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The Islamic Ruling on putting up Pictures in the House

Adapted from "Pictures in the House", by Aboo Ibraaheem Abdul Majeed Alee Hasan. [Please contact the author for permission to reprint / publish this book]


CONTENTS OF THE BOOK

Introduction 

1. General view of Islaam Regarding Pictures

2. Islaam is not opposed to Arts

3. General conclusions regarding Pictures: 
(a) What Imaam Ibn Daqeeq al- 'Eed has said about the pictures?
(b) What 'Allaamah Muhammed Muneer has said about pictures?

4. Islaam is against Idolatry - What is Idolatry?

5: PICTURES … the Door to Immorality

6. Building pictures gave birth to the Unforgivable Sin - 'Shirk'

7. It is prohibited to make pictures of animate creature in Islaam:
(a) The Messenger Muhammad * has cursed a picture-maker 
(b) The picture-maker will be asked to put life into the picture of the living creature on the Day of Resurrection, but he will not be able to do so.
(c) The picture-maker will be punished on the Day of Resurrection

8: The Muslims must not have Pictures of Animate creatures in the House.
(a) The picture in the house prevents the angels of mercy to enter in it. 
(b) The picture in the house prevented the Prophet from entering into it.
(c) The obliteration of the pictures from the house, shops, offices, etc.
(d) The pictures of idols must be torn off from the cloth.
(e) The pictures of the living things can be used as cushions after cutting them into pieces: (i.e. carpets, mats, etc.)
(f) One must avoid such gathering where pictures of living things are displayed or hanged.
(g) It is disliked to pray wearing clothes with pictures or designs.
(h) Making the living by the means of making pictures of living creatures is prohibited in Islaam.


Introduction

All praise is due to Allaah, the Al-Mighty. We all praise Him, seek His help, and ask His Forgiveness. We seek refuge with Him from the evil of our souls, and from our sinful deeds. He whom Allaah guides, none can misguide him and whoever Allaah misguides, none can guide him. I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship, but Allaah and I bear witness openly that Mohammed (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam), is truly His slave (servant) and Messenger.

The main reason behind the compilation of this booklet is to make Muslims aware of the grave prohibition of portraying and hanging animate pictures in the homes and places of work. 

The angels of mercy do not visit such places where pictures are hanged or decorated. Pictures disturb concentration in the prayer. They are the first steps towards to idolatry. The picture-maker is cursed by the Messenger of Allaah (r) and will be punished on the Day of Resurrection. To make a living out of such a profession is prohibited in Islaam. Those who allow drawing pictures of living creatures for education, are clearly mistaken, because at the Prophet's time pictures were never used for education, even though there was a need for education.

May Allah guide all Muslims to the straight path of Islaam. And may Allah guide those who have been mistaken on such issues and allowed the drawing of pictures for education and thus opened a gateway to this major sin in Islam. 


Pictures in the House 

1: GENERAL VIEW OF ISLAAM REGARDING THE PICTURES:

Islaam believes in simplicity. It encourages sublime thought, whilst discouraging materialism. True happiness is not in material possession, but in devotion to Allaah. It is disliked in Islaam that shops and homes be filled with trumpery and superfluous objects. It also prohibits making images of living things, especially images of personalities that could lead to their veneration.

2: ISLAAM IS NOT OPPOSED TO ART
Islaam's prohibition on making pictures of animate beings, should not lead to the conclusion, that Islaam is opposed to art. 

Art in general, is a medium of expression and appreciation of the magnificent creation. This reflects in the works of Muslims in the fields of literature, calligraphy, architecture, and pottery. But painting and carvings of animate beings are not valid forms of artistic expression in Islaam. 

Professor Rom Landau has given some of the characteristics of the Islamic art. He states: "Islamic art was essentially traditional, anonymous and democratic. It was traditional because religious injunctions imposed upon it from very beginning certain non-figurative formulae that practically assumed the authority of dogma. It was democratic because, apart from the comparatively rare piece produced for exceptional occasions, the jugs, the woodcarvings and tiles, the copper trays and leather satchels were, for one and all, not merely for the high and mighty but every man's use. Moreover, it was anonymous because working within a very definite tradition (as did most of the Byzantine artists), a tradition that expressed the innermost spiritual and aesthetic feelings of the community the individual artist. An artisan was perfectly content to act as transmitter of that tradition. The essence, almost the symbol, of that tradition was the arabesque: that rather involved arrangement of geometrical forms stylized plan-elements and lettering that has become the hall-mark of Islamic art, and on which so much of Islaam's artistic genius has been expended". [Islam and the Arabs: p.220.]

