India And Now, Fatwa Banning Photography As Un-Islamic

And Now, Fatwa Banning Photography as Un-Islamic

Lamat R Hasan - New Delhi - Sep 11, 2013

India's leading Islamic seminary Darul Uloom has issued a fatwa, saying "photography is unlawful and a sin", even though Saudi Arabia allows photographers inside the holy city of Mecca and live telecast of 'namaz' is beamed on Islamic channels across the world.

Mufti Abdul Qasim Nomani, Mohtamim (Vice-Chancellor) of Darul Uloom Deoband, told PTI on phone, "Photography is un-Islamic. Muslims are not allowed to get their photos clicked unless it is for an identity card or for making a passport."

He said Islam does not permit video-taping of marriages or clicking of pictures to save as mementos for future generations.

When pointed out that Saudi Arabia, which follows the Wahabi school that aspires to return to the earliest fundamental sources of Islam, allows photography in the holiest of Islamic cities Mecca and beams live coverage through the year, Nomani said, "Let them do it. We do not allow it. Not everything they do is correct."

Nomani agreed with the fatwa -- a religious edict issued by Darul Ifta in Deoband -- regarding a query from an engineering graduate saying he was passionate about photography and wanted to pursue it as a career.

"Photography is unlawful and sin. Hadith (recorded Islamic tradition) warns sternly against it. Do not do this course. You should search any suitable job based on your engineering course," reads the fatwa posted on the school's website.

All India Muslim Law Personal Board member Mufti Abul Irfan Qadri Razzaqi also agreed with Nomani's fatwa.

"Islam forbids photographing of humans and animals. Whoever does that will be answerable to God," Razzaqi told PTI.

When reminded that Saudis allow it, he said, "Just because they are richer than us doesn't mean they are also correct. If they are allowing photography they will be answerable on the Day of Judgement in the court of God."

A similar fatwa was issued when a television reporter asked if his "facing the video camera" is against Islam.

"You are right, it is prohibited in Islam to photograph and to let others photograph you. Therefore, you should seek forgiveness from Allah for the same and choose for you a work which is free from such prohibited acts.

"A work which involves unlawful and haram things is obviously unlawful. If the work includes oral or written reporting as well then the entire income will not be labelled as haram," reads another fatwa.

However, Mufti Saif Abbas, president of the Shia Chand Committee, said his sect allows photography and television viewing. "Islamic channels such as Peace TV, QTV, ARY and others beam live coverage of namaz, Hajj...Are they all wrong? I have argued with my Sunni colleagues that there is nothing wrong with photography," he said.



1947-2014 (Archived)
Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa | 2004 | Hallaq, Wael B. | Copyright

Technical term for the legal judgment or learned interpretation that a qualified jurist (mufti) can give on issues pertaining to the shariʿa (Islamic law).

Originally only a mujtahid, that is, a jurist satisfying a number of qualifications and trained in the techniques of ijtihad ("personal reasoning," the fourth source of Islamic law after the Qurʾan, the Prophet Muhammad's sunna, and ijma, or consensus), was allowed to issue a legal opinion or interpretation of an established law. Later, all trained jurists were allowed to be muftis. Fatwas are nonbinding, contrary to the laws deriving from the first three sources, and the Muslim may seek another legal opinion. The fatwas of famous jurists are usually collected in books and can be used as precedents in courts of law.

Because most Muslim countries stopped following the shariʿa during the twentieth century and adopted secular legal systems, fatwas are issued mostly on a personal basis or for political reasons. The practice of having a government-appointed mufti issue fatwas justifying government policy has been a major criticism by reformist contemporary Muslim movements. However, many of the latter often allow individuals without the requisite legal training to issue fatwas. Such edicts may be considered by their followers as binding but they are not recognized by the jurists or the rest of the Muslim community as legitimate juristic opinions.


Masud, Muhammad Khalid; Messick, Brinkley; and Powers, David S., eds. Islamic Legal Interpretation: Muftis and Their Fatwas. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions | 1997 | JOHN BOWKER | Copyright

