Photography / Still Pictures

Photography and Making of still pictures is considered as one of the biggest sins in Islam, but like Music it has become one of the most common practices in the Ummah today. However the fact is that still pictures are Haram and one of those sins for which the most severe punishment will be given on the day of judgment. Yet more or less we are ignorant about this fact. In this blog I will collect some points from Mufti Taqi Usmani’s ‘Fiqhi’ article on the same subject.

Collection of Ahadith forbidding ‘Still Pictures’.

Mufti Taqi Usmani has provided a total 14 Ahadith from Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Tirmidhi and Nisai, all of which are clearly stating that still photography is ‘Haraam’ and will result in the most severe punishment for those adamant and do not repent from this sin. Below I am copying some Ahadith. 

image

image

In the above mentioned Hadith quoted in Sahih Bukhari, it is clearly mentioned that Rasool Allah image said that people who make still pictures will be given punishment on the day of judgment (Qiyamah) and they will be asked to put life into what they have made.

image

In the above mentioned Hadith, it has been mentioned that on the day of judgment (Qiyamah) the most severe punishment will be given to those who make still pictures.

image

image

In the above mentioned Hadith it is mentioned that Hazrat Abu Hurayrah image, on seeing pictures in the house of Marwan, said, that Rasool Allah image told him that Allah told him that ‘Who will be more cruel than the person who make things like I (i.e. Allah) make them’. Furthermore from the words of the Hadith it is evident that Allah’s wrath is attracted by this practice since HE asks the makers of still pictures to make grains, tiny particles etc as well.

image

From this Hadith we learn that angels don’t enter the homes where there is a still picture or a dog.

In another Hadith (which can be read from link provided at the end of this blog), it is mentioned that angels don’t enter the homes where there are still pictures of sculptures.

In Hadith 8 (which can be read from link provided at the end of this blog), Rasool Allah image has extended his curse (Laanat) on people who make still pictures. We must think that how far can we go with the curse of Allah’s favorite Nabi on us?

In another Hadith (which can be read from link provided at the end of this blog), Rasool Allah image, immediately tore the curtain on which there were still pictures of animals in Hazrat Aisha’s image home and said that on ‘Qiyamah’ the most severe punishment will be given to those who try to copy Allah’s action of giving birth to life.

In another Hadith 12 (which can be read from link provided at the end of this blog), it has been asked to destroy any still pictures which one comes across of.

From the above collection of Ahadith, the following points should have become very clear.

  1. Makers of still pictures will be given the most severe punishment on the day of judgment (Qiyamah).
  2. The curse of Rasool Allah image will be on us, if we indulge in this act.
  3. Angels do not enter any place where there is a still picture.
  4. It has been asked to destroy such still pictures as soon as one comes across it. As can be seen in the section of ‘Practice Of Sahaba’ it means to destroy those pictures which one’s own or has authority to destroy.
  5. The above applies only for still pictures of living objects (which have a soul) like Human beings, animals, birds etc. It is allowed to make pictures of trees, mountains etc.

I believe no further explanation should be required after reading such clear Ahadith on this topic. Who would want to get the most severe punishment and live with the curse of Rasool Allah image and/or live in a place where the angels do not enter hence removing us from their protection which they provide to us against Shaitan/devil.

Practice of Sahaba

In one case, narrated in the article, the Christians prepared a lavish meal for Hazrat Umar image, when the later visited Syria. But Hazrat Umar image excused himself saying that we cannot enter your Churches because of sculptures and still pictures that you decorate your Churches with.

In some of the other cases narrated, Sahaba-e-Karam, either refused to attend dinners or refused to enter the homes/places where there were still pictures.

Is Present Day Photography Part of this ruling

Some people get misguided by thinking that the present day still pictures taken by cameras, mobile phones etc do not fall under these Ahadith. They are of the view that such a ruling only applies for still pictures made by hand.

However a quick review of the Ahadith mentioned above, would have clarified the fact that ‘still pictures’ as a whole are labeled as haram and no explicit method of their development has been mentioned. e.g. if it would have been mentioned that still pictures made by hands or brush are haram, then it would have been right to make such an assumption.

It is common sense that when an explicit method has not been mentioned then it means that the ruling applies in totality to all methods e.g. Killing is someone is haraam in Islam. Since no explicit method has been mentioned therefore it would mean that killing is haraam no matter which method you use. In olden times it was done through swords, poison, daggers etc. In modern times it can be done through guns, bombs etc So it would be wrong to assume that killing by swords, daggers etc is Haraam while killing by guns/bombs etc is allowed!

