Drawings of People: Is it Haram in Islam?

drawings of people and animals

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The Shariah ruling on drawings of people has been long debated, with many new Muslims wondering if they are allowed to keep drawings that they created before becoming Muslim or if they need to throw them away.

The answer may surprise you, as it isn’t what you think! This article takes a deep dive into the question of drawings of people in Islam and what the Quran, Sunnah, and scholars say about the topic!

What Does the Quran Say About Drawings of People?

The Quran says that only pictures of paintings of trees and lifeless things should be allowed. Why are people not allowed to draw or paint living things like animals, plants, humans, and people? The reason is that they fear that if they do so, they might become too attached to what they drew or painted. They would worship them instead of Allah Almighty. Also, when you get used to drawing one thing, you get used to drawing others in a similar style.

However, Quran does not say anything about the act of Painting.

Many ahadith speak about pictures and drawings of humans, plants, and animals. However, they don’t seem to be discussing these acts directly. Nevertheless, they mention it, so it doesn’t mean they aren’t important. A few examples would be as follows;

Similar Verses on Same Topic

The Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم, may God praise him, once gave Umar bin Al-Khattab a piece of advice that still resonates with those who attempt to draw humans. He said I had not seen anyone who draws a human figure as you do except that he is either a fool or an evil person. The prohibition of depicting human figures is stated explicitly many times in Qur’an and Sunnah.

See, for example;

  • Al-Anbiya (21): 5 and 6
  • Al-Hajj (22): 30
  • Ash-Shuara (26): 115-122

Indeed some scholars say that all types of images are prohibited unless they are inanimate objects such as fruit or flowers.

In The Hadith…

It is clear from the Hadith that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not completely forbid us from drawing or making pictures. Rather, he commanded that we draw beautiful images…A picture without an element of beauty is not a beautiful image by definition. Thus, drawings of people, as long as they’re drawn with proportionate facial features, are permissible in Islam.

So What Now?

According to Islamic teachings, all prophets and messengers sent by Allah (God) are Muslims. As Muslims, we are forbidden to depict them in any way; therefore, these drawings should be avoided. A person’s facial features shouldn’t be shown in full – only a part of it should be drawn, or we can use a photo instead. It is better not to show their nose or mouth because that might make a person resemble them too much, hence committing sin.

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