed was internal differences and confusion.

أن عبد الله بن عمرو قال هجرت إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يوما قال فسمع أصوات رجلين اختلفا في آية فخرج علينا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يعرف في وجهه الغضب فقال إنما هلك من كان قبلكم باختلافهم في الكتاب (صحيح لمسلم 2/339)

Abdullah bin ‘Amr (Radiyallahu Anhu) said: “I once came to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). There were two men arguing regarding an Aayah of the Qur’aan. Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) heard their voices and emerged (from his home). The signs of anger were clearly noticeable on his Mubaarak face. He then said: “The people of the past were destroyed only on account of them differing in the book (their scriptures).” (Muslim 2/339)

Cancelling the intention of reconstructing the Ka‘bah Shareef due to the fear of confusion in the masses

عن عائشة رضي الله عنها قالت قال لي رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لولا حداثة قومك بالكفر لنقضت البيت ثم لبنيته على أساس إبراهيم عليه السلام فإن قريشا استقصرت بناءه وجعلت له خلفا قال أبو معاوية حدثنا هشام خلفا يعني بابا (صحيح البخاري 1/215)

Aaisha رضي الله عنهاreports that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “Had it not been that your people (Quraish) have only recently left disbelief, I would have demolished the Ka‘bah and reconstructed it upon the foundation of Ebrahim (Alayhis Salaam). The Quraish had downsized the building and made only one door.” (Bukhari 1/215)

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) expressed his desire to Hadhrat ‘Aaisha رضي الله عنهاto reconstruct the Ka‘bah Shareef exactly as it was constructed by Hadhrat Ebrahim (Alayhis Salaam). However, Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) did not embark on this, out of the fear that demolishing and reconstructing the Ka‘bah Shareef will lead to confusion amongst the people. In another narration it is reported that Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said to Hadhrat ‘Aaisha رضي الله عنها: “Had it not been that your people are new in Islam, I would have demolished the Ka‘bah and reconstructed it according to the construction of Hadhrat Ebrahim (Alayhis Salaam), but due to the fear that the people will say, ‘Yesterday Hadhrat Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) invited us to Islam and today he is demolishing the Ka‘bah Shareef,’ I am cancelling my intention”.

Consider the action of rebuilding the Ka‘bah Shareef. What a virtuous and praiseworthy (mustahab) deed it was. Yet Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) cancels his intention and leaves out this mustahab action on account of the confusion this action would have lead to among the people.

Similarly, the Ulama are duty bound to preserve and protect Deen in its pure and pristine form. They should not issue any verdict which will be a means of confusion among the masses. Permitting digital photography (with the host of vices that is connected to it) will only create “mass confusion” among the masses. Consider the following situation. A person asks whether it is permissible for him and his family to pose for a photograph. The clear answer will be: “NO, it is NOT permissible.” The next question he will ask is: “Can I take a picture of my family with my cell-phone and can I video them?” The answer will be, “Yes you can.” Likewise if somebody wants to take a photo of his buzurg and keep it in his photo album as a remembrance, he will be told it is not permissible. However, if he wishes to store it on his cell-phone or video the buzurg and view it whenever he wishes, he will be told it is permissible. The mass confusion that this will lead to is obvious.


General prohibition

The greatest and most virtuous deed in the sight of Allah Ta’ala is to preserve the divine Shari’ah of Islam in pure and pristine form. An action which in its individual capacity may be declared as permissible, however if it has the potential to lead to distortion or innovation in Deen, it will be ruled as impermissible. The Fuqahaa have gone to such lengths in preserving and securing the boundaries of Deen, that let alone a permissible act, even a mustahab act they have ruled as impermissible and should be omitted when it leads to the distortion of Deen.

Consider the customary practice of ‘meelaad and salaami’. These practices have mainly been prohibited by the Ulama due to the wrongs (bid’aat) that have become entrenched in them. Otherwise, ‘meelaad’ in its literal sense is permissible. Meelaad means to discuss the birth of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) as well as his Mubaarak life on the night he was born. There is no harm in this provided the limits of Shari’ah are maintained. Likewise, consider the case of ‘salaami’. ‘Salaami’ literally means to recite Durood and Salaam on Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Reciting Durood and Salaam upon Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is an extremely virtuous and meritorious act. However, due to the bid’aat that have been attached to the customary meelaad and salaami practices, the Ulama have declared them as impermissible. Nevertheless, once the ruling of prohibition is passed, the prohibition will apply to one and all. There will be no exclusions nor exceptions made for any specific person nor any specific type of meelaad or salaami function. Hence, when the ruling of impermissibility is issued on digital photography then there will be no exclusions nor exceptions made for any specific person or situation.


The general compulsion of donning the veil

Another similar issue is that of women donning the veil (niqaab). The Fuqahaa have ruled that it is compulsory for women to cover their faces on account of the fitnah of this age and time. Hence, covering the face is waajib for all baaligh women in all situations. If a woman has to consider herself exempt from following the law since she does not perceive any fear of falling into sin, she will still be sinful due to not practicing on the general rule which is applicable to everyone without exception. Accordingly, one should understand that when digital photography is ruled as impermissible (in order to close the doors of fitnah) on account of the limitless harms and evils related to it, this prohibition will be general without any exclusion. The prohibition will relate to the masses as well as to the Ulama.


Desecration of the symbols of Islam

The foundation of Islam rests upon the bedrock of respect and reverence. The topic of respect has been highlighted in the Qur’aan as well as in numerous Ahaadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Allah Ta’ala states in the Holy Qur’aan:

ذَٰلِكَ وَمَن يُعَظِّمْ شَعَائِرَ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّهَا مِن تَقْوَى الْقُلُوبِ

  “Whoever holds in honour the symbols of Allah Ta’ala, such (honour) comes truly from piety of the heart” (Surah Hajj, Aayah 32)

Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said:

عن عمرو بن شعيب عن أبيه عن جده قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم ليس منا من لم يرحم صغيرنا ويعرف شرف كبيرنا (ترمذي 2/14)

The one who does not show kindness to the young and does not respect the elderly is not from amongst us.” (Tirmizi 2/14)

From the afore-mentioned verse of the Holy Qur’aan and the Mubaarak Hadith of Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) one learns that respect (adab) is the corner stone of Islam.

As the famous proverb states; “The one who is respectful always remains successful, and the one who is disrespectful is always a failure”. Hence we understand that just as respect secures the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala and abundant rewards in the hereafter, accordingly disrespect earns one the wrath of Allah Ta’ala and severe punishment in the hereafter.

