What is the ruling for illustrating or drawing the wives of the prophets?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
The lives of the wives of the prophets are narrated in the Quran. For example, the stories of the wives of the Prophet Noah, Prophet Lot, Prophet Abraham and Prophet Zachariah as well as other pious women are detailed in the Quran as reminders and lessons for Muslims.
In our time and age, these stories are no longer being told to young children directly from the Quran, but through other methods. The advancement of technology enables us to feature these stories as an animation or drawings. However, what is the perspective of Islam in the issue of drawing or illustrating the wives of previous prophets?
The Ruling of Drawings or Animations
Citing the opinion of Syeikh Dr Yusuf al-Qaradhawi, he said: “The ruling for drawing living creatures, such as humans and animals, there is a khilaf (differing opinions) between the scholars. The majority of scholars said that it is prohibited while some scholars ruled it permissible. Whatever it is, the usage of drawings in mass media for the purpose of dakwah and education is not included in what is prohibited, and even are encouraged by syara’, if the medium is important in delivering dakwah or beneficial knowledge to mankind. However, pictures or drawings that boost immoral behaviours, tyranny and inappropriate images are prohibited.”
Next, he gave several justifications for his opinion and the summary of them are as follows:
- Cartoons are not a perfect picture, or a real depiction of a living creature and it has its own characteristics.
- The usage of it in dakwah and education (tarbiyyah) for young children, for they are highly receptive towards it. It is only right for us to make use of this medium of learning, in educating our children with the knowledge that they should know from an early age, such as akidah and others.
- This method of education has been used by mankind for a long time as a medium for learning and education, and looking at the trend nowadays, it has become a norm for children to watch cartoons or animated programs on television. If there is no initiative for a replacement to a more Islamic and informative input, it would be a great loss for Muslims’ community.
The Ruling of Drawing, Sketching & Acting the Characters of Prophets, Companions of the Prophet PBUH and Aal al-Bayt of the Prophet PBUH
Before we state the ruling of the above stated issue, we would like to first discuss the ruling of drawing or the depiction (in illustrations or acting) of the prophets, the Prophet PBUH, his companions and Ahl al-Bayt of the Prophet PBUH (the family and wives of the Prophet PBUH).
Syeikh ‘Atiyah Saqar, who is a former Chairman of Lajnah Fatwa at al-Azhar al-Syarif discusses this issue in his book, Ahasin al-Kalam fi al-Fatawa wa al-Ahkam (page 156-158). He stated that the act is prohibited for the following reasons:
- Drawings or sketches will not always resemble the original person. There will be deception if the illustration is not the same as the fact.
- The inability to truly depict an individual in terms of his character and behavior adapted to the drawings, sketches or the acting is something that can hurt a person if there is any flaw or inadequacy in the picture or acting.
- They are qudwah (example) to others. Any type of deception or misrepresentation of them in terms of drawing or acting would result in a negative view on them.
- If paintings, sketches or acting are not a true depiction of how they truly are, it may have a negative impact on those who watch it. Someone that adore and love the companions originally, may change his opinion of the companions if there is a flaw or inadequacy in the drawings or acting of the cartoon, when in truth we must love them and make them as an example in our life.
This fatwa supports the fatwa issued by the previous fatwa authority bodies. Some of the bodies are:
- Fatwa of Syeikh Hasanain Makhluf Rahimahullah dated May 5, 1950 through al-Fatawa al-Islamiyyah, Volume 4, page 1297 which also states its prohibition.
- Lajnah al-Fatwa Al-Azhar in June 1968.
- Conference of Academy of Islamic Research in February 1972.
- '8th Congress of Academy of Islamic Research in October 1977.
- Conference of Academy of Islamic Research in April 1978.
- Dar al-Ifta’ of Egypt on August 1980.
He further states:
وكان منطلق التحريم هو أن درء المفاسد مقدم على جلب المصالح، فإذا كانت الثقافة تحتاج إلى خروج على الآداب فإن الضرر من ذلك يفوق المصلحة- وذلك إلى جانب متررات التحريم التى سبق ذكرها- كما جاء فى عبارة دار الإفتاء: أن عصمة الله لأنبياءه ورسله من أن يتمثل بهم شيطان مانعة من أن يمثل شخصياتهم إنسان.
ويمتد ذلك إلى أصولهم وفروعهم وزوجاتهم وصحابة الرسول عليه الصلاة والسلام، ومن جهة العبرة من قصص الأنبيا قال: كيف تتأتى الإستفادة من تمثيل إنسان لشخص نبي، ومن قبل مثل شخص عربيد مقامر سكير رفيق حانات وأخ للدعارة والداعرات، ومن بعد يمثل كل أولئك أو كثيرا منهم؟
“The prohibition is in accordance to Islamic legal maxim (preventing harm is prioritized than taking its benefits). When a custom needs a solution outside of what is usual or the norm, then the harm is greater than the benefits. Furthermore, there are also other reasons for the prohibition as stated in Dar al-Ifta’ in Egypt: Indeed, Allah SWT has protected the Messengers and Prophets from being imitated or impersonated by the shaytan. The same as Allah SWT has protected the Messengers and Prophets from being imitated or acted by humans.
The same is prohibited for the imitation or impersonation of the usul (lineage) and furu’ (offspring), wives and companions of the Prophet PBUH. Regarding the wisdom from the life of the prophets, how can we take lessons from the acting of a mere human, compared to the character of a prophet? Who would accept the acting of an idiot, gambler, drunkard, and immoral people? They are the ones to act the character of the prophets and companions?” Refer Ahasin al-Kalam fi al-Fatawa wa al-Ahkam(1/156-158)
According to the above opinions of scholars and fatwa issued by world fatwa bodies, in our opinion, it is impermissible and unreasonable to draw, sketch or act the characters of the prophets, the Prophet PBUH, the companions of the Prophet PBUH and Ahl al-Bayt of the Prophet PBUH which includes the prophets’ wives, for it could not truly depict their real characters.
We should avoid drawing or sketching the wives of the prophets for the following reasons:
- Honouring the prophets themselves.
- Qiyas (analogical deduction) to the prohibition of drawing, illustrating and acting of the characters of the prophets, the Prophet PBUH, the companions and family of the Prophet PBUH.
May this explanation give us understanding and guidance from Allah SWT.