The Prohibition of Photography
by Hazrat Maulana Yunus Patel Saheb (rahmatullah alayh)
One of the greatest calamities of our times is the abuse of the camera.
Nowadays, with the availability of cell phones, digital cameras, camcorders, etc., everyone seems to own a tool which has created an upheaval in mischief. How many have had their names dragged through the mud or have been blackmailed, slandered or left humiliated and disgraced due to photographs taken and then circulated?
Photography is an evil which has been entirely misjudged and underestimated.
Recently, a brother related a dream to me, requesting an interpretation. I interpreted his dream: ‘It seems as if movies are being viewed in the Masjid.'
Within a matter of days, the interpretation was made apparent. We had a visiting ‘Aalim give a talk in our Masjid. I was sitting on a chair near the front when I observed three young boys very absorbed with their cell phones. I requested a friend to go to the back of the Masjid and see what they were up to. He observed that they were viewing some film with dirty, indecent pictures
—إنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون. We give our children technology at the expense of haya (modesty), Deen and Iman.
One is to have no shame and commit sins in the presence of Allah Ta'ala, but increasing in shamelessness is when one is brazen enough to commit sins in the presence of Allah Ta'ala whilst in the Masjid, the House of Allah Ta'ala.
The same shamelessness is found en-masse in the Masjid of all Masajid, Masjidul Haram in Makkah Sharif. The objective of most visiting these days is to take photos and videos instead of engaging in Ibadah.
There are complaints – and it is even our experience – of flashes and camera clicks, which can be seen or heard whilst Salah is in progress or during Tawaf.
There is a very dire need to explain that this is a grave and serious crime in the sight of Allah Ta'ala.
What needs to be understood is that photography of anything animate is a clear prohibition. It is Haram.
It has been narrated from Aaisha (radiyallahu ‘anha) that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) forbade pictures in the house, and he forbade making them.
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“Verily, of the most grievously tormented people on the Day of Resurrection are picture-makers.”
There are, in fact, many other Ahadith which clearly prove this prohibition.
Why did Allah Ta'ala prohibit photography?
One reason is quite clear; that it was the origin of Shirk (polytheism):
Going down the passage of history, we find that mankind was introduced to idol worship due to Shaytan's efforts to lead humanity astray. Due to his whispering encouragement, people began to draw and sketch their pious predecessors, thinking that their faces and images would be a source of inspiration and an incentive to also follow in their footsteps of piety. However, it was the means by which many began to worship those pictures and thereafter carved such idols; and idol worship came into vogue.
Whilst this would have been more than sufficient for the Believer, it is no longer considered a worthy reason by Muslims who want to engage in the sin. Many say that there is no way that they would worship a photograph or even a sketch, let alone an idol.
My Shaykh, Hazrat Maulana Hakeem Muhammad Akhtar Saheb (damat barakatuhu), explains that one reason behind the prohibition is that Allah Ta'ala may protect the respect and dignity of His servants.
Many a time, a person who was engaged in various evils is granted Hidayah (guidance). Sometimes, this Hidayah is such that he attains a high stage of Wilayah. The person becomes a great Wali (friend) of Allah Ta'ala and even a Shaykh, with thousands of people attending his gatherings. Now at such a time, if someone were to dig up pictures of his past, what embarrassment would he have to endure?
From Allah Ta'ala's side, there is forgiveness of sins on sincere taubah, to the extent that all evidence is ‘deleted' and insha Allah, the person will not have to render an account for those sins. However, if photographs were taken, this is evidence that the person has produced against himself, which cannot always be destroyed – especially if it is in the hands of others who wish to bring disgrace to the person.
My Shaykh mentioned the above reason during an election in Pakistan, where a woman was a candidate. She was blackmailed with photographs of herself in a compromising situation so that she withdraws.
Further, we find that the porn industry and filthy films are based on pictures.
Islam nips the problem in the bud by prohibiting photography.
If everyone practised this teaching, we would not have pornography, woman abuse and exploitation, child pornography, and the evil consequences of rape, insanity, suicide, incest, etc. – much of which has shattered and devastated the marriages and homes of many Muslims.
Now thinking over all these harms, we should appreciate the prohibition all the more and show that appreciation by abstaining. There is nothing but great wisdom and benefit in the prohibitions of Allah Ta'ala for His servants.
 Sahih Al-Bukhari
 Sahih Al-Bukhari