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Real Talk: Is Drawing Pictures Prohibited in Islam?

06 July, 2020
Q Why is it considered haram to draw pictures?


Short Answer: 

  • Although there is a strong tradition of hadiths which give strong warnings against drawing pictures, most artists will tell you that they have no intention to somehow compete with God in creation.
  • Some scholars, such as Khalib Abu Fadl, say that matters of such great social importance should not rest on a prohibition that’s given [only] in the hadith, with no mention in the Quran.

Asalamu Alaikum,

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Dr. Shabir Ally addresses this question in the video below:


Safiyyah Ally: OK, Brother Shabir, the first question we have is about drawing pictures the question is: is it prohibited for a Muslim to draw pictures of human beings?

Dr. Shabir Ally: Here we have to proceed very carefully because there is a strong tradition that prohibits this.

In fact, there are many hadith reported in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) gives strong warning against drawing pictures.

Safiyyah Ally: OK, is there any reasoning related to this?

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Dr. Shabir Ally: The reasoning given in the hadith is that partly this is an act of competing with God’s creation.

So, God createsYou cannot create any live object. But you are drawing a picture as a way of competing with God.

And this seems to be a strange reason given in the hadith because most artists will tell you that they have, this is farthest from their minds.

Nobody has in mind that he is somehow competing with God. And what sort of competition?

The hadith says that on the day of judgment the artists will be asked to put life into what he created as the final way of humiliating the artist. Because obviously, he will not be able to do that.

Whereas God has put life in what he has already created.

But that seems hardly necessary because it’s already a given that the artist is unable to create like God creates.

So there is something strange about the way in which this is narrated.

Safiyyah Ally: So, would it be wrong to say that it’s prohibited to draw animals or human beings?

Dr. Shabir Ally: I would reserve judgment on that prohibition.

And I would go with Khalib Abu Fadl, who has said in his book, Speaking in God’s Name, that matters of such great social importance should not rest on a prohibition that’s given [only] in the hadith.

Safiyyah Ally: OK so …

Dr. Shabir Ally: I will then say that I wouldn’t subscribe to that as being prohibited.

I hope this helps answer your question. Please keep in touch.

Walaikum Asalam.

(From AboutIslam’s archives)

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