Q: What is the Islamic ruling regarding cartoons or films portraying stories of the Ambiyaa عليهم السلام or the Sahaabah? In today’s times, these types of films are available in the market and are widespread on the internet.
A: Before addressing the issue in question, it is vital for us to understand a few preliminary aspects in order that the issue be understood in correct perspective.
The purpose for acquiring Islamic knowledge is that one may find the correct direction in reaching Allah Ta’ala. Knowledge in itself is not the goal; rather it is a medium that leads one to the goal. The goal is practising on the laws of Sharee’ah in accordance to the manner prescribed by Allah and His Rasul (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). If the knowledge one acquires does not lead one to the goal, then in reality this is not worthy of being called Islamic knowledge. Perhaps it could be called information. Hence, the pertinent question one needs to pose is, what is Islamic knowledge and how should one go about acquiring this knowledge?
In order for the knowledge which one acquires to be acceptable in the sight of Allah Ta’ala and sanctioned by Sharee’ah, it is necessary that certain aspects be adhered to:
The first aspect is the aspect of authenticity and reliability. Extreme caution should be exercised in sourcing Deeni knowledge. One should ensure that he refers to reliable, qualified Ulama in the pursuit of seeking Islamic knowledge. Similarly, the material one exposes himself to in the course of seeking education, should be sourced from authentic and reliable sources. If one acquired his knowledge from unauthentic sources or unreliable personalities, then obviously the overall picture of Deen which one will obtain will certainly not conform to the pure and pristine brand of Islam. Concoctions, adulterations and distortions would be noticed in various aspects of his Deen. This will be grossly due to the fact that he had not sourced his knowledge from those authentic, reliable sources approved by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). The disastrous outcome of acquiring knowledge through these channels is that Islam will be reduced to customs and rituals which will change with the fashions and the norms of the time. The great Taabi’ee Muhammed bin Sireen رحمة الله عليه has said:
إنَّ هَذَا الْعِلمَ دِينٌ ، فَانْظُرُوا عَمَّنْ تَأَخُذُونَ دِينَكُمْ (الشمائل للترمذي رقم 415)
Certainly this knowledge that you are acquiring is your Deen, hence you should ensure that you acquire your Deen from authentic and reliable people.
The second aspect is the means through which the knowledge is acquired. It is incumbent that permissible means be adopted in acquiring Islamic knowledge. The method one adopts should conform to the method adopted during the Mubaarak era of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), the Sahaabah and the Khairul Quroon (the glorious era of the Taabi’een and Tab’ut Taabi’een). If one adopts a haraam means to acquire Islamic knowledge, this will be unacceptable in the sight of Allah Ta’ala and such information will be bereft of the true noor of Deen. Thus such knowledge will not lead one to the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala and enable one to uphold the pillars of Islam.
The third aspect is adopting the Sunnah approach when acquiring the knowledge of Deen. The Sunnah approach is to show the highest level of respect and honour to everything related to Deen (viz. The Quraan, the Ahaadith, the Ambiyaa, the Sahaabah, the Ulama, the symbols of Islam, etc.) as well as conforming to all the aadaab (etiquettes) of Deen. When Islamic knowledge is acquired in this manner, adhering to the way shown to us by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and adopting the etiquettes of Islam, one will witness the true spirit of Deen coming alive in the lives of the believers. The books of Hadith are replete with many glaring examples which illustrate the Sunnah method adopted by the Sahaabah and the Tabi’een in the pursuit of acquiring the knowledge of Deen. When the knowledge of Deen in reality is the knowledge of Nubuwwat and those who tread on this path to acquire it are honoured with the title of “The heirs of the Ambiyaa”, one could well imagine the great need for one to adopt the outer as well as inner qualities of the Ambiyaa. In other words, one should not confine knowledge to word or action; instead one should endeavour to cultivate the very spirit and noor of the knowledge in all respects. Acquiring such knowledge under the guidance of the true men of Allah Ta’ala who acquired this from their seniors and so forth and so on with an unbroken chain linking up to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) produces an indelible impression on the hearts of people, thereby motivating the true love within people to emulate the Mubaarak Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) in all facets of life.
How did the people of the past acquire Deeni Knowledge?
Hereunder are two examples which will shed light on the method of how the people of the past acquired Islamic knowledge.