Allah Ta’ala has afforded exclusive positions and special ranks to specific places and symbols of Deen, such as the azaan, the Ka’bah Shareef, the Masaajid, the cities of Makkah Mukarramah and Madinah Tayyibah, etc. To respect these sacred symbols is an integral part of Islam while showing disregard to these salient features and sacred symbols leads to the demolition of one’s Deen.

It is indeed unfortunate and heartbreaking to find many Muslims openly desecrating these salient features and sacred symbols of Deen. Hence, we witness many people in the mubaarak cities of Makkah Mukarramah and Madinah Tayyibah, posing for a photo in the Musjid-e-Haraam before the Ka‘bah Shareef and the Rawdah Mubaarak of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). We can well imagine the extent of grief and pain that we are causing to our beloved Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) through such brazen disrespect. On the occasion of the conquest of Makkah, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) destroyed with his own mubaarak hands the statues of Ebrahim (Alayhis Salaam) and Ismail (Alayhis Salaam). [12]

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) resented picture making to such an extent that he was not prepared to enter his own home when he had seen the picture of an animate object hung up on the door of his home [13]. Yet today his ummah shows scant regard to his teachings and ignores the severe admonishments that have appeared in his Mubaarak Ahaadith (May Allah Ta’ala save us). Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has said:

قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إن أشد الناس عذابا عند الله يوم القيامة المصورون (صحيح البخاري2/880, صحيح لمسلم 2/201)

Those involved in picture-making will be subjected to the worst forms of punishment on the day of Qiyaamah.” (Bukhari 2/880, Muslim 2/201)


Can the television be used for Deeni purposes?

Hadhrat Mufti Taqi Uthmani Sahib’s fatwa on television

It is evident regarding digital media in the form of television, etc., that it is giving rise to immorality, shamelessness, vice, violence and evil character through the various programs appearing on it. Further, it is quite difficult to find such programs that are free from any irreligious aspects. Moreover, it is almost impossible for a person to have a television at home without being affected by such evils. Therefore, in such circumstances, one should not keep a television. [14]

Hadhrat Mufti Rafee’ Uthmani Sahib’s fatwa on television

It is not permissible to keep the television in the homes, looking at the contemporary circumstances. This is due to the reason that every broadcasting channel, as we all know, in this day and age, includes programs and episodes that are not void of religiously impermissible matters such as music, singing, nudity, exposure, mockery and other traits of transgression and sin. It is impossible for the user to refrain from the prohibitions in this widespread system. This is also because, many things that are broadcast in between a permissible program, contain prohibited matters, in commercials and advertisements etc. [15]


The opinion of Hadhrat Moulana Yusuf Binnori رحمة الله عليه on television

During the last meeting of the Pakistan Islamic Council that Allamah Yusuf Binnori رحمة الله عليه attended, Hadhrat was asked to appear on television. He declined. Later Hadhrat was asked whether films could be used for the propagation of Deen, provided that all immorality and factors that destroy character are removed. Upon this, Hadhrat Moulana رحمة الله عليه expounded on a principle of Deen, the gist of which is:

“I wish to share with you a principle issue. We have not been obligated by Allah Ta’ala to use every possible means, whether permissible or impermissible, for the tableegh of Deen. Instead, we are required to use all our energies and resources to propagate Deen only using permissible means and methods.

Together with the injunction of tableegh, Islam has also laid down guidelines and principles for tableegh. We are thus obligated to conduct our tableegh within this framework.

If we are successful in our efforts after following the guidelines and principles, then indeed, we have achieved our ultimate goal and objective. If our efforts were unfruitful, but we had adopted the permissible methods and means, we will not be compelled to further our tableegh by using every possible and available means, be it permissible or impermissible.

If even one person is blessed with guidance after using the permissible means, then undoubtedly our tableegh was successful. However, if on the other hand, scores and droves of people embrace Islam on account of us adopting impermissible methods and means, then this holds no value in the sight of Allah Ta’ala.

How can success ever be achieved when we have transgressed the bounds of Shari‘ah? Rather than it being the tableegh of Deen, it would be the tableegh of something else.

Photography inherently contradicts the injunctions of Islam. Therefore, we will not be compelled to utilise it as a tool for tableegh. If a person is prepared to accept Islam through our invitation via permissible methods and means, then we will definitely be grateful and pleased. However, for those who are not prepared to do so and wish to accept our invitation only by means of the television, then we regret that we will have to be excused.

If this stance is not adopted today, then the television will be a tool for tableegh now, but in time to come, be-hijaab (unveiled) women would be used for this purpose, and an effort will be made to use immoral gatherings of music and dancing, etc., to invite people to Deen.

In this way, in the name of tableegh we will be guilty of gradually violating the laws of Islam.” [16]


Fatwa of Moulana Yusuf Ludhyaanwi رحمة الله عليه

Hadhrat Moulana Yusuf Ludhyaanwi رحمة الله عليه writes:

Although the photos captured by video or television equipment are not visible (like a normal printed picture), but they are stored, and displayed on a television set.

These pictures cannot be excluded from the hukm of tasweer.

The most that can be said is that instead of the olden method of picture-making, technological advancement has brought about a new means of picture-making.

When Shari‘ah has declared picture-making  as haraam, then no matter which methods or means are invented, Tasweer will remain haraam.

The humble of opinion of this servant is that in hand-drawn pictures those evil are not found which are found in video and tv… because of the television and videos every home has been transformed into a cinema…

Does this make sense that on the one hand Shari‘ah declares hand-drawn pictures as haraam, and the picture maker as mal’oon and warns him of “ashad-dun naasi azaaban yowmal qiyaamah”, but on the other hand declares Halaal this ‘storm of immorality and indecency’ known as TV?

As for the claim made by some that there is some benefit therein, so I ask:

“Are there no benefits in intoxicants, pork, interest and gambling?” But the Qur’aan Shareef has put a cross on all these benefits by announcing “wa ithmuhumaa akbaru min naf’ihimaa”.

Some say that through TV and videos we will propagate and spread Islam.

In our country there are Deeni programmes on TV, but, with due respect, may I ask:

How many non-muslims have accepted Islam by viewing these Deeni programmes?

How many bê-namaazi’s began performing Salaat because of these programmes?

How many sinners have made taubah because of these programmes?

This is nothing but deception.

This instrument of immorality and sin, which is ‘najisul ayn’ from head to toe, which is mal’oon, the one who makes it is mal’oon in Dunya and Akhirat, how will it assist in spreading Deen?….

As for those who say that so-and-so says this and so-and-so does that, this is not a daleel of jawaaz (permissibility) for us.

