Q: Can Mufti please give me the Islamic perspective on modelling, photography and photoshoots in Islam. Is it Haraam or can one sign up for modelling (for males and females) and go forward with it, please advise?
A: Participating in a modelling show is totally haraam in Islam as it incorporates a host of activities which contravene the laws of Shari’ah. Below we will explain some of the wrongs and evils found in these shows:
1. These types of shows generally aim to promote the latest styles and designs in fashion. Hence, in an effort to boost their market and make their new fashions appealing, every effort is made to cater for the demands of their clientèle. Nudity and lewd conduct, wine and music, intermingling of men and women etc. are but a few of the many wrongs found in such gatherings.
2. Photography and videoing are an integral part of modelling shows. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said:
إن أشد الناس عذابا عند الله يوم القيامة المصورون (صحيح البخاري 2/880 ، صحيح لمسلم 2/201)
Those involved in picture-making will be subjected to the worst forms of punishment on the day of Qiyaamat. (Bukhari 2/880, Muslim 2/201)
3. The Deen of Islam is a Deen which rests on the bedrock of simplicity and hayaa (shame and modesty) in all spheres of a person’s life. Whether relating to his domestic, social or economic life, Islam strongly advocates adopting the values of simplicity and hayaa (shame and modesty) to the highest levels. One is thus required to display simplicity and hayaa in his/her dressing, behavior and conduct among people. The modest clothing that Islam commands a woman to wear even when she is in the confines of her home diametrically opposes the body-hugging and revealing clothing promoted by the western culture. Apart from this, the one modelling on the stage or walking down the catwalk – at the time when the music is being played and the videoing is taking place – is required to show off and make an expression of his/her beauty in such clothing. This conduct and behavior opposes the very core of the Islamic teachings. Islam instructs one to refrain from boastfulness and pride at all times and to adopt humility in all facets of life. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said:
لا يدخل الجنة من كان في قلبه مثقال ذرة من كبر (ترمذي رقم 1999)
The one who has an iota of pride will never enter paradise.
4. Most of the time the clothing being promoted in the modelling show is of such a nature that it allows a woman’s satar and many parts of her body to be either exposed or discernible. At times the woman modelling is required to model before the audience dressed in unisex clothing or clothing worn by men, whereas the Hadith has condemned and severely cursed a woman that dresses up like a man and vice versa. The Hadith has similarly cursed women who reveal and expose parts of their bodies before non-mahram men in a seductive manner with the aim of luring them towards themselves. In a modelling show, all these wrongs are clearly visible. When this is the grave condition of people who attract the divine wrath of Allah Ta’ala, we can well imagine the condition of all those who have congregated at such a venue to promote such wrongs and to view such women. Below are the Ahaadith that warn us of the serious consequences of such sins.
عن ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما قال لعن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم المتشبهين من الرجال بالنساء والمتشبهات من النساء بالرجال رواه البخاري وأبو داود والترمذي والنسائي وابن ماجه والطبراني (الترغيب والترهيب رقم 3139)
It is reported from Hadhrat ibn Abbaas (radhiyallahu anhuma) that Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) had cursed those men who emulate women and those women who emulate men in their dressing, etc.
عن أبي هريرة قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم صنفان من أهل النار لم أرهما قوم معهم سياط كأذناب البقر يضربون بها الناس ونساء كاسيات عاريات مميلات مائلات رؤوسهن كأسنمة البخت المائلة لا يدخلن الجنة ولا يجدن ريحها وإن ريحها ليوجد من مسيرة كذا وكذا. (مسلم 2/383)
Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (Radiyallahu Anhu) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “There will be two groups (in my ummat) who will be punished in Jahannum whom I have not yet seen (i.e. they will emerge after my demise). One group will carry whips with them resembling the tails of cattle, with which they will (oppressively) lash the people. The second group will be those women who despite wearing clothes will still be naked (i.e. they will wear tight fitting or flimsy clothing), they will attract men to themselves, and they themselves will be inclined towards them, their heads will resemble the humps of the Bukhti camels (i.e. they will wear buns which will be high like camel humps). They will neither enter Jannah nor smell its fragrance despite its fragrance being perceivable from a great distance away.
5. Islam views women as being invaluable and extremely precious. Islam has thus exalted them, making them the queens of their homes. They are instructed to remain within the confines of their homes where all their needs be fulfilled and taken care of by the men. Men have been tasked with the responsibility to fulfill the needs of their wives and families and thus they have been commanded to leave the home in order to earn a living. The western culture has dragged women out of their homes under the pretext of gender equality and made them shoulder the obligations and responsibilities of men. In this way, apart from having to play her own role in life (cook, tend to the children, see to the house chores, etc), she also has to play the role of the man and therefore carries a double burden. Hence, we see that the west, by dragging women out of their homes into the market places, have reduced the position of women from a queen to a slave who has to serve all and sundry. This is nothing but a plan to take advantage of women, thereby stripping them of their respect and dignity. How many women are robbed of their chastity and respect in the work place by men who manipulate them and take advantage of them? In this way, we find that the west has debased and degraded women and reduced them to a mere advertising tool to market their products. Hence we find that her picture is sold to companies in order to be plastered on mundane items such as toothpaste, soaps, cereals, etc. Accordingly, she is modelled before all and sundry in order to make their product sell in the market. This is nothing but gross injustice towards women.
True respect, honour and dignity can only be attained by following the pristine, pure teachings of Islam and the mubaarak sunnah of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). If we seek honour and respect elsewhere, we will bring nothing but disgrace and humiliation to ourselves. Hazrat Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) has emphasized:
إنا كنا أذل قوم فأعزنا الله بالإسلام فمهما نطلب العز بغير ما أعزنا الله به أذلنا الله (حاكم #207)
“We were the most disgraced of people. Allah Ta’ala then gave us honour through Islam. If we ever seek honour in something besides that through which Allah Ta’ala has honoured us (Islam), Allah Ta’ala will disgrace us.”
Hence, from the abovementioned discussion, the severe Deeni harms and consequences for the one who undertakes modelling or even participates in a modelling show as a spectator are quite clear.
And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.
Mufti Zakaria Makada
Checked & Approved:
Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)