INTRODUCTION: This article about the picture and image of a living being and its serious consequences was written by Maulana Syed Muhammad Yusuf Banuri (R.A) in the monthly Bayyenat about 42 years ago. The contents of this article are still fresh in the present era.
May Allah Almighty have mercy! Due to the closeness of Qiyamah, Trials (Fitan) are following each other with such speed whereby safeguarding one’s Imaan is becoming increasingly difficult. The Opportunity (Taufeeq) to perform good deeds is being snatched away. One form of trial (Fitna) is such whereby it is a Fitna in itself while another is such a Fitna which gives rise to different forms of Trials (Fitan), as in the case of the Fitna of photography which has begun. Was this any Jess of a sin in spite of which it has given rise to thousands of other Fitnas. The knowledge of Allah Almighty encompasses everything. He knows full well that by means of a certain Fitna, all the different Fitnas that will follow in its wake. This is the objective of Allah’s Shariah when it comes to something which can to some degree be the cause of sins and disobedience, it has been forbidden. The intellect of man, due to short-sightedness or a lack of knowledge, does not realize its cause and wisdom. At times, a person wonders why a trivial thing has been prohibited with such force, but later, through experience and witnessing, proves the veracity of this fact that the ruling passed by Allah’s Shari ah was nothing but the epitome of wisdom. Given all the possible Fitnas that can be born from the womb of an artist, the Shariah-e-Muhammadi has from its very inception that on the Day of Qiyamah, the most severe punishment will be meted out to those who draw pictures. It has also been said that they will be told to infuse life into the pictures they had drawn. We have also been in farmed that the angels of mercy do not enter into that house in which there are pictures of animate objects or in which there is a dog. We have also been told that drawing pictures is an imitation of Allah’s attribute of Creating etc.
Islam is that Deen which has picked each and every thorn of disbelief, ascribing partners with Allah, innovation, miss-guidance and the crooked path and cast it away. The children of Aadam (PBUH) have been given a straightforward, a pure and pristine “Sirat e Mustaqem” by treading upon which they will lead a life of peace and serenity, ease and comfort and after death they will inherit closeness to Allah, His pleasure as well as Jannatun Nacem. It is mentioned in the Quran:
تِلْكَ الدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ نَجْعَلُهَا لِلَّذِينَ لَا يُرِيدُونَ عُلُوًّا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فَسَادًا وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ
Translation: “We have specially reserved the house of Jannah for those who do not want mischief in the world nor strife. A good end is for those who are abstinent”.
Islam closed all avenues of evil for the purification of humanity
Islam has sealed off all the doors of evil and sin for the purification and rectification of mankind’s actions and character. Ascribing partners to Allah, which is the greatest oppression in Islam, came into existence through idols, statues, drawings and photos, as is attested to by history. This is why, Islam has, by referring to this fountainhead of Kufr and Shirk as being accursed and the worst of traits, sealed off this path. It is mentioned in a Hadith in both Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Ummul Mu’minen, Hadhrat Aaisha (R.A) that the mothers of the faithful were gathered together during the final illness of Prophet ﷺ. Due to some function, the discussion about a church began. Since both Hadhrat Umme Salmah (R.A) and Umme Habibah (R.A) had the opportunity to learn about this during their migration to Abyssinia, they began describing its beautiful architecture and the beautiful paintings and decorations they had seen there. Prophet ﷺ was listening to this discussion. He raised his head from his sickbed and said:
أُولَئِكَ إذَا مَاتَ فِيهِمْ الرَّجُلُ الصَّالِحُ بَنَوْا عَلَى قَبْرِهِ مَسْجِدًا , ثُمَّ صَوَّرُوا فِيهِ تِلْكَ الصُّورَة ، أُولَئِكَ شِرَارُ الْخَلْقِ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ
Translation: “Whenever a good person from amongst them would pass away, they would construct a place of worship at his grave-side after which they would decorate it with pictures. Such people are the worst among Allah Almighty’s creation.”
