Fine Arts and Islam

Painting, sculpting, sketching etc. fall under fine arts. For thousands of years, human beings have mastered themselves in these arts. Satan led the people to worship the things made by their own hands. Idols are mentioned in Holy Quran at many places. Prophet Ibrahim AS disliked idols and he even told his father to quit idol making and worshipping. Then prophet Mosa AS and Prophet Haroon AS forbade their nation from the worshipping of a calf made of gold. Satan led them to worship that calf. Laat and Uzzah are mentioned in Quran who were worshipped by pagan arabs. From the told history, it is clear that people who carved idols eventually started worshipping them.

Thus, in the shariah of Prophet Muhammad pbuh, it was forbidden to paint or carve anything which contains a soul. There are many ahadith of prophet Muhammad pbuh, where he pbuh forbade and disliked imagery. According to a sahih hadith, the person who makes image of a living being, will be asked to breath soul into it on the day of resurrection. The following ahadith will further elaborate the matter.
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) informed us that Allah (Exalted be He) stated: Who can be more unjust than one who tries to create a creation like Mine. Let them create an atom, a grain of wheat, or a grain of barley. (Bukhari,Muslim)
human beings are so limited in creating things. They cannot even create an atom leave alone creating another being. So, anything which falls under creating a living being is forbidden art. Similarly, the following hadith indicates;
On the authority of Ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him), the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) stated: The people who will receive the severest punishment on the Day of Resurrection will be the Musawwirs. (Bukhari, Muslim)
History proves that whenever someone created something, he fell into it. Mostly, the painters and those who make sketches start liking something which they create. In fact, many poets fell for their own words and became atheists. The following ahadith further says;
On the authority of Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with both of them), the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) stated: Those who make siwar (pictures, images, statues) will be punished on the Day of Resurrection and it will be said to them: Breathe soul into what you have created. (Bukhari)
On the authority of Abu Juhayfah (may Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade taking payment for blood, a dog, and the earnings of a prostitute. He cursed those who accept or pay Riba (usury/interest), a woman who tattoos others or gets herself tattooed, and the Musawwir. (bukhari)
Sa`id ibn Abu Al-Hasan said:
A man came to Ibn `Abbas and said: I make suras, so tell me about (the ruling on) this. Ibn `Abbas said: Come closer to me. The man did. Ibn `Abbas asked him to come closer again and the man did and he put his hand on the man’s head and said: I will tell you what I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying. I heard him saying: Every Musawwir will enter the Fire and a soul will be given to every sura they made so that it would torment them in the Fire. He added: If you have to do this (go on in this profession), then make suras of trees and everything that does not have a soul. (Muslim)

The reason of forbidding making pictures is pretty much clear, as stated above. There is a great chance of falling into sin in painting living beings. No matter how fearful one is, a time comes when Satan starts breading wrong ideas and false hopes into his heart. This is why, any such art is forbidden. But calligraphy or painting flowers or natural scenery is permissible as long as it does not contain anything out of Islam.
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