PICTURES IN ISLAM

In view of unprecedented development in print and electronic media, particularly TV, Internet and Video phones, it is important that we  understand the issue of ‘pictures’ in Islam in its proper perspective.

 The opinions of Islamic scholars are divided on this subject.  We have explained below important facts in this context in the light of Quran and Ahadith.

 

AS PER QURAN

 DRAWING / TAKING / HANGING OF PICTURES FOR GOOD PURPOSES IS ALLOWED IN ISLAM

(1) It is in Quran – The people of (Prophet) Musa (Alaihis Salam) made in his absence, out of their ornaments, the image of calf, (for worship): it seemed to low: did they not see that it could neither speak to them, nor show them the way? They took it for worship and they did wrong. (Al-Araf – 148).

 (2) It is in Quran – We bestowed aforetime on Abraham (Alaihis Salaam) his righteousness of conduct, and well were We (Allah Ta’ala) acquainted with him. Behold! He (Abraham – Alaihis Salaam) said to his father  (the brother of his father whom he used to call father out of affection) and his people, “What are these images, to which you are (so assiduously) devoted?” They said, “We found our fathers worshiping them.” He said, “Indeed you have been in manifest error, you and your fathers.” (Al-Anbiya – 51-54).

 (3) It is in Quran  – “They worked for him (Prophet Sulaiman – Alaihis Salaam) as he desired, (making) arches, images, basins as large as reservoirs, and (cooking) cauldrons fixed (in their places): “Work O’ Sons of David (Alaihis Salaam) with thanks! but few of My servants are grateful!”. (Saba – 13).

 The first Quranic verse says that in the absence of  Prophet Musa (Alaihis Salaam) some people made an image of a Calf for worship.  This act on their part was wrong.

The second Quranic verse says that some people in Prophet Ibrahim’s (Alaihis Salaam) time made some images and worshiped them.  This act on their part was wrong.

The third Quranic verse says that some people worked as per the orders of Prophet Sulaiman (Alaihis Salaam) and made images.  This act on their part was right.  Why?  Because these images were not meant for worship.

The above Quranic verses confirm the fact that the intention behind making images has to be virtuous.  Images made with bad intention (for worship) are disallowed and images made out of good intention are allowed in Islam.

 AS PER AHADITH
DRAWING / TAKING PICTURES OR EVEN MAKING  DOLLS (HUMAN OR ANIMAL SHAPES) FOR GOOD PURPOSES IS ALLOWED IN ISLAM

(1) It is in Hadith – Narrated by Ummul Momineen Aisha (Rdhiallahu ta’ala Anha) – “I used to play with dolls in the presence of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah’s Apostle (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) used to enter (my dwelling place) they used to hide themselves, but the Prophet ( Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam)  would call them to join and play with me.  (Bukhari). 

(2) It is in Hadith – Narrated by Ummul Momineen Aisha (Radhiallahu Ta’ala Anha) “When the Apostle of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) arrived after the expedition of Tabuk or Khaybar (the narrator is doubtful), the drought raised an end of a curtain which was hung in front of her store-room, revealing some dolls which belonged to her. He asked: What is this? She replied: My dolls. Among them he saw a horse with wings made of rags, and asked: What is this I see among them? She replied: A horse. He asked: What is this that it has on it? She replied: Two wings. He asked: A horse with two wings? She replied: Have you not heard that Solomon had horses with wings? She said: Thereupon the Apostle of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) laughed so heartily that I could see his molar teeth. (Abu Dawud).

 From above Ahadith, we can draw the following conclusions.

 (1) Pictures drawn, taken or even making shapes of human beings or animals is allowed in Islam provided they are made for some good purpose; even as play things for  children.

 (2) Pictures can be drawn in text books / drawing books / black boards, etc.,  to explain various subjects to students.

 (3) Pictures can be drawn / taken  for scientific and technological research and education at Colleges, Universities and laboratories.

 (4) Human / Animal models can be made for scientific research and education.

(5) Medical fraternity can work on dead bodies of humans and animals for their education and research.  They can record their findings by way of pictures.

 (6) Pictures can be taken and used for Passports / I-Cards  / Driver licenses / social security and a host of other requirements.

 (7) Pictures of Islamic scholars / Shuyooks can be drawn / printed in books for identification. 

 (8) Islamic scholars / Shuyooks can appear on TVs, Internet and Videophones to explain Islamic issues to people.

 (9) Pictures of family members can be drawn / taken with the help of a Camera.  Since these pictures are used as a remembrance for the following generations, these can be  hanged on walls.   

