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:
1- It is not permissible to make statues or flat drawings to commemorate great men in a way that may lead to some kind of worship.
2- People can perpetuate the memories of rulers, thinkers, and scientists through establishing organizations carrying their names or issuing books about their efforts and achievements.
Answering your question, Sheikh Faysal Mawlawi, the late Vice Chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, states:
We should address the issue of statues in light of the following points:
Making, buying or possessing statues falls under the well-known principle of jurisprudence which reads: “Everything is lawful unless there is an attribute turning it into an unlawful matter.”
If people make statues for the purpose of worship, then buying, selling or possessing such would be one of the grave sins.
Making statues to imitate Allah’s creatures is also a grave sin. However, such statues could be of a spiritless object, i.e. the sun, the moon … etc. or of a lawful doll. Hence, some scholars said that the permissibility or otherwise of such statues depends on the intention of the one who makes them.
It is not permissible to make statues or flat drawings to commemorate great men in a way that may lead to some kind of worship. This is out of blocking the ways leading to evil; a rule unanimously agreed upon by scholars.
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Statues and drawings which are neither for the purpose of worship or reverence are permissible, even if there is no legitimate need for them. Making such statues becomes commendable if there is a legitimate reason, i.e. children dolls are lawful according to the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence.
People can perpetuate the memories of rulers, thinkers, and scientists through establishing organizations carrying their names or issuing books about their efforts and achievements.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.