Does Islam prohibit the use of video cameras or taking pictures, for any purpose? Could you cite any reference to such a prohibition in the Qur'an or the Hadith?
A number of Hadiths are quoted which make it clear that it is forbidden to create a likeness of Allah's living creation. Among the most telling of these are a sacred or Qudsi Hadith and a statement by the Prophet. In the sacred or Qudsi Hadith, the Prophet quotes Allah as saying :
"Who does a greater sin than one who tries to create something like My creation. Let them create a particle or a seed or a barley seed."
(Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
The authentic statement by the Prophet quotes him as saying:
"Those who endure the most grievance or suffering on the Day of Resurrection are the ones who create a likeness."
(Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
In many of these Hadiths, the Arabic word used for the "creation of a likeness" is the same as we use today for photography. Hence, some scholars have tended to pronounce photography as forbidden on the basis of these Hadiths. However, photography was invented long after the Prophet and, therefore, it is not possible that these Hadiths refer to photography unless there was some technique at the time of the Prophet which was used to create photos in the same way as a camera does. Since there was none, we should determine what the word signified at that time.
If we consider how the word is used in the Qur'an, we find that it is invariably used to denote how Allah creates people, animals and things. In its original use the word sawara means "to give shape and form." Hence, majority of learned scholars are of the view that these Hadiths refer to sculpture and making statues and shapes and engravings on stone or wood to create likenesses of Allah's creation. Hence, there is no disagreement among scholars that such works are forbidden not only to produce, but also to buy, possess or display.
Photography does not enter into that. The late Sheikh Muhammad Bakheet, a former Mufti of Egypt, has made it clear that photography is not included in such prohibition. He states that this art is no more than capturing a shade or a reflection by special technique. He clarifies that what is forbidden is to create a likeness which has no previous existence in order to produce something like what Allah has created. Using a camera to take a picture is similar to fixing what we see in a mirror. No one says that looking into mirror is forbidden because it shows a likeness of Allah's creation. We use lenses in cameras in order to capture a mirror picture of the person or the object for which we need a photo. This is perfectly legitimate.
The same applies to using a video camera because it does no more than taking a large number of still pictures which, when shown rapidly, create the image of movement. Having said that, I should add that the purpose for which the photos and videos are used is certainly significant in arriving at a ruling concerning them. We can, therefore, conclude that the likenesses, whether shaped or painted which carry the strictest prohibition are those which have for their objects persons or other creatures whom some people worship, such as the statues of Jesus Christ. Such likenesses are forbidden to make, sell or own or to photograph.
Similarly, statues of people who are not worshipped but are given a position of majesty are also forbidden. All statues and sculpture work are forbidden as well unless they are treated as toys for children. Paintings of people who are glorified are forbidden to hang, particularly if they are paintings of dictators, unjust rulers, atheists or people whose conduct is anti-Islamic. On the other hand, paintings of natural scenery are permissible. Photographs are permissible to start with, unless they are photographs of someone or something which is forbidden. Take, for example, a person who is worshipped by his followers or glorified in an exaggerated way. To have his photograph hung on the wall as a sign of respect is forbidden, particularly if he is a disbeliever or an atheist.
For example, Communists glorify Lenin and have his picture everywhere. It is forbidden for a Muslim to display a photograph of Lenin, because Lenin was a man who denied the existence of Allah and who sought to replace religion with a creed of his own. Whatever is applicable to videos and video tapes of the above uses, have the same ruling. Moreover, a video camera may be used for a variety of purposes. The purpose dictates the ruling. If we use a video camera to study animal life in order to understand Allah's creation, knowing that when we learn something new about the universe and Allah's work in it, we feel that our faith gets stronger, then there is no harm in such use.
Any other permissible use is approved. But when we use a video camera to, say, film a woman dancer who displays a part of her body which Allah has forbidden to reveal, then we are using a video camera for a forbidden purpose. Hence, its use becomes forbidden. I have dwelt in detail on this question hoping to clarify its different aspects. I am particularly keen that there remains no misconception about the use of photography and video cameras.
Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )
Is it permissible in Islam to pray in a room where there is picture hanging on the wall, like human being?