3: GENERAL CONCLUSION REGARDING THE PICTURES:

A: What Imaam Ibn Daqeeq al- 'Eed has said about the pictures?
The ahaadeeth pertaining to the preparation of pictures whether with the help of colour, paint, or pencil or photographic cameras, declare this art unlawful in Islaam. The famous scholar of Hadeeth and an eminent jurist of the seventh century of Hijrah, Ibn Daqeeq Al- 'Eed, has made the following observation in regard to this art:

"The reasons of the Sharee'ah are so eloquent and clear in regard to the prohibition of making pictures that they need no comment and elucidation. That person is missing the mark who says that this prohibition comes under the category of disapproval and it is not absolutely unlawful and the stress which had been laid upon its prohibition was because of the fact that idolatry has been quite recently curbed, but now when idolatry has been exterminated and Islaam has spread everywhere, there is no need of stressing its forbiddance with full force. This reason for adopting a lenient attitude toward preparation of pictures is quite invalid for in the ahaadeeth the reason put forward for the unlawfulness of the pictures is this: Those who prepare pictures would be asked to breathe soul on the Day of Resurrection in these pictures made by them. And when would not be able to do this, they would be punished. In the below mentioned hadeeth, the reason for the forbiddance of preparing the pictures of living bodies has been given and that is the vain ambition of the artist in competing with Allaah in His act of creation" [Ihkaam ul Ihkaam Sharh 'Umdatul Ihkaam: vol.2; pp. 171-2.]

B: What 'Allaamah Muhammed Muneer has said about pictures?

A well-known scholar of our times 'Allaamah Muhammed Muneer of Damascus has clearly stated that the photos of the modern age fall under the category of pictures. He says: "The words of the Messenger of Allaah that every maker of the photo would be tormented on the Day of Resurrection, include every artist whether he makes pictures with the help of his hand (pencil or with the help of the colour paint) or with the help of the camera". [Marginal notes on the book Ihkaam ul Ihkaam Sharh 'Umdatul Ihkaam: vol.2; p. 37.]

Artists take pride in preparing pictures exactly like the living ones, up to even minute details. Thus they nurture the vain desire to rival the Creator in His act of Creation. Allaah shall therefore appropriately punish the makers of pictures, bu asking them to breathe life into their creations.

This is just one aspect of the prohibition to picture-making. The major reason for the forbiddance of pictures is that it leads to idolatry and veneration of other than Allaah. The sayings of Allaah's Messenger clearly explain this.

4: ISLAAM IS AGAINST IDOLATRY

Idolatry is the worship of anyone or anything besides Allaah. While formerly, pictures propagated saint-worship, they now assist hero-worship. Pictures have gone a long way in the deification of national heroes and leaders. The false argument that, "now with the spread of Islaam, idolatry has been exterminated and there is no harm in painting of pictures", is not at all valid and is refuted by the fact that, today the pictures and statues of heroes are revered with the same devotion and passion with which the demigods were worshipped in the past.

5: PICTURES … the Door to Immorality
Pictures of the human beings have always served as effective tools for polluting the minds of people and vulgarizing their tastes and tendencies. History bears ample testimony to the fact that the nude and semi-nude pictures have caused havoc to moral health, in the name of art.

6: BUILDING-PICTURES GAVE BIRTH TO UNFORGIVABLE SIN - 'SHIRK'.

Allaah has mentioned in the Glorious Qur'aan:
"And they have said (to each other),`Abandon not your gods: abandon neither Wadd nor Suwa, neither Yaguth nor ya'uq, nor Nasr" [Nooh: 23.]

'Abdullaah ibn 'Abbaas (radiyallahu anhu) reported that, the Arabs worshipped all the idols, which were worshipped by the people of the Prophet Nooh. As for the idol Wadd, it was worshipped by the tribe of Kalb at Daumat-al-Jandal; Suwaa' was the idol of (the tribe of) Huthayl and Yagooth was the idol of the tribe Muraad and then by Banu Ghutayf at Al-Jurf near Saba; Ya'ooq was the idol of Hamdaan, and Nasr was the idol of Himyar, the branch of Thi-al-Kalaa'. The names (of the idols) formerly belonged to some pious men before the time of the Prophet Nooh, and when they died Satan inspired the people to (prepare) and place idols at the places where they used to sit, and to call those idols by their names. The idols however were not worshipped till, the next generation, when the purpose of the idols was forgotten, and people began worshipping them. [See Sahih Al-Bukhari:vol.6; no.442]

'Aayshah reported that Umm Habeebah and Umm Salamah mentioned about a church they had seen in Ethiopia in which there were pictures. They told the Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) about it, on which he said, "If any religious man dies amongst those people they would build a place of worship at his grave and make these pictures in it. They will be the worst creature in the sight of Allaah on the Day of Resurrection." [Sahih Al-Bukhari: vol.1; no.419. Sahih Muslim vol.1; no.1076.]

