Why is picture-making forbidden?

Why is picture-making forbidden?

Question:

Assalamualaikum 

 Respected Muftiyaan, 

 A friend sent me this query below and I do not have knowledge on this topic to answer her. she needs to write it as a part of a thesis. 

-I need some help with a topic I’m researching for B-Tech. It’s related to Aniconism (Picture making ) in Islam. If you have some free time, please answer the following questions: 

1)  Does Islam discourage the illustrations (2 and 3 dimensional) of living beings? 

2)  Why is this so? Please reference each reason if possible.  

Jazakumullah 

Answer:

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

1)  Illustrations of living beings are prohibitedirrespective of the illustrations being two or three dimensional. The prohibition can be understood from the following Aḥādīth:

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: ‏إِنَّ مِنْ أَشَدِّ النَّاسِ عَذَابًا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ الْمُصَوِّرُونَ(رواه النسائي:5364)

Translation:It was narrated that ‘Abdullah (Radhiyallahu  ’Anhu) said: “The Messenger of Allah)(Sallallāhu ’AlaihiWasallam)( has said: Among the people who will be most severely punished on the Day of Resurrection will be the image-makers.(Nasa’ī: 5364)

عَنِ النَّضْرِ بْنِ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، قَالَ كُنْتُ جَالِسًا عِنْدَ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ فَجَعَلَ يُفْتِي وَلاَ يَقُولُ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم حَتَّى سَأَلَهُ رَجُلٌ فَقَالَ إِنِّي رَجُلٌ أُصَوِّرُ هَذِهِ الصُّوَرَ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ لَهُ ابْنُ عَبَّاسٍ ادْنُهْ ‏.‏ فَدَنَا الرَّجُلُ فَقَالَ ابْنُ عَبَّاسٍ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ مَنْ صَوَّرَ صُورَةً فِي الدُّنْيَا كُلِّفَ أَنْ يَنْفُخَ فِيهَا الرُّوحَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَلَيْسَ بِنَافِخٍ

(رواه البخاري:5618)

Translation:Nadhr Ibn Anas Ibn Mālik(Rahimahullah) said: I was sitting with Ibn ‘Abbās when he gave religious verdicts but he did not say that it was Allah’s Messenger (Sallallāhu ’AlaihiWasallam) who had said that. However, when a man said to him (Ibn ‘Abbās): I am the painter of these pictures. Ibn ‘Abbās said: I heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: He who painted pictures in the world would be compelled to breathe soul in them on the Day of Resurrection, but he would not be able to breathe soul (in them). (Bukhari: 5618)

2) The scholars have discussed multiple reasons behind the prohibition of picture-making. We will discuss a few of them.

a) Almighty Allah sent Rasūlullah(Sallallahu’AlayhiWasallam) as the last prophet. His greatest mission was to establish Taw īd. In order to achieve that, every avenue leading to shirk (polytheism) had to be closed. Hence, the prohibition of picture-making. [i] Evidently, picture-making is the first step of shirk. To better understand the link between shirk and picture-making, consider the following.

In the time of Nūḥ(’AlayhisSalām), the people greatly revered their saints. As they would pass away, they would have images made of them, and would keep these close by. The purpose behind keeping their pictures was to serve as an aid to remind them of Allah. However, as the generations passed, these pictures slowly turned into statues. Till a time came that these saints became their deities. Undoubtedly, the root cause of this evolving polytheism was the pictures they kept in their homes. Therefore, to prevent such a thing from happening, Shar’ah has prohibited making illustrations of animate beings.

