The Islamic Hotline Phone _______ was created in Egypt __ the year 2000 with ___ vision of becoming the _____'_ foremost source of information ___ centrist Islamic teachings utilizing ___ mediums of telephone, and ___ internet..
Home Q & A About us FAQ Advertise Contact us   URDU Arabic

Question :A question was asked about whether or not it is possible for a man or woman to remain with their partner in the knowledge that he or she does not pray.

Question :A question was asked the regarding the condition of someone who dies before hearing the call to Islam, or if the call to Islam that they have heard has been delivered incorrectly.

Question : A question was asked about the ruling for those who say that shaving the beard and shortening the thawb is considered from al-qushur.

Question : A question was asked as to whether one can dye one’s hair black.

Question :A question was asked about [the legal validity of a Muslim] living in a non-Muslim country (balad ghayr Islamiyya)

Question :A question was asked regarding the validity of celebrating [Islam’s] religious and national feasts.

Question :A question was asked regarding photos, statues and children’s toys.

Question :A question was asked regarding whether or not it is permitted for Muslims to watch television.

Question :A question was asked regarding [the validity of] mixed gender schools.

Question :A question was asked regarding [the validity of] learning a foreign language.

Question :A question was asked regarding [the validity of] using musical instruments for educational purposes.

Question :A question was asked about whether or not it is possible for a man or woman to remain with their partner in the knowledge that he or she does not pray.

Fatwa in Brief: By abandoning his or her prayers, a person leaves Islam. It is forbidden, therefore, for a Muslim to remain with a husband or wife who no longer prays; and their marriage is annulled. Anyone who stops praying may not inherit from a Muslim; when they die, their bodies may not be (ritually) washed or prayed over, and they may not be buried in Muslim cemeteries. Instead, the corpse should be taken out into the desert and buried in its clothes, as the person who abandons his/her prayers no longer deserves protection from God or man.

Shaykh Ibn Uthaimin, A Treatise on the Characteristics of the Prophet's Prayers, pp. 29-30

Shaykh Muhammad Hassan, Speech no. 5 on his website:

With a single stroke of the pen, this fatwa declares a vast number of Muslims, from around the world, to be unbelievers. In fact, it means that millions of people are now no longer Muslims, that they should be killed as apostates, their bodies left without prayers, and buried outside of Muslim cemeteries! Because they do not pray, they may not inherit, or bequeath to Muslims, and must be separated from their spouses, regardless of place or time. Throughout the history of Islam, there has never been a time or place where this has been judged to be the fate of Muslims who have not been praying. Rather, such people have continued to live with their spouses, inherited and bequeathed, and have been buried in Muslim cemeteries. [Why should this have been the case?] Precisely because such people have always been considered Muslims.

We do not know why the authors are so keen to exclude crowds of Muslims from God’s religion, nor why they exercise such poor judgment, and in doing so flout the pious imams of the madhahib and the general opinion of Islam’s religious scholars.

The performance of [the five daily] prayers is one of the pillars of Islam. [Another way of putting it is that] its position in faith is like that of the head to the body; and there are many texts reminding Muslims of their obligation to pray, and warning them of the dangers of abandoning prayers or observing them with laxity. According to the most potent tradition in this matter, reported by Muslim, [the Prophet (upon him be peace) says]: “The barrier between a man and disbelief is the abandonment of prayers”. Explaining this hadith in brief, Al-Nawawi observes that, according to the consensus of Muslim scholars, only the person who stops praying because s/he does not think consider the prayers obligatory ceases to be Muslim. This is not the case if the same person has only recently joined Islam and has, thus, not lived with Muslims or been informed of the religious obligation to pray. If on the other hand a Muslim accepts that prayers are an obligatory aspect of faith, but fails to perform them through a lack of commitment, or out of laziness, s/he should not be considered an unbeliever according to the majority of scholars and the Salaf and later generations of scholars. Rather, s/he is considered a sinner and should be instructed to repent. [Of all the Imams, only] Ahmad Ibn Hanbal is reported to have taken the above hadith in one of two accounts as literal evidence that someone who neglects to pray loses his Islam. 

Scholars who do not consider the person who neglects to pray an unbeliever turn to this Qur’anic Verse: 

Lo! Allah pardoneth not that partners should be ascribed unto Him. He pardoneth all save that to whom He Will (Q. 4:116),

as well as the hadiths in which the Prophet (upon him be peace) observes: “He who says that there is no God but God will go to Heaven”; and the hadith: “He who says that there is no God but God will be untouched by Hellfire”.

Those who do not consider the person who abandons prayer to have left Islam cite the hadith mentioned above, in which the Prophet describes the abandonment of prayers as “the barrier between a man and disbelief”, arguing in this case, that the hadith implies that such a one deserves the penalty of disbelief, which is death, if he is asked to repent but does not do so. Yet, this is only the case if the person fails to understand that the prayer is an obligation, or that, by leaving the prayer, he may be led into disbelief, or that the act itself is similar to the acts of disbelievers.

