Bismillahi ar-Rahman ar-Rahim

Fiqh of Picture-Making


As-salaamu alaykum,

There is somewhat of a difference of opinion among the scholars in regard to pictures and other types of images. Most scholars seem to agree that the display of images is at best makruh and should only be done in a limited way for specific reasons. Many scholars hold that some kinds of pictures are haram. The way that I understand it is the following:

1) Drawings of inanimate objects and plants are halal except if they are used for shirk. That is, if you draw a picture of a tree with the intention of worshiping the picture of the tree, then that is haram. But otherwise it is halal.

2) Drawings of animate objects such as animals and humans are in general considered to be haram with the following exceptions:
a) If the image is partial or incomplete and not a full-body image, then this is halal
b) If the facial features of the image have been erased even if it is a full-body image, then this is halal

3) There is a difference of opinion about whether photography is to be considered the same as drawings (this is the opinion of Shaykh Munajjid) or is in a class of its own that does not have the same restriction as drawings (this is the opinion of Shaykh Yusuf Qaradawi, among others).

It is my personal preference to avoid what is doubtful as much as I can and therefore to avoid the use of full-body photographs of humans and animals if I can use partial images, erase the facial features, or avoid the use of such images altogether. However, other people may feel differently.

It is certainly difficult to follow such a rule in modern society, but I do not feel that it is "extreme". Inshallah, if we refrain from doing something for the sake of Allah SWT, He will reward us, and especially so if the sacrifice is difficult for us.

W'as-salaam alaykum


Further Reading

1) The liberal position is set out by Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

2) The conservative position is set out by Shaykh Muhammad al-Munajjid.

3) Shaykh Munajjid explains the exemptions for partial or incomplete images and images with facial features erased.