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Video Recordings

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by DarulIftaBirmingham

I would be very grateful if you could shed some light on the issue of video recordings. Is it permissible to record somebody using a video or camcorder. Some scholars say it is permissible, and others say that using a video comes into the prohibition of images mentioned in the Ahadeeth. Also, the ahadeeth that mention that the angels of mercy do not enter a house where there is a picture or a dog, what kind of pictures are meant here. If a person has photographs in a cupboard or drawer (i.e. not on display), is this permissible? What about a picture of an animal on a rug or blanket, i.e. pictures that are woven on materials or on fabrics? 

In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.


The answer to your question depends on whether the publishing of pictures, images and live broadcasting is permissible or not.

Contemporary scholars have differed on the issue of camera photos whether they come under the prohibition of picture making (tasweer) or not. The majority of the Indian subcontinent and some Arab scholars are of the view that photographs of living things are impermissible. There reason being that the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam declared picture making unlawful and not the means of producing the picture. Even during the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam’s time there existed various ways of producing images like carving, drawing, painting etc but the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam never referred to the method of image production but directly banned picture making. (Photography, Picture making & Islam p.20)

This view is the most precautious view.

 I will take this opportunity and mention a few things in regards to the camera.

The Readers Digest Great Encyclopaedic Dictionary defines the camera as follows:

“Apparatus for taking photographs, consisting essentially of a box holding at one end a plate or film which is sensitised so as to retain the image protected through a lens at the other.”

 The Encyclopaedia International states; “Photographic film is a light sensitive material used in a camera to record the image being photographed. In the presence of light, the form of electromagnetic radiation most commonly used to expose film-a chemical change takes place to produce an invisible image bought into view by developing…”

 The Home University Encyclopaedia says; “The camera in which the image is impressed on the sensitive surface is a light-tight box in which the plate is fixed in such a position that the image of the object to be photographed is projected on to it by a lens or pinhole…”

 The following points are deduced from the afore going discussion:

1.      The camera is not a mere image viewing device like the mirror

2.      All cameras are picture-recording devices.

3.      Experts and scientists are agreed on the fact that the camera produces pictures and not reflections.

4.      Image through the camera lens is retained on the film, which is sensitised. The image thus retained is not a temporary phenomenon like a reflection but is a permanent picture.

5.      Final emergence of photo picture is not dependent upon the presence of the object whereas the image in the mirror is dependant upon the presence of the object for its existence.

6.      Various materials and chemicals are used in order to produce the final result on the photograph. From this we can understand that the image on the photo paper is a picture, which has been produced by chemical means. (Photography, Picture making & Islam p.12-p.17)

The majority of the Arab scholars are of the view that picture making through camera is permissible. They say that in camera photos one does not produce an image through ones own imagination, but it is merely a reflection of a living being already created by Allah (SWA).

Therefore, the conclusion we can come to is that there are differences of opinions regarding this ruling, however, the most preferable and cautious thing will be to refrain from it.

With regards to live broadcasting, Mufti Taqi Usmani (DB) has declared that live broadcasting of images do not fall under picture making. A picture is something that is permanent and static, whilst the image broadcasted live is not permanent. A live broadcast is in reality a reflection of the actual image. Therefore, a live broadcast as long as the content is lawful will be permissible to view. (Taqir Tirimizi p.351 v.2)

Mufti Taqi Usmani states in one of his Fatawa:

“The images appearing on live programs or recorded programs on television are not the pictures in the strict sense envisaged in the Ahadith of the Holy Prophet (Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam) unless they are printed in a durable form on paper or on any other object. But the basic reason why Muslims are advised not to keep TV sets in their homes is that most of the programs broadcast on the TV channels contain impermissible elements.” (www.albalagh.net)

The conclusion to your answer will be those scholars who say that pictures through cameras and live broadcasting are unlawful, it will be unlawful to use it for dawah purposes however, it will be permissible according to the view of Mufti Taqi Usmani (DB).

Mulla Ali Qari in his book Mirqaat states that the angels that will not enter the house are the angels of mercy and not those angels who have other duties such as for safety or death. In regards to pictures, the scholars have stated that pictures of living creatures are not permissible whereas pictures of non living creatures such as plants, trees etc can be allowed. The pictures that stop an angel of mercy entering the house is general therefore even if the picture is in a place of disrespect e.g floor, the angels of mercy will not enter the house. However some scholars are of the opinion that the pictures that are very small or are in a place of disrespect these these will not stop the angels of mercy. (p.265 & p.266 v.8)

From the above it is clear that one should avoid having such pictures in the house.  If one is unable for instance, pictures in text books, passports etc then these should not be left in a place where they are visible and Insha Allah this will not be a means of stopping angels of mercy entering the house. If the payer room is free from even these pictures then there is no reason why angels will not enter that room.

Only Allah Knows Best

Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham

This answer was collected from DarulIftaBirmingham.co.uk, which is run under the supervision of Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah from the United Kingdom.