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.
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)
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 . 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)
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.’ 
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” .
- Al-Kafi. Vol. 6, p. 438
- Tafseer-e Noor, Qara’ati, M. Vol. 6, p. 381
- Painting and sculpture
When Western people travel to eastern Islamic countries, they often prefer to eat the folk and favorite local food of the region. But what is it that makes western Muslims starve for a KFC classic chicken–on–the–bone bucket meal, or a McDonalds’ double burger if they don’t eat meat?! Muslims are Muslims, not vegetarians and eating meat in Islam is allowed, But like the followers of other religions who have specific slaughtering rituals, Muslims also have explicit rulings for slaughtering particular animals to make it lawful (Halal).
As it is defined in the Quran, believers are welcomed to enjoy all of the blessings of this world . Therefore, about eating meat, Allah does not mention what to eat, but He excludes what is not lawful to eat and maybe physically or spiritually harmful to the human's body and soul. "You are permitted animals of grazing livestock, except what is [now] announced to you…" (5:1) and what is recited as prohibited is mentioned in the Quran as below:
You have prohibited carrion, blood, the flesh of swine, and what has been offered to other than Allah, and the animal strangled or beaten to death, and that which dies by falling or is gored to death, and that which is mangled by a beast of prey— barring that which you may purify —and what is sacrificed on stone altars [to idols], and that you should divide by raffling with arrows...(5:3).
Other than the mentioned meats all other kinds of meat are Halal as described in the Quran: Say, ‘I do not find in what has been revealed to me that anyone is forbidden to eat anything except carrion or spilled blood, or the flesh of swine—for that is indeed unclean—or an impiety offered to other than Allah.’ But should someone be compelled, without being rebellious or aggressive, indeed your Lord is all-forgiving, all-merciful’ (6:145).
Please note that all kinds of lawful (Halal) meat must be slaughtered according to Islamic rulings: “Do not eat [anything] of that over which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned, and that is indeed transgression…” (6:121).
Even the above mentioned prohibited meats are lawful (Halal) while you are living in a problematic situation and following the rules of Islam will put you in extreme difficulty. Please note that difficulty does not mean that you do not have ready food at home and therefore you may eat forbidden (Haram) meat. A difficulty, as written in Islamic jurisprudence, is when one’s life is at risk, and there is no other food available but forbidden (Haram) meat.
A Detailed Description of Lawful (Halal ) and Forbidden (Haram ) meats
To be more precise on which meat is lawful, let’s have a review of the Islamic jurisprudence.
Fish that have scales are the only type of Halal sea creatures. Other sea creatures and fish are Haram .
Among all domestic land creatures; sheep, cow, and camel are Halal, but eating the meat of horse and donkey is detestable (Makruh). The rest of domestic land creatures such as dogs, cats, etc. are forbidden (Haram).
Deer, cow, zebra, mountain goat, and wild donkey are all Halal. However, eating the meat of wild predatory animals that are predatory in essence, have strong and sharp nails, claws, and fangs such as, lions, leopards, cheetahs, wolves, or animals with less sharp fangs such as foxes and hyenas as well as rabbits, while not part of the predatory category, are considered Haram.
Also, insects and reptiles, such as snakes, mice, lizards, hedgehogs, fleas, lice, etc., are all Haram. Animals who have undergone metamorphosis (maskh) [i] such as, elephants, monkeys, bears, etc. are Haram as well .
Birds that flap their wings more than they glide while flying are Halal, but birds that glide and spread their wings more while flying in the air instead of flapping their wings are Haram. Also, birds with gizzards and spurs at the back of their feet are Halal [ii] .
All insects are Haram [iii] .
It is permissible to eat Halal meat cooked or uncooked or even burned (as long as it has no harm to human health) .
Please note that the rules of slaughtering and eating hunted meat are slightly different from all the rulings mentioned above, and we will discuss that in a separate article.
"For every nation, We have appointed a rite so that they might mention Allah’s Name over the livestock He has provided them" (22:34).
Although Jews have their specific rules of slaughtering that have many similarities to the Islamic rulings, as there are minor differences in the slaughtering of Jews and Muslims, therefore kosher meat is not lawful (Halal) for Muslims .
[i] In Arabic, Maskh means for something to change form to an uglier one. In the Quran and Islamic tradition, this term refers to a specific divine punishment that was sent upon the wrongdoers and wrongdoing nations in the past (of course not all wrongdoers, but those who committed certain wrong acts) which can be called metamorphosis .
[ii] Birds with sharp claws such as eagles, hawks, falcons, etc. are Haram.
[iii] If a locust is caught by hand or any other means, it is lawful (Halal) (after dying) .
- “Say, who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which he has produced for his servants and the good (lawful) things of provision?”(7:32)
- Imam Khomeini, Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 2, pg. 137, the book of foods and drinks, issue 2; al-Mukhtasar al-Nafi’, pg. 251; Sharayi’ al-Islam, pg. 169.
- food in Islam
- Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pg. 603.
- Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pg. 593, issue 2622.
- Imam Khomeini, Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 2, pg. 162
- Halal food
- halal food in Islam
The aim of my revolution is to reform the society and revive the true teachings of Islam
(Tuhaf al-Uqul, p.243)
If you don’t believe in any religion, at least be free-spirited and honest in your actions
(Bihar-al- Anwar, Vol. 45, P. 51)
I never revolted in vain, as a rebel or as a tyrant; rather, I rose seeking reformation for the nation of Islam
(Bihar-al- Anwar, Vol. 44, P. 329)
On the Day of Ashura, he addressed his companions:
“Be patient, you noble ones. Death is only a bridge which takes you from misery and loss to the vast Paradise and the eternal graces”.
