Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Photography: Halal or Haram?


As-Salamo Aleikom Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu

I want to start by saying that I'm of the opinion that Photography is Halal as long as it meets certain points. I also want to say that there's difference of opinion among the scholars regarding this subject and I do follow the opinion of sheikh Ibn 'Uthaymeen in this.

So, I'll present here sheikh Ibn 'Uthaymeen's point of view and I'll leave you a link to a fatwa where some of the opposite opinions are. I may comment in turquoise throughout the article, inshaAllah.

Sheikh Ibn 'Uthaymeen said:

“…Any pictures that are carved out of wood or rock, or made of mud or clay or anything similar, are all forbidden if they are images of living creatures that have souls because of their imitation of the Creation of Allah – the Mighty and Majestic. And in the authentic hadith is that the Messenger of Allah cursed the image-makers, and to be cursed is to be expelled and far-removed from the Mercy of Allah. And in the hadith qudsi also is that Allah – the Exalted – said: “And who is more oppressive than the one who went and created as I have Created! So, let them create an atom, or let them create a mustard seed, or let them create a fiber.” And also, in the authentic hadith: “The people who will be tortured most on the Day of Resurrection are the image-makers who imitate the Creation of Allah. It will be said to them: ‘Bring life to what you have made.’” And the proofs for this are many, and from the image-making that this warning applies to – according to the strongest opinion – is that which takes place when a human being draws an image of a creature with a soul by hand. This falls under the image-making that is warned against, and it is a sin from amongst the major sins.

As for the image-making that takes place using instant cameras, this does not appear to fall under this, because the photographer does not draw out or try to imitate the Creation of Allah. Because of this, if some people are presented with a photograph that has been taken, you will not find them saying: ‘How good is this photographer! How excellent is he!’ But, if they are presented with a hand-drawn picture that closely resembles what was being drawn, they will say: ‘How good is this artist! How excellent is he!’ So, this proves that there is a difference between drawing the picture by hand and taking it using a camera.

Ok, so, here we see 2 points:

1- The photographer doesn't make the image, he simply captures it. The camera was created after a Muslim cientist discovered how the eyes work and how we can see. Our eyes see because light is reflected on the objects and that reflection enters our eye and presents a picture. This is how cameras work, whether they are photographing cameras or video cameras. So, if they are haraam, it would be haraam for us to see as well!

2- About the argument of saying that people don't praise the techniques of the photographer. Many people claim it's weak because the photographer is still praised in many situations. BUT when a photographer takes a picture with his camera, is he praised because he CREATED the picture or is he praised because he CAPTURED the essence of the Creation of Allah so beautifully? There's a difference here. He didn't imitate the creation of Allah, he simply captured a beautiful moment or created object or living being. The creation of Allah was already there, he didn't invent anything. I don't see anyone saying "wow, how you made that beautiful horse!". No, the horse is thought to be beautiful but the person doesn't ascribe the creation of the horse to the person, he ascribes it to Allah (if he believes in God.

And this is also proven by the fact that if a person writes something by hand and a photocopy is made of it, the people will not ascribe this writing to the one who made the photocopy of it. Rather, they will ascribe it to the one who originally wrote it, and people still preserve copyrights in this manner. They would not say that this person who made the photocopy did a good job of copying the writing precisely using this innovative technology. In fact, a blind man can be given this task, or a man can perform this task in the dark.

However, if a man copies the handwriting of the original writer by hand so that the people think that it was the original writing itself, the people would then say: ‘How innovative he is! How excellent he is! How did he copy this handwriting so precisely?’ And with the likes of these examples, it becomes clear that photographic imagery is not image-making that can be truly ascribed to the one who took the picture, and it cannot be said that this is imitation of the Creation of Allah because he did not create anything.

And to in order to say that photographs are allowed, a condition must be met that they do not lead to what is forbidden, because the permissible things that lead to the forbidden are in turn forbidden. The means have the ruling of the ends. So, for example, we do not see that it is allowed for a person to take these pictures in order to preserve memories because of what this contains of possession of a picture that we fear might fall under the saying of the Prophet: “The Angels do not enter a house in which there is a picture.”

This last statement would imply not having a computer or digital photography not being existent and what is meant is that there's no permissibility still in hanging pictures around the house because it's still haraam to prevent further "idol-worship" and the like. If you have images, keep them out of sight, in a box or something or cover them.

This is the original fatwa in Arabic: http://www.ibnothaimeen.com/all/noor/article_1205.shtml

And here is the article of the opposite view: http://islamqa.com/en/ref/365/photography

Everyone may know what is haraam when taking pictures.

And Allah knows best.

Take care



Albert Einstein☺ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Claudia Simoes said...

hi... i'm Safyiah, not Dana =) We are partners on this blog.

but thanks for stopping by!


ireminisces said...

Walaikum asalam warahmatulahi wabarakatuhu
SubhanAllah like the photo
Your knowledgabe comments would be much appreciated over at ireminisces

SARAH said...

such an interesting topic! thank you for sharing. so much good has come from photography. especially when promoting Islamic events, businesses, etc. i havent heard this view before, but i like the way you have rationalized it. it's important to look at the whole picture and realize that we need a scholar to interpret the various hadith and put them into context for us. and Allah knows best!


The Black Jubah said...

Assalamualaikum Safyiah,

I know about this subject, but am still confused. You have enlightened it clearly...Jazakallah...

Claudia Simoes said...

@ The Black Jubah

wa aleikom al salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

wa jazaki Allah khair sis =)

Karima said...

Interesting post - I am always wondering what is the correct way - I guess there isn't a true answer - you just have to decide for yourself what you think is permissible. I do like your views on this subject - it is a hard subject for a blogger to know what is permissible to show on blogs too!

Laraib Malik said...

There is no dearth of services in terms of full body 3D scanner from our end. Our studio is one of the best in terms of 3D photography and is known far and wide in terms of 3D photography

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