Wallahu a’lam

(Moulana) Muhammad Yusuf

20 Zhul Qa’dah 1406


(Mufti) Ihsaanullah Shaa’iq, Darul Iftaa wal Irshaad, Naazimabad, Karachi 16 jumaadal Ukhraa 1425

Al Jawaab Saheeh  (Mufti) Muhammad  16/06/1425

Al Jawaab Saheeh (Mufti) Saeedullah  16/06/1425


An interview with Hadhrat Mufti Taqi Uthmani Sahib

The following is a report of an interview conducted with Hadhrat Mufti Taqi Sahib:

Recently, a young professional in the U.S. approached the prominent Muslim scholar and Deputy Chairman of the Jeddah based Islamic Fiqh Council of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), (Justice) Mufti Taqi Uthmani to inquire about his profession. He produced computer graphics for the television and motion picture industry. “This is the age of the media, and the only effective way to spread Islam today is through television and movies” he argued. “If we do not learn the trade, how will we be able to produce such programs? If we don’t produce such programs, who will?” he inquired. Yet, some people had told him that it was not a good profession.

“I have given a lot of deep thought to this issue,” replied (Justice) Mufti Uthmani in his characteristic measured tone, weighing every word. “I have reached the conclusion that the cause of Islam cannot be served through television, especially under the current circumstances. You should seek another line of work.” [17]


Few important points to consider

  1. Some Ulama feel that through the TV we will be able to reach out to the masses around the globe. However, we should understand that just as we are trying to promote our beliefs and ways, other baatil (deviated) sects such as Shias, Qaadiyaanis, Barelwis, Salafees and others are also using the same channels to promote their beliefs and ways. The general public is normally impressed and is influenced by the style of oration and presentation. Most people who own a TV switch channels and watch anything and everything. There are many examples where people’s aqeedah and beliefs were affected after watching the programmes of Shias, Qaadiyaanis, etc. Many watched live debates between some baatil sect and an Aalim of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah resulting in them being influenced towards the baatil simply on the basis of the style of oration and the presentation of the Ahle-baatil as opposed to the Ahle-Haq. These are not isolated cases. Thus, the entire exercise was counterproductive.
  2. Through the Ulama appearing on TV the masses will associate the TV to Deen. It is not farfetched that gradually the TV will be brought into the Masaajid. (As is has already entered certain Masaajid). The severity and gravity of the sin of picture making which was in the hearts of the Muslim Ummah at one time (even those who were far and distant from Deen) will no longer remain and the situation will reach the point of istihlaal (i.e. regarding this to be completely halaal and not regarding photography to be a sin at all). Hence what will be the condition of the Imaan of such people who regard picture making to be totally permissible in Islam?
  3. Just as it not permissible for men to view na-mahram women, similarly it is not permissible for women to view na-mahram men. Through the Ulama promoting Deen via the TV, they will be viewed by women.  It is most likely that the majority of viewers are women. Even if they are not in the majority, a very large number are nevertheless women. One should ponder whether it will be permissible for the women to look at the Aalim delivering the talk on TV? If it is not permissible, then how will the women be stopped from looking at the Aalim? Will the Aalim repeatedly announce that it is not permissible for women to look at him?
  4. Those Ulama who make a distinction between digital photography and conventional photography base their argument upon the fact that in the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) the prohibition of picture making applied to a picture which had a physical form and remained existent all the time (on a paper, wall or any other object) whereas the images appearing through digital photography do not have any physical form. Hence, the prohibition that came from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) regarding pictures does not apply to this modern day invention. However, confining the prohibition of picture making to this definition is nowhere to be found in the Ahaadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Thus how can one on the basis of a definition coined long after the era of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) be able to exclude the digital picture from the ambit of the prohibition of picture making? On the contrary, in many Ahaadith, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) explained the main factor and cause for picture making being forbidden in Islam, i.e. resembling Allah Ta’ala in the act of creation. All the Ulama of the past accept that this is the underlying factor for the prohibition of picture making, as is clearly established from the Ahaadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). In a digital picture the same factor is glaringly evident.


Opinion of Hadhrat Moulana Yunus Patel Saheb رحمة الله عليه regarding the influence of television

One of the many Sunnats of the Ambiyaa عليهم السلام is that of hayaa – shame and modesty: a quality which is sorely missing in the lives of the majority of Muslims today and which should otherwise be an outstanding characteristic and feature of all Muslims, whether married or unmarried.

Television is such an evil that if our society only understood its reality, then they would find no excuse to watch. Its spiritual harm is that it takes away the hayaa and shame of our men, women and children.

The content of most television programmes is nothing but immodesty and indecency, which invites nothing but immodesty and indecency – into our homes, into our lives and the lives of our children.

However, this truth and reality seems to just pass over the understanding of even those Muslims who have some link with Deen. Many are regular with Salaah, they are seen in the Musjid, they are wearing the garb of the pious and yet they will be the ones to present flimsy and feeble excuses to view television programmes.

Let us consider this situation of sin from the following view – which Alhamdulillah, has been a means of many getting rid of the television.

  • If a person has to knock on your door and tell you: ‘I would like to use your lounge to commit adultery.’
  • Or a group of some friends have to request you: ‘We would like to use your home to gamble and enjoy our liquor.’
  • Or a group of youngsters have to tell you: ‘We have chosen your home as a venue for our partying, dancing, drug-taking and fornicating.’
  • Or a Christian family has to request you: ‘We would like to use your home as a venue for our church ceremony. The marriage of our daughter as well as the baptism of our grandchild. We have already obtained the consent of one of our priests.’
  • Or some idol-worshippers have to suggest: ‘We would like to carry out some of our religious rites in your home. We would like to bring our idols also. You are more than welcome to observe or participate in our rites. ’

Many Muslims, on hearing such requests, will get very angry; will express disgust – if not swear and curse such suggestions.

However, these very same Muslims who will even resort to swearing and cursing such proposals, invite into their homes all of the above by the switch of the television, by hiring English and Hindi films and DVDs and downloading porn and other films from the internet. There is so much of adultery, partying and other filth that we seem to just welcome into our homes – least realizing the consequences.

Just to give you one example and this is but the tip of the iceberg – and it is said with the intention of removing the blindfold that most parents wear:

A father of four children mentioned to me that he had got rid of his television and he thereafter explained why. He said that late one night he heard strange noises from his children’s room. On opening the door of their room, he found their television switched on. […This is our concept of modesty: parents must have their own television, to view all kinds of filthy programmes in their privacy, and children must have their own television to view all kinds of indecency in their privacy (Na’oozu Billah).]

