The Reason of Severity of Shariah with Regards to Picture Making, By Maulana Syed Muhammad Yusuf Banuri

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.

Pictures or images and Islam

We beseech Allah to have mercy, for trials are quickly following each other in their wake that the very safety of Imaan is at stake. The Taufeeq (Allaah given ability) to do good is being snatched away. One is such a trial (Fitna) which is limited within itself while another Fitna is such that it gives rise to many other trials (Fitan). As an example, is the Fitna of photography which was in itself a sin but which in turn gives rise to untold other trials (Fitan). Allah’s knowledge encompasses everything. Included in His knowledge is the fact that such and such a Fitna will swell and increase due to such and such causes. Due to this, it is the viewpoint of the Islamic Shariah that any such thing which can be the cause of a sin to whatever extent, has been forbidden. Human intellect, due to its limited knowledge and lack of understanding, does not fathom the wisdom and basis or cause for this. At times, man wonders why such a seemingly petty thing has been so strongly forbidden. Yet, later, experience and incidents prove the correctness of this point of view adopted by the Allah’s Shariah as the very epitome of wisdom. All the varied forms of Fitna that will arise from an artist have been mentioned from the inception by the Shariat-e-Muhammadiyah.

ان اشد الناس عذابا يوم القيامة المصورون

Translation: “A severe punishment on the Day of Judgment is for those who draw pictures.”

It has also been mentioned that they will be told to infuse life into the drawing they have drawn. Also, that a home in which there is a dog or a picture of an animate object will not be visited by the angels of mercy. This too has been mentioned that drawing pictures is imitating the attribute of Allah as the Creator etc.

The basis of the great severity with regard to drawings is in reality this fact that the religion of Islam is founded on the belief in Tauheed (Oneness of Allah). Bearing this in mind, to then acknowledge any form of partnership with Allah, be it with His Being, His attributes or even His actions is not tolerated in the least. This is why the Shariah has strictly forbidden any such actions from the very inception which can be a cause of ascribing such partnership with Allah.This is no small sin and considering the fact that Allah announced through the tongue of His beloved Prophet ﷺ along with revealing these laws, it could not have been conceived that in the future, this would ever have become the basis of such a great Fitna.

Pictures and their evil results giving rise to trials

Today, it is due to this very artistry and photography that looks and appearances, beauty and good looks are embellished. It is also due to this concept of photography that the women of shameless nations are photographed in their nakedness, and because of which bad character and manners have become a way of life along with breaking all ties with Allah. This accursed concept is also the cause of inciting passions and animal instincts. It is because of this accursed concept that the blood of so many innocents is being shed and innumerable Iives lost. So many suicides are being committed. The theaters and cinemas are screening films which are destroying lives. Because of this, neither is anyone’s chastity safe nor can anyone be safe from false accusations. One persons head is attached to another’s body in a picture to show their artistic ability. If a person wants to disgrace another, he doctors a photo by attaching one persons head to another’s body in a compromising situation with a woman of ill repute which is then enough to destroy his reputation and life. You will be surprised to hear that this Fitna was the very effective cause of destruction of an Islamic country and the basis of its leader being exiled. By means of such shamelessly doctored photos, the propaganda machine was set in motion to prove his bad character, his shamelessness and irreligiousness resulting in his total disgrace. It eventually led to him losing his crown and throne. It is regrettable that I do not have all the detail regarding this issue. In short, because of such manipulation of photos, neither is one’s Imaan nor one’s character or even life, innocence and reputation safe. Photos play such a great role in spreading lewdness and evil that the very foundations of Taqwa purity and leading a chaste have been shaken to their core. Yet, in today’s terminology, it is referred to as civilisation and art. What is even worse is that it is ref erred to as “lslamic art”.

The theatres and cinemas which have delivered social norms to the brink of destruction are all tokens of this picture making and art. It has reached such proportions that even the Masjids, which are purely places of worship, are not even safe from it. From gatherings of Nikah to even sanctified places, this Fitna is ever present. Some countries which claim to implement Islamic laws and adherence to the Sunnah are so caught up in this Fitna which is greatly on the rise and prospering. May Allah grant us safety and protection. Nonetheless, this Fitna has become so globalized that not even the Masaajid are safe nor the Madrasahs, neither Islamic country nor the righteous Muslim.

HONOR OF FAITH AND ISLAM: A personal story

It was probably during March of 1970 that the compiler went to Cairo as a representative of Pakistan for the fifth “Mujamma ul Buhos al Islamia” conference. At the end of the conference, the former leader, Jamal Abdun Nasir invited the participants at Government House. The object at this juncture is not to discuss the splendor and grandeur as well as the speciality of the Egyptian government. Each individual went forward when it was his turn to do so and greeted the head of state and even said a few words if they wanted. After shaking hands and greeting the head of state, he, in order to honor each guest, called for the photographer to take each person’s photo while posing with him.

These days, the disease of taking photos during conferences and even general gatherings has reached epidemic proportions. This Fitna has become so common that an individual, no matter how much he tries to save himself from this, is unable to do so. Along with this, the stage has been reached wherein this sin is no longer considered a sin by people. This age of trials (Fitan) has reduced sins to good and goodness to evil. The foulness of sin has transfigured the very hearts and minds of people. How many sins there are now which have become so entrenched in society that people no longer recognize and consider them to be sins.

Very well! What I want to say is that when this desire of the head of state was made known, most of the guests, particularly the Arab guests were overjoyed at the prospect of having their photos taken with Jamal Abdun Nasir. One by one, they stood on the left of the head of state and had their photos taken. I am not that pious, abstinent and Allah fearing as to be able to avoid these sins. Nonetheless, when my turn was coming closer, I went into the other room and sat down. It so happened that the head of state was directly in front of me and kept looking at me. When my turn came, he said to two Azhari Sheikhs, “Go and call that Pakistani Sheikh (Aalim) to come and take a photo with me.” All praise is due to Allah! That my Deeni sense of honor came to the fore. My heart said to me, “remain firm on the viewpoint of your pious predecessors and shun this honor. Today, it is necessary to practice upon this Hadith:

لا طاعة لمخلوق في معصية الخالق انما الطاعة في معروف

Translation: “It is not permissible to obey the creation by disobeying the Creator. Obedience to the leader is among the permissible things.”

When those two Elders said to me: “The leader is calling you to have your photo taken with him,” I replied: “I do not consider it to be correct, nor is there any value in this as far as my Deen goes.”

They both went and mentioned my excuse to the head of state. I was not able to hear their words and determine how they interpreted my point of view. The practice was not to shake hands a second time when departing. Before departing I approached the head of state and the thought occurred to me: “Today I have the opportunity. Only Allah knows whether I will have another chance or not? Therefore, I should mention some words of goodness to him.” As such, when shaking hands with him, I said:

سيادة الرئيس ان الله سبحانه و تعالي قد منحك قلبا قويا بين حنايا ضلوعك فارجوا ان يكون لهذا القلب القوي رابطة قوية مع الخالق القوي الذي بيده ملكوت كل شيئ

“Respected president! Almighty Allah has placed a very strong heart in your bosom and this is a great bounty which you have been granted. My hope and desire is that this strong heart should be attached to that Strong Being who is the fountainhead of all power and strength and in whose control all strength and power lies.” The president smiled and pondered deeply over my words. He then shook my hands with force and lowered his hands slightly as is done on an occasion of joy. This was my final meeting with the president which ended with this advice.

SOURCE: Daur Hazir kay Fitny aur un ka Elaj, By Maulana Syed Muhammad Yusuf Banuri.

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