Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi 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:
1- One of the basic Islamic morals is to avoid mocking others and rendering them a laughing-stock of others. Such thing is likely to breed enmity and sow the seeds of hatred among people.
2- Drawing funny caricatures of a person should not be intended to mock the person himself or to defame or inflict harm on him. Rather, such drawings should aim at criticizing an action rather than its doer.
This fact is highly stressed by Dr. `Abdul-Fattah `Ashoor, professor of Qur’anic Exegesis at Al-Azhar University, as he says:
In Islam, playfulness and humor are governed by certain parameters and moral ethics. Such thing, for instance, should not represent, address, or refer to a certain person in a way that makes him a source of mockery by others, for this may ignite enmity, and disseminate envy among people.
Tackling the issue of drawing caricatures and the conditions that are supposed to govern them, late Sheikh Faisal Mawlawi, the late deputy chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, adds,
Caricatures that are common in today’s newspapers try in some cases to portray a person in a way that his physical features are altered. Such a procedure is permitted if the following conditions are met:
Drawing funny caricatures of a person should not be intended to mock the person himself or to defame or inflict harm on him. Rather, such drawings should aim at criticizing an action rather than its doer.
It is reported in Sahih Muslim that `Abdullah Ibn Sargas used to say “I saw the bald man kissing the stone”, and people saw nothing wrong in that saying. It stands to reason that the previous fact is based on the well-known Prophetic Hadith, which states that “Actions are based on the intentions behind them, and every one shall have but that which he intended…” (Muslim)
There should be a distinction between ordinary persons (i.e. the general public), and people at the helm. People in authority are trusted to pay attention to the common weal and people’s public interests.
However, if those people are inattentive to daily corruption and fail to play the positive role that they should assume, then there is nothing wrong in criticizing them through caricature.
As long as it is permitted to criticize the actions of those people through legal channels, then there is nothing wrong in drawing caricature of a person with a caption, as long as the Islamic rules are applied.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.