The father mentioned that there were dirty and obscene scenes of naked people on the television screen. He mentioned that it was filthy and that it shocked him; but what had him even more shaken was that his children were all undressed, engaging in the same kind of indecent acts. They were imitating the pornography they were viewing. He said himself, that until then he had not considered the harm of television. It took this kind of incident to wake him up. …This is just one example of so many. Do we wish to face something similar?

…Do we care to even know what our sons and daughters are doing in the secrecy of their rooms? The fact that many demand that no one ‘invade’ their space and privacy to the extent of having ‘No Entry’ signs on their doors, should have parents a little more than worried…  especially if they are viewing television and are surfing the net or have free access with cell phones.

Many have written, that after watching certain films or programmes, the desire came strongly into their hearts to take drugs, drink liquor, murder their parents, indulge in homosexuality, engage in adulterous relationships, commit suicide, rape, and so much else – and many of them do so.

Moreover, with sins like television and evil, lustful glancing, Allah Ta’ala removes the love between husband and wife and even ones children become disobedient.

There are many husbands who entertain thoughts of and fantasize of other women when with their wives. And they will when they are watching different actresses and television presenters. Many wives are guilty of the same infidelity having seen or socialized with ghair-mahaarim. Many women are so infatuated and obsessed with some soccer player or cricket player that they become dissatisfied with their husbands, and spend their time fantasizing.

Had the person not viewed all those ghair-mahaarim on the television screen and computer screen, and had lowered his gaze in real life situations, then he would not have desired that which he cannot have, and there would not have been dissatisfaction with his (or her) spouse.

Moreover we complain: There is no barkat in our homes; there is no barkat in our wealth; there is no barkat in our time. Our children are rebellious. The husband is having an extra-marital relationship. The daughter has accepted Christianity. The son is on drugs … and the list of complaints does not end.

Then who is to blame except the one who brought all of this haraam into the home by purchasing the television and exposing the family to so much of sin.

…Great Ulama became bay’at upon the hands of Moulana Hakeem Fakhrudeen رحمة الله عليه. He mentioned that there was a time, that with the rising and setting of the sun, he saw nothing but noor in Surat. The atmosphere was one of noor. The day commenced with Salaah, Tilaawat, Zikrullah…

After the cinemas and television and videos flooded Surat, there was nothing but ‘zulmat’ – darkness. With the distraction of such entertainment, Ibaadah becomes a forgotten duty.

One Wali of Allah Ta’ala, on visiting a home, mentioned that he perceived the sin of Zina (adultery) from the walls of that home. He was able to recognize this due to the purity of his heart. The residents of that home were not indulging in adultery but they were watching the sin on television.

When fire burns against a white wall, it blackens the wall. The Ahle-Dil, with their purified hearts, see the fire of sins which has burnt and blackened the white hearts of the Muslims.

We should take lesson and take measures to protect ourselves and our children.[18]

Way Forward

Which differences are accommodated in Deen?

The general misconception amongst the masses is that Deeni differences among the Ulama on any matter creates leniency and concessions in Deen. Therefore, one is free to practice on any view one is inclined to. In support of this, the differences which existed among the Sahaabah, Taabi’een and the four mazhabs of Fiqh are cited as glaring examples to illustrate the vast accommodation Deen provides for differences of opinion in Deeni matters. Perhaps the statement of Umar ibnu Abdul Aziz رحمة الله عليه would also be quoted:

اختلاف أصحاب محمد رحمة للأمة

The differences among the Sahaabah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) were a source of mercy for the ummah’.

However, it must be clearly understood that any and every difference does not create leniency or is acceptable. If a new sect appears with the idea that usury and interest is totally Halaal or that only three Salaah are compulsory instead of five or instead of discharging two and half percent Zakaat one should discharge only one percent, such differences will be rejected. Hence, we understand that the Hadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) should be understood in the correct context. The difference which will be accommodated in Deen is that difference which is governed by Deen and based on Fiqhi (juristic) principles. The differences among the four mazhabs all stem from the Qur’aan and Hadith. Every Imaam has sufficient substantiation for his view. This was also the nature of the difference amongst the Sahaabah and Taabi‘een.

As far as digital photography is concerned, there are no substantial grounds to prove its permissibility, neither from the Qur’aan and Hadith nor from the four Imaams of Fiqh. Instead, the general Ahaadith, mazhabs of Sahaabah, Taabi’een and the four Imaams are general in regard to all picture making being haraam. Hence, this type of difference is not one of leniency and concession as compared to the differences that existed between the four mazhabs.


Merit of argument

Differences of opinion among the Ulama and learned scholars existed in every era of Islamic history. Whenever a difference arose in regard to any mas’alah (issue), each scholar debated it on the merit of the argument and endeavoured to establish the reality. The conflicting views on the issue were weighed on the scale of the Sunnah. The basis of preferring a specific viewpoint always revolved around “the merit of the argument” and not “the merit of the scholar”. Hence, we find that despite knowing the verdicts of great scholars such as Imaam Shaafi‘ee, Imaam Ahmad and Imaam Maalik رحمة الله عليهم, a Hanafi scholar still gives preference to the verdict of Imaam Abu Hanifah رحمة الله عليه due to him regarding it closer to the Sunnah. The same applies to the scholars of each mazhab in relation to their Imaam. Hence, we understand that establishing the Haq was always based on “the merit of the argument” and not “the merit of the scholar”. The criteria for acceptance in the court of Allah Ta’ala is the Sunnah. The one who firmly latches on to the Sunnah is rightly guided. In the past, there were many glaring examples of learned scholars having erred in a few issues or of an oversight occurring in their judgement. It is for this very reason that Hadhrat Mu‘aaz (Radiyallahu Anhu) cautioned the ummah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) about the errors of the learned people. He once addressed the people thus:

فإياكم وما ابتدع فإن ما ابتدع ضلالة وأحذركم زيغة الحكيم فإن الشيطان قد يقول كلمة الضلالة على لسان الحكيم وقد يقول المنافق كلمة الحق. قال قلت لمعاذ ما يدرينى رحمك الله أن الحكيم قد يقول كلمة الضلالة وأن المنافق قد يقول كلمة الحق قال بلى اجتنب من كلام الحكيم المشتهرات التي يقال لها ما هذه ولا يثنينك ذلك عنه فإنه لعله أن يراجع وتلق الحق إذا سمعته فإن على الحق نورا (سنن أبي داود 2/632)

