The Presenter:

There are some questions on photography – photography during celebrations and other occasions.

Shaykh Abdul-Aziz Ibn Baz:

The default ruling on photography is that it is impermissible. This is the default ruling because the Messenger  cursed any woman who plucks eyebrows for others and the one who gets her eyebrows plucked, the tattooist and the one who gets tattooed, and he  cursed picture makers. This is in al-Bukhārī in the narration of Abū Juḥayfah . And he  said, “the people who will suffer the worst punishment on the Day of Rising are the picture makers.” He  also said, “the ones who made these pictures will be punished on the Day of Rising and it will be said to them, ‘bring what you created to life,’ among other such narrations concerning this topic. This is why the scholars deduced that making pictures is forbidden. There is a consensus against Solid (3-Dimensional) figures, figures that cast a shadow.

The scholars have debated the permissibility of 2-dimensional images such as illustrations on a parchment or pieces of cloth and the like, and the majority of the scholars are of the opinion that these are also forbidden due to the general nature of the narrations and their implication. This is the correct view, that these narrations are all-inclusive, except for what is required out of necessity such as taking pictures of criminals in order to impede them or track them down so that they are prevented from harming the Muslim populace. Likewise, an unavoidable necessity as far as pictures are concerned would be the ones doctors use to gain information about specific diseases from the remains of a dead person. Also included are personal photographs needed for applications, such as applying for citizenship, or when one isn’t allowed schooling without a photograph – for necessities and the fulfilment of needs in which one is as if under duress. Therefore, if one is refused citizenship… or a certificate unless he produces a picture, this is considered as duress or an unavoidable necessity.

In the past, I used to believe that… I used to have reservations about recordings, about televised recordings, the recording of lectures and seminars, and I used to be opposed to it and did not approve of its presence during lectures. Then it became apparent to me that adopting it for its general benefit to the Muslims, for them to benefit from seminars and lectures that are televised, that this is more beneficial. If it is permissible to take pictures to attain citizenship and such things while being a personal benefit and need, then how about needs and benefits that affect the common good?

This is what made it clear to me that I should relax my stance towards recordings of seminars and lectures that carry a general benefit for Muslims and that are broadcast on television and other such media. This is the reasoning behind not prohibiting it in this context and not refraining from it. There is an angle from which this issue may be looked at as impermissible but the more convincing position to me at this time is that anything related to the common good is more important and greater than anything related to personal benefit like applying for citizenship and so on.

We ask Allah to grant us all success.