(Bihar-al- Anwar, Vol. 44, P. 297)
O’ people! Listen to my words and don’t hasten to start a war, so that I clarify the reason behind my revolution
(al-Shaykh al-Mufid, al-Irshad, p.253)
On the night of Ashura, he gathered his followers in his tent, put out the light and said:
“Beware that I give you permission to leave this place; there is no obligation on you anymore, and you can all leave.”
However, not even one of them left his side….
(al-Shaykh al-Mufid, al-Irshad, p. 250)
joBe steadfast and firm in the way toward what is right, even if your journey is full of pain and challenges.
(Usul al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 28)
Death with dignity is better than a life of abasement.
(Bihar-al- Anwar, Vol. 44, P. 192)
By God, I will never surrender to my enemies like a humiliated person and never pledge allegiance to them like slaves
(Bihar-al- Anwar, Vol. 45, P. 7)
To me, death for the sake of what is right, is nothing but happiness, and living under tyrants nothing but living in a hell
(Tuhaf-al- Uqoul, P. 245)
The most incapable person is the one who can’t pray.
(Bihar al-Anwar, vol.81, p.257)
The most generous person is the one who gives to those who do not expect his help.
(Kashf al-ghumma, vol.2, p.30)
Try to compete with one another in good deeds and hurry to seize the opportunities, and forget the good deeds that you haven’t hastened to do.
(Bihar al-Anwar, vol.57, p.121)
People are slaves of this world. Religion is just what they say. They use it as long as it provides them with their living. When they are tested, there remain only a few true religious ones.
(Tuhaf al-Uqul, p.245)
If you worship Allah the way He deserves to be worshipped, He will fulfill all your wishes, and bless you much more than what you deserve.
(Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 68, p.184)
God will help the person who cares about other people’s needs, both in this world and the hereafter.
(Bihar al-Anwar, vol.75, p.121)
17. Having Faith in Allah
O’ Allah! What has gained the one who has not found You, and what has lost the one who has found You?
(Bihar al-Anwar, vol.95, p.226)
Avoid oppressing the one who does not have any supporter against you, other than the Almighty God.
(Bihar-al- Anwar, Vol. 78, P. 118)
When Allah chooses to favor someone, makes him/her the source of satisfying other people's needs.
(Bihar al-Anwar, vol.74, p.205.)
Beware! Do not be among those who are concerned about the sins of others while neglectful of their own sins.
(al-Kafi, vol.8, p.49, Hadith #9)
One who reveals your faults to you like a mirror is your true friend, and one who flatters you and covers up your faults is your enemy.
(Bihar-al- Anwar, Vol. 78, P. 128)
Whoever seeks the satisfaction of people through disobedience of Allah; Then Allah subjects him to people.
(Bihar-al- Anwar, Vol. 78, P. 126)
Wisdom will not be gained, unless through following the right path.
(Bihar-al- Anwar, Vol. 78, P. 127)
Say what you like to be said about you, in the absence of your fellow believer.
(Bihar-al- Anwar, Vol. 75, P. 127)
Avoid doing things that would make you apologize; since a believer won’t commit a wrong action that would make him/her sorry.
(Bihar-al- Anwar, Vol. 75, P. 120)
If you lead your actions through committing sins and disobeying Allah, your intentions won’t be fulfilled and will be caught in what you fear most.
(Bihar-al- Anwar, Vol. 75, P. 120)
Kindness elevates human beings, and faithfulness is the sign of decency.
(Bihar-al- Anwar, Vol. 75, P. 122)
Extremism is like going down in a swamp, and keeping company with abject and corrupt ones will bring evil and misery for you.
(Kashf al-ghumma, vol.2, p.30)
Seeking knowledge will lead you toward wisdom and elevation.
(Bihar-al- Anwar, Vol. 75, P. 128)
Visiting relatives and keeping in touch with them will bring you a longer and more substantial life.
(Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Oyoun Akhbar Al-Ridha, vol.2, p.44)
The most generous person is the one who forgives while in power.
(Kashf al-ghumma, vol.2, p.29)
The best way of maintaining family ties is through visiting the ones who have cut ties with you and haven’t visited you for a while.
(Kashf al-ghumma, vol.2, p.29)
Whoever helps his/her fellow in religion for the sake of Allah, He will compensate for him/her and eliminate the hardships from his/her life. Also, whoever relieves a believer’s grief, Allah will free him/her of his/her pains and sufferings in this world and the other world.
(Bihar-al- Anwar, Vol. 75, P. 121)
Only trust those who believe in Allah and are afraid of His questioning on the Day of Judgement.
(Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Jameh al- Akhbar, p.97)
While on his way to Karbala, Imam Hussain (AS) said: “I cannot have whoever owes a debt in my company. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) used to say: ‘whoever dies while owing to other people, his/her good deeds will be void in the hereafter.’”
(Kalimat al-Imam al-Hussain (AS) (Words of Imam Hussain), p.417)
Gain people’s praise with your efforts and successes, and do not expose yourself to people’s blames through laziness and lethargy.
(Kashf al-ghumma, vol.2, p.29)
Long and numerous experiences strengthens your mind.
(Bihar-al- Anwar, Vol. 75, P. 128)
(Bihar-al- Anwar, Vol. 78, P. 119)
Do not say something which would undermine your self-worth.
(Muhammad Baqer al-Majlisi, Jala’a al-Oyoun, vol.2, p.205)
Observe your physical health in your lifetime.
(Tuhaf al-Uqul, p.239)