Beware of such people who bring about innovations in Deen. Innovations in Deen are clear misguidance. I further warn you against the error of a wise man (righteous guided Aalim). For indeed, Shaitaan at times causes a wise person (righteous guided Aalim) to utter a word of misguidance and a hypocrite can utter a word of truth.” (Yazeed says that) I then asked Mu‘aaz (Radiyallahu Anhu), “How will I be able to distinguish the misguidance uttered by a wise person (righteous guided Aalim) and the truth spoken by a hypocrite?” Mu‘aaz (Radiyallahu Anhu) replied, “Yes undoubtedly, refrain from (following) such statements of the wise person (righteous guided Aalim) which when it is circulated among the people it becomes a target of objection (among the learned scholars). However, this should not divert you from him (righteous guided Aalim) for it is possible that he will retract. Furthermore, accept the truth whenever you hear it for indeed the truth is accompanied with noor (Divine light).” (Abu Dawood 2/632)


Exercising caution in the matters of Deen

From the aforementioned statement of Hadhrat Mu‘aaz (Radiyallahu Anhu) we understand that at times great personalities can err just as misguided people sometimes utter some words of wisdom. How will one come to know that a great personality has slipped or has erred in his ruling? The answer to this question is found in the words of Hadhrat Mu‘aaz (Radiyallahu Anhu), that “the statement that becomes a target of objection among the people”. In other words, the statement that creates an uproar among people and they begin to comment in utter amazement and surprise: “Did you hear what so and so has said?” or “Is this fatwa correct and established from the Qur’aan and Sunnah?” In such a case, one will understand that the verdict opposes the mainstream view of the rightly guided Ulama.

However, the issue at hand is how does one manage such a situation? The answer to this question is that one will need to strike a balance and exercise extreme caution. He will not abandon the great personality on account of his misjudgement in one mas’alah, nor will he follow him in the issue that he has erred in. Instead, he will follow him in other masaa’il and hold him in high esteem for the many great services he has rendered for Deen.


The statement of Hadhrat Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri رحمة الله عليه regarding photography

Moulana Sayyid Ahmad Ridha Bijnori رحمة الله عليهwrites regarding Hadhrat Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri رحمة الله عليه:

“In my opinion Hadhrat’s most outstanding feature was his exceptional firmness on the path of the Salaf. Despite his vast knowledge, extensive research and in-depth study – in my opinion there was no book in the libraries of India and the Haramain Shareefain, whether still as manuscripts or published, that had not been studied by Shah Sahib رحمة الله عليهyet he would never be prepared to digress from the maslak of the Salaf in even the smallest of masaa’il.

You would be aware that almost all the Ulama of Egypt permit photography. Allamah Tantaawi presented all the proofs for its permissibility in his tafseer. When I studied his proofs presented in his mesmerising and captivating approach, I was convinced that after studying it Hadhrat Shah Sahib would indicate towards its permissibility even if the slightest degree of permissibility could be extracted from it. However, what was Shah Sahib’s answer? Hadhrat’s only answer was:


This does not conform to the verdict of our senior Ulama.

i.e. the verdict of permissibility of photography opposes the four great Imaams of fiqh. The value of this statement can never be explained. About 28 years have passed since this discussion took place, yet when I recall this statement I ask myself, ‘What did Hadhrat رحمة الله عليه say?’ Many Ulama in India were influenced by the article of Allamah Tantaawi and had views of permissibility in mind.

Be that as it may, but Hadhrat’s comprehensive and complete answer is most sufficient and all-encompassing. It is totally impossible to express due appreciation to this statement, for it did not only answer my question but, it served as a guide for others as well, that whenever any such perplexity arises in a mas’alah then simply ask yourself, ‘What was the opinion of our senior Ulama?’” [19]



After studying the statements of the great Fuqaha and the quotations of our Akaabir, we understand that photography in whichever form it may be is totally prohibited and impermissible in Islam. Hence, its usage for ‘Deeni’ purposes does not warrant permissibility and legitimacy. May Allah Ta`ala accept this humble effort and guide us all to the correct path. Aameen.


The disastrous consequence of legalising photography (by Hazrat Moulana Yunus Patel Sahib رحمة الله عليه)

One of the greatest calamities of our times is the abuse of the camera.

In this day and age, with the easy availability of cell-phones, digital cameras, camcorders, etc. everyone seems to be in possession of a tool which has created an upheaval in mischief. How many have had their names dragged through the mud or have been black-mailed, slandered or left humiliated and disgraced due to photographs taken and then circulated?

Photography is an evil, which has been entirely misjudged and under-estimated.

Just recently, a brother related a dream to me, requesting an interpretation. I interpreted his dream saying: ‘It seems as if movies are being viewed in the Musjid.’

Within a matter of days, the interpretation was made apparent. We had a visiting ‘Aalim give a talk in our Musjid. I was sitting on a chair, near the front, when I observed three young boys very absorbed with their cell phones. I requested a friend to go to the back of the Musjid and see what they were up to. He observed that they were viewing some film with dirty, indecent pictures. إنا لله و إنا إليه راجعون We give our children high-technology at the expense of hayaa (modesty), Deen and Imaan.

One is to have no shame and commit sins in the presence of Allah Ta`ala, but increasing in shamelessness is when one is brazen enough to commit sins in the presence of Allah Ta`ala, whilst in the Musjid, the House of Allah Ta`ala.

The same shamelessness is found en-masse in the Musjid of all Masaajid, Musjidul Haraam in Makkah Shareef. The objective of the majority visiting these days, is taking photographs and video recording, instead of engaging in Ibaadah.

Complaints – and it is even our experience – of flashes and clicks of the camera, seen or heard, whilst Salaah is in progress or whilst in Tawaaf.

There is a very dire need to explain that this is a grave and serious crime in the sight of Allah Ta`ala.

What needs to be understood is that photography of anything animate is a clear prohibition. It is haraam.

It has been narrated from Hadhrat Jabir (Radiyallahu Anhu) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) forbade pictures in the house and he forbade making them.

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “Verily, of the most grievously tormented people on the Day of Resurrection are picture-makers.”

There are, in fact, many other Ahaadeeth, which clearly prove this prohibition.

Why did Allah Ta`ala prohibit photography?

One reason is quite clear; that it was the origin of shirk (polytheism):
Going down the passage of history, we find that mankind was introduced to idol worship due to Shaytaan’s efforts in leading mankind astray. So due to his whispering encouragement, people began to draw and sketch their pious predecessors, thinking that their faces and images will be a source of inspiration; an incentive to also follow in their footsteps of piety. However, it was the means by which many began to worship those pictures, and thereafter carved such idols; and idol worship came into vogue.

