Jan 14, 2013

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Is it the intention that determines the permissibility of drawing images

Is it the intention that determines the permissibility of drawing images

Question:

I understand that drawing animate beings can be considered imitating Allah’s(swt) creation which is a sin. Is it the intention that determines the permissibility of drawing images?

Some scholars say drawing an animate object without eyes or full features is permissible.

Also what about animate objects which are not the creation of Allah, such as creatures in certain video games like monsters and such.

Also if those are haram wouldn’t video games and some animated movies be haram too because they require drawing detailed images of humans, animals and man-made creatures.

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Indeed there is an aspect of challenging Allah’s ability of creation when pictures are drawn. In most cases this intent is openly resonated by the painters who marvel at the “creativity” and “uniqueness” of their master piece.

Narrated on the authority of Ibn Umar (Radiallahu Anhu) that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “Those who make pictures will be punished on the day of judgment. It will be said to them, “Bring to life what you have created!” (Muslim, # 2108, Darul Ahyā’ at Turāth)[1]

However, to conclusively say that the prohibition of animated pictures is solely because of this aspect of challenging the power of Allah is not correct. Had this been the case, the making images of humans void of such intent would have been permissible. In view of such reasoning drawing pictures would have been permissible for Rasulullah salallahu ῾alayhi wasallam who could never have any such intent of challenging Allah’s qudrah. Instead the hadeeth mentions,

Narrated on the authority of Ibn Mas’ood (Radiallahu Anhu) that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “The people who will be most severely punished on the Day of Judgment are those who make pictures. (of animate objects) (Muslim, #5505, Darul Ahyā’ at Turāth)[2]

In another hadeeth it is mentioned,

Abu Huraira (Radiallahu anhu) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Jibraeel (Alayhis salaam) came to me and said: I came to you last night, but the only thing that prevented me from entering was the presence of pictures on the door, pictures inside the home on the curtains and a dog inside the home. Therefore, order the head of the picture on the door to be cut so that it will resemble a tree. And order that the curtain be cut into two pieces strewn on the floor to be trampled over, and order the dog to be removed”. (Tirmidhi # 2806, Matba’a Mustafa)[3]

Hence, the prohibition of making pictures is beyond merely the intent of the person drawing it or keeping it.

With regards to drawing the picture of a face, some suggest to draw without eyes or striking a line through the throat; then Fuqahā’ have clarified that these acts are not sufficient to remove the impermissibility of the picture. In fact, they assert that if a picture of an animate object is to be drawn, then it should be drawn without the head. This would be because the body cannot survive without the head, while many bodies can live without eyes, nose, mouth etc.[4]

With regards to those animate pictures which do not resemble living creatures, these should be impermissible to an even greater extent since the intent of drawing these objects is to allude to a creation not known to man. The factor of challenging the power of Allah is much more in these pictures. Many of the mythical creatures which became an object of worship in the pre Islamic history of mankind were such animate objects which were beyond the known creation of Allah.

In light of this, any animate painting, graphics, 3D object of any game will fall under the same prohibition. Even in the expression of these 3D graphic designers, they feel as though they have brought such and such character to life by giving it animated movements, emotional expressions and a contextual story line. These designers now engage in competitions to make their conceived characters as life like as possible. If someone holds such endeavors tantamount to breathing soul into these creations of theirs, then they would not be wrong.

Hence, such video games which have these animated beings will indeed be characterized as pictures and the prohibition of drawing these characters will also apply to these designers. In the current age it is indeed very difficult to restrict oneself to halal and wholesome living, but the rewards from Allah lay in exerting and struggling in obedience of Allah. There are times where avoiding these prohibitions is beyond one’s control so in such times Allah shall not burden the soul with more than it can bear. There are also times when Allah gives us the ability to mould our lives according to our own decisions. In such times, it is a test of Allah as to which of the best form of deeds will we follow.

