Explanation of Hadith about pictures
Fatwa No: 84617

  • Fatwa Date:31-7-2002 - Jumaadaa Al-Oula 22, 1423
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Question

Ayisha said: Once the Prophet came back from one of his travels, (came into the house) and I had covered a wall with a Qiram (a thin woolen garment) with pictures on it. The Prophet got angry and cut the Qiram and said: "The worst punishment on the Day of Resurrection will be for those who imitate the creation of Allah (by making pictures)." [Bukhari and Muslim]. The Prophet said: "A tongue-like fire will come out of Hell (on the Day of Resurrection) and say: I am the punishment for whoever worshipped other than Allah, and a stubborn tyrant, and the picture makers." [An authentic Hadith].The above-mentioned two Hadiths obviously establishing that picture drawing is prohibited and also a great sin. But nowadays we can see almost all Muslim homes and offices were decorated with sceneries and pictures. And many Muslims are involved this art of drawing pictures. So I have asked about this to a local scholar who answered me that picture drawing means making idols and statues, etc., but I am not satisfied by this answer. So I kindly request to give me a clear and detail answer regarding with this.

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.

The Hadith of Ayisha (Radiya Allahu Anha) has been reported in Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim with many different words some of them are as following:
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said: "Whoever makes a picture will be punished by Allah till he puts life in it, and he will never be able to put life in it" .
Another Hadith reads: "The most severe punishment will be to those who try to create something like the creation of Allah" .
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said: "Angels do not enter a house in which there is a picture" .
Another Hadith is with the words: "When a pious person amongst them (among the religious groups) dies they build a place of worship on his grave, and then decorate it with such pictures. They would be the worst of creatures on the Day of Judgment in the sight of Allah" .
The other Hadith you are asking about is reported from Imam Ahmad , al-Tirmizi with the sound chain with the following words: "On the Day of Resurrection there will emerge a neck from Hell having two eyes which see, two ears which hear and a tongue which speaks, and it will say. 'I am in-charge of three types of people: anyone who is arrogant and obstreperous, anyone who invokes another god along with Allah, and those who make representations of things" .
The above Hadith and the Hadith similar in meaning prove the prohibition of making pictures of living beings and that it is among the major sins.
Know that the word 'picture' mentioned in the Hadith includes three kind:
A) Forming three-dimensional figures of living creatures such as idols, statues, etc. is forbidden. All the Muslim scholars agree on this ruling.
B) Making pictures by hand, such as painting on paper, cloth, wall, etc. The majority of Muslim scholars are of the opinion that this kind of picture is also forbidden. There is no evidence that approves this kind of painting or image making is lawful and restricts the prohibition only to idols and statues as you mentioned in your question. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) spoke emphatically about the severe punishment of image making when he saw a curtain that contained pictures in the house of Ayisha (Radiya Allahu Anha); there were neither idols nor statues in the house.
C) Photography by camera or video. The contemporary scholars have different opinions in this matter. However, it is safer for a Muslim not to engage in photography or to have pictures of living creatures, unless to make identity cards or the like.
As for hanging such forbidden pictures on a wall, no doubt it is forbidden and the angels will not enter there as mentioned in the above Hadith.
Allah knows best.

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