Nowadays, being surrounded by different types of media products, one may be bewildered if all these movies and animations are lawful (Halal) or not. We might found many of them to have some contradictions with Islamic rules.
The fact is that many issues did not exist 1400 years ago, and therefore, there is no direct mention of them in the Quran or narrations of the Prophet (PBUH&HP).
However, Islam is not a contextual religion that was only suitable for people of its own time. Instead, it is a universal religion that can be a guideline for all human beings, anywhere and anytime. Thus, we should be able to find out the Islamic viewpoint about watching movies and animations; which, indeed, have a central role in most of our lives these days.
Although there is no direct mention of movies in the Quran, Islam has provided us with some fundamental frameworks that describe the freedoms and redlines of the religion. Those are the Islamic laws that are extracted from the Quran and narrations. Having those fundamental frameworks in mind, we can always have a criterion to distinguish the lawfulness or forbiddance of any new issue that may arise in our individual or social life.
Now, let’s revise some of these fundamental frameworks to find out if watching movies and animations are forbidden in Islam or not.
There is a verse in the Quran that says: “Say: Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants, and the good things of [His] provision?’ Say, ‘These are for the faithful in the life of this world, and exclusively for them on the Day of Resurrection.’ Thus do We elaborate the signs for a people who have knowledge.” (7: 32)
The verse shows that there have been people who prevented themselves from even lawful adornments of this world. Therefore, Allah, by using the imperative word “say,” tells his Prophet to ask people ‘based on what religion they are forbidding the blessings of Allah to themselves.’
Based on this verse, the blessings in this world have been created for faithful people, while the unbelievers can also use them. Byte they are merely for goof believers in heaven.
By reading rule number 1, some may think that Allah is not taking it too harshly, and therefore, everything is lawful for us. But since Allah knows better how we may misuse His words, He quickly continues with the following verse:
“Say, ‘My Lord has only forbidden indecencies, the outward among them and the inward ones, and sin and undue aggression, and that you should ascribe to Allah partners for which He has not sent down any authority, and that you should attribute to Allah what you do not know.’” (7: 33)
Therefore, any indecencies and wrongdoing that may in any way cause harm to an individual or the society are forbidden in Islam.
There are so many other verses that can help us find our answer in terms of watching movies. However, the two above verses can be the criteria to help us distinguish any Lawful (Halal) and unlawful in Islam.
Let’s choose a movie in mind and use the following questions as our criterion to distinguish if they are Lawful (Halal) or not.
1- It teaches me a lot.
2- It motivates me to be a better person and find better behavior and habits in life.
3- It gives me peace of mind.
4- It contains bad words that may remain in my mind.
5- It contains violence that is not motivating in the right way, but will wake my aggression.
6- It contains sexual scenes.
7- It gives me a nihilistic feeling.
Numbers 1, 2, and 3 are the manifestation of adornments and blessings of Allah, while numbers 4, 5, 6 and 7 are indecencies and wrongdoing.
The above were only some examples, but if you have more criteria based on the Quranic teachings in mind, you may find it easier to distinguish between right and wrong.
Watching movies and animations are not forbidden (Haram) in Islam if they don’t contain any prohibited elements. Muslims are allowed to watch, enjoy, and learn from movies that contain no indecencies and has no harm for any individual or society.
However, being a Muslim means that one has the aim of improving to the highest levels of faith. Thus, one should keep in mind the verse of the Quran that says: “The life of the world is nothing but play and diversion, and the abode of the Hereafter is surely better for those who are Godwary. Do you not exercise your reason?” (6: 32)
Therefore, even if the movies and animation are lawful (halal) to watch, we should make sure not to waste our time watching too much of them and neglect our main tasks in life.
“… and eat and drink, but do not waste; indeed, He does not like the wasteful.” (7: 31)
- The Quran, Chapter 7, verses 32-33
- The Quran, Chapter 6, verses 32
- The Quran, Chapter 7, verses 31
United Nations General Assembly in the 18th article of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”
Also in the 19th article of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights freedom of expression is defined as follows: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” 
In this text, I would like to explore this article and find out to what extent it is right or wrong according to the Islamic viewpoint toward freedom of thought and freedom of expression.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights puts freedom of thought and freedom of belief alongside each other. While there is a major difference between these two.
