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Reasons for impermissibility of images(Emotions) On Facebook etc

I have been requested by a brother who I love and respect to write down my thoughts about emoticons since we had a discussion about its ruling. I advised him I lean to believe it is Haram or, at least, has doubt of Haram while he argued that some of our respectable scholars said it is allowed. So, I am writing about this topic to shade some light on Emoticons in depth since I know it has not been discussed in details before.

I shall divide this small article into four sections:

  • Types of Emoticons
  • Reasons for impermissibility of images
  • Criteria of forbidden images
  • Argument of who allows emoticons
  • Applying the Criteria on emoticons
  • Reply to who relies on scholars statement of permissibility
  • Conclusion


Emoticons come into various forms:

  • Imaginary creatures like half human and half animal creatures or flying horse and so on., that comes either in silent drawings or animated pictures.


  • Faces that express emotions like: smiley face, crying face, happy face, angry face and etc…
  • Animated faces or creatures that move and interact based on human beings actions


Reasons for impermissibility of Images in General:

I have looked into the Hadeeths that states the impermissibility of drawings and concluded that this prohibition is due the following two points:

  • Imitation and replicating Allah’s creatures

    Narrated By Abu Huraira: I heard the Prophet saying, “Allah said, ‘who are most unjust than those who (يضاهون) try to create something like my creation? I challenge them to create even a smallest ant, a wheat grain or a barley grain.” [Sahih Bukhari: 5610]

  • A reason that prevents angels entering places that have pictures

Abu Talha reported Allah’s Apostle (صلى الله عليه و سلم) having said: Angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a picture.[Agreed upon; Sahih Muslim: 2106 and Bukhari: 3144]


Criteria of prohibited Images:

The above two Hadeeths specify two main keywords that upon we can determine the ruling over pictures in general.

1. (المضاهاة): This word means to Simulate or create something similar in description or appearance which explains that Prohibition is not only limited to pictures that are a match to animated creatures. As a result, pictures or drawing that contain eyes, mouths, noses, heads or bodies regardless how distorted the features are still will be included in prohibition. So, changing or distorting the features of the picture does not shift the ruling because it still includes an implementation of a simulation to Allah’s creatures.

Imam Al-Ramli Al-Shafi’e said: “Pictures of animals (are unlawful)….even if these drawings are for animals that do not exist in reality like horses with wings” [Tohfatul Minhaaj: Under section of Waleemah (wedding feast): 31/416]

2. (صورة): I wish to go in bit of details about the meaning of it as there are two evidences that support our argument but I will comment on afterward:

Ibn A’bbas said: “The picture is the face so if the head was taken off then it is not a picture anymore” [Silsilah Al-Saheeha: 1921]

This Athar is clear evidence on the fact that emoticons are prohibited as they are clear faces. This is supported by the authentic Hadeeth:

Narrated By Abu Hurairah: The Apostle of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: Gabriel (صلى الله عليه و سلم) came to me and said: I came to you last night and was prevented from entering simply because there were images at the door, for there was a decorated curtain with images on it in the house, and there was a dog in the house. So order the head of the image which is in the house to be cut off so that it resembles the form of a tree; order the curtain to be cut up and made into two cushions spread out on which people may tread; and order the dog to be turned out. [Sunan Abi Dawd: 4158]

There are two important points to be concluded from the highlighted underlined line in the Hadeeth:

  • It proves that the face has to be taken off so that the picture is considered deformed and not treated as Haram one.
  • The part that says: “so that it resembles the form of a tree” it has a meaning that came into my head at tiome of looking at it. The use of ” form of a tree” indicates that when the head is taken off the statues must not be recognized as a body at all. Hence, looking at such statue must not give an impression of an animated creation therefore, the word tree is used in the Hadeeth to show that it is what will be the first impression to have at time of looking at it. However, if the statues head was taken off but looking at it still gives the impression that it is a body of animated creatures then such figure must be taken down. This is supported by the fact that when the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) conquered Mecca he ordered the idols to be torn down and not just their heads which means that the idols did look like a animated creature in total ( body and face) that even taken off its head won’t change its reality as a figure of real creature therefore they all were torn down.


Argument of who allow such images

It might be argued that there is a Hadeeth that proves that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) allowed Aisha (رضي الله عنها) to play with a doll that took the form of horse with wings as it follows:

Narrated By ‘Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin: When the Apostle of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) arrived after the expedition to Tabuk or Khaybar (the narrator is doubtful), the draught raised an end of a curtain which was hung in front of her store-room, revealing some dolls which belonged to her. He asked: What is this? She replied: My dolls. Among them he saw a horse with wings made of rags, and asked: What is this I see among them? She replied: A horse. He asked: What is this that it has on it? She replied: Two wings. He asked: A horse with two wings? She replied: Have you not heard that Solomon had horses with wings? She said: Thereupon the Apostle of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) laughed so heartily that I could see his molar teeth. [Sunan Abi Dawd: 4932]

This Hadeeth has a default because of Muhammad Bin Ayoub, who exists in the chain of narrators. And here is what scholar said about him:

He is: Yahya bin Ayoub Al-Ghafiqi, known as Abu Al-Abbas Al-Masri and he was classified by the following scholar as it follows:

Ahmad bin Hanbal: He has bad memorization

Abu Hatem: He is Sadouq (a word of discrediting); His Hadeeth is written but cannot be used as evidence
Al-Nasaaie: He is not strong and in another place he said: La baas bih (all, are words of discrediting)

Ibn Sa’d: his Hadeeth is Munkar

Al-Darqatni: Some of his Hadeeth ahs Idteraab

Al-Ismaie’li: He cannot be used as evidence

Al-U’qaili mentioned hi in his book: The weak narrators

This Hadeeth is documented in Sunan Abi Dawd, Sunan Al-Bayhaqi and Sunan Al-Nasaie Al-Kubra.