In his book Tabaqat al-Shafi'yya, El-Subki includes Al-Shafi'i and Ahmad [Ibn Hanbal]’s discussion of [the status] of those who abandon their prayers. Al-Shafi'i asked: “Ahmad, do you consider him [the person who abandons prayers] an unbeliever?” Ahmad replied that he did. Al-Shafi'i then asked: “how does an unbeliever become Muslim?” Ahmad said: “by testifying that there is no God, but God and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God”. Then, Al-Shafi'i, continued: “But he has never lost his faith in the shahadah, as he still says it [outside of prayer]”. Ahmad responded: “To become Muslim, he must pray”. To which Al-Shafi‘i could reply: “An unbeliever’s prayer is invalid, and he does not become Muslim if he prays”. At this, Ahmad was silent.  

Ibn Qudama, in al-Mughni, argues that according to the school of Imam Ahmad someone who abandons the prayers would not be counted as an unbeliever. If this is the case, then neither the four founders of the Sunni law schools nor the majority of scholars describe this person as such [i.e. as a non-Muslim]. Therefore, the relationship between a man and his wife must remain valid and beyond reproach.

Ibn Qudama also mentions that, despite the number of people who throughout the ages have neglected their prayers, there are no records that a single Muslim judge has ever separated a Muslim man and wife for this reason:

It was never reported to us in any given time that someone who had abandoned their prayers was not washed ritually for burial, nor prayed over, nor buried in Muslim cemeteries, prohibited from inheriting and bequeathing, nor separated from their spouse for the abandonment of prayers. Had they been judged non-believers, these penalties would surely have applied (Al-Mughni 2/152).

His Eminence Shaykh Dr. Saud Bin ‘Abd God el-Funaisan confirms that:

In the entire history of Islam, it has never once been reported that anyone was killed as an apostate (murtadin) because he had stopped performing his prayers. In addition to what this misjudgment would have entailed with respect to their marriages to their wives is such that they would have been divorced and their children declared illegitimate… It seems to me that we cannot declare a person who neglects his prayers out of laziness or unconcern, an unbeliever, and God knows best (Islamtoday, 08/11/1427).  

Ultimately, as long as he does not deny the obligatory nature of prayer, the husband who abandons his prayers is not to be treated as an unbeliever. Nevertheless, his wife should always advise him to pray, never ceasing to encourage him in the matter, while reminding him of the penalties for not doing so. Likewise, she should surround him with decent and morally refined people, and lead him towards a better path, [she should remember that] the company one keeps works beautifully in achieving this.

The wife who neglects to perform her prayers is subject to the same judgment as this; and we offer her husband the same advice to help convince the wife to keep her prayers and moral uprightness. Moreover, he should not rush to divorce her, rather he should remember the Qur’anic verse, “And enjoin upon thy people worship, and be constant therein” (Q. 20:132), and call upon her to rejoin the prayers, and to be righteous.

Both husband and wife should call upon God and rise to pray at dawn. [In light of the above debate] They should remember that, if God bestows upon a Muslim the gift of guiding someone [back] to prayer, then this is better for their religion, and it is better for their lives.

And God knows best.


Dr. Muhammad Fouad

Question : A question was asked the regarding the condition of someone who dies before hearing the call to Islam, or if the call to Islam that they have heard has been delivered incorrectly.

Fatwa in Brief: Those who are not informed of the call for Islam are in the same position regarding judgment as those people in the transition period. Thus, they shall be tried [and found wanting] on the Day of Resurrection. Regarding those who were told about Islam incorrectly, they have no excuse as they should have asked [for more information at the time]. 

Shaykh Ibn Gabrin Fatawa and Judgments, p. 79-80.

Well-established Muslim scholars have affirmed that an important component of a valid call to Islam is that it is communicated in a correct and undistorted form. If it is not, then the recipients of this call may not be blamed for not being convinced by it.

There are still [a few] people who have never heard the call to Islam like notably those living in caves, jungles, and remote islands, with next to no communication with the wider world, despite the recent explosion in media technologies, and [improvement in] travel. Of course, anyone who hears of the Messenger who came with a religion called Islam should attempt to find out about it, if possible. However, if he does not hear about it, or if he hears about it but is unable to find out about it [through reliable information], then he is to be excused. This is the opinion of the scholars of Islam. A condition was set by these scholars to the effect that, if it is to be treated as valid, the call to Islam must be complete [and not include falsities]. If, in contrast, the Muslim message is relayed in an imperfect form, its recipients should not be blamed for not being convinced by it. This was stated in Imam al-Ghazali’s book, The Line of Demarcation between Islam and Heresy. There, he [al-Ghazali] mentioned that, in his day, most Christians of Roman and Turkish origins would be saved because they had not, as yet, received the message of Islam. Ghazali wrote the following:

I would even say that those who receive the message of the Prophet (upon him be peace) in an imperfect form, or who are told that a liar and swindler by the name of Muhammad has falsely claimed to be a Prophet, will both be judged according to the same criteria. In my opinion, they will be saved. The remaining nations, who deny the message of the Prophet (upon him be peace), after hearing many times of his actions, character, and miracles – the greatest of which is the Holy Qur’an – and still refuse to investigate this [the Prophet’s] message are the non-believers.

Accordingly, those who have not received the message, or who received it in imperfect form, or who heard it correctly and, thereafter, dedicated themselves towards understanding it are, it is be hoped, saved from an eternity in Hellfire.[1]

According to the Fatwa Centre, Under the Supervision of Dr. Abdullah Al-Faqih

An unbeliever is a person who dies as a non-Muslim. However, regarding those who have never heard of Islam, or who received the call to Islam in a less than perfect form are put to test on the Day of Judgment. This is clarified in detail in fatwas, nos. 39870, 42857, 56323, 3191, and 48406.

