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Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) visited me after returning from a journey, and I had a shelf with a thin cloth curtain hanging over it and on which there were portraits. When he saw it, the color of his face changed (because of anger) and he said, "O Aishah! the most grievous torment from Allah on the Day of Resurrection will be for those who imitate (Allah) in the act of His creation.'' `Aishah said: We tore it into pieces and made a cushion or two cushions out of that. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

At first look, it almost sounds as if God wants to scare people away from imitating his actions. But then I think about it, I think, why would God be worried about such a trivial thing, he is God, and absolutely no one can compare to him!

Personally, I thought it would be fairly useful to have pictures drown of the prophet while the prophet was alive for record purposes so we can clearly see how the prophet dressed, i.e. a picture speaks a thousand words. Plus illustrations of how the prophet prayed step by step would have been extremely useful too, instead of having to navigate through the huge web of hadith to try to put everything together on how the prophet dressed, how the prophet prayed etc etc.

So my question is, what is the wisdom behind telling us not to create portraits of people? i.e. it's not as if people can actually bring those portraits to life like God can. Or can we? Maybe we have been given the power and the ability to create life from portraits but we haven't realized yet, and God has forbidden it so we don't even attempt it?

I don't know what the reason behind this is, hence the question.


Based on the comment below, I don't think that answers the question. If the reason behind the prohibition of creating portraits truly is to stop idol worshiping, then why not just say that, i.e.

Anyone who creates idols in any form will have a grievous torment from Allah.  

Why say,

Anyone who imitates Allah in the act of his creation will have a grievous torment? 

I think this has more to it than simply preventing idol worshiping.

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not quite an answer, but this hadith of the idols of Noah's people is very relevant: – goldPseudo Dec 20 '12 at 17:28
very related – user2350 Jun 6 '13 at 5:53

I would firstly like to address that we do not have to know why to everything, if Allah and His messenger tells us to do something, then we must do it, if something is prohibited then it is prohibited and the reason maybe known and may not be known, either way we don't have to know why? Because Allah and His messenger have prohibited it or allowed it. I am not saying that asking questions is bad, but asking questions can get to the point of questioning, and there is a big difference between asking a question and questioning.

Secondly I would like to address the part of your question which says:

it's not as if people can actually bring those portraits to life like God can. Or can we? Maybe we have been given the power and the ability to create life from portraits but we haven't realized yet, and God has forbidden it so we don't even attempt it?

The answer is no, we have no such power. And of the Wisdom of the Prohibition of portraits/pictures is that we are protected from/trying to stay far away from the appearances of idolatry, and through the prohibition our belief system is protected from Shirk and the worship of idols. Also, idolatry has entered to those before us through pictures/portraits, and this is clear in the following Hadith:

أُمَّ سَلَمَةَ، ذَكَرَتْ لِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَنِيسَةً رَأَتْهَا بِأَرْضِ الْحَبَشَةِ يُقَالُ لَهَا مَارِيَةُ، فَذَكَرَتْ لَهُ مَا رَأَتْ فِيهَا مِنَ الصُّوَرِ، فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ "‏ أُولَئِكَ قَوْمٌ إِذَا مَاتَ فِيهِمُ الْعَبْدُ الصَّالِحُ ـ أَوِ الرَّجُلُ الصَّالِحُ ـ بَنَوْا عَلَى قَبْرِهِ مَسْجِدًا، وَصَوَّرُوا فِيهِ تِلْكَ الصُّوَرَ، أُولَئِكَ شِرَارُ الْخَلْقِ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ ‏"‏‏.‏

Um Salama told Allah's Messenger (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) about a church which she had seen in Ethiopia and which was called Mariya. She told him about the pictures which she had seen in it. Allah's Messenger (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, "If any righteous pious man dies amongst them, they would build a place of worship at his grave and make these pictures in it; they are the worst creatures in the sight of Allah."


It is also clear in this Hadith as well. An Allah knows best, and He knows the whole Wisdom behind it, and we should follow whether we know or not, for if we do not know in this world Insha'Allah we may know in the hereafter.

Sources:, and

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