Message: As Salaamu Alaikum Mufti Saab. What’s the ruling of animated objects (toys) in homes and in the masjid?
Wa Alaikum Assalaam,
الجواب و بالله التوفيق
Some scholars have mentioned that based on certain traditions reported from Aisha (R.A.), there is a concession for children to play with toys which are made in the form of humans, animals etc. A narration mentioned by Abu Dawood states that, Aisha (R.A.) says, “I used to play with dolls and whenever the Messenger of Allah (S.A.) entered the house, my friends who were with me would come out of the house and whenever he exited they would enter.”
She also reports that, “One day the Messenger of Allah returned from the expedition of Tabuk or Khaibar and in her room was a curtain covering dolls which she used to play with. The wind blew strong and removed the curtain thereby causing the dolls to be visible. Upon seeing this, the Messenger of Allah (S.A.) asked, “What are these Oh Aisha? She replied, “My dolls.” He then saw a horse in the middle of them with two wings made of paper. He said, “What is this which I see in the middle?” Aisha replied, “A horse.” He asked, “What are these on it?” Aisha replied, “Two wings.” He said, “A horse with two wings?” She said, “Have you not heard that Solomon had horses with wings.” She said, “The Messenger of Allah laughed until I saw his molars.” (Abu Dawood Hadith No.4932).
Based on these traditions, some scholars have mentioned that it is allowable for little children to play with dolls and other toys of the same nature. In this regard, the author of Bazl Al Majhood (Commentry of Sunan Abu Dawood) wrote, ‘It is written in Fath Al Wadood (Comentry of Abu Dawood by Allama Abul Hasan Muhammad Bin Abيul Hadee As Sindhee) that in this hadith, there is a permissibility for dolls (for young girls). This is an exemption from the general prohibition given about pictures and images, since it is training for girls in their young age to look after children. The scholars have also allowed buying and selling of such toys for children. This is the opinion of the majority of scholars. It has been stated however, that the above permission was abrogated by the traditions which prohibit pictures and images and that Aisha (R.A) was allowed to play with those toys since she was a minor at that time.’ (Bazl Al Majhood, Vol.13, Pg.335, Dar Al Bashaa’ir, Beirut 2006).
However, other scholars have considered these toys and dolls to be under the same prohibition of pictures and images as evident from the following traditions:
Aisha (R.A.) narrates that, “The Prophet (S.A.) did not leave anything in his possession which had pictures on it except that he broke it.” (Bukhari Hadith No.5952; Abu Dawood Hadith No.4151).
Aisha (R.A) also narrates, “Once the Messenger of Allah returned from a journey and she had hung 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.” (Bukhari Hadith No. 5954).
In another tradition it is reported, Aisha (R.A.) had purchased a cushion that had pictures on it. When the Messenger of Allah saw it, he stood at the entrance and did not enter. Aisha says, “I saw displeasure on his face and I said, “I repent towards Allah and His Messenger, what sin have I committed?” The Messenger of Allah said, “What is this cushion?” Aisha said, “I have purchased it for you to sit on and lean against.” The Messenger of Allah said, “Certainly the people of these pictures will be punished on the Day of Judgement. It will be said to them, “Give life to that which you have created.” And certainly Angels do not enter the homes wherein there are pictures.” (Bukhari Hadith No. 5961).
The argument of these scholars is that the allowance which seems to be evident from the traditions of Aisha (R.A.) refers to the period before pictures and images became prohibited. As such, the allowance would not remain after such clear prohibitions, nor can these traditions of Aisha (R.A) be used as an evidence for the same. Most of the scholars of Hadith have adopted this view. In support of this view, Allama Ibn Jauzi has quoted a tradition narrated in the Musnad of Ahmad. It stated that, “A person was with Abu Hurairah when he (Abu Hurairah) saw a girl with a horse made of paper in her hand. Upon this, Abu Hurairah said to the person, “Have you seen this? The Messenger of Allah (S.A.) has stated that, “This is the action of such people who have no share in the Hereafter.”
Some others (i.e. scholars) have stated that the allowance to use such toys is only for (children) who have not reached the age of puberty since the traditions reported of Aisha (R.A) shows that she played with such toys when she was still a minor (i.e. not having reached the age of puberty).
As such, the prohibition of dolls and toys will remain for those who have reached the age of puberty. Other scholars have also mentioned that Aisha (R.A.) got the permission to play with such toys since they were incomplete and defaced images. This reason is evident from the traditions of Aisha (R.A) which states that the Prophet of Allah (S.A.S) even after looking at the image, did not know what it was, so he asked, “What is this”? If they were not defaced or incomplete, he would have immediately seen that it was a horse. All these explanations given by the great Traditionists and Jurists from among the Sahabas and Tabi’eens are valid and sound. It is quite clear that Aisha’s (R.A) playing with the dolls occurred in the very beginning period when the prohibition of images and pictures were not yet present.
Therefore, based on what you have asked, such animated objects (toys) should not be in the masjid at all. With respect to these things being at homes for children to play with, the precautious view is to refrain from such toys.
And Allah Knows Best.
Mufti Waseem Khan.