According to the great Islamic scholar, Ibn Taymiyyah

Based on specific historical moments and particular geographical locations, a man will be rewarded with the little that he possesses in terms of faith. God Almighty forgives those with an excuse and will not forgive those who do not have an excuse. This is illustrated by the following hadith. “There will come a time when people do not recognize [the obligation to perform] their prayers (salah), fasting (siyam), pilgrimage (hajj). The exceptions to this will be the elderly who will say that they once saw their fathers perform the shahadah [i.e. bear witness that there is no God, but God, and that Muhammad is His Messenger – the testimony of faith in Islam]”. Then, Huzaifah Ibn al-Yaman was asked, “is shahadah sufficient for their salvation?” He replied, it saves them from Hellfire.

And God knows best.


Dr. Muhammad Fouad

Question: A question was asked about the ruling for those who say that shaving the beard and shortening the thawb is considered from al-qushur.

Fatwa in Brief: The consensus of the scholars (ijma') is that it is obligatory to grow one’s beard. It was also mentioned that wearing one’s trousers above the ankle, out of arrogance or for any other reason, is illegal. 

Shaykh Ibn Baz, Al-Da‘wa Magazine, no.1607

Trimming or shortening one’s beard is not illegal according to all [four] Imams. Growing the beard is described as obligatory, or recommended. Likewise, the scholars disagreed over whether a Muslim man can shave his beard off; some considered this haram, while others did not. Regarding the length of one’s trousers, if someone wears long trousers out of arrogance, then he breaks Muslim law. If he does not do so, then he does not break the law.

In the hadith collection of al-Tirmidhi, there is a tradition attributed to ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb. In this, ‘Amr reports that his father learnt from his own father [i.e. ‘Amr’s grandfather], “that the Prophet (upon him be peace) used to remove something from the width and length of his beard”.[2] A group of the Companions used to trim and shorten their beards. No one should think that the Companions acted leniently regarding their religion, or contrary to the demands of the Sunna. The scholars disagreed upon considering the hadiths on growing the beard as obligatory or recommended.

After mentioning a great number of traditions ascribed to the Prophet and to his Companions, Shaykh al-Albani finally ruled: “I have talked at length on this subject, appealing to the texts of the pious predecessors and the Imams, because most people [incorrectly] believe that trimming one’s beard runs counter to the meaning of the hadith [in which the Prophet says] ‘grow your beards.’[3]

Regarding the subject of shortening one’s trousers above the ankle, Bukhari includes a tradition in which the Prophet (upon him be peace) states: “When you eat, drink, give charity and wear clothes, let no extravagance or pride intrude upon your actions”.

 This indicates that what renders an action prohibited is that it involves extravagance, and thus suggests arrogance. If neither condition exists, however, there is no harm in doing so. Abu Bakr (r. a.) said “O Messenger of God, my waist-wrap (‘izar) trails unless I take extreme care of it”. The Prophet (upon him be peace) said, “You are not like those who do this out of arrogance”. Arrogance is vilified, even for those who roll their clothes up. As for those who wear good clothes – thanking God for them and not scorning those who cannot afford such clothes – there is no harm in doing so, even if these clothes are very precious. In Sahih Muslim, one hadith shows that the Prophet (upon him be peace) said: “a person will not enter heaven if s/he has a smallest tiny weight of arrogance in their heart”. To which a man replied: ‘[but what if] a person likes to wear beautiful clothes and shoes?’ The Prophet (upon him be peace) replied: ‘God the Exalted is beautiful, and He loves beauty. Arrogance [in contrast] is ridiculing and rejecting the Truth, and despising people.'“


Dr. Ahmad ‘Id

Question : A question was asked as to whether one can dye one’s hair black.

Fatwa in Brief: Dying one’s hair black is prohibited.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymin, Majmu‘ Fatawa, 11/123

The act of dying one’s hair black is disagreed upon: some prohibit the practice; others dislike it; while others deem it acceptable.

In a hadith included in the collection of Abu Dawud, the Prophet (upon him be peace) observes: “He who has hair should honor it”. There are other hadiths, considered sound (sahih) by some scholars, in support of the meaning of this. Indeed, there are many ways “to honor” the hair, and these differ according to both man and woman. Each should do what suites him/her best. Therefore, Muslims may brush their hair, put cream in it, and/or dye it to hide grey hairs.

The Muslim scholars discuss dyeing one’s hair black. Most prohibit Muslims from doing so. However, their opinions are based on [materials pertaining to] men, or to fraud, as in the case of old women who were pretending to be young, so as to [re]marry. However, as regards a married woman, whose husband knows [that she dyes her hair], there is no harm in her doing so. Indeed, we find that Ibn al-Jawzi even permits men to dye their hair. What underpins this prohibition, however, is the idea that old men [in particular] should be more concerned with preparing themselves to meet God, than with worrying about the colour and condition of their hair.