Whilst this would have been more than sufficient for the Believer, it is no longer considered a worthy reason by Muslims who want to engage in the sin. Many say that there is no way that they would worship a photograph or even a sketch, let alone an idol. My Shaikh, Hadhrat Moulana Hakeem Muhammad Akhtar Sahib دامت بركاته explains that one reason behind the prohibition is so that Allah Ta`ala may protect the respect and dignity of His servants.

Many a time, a person who was engaged in various evils is granted hidayah (guidance). Sometimes, this hidayah is such that he attains a high stage of wilayah. The person becomes a great Wali (Friend) of Allah Ta`ala and even a Shaikh, and thousands of people throng to his gatherings. Now at such a time, if someone were to dig up pictures of his past … what embarrassment would he have to endure?

From Allah Ta`ala’s side, there is forgiveness of sins, on sincere taubah, to the extent, that all evidence is ‘deleted’ and Insha-Allah, the person will not have to render an account for those sins. However, if photographs were taken, then this is evidence which the person has produced against himself, and which cannot always be destroyed – especially if it is in the hands of others who wish to bring disgrace to the person.

My Shaikh mentioned the above reason, during an election in Pakistan, where a woman was a candidate in the election. She was blackmailed with photographs of herself in a compromising situation, so that she withdraws.

Further to this reason, we find that the porn industry and filthy films are all based on pictures. Islam nips the problem in the bud by prohibiting photography.

If everyone practiced upon this teaching, we would not have pornography, woman abuse and exploitation, child pornography, and the evil consequences of rape, insanity, suicide, incest, etc., much of which has shattered and devastated the marriages and homes of many Muslims.

Now thinking over all these harms, we should appreciate the prohibition all the more and show that appreciation by abstaining. There is nothing but great wisdom in the prohibitions of Allah Ta`ala, with nothing but good for His servants. [20]


Cartoons and films portraying Ambiyaa عليهم السلام and Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum)

Q: What is the Islamic ruling regarding cartoons or films portraying stories of the Ambiyaa عليهم السلام or the Sahaabah? In today’s times, these types of films are available in the market and are widespread on the internet.

A: Before addressing the issue in question, it is vital for us to understand a few preliminary aspects in order that the issue be understood in correct perspective.

The purpose for acquiring Islamic knowledge is that one may find the correct direction in reaching Allah Ta’ala. Knowledge in itself is not the goal; rather it is a medium that leads one to the goal. The goal is practising on the laws of Sharee’ah in accordance to the manner prescribed by Allah and His Rasul (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). If the knowledge one acquires does not lead one to the goal, then in reality this is not worthy of being called Islamic knowledge. Perhaps it could be called information. Hence, the pertinent question one needs to pose is, what is Islamic knowledge and how should one go about acquiring this knowledge?

In order for the knowledge which one acquires to be acceptable in the sight of Allah Ta’ala and sanctioned by Sharee’ah, it is necessary that certain aspects be adhered to:

The first aspect is the aspect of authenticity and reliability. Extreme caution should be exercised in sourcing Deeni knowledge. One should ensure that he refers to reliable, qualified Ulama in the pursuit of seeking Islamic knowledge. Similarly, the material one exposes himself to in the course of seeking education, should be sourced from authentic and reliable sources. If one acquired his knowledge from unauthentic sources or unreliable personalities, then obviously the overall picture of Deen which one will obtain will certainly not conform to the pure and pristine brand of Islam. Concoctions, adulterations and distortions would be noticed in various aspects of his Deen. This will be grossly due to the fact that he had not sourced his knowledge from those authentic, reliable sources approved by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). The disastrous outcome of acquiring knowledge through these channels is that Islam will be reduced to customs and rituals which will change with the fashions and the norms of the time. The great Taabi’ee Muhammed bin Sireen رحمة الله عليه has said:

إنَّ هَذَا الْعِلمَ دِينٌ ، فَانْظُرُوا عَمَّنْ تَأَخُذُونَ دِينَكُمْ (الشمائل للترمذي رقم 415)

Certainly this knowledge that you are acquiring is your Deen, hence you should ensure that you acquire your Deen from authentic and reliable people.

The second aspect is the means through which the knowledge is acquired. It is incumbent that permissible means be adopted in acquiring Islamic knowledge. The method one adopts should conform to the method adopted during the Mubaarak era of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), the Sahaabah and the Khairul Quroon (the glorious era of the Taabi’een and Tab’ut Taabi’een). If one adopts a haraam means to acquire Islamic knowledge, this will be unacceptable in the sight of Allah Ta’ala and such information will be bereft of the true noor of Deen. Thus such knowledge will not lead one to the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala and enable one to uphold the pillars of Islam.

The third aspect is adopting the Sunnah approach when acquiring the knowledge of Deen. The Sunnah approach is to show the highest level of respect and honour to everything related to Deen (viz. The Quraan, the Ahaadith, the Ambiyaa, the Sahaabah, the Ulama, the symbols of Islam, etc.) as well as conforming to all the aadaab (etiquettes) of Deen. When Islamic knowledge is acquired in this manner, adhering to the way shown to us by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and adopting the etiquettes of Islam, one will witness the true spirit of Deen coming alive in the lives of the believers. The books of Hadith are replete with many glaring examples which illustrate the Sunnah method adopted by the Sahaabah and the Tabi’een in the pursuit of acquiring the knowledge of Deen. When the knowledge of Deen in reality is the knowledge of Nubuwwat and those who tread on this path to acquire it are honoured with the title of “The heirs of the Ambiyaa”, one could well imagine the great need for one to adopt the outer as well as inner qualities of the Ambiyaa. In other words, one should not confine knowledge to word or action; instead one should endeavour to cultivate the very spirit and noor of the knowledge in all respects. Acquiring such knowledge under the guidance of the true men of Allah Ta’ala who acquired this from their seniors and so forth and so on with an unbroken chain linking up to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) produces an indelible impression on the hearts of people, thereby motivating the true love within people to emulate the Mubaarak Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) in all facets of life.


How did the people of the past acquire Deeni Knowledge?

Hereunder are two examples which will shed light on the method of how the people of the past acquired Islamic knowledge.