Fatwā (Arab.). In Islamic law, a legal opinion, given on request to an individual or to a magistrate or other public official, concerning a point of law wherein doubt arises, or where there is not an absolutely clear ruling in existence. One qualified to give such an opinion is a muftī, who would pronounce according to a particular madhhab (‘school of law’). A fatwā may be contested, but only on the basis of existing precedent and law; it cannot, therefore, be regarded as an ‘infallible pronouncement’, but it commands assent where it can be seen to be well-grounded. See also SHAIKH AL-ISLĀM.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. | 2013 | Copyright

fatwa, in Islamic law, an opinion made by a judicial/religious scholar (a mufti) on a legal, civil, or religious matter. The fatwa is usually a valuable source of information on any subject for private individuals or for judges or other authorities, and it is normally used as a guide and does not have the force of law. Under normal circumstances, a fatwa is legally binding only in matters of marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Fatwas are often issued to raise awareness and provide clarification regarding a specific issue for Muslims, who then may or may not follow them. Over the centuries, hundreds of thousands of fatwas have been produced. They came to the attention of many Westerners in 1989 when Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the death of author Salman Rushdie, whom he accused of blasphemy. Another well-known and deadly fatwa was issued by Osama bin Laden in 1998 and called for Muslims to execute Americans and their allies.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Fatwas are nonbinding, legal opinions. They are issued at the request of Muslims who are seeking a ruling on a particular issue, and they are free to seek more than one opinion. There is considerable variation within the Muslim world regarding the force of a fatwa.

Questions to ask about fatwa

1. Was it issued by a person legally certified to give a fatwa?

2. Who asked for it and what was his/her motivation? A fatwa typically is not issued spontaneously.

3. Does the fatwa pertain to civil, marriage or inheritance matters? If it does not, then it is irrelevant to all but a group with a vested interest.

4. Is the mufti who issues the fatwa speaking for all Islam? If he is, the fatwa has no legitimacy. A fatwa has no force beyond those who are somehow connected personally to the mufti.

5. Is it possible that there is a political agenda associated with the fatwa? If that is true, then the fatwa carries no weight beyond the interests of agenda holders.

it really is time for Muslims to start educating the rest of us on matters that are made to be controversial in illegitimate ways. For example, a fatwa issued in India has negligible importance in Saudi Arabia.

There are real problems in this world related to inter-religious conflict; manufactured issues only complicate things.
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Ibn 'Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his
father) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings
of Allah be upon him) said: "Every image-maker will
be in the Fire, and for every image that he made a soul
will be created for him, which will be punished in the
Fire." Ibn 'Abbas said: "If you must do that, make
pictures of trees and other inanimate
objects." (Reported by Muslim, 3/1871)
The Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "The angels do
not enter a house in which there is a dog or
pictures." (Reported by al-Bukhari, al-Fath,

In the book Al-I'laam bi naqd kitaab al-halaal wa'l-
haraam, the author says: "Photography is even more of
an imitation of the creation of Allaah than pictures
which are engraved or drawn, so it is even more
deserving of being prohibited… There is nothing that
could exclude photography from the general meaning
of the reports." (p. 42, see also Fataawa Islamiyyah,

Among the scholars who have discussed the issue of
photography is Shaykh Naasir al-Deen al-Albaani,
who said: "Some of them differentiate between hand-
drawn pictures and photographic images by claiming
that the latter are not products of human effort, and
that no more is involved than the mere capturing of the
image. This is what they claim. The tremendous energy
invested the one who invented this machine that can
do in few seconds what otherwise could not be done
in hours does not count as human effort, according to
these people! Pointing the camera, focusing it, and
taking the picture, preceded by installation of the film
and followed by developing and whatever else that I
may not know about. None of this is the result of
human effort, according to them!"


1947-2014 (Archived)
aristotle ji

It still does not make any difference. The fatwa is binding only to those in India who sought an opinion. The article makes a weak effort to establish some sense of reality, by pointing out that in Saudi Arabia this fatwa has no relevance. Actually the fatwa is not binding on anyone, especially if it is not backed by the Quran and haddith. Which it cannot be because cameras did not exist at the time of Muhammed. The opinion of one mufti about "images" or "dogs" does not prove the truth of an opinion by another mufti.

All that is served by the article is to give some publicity to something that is in truth a non-issue that can be manipulated to create hysterical responses and fan flames of inter-religious conflict.

Today of all days!

Today of all days - 9/11. And at this time in India when religious conflicts are stirred, often the result of efforts to polarize voters.

If we can get our heads clear on what a fatwa is and what it is not, we will realize that perspective and a sense of proportion about these issues is needed to be rational. If we don't, then we are making a personal commitment to hysterics.
OK, so Muslims can't have passports, driving licences, or, in fact, anything requiring a photograph. Sounds reasonable to me.

I wonder when Islam will be declared un-Islamic?



If we can get our heads clear on what a fatwa is and
what it is not, we will realize that perspective and a
sense of proportion about these issues is needed to be
rational. If we don't, then we are making a personal
commitment to hysterics.
I hope some Muslim member could enlighten us on this. The topic of fatwas has always been a controversial one, only someone with first knowledge and experience of the Islamic society can fully appreciate the topic.