There are some hadiths that say creation is haraam.

'Aisha reported: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) visited me and I had a shelf with a thin cloth curtain hanging over it and on which there were portraits. No sooner did he see it than he tore it and the color of his face underwent a change and he said: 'Aisha, the most grievous torment from the Hand of Allah on the Day of Resurrection would be for those who imitate (Allah) in the act of His creation. 'Aisha said: We tore it into pieces and made a cushion or two cushions out of that. [Sahih Muslim Book 024, Hadith Number 5261]

Abu Zur'a reported: I visited the house of Marwan in the company of Abu Huraira and he found pictures there, whereupon he said: I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Allah, the Glorious and Exalted, said: Who is a more wrongdoer than one who tries to create creation like Mine creation. Let him create an atom or a grain of wheat or that of barley. This hadith has been transmitted on the authority of Abu Zur'a and he said: Abu Huraira went to the house of Sa'ld or Marwan which they had built in Medina and he (Abu Huraira) saw a painter who had been painting pictures in his house, whereupon he told that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) had said like this, but he made no mention of the words: "Let him create the grain of barley." [Sahih Muslim, Book 024, Hadith Number 5275]

But as long as the creation is not a tangible object, it looks like it's fine.

So, how about robots? Today, there are many robots that attempt to walk, move, and talk like people and animals. Does this follow the same category as paintings? Many of them don't have a human face and don't even look very human.

Bonus question: What about artificial intelligence that isn't in a physical form but tries to replicate a human mind exactly?

  • Good question, if I was asking, I would add dolls and stuffed toys too :) – user44 Aug 24 '12 at 19:22

Use of robots that do not resemble creatures is permissible. What is not permitted is the resemblance to Allah's creation as quoted in Abi Zur'a's hadith (also in Sahih al-Bukhari 7559) in your question: "Who are most unjust than those who try to create something like My creation?"

Even if this were to be a matter where opinions differ, there is an associated risk of being among challenged on Judgment Day by Allah, and potentially punished:

حَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ بْنُ سَعِيدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا اللَّيْثُ، عَنْ نَافِعٍ، عَنِ الْقَاسِمِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ ـ رضى الله عنها ـ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ﷺ قَالَ: إِنَّ أَصْحَابَ هَذِهِ الصُّوَرِ يُعَذَّبُونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ، وَيُقَالُ لَهُمْ أَحْيُوا مَا خَلَقْتُمْ

Narrated Aisha: Allah's Messenger ﷺ said, "The painter of these pictures will be punished on the Day of Resurrection, and it will be said to them, 'Make alive what you have created.'"

Sahih al-Bukhari 7557

Or, at best, be deprived of the blessings of angels of mercy as a result of having such a humanoid robot:

حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ مُقَاتِلٍ، أَخْبَرَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ، أَخْبَرَنَا مَعْمَرٌ، عَنِ الزُّهْرِيِّ، عَنْ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، أَنَّهُ سَمِعَ ابْنَ عَبَّاسٍ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ يَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا طَلْحَةَ، يَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ﷺ يَقُولُ:‏ لاَ تَدْخُلُ الْمَلاَئِكَةُ بَيْتًا فِيهِ كَلْبٌ وَلاَ صُورَةُ تَمَاثِيلَ

Narrated Abu Talha: I heard Allah's Messenger ﷺ saying; "Angels (of Mercy) do not enter a house wherein there is a dog or a picture of a living creature (a human being or an animal).

Sahih al-Bukhari 3225

The degree at which a robot (or any other humanoid form) is considered to resemble Allah's creation is not defined. I guess it is left to the individual who will need to justify this on Judgment Day to decide for themselves.

There is nothing specifically mentioned to prohibit or allow artificial intelligence per se; therefore, it is allowed.

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