What Types of Drawings in Islam Are Permissible?

The issue of art and drawings in Islam is among those topics that have not been directly mentioned and ruled on in the Quran. Therefore, one might wonder if drawings in Islam is allowed (Halal) or not and if yes, then are all types of drawings permitted (Halal)?

 

There are a few traditions narrated about drawings in Islam that are usually used to answer this question. However, since the answer can be derived from the Quran, this text tries to answer the question based on the Quranic verses. 
Now, you might be asking how it is possible to understand the ruling on drawing while there is no direct mention of it in the Quran. The answer is clear; the Quran provides us with a set of fixed frameworks that work as a criterion for us. And whenever we come to a question that we think was not an issue at the time of the Prophet (PBUH&HP), we can study it, based on the Islamic criteria and find the answer.


Does Allah Like Art?


Drawings in Islam and all other types of art are considered as tools to make things more beautiful and to create a feeling of admiration in their audience. Allah (SWT) has created this universe most superbly and has ordered all His creatures to admire and praise Him for this beautification. After creating the human, He looked at his creation and admired His own creation: “He formed you and perfected your forms, and provided you with all the good things. That is Allah, your Lord! Blessed is Allah, Lord of all the worlds!” (40:64)

drawings in islam


Apart from the whole magnificent scenery of the universe, created by Allah (SWT), there are also some verses of the Quran that indicate the importance of beauty in the eyes of our Creator. And that is why the Prophet (PBUH&HP)’s saying, “Indeed Allah is beautiful and likes beauty” has become so famous [1]. The importance of beauty in the eyes of Allah is visible in different verses of the Quran: 


“O Children of Adam! Put on your adornment on every occasion of prayer … Say, ‘Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants, and the good things of [His] provision?’” (7:31-32)

 

What Can We Find in the Quran about Art?


Creativity is a blessing with which Allah (SWT) has provided human beings (not to mention all the artistic creations of other creatures). And therefore, human beings have always created new things using their creativity, the effect of which is evident in the history and the Quran, e.g., in building houses, castles, making clothes, or designing jewelry, etc.


 However, the Quran does not admire all types of art. For example, making sculptures or figures to worship and as idols are considered to be negative. For instance, Prophet Abraham (PBUH), facing his people who were worshiping lifeless and dumb idols, addresses his father and says: “What are these images to which you keep on clinging?” (21: 52)


While in another Surah of the Quran, making statues and sculptures and other pieces of art so far as they are useful for human beings are referred to as positive and admirable. An example is when The Jinn built those pieces of art under the observation of Prophet Solomon (PBUH): “They built for him as many temples as he wished, and figures, basins like cisterns, and caldrons fixed [in the ground] …” (34:13).


Besides, the main ruling on doing artworks can be derived from a Surah in the Quran called Surah Al-Shu’araa’ which means Poets. 


In this Surah Allah (SWT) clearly describes the essence of forbidden (Haram) and allowed (Halal) art with a direct mention of poetry which was popular in Prophet (PBUH&HP)’s time:

 
“As for the poets, [only] the perverse follow them. Have you not regarded that they rove in every valley and that they say what they do not do? Barring those who have faith, do righteous deeds, and remember Allah much often, and vindicate themselves after they have been wronged. And the wrongdoers will soon know at what goal they will end up.” (26: 224-7)


In these verses, Allah (SWT) states that only perverse people would follow and admire the poets. And in describing the poets, it is mentioned that “they rove in every valley,” meaning that they make up things from their imagination. At the time of the Prophet (PBUH&HP), ‘most poetries were about the beauty of women, adultery, and pervert behaviors.’ However, Allah (SWT) does not forbid poetry completely; rather, He ‘makes the exception of faithful poets’ in the next verse. ‘Those who use their art as a tool to defend justice and to reveal oppression and injustice.’ [2]

 

drawings in islam

 

How Do I Know My Drawings in Islam Are Forbidden (Haram) or Allowed (Halal)?


From the above verses of the Quran, we can conclude that any form of art or any other tool is allowed (Halal) provided that they are used in the way of Allah, and if used in the way of Satan, they are considered to be forbidden (Haram). Therefore, it is of utmost importance to be familiar with the Islamic jurisprudence to distinguish the right from wrong from an Islamic viewpoint.


Another point that needs to be considered about different forms of art and drawing is that they should not go against the Islamic jurisprudence. Including erotic pictures or scenes in drawings or illustrations is one example of what makes this form of art forbidden. Therefore, as long as the drawing or making sculptures do not have any adverse harm for human soul and improvement, the ruling is as follows: “There is no harm at all in the sculpture, photography, and drawings of living beings whether or not they have a soul. Also, it is permissible to sell, buy, or keep pictures and statues. There is no objection to showing them in an exhibition as well” [3].

 


References: 
[1] Al-Kafi. Vol. 6, p. 438
[2] Tafseer-e Noor, Qara’ati, M. Vol. 6, p. 381
[3] Painting and sculpture: https://www.leader.ir/en/book/32/Practical-Laws-of-Islam