Having pictures hung in one's dwelling
Fatwa No: 84182

  • Fatwa Date:15-5-2002 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 4, 1423
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Question

If a picture is hung in a dwelling, angels do not enter. What is the difference between picture, idol and photo? What about the pictures in books, magazines and news papers, text books?

Answer

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the World; and may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.
It is unanimously agreed by all the Muslim scholars that it is prohibited to keep the statutes and dimensional pictures or paintings of living creatures in the Muslim home. Two Hadith by the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) are narrated as follows:
1) "On the Day of Resurrection the most severe chastisement will be for the makers of figures" .
2) "Those who make figures will be chastised on the Day of Resurrection. They will be told, 'Put life into what you have created'" .
As far as photography is concerned, there is no unanimous ruling by the contemporary jurists whether the prohibition applying to the statutes is also applicable to photographs. Some jurists rely on the generalization in the Hadith Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) which prohibit photographs in general and say that the rationale behind the prohibition is that the painters or photographers try to imitate Allah's attribute of creatorship and therefore they ruled that the photographs are not lawful except when it is necessary (e.g. for the passport or ID card).
On the other hand, some scholars say that the photograph is not an imitation of Allah's attribute of creatorship, but it is merely capturing the image of a real object through the camera and there is no reason for prohibition in this case.
However, as a precaution, the Muslim should avoid photography except when it becomes necessary.
There is discord between the jurists when the subject matter of the photograph is an object which it is lawful to view or look at. However, it is unanimously agreed among the scholars that it is prohibited to photograph something that is unlawful to look at, e.g. pictures of ladies, or pornography, or obscenity. It is prohibited to acquire and display the idols, the three dimensional figures of living creatures and the photographs of an object which it is a prohibited to view. Muslims should avoid hanging and displaying photographs of an object or a person even if it is lawful to see, because through looking at these photographs you may venerate or glorify that person. Thus, you will also avoid breaking the unanimously agreed rules.
In the decent newspapers, magazines or journals that are not banned, it is permissible to glance of the photos and images, while it is preferable to deface such photos if possible.
On the other hand, if the journal is obscene or indecent, or banned by the Muslim authorities it is unlawful (Haram) to view the photos or images contained therein.
Allah knows best.

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