Ahaadeeth indicate that pictures of animate beings are haraam, whether
they are humans or other creatures, whether they are three-dimensional
or two-dimensional, whether they are printed, drawn, etched, engraved,
carved, cast in moulds, etc. These ahaadeeth include all of these types
"The angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or pictures." (Reported by al-Bukhaari, see al-Fath, 10/380).
Is it allowed to take photographs for keeping it as a remembrance and is it allowed to paint pictures?
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, answers:
"Photography as a medium of communication or for the simple, innocent
retention of memories without the taint of reverence/shirk does not fall
under the category of forbidden Tasweer.
One of the stated principles of usul-u-Fiqh
(Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence) is that if anything directly leads
to haram, it is likewise haram. In other words, Tasweer was forbidden
precisely for the reason that it was a means leading to shirk.
“He it is Who fashioneth you in the wombs as pleaseth Him...” (Aale-`Imran 3:6)
Almighty Allah creates man from a drop of seed, then fashions the drop
into a clot, then fashions it into a little lump of flesh shapely and
shapeless, then fashions it into bones and then clothes the bones with
flesh, so blessed be Allah the Best of creators.
Why are pictures and images outlawed by Islam? Is it haram to take a photograph or paint an image? I have a younger brother who enjoys drawing and painting and would even like to learn how to sculpt. Would these subjects be haram for him to study when he reaches college age? Should I try to discourage him from pursuing this particular career?
It is not Haram to take a photograph, but sculpting of living creatures and some painting is Haram. Some of the reasons are:
1) Sculpting led people throughout history to eventually consider the statues of people, animals or birds to possess some power and worship them. Still today approximately 3/4 of the people in the world: i.e.Buddists, Hindus, Christians, some American Indian and African religions, and others pray to statues and bow in front of them. That is a form of ''Shirk'', i.e. giving partners to Allah (s.w.t.).
2) Sculpting and painting have always focused on nude bodies of women, men and children!
3) Sculptors and painters tend to change the reality of they are sculpting or painting, i.e. making things larger than life, very small, change the features of the object, or change the object all together as in abstract art.
4) Sculpting and painting is considered a time consuming, and unproductive useless profession. Photography is legal as long as the rules are observed, such as no pornography, or alterations of how things really are, etc. As to your brother, you should encourage him to pursue a more useful field, and keep art as a hobby he can use to paint scenes from nature like rivers, mountains, trees, sunrises, sunsets, etc.
Can I wear clothes that have pictures on them?
As regards your question, we’d like to state first of all that Islam’s stance on this issue is very clear. The detested pictures and images are only those, which are worshiped and revered. One should not wear any clothes, which have any revered or worshiped images printed upon them.
Clarifying this point, the eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states:
"Photographic pictures and those printed on clothes are originally permissible as long as the picture does not contain anything Haram, and does not aim at glorifying its subject under religious or worldly considerations. The ruling here is more stricter if clothes bear pictures of persons known for their disbelief or deviate character."
Sheikh `Abdul-Majeed Subh, a prominent Azharite scholar, further states:
“It seems from your question that you are influenced by what is propagated regarding the prohibition of photography and statues. When the Prophet cursed Tasweer (making figures), he made an exception to those which are not glorified such as those made in carpets, curtains and the like.
Basr ibn Sa'id is reported to have said, "Zayd ibn Khalid became ill and we went to visit him. There was a picture on the curtain of his door. I said to my companion 'Ubaydullah al-Khulani, who was the servant of the Prophet's wife Maymunah, 'Was it not Zayd who told us about pictures the other day?' 'Ubayd Allah replied, 'Did you not hear him when he said, 'Except if it is made of cloth?'"
Al-Tirmidhi reported on the authority of `Utbah that once the latter went to visit Abu Talhah al-Ansari, who was ill, and he found Sahl ibn Hanif (another Companion) there. Abu Talhah called someone to come and tear up the sheet which was under him. "Why tear it up?" Sahl asked. "There are pictures on it, and you know what the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him said concerning that," Abu Talhah replied. "Did he not also say, 'Except if it is made on cloth?'" Sahl asked. "Yes, but it makes me feel better," Abu Talhah replied."
Based on this, there is nothing wrong in wearing clothes having pictures on them for both children and adults as long as these pictures are not revered or glorified and do not display nudity or lewdness.