The Un-Islamic Art of Photography
12 September 2013
As a reader of articles on this Web site, you may not have realized that I have a few other Web sites, including one dedicated to the art of photography: Brian Byrd's Photo Gallery and Blog.
So you can imagine my interest yesterday when I ran across this headline on the Jihad Watch Web site: India's leading Islamic seminary: Photography is sin and un-Islamic. Here are some excerpts (emphasis mine):
India's leading Islamic seminary Darul Uloom has issued a fatwa, saying "photography is unlawful and a sin," even though Saudi Arabia allows photographers inside the holy city of Mecca and live telecast of namaz is beamed on Islamic channels across the world.
Mufti Abdul Qasim Nomani, Mohtamim (Vice-Chancellor) of Darul Uloom Deoband, told PTI on phone, "Photography is un-Islamic. Muslims are not allowed to get their photos clicked unless it is for an identity card or for making a passport." He said Islam does not permit video-taping of marriages or clicking of pictures to save as mementos for future generations.
Photography is a sin, unIslamic, says Darul Uloom. When pointed out that Saudi Arabia, which follows the Wahabi school that aspires to return to the earliest fundamental sources of Islam, allows photography in the holiest of Islamic cities Mecca and beams live coverage through the year, Nomani said, "Let them do it. We do not allow it. Not everything they do is correct."
Nomani agreed with the fatwa — a religious edict issued by Darul Ifta in Deoband — regarding a query from an engineering graduate saying he was passionate about photography and wanted to pursue it as a career. "Photography is unlawful and sin. Hadees (recorded Islamic tradition) warns sternly against it. Do not do this course. You should search any suitable job based on your engineering course," reads the fatwa posted on the school's website.
All India Muslim Law Personal Board member Mufti Abul Irfan Qadri Razzaqi also agreed with Nomani's fatwa. "Islam forbids photographing of humans and animals. whoever does that will be answerable to God," Razzaqi told PTI. When reminded that Saudis allow it, he said, "Just because they are richer than us doesn't mean they are also correct. If they are allowing photography they will be answerable on the Day of Judgment in the court of God."
A similar fatwa was issued when a television reporter asked if his "facing the video camera" is against Islam. "You are right, it is prohibited in Islam to photograph and to let others photograph you. Therefore, you should seek forgiveness from Allah for the same and choose for you a work which is free from such prohibited acts."
I suppose that faithful Muslims had better give up the illegal, immoral hobby of photography, and stick to activities which are legal under Islam, like
In your Islamic future, my Islamic future, our Islamic future, it looks like I'll have to find a different hobby. There are eternal rewards for being killed for the sake of Yeshua (Isa, Jesus), but no such rewards are promised for being killed for the sake of photography.
UPDATE 7 October 2013: Be sure to read an inspiring follow-up story — Lens on liberty: Muslim women with camera in hand defy fatwa — published by The Times of India. Here are a couple of excerpts:
"The fatwa reeks of the medieval mindset. Just as writing brings catharsis to writers, photography is a way of feeling liberated."
"I was scared to step out of home before I learnt photography. I was shy. Now, I confidently commute to work."
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