Is Photography forbidden in Islam?


In the present technological world, people use different equipment for capturing people and places. There has been a huge debate over what is forbidden in Islam and what is permitted. We notice the difference of opinion among different groups of Islam. There is confusion among people to distinguish between the right and wrong. The question among people stands still, i.e Is Photography forbidden in Islam?


I am not an Alimah neither am I a religious scholar. The following details are all researched based.

Is photography forbidden in Islam? The question kept revolving in my mind. So before going into depth, we need to understand what photography really is?

Photography means the taking of pictures of living, like people, animals, birds, etc. Pictures are taken from Cameras either digital or not. Mobile cameras etc.

According to Islam

In view of unprecedented development in print and electronic media, particularly TV, Internet and Video phones, it is important that we understand the issue of ‘pictures’ in Islam in its proper perspective. The opinions of Islamic scholars are divided on this subject.

Below, are important facts in this context in the light of Quran and Hadith.

In the sacred or Qudsi Hadith, the Prophet quotes Allah as saying :

“Who does a greater sin than one who tries to create something like My creation. Let them create a particle or a seed or a barley seed.” (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

One thing worth mentioning here is that at the time of Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W), there was no concept of photography. There was a concept of painting.

Photography does not enter into that. The late Sheikh Muhammad Bakheet, a former Mufti of Egypt, has made it clear that photography is not included in such prohibition. He states that this art is no more than capturing a shade or a reflection by a special technique. He clarifies that what is forbidden is to create a likeness which has no previous existence in order to produce something like what Allah has created. Using a camera to take a picture is similar to fixing what we see in a mirror. No one says that looking into the mirror is forbidden because it shows a likeness of Allah’s creation. We use lenses in cameras in order to capture a mirror picture of the person or the object for which we need a photo. This is perfectly legitimate.

Photographs which are essential are permitted – such as those required for identity documents, or for identifying or pursuing criminals [e.g. “wanted” posters and the like – translator’s note], or for educational purposes which cannot be achieved otherwise. The principle in shariah is that we should not exaggerate about what is necessary.

Worth mentioning here, using photographs for idol worship is forbidden. Using it for wrong purposes is forbidden which leads to obscenity and nudity.

So, we ask Allah to accept our repentance and have mercy on us and to forgive our excesses, for He is the All-Hearing Who answers prayers. May Allah bless our Prophet Muhammad.


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