QUESTION : May Allaah reward and bless you. Is it allowed to observe prayer in places where there are animate pictures? Also, is it allowed to observe prayer in a cloth painted with photographic images? May Allah preserve and bless you.

ANSWER : All praise is due to Allah. Observing prayer in places where there are animate pictures can either be forbidden or detested according to the view of scholars. The apparent reason behind their contention is the disagreement over the legal cause of the ruling. There are apparent three legal causes for prohibiting the hanging of pictures; observing prayer with cloth painted with photographic images or in a place filled with it and they are :
1. That the angels will not enter a house wherein there is picture. On the authority of Abu Talhah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Apostle of Allah was reported to have said :” The angels will not enter a house wherein there is dog and the image of a statue ” (Reported by Bukhari and Muslim)
The negation of entering into a house by angels of mercy points to the inacceptability of the act of worship.

2. That the (legal cause) is to avoid falling into (the trap) of resembling the idol worshippers and Christians that often fill their churches with pictures they deem are the image of the Christ and his mother (may Allah be pleased with him).On the authority of ‘Āishah who narrated that Ummu Habībah and Ummu Salamah mentioned to the Prophet a church they both saw at Ethiopia wherein there were pictures . The Prophet commented thus :” Those are the set of people who if a saint among them dies, they built sanctuary on his grave and placed pictures on it. They are the evil among the creatures of Allah on the day of resurrection “. (Reported by Bukhari and Muslim).

3. That the (legal cause) is to avoid what can (constitute) distraction to the attention of prayer observer, and as Muslims we need to be curious about attaining the apex degree of devoutness in our prayer. On the authority of Annas (may Allah be pleased with him) : “There is a cotton used by Āishah to cover part of her room. The Prophet said :”remove your cotton for its picture was distracting my attention from the prayer. ” (Reported by Bukhari and Muslim).

Dr. Muhammad Ahmad Luh
Chairman, Verdicts and Guidance Committe of the Union

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