According to the Hanbali law school, dyeing one’s grey hairs is recommended, though dying these black is legally disliked (makruh). Ishaq Ibn Rahawiyya permits a woman to beautify herself by dyeing her hair black for her husband. In turn, [he declares] that it is not disliked (makruh) for a man to dye his hair black if he does so to prepare for war (jihad). According to the Shafi‘i school, it is recommended for men and women to dye their grey hair yellow or red, though black is prohibited. [To recap] scholars disagree on the subject of dying one’s hair black: some prohibit it, some consider it disliked; while others deem it permitted.

In the Fatwa Centre, under the Supervision of Dr. Abdullah Al-Faqih:

There is no harm in a man or woman dyeing their hair any color, other than black. On this point, scholars disagree regarding the matter to fall somewhere between the categories of disliked (makruh) and prohibited (haram). And this opinion is the preferred one [of the majority].[4]

Dr. Ahmad ‘Id

Question: A question was asked about [the legal validity of a Muslim] living in a non-Muslim country (balad ghayr Islamiyya)

Fatwa in Brief: It is illegal to live in such countries for work, trade or even for study, except when engaged in calling to Islam (da'wa). This is more acceptable particularly for those who have knowledge and vision.

Shaykh Ibn Baz, Majmu' al-Fatawi, 9/401-402

It is a Muslim’s duty, whether living within Muslim or non-Muslim communities, to benefit other members of those communities through teaching the religion, calling for the good, opposing the bad and contributing constructively to the betterment of the society in which s/he lives.

Wherever [in the world] a Muslim finds shelter for himself and his religion and where he is secure in practicing his religion, without harm accruing to him, then his residence in that place falls under 3 categories:

  1. Permissible, and in this case staying in that place is as good as settling somewhere else.
  2. Favourable [more so than being anywhere else], this is in the case of his being able to benefit the community in which he resides and can inform about his religion and its moral excellence.
  3. Necessary, and this is in the case that his migration/exodus would cause harm or certain damages [to himself or dependents].

For hijra from one place to another as defined Islamically is not religiously required unless one were to fear for [losing] ones religion, or be hurt for the practice of ones rituals, or be exposed to harm [individually or ones family].

And accordingly God’s words:

When angels take the souls of those who die in sin against their souls. They say: “in what (plight) were ye?” They reply: “weak and oppressed were we in the Earth”. They say: Was not the Earth of Allah spacious enough for you to move yourselves away (from evil)?” Such men will find their abode in Hell – What an evil refuge! –  (Q. 4: 97)

and the hadith narrated by Abu Dawud and Al-Tirmidhi that the Prophet (upon him be peace) said: “I avoid any Muslim who lives among the polytheists (mushrikin)” all help us to understand this wisdom.[5]

Is, then, the immigration of Muslims from non-Muslim nations to Muslim countries obligatory or preferred? According to Islam’s legal scholars, if a Muslim becomes worried about his religion, ethics or money, then his return [to a Muslim country] becomes obligatory. However, if he is not worried, then such a return merely becomes recommended (sunna). Yet [other] researchers (muhaqiqun) have argued that as long as their presence benefits Muslims residing in the countries of Islam, or even outside these countries (through teaching them or helping them in other ways), or benefits Islam itself by spreading its principles, then staying abroad is better than returning. This requires him [the Muslim living outside of the Muslim community] to have strong a belief, and a resolute character in order to help him accomplish his mission. In the past, the Muslim callers and traders underwent considerable pressures in spreading Islam within non-Muslim countries.

The Opinion of Professor Sa‘ud bin Abdullah al-Fanisan

Travelling to non-Muslim countries for the purpose of study, receiving treatment or conducting trade is valid; likewise, travelling for study is meritorious (ma'jur alayh) so long as God wills it. While living outside Muslim countries, a Muslim must continue to obey his religion, and to perform good deeds (khayrat).

As for fearing the application of the Prophet’s (upon him be peace) words: “I avoid any Muslim who lives among the polytheists (mushrikin)” (Abu Dawud 2645) and Tirmidhi (1604),[6] then know that the jurists have interpreted it to apply to those whowant to live amongst the non-believers without any valid religious reason like the travel for educational purposes, or medical treatment, or for trading and finding a livelihood, or to spread the call to Allah, and so on. This hadith describes the reprehensible status of the one who travels to non-Muslim destinies out of sheer love for it or its people. May Allah give you success, support you and makes other benefit from you.


Dr. Yassir ‘Abd al-‘Azim

 Question: A question was asked regarding the validity of celebrating [Islam’s] religious and national feasts.

Fatwa in Brief: It is not permitted to celebrate any events other than the formal religious occasions that the law singles out [for celebration], namely the two Feasts [‘Id al-Adha, and ‘Id al-Fitr]. However, Mother's Day, national days, birthdays, or times connected to other religious events, such as the night journey of the Prophet (upon him be peace) (upon him be peace), or those dedicated to the opening of a mosque, should not be celebrated. For these kinds of celebration are [reprehensible] innovations that are new to Islam [and therefore invalid].

The Permanent Committee 3/59-61

Celebrating any occasion is permitted as long as the purpose of doing so remains within the limits of Islam. There is, then, no harm in calling such occasions “celebrations” [or “feasts”] (Arabic: a‘yad). For, what matters is what the name stands for, rather than the term [‘id/a‘yad] itself; and [as discussed already] not everything new should be understood as a cause for Muslims to stray from [the the demands and principles of] Islam. Hence, [as noted above] regarding the gathering of Muslims to pray the tarwih prayers, ‘Umar exclaimed: “What a good innovation this is!”

