Image Making in Islam by Shaad Ahmed

There are many misconceptions regarding the ruling of pictures in Islam. Insha’Allah this article will clear them up using evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah. The purpose of this article is to not attack anybody, but to provide the evidences dealing with this issue.

Allah tells us (what means):

"And We have sent you (Muhammad) as a Messenger to mankind, and Allah is sufficient as a Witness. He who obeys the Messenger, has indeed obeyed Allah, but he who turns away, then We have not sent you as a watcher over them." (Nisa 4:79-80)

This is evidence that when we hear about Prophet Muhammad (S) commanding something or forbidding something we as Muslims have to carry out what he said. For example, Muhammad (S) has instructed us how to pray and we have to follow that way. We can not pray with our hands behind our heads when Prophet Muhammad (S) has instructed us to place them on our chest.

Here are sayings from Prophet Muhammad (S) concerning images.

‘Aisha (R) narrated she had hung a curtain with images (tasaaweer). Allah’s Messenger (S) entered and pulled it down. Aisha then tore it up and made two cushions from it. (Muslim)

We can see the curtain was not only made into cushions, but it was torn so the pictures would not appear on the cushions.

‘Aisha (R) reported she had bought a cushion having images (tasaaweer) on it. When Allah’s Messenger (S) saw it, he stopped at the door and did not enter. She said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! I turn to Allah and His Messenger in repentance. What sin have I committed?’ He (S) said, ‘What is this cushion for?’ I said I have bought it for you to sit and recline on. Allah’s Messenger (S) said, ‘The makers of these images will be punished on the Day of Resurrection and it will be said to them, Make alive what you have created.’ He (S) added, ‘Angels do not enter a house in which there are images.’ (Bukhari, Muslim)

Abu Hurayrah (R) reported that Allah’s Messenger (S) said, ‘Angels do not enter a house where there are statues (tamatheel) or images (tasaaweer).’ (Muslim)

This shows that images cause angels not to enter one’s house along with statues. There is a common misconception that only statues are not allowed, but this hadith makes it very clear that images are also not allowed.

Abdullah Ibn Umar (R) reported Allah’s Messenger (S) said, "Those who make images (suwar) will be punished on the Day of Resurrection and it will be said to them, Make alive what you have created." (Bukhari and Muslim)

Ibn Abbas (R) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (S) said, "Every image maker (musawwir) will be in the fire of Hell. A soul will be made for him for every image which he has made, and it will punish him in the Hellfire." (Muslim)

This shows that the drawing of images of things with souls is not allowed. It is allowed to draw images without souls as Ibn Abbas (R) advised a person who asked about images, "I advise you to make images of trees, everything that does not have a soul." (Bukhari)

It is stated by Imam Nawawi that the majority of the scholars of the madhabs (jamhoor) are agreed in the prohibition of image making (drawings and the like) of things with souls (humans and animals). This includes but is not limited to Imam Abu Haneefah, Imam Maalik, Imam Shafee, and Ath-Thawree. Imam Nawawi did not mention Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, but modern day Hanbali scholars like Sheikh Abdul-Aziz bin Baaz hold image making to be prohibited.

I hope this clears the matter concerning images. We need to rely on the clear evidences that exist. Some people point to the fact that some scholars have not declared image making to be forbidden for whatever reason. It is true Aisha (R) played with dolls as a child, but these ahadith make it apparent we should stay away from images.  Any toys our children play with should at least not have distinctive features such as eyes, a nose, mouth, etc.  Allah knows best.

I hope that people still stay away as Muhammad (S) ordered us to stay away from doubtful matters (even though I believe it is very clear from the evidences that image making is not allowed). He (S) said: "That which is lawful is clear and that which is unlawful is clear, and in between the two of them are doubtful matters about which not many people know. Thus he who avoids doubtful matters clears himself in regards to his religion and honor. But he who falls into doubtful matters falls into that which is forbidden (haraam). (Bukhari and Muslim)

Anything correct in this article is from Allah Ta’Aala and anything which is not correct is from myself. I ask for forgiveness if I have done anything which was hurtful and I ask Allah to forgive us all and enter us into Paradise.

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