In one Hadith Ummul Mu’mineen, Hadhrat Aaisha (R.A) mentions that Allah’s Prophet ﷺ was on a journey and before his return she hung a cloth curtain on a shelf which had pictures drawn on it. When Prophet ﷺ saw it, the effects of anger were visible on his blessed countenance and he said in a very strong tone of detestation:
يَا عائِشَةُ، أَشَدُّ النَّاسِ عَذَابًا عِند اللَّهِ يَوْمَ القيامةِ الَّذينَ يُضاهُونَ بِخَلقِ اللَّهِ
Translation: “Aaisha! The people deserving the severest punishment on the Day of Qiyamah in the sight of Allah will be those who challenged Allah Almighty in His attribute of creating.”
This Hadeeth appears in Sahih Muslim and the Musnad of Ahmed:
ان اشد الناس عذابا يوم القيامة المصورون
Translation: “Verily, those deserving the severest punishment on the day of Qiyamah will be artists”.
Apart from this, there are many other sound Ahadith in the Sahihain and other books of Hadith which discuss the impermissibility and accursedness of drawing pictures of animate objects. All the Scholars (Fuqahah) of the Ummah are unanimously agreed upon the fact that the drawing of animate objects is totally impermissible.
The effects of modern civilization
Unfortunately, the leadership of the Islamic world has fallen into the hands of such groups and individuals who subscribe to the views of atheistic cultures and are irreligious nations. These people have no inkling of Islam and honesty (except if Allah wills). Concepts like shame and modesty, innocence and purity, a sense of self respect and self honor do not exist in their vocabulary. In their books, “fraud” and deception”, “cheating and deluding” are termed politics. Ways and means of degrading humanity are regarded as “progress”. Desires and evils are termed “art”. Free mixing between the sexes is termed “broadmindedness” and “good character”. Nudity and the dismantling of Hijab (purdah) are termed “civilization”. Backward nations consider it a source of pride to blindly follow in their footsteps.
This is why Trials (Fitan) are spreading like wildfire throughout the world. It appears as if these Fitan are in preparation for the greater Trials that will be brought by Dajjal. The Islamic world has particularly become the target of all forms of sins, Fitnas and every imaginable evil.
Evil has been generalized to the standard of nobility
Among all the many Fitnas is also the Fitna of photography. Wherever one looks, one finds a photographer present. Whether it be an invitation, a marriage gathering, a general meeting or even a private gathering, one will find a photographer present with his camera before him. This sin has reached epidemic proportions and saving oneself from it has become very difficult. Even if one intentionally and consciously wants to avoid it, one is not left in peace, for one’s photo will be snapped without one’s knowledge and printed and presented for the entire world to see in the following days newspapers. Today, thanks to these photographers, cameramen, and news reporters, the overflow of nudity has worked its way into our homes and which has affected the entire social fiber which has in effect begun decomposing. It is a shame that there is no one taking them to task. What is even more regrettable is the fact that, due to its international level, they have succeeded in removing the very thought of this being impermissible, of it being evil and a sin. This is because it is the special effect of evil, when it becomes common and being taken to task for it becomes lax, the hatred and contempt people feel towards it, gradually declines and leaves their hearts to the extent that hearts then change and continue becoming transformed to such an extent that such an evil then becomes the “hallmark” and test of “nobility”.
That which was considered evil, becomes by degrees goodness for the very nature of nations undergoes a change when they become enslaved.
People who are short sighted and those who have been entrapped by error begin to interpret this as a “change towards humanitarianism”. Otherwise, it is self evident that as long as humans remain human and their humanity remains intact the concept of a change in humanitarianism is incorrect. Yes, a human who resembles an animal does not retain his humanity by his changes into some other species, is another matter altogether.
Not very long ago, a special invitation was received from an Islamic Scholar. One or two famous personalities were also invited there apart from whom there were other special visitors present as well. The writer of these words also happened to be present at this gathering. As chance would have it I was made to sit with those personalities. It could not have been imagined that a photographer would be present with his camera at the home of an Islamic scholar on the occasion of such a special invitation. When the photographer stood before us, the writer of these words strongly objected while another scholar present also strongly voiced his objection. As a result we were assured that this Fitna would now not occur but after a short while, he was seen standing at a distance near the door, from where he then took advantage of our inattention towards him and proceeded to fulfill his intention by taking our photo. The next day this photo which included the writer was published in the Daily Jung newspaper under the caption of, “Group Photo”. Inna Lillah!