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Abbas (Radiyallahu Anhuma) says:

“After the passing away of Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), I said to an Ansaari friend of mine, ‘Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is no longer with us, but a large number of the Sahaabah are still present among us. Hence, let us go to them in the pursuit of Islamic knowledge.’ He said, ‘What is the need to acquire `ilm whereas these eminent Sahaabah are present? Who will approach you to enquire of any deeni mas’alah whilst these great men are amongst us?’” Hadhrat Ibnu Abbas (Radiyallahu Anhuma) further mentioned, “I was not in any way discouraged by his words. Rather, I kept up my quest for knowledge and began approaching every Sahaabi who had heard something from Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). In this way, I managed to gather a substantial amount of ‘ilm from the Ansaar. If on my visit to any Sahaabi, I found him resting, I spread my shawl at the entrance of his home and remained seated awaiting his emergence. At times, my face and entire body would get covered with dust, however, this did not cause me to desist from my endeavour and I continued to remain seated there anxiously awaiting their emergence.

I thus carried on my pursuits, till there came a time when people began to flock to me for learning the knowledge of Deen. My Ansaari friend realised this at that time and remarked, ‘This person has surely proved himself to be more intelligent than all of us.’”

A student of Hadith once came as a guest to Imaam Ahmad bin Hambal رحمة الله عليه. It was the sublime conduct of the Imaam that he presented water to the student when going to bed. He placed it close to the student so that he may use it for wudhu at the time of Tahajjud. The following morning the Imaam noticed the water untouched. Hence he exclaimed: “Subhaanallah! A student of knowledge, yet he does not perform tahajjud during the night!” Imaam Ahmad رحمة الله عليه indicated to this fact that the knowledge one acquires should motivate him towards upholding the Mubaarak Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) in his life.


Why is it impermissible to acquire Deeni knowledge through viewing cartoons and films?

Based on the above, after closely examining the issue of acquiring knowledge through viewing cartoons and films which outwardly portray Islamic information, one will realise that this means of acquiring knowledge does not conform to the above mentioned Islamic method of acquiring Islamic knowledge. Furthermore, acquiring Islamic knowledge through this means is impermissible due to the following reasons:

  1. This means of acquiring ‘ilm is impermissible in Sharee’ah as it directly opposes the command of Allah Ta’ala and His Rasul (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) had sounded severe warnings in his Mubaarak Ahaadith for those who have any involvement in picture making. Hence, propagating Islam via this means is impermissible.

إن أشد الناس عذابا عند الله يوم القيامة المصورون (صحيح البخاري 2/880 ، صحيح لمسلم 2/201)

Those involved in picture-making will be subjected to the worst forms of punishment on the day of Qiyaamat. (Bukhaari 2/880, Muslim 2/201)

  1. In many of these films men and women are seen together. This opposes the law of Sharee’ah in regard to segregation between na-mahram males and females. Hence, this type of enactment, instead of creating an Islamic effect, it only destroys the fabric of Deen through inciting one towards sin.
  2. The actors in these films are portraying illustrious personalities such as the Ambiyaa or Sahaabah etc. This enactment is in itself deception, as the onlookers will begin to base their opinions of Ambiyaa and Sahaabah through the actions of these sinful people. To add insult to injury, the film being videoed is impermissible in Islam. Hence they are trying to propagate Deen through portraying the lives of these illustrious personalities while being involved in such a grave sin.
  3. Propagating Islam through this medium degrades the position of these illustrious personalities and reduces Deen to a thing of entertainment. Furthermore, this will lead to the masses beginning to regard these so called “Islamic movies” as a substitute to Hollywood and Bollywood movies.
  4. Presently the Kuffaar are using this as a means to distort and adulterate the Deen of Islam. Muslims should not be so gullible to fall into the traps and the nets of the Kuffaar. It has been proven that many of these films shattered the Imaan and beliefs of many Muslims and created suspicions and doubts in their Deen.
  5. Portraying these great personalities via cartoon characters causes great disrespect to these saintly personalities. How can Deen come alive in the Ummah when gross disrespect is shown to those who were responsible for bringing Deen alive in the world?
  6. The outcome of such plays, films, cartoons etc. is in reality making a mockery of the august Deen of Allah Ta’ala and the illustrious men of Islam. Similarly, those who view these types of films will be viewed as supporters and promoters of this sin in the sight of Allah Ta’ala.
  7. Lastly, the kitaabs of Aqaaid have recorded that if people enact a play for entertainment purposes where one person assumes the position of a great Aalim or Mufti, and people refer Deeni issues to him, and laugh at him and make a mockery of him, all present on account of showing disrespect to Deen will come out of the fold of Islam. Hence, the outcome of viewing these cartoons, films, etc. is extremely destructive and detrimental to one’s Imaan.
  8. We make Duaa to Allah Ta’ala to bless the Ummah at large with the true love and respect for Deen and the symbols of Deen, and enable us to emulate the Mubaarak Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) in our lives. [21]

[1] وعن علي رضي الله عنه؛ قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: “كيف بكم إذا فسق فتيانكم وطغى نساؤكم قالوا: يا رسول الله وإن ذلك لكائن قال نعم وأشد كيف أنتم إذا لم تأمروا بالمعروف ولم تنهوا عن المنكر قالوا يا رسول الله وإن ذلك لكائن قال نعم وأشد كيف بكم إذا أمرتم بالمنكر ونهيتم عن المعروف قالوا يا رسول الله وإن ذلك لكائن قال نعم وأشد كيف بكم إذا رأيتم المعروف منكرًا والمنكر معروفًا قالوا يا رسول الله وإن ذلك لكائن قال نعم. رواه رزين .

[2] شروط وجوب الإجابة أن لا يكون هناك كلب لا يحل اقتناؤه أو صور مجسدة على الجدار كصور السباع التي لها ظل ولو لم يدم قال في التوضيح التمثال إذا كان لغير حيوان كالشجر جائز وإن كان لحيوان فما له ظل ويقيم فهو حرام بإجماع , وكذا يحرم إن لم يقم كالعجين خلافا لأصبغ لما ثبت أن المصورين يعذبون يوم القيامة ويقال لهم أحيوا ما كنتم تصورون وما لا ظل له إن كان غير ممتهن فهو مكروه وإن كان ممتهنا فتركه أولى انتهى وهذا في الصورة الكاملة , وأما ناقص عضو من الأعضاء الظاهرة فيباح النظر إليه واحترز بقوله صورة على كجدار عن صور الثياب .( شرح مختصر الخليل باب الوليمة 3/303 مكتبة النجاح-ليبيا)

قال الشيخ المفتي محمد تقي العثماني حفظه الله في شرحه على صحيح لمسلم تكملة فتح الملهم : وقد اختلف الروايات عن مالك رحمه الله في مسئلة التصوير ولذلك وقع الإختلاف بين علماء المالكية في هذا والذي أجمعت عليه الروايات والأقوال في مذهب المالكية حرمة التصاوير المجسدة التي لها ظل والخلاف في ما ليس له ظل مما يرسم على ورق أو ثوب قال الأبى رحمه الله في شرحه لمسلم 5/394 “واختلف في تصوير ما لا ظل له فكرهه ابن شهاب في أي شيء صور من حائط أو ثوب أو غيرها وأجاز ابن القاسم تصويره في الثياب لقوله في الحديث الآتي “إلا رقما في ثوب” وكذلك نقل المواق في التاج والإكليل 4/4 عن ابن عرفة أنه يقصر الحرمة على المجسدة من الصور فقط.