While it may appear that there is no link between establishing shirk and picture-making, it is essential to understand the plot of Shaytan. Shaytan works tirelessly to deviate the Muslims and implant shirk into their hearts. Though, his approach is subtle and indirect, in a way that is not easily perceived by the people. His approach is similar to that of a thief that adopts a very subtle way to enter one’s premises to fulfill his objective. Shaitan introduces things in our mind in a very subtle way, such that a person deems harmless. However, it is through these very subtle points that Shaytan injects the venom of Kufr and Shikr.

b) Allah Ta’ālā is Al-Muṣawwir (Bestower of features). Allah Ta’ālāgrantsfeatures upon His creation in such a way that distinguishes one form of creation from the other. Allah also grants features in such a way that one creation of the same form distinguishes itself from the other.[ii]Granting features to the creation is among the attributes of Allah.

In keeping with the essence of Tawhid and closing all doors leading to kufr and shirk, it is not permissible to imitate Allah in any way, even by drawing a picture and giving distinct shapes and forms to ensouled objects.[iii][iv] Allah Ta’ālā describes Himself in the following words:

ليس كمثله شيء (الشورى:11)

Translation: There is no being that is similar to Him (As-Shura:11)

c) While the prohibition of picture-making is to close the doors of kufr and shirk, picture-making is itself a major sin and a means of punishment in the hereafter.[v]

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mirza-Zain Baig

Student - Darul Iftaa

Montréal, Québec, Canada

Checked and Approved by,

Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

09-06-1441| 03-02-2019

[i]

أحكام القرآن لابن العربي :دار الكتب العلمية: 9:4

وَاَلَّذِي أُوجِبَ النَّهْيَ عَنْهُ فِي شَرْعِنَا وَاَللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ مَا كَانَتْ الْعَرَبُ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ عِبَادَةِ الْأَوْثَانِ وَالْأَصْنَامِ، فَكَانُوا يُصَوِّرُونَ وَيَعْبُدُونَ، فَقَطَعَ اللَّهُ الذَّرِيعَةَ وَحَمَى الْبَابَ.

فَإِنْ قِيلَ: فَقَدْ قَالَ حِينَ ذَمَّ الصُّوَرَ وَعَمَلَهَا مِنْ الصَّحِيحِ قَوْلَ النَّبِيِّ – عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ -: «مَنْ صَوَّرَ صُورَةً عَذَّبَهُ اللَّهُ حَتَّى يَنْفُخَ فِيهَا الرُّوحَ، وَلَيْسَ بِنَافِخٍ». وَفِي رِوَايَةٍ: «الَّذِينَ يُشَبِّهُونَ بِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ»؛ فَعَلَّلَ بِغَيْرِ مَا زَعَمْتُمْ.

قُلْنَا: نُهِيَ عَنْ الصُّورَةِ، وَذَكَرَ عِلَّةَ التَّشْبِيهِ بِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ، وَفِيهَا زِيَادَةُ عِلَّةِ عِبَادَتِهَا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ، فَنَبَّهَ عَلَى أَنَّ نَفْسَ عَمَلِهَا مَعْصِيَةٌ، فَمَا ظَنُّك بِعِبَادَتِهَا، وَقَدْ وَرَدَ فِي كُتُبِ التَّفْسِيرِ شَأْنُ يَغُوثَ وَيَعُوقَ وَنَسْرًا، وَأَنَّهُمْ كَانُوا أُنَاسًا، ثُمَّ صُوِّرُوا بَعْدَ مَوْتِهِمْ وَعُبِدُوا. وَقَدْ شَاهَدْت بِثَغْرِ الْإِسْكَنْدَرِيَّة إذَا مَاتَ مِنْهُمْ مَيِّتٌ صَوَّرُوهُ مِنْ خَشَبٍ فِي أَحْسَنِ صُورَةٍ، وَأَجْلَسُوهُ فِي مَوْضِعِهِ مِنْ بَيْتِهِ وَكَسَوْهُ بِزَّتَهُ إنْ كَانَ رَجُلًا وَحِلْيَتَهَا إنْ كَانَتْ امْرَأَةً، وَأَغْلَقُوا عَلَيْهِ الْبَابَ.