 (10) As we respect our elders, similarly, we  must respect their pictures. No one would like to place picture of his father / Shaikh on the floor and walk over it.  This will be a show of utmost disrespect.  Reverence is different from worship.  Some people argue that reverence is the first step, which is usually followed by worship.  This argument does not hold good for Muslims because  they clearly know the difference between reverence and worship.  It is in Sahih Ahadith (Bukhari, Muslim and others)  that we can kiss hands and feet of our parents and Shaikhs as a mark of respect (Refer many Ahadith in Adab al Mufrad written by Imam Bukhari Radhiallahu Ta’ala Unhu). This is a show of reverence which has been allowed in Islam.  While kissing the feet, our posture becomes almost similar to ‘prostration’. However, there is a difference between prostration and kissing of feet. It is in Hadith – Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) said “the deeds of a person depends upon his intention’. Therefore when we are bowing in front of our Shaikh to kiss his feet, our intention is ‘to kiss his feet’ (not prostrate), which is allowed in Islam.  Prostration of reverence is prohibited in Islam but kissing of feet of our elders /religious shuyooks is sunnah which is proved from many Ahadith.  It is in Hadith – Hazrat Ali (Radhiallahu ta’ala Anhu) kissed the hands and feet of Hazrat Abbas (Radhiallahu ta’ala Anhu) (Bukhari – Adab Al Mufrad, Hadith No. 976). 

Similarly, we should also respect the pictures of our parents and Shuyooks and can hang them on the walls of homes / offices for their remembrance and reverence.

 In Saudi Arabia we see the pictures of their kings hanging on the walls of every Government office, Universities and importance buildings.  This is done as  remembrance and a mark of respect and reverence to their kings.

 Muslims all over the world hang pictures of Prophet Mohammad’s (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Aalihi Wa Sallam) Green Dome, Masjid-e-Nabawi, Ka’abatullah, Dargah of Awliya Allah and Shuyooks on the walls of their homes and office as remembrance and mark of respect and reverence. Whenever they look at these pictures, they get reminded of Allah Ta’ala and Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wa Sallam) which helps them in strengthening their religious bond and their commitment to do virtuous deeds. 

 We also see live pictures of Masjid Al-Haram and Masjid-e-Nabawi Shareef five times a day during congregational prayers there.  During these telecasts, Muslims all over the world see live pictures of Rawda-e-Rasool (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Aalihi Wa Sallam) and Khana-e-Kab’a  5  times a day on their televisions.  

CORRECT UNDERSTANDING OF AHADITH

Many of us will be surprised to know that Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) never had to pay Zakat. Why, because, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) never kept anything for himself or his family that entitles him to pay Zakat. Whatever (money) the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) had in his hand,  he used to give to the needy on the same day. Similarly, Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) used to stand in prayers during nights and it is in Ahadith that his feet used to get swelled.  Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) used to keep continuous fast, sometimes 5 days or more in a row. Sahaba (Radhiallahu Ta’ala Anhum) tried to emulate, but could not do so. Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) did not like to wear costly clothing. Most of the time he and his family members used to wear simple cloths. Also Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) did not like his family members keep costly things at homes.     

(1) It is in Hadith –  Narrated Ibn Umar: Once the Prophet  (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) went to the house of Fatima (Radhiallahu ta’ala Anha) but did not enter it. ‘Ali (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anhu) came and she told him about that. When ‘Ali (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anhu) asked the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) about it, he said, “I saw a  (multicolored) decorated curtain on her door. I am not interested in worldly things.”  ‘Ali (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anhu) went to Fatima (Rdhiallahu ta’ala Anha) and told her about it. Fatima (Radhiallahu ta’ala Anha) said, “I am ready to dispense with it in the way the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) suggests.” The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam)  ordered her to send it to such-and-such needy people.”  (Bukhari – Book #47, Hadith #783).

 The above Hadith clearly establishes the fact that though Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) did not like his daughter Fatima (Radiallahahu Ta’ala Anha) to use the  decorated curtain, but he gave it to a needy Sahabi for use.  This shows that using of decorated curtain is not forbidden (Haraam) in Islam.  However, Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) preferred that his family members maintain utmost simplicity as far as possible.  

 (2) It is in Hadith – Narrated Busr bin Said: That Zaid bin Khalid Al-Juhani (Radhaiallahu Ta’ala Anhu) narrated to him something in the presence of Said bin ‘Ubaidullah Al-Khaulani (Radhaiallahu Ta’ala Anhu) who was brought up in the house of Ummul Momineen Maimuna (Radhaiallahu Ta’ala Anha). Zaid narrated to them that Abu Talha (Radhaiallahu Ta’ala Anhu) said that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) said, “The Angels (of Mercy) do not enter a house wherein there is a picture.” Busr said, “Later on Zaid bin Khalid (Radhaiallahu Ta’ala Anhu) fell ill and we called on him. To our surprise we saw a curtain  decorated with pictures in his house. I said to Ubaidullah Al-Khaulani (Radhaiallahu Ta’ala Anhu), “Didn’t he (i.e. Zaid- Radhaiallahu Ta’ala Anhu) tell us about the (prohibition of) pictures?” He said, “But he excepted the embroidery on garments. Didn’t you hear him?” I said, “No.” He said, “Yes, he did.”  (Bukhari – Book #54, Hadith #449).

