Thursday, 11 January 2007

Pictures Of Animate Objects - 101

The purpose of this post is to answer a recent question from the ReviveIslam googlegroup.

Evidence Of The Unlawfulness Of Animate Picture Making In Islam
The Prophet Muhammad SAW said:
"Every maker of (animate) pictures will go to the fire, where a being will be set upon him for each picture he made, to torment him in Hell."
The Prophet Muhammad SAW said:
"Whoever makes an image shall be required (on the Last Day) to breathe a spirit into it, but will never be able to do so."
Rasulullah SAW prohibited making pictures of animate objects. He (SAW) even stated that (mafhum):
"The angels of mercy do not enter a house in which there are pictures of animate objects." (Bukhari)
The Wisdom Behind The Prohibition Of Animate Picture Making
One of the reasons for the prohibition of making and taking pictures of animate objects is that it leads to idolatory.
This fact can be seen from the story of the Prophet Nuh AS (Noah) and his disciples. The disciples of Nuh AS were deeply revered and respected by their followers. After their demise, they made pictures of the disciples and placed them in their places of worship. Gradually over a period of time, the people started worshipping the disciples.
Since the background of this was making pictures, and it has a potential of becoming the means of committing Shirk, Islam has prohibited anything that has to do with Shirk directly or indirectly. It is for this reason that we do not find any of the Sahabah RA who drew and thus preserved pictures, and thus there is no picture of Rasulullah SAW and his Sahabah RA.

Discussion On Legal Rulings Relating To Artistic, Photographic And Televisual Depiction of Animate Life

It is not permissible to purchase or portray pictures of any animate object, be it images on clothes, on books, newspapers, advertisements, etc. However, where there is a need (the word need her must not be abused), for example, pictures of animate objects need to be viewed for educational purposes, then it will be permissible.

The concept that many people have that if the eyes / ears / nose are removed from the picture of animate object, it no longer remains "a complete animate picture, is in fact a misconception.
The Fuqahaa (jurists) are unanimous that the entire head of the animate object has to be removed then only will it be permissible. Merely removing the eyes is not sufficient.

There is no difference between images of a fictional character (e.g. aliens, monsters, etc.) and a real life character. The underlying factor is that it is an image of an animate object which is not permissible.

Ruling On Televisual Images

The Ulama differ in their opinions regarding the images that appear on TV and videos.
According to many reliable Ulama like Mufti Taqi Uthmani, televisual images is not strictly Tasweer (picture making) as it is not in durable form.
However, we should also be well informed that there are many other reliable Ulama who do not differentiate between an image being durable or not. Hence televisual images is prohibited.
It is, therefore, best, out of Taqwa, to exercise precaution and abstain from any form of electronic capturing of animate pictures.

However, in view of the differences of opinion, there is a leeway only in the case of dire need, for example, to expose massacre and oppression against Muslims. That is not so in using an audio visual tool for entertainment like in marriage ceremonies and parties.
If There is NEED To Draw An Animate Object, What Part Of The Animation Must Not Be Drawn?
The whole head of the animate object must NOT be drawn.

Decorating Walls And Portraying On Tables etc.

It is unlawful to decorate walls with pictures of animate life.

Attendance Of Function Becomes Not Obligatory

Generally, it is known in the Shari'ah that it is obligatory for whoever invited to a Walimah feast for Nikah to attend, and whoever who does not respond to the invitation has disobeyed Allah and His Messenger SAW, even though he/she is fasting or not.

However, it should be known that among conditions which must be fulfilled, that will make attendance obligatory include:

"that there will be nothing blameworthy there such as flutes, wine, silk-covered sitting mats, or pictures of animate life on the ceiling, walls, upright pillows, or draperies; or clothing inscribed with something blameworthy, and so forth."

Such is the ruling on animate objects in Shari'ah.

In a rigorously authentic hadith, Rasulullah SAW is narrated to have said:

"Allah curse those who make pictures."

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