Filming and selling instructional and satirical videos
Fatwa No: 331402

Question

Assalamu alaykum. I wanted to ask: is it okay for me to film myself talking (reviewing) about books and movies? I want to use a video recorder to film myself making funny/satirical reviews of books, movies, and video games and criticize them. Am I also allowed to make videos of myself talking (positively) or teaching about my country? Or videos in which I discuss and criticize favorite foods? I also sometimes wish to film myself discussing my thoughts on different subjects; is that allowed? If I am not allowed to actually film myself, can I simply record my speech and upload that instead? What about filming myself doing instructional videos? I was hoping to use this opportunity to make some money on the side in a hopefully halal way.

Answer

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  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

First of all, we say that there is a difference of opinion about video recording, and a large group of scholars hold the view that it is permissible. Then what has to be looked at is what is to be filmed and the purpose of such filming.

There is nothing wrong with filming yourself while speaking on a permissible topic, but that should not be for being proud of yourself or to waste time; rather, a Muslim should have a good intention of wanting to benefit people so that he can be rewarded for doing so.

Also, there is no harm if the subject is related to positive information about your country or speaks about some kinds of food if this is for a valid purpose, such as drawing the attention to some traditions that may harm people.

The same thing applies to offering instructional videos or criticizing some books, movies, and video games provided that this criticism is Islamically acceptable.

As regards making fun and making satirical reviews about the falsehood that is in them, then it appears – Allaah Knows best – that there is nothing wrong with it, and let your intention be to drive people away from it, but if its benefit is not preponderant, then it is better to avoid it.

Shaykh Al-Munajjid said in the Fataawa of Islam QA, “Mocking the statements of innovators is not forbidden or Kufr (disbelief). But we do not appreciate that refuting the allegations of the innovators be done through mocking them; rather, they should be debated within a sensible manner. Your concern while debating should be to guide them to the Straight Path, as Allaah said to Moosa (Moses) and  Haaroon (Aaron) when He sent them to Pharaoh: {And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear [Allaah].} [Quran 20:44]

As for filming yourself just for the sake of filming, then you should avoid this because it is a waste of time with no benefit. Indeed, time is a blessing for which a Muslim will be asked on the Day of Judgment.

Ibn Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, “There are two blessings in which many people incur loss: health and free time.” [Al-Bukhari]

Finally, there is nothing wrong with earning some money by selling videos about beneficial knowledge. Al-Buhooti from the Hanbali School said in Kash-shaaf Al-Qinaa', “It is permissible to sell books of knowledge.” This is similar to what you wish to do (selling videos to spread knowledge). 

Allaah knows best.

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