The Unanimous Agreement of the Ummah on the Impermissibility of Photography
The severe warnings issued in the Hadith with regard to drawing pictures, is with reference to all living things. The entire Ummah is unanimously agreed upon the impermissibility of drawing pictures of animate objects. Yet, may Allah bring destruction upon the western modern culture, for they have set about establishing and agreed upon impermissible action as permissible. The greatest centre in doing this was Cairo in Egypt. As such, about half a century ago, the famous Sheikh of Egypt Muhammad Najeet Mute’ee who was the Shaikh of Azhar wrote a booklet entitled, “The permissibility of pictures and photography” in which he issues the Fatwa stating the permissibility of photos taken by a camera. At the time, the general Ulema (scholars) opposed his ruling to the extent that one of his rightly guided students Syed Allamah Shaikh Mustapha Hammami wrote in his book, “Al Nahzatul islahiyyah lil Usratil Islamiah” in which he strongly refuted the stance of his teacher. He mentions between pages 260 and 268 as well as between pages 310 and 328 a very eloquent refutation. At one place he writes:
“The burden of the entire Ummah’s sin will be borne upon the shoulders of the Shaikh, for he has opened the door of sin and disobedience for the entire Ummah”.
During This Period, Hadhrat Maulana syed Sulaiman Nadvi (R.A) penned a lengthy thesis in the monthly magazine entitled “Ma’arif” in which he sheds light on the booklet by Sheikh Mute’ee. Also, during the same period, when Imam ul Asr, Maulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri (R.A) was informed about this booklet, one of his students Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Shafe Sahib (R.A) also wrote a thesis refuting the Sheikh’s stance in the monthly “Al Qasim” (this is the monthly magazine published by Darul Uloom Deoband). This thesis was penned under the guidance of Hadhrat Sheikh Kashmiri. Later, this thesis was published separately under the name of “Al Tasweer Ii Ahkamit Tasaweer”.
This fact should also be clearly kept in mind that Hadhrat Syed Sulaiman Nadvi Sahib (R.A) during the final years of his life, when he had already reached the age of seventy and had retracted on a few issues among which was also his retraction from the permissibility of photography. A free thinking individual and author like Muulana Abul Kalam Azaad Sahib, who had accepted “Cyrus” as Zul Qarnain and included a photo of his statue in his commentary, entitled “Tarjuman ul Quran”, later had all those photos removed from all the copies and announced the impermissibility of photography.
The generality of a sin does not stop it from becoming a sin
In short, not only our pious leaders, but all the jurists of the Ummah are unanimously agreed upon the fact that photos are Haraam. Nonetheless, for the sake of passports and other such necessities, a small portrait photo is the exception. The sin for this will be borne by those who have enforced these rules and regulations. Thus, it should be clearly understood that apart from such necessary photos, it is my viewpoint that photos are impermissible. If anyone cunningly takes a photo of me without my knowledge, the burden of sin for this will rest upon his shoulders. Hatred for this accursed art no longer remains in Muslim society and as a result, the unknowing general public considers it to be a minor issue. There are even those who are concocting ways and means of declaring it as permissible. Yet, who is not aware of the fact that by a sin becoming common or an acceptable practice among the common people, the sin does not fall away. Once Allah and his beloved Prophet ﷺ have stated a particular thing to be impermissible, thereafter, even if a hundred excuses are made, there can be no question or it ever becoming permissible. These days, concepts like interest and insurance which have sprung up like wildfire due to the irreligious western culture that prevails and have also crept into our modem civilization. So much so, they have become an integral part of people’s lives. Yet, which Muslim will have the audacity to now declare this as permissible? Yes, this is possible, that due to it being so commonly widespread, they may be some lightening of punishment in the hereafter, but the knowledge of this lies solely with Allah.
SOURCE: Daur e Hazir kay Fitny aur un ka ilaj, By Maulana Syed Muhammad Yusuf Banuri.
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