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Ruling on Playing Computer Games Containing Living Souls

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Darul Iftaa Jordan
What is the ruling of Sharia on playing computer games containing living souls, humans or animals, on the basis that they are a kind of imaging? Also, does the same ruling apply to both adults and children?


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

Islam hasn`t prohibited playing for entertainment whether the games are manual or electronic. Rather, it has set up Sharia (legal) conditions for playing and games, as given in detail in Fatwa No. (896).

As for the fact that these games contain living souls, this doesn`t make prohibiting them an obligation for many reasons:

First: In principle, they are for children and Sharia isn`t strict in this regard and allows the use of images in children`s toys by analogy to the permission that the Prophet (PBUH) granted to A`isha as regards playing with her dolls. Narrated `Aisha:

"I used to play with the dolls……"{Muslim}. Judge Eiad said: " This Hadith indicates that it is permissible to play with dolls and similar images. Electronic games were created for the younger generation, so if adults played with them, then Sharia turns a blind eye to this based on the Sharia maxim, which states: "What might be impermissible independently, might be permissible when it is interrelated with…"

Second: Drawings and images in electronic games are 

often unreal and have no equals from the living souls and the real creatures. Many scholars consider these images permissible because the Hadiths indicating the prohibition don`t apply to them. It was also confirmed in the Prophetic Sunnah that it is permissible to use images that are missing  parts, head or lower part, without which they can`t be considered living. 

In addition, "A'isha reported: Allah's Apostle (PBUH) visited me when I had screened (my door) with a carpet having pictures on it. He removed it and we made cushions out of that." {Sahih Muslim}, 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}.

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}.

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}.

In conclusion, we advise the Muslim youth to busy their time with learning what is beneficial to them in this life and the next since on the Day of Judgment only righteousness and good deeds avail. And Allah the Almighty knows best.





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

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