 The above Hadith establishes the fact that Sahaba used decorated curtains with pictures in their houses which was allowed by Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam). 

 (3) It is in Hadith – Narrated by Anas (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anhu).  ‘”Ummul Momineen Aisha (Radiallah Ta’ala Anha) had a Qiram (a thin marked woolen curtain) with which she had screened one side of her home. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) said, “Take away this Qiram of yours, as its pictures are still displayed in front of me during my prayer”  (Bukhari – Book #8, Hadith #371).

The above Hadith establishes the fact that Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) removed the curtain as the pictures on it were visible in front of him during the prayers.  If the pictures were Haram, then Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) would not have allowed the curtain to remain there in the first place. 

 (4) It is in Hadith – Narrated by Al-Qasim (Radiallaha Ta’ala Anhu): ‘Ummul Momineen Aisha (Radhiallahu Ta’ala Anha) said that she hung a curtain decorated with pictures (of animates) on a cupboard. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) tore that Curtain and she turned it into two cushions which remained in the house for the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) to sit on.  (Bukhari – Book #43, Hadith #659).

The above Hadith establishes the fact that though the curtain was tore, but it was used for cushions for the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) which he used it.

PICTURES DRAWN OR TAKEN FOR UNLAWFUL PURPOSES ARE FORBIDDEN IN ISLAM

 The following Ahadith clearly specify prohibition of pictures drawn or taken for unlawful purposes like worship, immorality, hatred, satire, etc.

(1) It is in Hadith – Narrated by Ummul Momineen Aisha (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anha) – Um Habiba (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anha) and Um Salama (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anha) mentioned about a Church they had seen in Ethiopia in which there were pictures. They told the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) about it, on which he said, “If any religious man dies amongst those people (Christians) they would build a place of worship at his grave (considering him to be divine) and make these pictures in it. They will be the worst creature in the sight of Allah Ta’ala on the Day of Resurrection.”  (Bukhari – Book #8, Hadith #419).

 (2) It is in Hadith – Narrated by  Abu Juhaifa (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anhu): “I saw my father buying a slave whose profession was cupping, and ordered that his instruments (of cupping) be broken. I asked him the reason for doing so. He replied, “Allah’s Apostle (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) prohibited taking money for blood, the price of a dog and the earnings of a slave-girl by prostitution; he cursed her who tattoos and her who gets tattooed, the eater of Riba (usury), and the maker of pictures (for bad purposes)”. (Bukhari – Book #34, Hadith #440)

 (3) It is in Hadith – Narrated by Ibn Abbas (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anhu): ‘When the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) saw pictures in the Ka’ba, he did not enter it till he ordered them to be erased. When he saw (the pictures of Abraham – Alaihis Salaam and Ishmael – Alaihis Salaam carrying the arrows of divination), he said, “May Allah (Ta’ala) curse them (the Quraish)! By Allah, neither Abraham (Alaihis Salaam) nor Ishmael (Alaihis Salaam) practiced divination by arrows.”  (Bukhari – Book #55, Hadith #571).

(4) It is in Hadith – Narrated by Abdullah bin Umar (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anhu): Allah’s Apostle (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) said, “Those who make these pictures (for worship) will be punished on the Day of Resurrection and it will be said to them. ‘Make alive what you have created.’  (Bukhari – Book #72, Hadith #835).

 (5) It is in Hadith – Narrated by Said bin Abu Al-Hassan (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anhu) – “While I was with Ibn ‘Abbas (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anhu) a man came and said, “O father of ‘Abbas (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anhu)! My sustenance is from my manual profession and I make these  pictures.” Ibn ‘Abbas (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anhu) said, “I will tell you only what I heard from Allah’s Apostle (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam). I heard him saying, ‘Whoever makes a picture (for prohibited usage) will be punished by Allah (Ta’ala) till he puts life in it, and he will never be able to put life in it.’  Hearing this, that man heaved a sigh and his face turned pale. Ibn ‘Abbas  (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anhu) said to him, “What a pity! If you insist on making pictures, I advise you to make pictures of trees and any other un-animated objects.” (Bukhari).