وقال العلامة الدردير في شرحه الصغير على مختصر خليل: والحاصل أن تصاوير الحيوانات تحرم إجماعا إن كانت كاملة لها ظل مما يطول استمراره بخلاف ناقص عضو لا يعيش به لو كان حيوانا وبخلاف ما لا ظل له كنقش في ورق او جدار وفيما لايطول استمراره (كما لو كانت من نحو قشر بطيخ) خلاف والصحيح حرمته راجع حاشية الصاوي على الشرح الصغير 2/501

والذي يظهر من مراجعة كتب المالكية أن أكثر علمائهم يقولون بكراهة الصور ولو لم يكن لها ظل إلا إذا كانت ممتهنة قال الخرشي 3/303 قال في التوضيح: التمثال إذا كان لغير حيوان كالشجر جائز وإن كان لحيوان فما له ظل ويقيم فهو حرام بإجماع وكذا يحرم وإن لم يقم كالعجين خلافا لأصبغ … وما لا ظل له إن كان غير ممتهن فهو مكروه وإن كان ممتهنا فتركه أولى وبمثله ذكر الدردير في الشرح الكبير راجعه مع الدسوقي 2/338 والزرقاني على محتصر خليل 4/53

فالحاصل أن المنع من اتخاذ الصور مجمع عليه فيما بين الأئمة الأربعة إذا كانت مجسدة أما غير المجسدة منها فاتفق الأئمة الثلاثة على حرمتها أيضا قولا واحدا والمختار عند أكثر المالكية كراهتها لكن ذهب بعض المالكية إلى جوازها (تكمله فتح الملهم 4/159)

[3] Fataawa Mahmoodiyah, vol. 29, p. 290

[4] Tasweer ke shari’ee ahkaam, p. 61

[5] Ahsan-ul-Fataawa, vol. 8, p. 437

[6] Bayyinaat – Ishaa`at-e-khaas, p. 350

[7] Bayyinaat – Ishaa`at-e-khaas, p. 350

[8] (قال) ابن القاسم: وسألت مالكا عن التماثيل تكون في الأسرة والقباب والمنار وما اشبهه؟ (قال): هذا مكروه قال: هذه لان خلقت خلقا

Allamah Ibnul Qaasim رحمة الله عليه mentions that I enquired from Imaam Maalik رحمة الله عليه regarding pictures that are drawn on armour, swords, watch-towers etc. Imaam Maalik رحمة الله عليه replied: “It is makrooh”. Thereupon, Imaam Maalik رحمة الله عليه explained the reason for its prohibition i.e. it was created (by man).

[9] Digital photography is a form of photography that uses an array of light sensitive sensors to capture the image focused by the lens, as opposed to an exposure on light sensitive film (Analog photography).

The image sensor turns light into discrete signals, replacing the job of film in traditional photography. The sensor is made up of millions of “buckets” that essentially count the number of photons (particles of light) that strike the sensor. This means that the brighter the image at a given point on the sensor, the larger the value that is read for that pixel.

Firmware in the camera, or a software in a raw converter program such as Adobe Camera Raw, interprets the raw data from the sensor to obtain a full colour image, because the RGB colour model requires three intensity values for each pixel: one each for the red, green, and blue (other colour models, when used, also require three or more values per pixel).

The captured image is then stored as a digital file ready for digital processing (colour correction, sizing, cropping, etc.), viewing or printing.

Until the advent of such technology, photographs were made by exposing light sensitive photographic film, and used chemical photographic processing to develop and stabilize the image. By contrast, digital photographs can be displayed, printed, stored, manipulated, transmitted, and archived using digital and computer techniques, without chemical processing.

Note: The above information was sourced from Wikipedia and presented with brevity.

[10] Be it on-board memory or a memory card.

[11] Ma‘aarif-ul-Qur’aan, vol. 3, p. 63

[12] عن جابر رضي الله عنه قال دخلنا مع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم مكة وفي البيت وحول الكعبة ثلاثمئة وستون صنما تعبد من دون الله فأمر بها رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فأكبت على وجهها ثم قال جاء الحق وزهق الباطل إن الباطل كان زهوقا ثم دخل رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم البيت فصلى فيه ركعتين فرأى فيه تمثال إبراهيم وإسماعيل وإسحاق وقد جعلوا في يد إبراهيم الأزلام يستقسم بها فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قاتلهم الله ما كان إبراهيم يستقسم بالأزلام ثم دعا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بزعفران فلطخه بتلك التماثيل (اتحاف السادة المهرة 7/39)

[13] عن عائشة زوج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنها أخبرته أنها اشترت نمرقة فيها تصاوير فلما رآها رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قام على الباب فلم يدخل فعرفت في وجهه الكراهية فقلت يا رسول الله أتوب إلى الله وإلى رسوله ماذا أذنبت فقال ما بال هذه النمرقة قالت فقلت اشتريتها لتقعد عليها وتوسدها فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إن أصحاب هذه الصور يعذبون يوم القيامة ويقال لهم أحيوا ما خلقتم وقال إن البيت الذي فيه الصور لا تدخله الملائكة (صحيح البخاري 2/881)

[14] Translation of Mufti Taqi Sahib’s fatwa from Darul Uloom Karachi – dated: 8-4-1427.

[15] Fatwa of Mufti Muhammad Rafee’ Uthmani – Translated by Shaykh Yusuf Badat – Mathabah Foundation,

[16] Nuqoosh-e-Raftagaa, p. 104

[17] Extract of “Understanding television” by Khalid Baig.


[19] Malfoozaat-e-Kashmiri, p. 41/42

[20] Extracted from


وَمَن يُعَظِّم شَعـئِرَ اللَّـهِ فَإِنَّها مِن تَقوَى القُلوبِ ﴿الحج: ٣٢﴾

وكذا لو جلس على مكان مرتفع وحوله جماعة يسألونه مسائل ويضحكونه ويضربونه بالوسائد يكفرون جميعا (شرح العقائد ص117)


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