Question & Answers

Question #13-64: Is it okay to take pictures of my newborn baby?

Question:

Is it okay to take pictures of my newborn baby?

 Answer:

In the Name of Allah the Most Merciful.

There are many Hadiths narrated from the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h) that strictly prohibit painting pictures of animate objects, for example:

Sayyiduna Jabir (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) forbade the keeping of pictures at home and making them." (Sunan Tirmidhi, no: 1749)

Sayyiduna Abu Talha (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: "Angels (of mercy) do not enter a house wherein there is a dog or a picture." (Sahih al-Bukhari, no: 5609)

Now, we need to understand these hadiths and review the opinion of the different scholars regarding this issue:

Classical scholars:

Based on the hadiths before mentioned, most classical scholars are of the opinion that painting and drawing pictures of humans and animals is unlawful and sinful. They state that 'picture-making' (taswir) of human or animal life has been explicitly forbidden by the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) and as such it will be sinful. Only Imam Malik (Allah have mercy on him) is reported to have differed with this position of general prohibition.

In one of his narrations, Imam Malik (Allah have mercy on him), contrary to the other three Imams and most other Mujtahids, is reported to have stated that only those pictures are unlawful that are three-dimensional and have a body to them, such as statues and sculptures. A picture that does not have a body or shadow to it will not be unlawful although somewhat disliked, such as drawing a picture on a paper, cloth or on any other object. In view to this, there is no question with regard to the permissibility, in his view, of taking photographs, painting pictures of human or animal life on a paper or fabric; therefore camera pictures would hold the same ruling.

However, the question arises as to whether photos of humans and animals fall under the type of picture-making prohibited by the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) in those hadiths. Camera photos were not in existence when classical scholars were discussing the issue of picture-making, hence one will not find an express ruling regarding photography in their works. Accordingly, it was left to contemporary scholars to determine whether photos held the same ruling as that of painting and drawing pictures.

Contemporary scholars have differed on this issue:

a) The position of the overwhelming majority of Indian/Pakistani and some Arab scholars is that photographs of human or animal life are not permissible for the very same reasons that paintings of these are not permissible.

They state that the ruling on picture-making does not change by changing the tool with which the picture is produced. Whether an image is produced by painting it or using a camera, as long as it is an image of a human or animal, it will remain unlawful (haram).This is the position of Shaykh Mufti Taqi Usmani.

b) The second position on the issue, held by most Arab Scholars(from all four Madhabs) and some of the Indian scholars, is that there is a difference between photos and the prohibited picture-making (taswir)

According to Shaykh Muhammad Bakhit al-Muti'i of Egypt, a 20th Century scholar known for his knowledge and piety, the reason behind the prohibition of painting pictures (in the words of the Hadith) is challenging Allah in His Creating of living creatures. In camera photos, however, one does not produce an image through one's own imagination; hence one is not challenging the Creating of Allah as such. It is merely a reflection of a living being already created by Allah Most High.

These are the two positions of contemporary scholars on the issue. There are great scholars of knowledge, wisdom and piety. Hence, it would be wrong to criticize anyone for following any one of these positions.

It is my point of view, that taking pictures of your baby is allowed as long as the pictures are kept in a closed album or something similar. They should not be put on display or hanged on the walls. Regarding your question of covering the child’ eyes or making the child to look down when taking pictures, please note that there no such a thing in Islam. These are baseless innovations created by people.

Allah knows best.

Skh. Mostafa

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