As an outsider, I don't fully understand the notion of idolatry and the extent of its prohibition in various religions, but I do understand and respect that it is an important concept in, for instance, Islam.

I know very little about it, but as far as I know, in Islam, aniconism entails mostly that one may not produce images ('icons') of 1) Islam's singular divine entity, and/or 2) living, sentient beings. (The only reason I know about this is because one of my undergraduate courses in mathematics referred to the geometric/calligraphic art found in mosques.)

But when I thought of it, there are quite a few company logos and application icons that are incompatible with this prohibition. For instance, while the logos of Google and Chrome are purely typographical and geometric, the logos of Mozilla and Firefox are based around animals (fictional resp. non-fictional).

My question is: what are the laws and guidelines regarding aniconism in Islam, and how would they apply to UX design? I pose this question assuming that making guidelines for user experience (UX) design (specifically, rules on designing logos, fonts, wallpapers, website backgrounds, etc.) compatible with these laws and guidelines would, in general, make muslims feel more respected, included and welcomed to use a product or service. If I'm fundamentally wrong in this assumption, please excuse my ignorance.

  • 1
    note that Islam does not make a distinction between Icon and Idol as in christian doctrine. All images of living beings are considered prohibited including the firefox logo.
    – user4841
    Jul 7 '14 at 0:22
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    answers the question: islam.stackexchange.com/a/14490/4841
    – user4841
    Jul 7 '14 at 0:42


Aniconism was initially prohibited since the idolatry was an important issue that needed a solution, at that time the Prophet PBUH was so strict about any representation of a living and sentient being. Then after that the hadiths were mainly allowing muslims to draw (take) pictures of anything. Even children are encouraged to play with toys (presumably figures) in a certain holiday (ashura'a) if there was prohibited the Prophet PBUH wouldn't allow children to be accustomed to such practice since at they're age they learn what's right and what's wrong.

For the references sorry it's only in arabic.

فقه السنة - اسيد سابق:

النهي عن وضع الصور في البيت: وكما يحرم صنع التماثيل والصور يحرم اقتناءها ووضعها في البيت، ومن الواجب كسرها حتى لا تبقى على صورة التمثال. 1 - روى البخاري أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم لم يكن يترك في بيته شيئا فيه تصاليب (صور الصليب) إلا نفضه ". 2 - وروي أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: " إن الملائكة لا تدخل بيتا فيه تماثيل " (2) . الصور التي لاظل لها: كل ما سبق ذكره خاص بالصور المجسدة التي لها ظل. أما الصور التي لا ظل لها، كالنقوش في الحوائط وعلى الورق والصور التي توجد في الملابس والستور والصور الفوتر غرافية فهذه كلها جائزة. وكانت ممنوعة في أول الامر ثم رخص فيها بعد.

والذي يدل على المنع ما ذكرته السيدة عائشة رضي الله عنها قالت: كان لنا ستر فيه تمثال طائر**، وكان الداخل إذا دخل استقبله، فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم:" حولي** هذا، فإني كلما دخلت فرأيته ذكرت الدنيا " (رواه مسلم) . فهذا الحديث دليل على أنه ليس بحرام لانه لو كان حراما في آخر الامر لامر بهتكه ولما اكتفى بمجرد تحويل وجهه. ثم ذكر أن علة تحويل وجهه هو تذكيره بالدنيا، وأيد هذا الطحاوي من أئمة الاحناف فقال: " إنما نهى الشارع أولا عن الصور كلها، وإن كانت رقما، لانهم كانوا حديثي عهد بعبادة الصور فنهى عن ذلك جملة، ثم لما تقرر نهيه عن ذلك أباح ما كان رقما في ثوب للضرورة إلى اتخاذ الثياب وأباح ما يمتهن، لانه يأمن على الجاهل تعظيم ما يمتهن. وبقي النهي فيما لا يمتهن. ا.هـ وقال ابن حزم: وجائز للصبايا خاصة اللعب بالصور ولا يحل لغيرهن. والصور محرمة إلا هذا وإلا ما كان رقما في ثوب.

PS: 'Aisha (GOD be pleased with her) had a flying being drawn on a curtain, and she's the wife of The Prophet PBUH, He simply stated that looking at this reminds him of Dunia (terrestrial desires) nothing more. I emphasised on the bird to answer your question about the UX design and the logo which in my perspective can be anything you want.

Another Important thing is the fact that anything which is forbidden in itself (not forbidden to avoid another sin-محرم لذاته) is never allowed to other Prophets which was not the case with aniconism as stated in the verse 13 of Saba describing the kingdom of Solomon PBUH:

They made for him what he willed of elevated chambers, statues, bowls like reservoirs, and stationary kettles. [We said], "Work, O family of David, in gratitude." And few of My servants are grateful.

As for the Hadith :

Ibn 'Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him and his father) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Every image-maker will be in the Fire, and for every image that he made a soul will be created for him, which will be punished in the Fire." Ibn 'Abbaas said: "If you must do that, make pictures of trees and other inanimate objects." (Reported by Muslim, 3/1871)

We Muslims know without doubt that the only thing not tolerated by GOD is shirk, if we understand this hadith as if someone draws or engrave something so the subject will be worshipped or so the painter or sculptor tries to defy GOD by "creating" something and "prooving" that he also can create (create as GOD created the universe from nothingness), if we understand like this we will understand why this prohibition was so stressed, over something that not as harmful as the other big sins (murder, theft ..)

Sorry for my english, I know some phrases in there are wrongly constructed but please bear with me.

  • This answer needs more references.
    – user44
    Jul 7 '14 at 3:51
  • The problem is I have references but in arabic and dunno if @Ryhmoid knows arabic
    – enissay
    Jul 7 '14 at 10:25
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    I don't, but others who see this question might, and I would really appreciate references. I might be able to find a translation by myself, or eventually consult with someone who understands it.
    – Rhymoid
    Jul 7 '14 at 10:33
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    @Rhymoid I edited the answer hope it helps.
    – enissay
    Jul 7 '14 at 11:07
  • I edited once again, I think whenever something come to mind I will add it to the answer so it will be nsha'ALLAH as clear as possible
    – enissay
    Jul 7 '14 at 14:38

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