I am a merchant who imports clothes for women and children. These clothes contain images of celebrities. What is the Sharee'ah ruling on my earnings? I have large quantities of this type of clothes. If trading in such clothes is unlawful, then what should I do with the clothes that I have?
All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.
According to the sound of the scholars' opinions regarding this issue, it is unlawful to wear clothes containing images of living beings such as humans, birds, or animals. This ruling is based on the general indications of the proofs disallowing image producing and others indicating that the angels do not enter a house in which there is an image. Moreover, it was authentically reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, tore the curtain that contained images. It was narrated on the authority of ‘Aa’ishah that she said:
"The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, entered upon me while there was a thin curtain of wool containing images. Thereupon, the color of his face changed, and he picked up the curtain and tore it and then said, "The people who will be most severely punished on the Day of Resurrection will be the image-makers." [Al-Bukhari]
Since making images and wearing clothes containing images are prohibited, trading in this is prohibited as well. This is based on the rule that states that the means that help in committing what is prohibited are prohibited as well. Moreover, when Allah makes something prohibited, He makes its price prohibited.
Some scholars are of the opinion that it is permissible to wear clothes containing images because they are not honored in this way. However, this does not conform to reality since these images are put on clothes out of respect and veneration for those who are illustrated by them. That is why they choose the images of celebrities, as stated in the question.
You should know that the prohibition is more emphasized when these images are for barefaced women, figures who are revered by non-Muslims, or people who belong to deviant trends and principles. The reason behind prohibiting wearing clothes that have such a type of images is that it makes the heart attached to such persons and minimizes the belief of allegiance to the believers and disassociation with the disbelievers.
Since you have large quantities of these clothes, we advise you to return them to the exporter and replace them with others, even if you have to give up a part of the price. According to a group of the scholars, iqalah (recession of contract with the free consent of both parties) is not considered a form of sale.
Allah knows best.
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