 (6) It is in Hadith – “On the Day of Resurrection a neck will stretch forth from Hell; it will have two eyes to see, two ears to hear, and a tongue to speak. It will say, “I have been appointed to take care of three types of people: every arrogant tyrant, every person who called on some deity other than Allah (Ta’ala) and those who made (forbidden) pictures” (Tirmidhi)

(7) It is in Hadith – Narrated by  Ummul Momineen Maymunah (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anha) “One morning Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) was silent with grief. Ummul Momineen Maymunah (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anha) said: Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam), I find a change in your mood today. Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) said: Gabriel (Aaihis Salaam) had promised me that he would meet me last night, but he did not meet me. By Allah, he never broke his promises; and Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) spent the day in this sad (mood). Then it occurred to him that there had been a puppy under their cot. He gave an order and it was turned out. He then took some water in his hand and sprinkled it on the place. When it was evening Gabriel (Alaihis Salaam) met him and he said to him: You promised me that you would meet me the previous night. He said: Yes, but we do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a picture. So the very next morning he commanded the dogs to be killed. He announced that the dog kept for the orchards should also be killed, but he spared the dog used for the protection of extensive fields (or big gardens). (Muslim).

The above Hadith establishes the fact that keeping dogs as pets inside the houses is prohibited.  However, keeping dogs for self protection or protection of live stock and extensive fields / large gardens is allowed provided they are kept outside the house.

Similarly, hanging of pictures (of deities or  scantily clad film  or pictures which  are forbidden in Islam) are not allowed to be hanged on the walls of the house.

Why we do not have the picture of Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) or other prominent Sahaba?  Why we all Muslims are so sensitive if someone draws an image of Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam)?

It is because Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) did not permit  people to draw his picture.

There are some exclusive Awliya Allah in the world who have direct spiritual access to Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) by way of unveiling (Kashf – spiritual vision) or otherwise. There are some others who see Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) in their dreams.  However, no one attempts to draw the picture of Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam) because he did not allow it during his life time.

There are innumerable Sufi Shaikhs who never allowed their pictures drawn/taken.  Shaikh Mir Momin Ali Quadri (Rahmatullah Alai) (father of Shaikh Mir Asedullah Quadri) never allowed his picture taken during his lifetime. It was once on the occasion of the marriage of his eldest son in 1971, a year before his death,  that someone took his picture while he was sitting on a chair.

 Similarly, Shaikh Mohammad Badesha Mohiuddin Wajudi al-Qadri (Rahmatullah Alai) (d -1943) who is the Shaikh of Hazrat Khaled Wajudi al-Qadri (Rahmatullah Alai) (the Shaikh of Mir Asedullah Quadri), never allowed people to draw /take his picture during his life time.

However, other Shuyooks of Shaikh Mir Asedullah Quadri, viz., Hazrat Mohammad Abdul Qadeer Siddiqui (Rahmatullah Alai), Hazrat Khaled Wajudi Quadri (Rahmatullah Alai) and Hazrat Hussain Shujauddin Siddiqui Quadri (Rahmatullah Alai) allowed their picture taken and published during their life time.

Currently, some Islamic Scholars and Shuyooks like Bashir Farooqi Qadri, Akhter Raza Khan, etc., do not like their pictures appear in public. However, there are many other scholars / Shuyooks who allow their pictures taken and published.

 All of them are right in their actions.

(1) It is in Quran – The people of (Prophet) Musa (Alaihis Salam) made in his absence, out of their ornaments, the image of calf, (for worship): it seemed to low: did they not see that it could neither speak to them, nor show them the way? They took it for worship and they did wrong. (Al-Araf – 148).

(2) It is in Quran – We bestowed aforetime on Abraham (Alaihis Salaam) his righteousness of conduct, and well were We (Allah Taala) acquainted with him. Behold! He (Abraham – Alaihis Salaam) said to his father  (the brother of his father whom he used to call father out of affection) and his people, “What are these images, to which you are (so assiduously) devoted?” They said, “We found our fathers worshiping them.” He said, “Indeed you have been in manifest error, you and your fathers.” (Al-Anbiya – 51-54).

(3) It is in Quran  – “They worked for him (Prophet Sulaiman – Alaihis Salaam) as he desired, (making) arches, images, basins as large as reservoirs, and (cooking) cauldrons fixed (in their places): “Work O’ Sons of David (Alaihis Salaam) with thanks! but few of My servants are grateful!”. (Saba – 13).

The first Quranic verse says that in the absence of  Prophet Musa (Alaihis Salaam) some people made an image of a Calf for worship.  This act on their part was wrong.

The second Quranic verse says that some people in Prophet Ibrahim’s (Alaihis Salaam) time made some images and worshiped them.  This act on their part was wrong.

The third Quranic verse says that some people worked as per the orders of Prophet Sulaiman (Alaihis Salaam) and made images.  This act on their part was right.  Why?  Because these images were not meant for worship.

The above Quranic verses confirm the fact that the intention behind making images has to be virtuous.  Images made with bad intention (for worship) are disallowed and images made out of good intention are allowed in Islam.