Riyad Us-Saliheen (Gardens of the Righteous)

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  • Riyad Us-Saliheen (Gardens of the Righteous)

  • Chapter 305
    Prohibition of Drawing Portraits


    1678. Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) said: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Those who draw pictures will be punished on the Day of Resurrection; and it will be said to them: `Breathe soul into what you have created.'''
    [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

    Commentary:  We learn from this Hadith that drawing pictures of humans, animals and all those things that have a soul in them is a great sin and is liable to heavy punishment. However, one will not be taken to task for such pictures which are made compulsory by the Government, i.e., identity cards, passports, domicile certificates etc., because one cannot exercise his own will in such matters, but this exemption is subject to the condition that he does not exceed the compulsory requirement.


    1679. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) visited me after returning from a journey, and I had a shelf with a thin cloth curtain hanging over it and on which there were portraits. When he saw it, the colour of his face changed (because of anger) and he said, "O `Aishah! the most grievous torment from Allah on the Day of Resurrection will be for those who imitate (Allah) in the act of His creation.'' `Aishah said: We tore it into pieces and made a cushion or two cushions out of that.
    [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

    Commentary: This Hadith has already appeared earlier [Hadith No. 650]. We learn from it that the act of drawing (pictures of humans, animals and things that have a soul in them) or photography and hanging of pictures (of such things) for display or decoration in homes is a great sin. It is, however, permissible that sheets bearing such pictures are cut into pieces for making such things which are not sacred and people go on trampling them, as was done by `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) that she made pillow covers of these pieces.


    1680. Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying, "Every painter will go to Hell, and for every portrait he has made, there will be appointed one who will chastise him in the Hell.'' Ibn `Abbas said: If you have to do it, draw pictures of trees and other inanimate things.
    [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

    Commentary:  A painter will be punished for his paintings according to the number of his products. The greater the number of paintings he has produced, the more would be the punishment. Thus, there is a great warning for those who make films and photographs on marriages and functions because they make photographs of hundreds or thousands of persons at a time. If, in spite of knowing that this act is unlawful in Shari`ah, they do it on account of slackness on their part, they shall have to suffer heavy punishment for it in Hell. If they think that it is permissible in Islam, while it is forbidden, they would be regarded infidels and abide in Hell. It is absolutely wrong to think that this prohibition applies only to the painters or sculptors and that photographs taken by a camera is not a picture but a mere reflection and, therefore, one is exempted from their prohibition. Whether a picture is made by hand or camera or video, it is a picture and its maker is warned with Hell. May Allah save us from it. However, pictures of natural scenery which are lifeless are permissible.


    1681. Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying, "Whosoever makes a picture, will be punished on the Day of Resurrection, and will be asked to infuse soul therein, which he will not be able to do.''
    [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

    Commentary:  One who makes a picture by any means, will be ordered to put life into it. This order will be in the nature of reproach and reproof because none can do it. Obviously one will not be able to do it and will thus be awarded stern punishment.


    1682. Ibn Mas`ud (May Allah be pleased with him) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying, "Those who will receive the most severe punishment from Allah on the Day of Resurrection will be painters (of living objects).''
    [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].


    1683. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "The Almighty Allah said: `Who is more an oppressor than him who goes to create like My creation? Let him make an ant or a grain of corn or a grain of barley.'''
    [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

    Commentary:  This Hadith has a stern warning for photographers and video-makers who try to imitate the Creative Attribute of Allah.


    1684. Abu Talhah (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "The angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a portrait.''
    [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

    Commentary:  Angels here means angels of mercy whose visit is a blessing for homes, because the angels who supervise us and record our deeds are with us all the time.


    1685. Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) said: Jibril (Gabriel) promised to visit the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) but delayed and this grieved him very much. When he came out of his house, Jibril met him. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) asked him about the reason of delay, and he replied: "We do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a portrait.''



    1686. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: Jibril (Gabriel) (PBUH) made a promise with the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) to come at a definite hour; that hour came but he did not visit him. There was a staff in the hand of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). He threw it from his hand and said, "Never does Allah back out of His Promise, nor do His messengers.'' Then he noticed a puppy under his bed and said, "O `Aishah, when did this dog enter?'' She said: "By Allah, I don't know.'' He then commanded that it should be turned out. No sooner than had they expelled it, Jibril came and the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said to him, "You promised to visit me. I waited for you but you did not come.'' Whereupon he said: "The dog kept me from coming. We do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a picture.''

    Commentary:  This Hadith has an elaboration of the preceding Hadith and tells us that a puppy had entered the house of the Prophet (PBUH) and he did not know about it. The presence of the puppy in the house obstructed the visit of Jibril (Gabriel). It is a pity that now many Muslims keep dogs in their houses in imitation of the Europeans and also display in their showcases photographs of animals, or their own family members, or pictures of their deceased parents, or their mentor, or some saint for the sake of blessing, little knowing that such pictures deprive one of the Blessings of Allah rather than bestowing it upon them.


    1687. Abul-Haiyaj Haiyan bin Husain said: `Ali bin Abu Talib (May Allah be pleased with him) said to me: "Shall I not send you to do a task that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) had assigned to me? Spare no portrait unwiped out, and leave not a high grave unlevelled.''

    Commentary:  Drawing pictures and raising graves over the height of a span are forbidden and their removal is the responsibility of Muslim rulers. An Islamic state neither allows pictures, nor does it permit permanent structures over graves, nor graves over a span's height.

    "Leave not a high grave unlevelled'' does not mean levelling them to the ground. What it really means is that these should be reduced to the permissible height.


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