The word “celebration” (‘id) applies to an occasion that is repeated every year. It is mainly concerned with a group, regardless of whether or not this is a family, tribe, city or district. Celebrating these occasions is a way of showing concern for the group.

The celebration could be secular or religious. Islam does not prevent [people from enjoying] secular celebrations, as long as the purpose of these is good and what occurs there remains within the limits of law. Regarding religious celebrations, these may follow a text, as is the case of Islam’s two main feasts; Al-Adha and Al-Fitr, or it may not, such as the [celebrations surrounding the] Night Journey and the Birthday of the Prophet (upon him be peace). Whatever is mentioned in an authoritative text [i.e. Qur’an and/or Sunna] is permitted by the law, as long as people’s behaviour remains within legal limits. Regarding the celebrating of feasts that are not based upon an authoritative text, there are two opinions. The first prohibits them on the grounds that they are [reprehensible] innovations; while the second permits them on the grounds that they are not explicitly prohibited by a text.

Those who prohibit the celebrations [that are not based upon a text] support their view with a hadith, with a sound chain of transmission, that is included in [the works of] Al Nisa’i and Ibn Haban. In this, Annas (r.a.) reports that when the Prophet (upon him be peace) entered Madina, and found the people there celebrating on two days, he remarked ‘God has offered you two better alternatives: the day of Fitr and the day of Adha.’

Based on this hadith, certain scholars argue that the celebration of any festival, other than the two main festivals [‘Id al-Adha, and ‘Id al-Fitr], is forbidden to Muslims. The response to this is that, in this hadith, the Prophet (upon him be peace) does not limit the number of festivals that Muslims may enjoy. Rather, he only says which ones [‘Id al-Adha and ‘Id al-Fitr] are better than those of the Madinan people; which originally had been celebrated by the Persians. More evidence [that the Prophet, upon him be peace, did not restrict the number of festivals in this way] is that he described Friday as a “feast”.

When speaking of festivals other than the two main feasts, there is no explicit prohibition in any authoritative text. Indeed, at the beginning of Surat al-Rum, the Qur’an speaks of the happiness of the believers when, on the verge of defeat, the Rum rallied their forces and emerged victorious. Another possible [and legitimate] response [to the banning of celebrations] is that not every new thing should be regarded as an [reprehensible] innovation, a point that is supported by Umar’s hadith on the tarawih prayers [cited above].

To summarize: the celebration of any occasion is permitted, providing the underlying purpose is good, and the way in which people celebrate on this day remains within the boundaries of God’s law; and there is no harm in describing such events as “celebrations” (a‘yad). The point here is not the name, but what the name signifies.[7]

Shaykh Salman Al-‘Awda argues that it is legally permitted to celebrate a baby’s first birthday, or an adult’s twentieth birthday, or, indeed, any happy event that we wish to celebrate. Hence [in al-‘Awda’s view], Muslims may celebrate marriages by inviting their family and friends to the meal (walima). In his program “Al-Hayah Kalima” [“Life is a Word”] on MBC, Al-‘Awda added that such occasions may not be described as ‘feasts’ (a‘yad). It is nevertheless permitted to celebrate them, every year, if the world “feast” is not used about them. Al-‘Awda emphasised the importance of this on the grounds that Islamic law specifically restricts Muslims to celebrating only two “feasts”.


Dr. Yassir ‘Abd al-‘Azim 

Question :A question was asked regarding photos, statues and children’s toys.

Fatwa in Brief: Making a representation of a creature with a soul, either with a camera or by hand, on paper or on any other surface, and living off [the money gained from] this is illegal according to Islam. Hanging such representations on a wall is illegal, as well as keeping them for memory. It is not permitted to pray in a place where photos/paintings are hung, or in clothes upon which images are printed, except when there is a legal necessity (darura) in doing so. Children’s toys are also prohibited. However, when there is a legal necessity, such as producing photos for passports and so on, exceptions to this rule are known.

The Permanent Committee, 1/455-457

Carving, sculpting, painting, and/or photographing humans and/or animals is permitted as long as this is done for benefit of people. It is not permitted when it is done with the intention of encouraging us to glorify an image, or so as to stir within us a desire to commit obscenities. Sculpting/carving a statue of a live figure, whose subject possesses a soul, is what constitutes an illegal act. Using children’s toys, even if they resemble a human subject, to teach or to amuse is permitted.

The Holy Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet (upon him be peace) in an idol-worshipping community. In this community, idols were placed around the honorable Ka‘ba as subjects for veneration. According to numerous hadiths, the Prophet (upon him be peace) rejected the making of images. For, this act imitated the process of God’s creation and encouraged the worship of them. Yet, according to the noble hadiths of the Prophet (upon him be peace), [particularly] as mentioned in the books of the jurists, it is permitted to make representations of living animals and people if this is for beneficial purposes. Likewise, such representations should not encourage us to glorify any image [other than God], and must not stir sexual desires for us to commit obscenities (fawahish), and/or other illegal acts.