In Sunan Abi Dawd , from the way of Yahya bin Ayoub, the Hadeeth mention that this incident took place either after the Battle of Tabuk or Khaybar while in Sunan Al-Bayhaqi Al-Kubra it is mentioned as Battle of Tabuk while in Sunan Al-Nisai’e it is mentioned it is a battle without mentioning which one and in Sahih Habban it is not mentioned the battle. Furthermore, the chain of narrator has Idteraab in it as in one it is from Abdullah bin Wahb – Yahya bin Ayoub – I’mara Bin ghazya – Abi Al-Nadr – U’rwa – Aisha [ Sahih Ibn Habban] while in another it is Yahya bin Ayoub – I’mara bin Ghazyya – Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin Alharith – Abu Salama Bin Abdulrahman – Aisha [ Sunan Al-Bayhaqi Al-Kubra]. This Idteraab is due to the bad memorization of Yahya bin Ayoub as it noted.

Imam Al-Bayhaqi commented on this Hadeeth after he documented by saying: “This Hadeeth is documented in Sunan Abi Dawd from the way of Muhammad bin A’wf from Sa’ed Ibn Abi Maryam as he stated in that Hadeeth either battle of Tabuk or Battle of Khaybar. It is proven that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) forbade pictures and statues from many ways therefore it is most possible that the Hadeeth from Abu Salam from Aisha that this incident took a place after Khaybar battle which was before the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) forbade pictures and statues. As supportive to what we have mentioned we know that Abu Huraira embraced Islam after the battle of Khaybar therefore the Hadeeths he narrated that shows the impermissibility of pictures and statues took a place after.

If we to assume the authenticity of the above Hadeeth about the horse with wings , which others may employ as a proof of permissibility of having not existing creatures as dolls or drawings, then it is aught to know that this Hadeeth is nothing but a proof of prohibition rather than permissibility. This is based on the fact that such Hadeeth must be understood in its context and applies it based on its circumstances.

The Type of dolls that children had at the time of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) were just sticks that is wrapped with wool and an extra piece of sheet added on the top as if it is a head.

Rubayyi’ daughter of Mu’awwidh b. ‘Afra’ said that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) sent (a person) on the morning of Ashura to the villages of Ansar around Medina (with this message): He who got up in the morning fasting (without eating anything) he should complete his fast, and he who had had his breakfast in the morning, he should complete the rest of the day (without food). The Companions said; We henceforth observed fast on it (on the day of ‘Ashura) and, God willing, made our children observe that. We went to the mosque and made toys out of wool for them and when anyone felt hungry and wept for food we gave them these toys till it was the time to break the fast. [Agreed upon; Muslim: 1136 and Bukhari: 1859]

The above Hadeeth proves that dolls of children were nothing like what we know as dolls nowadays since they are nothing but stick wrapped with wool that takes no shape and if someone looked at it won’t be able to recognize what they symbolize. Hence, it is incompatible to compare toys at that time that has no shapes or real figure with the toys we have nowadays that have as exact look and shape as the real creatures or a mixture of various creatures put in one toy to make unreal creature. Knowing that, we can explain why the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did not recognize the toy therefore inquired about it to the extent he could not tell the wings as it was just extra piece of wool or sheet added to the toy. So, it is what children tend to look at rather than what the toys really are.

Based on the above, we still confirm that creating creatures in the form of pictures or statues whether they exist in reality or not won’t make a difference as long as such images shows features that people can give a description at the time they look at. It is because this process is considered replicating Allah’s creatures and showing similarity to what Allah created


Applying the Criteria On Emoticons

The first type, as noted, belongs to creatures that have no original and this form contains face and at the same time replicates Allah’s creature because the mixture of features which are all based originally on what Allah has created in animated creatures.

The second type of emoticons is the simple ones that represents human emotions especially the ones that appear on faces. This form still has the concept of imitating Allah’s creatures that have souls. Hence, if a drawing includes a simulation in any form to Allah’s creatures then it becomes prohibited and whoever argues that such simulation is not considerable then he is required to present an evidence of excluding this simulation!

The third form is the animated emoticons and I do not believe that we need to discuss this form as it is obvious prohibited not only because the above mentioned reasons but also because it was given the ability to adapt human being or animals behaviors as if they have souls that enables them to interact in that way!


Reply to who relies on scholars statement of permissibility

I understand that some may say that some of our respectable scholars stated the permissibility of the emoticons or what known as smiley faces. However, I believe their verdict was issued because of two facts:

  • The ruling was derived based on what was presented to the scholars which at that time were the smiles that existed in Microsoft Word; the two dots with the bracket [ : ) ]
  • They have not seen, yet, the existing emoticons that we discuss here since they are far a way different to what are formed from dots and brackets.

In conclusion,

Emoticons are forbidden because of its imitation to Allah’s creatures whether it is original or mixture or even deformed one and since the picture is the face and the face is what makes the real picture then emoticons which represent faces that express emotions then all that add up to make them Haram. Further to that, even if you are not convinced of the above and still not able to comprehend with this ruling, which I know many scholars have declared it before me, then having this as a doubtful matters should motivate you to avoid it.

And if you consider yourself a knowledge student then it is not part of manners of knowledge students to use such smiley. smile

If what I say is correct then it is from Allah and if it is wrong then it is from me and the Shaytaan.

Wallahu A’lam

By- Brother Ayman bin khaled

Taken From:Multaqa Ahlalhadeeth.


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