Murtaza Mutahhari emphasizes the difference between “thought” and “belief”. He argues that “thought is a potential caused by having intellect” and because every human being has intellect, and the potential to think about different issues, thus they think and “discover some truths about universe according to their talent”.  While he states that “belief might be based on human’s interest towards something” or “it might be based on following other people’s opinion”. But the true belief is “based on thinking”. He believes that most of the people shape their belief based on worldly interests. And there should be thoughtful people among them to guide them in their way of thinking and choices .
So, in his definition of thought and belief, he points out the mistake of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He concludes that people should have freedom of thought. Yet, about freedom of belief, unlike liberalism, Mutahhari states that “freedom is not the ultimate political goal to be respected under any condition”.
The main goal of freedom as he declares is to “reach perfection”. And if one’s belief is against his path towards perfection, then his belief needs an evolution, and should not be left alone to carry on his path towards adversity. 
There are more than 300 verses in the Quran that encourage people to think, such as: “Indeed We have sent it down as an Arabic Quran so that you may exercise your reason.” (12: 2), “[This is] a blessed Book that We have sent down to you, so that they may contemplate its signs, and that those who possess intellect may take admonition.” (38: 29), “Do they not contemplate the Quran, or are there locks on the hearts?” (47: 24).
Freedom of thought is also mentioned in the Quran in choosing the path of life where Allah says: “There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong.” (2: 256)
This verse clearly shows the importance of freedom of thought in the eyes of God, and the freedom to choose a religion. It is noteworthy that the Quran gives specific guidelines for finding the truth and recognizing wrong and right. As it is stated in the same verse; “So whoever disbelieves in idolatrous and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it.” (2: 256)
Also, Allah introduces His best servants in the Quran as those who listen to different types of opinions without any prejudice, and then follow the opinion that is closest to the righteous way: “…So give good news to My servants, who listen to the word [of Allah] and follow the best [interpretation] of it. They are the ones whom Allah has guided, and it is they who possess intellect.” (39: 17-18)
When Allah encourages people to find their religion based on intellectual thinking, he keeps reminding them at different points about what is beneficial and what is harmful to human growth.
As stated above freedom of thought is encouraged in Islam as long as it does not lead people and society toward diversity. “The objective of speech and expression according to Islam is to build up love, tolerance, social harmony, and understanding among members in order to ensure a peaceful coexistence.” 
So, freedom of thought is permitted in Islam as long as it does not harm the society. There is a fundamental rule in Islam, to which other rulings must not be contrary. A Muslim should neither be harmed nor should he harm anyone else. When thoughts are harmful to people in the society, Islam limits freedom of expressing the thoughts that may create social disorder.
So far we discussed that The Quran invites people to think and choose their religion and belief accordingly freely. There is no force in choosing religion. Yet, freedom of belief and expression is not completely allowed according to that fundamental rule of Islam.
That is, a Muslim should not be harmed and nor harm others. Sometimes, one may not have enough information about a particular issue and as a result is not able to form an educated opinion or belief. Hence, if someone wants to express his/ her opinions that have no scientific or logical foundations, and may bring about doubt in ordinary people’s beliefs, Islam would stand against it and will not allow its expansion. 
- Human rights
- Mutahhari, Murtaza, About Islamic republic, p. 92-3
- Mutahhari, Murtaza, About Islamic republic, p. 97
- Rostami, Mohammad. Andisheh Sadegh, vol. 6
- Bhat AM (2014) Freedom Of Expression From Islamic Perspective. Journal of Media and Communication Studies 6: 69-77.
- Kassem AS (2012) The Concept of Freedom in the Quran. American International Journal of Contemporary Research 2, p. 165-173.
After Imam Ali (AS) was martyred, Imam Hassan (AS) took over as his successor who like his father fought against Mu’aviah but he couldn’t defeat him because his army was not sufficiently loyal. His reliable followers were inadequate and he feared that they could be killed in the battle. Thus, Imam Hassan (AS) made a peace treaty with Mu’aviah, under the duress against his own will.