The representation of a whole person or animal, through carving or sculpture [i.e. a full length figure], is prohibited to Muslims. This is on the basis of a tradition included in the hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim. Here, Masruk observed that alongside ‘Abd God, they entered a house where there were statues. He (‘Abd God) asked about one of the statues; and they replied: “it is a statue of Maryam”. ‘Abd God then said that the Prophet (upon him be peace) observed that “the people who will suffer most on the Day of Judgment are artists (musawarun)”; and, in another report, he says “those who make these representations will be punished on the Day of Judgment. They will be instructed to give life to their creations!” This tradition makes it clear that creating a statue/sculpture is, in itself, a sin (ma‘siyya). The wisdom behind this ruling ensures that no image is worshipped, or used as a vehicle for people to attempt to draw close to God.

In his book, Al-Jami’ Li Ahkam Al-Qur’an, Al-Qurtubi cites God’s verse:

They made for him what he willed: synagogues and statues (Q. 34: 13)

Responding to this verse, Qurtubi notes that children’s toys are an exception to the general rule that the making of images is illegal. For, it is known that, when ‘Aisha married the Prophet (upon him be peace), she brought her toys with her. [Indeed] She and her friends used to play with ‘Aisha’s toys at the Prophet’s house; and when the Prophet (upon him be peace) entered the house they used to hide them out of embarrassment. This hadith is reported by Muslim.[8]

In the Fatwa Centre, under the supervision of Dr. Abdullah Al-Faqih: Photographing with cameras or videos is a matter of disagreement amongst the people of Knowledge; while any prohibit it, others permit it. We prefer to permit it.


Dr. Yassir ‘Abd al-‘Azim

Question :A question was asked regarding whether or not it is permitted for Muslims to watch television.

Fatwa in Brief:
Watching television is prohibited, on the grounds that it is harmful to a Muslim’s religious disposition (‘aqida) and to his/her manners, and because it broadcasts singing, music, paintings/photography and other subjects/materials that are at odds with Islam (munkarat).

Shaykh Ibn Baz, Majmu’ Fatawa, 3/227

Owning a television and watching programs that are [religiously and/or ethically] beneficial is permitted, as long as one is able to avoid the corrupt and corrupting programs that are also aired.

Television shows a range of things. Some are lawful (halal) in origin. Thus, they do not have a negative effect on a Muslim’s religious disposition (‘aqida) or manners, and will not prevent him/her from fulfilling their religious obligations. In this case, listening to and/or watching a television is permitted. In contrast, whatever opposes the [demands and principles of Islam] is prohibited; and those who broadcast such things, and the viewers who watch them, will both be blamed for doing so. The aspect most likely to lead to [a harsh] judgment involves men looking [lustfully] at women – dancers, actresses or others – that show their bodies and display what God has ordered them to cover. [Of course,] It could be said that, in this case, the viewer is not looking at women, but rather at their images. Yet, the jurists discussed looking at the images of women in mirrors, well before the invention of television. They asked whether or not this carries the same ruling as looking at her directly. The disagreed about this: the preferred decision is that, if a man gazes on a woman with desire, he is breaking the law; for, this is likely to lead the committing of a serious sin (zari’a ila muharam). It is the greatest cause of the most serious of sins, and anything resembling this is [therefore] prohbited, whether this occurs through a direct look, or through [a reflection in] the mirror. If the yardstick here is the degree to which an act causes strife/dissension (fitna) [as regards one’s religion and relationships with others], people have different opinions on what is, and what is not, a cause of evil (muftin); and everyone knows his/her own limits.

The evidence in support of watching plays and innocent games is found in a hadith included in the collections of Bukhari and Muslim. Here, ‘Aisha (r. a.) is reported as saying: “While I looked at the Ethiopians who were playing in the courtyard of the mosque, the Prophet (upon him be peace) used to dress me in a garment that covered the upper part of the body (rida’). (I continued watching) until I was satisfied”. So, you may deduce from this how a young girl (yet to reach puberty) who wishes merely to enjoy herself should be allowed to behave. In another account, the Prophet asked ‘Aisha if she wanted to look. She replied: “yes”. And he lifted her [‘Aisha] up so that they were cheek to cheek. Aisha watched until she became bored and the Prophet excused her.

In Al-Matalib Al-‘Aliya, Ibn Hajar reports that ‘Aisha used to watch “Al-Darkala”, which is a type of boys’ game.[9] It was described as dancing. Confirming Islam’s leniency as regards the enjoyment of innocent pleasures, the Prophet (upon him be peace) said to Abu Bakr, when he stopped the concubines (jawari) from singing to ‘Aisha on the day of the Feast: “let them O Abu Bakr! These days are celebrations, so that the Jews realise that our religion is open and allows room for relaxation, and that I have been sent with an easy and straightforward message” (narrated by Ahmad from ‘Aisha). There is no need to think that the Prophet (upon him be peace) allowed her to watch the Ethiopian games and to listen to music simply because she was a little girl, not yet mature [and therefore capable of sin]. Perhaps this [permission] was also granted before the veil became obligatory [on the Prophet’s wives] and such amusement was forbidden to them. This is just a possibility, not a certainty; otherwise, there would have been no difference between scholars regarding these rulings.[10]

In the Fatwa Centre, under the Supervision of Dr. Abdullah Al-Faqih:

The ruling regarding the owning (and watching of) a television was previously discussed in a previous answer (no. 1886). We decided there that it is legal for Muslims to own a television; and that watching beneficial programs is also legal, as long as one can avoid the corrupt and corrupting programmes that it carries. If one cannot avoid doing so, then it is illegal to own or watch a television.[11]


Dr. Yassir ‘Abd al-‘Azim

Question :A question was asked regarding [the validity of] mixed gender schools.