When Allaah's Apostle (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) came to Makkah, he refused to enter the Ka'bah with idols in it. He ordered (idols to be taken out). So they were taken out. The people took out the pictures of Abraham and Ishmael holding Azlaams in their hands. Allaah's Apostle (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) said: "May Allaah curse these people. By Allaah, both Abraham and Ishmael never did the game of chance with Azlaams." Then he entered the Ka'bah and said Takbeer at its corners but did not offer the prayer in it. [Sahih Al-Bukhari: vol.2; no.671.]

These ahadeeth explain the origin of Shirk, which starts with the building mementos, like statues, pictures, mausoleums and tombs, and result in the worship of these false deities. 

7: IT IS PROHIBITED TO MAKE PICTURES OF LIVING THINGS IN ISLAAM:

The ruling on picture-making is that of haraam (unlawful), because any action that brings about the warning of Hell-Fire, the threat of Allah's anger or the curse of Allah's Messenger, is a clear prohibition and a major sin. A lawful action will never have such severe warnings.

A: Our Messenger, Muhammed (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) has cursed the picture-maker:

Aboo Juhayfah said that he had bought a slave whose profession was cupping. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) forbade taking the price of blood and the price of a dog and the earnings of a prostitute, and cursed the one who took or gave (Riba') usury, and the lady who tattooed others or got herself tattooed, and the picture-maker. [Sahih Al-Bukhari: vol.7;no.845.]

This hadeeth clearly declares that those who make pictures deserve the curse of Allaah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam). According to Imaam Al-Qurtubee, Imaam Ibn al-Katheer, Imaam Ibn al-Juwzee, Imaam al-Baghwee and many others, any verse of the Qur'aan or a Hadeeth that mentions cursing or punishment of Hell-Fire or shows Allaah's anger, such action is considered unlawful and is prohibited.

B: The picture-maker will be asked to put life into the picture of the living creature on the Day of Resurrection, but he will not be able to do so.
'Abdullaah Ibn 'Abbaas said: I heard Muhammad (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) saying, "Whoever makes a picture in this world will be asked to put life into it on the Day of Resurrection, but he will not be able to do so." [Sahih Al-Bukhari:vol.7;no.846.]

C: The picture-maker will be punished on the Day of Resurrection:

"We were with Masruq at the house of Yasar bin Numair. Masruq saw pictures on his terrace and said, "I heard 'Abdullaah ibn Mas'ood saying that he heard the Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) saying, "The people who will receive the severest punishment from Allaah will be the picture makers." [Sahih Al-Bukhari:vol.7;no.834.]

Therefore making pictures of living creatures is clearly prohibited in Islaam and the maker of it will be punished on the Day of Resurrection.

8: THE MUSLIM MUST NOT HAVE PICTURES OF LIVING THINGS IN THE HOUSE:

The house with pictures in it is accursed in many ways;

A: The picture in the house prevents the angels of mercy to enter in it.

Aboo Talhah, a companion of Allaah's Apostle (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) and one of those who fought at Badr together with Allaah's Apostle (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) told me that Allaah's Apostle (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) said. "Angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a picture." He meant the images of creatures that have souls. [Sahih Al-Bukhari:vol.5;no.338.]

'Abdullaah ibn 'Umar said, "Once Jibreel promised to visit the Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam), but he delayed and the Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) got worried about that. At last he came out and found Gabriel and complained to him of his grief (for his delay). Gabriel said to him, "We do not enter a place in which there is a picture or a dog." [Sahih Al-Bukhari:vol.7;no. 843.]

The angel Jibreel is one of the greatest angels loved by Allaah and His Messenger(sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam). But the dog and the picture prevented him from entering in the house of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam). Realize my Muslim brothers and sisters, the tragedy of the angels of mercy, not entering the homes because of pictures. So beware of pictures, and do not be deprived of Allah's Mercy. 

