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Entering a home decorated with pictures of animate objects

How should we interpret the following Hadith? Does this apply to all Muslims in general, or only ‘Ulama?

Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“It is not appropriate for a person to enter a house that had been decorated.”


The Hadith in question is recorded on the authority of Sayyidatuna Ummu Salamah with the following words:

Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“It is not appropriate for a man to enter a house that has been decorated”

(Shu’abul Iman, Hadith: 10247 and As Sunanul Kubra vol. 7 pg. 267/8 of Imam Bayhaqi)

‘Allamah Munawi (rahimahullah) has stated that some Muhaddithun have stated that this applies to Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) only.

(Faydul Qadir, Hadith: 7666)

This explanation is substantiated by the following narration:

Safinah Abu ‘Abdir Rahman (radiyallahu ‘anhu) reports that once someone invited Sayyiduna ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (radiyallahu ‘anhu) and prepared some food for him. Sayyidatuna Fatimah (radiyallahu ‘anha) suggested that they should invite Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) as well, so they invited him. When Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) came, he rested his hand on the sides of the door frame and glanced at the draped curtain on one side of the house [which had pictures of animate objects or it was draped against a wall as a decoration, not as a means of covering]. Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) immediately turned back. Sayyidatuna Fatimah (radiyallahu ‘anha) said: ‘Follow him and see why he turned back’. ‘Ali (radiyallahu ‘anhu) followed Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and enquired as to why did Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) return. Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“It is not appropriate for me/a Nabi to enter a home that has been decorated” 

(Sunan Abi Dawud, Hadith: 3755, Mustadrak Hakim, vol. 2 pg. 186 and As Sunanul Kubra of Imam Bayhaqi, vol. 7 pg. 267. Declared authentic by Imam Hakim and Hafiz Dhahabi concurs.)

Note: Some versions of this narration suggest that Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radiyallahu ‘anhu) was the host and not the guest.

However when inspecting the chapters that the Muhaddithun have cited this narration under, it is evident that they have applied this ruling as a general ruling, applying to all Muslims, which would then refer to entering a home that is decorated with something haram.

(Refer: Sunan Abi Dawud, As Sunanul Kubra and Shu’abul Iman. Also see Badhlul Majhud of Al Muhaddith Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri, under Hadith: 3755 )

And Allah Ta’ala Knows best

Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala

Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar

Checked by: Moulana Haroon Abasoomar

This answer was collected from HadithAnswers.com. The answers were either answered or checked by Moulana Haroon Abasoomar (rahimahullah) who was a Shaykhul Hadith in South Africa, or by his son, Moulana Muhammad Abasoomer (hafizahullah), who is a Hadith specialist. 

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