Mu’aviah became the Caliph under specific circumstances. For instance, he wasn’t allowed to choose the next Caliph and his son (Yazid) couldn’t be his successor. On the other hand, when Mu’aviah died, Imam Hussain (AS) was opposed to and fought against Yazid and he and his followers were brutally martyred. Both Imam Hassan (AS) and Imam Hussain (AS) had few collaborators/ associates/ helpers; however, this did not stop him from protesting against Yazid and his tyranny.
One of the most controversial questions about Imam Hussain (AS) is that why he did not make peace with Yazid just like his bother did with Mu’aviah?
It is worth noting that it would be so irrational to think that Imam Hussain (AS) had a different disposition from Imam Hassan (AS), for example one was more of a diplomat while the other was more of a fighter. In fact the objective conditions at the times of two Imams were rather different hence, their approach apparently differed.
1. Mu’aviah was willing to make peace with Imam Hassan (AS) but Yazid wasn’t like his father. Mu’aviah did not want to fight against either Imam Hassan (AS) or Imam Hussain (AS) and they were not prepared to do so. Once the governor of Medina wrote to Mu’aviah that Hussain (AS) does not want to take over the kingdom for now but he may do in the future. Mu’avia wrote to the ruler:
Leave Hussain (AS) and do not bother him because we don’t want to conflict with him while he is in peace with us (1)
On the other hand, when Yazid became the Caliph, he ordered the governor of Medina to make Imam Hussain (AS) to either obtain the oath of loyalty (to the Caliphate of Yazid) or failing that, kill Imam Hussain (AS), cut off his head and send it to Yazid.
2. In public Mu’aviah was, at least superficially, a pious person who would not commit sins or harm innocent people. Sometimes even the followers of Imam Ali (AS) had doubts about the impiety of Mu’aviah. While Yazid had no reservations, he would commit sins in public including drinking wine, playing with dogs and monkeys and etc. As in this regard Imam Hussain (AS) said:
Yazid is an alcoholic person and kills innocent people and does sins in public, so a person like me wouldn’t accept a person like him as their king (2)
3. Mu’aviah was a very powerful king with strong army but Yazid was not as clever and strong.
4. The loyalty of many of Imam Hassan’s (AS) followers was questionable. Some abandoned him and some others tried to kill him or even surrender him to Mu’aviah. But the companions of Imam Hussain (AS), as he himself said, were of a better and more loyal caliber. (3)
5. Mu’aviah was among the companions of the Prophet (PBUH) which earned him the respect of Muslims in general whereas Yazid was not a companion of the Prophet (PBUH) was so important to Muslims in that time and people would respect him so much. But Yazid wasn’t a companion of the Prophet.
6. Mu’aviah’s sister (Um Habibah) was the Prophet’s wife. Since the prophet’s wives are called ‘’the mothers of the believers ‘’; therefore, Mu’aviah was called “the uncle of the believers”. Yazid, however, did not have such status.
7. Although he did not meet any of his commitments that he had already made, Mu’aviah could say that he is legally the caliph because of the peace agreement between him and Imam Hassan (AS) because Yazid could not claim such legitimately.
Some people think that Imam Hussain (AS) didn’t agree with his brother in making peace with Mu’aviah however because of his respect for his brother, he observed the peace treaty and did not oppose Muaviah. However, this view about Imam Hussain is not right.
If we assume/Supposing that Imam Hussain (AS) did not actually agree with his senior brother, he could fight against Mu’aviah; because, the latter broke his agreement that he had made with Imam Hassan (AS), when he made his son, Yazid, his successor and Imam Hussain (AS) had no agreement with Muaviah however the circumstances of Imam Hussain were unsuitable for an uprising against Muaviah.
- Bihar al-anvar, Majlesi, vol.44, pg.212
- Maghtal al-Hussain (AS), Abd ar-Razzaq al-Muqarram, pg.129
- Musnad al-Imam ash-Shahid, al-Atarodi, vol.2, pg.4