Hadhrat Abdullah bin Abbas (Radiyallahu Anhuma) says:
“After the passing away of Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), I said to an Ansaari friend of mine, ‘Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is no longer with us, but a large number of the Sahaabah are still present among us. Hence, let us go to them in the pursuit of Islamic knowledge.’ He said, ‘What is the need to acquire `ilm whereas these eminent Sahaabah are present? Who will approach you to enquire of any deeni mas’alah whilst these great men are amongst us?’” Hadhrat Ibnu Abbas (Radiyallahu Anhuma) further mentioned, “I was not in any way discouraged by his words. Rather, I kept up my quest for knowledge and began approaching every Sahaabi who had heard something from Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). In this way, I managed to gather a substantial amount of ‘ilm from the Ansaar. If on my visit to any Sahaabi, I found him resting, I spread my shawl at the entrance of his home and remained seated awaiting his emergence. At times, my face and entire body would get covered with dust, however, this did not cause me to desist from my endeavour and I continued to remain seated there anxiously awaiting their emergence.
I thus carried on my pursuits, till there came a time when people began to flock to me for learning the knowledge of Deen. My Ansaari friend realised this at that time and remarked, ‘This person has surely proved himself to be more intelligent than all of us.’”
A student of Hadith once came as a guest to Imaam Ahmad bin Hambal رحمة الله عليه. It was the sublime conduct of the Imaam that he presented water to the student when going to bed. He placed it close to the student so that he may use it for wudhu at the time of Tahajjud. The following morning the Imaam noticed the water untouched. Hence he exclaimed: “Subhaanallah! A student of knowledge, yet he does not perform tahajjud during the night!” Imaam Ahmad رحمة الله عليهindicated to this fact that the knowledge one acquires should motivate him towards upholding the Mubaarak Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) in his life.
Why is it impermissible to acquire Deeni knowledge through viewing cartoons and films?
Based on the above, after closely examining the issue of acquiring knowledge through viewing cartoons and films which outwardly portray Islamic information, one will realise that this means of acquiring knowledge does not conform to the above mentioned Islamic method of acquiring Islamic knowledge. Furthermore, acquiring Islamic knowledge through this means is impermissible due to the following reasons:
- This means of acquiring ‘ilm is impermissible in Sharee’ah as it directly opposes the command of Allah Ta’ala and His Rasul (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) had sounded severe warnings in his Mubaarak Ahaadith for those who have any involvement in picture making. Hence, propagating Islam via this means is impermissible.
إن أشد الناس عذابا عند الله يوم القيامة المصورون (صحيح البخاري 2/880 ، صحيح لمسلم 2/201)
Those involved in picture-making will be subjected to the worst forms of punishment on the day of Qiyaamat. (Bukhaari 2/880, Muslim 2/201)
- In many of these films men and women are seen together. This opposes the law of Sharee’ah in regard to segregation between na-mahram males and females. Hence, this type of enactment, instead of creating an Islamic effect, it only destroys the fabric of Deen through inciting one towards sin.
- The actors in these films are portraying illustrious personalities such as the Ambiyaa or Sahaabah etc. This enactment is in itself deception, as the onlookers will begin to base their opinions of Ambiyaa and Sahaabah through the actions of these sinful people. To add insult to injury, the film being videoed is impermissible in Islam. Hence they are trying to propagate Deen through portraying the lives of these illustrious personalities while being involved in such a grave sin.
- Propagating Islam through this medium degrades the position of these illustrious personalities and reduces Deen to a thing of entertainment. Furthermore, this will lead to the masses beginning to regard these so called “Islamic movies” as a substitute to Hollywood and Bollywood movies.
- Presently the Kuffaar are using this as a means to distort and adulterate the Deen of Islam. Muslims should not be so gullible to fall into the traps and the nets of the Kuffaar. It has been proven that many of these films shattered the Imaan and beliefs of many Muslims and created suspicions and doubts in their Deen.
- Portraying these great personalities via cartoon characters causes great disrespect to these saintly personalities. How can Deen come alive in the Ummah when gross disrespect is shown to those who were responsible for bringing Deen alive in the world?
- The outcome of such plays, films, cartoons etc. is in reality making a mockery of the august Deen of Allah Ta’ala and the illustrious men of Islam. Similarly, those who view these types of films will be viewed as supporters and promoters of this sin in the sight of Allah Ta’ala.
- Lastly, the kitaabs of Aqaaid have recorded that if people enact a play for entertainment purposes where one person assumes the position of a great Aalim or Mufti, and people refer Deeni issues to him, and laugh at him and make a mockery of him, all present on account of showing disrespect to Deen will come out of the fold of Islam. Hence, the outcome of viewing these cartoons, films, etc. is extremely destructive and detrimental to one’s Imaan.
We make Duaa to Allah Ta’ala to bless the Ummah at large with the true love and respect for Deen and the symbols of Deen, and enable us to emulate the Mubaarak Sunnah of Rasulullah(Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) in our lives.