فَإِذَا أَصَابَ أَحَدًا مِنْهُمْ كَرْبٌ أَوْ تَجَدَّدَ لَهُ مَكْرُوهٌ فَتَحَ الْبَابَ [عَلَيْهِ] وَجَلَسَ عِنْدَهُ يَبْكِي وَيُنَاجِيهِ بِكَانَ وَكَانَ حَتَّى يَكْسِرَ سَوْرَةَ حُزْنِهِ بِإِهْرَاقِ دُمُوعِهِ، ثُمَّ يُغْلِقُ الْبَابَ عَلَيْهِ وَيَنْصَرِفُ عَنْهُ، وَإِنْ تَمَادَى بِهِمْ الزَّمَانُ يَعْبُدُوهَا مِنْ جُمْلَةِ الْأَصْنَامِ وَالْأَوْثَانِ، فَعَلَى هَذَا التَّأْوِيلِ إنْ قُلْنَا:

إنَّ شَرِيعَةَ مَنْ قَبْلَنَا لَا تَلْزَمُنَا فَلَيْسَ يُنْقَلُ عَنْ ذَلِكَ حُكْمٌ. وَإِنْ قُلْنَا: إنَّ شَرْعَ مَنْ قَبْلَنَا شَرْعٌ لَنَا فَيَكُونُ نَهْيُ النَّبِيِّ – صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ – عَنْ الصُّوَرِ نَسْخًا، وَهِيَ: الْمَسْأَلَةُ الْخَامِسَةُ عَلَى مَا بَيَّنَّاهُ فِي قِسْمِ النَّاسِخِ وَالْمَنْسُوخِ قَبْلَ هَذَا.

[ii]

تفسير المظهري: دار الكتب العلمية:91

قال البغوي المماثل للمخلوق بالعلامات التي يتميز بها بعضها عن بعض يقال هذه صورة الأمر اى مثاله فاولا يكون خلقا ثم برأ ثم تصوير او فى الصحاح ما يتنقش به الأعيان ويتميز بها عن غيرها وذلك ضربان أحدهما محسوس يدركه الخاصة والعامة بل يدركه الإنسان وكثير من الحيوانات كصورة الإنسان والفرس والجماد بالمعاينة قلت ومنه وما امتاز به زيد من عمرو الثاني معقول يدركه الخاصة دون العامة كالصورة التي اختص بها الإنسان من الفعل والمعاني التي خص بها شىء دون شيء

[iii]

شرح النووي على مسلم: دار احياء التراث العربي:14:81

قَالَ أَصْحَابُنَا وَغَيْرُهُمْ مِنَ الْعُلَمَاءِ تَصْوِيرُ صُورَةِ الْحَيَوَانِ حَرَامٌ شَدِيدُ التَّحْرِيمِ وَهُوَ مِنَ الْكَبَائِرِ لِأَنَّهُ مُتَوَعَّدٌ عَلَيْهِ بِهَذَا الْوَعِيدِ الشَّدِيدِ الْمَذْكُورِ فِي الْأَحَادِيثِ وَسَوَاءٌ صَنَعَهُ بِمَا يُمْتَهَنُ أَوْ بِغَيْرِهِ فَصَنْعَتُهُ حَرَامٌ بِكُلِّ حَالٍ لِأَنَّ فِيهِ مُضَاهَاةً لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ تَعَا

[iv]

معارف القرآن: مكتبة معارف القرِآن: 8:394

یہ کمال قدرت صرف ایک ہی ذات حق جل شانہ کا ہے جق میں اس کا کوئی شریک نہیں، جس طرح غیر اللہ کے لَئے تکبر جائز نہیں کہ کبریاء صرف اللہ جل شانہ کی صفت ہے، اسی طرح تصویر سازی غیر اللہ کے لئے جائز نہیں کہ وہ بہی اللہ تعالی کی مخصوص صفت مین شرکت کا عملی دعوی ہے

[v]

الموسوعة الفقهية الإسلامية: وزارة الأوقاف والشئون الإسلامية – الكويت: 12: 107-104

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