The Difference Between A Picture And A Photograph, Ibn ‘Uthaymeen

“…Any pictures that are carved out of wood or rock, or made of mud or clay or anything similar, are all forbidden if they are images of living creatures that have souls because of their imitation of the Creation of Allah – the Mighty and Majestic. And in the authentic hadith is that the Messenger of Allah cursed the image-makers, and to be cursed is to be expelled and far-removed from the Mercy of Allah. And in the hadith qudsi also is that Allah – the Exalted – said:

And who is more oppressive than the one who went and created as I have Created! So, let them create an atom, or let them create a mustard seed, or let them create a fiber.

And also, in the authentic hadith: “The people who will be tortured most on the Day of Resurrection are the image-makers who imitate the Creation of Allah. It will be said to them: ‘Bring life to what you have made.’

And the proofs for this are many, and from the image-making that this warning applies to – according to the strongest opinion – is that which takes place when a human being draws an image of a creature with a soul by hand. This falls under the image-making that is warned against, and it is a sin from amongst the major sins.

As for the image-making that takes place using instant cameras, this does not appear to fall under this, because the photographer does not draw out or try to imitate the Creation of Allah. Because of this, if some people are presented with a photograph that has been taken, you will not find them saying: ‘How good is this photographer! How excellent is he!’ But, if they are presented with a hand-drawn picture that closely resembles what was being drawn, they will say: ‘How good is this artist! How excellent is he!’ So, this proves that there is a difference between drawing the picture by hand and taking it using a camera.

And this is also proven by the fact that if a person writes something by hand and a photocopy is made of it, the people will not ascribe this writing to the one who made the photocopy of it. Rather, they will ascribe it to the one who originally wrote it, and people still preserve copyrights in this manner. They would not say that this person who made the photocopy did a good job of copying the writing precisely using this innovative technology. In fact, a blind man can be given this task, or a man can perform this task in the dark.

However, if a man copies the handwriting of the original writer by hand so that the people think that it was the original writing itself, the people would then say: ‘How innovative he is! How excellent he is! How did he copy this handwriting so precisely?’ And with the likes of these examples, it becomes clear that photographic imagery is not image-making that can be truly ascribed to the one who took the picture, and it cannot be said that this is imitation of the Creation of Allah because he did not create anything.

And to in order to say that photographs are allowed, a condition must be met that they do not lead to what is forbidden, because the permissible things that lead to the forbidden are in turn forbidden. The means have the ruling of the ends. So, for example, we do not see that it is allowed for a person to take these pictures in order to preserve memories because of what this contains of possession of a picture that we fear might fall under the saying of the Prophet: “The Angels do not enter a house in which there is a picture.



15 Responses to “The Difference Between A Picture And A Photograph, Ibn ‘Uthaymeen”

  1. Assalaamu ‘alaykum,

    However one should note that there is a difference of opinion amongst our scholars on this point.

    Some allow photography (Ibn Uthaymeen), some don’t (Bin Baaz & Al-Albaani).

    Some allow video recording of living beings (Bin Baaz & Ibn Uthaymeen), and some don’t (Al-Albaani?).

    Some say it is impermissible to record videos, but it is okay for da’wah purposes (Al-Albaani is apparently of this opinion).

    Some say it is haraam fullstop.

    The noble scholar, shaykh Saalih Al-Fawzaan is of this last opinion.

    He was asked: “What is the ruling on recording lessons and seminars on video for the purpose of Islaamic propagation and benefit?

    Shaykh Saalih Al Fawzaan responded:

    “Since the time of the Prophets, the Islaamic propagation has been established without the use of photography. Consequently, there is no need for photography and propagation takes place without it. It is not permissible to use that which is prohibited for the purpose of propagation.”

    [Audio found at ]

    As for sisters posting their pictures online, then no doubt this is haraam, so this fatwa (of Ibn Uthaymeen in the above post) is NOT promoting that… And fear Allaah, The One Swift in reckoning, so that you may attain success.

    • Amatullah Says:

      What is the proof on saying that video recording is allowed for dawah purpose?!!! If a thing is such a serious sin like making living beings as hadeeth states , “The people who will be tortured most on the Day of Resurrection are the image-makers who imitate the Creation of Allah. It will be said to them: ‘Bring life to what you have made.’” , then how can it be ALLOWED for dawah purpose? If it was then the hadeeth would say ‘except for spreading Islam’ or word to that effect. Isn’t it common sense?!!! I agree with shaykh Fawjan that if it is haram then haram on everything fullstop !

    • abooshan adakkani veedu Says:

      Assalamu alaikum,

      Can you share the source for “Sh Ibn Baz allows videography” and “Sh Albani allows video for dawah” ?

