Some Muslims, don't agree with you guys using Arabic and pictures


There is difference of opinion on this. Difference means that you have a choice and there is permissibility . If you don't feel comfortable wearing them, then maybe don't.

The Maliki madhab does not consider photographs of animate objects as idols. The Hanafi madhab has two positions, one of which also deems it permissible. There are of course other options for those that for the most are okay with it; but would rather not pray with an image showing, or go to the bathroom with Arabic writing visible - for fear of disrespecting the word of God. You could put on a track-suit top and zip it up.

The imam from one of our local mosques wears a Malcolm-X t-shirt, with pride. Also, if you look at one of our t-shirts it teaches you a dua'a - in Arabic, English and has the transliteration. If you've ever seen someone wearing this shirt, then you should see how quickly the people around them are able to learn this dua'a.

We have consulted qualified sincere scholars who have studied shari'ah for decades, who are fluent in Arabic and certainly not what you would call 'dollar scholars'. Here are some key points that they mentioned, for justification in their permissibility :

- our designs are for educational purposes

- ahadith that many quote as evidence for impermissibility of pictures, refer to those who create images with the intention of idolatry and for the purposes of idolatry. Following on from this; the context of the hadith which refers to removing images of birds from walls, was because they had cultural significance towards being signs of omens and worship.

- The t-shirts carry a message on them and therefore serve as both clothing and a form of education. Our customers are both Muslims and non-Muslims. The logic stems from the same sentiments as for example a Qur'an that has both Arabic and English in it. The English is there not in competition with the word of God, but to help guide people towards it. By choosing this sort of clothing we are able to reach people who need to be reached and they can in turn reach others by wearing these messages. A t-shirt can last ten years, while a leaflet maybe only a few weeks. Nor is the intention to create and make objects of worship - the key fiqhi issue is a matter or education.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) wore a ring with the name of God on it. People hang Arabic calligraphy pictures and ornaments in their homes and cars - which you could say are witness to terrible acts, but still they would not remove them (which anyway, would be somewhat hypocritical). Islamic civilizations for centuries have had such things as currency carrying Arabic writing, with the name of God and religious inscriptions - and look at how people use, carry and drop that!

Words are what you know, understand, live by and implement where you can. All actions are judged by intention.

If you spilt some hot sauce by mistake on Arabic writing saying God, it doesn't mean that you're disrespecting your creator. Nor does the fact that something is written in Arabic make it necessarily sacred. If you follow that logic, then if your name's Abdullah, you'd better leave your passport outside the water closet – ‘cos your name has ‘Allah' in it.

In the Qur'an and Sunnah there are the apparent and the unseen; the deep and the superficial. If you view the din in this way then you will see that the t-shirts are in the tradition of our Rasul(sas). For example one would understand that wearing trainers is no less praiseworthy than sandals, nor gore-tex khuffs than leather.

As for pictures – people watch television, carry photos, take photos, read newspapers, publish magazines with photos, surf the net and a whole host of other things and they are all deemed acceptable… so what's the fuss here? An Arab from the time of the Prophet Muhammad(sas) for example would view our televisions as framed pictures. After all, what did people used to call cinemas? – ‘the pictures’ [oops maybe some have switched off their PCs now and broken their monitors]

This is really an issue of consumption and perceptions which are open to interpretation and choice.

As for the arguments of adopting non-Islamic practice and imitating the practices of other beliefs – don't even go there! Were the first Muslims in India who embraced Islam and are those today who continue to wear salwar kameez imitating Hindus? Is wearing a baseball cap forbidden in Islam because it prevents you from putting your head on the ground to pray?

For those that still have a problem, we would suggest that you should divert more of your attention towards complaining about other companies - for example Muslim companies that produce fizzy drinks, or those reconstituted fried burgers; that corrode children's teeth, fatten them up, are packed full of chemicals, stabilisers and the like that alter their personalities - and then put a halaal stamp on them.

Food for thought:

Amongst the early Muslims there was a great difference of opinion as to whether the Qur'an should be written then sold, or whether copying should remain the work of volunteers. Concerns were that in becoming a commercial activity, it would take away from the value of the Qur'an. These sentiments, whilst valid, reflected the short sightedness of those who disliked or disproved of its copying for a fee - particularly given the fast rate of expansion of the Muslim empire. Here we have a case where the scholars of their time, in the majority, lent a legal opinion which turned out to be counter productive - for copies of the Qur'an were needed far and wide. Did any of these scholars enforce their opinion by prohibiting the copying of the Qur'an, or destroying the shops where it was done? No, they accepted the difference of opinion and moved on.

t has been established with a correct and authoritative isnad that ameer-ul-mu'mineen 'Umar ibn al-Khattaab asked Ziad ibn Hujair:
“Do you know what demolishes Islam?”
Ziad ibn Hujair replied: “No”.
Umar bin Al-Khattaab said: “Islam is demolished by:
- Scholarly blunder
- The argument of the Hypocrite abusing the book (of Allah) and - the ruling of misguided Leaders”

Further information

Extracts from:


All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Photography as a medium of communication or for the simple, innocent intention of memories without the taint of reverence/shirk does not fall under the category of forbidden photography. What is prohibited is painting or carving images or statues which was closely associated with paganism or shirk. As for drawing or painting images, there is nothing wrong with that as long as the images do not depict nudity or other indecent representations.

Within these restrictions drawing humans, animals, natural scenes, etc. is permitted. What is prohibited is making a statue or a sculpture of a living being that has shade (depth or three dimensional).

Here, wed like to cite for you the following Fatwa:

“One may draw pictures of people, animals, etc. as long as they dont depict anything against Islamic guidelines. It is important to understand that Muslims don't replicate 'images' because they believe that on the Day of Judgment, they will be asked to put a soul in the 'images' they made, challenging Allah's creation. Also, they don't replicate 'images' believing that the Angels will not enter their houses. This is based on several authentic Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.

However, in the Arabic Language, what we call Sourah or commonly translated as 'image' can mean several things, and in the context of the prohibition, it means a statute or a sculpture of a living being that has shade (depth or three dimensional) and not a photographic picture.

Therefore, while statutes are prohibited, pictures in magazines, televisions, newspapers, books, computers, drawings, etc. are allowed.” The function of photography today does not fall under the above category. Even some of the scholars who had been once vehemently opposed to photography under the pretext that it was a form of forbidden Tasweer have later changed their position on it - as they allow even for their own pictures to be taken and published in newspapers, for videotaping lectures and for presentations; whereas in the past, they would only allow it in exceptional cases such as passports, drivers' licenses, etc. The change in their view of photography is based on their assessment of the role of photography. IOL Islamic Researchers:

'Ali As-Sayed Al-Halawani:
Head of the Shari`ah Department.
Graduated from Al-Azhar University
MA on Religious Translation, Faculty of Al-Alsun (Languages), Al-Minia University

Wa'il Shihab:
MA on Islamic Jurisprudence & Its Principles, Al-Azhar University

Sami Ahmad Muhammad:
BA in Islamic Studies, Al-Azhar University
Post-graduate Student

Mohsen Abdel-Aty Haredy:
Graduated from Al-Azhar University
MA on Hadith Literature, Leiden University

< Back to Questions