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In simple words, is game programming, development and publishing prohibited?

I am a hobby programmer and while I was learning one of game development frameworks, my friend suggested that since making pictures of living beings is prohibited, game development could also be prohibited because the characters are often humans or human-like. I know many Muslim brothers developing games for iPhone, Android etc. This is a bit confusing. If it is not allowed then why are so many Muslims involved in it?

Here is what my search led me to

And what about small 2D games which have cartoon characters and not humans?

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    yes you are right pictures are not allowed but game development always does not include living pictues. – Ashu Jun 20 '12 at 4:24
  • "but game development always does not include living pictures". This is what i am asking. If it doesn't include pictures of living beings, is it permissible then?. Many games involve only cartoon characters. – Mohammad Yaseen Jun 20 '12 at 4:31
  • @MohammadYaseen By the way, I would love to see some of your games :) Have you checked out Deen Games? – ashes999 Jun 20 '12 at 9:47
  • I think game development/designing is allowed in islam. From what i know, we can't draw living creatures from pen. And we can't make sculptures since that's close to idol. I agree with ashes999 although this topic already reached its conclusion. :) – Nightgem Sep 5 '12 at 7:05
  • Have a look at this book (pdf), it gives a thorough explanation on the whole 'digital' issue, worth a read: ihyaauddeen.co.za/?wpdmdl=6965 – user12634 May 7 '15 at 19:21
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This is precisely the question which I tasked myself with several years ago. I've been developing games for more years than I can remember, and am currently doing so for Deen Games. So this is a question that falls within my interests.

In short, Islam allows all fields of interest, unless they contain haram elements. If they do contain haram elements, those elements can be removed.

Regarding pictures, the prohibition of tasweer or picture-making does not apply to digital artwork. This is the majority opinion and the correct opinion: tasweer is only when you physically draw or print pictures.

The proof of this is complicated. It has to do with the fact that photography didn't exist at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Some scholars made qiyaas that picture-taking is like drawing, although the majority do not, and offer then that digital artwork is nothing like physical drawing; therefore, all the rulings of tasweer don't apply to it.

For a proof, you can read this fatwa on Islam-QA. I quote (emphasis mine):

With regard to pictures made in the modern fashion, they fall into two categories:

The first category is those which have no tangible substance (and can only be seen by running them through a machine), as I was told is the case with pictures on video tapes. There is no ruling at all concerning these, and they do not come under the prohibition at all. Hence the scholars who forbid making pictures with cameras on paper (photographs) permitted this (video pictures), and said that there is nothing wrong with this. [...]

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    Thanks for your answer, but could you please cite any sources? They'll not only help me but also many other people searching for the same topic. – Mohammad Yaseen Jun 20 '12 at 9:13
  • My sources include classes I took and phone calls with shuyookh. I'll try and find something online if I can. – ashes999 Jun 20 '12 at 9:40
  • What do you mean by "digital artwork"? Does that include i.e. drawing a portrait of someone on a tablet? The portrait is not 'tangible' unless printed. (And when printing, it isn't the artist printing, but the machine.) – Mateen Ulhaq Jun 24 '12 at 7:08
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    @muntoo if the end result is bits and bytes, then it's digital. Yes, wallahu a'lam, I beleive it includes drawing portraits by tablet. Or mouse. Just don't print it and it's not even an issue to worry about. – ashes999 Jun 24 '12 at 15:15
  • @ashes999 What if you share your work online and someone else prints it? :P – Mateen Ulhaq Jun 24 '12 at 18:28
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assalamalaikum, I respect your intentions dear brother and sisters, speaking of halal and haram is not up to us. We know that taking picture is haram, and a fatwa has passed recently, intimating that if the technology is rightly persecuted,so as we can work with it if you are creating a game for the Islamic view than its permissible. Although its sometimes hesitate us to do but our international Ulama has passed a fatwa that we can use the technology for Islamic dawah, understanding it easily. May Allah show us the right path.

  • Hello and welcome to Islam. Could you please be more elaborative and specific in your answer so the it properly answers the question. – Bleeding Fingers Dec 13 '14 at 19:59

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