Still Pictures were not allowed only in the early part of Islam

Some people also make this incorrect assumption that still pictures were only disallowed in the early parts of Islam, so as not to confuse new Muslims with Idols etc. In the later part of Islam it became Halal to do so.

This is also an incorrect derivation, since as mentioned above that the Sahaba-e-Karaam, even after the passing away of Rasool Allah image, refused to enter homes where there were still pictures let alone allow to make still pictures or make it themselves.

We should save ourselves from such incorrect assumptions and stick to the rulings of Quran & Sunnah and take help help from the practice of Sahaba.

Still Pictures for Need

However still pictures for extreme need are allowed e.g. identification cards, passports etc.

May Allah make the truth clear and easy to follow for us. Ameen.

Link For Article

The complete juristic article written by Mufti Taqi Usmani can be read from the below link.

StillPictures

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3 thoughts on “Photography / Still Pictures”

  1. Aslk.

    If still pictures taken by modern day cameras are haraam it is seen as imitating the creation of Allah so would be video making, since that is nothing but a number of still pictures taken in quick succession. Since there was no way to record videos back then it couldn’t have been mentioned.

    I do understand why you should not hang pictures of animals and people in your houses.

    But i do not understand how clicking pictures is imitation of creation of Allah. It is simple capturing what Allah has so beautifully created.

    Actually i am not sure what imitation of creation means?

    Humans imitated how birds are able to fly to develop early airplanes which lead to the design of modern airplanes. Airplanes are not a necessity, since there are other ways to travel. So does it make Airplanes haraam?

    A number of scientific inventions were invented by observing nature and Allahs creation. Isn’t that imitation?

    Thank you for your time. Looking foward for your answer.

    1. Dear Friend,

      Assalam-o-Alaikum,

      Jazak Allah for your comment. A basic mistake which most people (including myself) usually make is to try and understand the command of Allah through reason/logic. I think (correct me if I am wrong) that is the crux of your comment. You need to see that still photography is not haraam because it imitates the creations of Allah, it is Haraam because Allah and his Prophet (peace be upon him) said so. There are many creations of Allah for which photography is allowed and in fact encouraged e.g. Mountains, trees etc.

      Why is it a mistake to apply reason to understand the commands of Allah?
      Because our minds are pretty limited when we compare our understanding with that of Allah. Allah knows all, while we know very little. Allah has known everything from the beginning. While we were born without any knowledge and have to learn through a process of trial and error. Many times are conclusions are wrong while Allah’s conclusions and statements are never wrong. Allah knows the future while for us the next 5 minutes are a mystery. Therefore when Allah commands, it is through His complete and error free knowledge. And when we try to understand His command, we do so through our limited and error prone knowledge.

      Shall we be brainless then?
      Certainly not! Allah has created everything with a purpose and that goes for our brains as well. Our brain power can help us to identify that there is a creator of all creations. Quran is the authentic Word of Allah. The collection of Hadith of Allah’s Prophet (peace be upon him) is authentic and preserved properly without any altercation. We are encouraged to use our minds and make progress in medicine, science and technology to provide greater service to humanity.

      I hope this answers your comments. If you have time do read the below as well.

      The below blog explores the perils of reasoning even more.
      https://acceptingislam.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/islam-versus-secularism/#more-735

      While the below blog talks about how Islam encourages Scientific research and developments.
      https://acceptingislam.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/islam-science/#more-228

      And Allah knows best.

      Keep in touch.
      Amad

      1. Walekumasalam

        Thank you for your answer.

        I understand and completely believe that Allah’s command is best for me.

        But I do like to find the wisdom behind those commands as much as I can because it strengthens my iman. Like the punishment for stealing is cutting of the hands. I thought it was barbaric and cruel until I heard a scholar explain that such a punishment would lead to a society where there is no stealing and no need to lock doors!! And this realization strengthed my Iman.

        I take pride in the fact that Islam provides logical and effective solutions for the problems of humanity, and I don’t like the concept of blind faith because in the Quran Allah keeps telling us “….. If only they could see” . If we try and ponder Inshallah we will be able to see the beauty of Allahs commands.

        Thank you!!

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