Fatwa in Brief: Mixed gender education (ikhtilat) is not permitted; therefore, studying in mixed schools is also not permitted.

The Permanent Committee, 3/103

Leaving one’s study or work because men and women are permitted to mix there is to commit the greater of the two sins. According to the law, Muslims are instructed to commit the lesser evil whenever this is possible. If excesses do occur, one should advice Muslims with wisdom and kindness.

Some degree of social mixing has existed between men and women since the dawn of Islam. This has occurred in markets, mosques and so on. Yet, such mixing has always been subject to restrictions, based upon Islamic legal ethics. The fact is that work or study places are necessarily public; thus, [the ruling] is the same as if a Muslim was walking in the road, or had gone to the market, and/or any other form of public meeting. In such instances, each gender must act in accordance with the demands of Muslim law and ethics. Regarding this matter, we turn to the verses:

Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest (Q. 24: 30)

Tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornments only that is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms (Q. 24: 31)

According to the Prophet’s Sunna, men and women are to avoid mixing together, intimacies in secluded spaces, physical contact [that may lead to sexual provocation], suggestive comments, strong perfumes, places in which many people mill around [bodies are pressed against each other], and any action that results in the lowering of one’s ethical standards.

In addition to behaving ethically, both Muslim men and women should make sure to redirect those do not behave ethically. On this point, God’s words:

And the believers, men and women, are protecting friends, one of another; they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong (Q. 9: 71)

This should be in a wise manner/way, in which a Muslims seeks obedience or at least to save him/herself from the sin of not behaving as God says:

And when a community among them said: why preach ye to a folk whom Allah is about to destroy and punish with an awful doom, they said: in order to be free from guilt before your Lord, and that haply they may ward off (evil). (Q. 7: 164)

It is illegal to remain silent regarding the violation of ethics, according to what God said:

Ye have charge of your own souls. He who erreth cannot endure you if ye are rightly guided. (Q. 5: 105)

As mentioned in numerous texts, people will not learn to behave ethically until they understand the command to promote good and to forbid evil. If one’s advice [to promote good and to forbid evil] is not at first grasped, it is obligatory to treat the evil-doers in a way that shows your dissatisfaction with them. In this way, they may eventually rectify their behaviour.

It is difficult for someone to leave his/her study or work, because men and women mix there. After all, most fields – both nationally and internationally – involve such mixing. It is a legal obligation to consider this matter seriously and cautiously. For, in this era, the complete separation of men and women is impossible in most places. To walk away from one’s studies or work out of a fear of mixing with someone from the opposite sex is actually a greater sin than remaining in the study/work place. It is a waste of knowledge, and weakens one’s work and the Umma. [As stated above] It is incumbent upon Muslims to do the opposite: commit the lesser of two sins. Hence, one should strive to gain knowledge and work experience, even though this involves one sharing one’s study/work place with someone of the opposite sex. In addition to that, advising with wisdom is a legal obligation which lifts all blame and sin (from the advisor). And God knows best.


Dr. Yassir ‘Abd al-‘Azim

Question :A question was asked regarding [the validity of] learning a foreign language.

Fatwa in Brief: If there is no legal necessity to learn a foreign language, then doing so is disliked (makruh)

Permanent Committee, 12/133

Mastering a language is permitted. Those who do so gain valuable knowledge and rewards (thawab), as long as their purpose for doing so is good, and their use of this language agrees with [the principles and demands of] the law.

Among Muslims, there should be those with knowledge of foreign languages. This is specifically the case for those who wish to call [non-Muslims] to Islam. [But] It is also important in terms of coexisting with other countries. No authoritative text forbids this; while there are reasons for us to encourage it [second language acquisition among Muslims]. Al-Bukhari includes a hadith, attributed to Zaid Ibn Thabit, in which the Prophet (upon him be peace) ordered Zaid to learn to write Hebrew. Zayd did so accordingly: “I would write for him when he wrote (to them), and read to him when something was written to him”. Likewise, Abu Jamra remarked that: “I used to translate for ibn Abbas and the people, and some of the people said: A ruler should have translators”.

The Prophet (upon him be peace) was fond of Zayd because he had memorized much of the Holy Book. So the Prophet (upon him be peace) asked Zayd to learn the language of the Jews, as he did not trust the Jews to record the Qur’an in their language accurately. [It is said that] Zayd took half a month to learn Hebrew, and, subsequently, wrote for the Prophet when he [the Prophet] wished to address the Jews; similarly, when they wrote to him [the Prophet], Zaid translated what had been written. Thus, Zayd learnt Hebrew and/or Syriac by order of the Prophet, and because they was a need for this. The scholars spoke about mastering a language, so that [foreign] witnesses may, for instance, be trusted in court. This shows that mastering a foreign language is permitted; and that the one who does so gains valuable knowledge and rewards (thawab), providing that his/her intentions are pure, and that his/her use of language remains within the parameters of the law.[12]

In the Fatwa Centre, under the supervision of Dr. Abdullah Al-Faqih:

There is no prohibition against people learning foreign languages, such as English. Indeed, learning these languages could be obligatory on some members of society, if there were sufficient benefits depending upon this. And God knows best.[13]


Dr. Yassir ‘Abd al-‘Azim

Question :A question was asked regarding [the validity of] using musical instruments for educational purposes.

