Khalid Zaheer
“I am convinced about the veracity of my opinions, but I do consider it likely that they may turn out to be incorrect. Likewise, I am convinced about the incorrectness of the views different from mine, but I do concede the possibility that they may turn out to be correct.” — Imam Shafa’i
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Are Pictures Forbidden in Islam

Question:
The fatwa on pictures given at al mawrid is based totally on personal opinions and interpretations. It can be easily seen that they use qayas (logic) to prove that photography is allowed. Furthermore they quote Kings 6: 23 - 32 to prove that Hazrat Sulayman's temple had picture and that they were a blessing from Allah. Firstly I would like to remind you of what Allah says about the Jews and the Christians with regard to the Bible:

“So woe to those who write the scripture with their own hands, then say, This is from Allah , in order to exchange it for a small price. Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earn”. (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:79). So how can you use the Bible as evidence for logic against the hadith of Rasullalah when Allah himself has testified in the Qur'an that the Bible has been altered?

Secondly, according to the principle of fiqh nothing can be taken as evidence against a clear and evident ruling unless it is proven from the Prophet (peace be upon him) or his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them). Please let me know if it is proven from any of the Companions or the Salafs (first three generations) that image making of animate objects is halal?

Regarding the argument based on 'tamatheel' used for Sulayman(a.s.), even if this interpretation is true then also it cannot be used as evidence for this ummah because it is not necessary that something that was halal in the earlier generation should be halal in this generation too. For example, Harun was made to do sajda for Musa but in this ummah none was ever made to do this, alcohol was originally lawful but was made unlawful later on, earlier contract marriage "mutah" and the flesh of donkey was halal but both were made haram later on. In my view, whoever takes a path which contradicts the path of the salaf has chosen the path of misguidance.

Response:
Conclusions about the status of pictures are based on different sets of assumptions. You and I differ on our assumptions.

You believe that although the Qur'an is a fully preserved word of God, it does not give the full Islamic Shari'ah. Shari'ah was completed only when hadith was properly compiled and distributed to the entire Ummah. The school of thought I belong to believes that Qur'an gives complete guidance to human beings and hadith only provides clarifications.

You believe that God's law was given to Muslims in two ways: the first was a completely authentic way and the second a less than hundred percent authentic way. The first was received by the entire first generation and transmitted to the entire next generation (Qur'an and Sunnah Mutawatirah) and the second was delivered in a manner that one person delivered to another for three or four generations and then it was authenticated by some great scholars (khabare wahid, hadith). We understand that the core Islam was delivered only in the first way and individual-to-individual information was primarily meant to only clarify what was already there in Qur'an and Sunnah Mutawatirah.

Your understanding assumes that God's message was not available to all Muslims in the first two centuries of their history and it only became properly available after Bukhari, Muslim and other books of hadith became available. We believe that Islam was always fully available to Muslims right from the beginning. In fact, the first few generations of Muslims were the best generations who followed Islam in its truest spirit.

You believe that different prophets brought different Shari'ah. We believe that they all brought basically one Shari'ah. There is no difference in the basic principles and contents of the Shari'ah brought by the messengers of God. There are only minor differences in their details. For example, the last Shari'ah stipulates the inclusion of Arabic text in formal prayers which of course could not have been the case in the earlier Shari'ahs. When Jews accused that Islam had changed the religion brought by earlier prophets, substantiating their claim by the evidence that the new faith had made the meat of camel halal while it was haram for their Shari'ah, the Qur'an did not say that it was a new Shari'ah and therefore giving new laws was perfectly justifiable. On the contrary it said that camel meat had not been consumed by Yaqoob alaihissalam for his personal reasons. It had not been declared haram for the Jews. It asked them to bring Taurat and read it to confirm that what was being claimed by the Qur'an was correct. (Qur'an; 3:93)

You assume that even in hadith one statement is enough to claim a new law. We understand that hadith was collected by human beings who could never include the full context of a statement. We therefore need to look at all ahadith on a topic in the light of the Qur'an to find out what exactly is the true meaning of it.

Taking all ahadith on the subject of pictures into account and understanding them in the light of the Qur'an, we reach our conclusion that pictures were condemned not because there was something wrong in making pictures of living beings but because the condemned pictures had polytheistic elements in them.

We can give examples of pictures of living beings not condemned in prophet's time and the first two centuries but we think that such an exercise is unnecessary. We need to understand Islam through following its principles rather than looking for evidences the existence or lack of which does not make any difference. There is no guarantee that everything that happened during the prophet's lifetime has been recorded in history. In fact, only a small part of it has been recorded.

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