Fatwa No : 7447
Buddha Statue destroyed by Taliban
Fatwa Date : Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 4, 1432 / 8-5-2011
What is the ruling on the Taliban destroying idols and statues in Afghanistan?
Is there any Shar‘i (Iegislation) justification to oppose the Taliban movement for destroying those idols?
All perfect praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad , is His Slave and Messenger.
There is a lot of Sharee‘ah-based evidence proving that Muslims are to destroy idols and statues as long as they are able to do so, regardless of whether or not these idols are worshiped. This evidence includes the following:
First, it was narrated that the Prophet , answered ‘Amr bin ‘Abasah when he asked him about his mission, saying that Allaah The Almighty had sent him to strengthen ties of kinship and destroy idols so that He alone would be worshipped and nothing would be associated with Him. [Muslim]
Second, it was narrated that when the Prophet , sent ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib to conquer some countries he commanded him to destroy any idol and level any high grave. [Muslim]
Third, it was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet , told them that Jibreel (Gabriel) told him that he had come a night before but could not enter the house (of the Prophet ,) because there was a statue at the door, a curtain decorated with images of statues in the house, and there was a dog in the house. Then Jibreel ordered the Prophet , to have the head of the statue cut off, the curtain cut into two cushions to be sat and stepped on, and to have the dog removed from the house. The Prophet did so. [At-Tirmithi and Abu Daawood].
What the Prophet , did, according to this Hadeeth, invalidates any allegation that idols and statues are only to be destroyed if they are worshipped or feared to be worshipped, since this could never have been a probability in the house of the Messenger of Allaah .
It is prohibited to draw or copy the form of animals or humans. This is based on the Hadeeth stating that those who produce images for living beings would be the most severely punished by Allaah The Exalted on the Day of Resurrection. [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]. Another Hadeeth states that those who produce images of living beings will be punished on the Day of Resurrection and will be commanded to breathe life into what they had produced. A third Hadeeth states that each person who makes an image in this life will be ordered to breathe life into it, and he will not be able to do so, and this is a kind of punishment. [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim].
There is a lot more evidence indicating the prohibition of image producing and its being a major sin as stated by An-Nawawi .
This is why all Islamic jurists agree that the existence of statues is an evil that must be abolished. Statues are not an honored property under Islamic Sharee`ah, and the person who destroys them is not trespassing, rather he is fulfilling a duty.
If a statue is worshipped, it is even more necessary to destroy it.
Therefore, the Taliban destroying the statue of Buddha is lawful and is a deed for which they will be rewarded. Moreover, if they did not destroy it, they would have been considered sinful.
It is incorrect to think that this ruling applies only to statues in the Arabian Peninsula, as it applies to all statues and idols without exception.
The allegation that the Companions did not destroy the idols they found in the conquered countries is an unsupported claim. It is impossible to think that the honorable Companions kept the idols, especially since they were still being worshipped at that time. Some people may argue that the idols of the Pharaohs, Phoenicians and others still exist, so why did the Companions keep them?
There are three probabilities:
First, the Companions did not reach these idols because they were in remote places. Just because Egypt was conquered, does not mean the Companions reached every place there.
Second, at the time of the Companions the idols might have been inside the houses of the Ancient Egyptians. The Prophet , had taught them to hasten when passing by the houses of the tyrants or people who were punished by Allaah The Exalted. Moreover, he forbade them to enter such places. The Prophet , commanded the Companions to weep when they reached the places of the dwellers of Al-Hijr, lest they be afflicted with the same punishment as those people. [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim] Hence, the Companions used to avoid entering the houses and temples of those people. That was why they did not destroy any of the idols inside the Pyramids. As the idols were buried at that time, it is most probable that they did not even see the entrances.
Third, most of the existing statues were only discovered recently, as they were buried at the time of the Companions or were brought from places that the Companions never reached. Az-Zirikli was asked whether or not the Companions who participated in conquering Egypt had seen the Pyramids and the Sphinx. He explained that most of these monuments, especially the Sphinx, were buried at that time.
Fourth, it is probable that the Companions did see some statues, but they did not have the means to destroy them. For example, destroying the statue of Buddha took twenty days using machines, which were certainly unavailable at the time of the Companions . This point of view is supported by a narration by Ibn Khaldoon that Caliph Ar-Rasheed tried to destroy a huge palace that had belonged to Khosrau (the Persian emperor), so he used every resource at his disposal to achieve this goal but failed. The same also happened with the Pyramids, when Caliph Al-Ma’moon tried to destroy them but failed.
The allegation that these statues were considered part of human civilization does not justify keeping them. Al-Laat, Al-‘Uzza, Manaat, Hubal and other idols that were worshipped in the Arabian Peninsula were a part of the civilization of that time as well, but it is an evil and prohibited part of human heritage that must be removed and destroyed.
May Allaah The Almighty guide all Muslims to do what pleases Him.
Allaah knows best.