Fatwa in Brief: It is not permitted to play any instrument – such as those instruments normally used to entertain – that is not used to play Islamic psalms, or for the purposes of education.

The Permanent Committee, 12/184-186

Using musical instruments in education or for other purposes according to those who allow it­ is permissible with the condition that the lyrics of this music are compatible with the spirit of Islam, and do not contain obscenities. 

The scholars differ regarding the validity of playing musical instruments and singing when it is accompanied with music. Some deem it permitted, while many others prohibit it. The majority considers such music illegal (haram); while a group of scholars reject all hadiths that deal with the subject of singing, claiming that none of them is sound (sahih), and/or that those of them that are sound do not provide clear evidence [of a prohibition]. Hence, for example, Ibn al-‘Arabi al-Maliki said that “none of the hadiths regarding [the prohibition against] singing is sound, as the people who report them (naqiliha) did not trust those mentioned in the hadith. Regarding the the kind of percussion instruments used traditionally in [Arab/Muslim] weddings – and specifically the daf and tabl – it is permitted to play these providing that the lyrics of the [wedding] songs remain compatible with the spirit of Islam and do not contain obscenities.

The permission to play the daff [an instrument resembling a tambourine/drum] at a wedding does not mean that it only is exclusively permitted; rather, he mentions the daff since it is the best-known of its genre. Indeed, any instrument may be used to announce the wedding. The permission to play a pipe (mizmar) at a wedding has already been demonstrated through the Prophetic hadith in which Abu Bakr protested against the playing of musical instruments at the house of the Prophet (upon him be peace). God’s Messenger replied: ‘O Abu Bakr, let them be [the pipe players]. This is a festival (‘id)”. What is not permitted, however, is for men and women to mix freely, and/or to listen to vulgarities. If musical instruments are used at occasions where people [are likely to] overstep the boundaries of good taste, these instruments should not be used in the first place.[14]

Ibn Hazm, in response to those who argue against playing musical instruments using the hadith attributed to Abu Malik al-Ash‘ari and included in Bukhari’s collection of hadith, in which the Prophet (upon him be peace) says: “From among my followers, there will be some people who consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful” [15] judged this hadith, to contain a broken chain of narrator: a gap between al-Bukhari and the second narrator, Sadqa Ibn Khalid.

According to Ibn Hazm, “nothing in this chapter [on music] is correct; rather everything here is invented”. [He continues to say] “I swear to God if all these hadiths, or even one, were transmitted by a trustworthy source, [and thus this ruling could be traced] back to the time of the Prophet (upon him be peace), I would not hesitate to follow it”.[16]

This is enough to show that the ruling regarding singing, when accompanied with music, is a matter that divides the scholars. And, as mentioned previously, if the scholars differ in their opinions, each Muslim is free to follow the opinion that best suits him/her. For, there is richness and space [of interpretation in Islam].

Ultimately, each listener must, on occasion, act as his/her own moral counselor. Thus, if s/he finds that a particular song, or genre of song, speaks directly to his/her animal, rather than spiritual, side, s/he should avoid listening to it. In so doing, s/he closes the door on conflict and dissension in his/her heart. Here [as always], religion is compatible with ethics. [A final point] All scholars agree that singing is illegal if it is accompanied by illegal acts, such as those that often happen in a drinking environment.

And God knows best.   


Dr. Yassir ‘Abd al-‘Azim

[1] Fatawa of the Egyptian House of Iftaa' (21), the Mufti, Shaykh Atteya Saqr, May 1997.

[2] Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, 2988.

[3] Shaykh Nasir al-Din al-Albani, al-Silsila al-Da‘ifa, Part V, p. 375 and following.

[4] Fatwa no. 21296, the 11th of Jamad al-Thani, 1423.

[5] E.g. Abu Dawud, 2645. (Tirmidhi reference not given.)

[6] E.g. Abu Dawud, 2645.

[7] Shaykh ‘Atiya Saqr, from the Fatwas of the Egyptian Dar al-Ifta’ no. 68, May 1997.

[8] Shaykh Jad al-Haqq, Fatawa Dar al-Ifta’ al-Misriyya, no. 1279.

[9] Ibn Hajar, Al-Matalib al-‘Aliya, Part IV, p. 28.

[10] Shaykh Atiyya Saqr, Fatwa Dar al-Ifta’ al-Misriyya, no. 72, May 1997.

[11] Fatwa no. 15702, 9th Safar, 1423 [AH].

[12] Shaykh Attiya Saqr, Fatawa Dar al-Ifta’ al-Misriyya, no. 328, May 1997.

[13] Fatwa no. 51311, 2 Jamad al-Thani, 1425, AH.

[14] Ibn al-‘Arabi, Ahkam al-Qur’an, 3/527

[15] Al-Bukhari, Comment 5590

[16] Ibn Hazm, Al-Mahali, 7/565