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Pictures and images with eyes in the home

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by DarulUloomTT.net

Question

When someone speaks about eyes in your home as being not permissible, is it really the eyes or the actual image.

Answer

The prohibition which has been mentioned in the Ahadith is about ‘Tasweer’ – which means a picture or an image of an animate object. It is not really about the eyes. In all cases, if you were to remove the eyes of any living being (like that of humans and animals), then life would still exist. Hence, the custom of some people to remove or block-off the eyes of pictures/images in their homes etc. would not suffice. The picture/image must be defaced or removed, in order to safeguard oneself from the sins that are mentioned in the traditions.

Some of the traditions which clarify this position are:

1) Abdullah bin Abbas (R.A) narrates from Abu Talha (R.A) that the Messenger of Allah (S.A) said, ‘Do not enter a house wherein there is a dog or pictures/images’. (Sahih Al Bukhari)

2) Aisha (R.A) narrates that once the Messenger of Allah (S.A) returned from a journey and she had placed a curtain having pictures on it over her wardrobe. As soon as the Messenger of Allah (S.A) saw it, he ripped it apart and said, ‘Those who will receive the harshest punishment on the Day of Judgement are those who imitate the quality of the Creator’. (Sahih Al Bukhari)

3) Aisha (R.A) narrates that the Prophet (S.A) did not leave anything in his possession which had pictures or images on it except that he broke it’. (Sahih Al Buhari)

It is evident from these traditions that it is prohibited to keep pictures and images of living things in the house. The scholars have also mentioned that if a picture or image of a living being has been placed on an item that is needed in the house (like curtain, cushions etc) then the picture/image should be defaced to the extent that it does not represent a being that has life in it. This can be done by removing the head of the picture or image.

In this regard, a tradition reported by Abu Hurairah (R.A) states that once Jibraeel (A.S) sought permission to visit the Prophet (S.A). When he received the permission to do so, and was asked to enter, he said, ‘How can I enter when there is a curtain in your house upon which there are pictures. You should either remove the head of the picture or place the curtain on the ground as a carpet, for we, the angels do not enter a house in which there are pictures’. (Sunan An Nasaai)

It is evident from this tradition (as well as others) that the presence of pictures and images of living beings, keep the angels away from the house. According to many scholars, the angels who stay away from the house are the angels of mercy and blessings. Other angels like the ‘Kiraman Kaatibeen’ (the scribes) continue to remain with a person. It is also evident from the above tradition that if the head of the picture/ image is removed (from an item), it will be permissible to use (the item).

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan

This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.

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