Nov 14, 2012

To Click or not to click

By Anum Ali


Photography has evolved as a profession, an art form, and a marketing strategy which go beyond its basic purpose of capturing images for the record. Muslims are proliferating arenas of photojournalism, event photography, commercial photography, filmmaking, and digital arts. Following considerable debates, scholars agree that capturing an inanimate image e.g. car, book, spoon, and etc. is absolutely permissible. Additionally, since photography does not involve any re-creation of a living object, even on a high pixel digital camera, it is permissible. However, there sensitive issues of dress code, location, subject matter, preservation and display, and the taker and developer of the photograph involved. When we tend to take photos and save them or upload them online, we tend to ignore some vital considerations. In light of Islamic rulings, photography could be halal as well as haram depending on how it is conducted.

Hijab Code for Photographs
Hijab has a literal meaning that illustrates into coverage. Contrary to the global hype about the Hijab being a female-only concept, it is a modest dress code for both men and women. Women must not participate in photography unless they are fully clothed with the exception of their hands and their faces. The clothes that they wear should be relaxed so as to cover their silhouette (body's curves) and must nowhere be close to leggings, tight pants, sleeveless/half-sleeve/three-quarters sleeves, and likewise. Men should also comply with the requirements of awrah and cover themselves from navel to knee at the very least. Once you ensure that you are in proper Hijab code, you can have your photo taken, you can upload it on the Internet, and use it on social networking platforms. Photography and modeling associated with compromising the Islamic dress code for men and women, both, is strongly condemned. There are clear rulings about the awrah (body parts that are not to be revealed) for both genders.

Immoral Photography
As Shaytan's evil spread, the global society became more and more tolerant to the display of sexuality. It is obvious that, by definition 'hardcore pornography' is still socially prohibited but 'softcore pornography' occupies a very important place in mainstream media. Unfortunately, men and women have picked up on the sexual boldness in the name of self-confidence. Every other day they update their social networking profile photos with poses and postures that have developed patent names of their own. Women are seen in the 'Pout Pose' where they protrude their lips, the 'Catwalk' pose where they grip one side of their waist while posing with a hiked up hip, and there are the fond pelvic and bosom thrusts copied from runway models and actresses themselves. Men are not far behind when they go shirtless to zoom in on the growth of their muscles, strike immature poses in imitation of GQ models, and the like. The intention behind the photograph matters.

The context of the photograph is also essential. One cannot claim that it is a morally correct photograph by simply donning the right dress code. For instance, you're in your Hijab code but you're posing with a semi-nude actress, in a wine bar, or next to Porky Pig's cartoon! Furthermore, you being in a social photograph supporting an anti-Islam cause is also immoral.

Who's the Photographer?
It must not be forgotten that a photographer is the person clicking the photograph. Wedding photography has always been a necessity. It is more important to arrange a wedding photographer than to arrange an Imam or Sheikh for the Nikah ceremony. Often, it is overlooked that who the photographer is because people tend to think of him not as a non-mehram male but as a hired camera that auto clicks photos and leaves, a week later the album arrives. It should be considered that through the eye of his super expensive camera he is watching everything, the bride's display of beauty, the non-mehram women and their adornments, and often the exposed awrahs in the bridal dress code. It is highly recommended that if you are to arrange for wedding photography and you intend to breach the Hijab code, then the photographer should be female.

Who Else Is Watching?
While it is permissible to have your photo taken while you maintain the Hijab code, the context is right, and the photographer is female (for Hijabless contexts), it is vital to understand that the photo will be seen by many non-mehram eyes before it reaches you. Reel photos are developed by a person different from the photographer, digital photos may be compiled and published by someone other than the photographer, photographs uploaded to the Internet go through screening by people other than the photographer. Furthermore, the photographs may be viewed by several people: friends, family, and distant family. Therefore, it is highly recommended to avoid hiring professional photographers, unless they are within the family and are mehrams, or ensure that you know who will be developing and compiling. Also, make sure you are following the 100% hijab code: dressing, expression, and makeup, when you upload your photograph on the Internet.

Display of Animate Photographs
Photographs of people and living beings are not permissible for display in a Muslim's house because according to the hadith of Prophet Mohammad sal Allahu alayhi wa aalayhi wasallam , angels do not enter such a house. We are so ever fond of making our homes a family art gallery with photographs of children, weddings, special occasions and what not. It is permissible to take those photographs, within limitations of dress code and context, to keep a record of memories. However, displaying them is not allowed.

People react to the fact that I do not have any family photos on display on the walls or on shelves and tables. That is because I don't want the angels boycotting my home. But knowing me, I am a photography enthusiast, so I have my own creative ways of displaying photos. My mother invented the idea of putting family photos, framed, inside closed cupboards. Then I came up with the idea of curtaining the shelves and placing photos inside. They can always be shown to guests and relatives who come to visit, but not displayed on walls.

Click With Modesty
Photography, therefore, becomes a test of modesty for the sister who is posing for the photograph and a test of Islamic principles and professional righteousness for the photographer. There is no urgent need for female models in the Hijab and Jilbab industry, no urgent need for fancy wedding photography aiming at transforming the bridal couple into Hollywood celebrities, and definitely no need for a Muslim to show his or her 578 friends on Facebook what he or she looks like with arms wide open, pouted lips, and a catwalk posture. Be a responsible Muslimah, click with modesty.

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)


ridiculous to say that it is permissible to take pictures of women without their faces covered.

I beg to differ, sis. Choosing an opinion different from our opinion does not makes it ridiculous.
I am curious, what did you learn from the article?

Assalamualaikum, well I do not agree with the photography being taken of any living being and that counts humans as well. This issue is quit complicated and must be left with the scholars to have a better understanding of what is permissible and what is not.

We leave the house without our faces covered..therefore it is not haraam to take pictures with our faces uncovered for we appear on picture as we would in public. No difference between the two. And Allah knows best.

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