B: The picture in the house prevented the Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) from entering into it:

'Aayshah (the wife of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam)) reported: I bought a cushion having pictures on it. When Allaah's Apostle (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) saw it, he stopped at the gate and did not enter. I noticed the signs of hatred (for that) on his face! I said, "O Allaah's Apostle(sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam)! I turn to Allaah and His Apostle (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) in repentance! What sin have I committed?" He said, "What about this cushion?" I said, "I bought it for you to sit on and recline on." Allaah's Apostle (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) said, "The makers of these pictures will be punished (severely) on the Day of Resurrection and it will be said to them, 'Make alive what you have created.'. He added, "Angels do not enter a house in which there are pictures." [Sahih Al-Bukhari:vol.7;no.844]

The hadeeth shows the Prophet's dislike for pictures, to the extent of his not entering the house. And the Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) hates what is disliked and abhorred by Allah. And the Believers are commanded to follow his guidance in their day-to-day lives. 

C: The obliteration of the pictures from the homes, shops, offices, etc.

Abul Hayyaj al-Asadi told that 'Alee ibn Aboo Taalib said to him: "Should I not send you on the same mission as Allaah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) sent me? Do not leave an image without obliterating it, or a high grave without leveling it." This hadeeth has been reported by Habeeb with the same chain of transmitters and he said: (do not leave) a picture without obliterating it. [Sahih Muslim::vol.2;p.459;no.2115.]

Narrated 'Aayshah : "The Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) never left anything in the house which had carrying images or crosses, but he obliterated it." [Sahih Al-Bukhari : vol.7; no.836.]

D: The pictures must be torn off from the cloth:

'Aayshah said that she hung a curtain decorated with pictures (of animals) on a cupboard. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) tore the curtain and she turned it into two cushions which remained in the house for the Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) to sit on
. [Sahih Al-Bukhari:vol.3; no.659.]

'Aayshah said that: the Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) returned from a journey when I had hung a thick curtain having pictures (in front of a door). He ordered me to remove it and I removed it…." [Sahih Al-Bukhari:vol.7; no.839.]

E: The pictures of the living things can be used as cushions after cutting them into pieces: (i.e. carpets, mats, etc.)

'Aayshah said Allaah's (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) Apostle returned from a journey when I had placed a curtain of mine having pictures over (the door of) a chamber of mine. When Allaah's Apostle (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) saw it, he tore it and said, "The people who will receive the severest punishment on the Day of Resurrection will be those who try to make the like of Allaah's creations." So we turned it (i.e., the curtain) into one or two cushions. [Sahih Al-Bukhari:vol.7; no.838.]

The question arises as to, why is the prohibition on curtains, but not on cushions? The answer is that when the cloth having pictures upon it is torn into pieces and is sewn in another shape, the pictures lose their form and thus they no longer remain pictures. Moreover, in this way the pictures loose their significance.

F: One must avoid such gathering where pictures of living things are displayed or hanged.

'Aayshah narrated :I purchased a cushion with pictures on it. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) (came and) stood at the door but did not enter. I said (to him), "I repent to Allaah for what (the guilt) I have done." He said, "What is this cushion?" I said, "It is for you to sit on and recline on." He said, "The makers of these pictures will be punished on the Day of Resurrection and it will be said to them, 'Make alive what you have created.' Moreover, the angels do not enter a house where there are pictures.'" [Sahih Al-Bukhari:vol.7;no.840.]

G: It is disliked to pray wearing clothes with pictures or designs:

'Aayshah had a thick curtain (having pictures on it) and she screened the side of her house with it. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) said to her, "Remove it from my sight, for its pictures are still coming to my mind in my prayers." [Sahih Al-Bukhari:vol.7; no.842.]

H: Making the living by the means of making pictures of living creatures is prohibited in Islaam.

Sa'eed ibn Abool Hasan said: While I was with Ibn 'Abbaas a man came and said, "O father of 'Abbaas! My sustenance is from my manual profession and I make these pictures." Ibn 'Abbaas said, "I will tell you only what I heard from Allaah's Apostle (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam). I heard him saying, 'Whoever makes a picture will be punished by Allaah till he puts life in it, and he will never be able to put life in it.' " Hearing this, that man heaved a sigh and his face turned pale. Ibn 'Abbaas said to him, "What a pity! If you insist on making pictures I advise you to make pictures of trees and any other unanimated objects." [Sahih al-Bukhari: vol.3; no.428. Sahih Muslim:vol.3;no.5272]

These words of Ibn 'Abbaas implied a sanction for the painting of the lifeless things, for example, trees, flowers, landscape, mountains and rivers, etc. Nevertheless, the style in which the eminent Companions of the Holy Prophet expressed this sanction clearly indicates that it is not something very much desirable.

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