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Rules of Drawing Cartoons

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Darul Iftaa Jordan
Is it permissible to work in drawing cartoons which reflect social, economic and political issues?

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of The Worlds, and may His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.

Ruling of Sharia on drawing cartoons shouldn`t be delivered in a general sense. Rather, details of the technique employed in the drawing process as well as the objective behind that cartoon should be provided, in addition to clarifying the rules set up by jurists in this regard. Therefore, our view is as follows:

First: The objective behind the cartoon itself should be constructive in the sense that it conveys a particular useful idea attracting people`s attention to some positive or negative aspects, but without deriding any specific figure; especially the people of righteousness. In addition, it shouldn`t have any ill intentions. Almighty Allah said, "O you who believe, do not let any people deride another people: who may be better than they are; nor let any women deride [other] women who may be better than they are."{Al-Hujurat/11}.

Second: It is permissible to draw pictures of living souls from amongst all inanimate objects, and employ them in delivering the idea intended by the cartoonist.

Third: It is permissible to draw pictures of living souls that are headless since Abu Hurairah narrated, "…………So go and sever the head of the image that is at the door so that it will become like a tree stump…"{Related by At-Tirmithi}.Moreover, Ibn Abbas{May Allah be pleased with them} said, " The image is the head. Once it is severed, it is an image no more"{Related by Al-Baihaqi in "As-Sunan Al-Kubrah, 7/441}.

Fourth: By analogy, drawing pictures of living souls that miss a part of their body without which they can`t survive, such as the lower part, take the afore ruling. Ibn Hajar Al-Haithami(May Allah have mercy on him) said, " Losing organs without which a human or an animal can`t survive is as losing the head. Thus, losing an internal organ, such as the liver, has no effect on the prohibition because the imitation of God`s creation is already there."{Tohfat Al-Mohtaj, 7/434}.

The Hanabali jurist, Al-Bahwati, said, "It isn`t disliked to draw the picture of a headless animal or human because that isn`t within the prohibition."{Kash-shaf al-Kina`, 5/171}.

Fifth: Jurists also said, "It is permissible to draw pictures of living souls in which the eyes, nose and mouth are erased. This is based on the afore Hadith." If the nose, eyes and mouth in a picture are erased, then it is like the severed head" I.e. it is excluded from the reprehensibility. Please refer to the book "Al-Bahr Ar-Ra`iq, 2/31 ."

Sixth: Many scholars have permitted drawing pictures of living souls that don`t exist in reality, such as winged men and mixture of man and animal, in addition to fictional characters. Please refer to the book "Al-Hawi Al-Kabeer", 9/565, by Al-Mawardi.

In conclusion, if the cartoonist adheres to the above rules, then his work is permissible.

This answer was collected from the official government Iftaa Department of Jordan.

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