  2. Kamran Khalid Says:

    This is a simple difference in understanding and as muslims we are required to teach our selves that much religion and sharia that we can understand each thing and clearly follow it. Now I would disagree with the Mr. Saalih Ali Fawzaan on being that strict and stringent but then his point of view is also correct on the grounds that a thing is prohibited for the purpose of propagation.

  3. If there so much controversity over it , we should just avoid it, until we all Agree or until there is a Clear Prove. Then we know that we safe. But every one is at different levels of understanding and ability and Islam is a Religion of Growth, and our Deeds depend on the intention.

  4. The Prophet said in an authentic hadith that everything halal has been been made apparent, everything haram has been made apparent. So if you meet with things that are doubtful then leave them. In the end, we look at the purpose of photography because thats the only argument here: how the image will be used, after the ruling of what is taken i.e. humans or trees. Of course the impermissible uses will lead to the ruling of haram but the permissible uses such as hanging pictures of nature or of wanted criminals will lead to the halal ruling. And Allah azza wa jaal knows best.

  5. Abu Hammaad Says:

    I am not so sure that Shaykh Fawzaan does not allow videos as many of his duroos are recorded and he himself comes on TV. His answer above only mentions photographs (unless it was mistranslated) but he does allow himself to be videod and his duroos are available on the net. Wallaah Aalam.

  6. mustapha dumbuya Says:

    what is regarding to someone who believed in saints

  7. coveredpearls1 Says:

    What about this statement of Ibn Uthaymeen rahimahullaah:

    Ibn ‘Uthaymin: It is forbidden to photograph if the purpose is to have the picture as a memory. (LBM 76,

    Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen clarifies his ruling on pictures

    Question: To the noble Shaykh Muhammed Ibn Salih Al-Uthaimin, may peace be upon you, and the mercy and the blessing of Allah.We nowadays see many pictures, large and small, in stores and supermarkets. They are pictures of famous people,pictures that are placesd on products to give prestige to those products. When we warned store owners about thisbeing unlawful, they said that these pictures are not three-dimensional and that they do not cast a shadow, andtherefore they are not unlawful. They say that they read a ruling of yours in ‘Al-Muslimun magazine, a ruling that statesthat three-dimensional picture, or something that has a body, is unlawful, but otherwise it is not. Please clarify this issuefor us. May Allah reward you well and may peace and Allah’s mercy and blessing be upon you.

    Answer: In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful, and upon you peace and Allah’s mercy and blessings.Whoever attributes to me the saying that pictures that has a body is unlawful, but other than that is not unlawful,has lied upon me. I hold the view that it is not not allowed to have any pictures, regardless whether it is a picture onclothes for adults or for children. All pictures, including those kept as memento, are not allowed unless there is anecessity for having or taking one.

    Ibn Uthaimin

    Question: What is the ruling on taking photographs, when they are for necessity and when they are for adornment?

    Answer: Pictures of living (humans and animals) are unlawful except for necessity. Examples of necessity include identity photos, passport photos, or photos of criminals for the purpose of identification and then arrest when they commit a crime or attempt to flee.

    Permanent Committee for Research and Verdicts

    Fatawa Islamiyah Darussalam Vol:8 page no .156

    Imaam Muhammad Bin Saalih Al ‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullah)


  8. it seems we are contradicting our selves…. do the ID’s and Passport were they available during the prophet hood?……….what about the verse that say the people of Jahnna will be asking the people of Jehannam about the promises of Allah and the distance between have been stated to be soo wide! how will they be able to talk if not by using…….is it teleconferencing or what??……!!?? the same way The Prophet being able to see the masjid of Maqdis while he is in Mekka after being aksed by Quraysh the look of masjid maqdis

  9. sh uthaymin is very clear about his point and clearly understood..Take the hadith and picture the message the prophet made and which kind of picture he was talked about?and how present and affective is it to us today..wallahu a3lam

  10. Almustarpha muharmard Says: nice hearing this,is it advicable to snap picture

  11. muhykom Says:

    Assalamu alaykumu warahamotullah wabarakhatu as for me I remain on that taking pics is haram bcos anything that bring u approach sin,ones needs to stay away from not to indepth in sin. Wallah Al’aam base on the hadith of the prophet whose said “the angel would not visit a house in which they is a pictures and dogs”

  12. rayhanah Says:

    Assalam alaykum warah matullahi… for what sh uthaymia has said…….is he saying that we can snap picture? ?

    • Wa ‘alaykum assalaam,

      Yes he is of that opinion.

      However a refutation of this opinion is that just as pressing a button on a machine to make idols is haram (by consensus) then the same analogy is applied to taking pictures by pressing a button.

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