Allah Ta’ala says,

تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي بِيَدِهِ الْمُلْكُ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ . الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ (الملك 1-2)

Blessed be He in Whose hands is Dominion; and He over all things hath Power. He who created death and life so that He may test you all as to who from among you opts for the best of actions and He is the Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving. (Qur’an c67 v1-2)

And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Faisal bin Abdul Hameed,
Montréal, Canada 

Checked and Concurred by,
Mufti Luqman Hansrot


[1]  صحيح مسلم- دار إحياء التراث العربي (3/ 1669)

97 – (2108) حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرِ بْنُ أَبِي شَيْبَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا عَلِيُّ بْنُ مُسْهِرٍ، ح وَحَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ الْمُثَنَّى، حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى وَهُوَ الْقَطَّانُ، جَمِيعًا عَنْ عُبَيْدِ اللهِ، ح وَحَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ نُمَيْرٍ، – وَاللَّفْظُ لَهُ – حَدَّثَنَا أَبِي، حَدَّثَنَا عُبَيْدُ اللهِ، عَنْ نَافِعٍ، أَنَّ ابْنَ عُمَرَ، أَخْبَرَهُ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: ” الَّذِينَ يَصْنَعُونَ الصُّوَرَ يُعَذَّبُونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ، يُقَالُ لَهُمْ: أَحْيُوا مَا خَلَقْتُمْ “

[2]  صحيح مسلم – دار إحياء التراث العربي (3/ 1670)

2 – وَحَدَّثَنَا نَصْرُ بْنُ عَلِيٍّ الْجَهْضَمِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الْعَزِيزِ بْنُ عَبْدِ الصَّمَدِ، حَدَّثَنَا مَنْصُورٌ، عَنْ مُسْلِمِ بْنِ صُبَيْحٍ، قَالَ: كُنْتُ مَعَ مَسْرُوقٍ، فِي بَيْتٍ فِيهِ تَمَاثِيلُ مَرْيَمَ فَقَالَ مَسْرُوقٌ: هَذَا تَمَاثِيلُ كِسْرَى فَقُلْتُ: لَا، هَذَا تَمَاثِيلُ مَرْيَمَ، فَقَالَ مَسْرُوقٌ، أَمَا إِنِّي سَمِعْتُ عَبْدَ اللهِ بْنَ مَسْعُودٍ يَقُولُ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «أَشَدُّ النَّاسِ عَذَابًا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ الْمُصَوِّرُونَ»

[3]  سنن الترمذي ت شاكر – شركة مكتبة ومطبعة مصطفى البابي الحلبي – مصر (5/ 115)

2806 – حَدَّثَنَا سُوَيْدٌ قَالَ: أَخْبَرَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ المُبَارَكِ قَالَ: أَخْبَرَنَا يُونُسُ بْنُ أَبِي إِسْحَاقَ قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا مُجَاهِدٌ، قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: ” أَتَانِي جِبْرِيلُ فَقَالَ: إِنِّي كُنْتُ أَتَيْتُكَ البَارِحَةَ فَلَمْ يَمْنَعْنِي أَنْ أَكُونَ دَخَلْتُ عَلَيْكَ البَيْتَ الَّذِي كُنْتَ فِيهِ إِلَّا أَنَّهُ كَانَ فِي بَابِ البَيْتِ تِمْثَالُ الرِّجَالِ، وَكَانَ فِي البَيْتِ قِرَامُ سِتْرٍ فِيهِ تَمَاثِيلُ، وَكَانَ فِي البَيْتِ كَلْبٌ، فَمُرْ بِرَأْسِ التِّمْثَالِ الَّذِي بِالبَابِ فَلْيُقْطَعْ فَلْيُصَيَّرْ كَهَيْئَةِ الشَّجَرَةِ، وَمُرْ بِالسِّتْرِ فَلْيُقْطَعْ وَيُجْعَلْ مِنْهُ وِسَادَتَيْنِ مُنْتَبَذَتَيْنِ تُوطَآنِ، وَمُرْ بِالكَلْبِ فَيُخْرَجْ “، فَفَعَلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَكَانَ ذَلِكَ الكَلْبُ جَرْوًا لِلْحَسَنِ أَوِ الحُسَيْنِ تَحْتَ نَضَدٍ لَهُ فَأَمَرَ بِهِ فَأُخْرِجَ

[4]  حاشية الطحطاوي على مراقي الفلاح شرح نور الإيضاح (ص: 362)

“مقطوعة الرأس” لا تزول الكراهة بوضع نحو خيط بين الرأس والجثة لأنه مثل المطوق من الطيور كذا في الشرح ومثل القطع طلبه بنحو مغرة أو نحته أو غسله ومحو الوجه كمحو الرأس بخلاف قطع اليدين والرجلين فإن الكراهة لا تزول بذلك لأن الإنسان قد تقطع أطرافه وهو حي كما في الفتح وأفاد بهذا التعليل أن قطع الرأس ليس بقيد بل المراد جعلها على حالة لا تعيش معها مطلقا

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