Islam, the true religion of Allah, deals with all aspects of life: economics, politics, arts, etc. It lays down rules and regulations that arrange people’s lives and set their affairs in order.
The eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradwi says that: “We can summarize the rulings pertaining to figures and figure-makers as follows:
1. The most strictly prohibited figures are those which are made to be worshiped in the place of or in addition to Almighty Allah. If the one who makes them does it intentionally for this purpose, he is going in the direction of unbelief (kufr). The most detestable among such figures are statues. Anyone who has a share in propagating or glorifying them will bear the sin proportional to his part.
2. Next to this in sinfulness are figures that are not made to be worshiped but which are intended to imitate Allah’s creation. If the artist claims that he originates and creates as Allah does, he is an unbeliever. This matter pertains solely to the intention of the artist.
3. After this are statues which are erected in public places in order to commemorate great personalities such as kings, leaders and celebrities; this applies equally to full-length statues and busts.
4. Next are statues of living beings, which are neither worshipped nor revered. There is general agreement that they are haram (unlawful), except those that are not treated in a manner indicative of respect. Dolls or figures made of chocolate or sugar, are clear exceptions.
5. Next are portraits of great people such as rulers and political leaders, especially when they are displayed or hung on walls. Strongly prohibited among these are portraits of tyrants, atheists, and immoral individuals, for to respect them is to degrade Islam.
6. Next are pictures of people or animals that are not accorded respect but constitute a display of luxury and high living, as, for example, when they cover a wall or the like. These are classified as detestable only.
7. Making and acquiring drawings or paintings of trees, lakes, ships, mountains, and landscapes of this sort are permitted. However, if they distract one from worship or lead toward extravagant living, they are disapproved.
8. Photographs are basically permissible. They become haram only when the subject matter is haram, as, for example, in the case of idols, individuals who are revered because of their religious or worldly status (especially the leaders of idolaters, Communists or other unbelievers, or immoral individuals such as famous actors and entertainers).
9. Finally,
if the prohibited statues and pictures are defaced or degraded, their use becomes permissible; an example of this are figures on a rug or carpet, because they are walked upon.
Accordingly, photographs, including cartoons, are permissible. Cartoons, moreover, enjoy the following privileges more than normal photographs that assure their permissibility:
1. Cartoons are not identical copies, and therefore they do not reflect all features of their subject matter.
2. They are used in the fields of da`wah, education, and culture.
3. Children are always attracted to and influenced by this form of art, so we should not ignore this means of bringing our children – as well as adults – up on the morals and teachings of Islam.
4. Non-Muslims have preceded us in this field and flooded Muslim countries with the cartoons pertaining to their cultural attitudes. It is necessary that Muslims aim to produce attractive, educational alternatives, which are orientated towards Islam and thus of benefit to our children.
Furthermore, I believe that we must face the non-Islamic media with media and arts that are based on Islam. It is one of the communal duties (fard kifayyah) which the Muslim community should carry out; otherwise all members of the Muslim community will be held accountable for it.
Thus, it becomes the duty of every professional Muslim, who is able to produce Islamic educational multi-media programs, to do so. Muslims who are well-off are required to financially support these useful products. May Allah reward abundantly everyone who supports this good work!”