My understanding is that it isn't permissible within Islam to make images of living creatures, which comes under aniconism. As a result, this has lead to Islamic art dominated by geometrical patterns, calligraphy etc. Yet looking on Youtube, there are many programs made by Muslims with images of human beings in them, including documentaries, news reports of atrocities in Iraq etc. Is this permissible?

  • The matter of using human and animal imagery in Islam is a complicated one where there is very little consensus, especially in modern times. Though for the most part, photography and motion photography are considered permissible by most Muslims. Nov 4, 2013 at 18:01
  • @SystemDown I've never seen any images used in a mosque, which appears to be the general consensus. It does seem strange that I've seen people taking photographs of one another inside and out Nov 4, 2013 at 21:20
  • While photos and videos have made it's way into the everyday life of ordinary Muslims, it is very rarely seen inside mosques, where people tend to err on the side of caution (i.e. doing things the way they have always been done). I'm aware of only one progressive Imam who uses videos as part of his Friday sermons. Nov 4, 2013 at 22:35

2 Answers 2


I appreciate that you are interested in Islam. But Sincerely I think this question is a little bit exaggerated. It looks like many people have just forgotten about the core of Islam and are just interested on some deep details (will I go to hell if I shave my beard? and questions like that). I don't have anything against people wanting to go deep into details but when at some point those details develop into a separation criteria between "good muslims" and "bad muslims" I can't tolerate it anymore. That is becoming unfortunately the case in my home country nowadays (Tunisia).

God gave us a mind to use in those cases and we don't need to wait for the approval of this or that imam or rely on the mood of some guy and his interpretation about such an irrelevant subject that doesn't have any impact on society. Of course it must be harder without mastering the Arabic language but I think there is enough material in English out there to fetch and try to find out your conclusions and then compare to what other people think. You just never should accept something if your mind still tells you it doesn't make sense. Just keep digging. God won't punish us for pursuing our way toward the truth even if on that way you may become atheist or have strong doubts about every "assumed" truth in your religion.

My point now is that, without going deep into scripts and their interpretations, I think that artistic reproductions of living beings tend to be worshiped in the old time (sculptures etc) thing that might explain why such a thing was forbidden. However, Real reproduction of daily life or natures just shows it as it. And NOBODY can deny the usefulness of such technology in all domains (yeah maybe not porn :p ). Besides, we are nowadays in a world where you either keep your native religion or go atheist or agnostic. Really rare are the people who regress from their religion to an older one or who suddenly start worshiping an image or a sculpture. Of course consider this answer as a thinking of an average person born in a Muslim world and in no ways an absolute answer (does that exist anyway?)

An interesting point also is that Shiites don't mind hanging pictures of the prophet everywhere which is something totally unacceptable in Sunni world. I always try to think about Islam out of the box and put myself in a position thinking "If I wasn't born in a Muslim country, how would I think about that?". After living in 4 different countries, I really see things differently and feel like I'm out of this bubble I was born in. So also try to travel a lot and live for a while in different places (if not already done). Life behind a screen doesn't change you no matter how many articles or books you read.

Try also following this guy "Adnan Ibrahim" on youtube he has a lot of videos with English subtitles. Especially this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TC-ZlX9etRs

I hope you will find suitable answers to your questions.


There is a consensus among qualified scholars that static imagery, such as photographs and paintings of people, is not allowed. (Of course, Islam always makes exceptions for necessities such as security, medical purposes, etc). But other than that, you're correct, staying away from living imagery is why Islamic art is the way it is.

As far as videos are concerned - in my limited knowledge, while many scholars deem it impermissible, there hasn't been a unanimous consensus on videos - because of certain axioms and principles on which the rule is based. In my knowledge, there are some who have considered it excusable as far as useful education/information is concerned. But not for pointless entertainment.

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