Wa `alaykum As-Salamu waRahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
There is nothing wrong in taking pictures or editing them as long as they are free of the taints of idolatry or that they are used for porn purposes or for mocking people or even for blackmailing them.
Answering your question, Sheikh Ahmat Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
Photography as a medium of communication or for the simple innocent retention of memories without the taint of reverence/shirk does not fall under the category of forbidden photography.
One finds various traditions from the Prophet (peace be upon him), condemning people who make tasweer which denotes painting or carving images or statues – for their association with paganism or shirk.
People were in the habit of carving of images or statues for the sake of worship. Islam, therefore, declared photography forbidden because of its close association with shirk (association of partners with Allah).
One of the stated principles of Usul-u-Fiqh (Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence) is that if anything directly leads to haram, it is likewise haram. In other words, photography was forbidden precisely for the reason that it was a means leading to shirk.
The function of photography today does not fall under the above category. Even some of the scholars who had been once vehemently opposed to photography in the past changed their position on it. And they allow even for their pictures to be taken and published in newspapers, for videotaping lectures, and for presentations; whereas in the past, they would only allow it in exceptional cases such as passports, drivers’ licenses, etc.
The change in their view of photography is due to their reassessment of the role of photography in the modern world.
Having said this, one must add a word of caution: To take pictures of leaders and heroes and hang them on the walls may not belong to the same category of permission. It may give rise to a feeling of reverence and hero worship, which was precisely the main thrust of the prohibition of photography.
Therefore, one cannot make an unqualified statement to the effect that all photography is halal. It all depends on the use and function of it. If it is for educational purpose without any taints of the excessive reverence bordering on shirk or idolatry, there is nothing in the sources to prohibit it.
Based on this, there is nothing wrong in taking pictures or editing them as they are free of the taints of idolatry or that they are used for porn purposes or for mocking people or even for blackmailing them.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.