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Respectfully disagree with Mufti Umar Faruq Lawharwi (DB) which presents analysis predating the invention of digital photography by 50-60 years
Shaykhul-Islam (Mufti) Rafi Usmani (HA)
Since the title of “Mufti” is associated with me, it is important that I clarify a few things. There are a few cameras here and they have (my) permission that they can transmit the proceedings from here on televisions and the internet. But if these images are (printed) then it will be to make "Tasweer" of living beings. You don’t have (my) permission to print these images.
I welcome Journalists from the (print media) here and may Allah Ta’ala reward them I hope that they will report this event (diligently and honestly). If they have taken pictures of today’s proceedings then they should not print (images) which contain clear (human) faces. You know the techniques to accomplish this, you can make pictures which don’t bring the faces (into focus) and if you don’t take pictures at all, it will be even more cautious.
A large number of (Pakistani) Ulama have given permission for the establishment of a television station. The basis of this Fatwa is conditional and some of the salient points can be summarised as follows:
- The world Media is ever busy in trying to malign Islam, its teachings and Muslims. It is needed in our times for us to be ready to counter this propaganda.
- Those capable of Fatwa (i.e. Ahlul-Fatwa) did a lot of research, deliberated (in depth) and repeatedly. The decision reached by those in the Darul-uloom (Karachi) and those associated with them and those who trust their judgement is that the (images) shown on television or on the screen of mobile (phones) or on the Internet do not fall under the injunctions of Tasweer (photo) as long as they are not printed.
- Since they don’t fall into the injunction of Tasweer (photo) then those images which are permissible (without imagery i.e. real life) will remain permissible as (digital) images and vice-versa.
- We have been trying for sometimes to establish an (Islamic) television channel worldwide (even in Pakistan) but it should be Islamic. There may be educational, entertainment based programs or even programs for women and children on the channel. There may be political and current affairs (analysis). These programs will need to be interesting (to attract our younger generations) and then the teachings of Islam can be conveyed through these programs.
Shaykh (Maulana) Ilyas Ghumman (HA)
I don’t talk about Sargodha or Punjab or even Pakistan, I speak about the world. We are the inheritors of a (global) prophet and the entire globe is our sphere of action. It is the Mercy of Allah Ta’ala that it has become easier to work globally when it was not so (previously). In this era of globalisation, Media has brought distant people, closer. It used to take months to travel to faraway lands but today communication reaches those (distant lands) within seconds.
Therefore, we have used Media for our purpose and we have used it without paying attention to the detractors and the objectors. I brought the work of our (Maslak) on print and electronic media when our Ulama had not released the Fatwa upon (its usage). By the grace of Allah Ta’ala we propagated what we believed to be the truth and we realised the value of the Media (early on) and set about using it effectively.
Since I come from a small village some Ulama of (larger) cities had their reservations upon our work as to how this rural villager can take such a giant step (in using media)? I responded by saying that I don’t speak about my personal affairs but I speak of the affairs (associated) with my prophet by the conviction in the pathway of my elders and my predecessors and this can be done by a villager or someone from the city.
When we started using the Media, many people had reservations but with time these reservations were been (literally) buried.
We had a 5 day seminar of research on Mas’ail (issues pertaining to Islam) and I was also invited towards the conclusion. A student handed me a question enquiring as to why I participate in making (videos) when Ulama of Deoband have deemed it to be impermissible.
My responses to him were as follows:
- I (along) with all Ulama consider and agree upon “Tasweer” (photos) to be impermissible.
- I (along) with all Ulama consider and agree upon “Tasweer” (photos) to be permissible when (genuinely) needed.
The disagreement is upon the classicisation of “need”. This is derived from Ijtehaad (deduction) and Ulama disagree upon the classification of need. In matters of Ijtehaad there are no (severe disagreements) like in matters which are proven from clear text (of Qur’aan and Sunnah).
I visited a Darul-uloom in Karachi and there was a gathering of (advanced students) in the faculty of Takhasus (Fatwa and research). They asked me questions about (my) videos. My response to them was to ask questions with enthusiasm but then listen to the answers with the same (enthusiasm and due diligence). What I meant is that sometimes questions are asked but the responses are ascribed to be (disrespectful) towards a particular personality (or an elder) by the one asking the question and the responses are (wrongly) taken contest to be refutation of a particular individual.
When I am responding to a question, it should not be twisted, spun or taken out of context to be disrespectful or refutation of another Scholar (or an elder), it should be taken on face value as “my answer”.
I made two points:
- The punishment of Tasweer (making photos) is connected with severe punishment. Severe punishment is only mentioned on the committing of acts which are (categorially) Haram, you will not see warning of severe punishments on acts which are Makruh (disliked). The punishment is clear cut in text of Hadeeth.
- But the definition of Tasweer (photo) and its application is not clear cut in the text of Qur’aan and the Sunnah. It is a matter of Ijtehaad (deduction). Those who consider digital (imagery) to be Taweer (photos) deem it to be impermissible, thus the punishment applicable while others who consider digital (imagery) not to be Taweer (photos) consider it permissible.
We believe that our Madhab is closest to the truth with the probability of error. Then why do we regard our opinion of digital (imagery) to be Taweer (photos) to be “the absolute truth” with no probability of error? Have we not exceeded and exaggerated in the matter (of difference of opinion)? Have we not exceeded the limits and consider ourselves to be higher than the Imams of the Madhabs? The Imams of Madhabs (disagreed) but still accepted the probability of error.
I went to Azad Kashmir on one of my tours and there was a team member from my team and bymy team I don’t mean to say that an entire entourage travels alongside me but a few (or even one person) can be part of a team. The Imam of the Masjid requested that I should speak in the Mosque but not record the event. When I asked for the reason, I was told that a one year Tableeghi Jamaat was in the Mosque and they deemed making of (videos) to be impermissible. I asked the Imam that if I were to convince the members of the Jamaat, would he have any objections and he said that he (personally) had no objections. I asked the young (cameraman) to set up the equipment but to keep the equipment switched off. I sat down for the talk.
I asked the (Tableeghi Jamaat) about their program. They replied that they had been given instructions to go abroad but while waiting for their visas they were instructed to work (within Pakistan). I asked them if they had submitted their passports with pictures. They said that they had submitted many additional photographs. I enquired if they knew that Tasweer (photos) were impermissible to which they replied that they knew about the impermissibility. I asked as to why they had pictures taken and submitted them to the embassy? They replied that it was not possible to get visas without photographs. I asked so what? What is the harm in not getting visas?
They said that it was not possible to go abroad without visas.
I said so what is the problem with it? If Allah Ta’ala asks you on the day of judgement as to why you didn’t proceed beyond Pakistan then say that it was not possible due to indulgence in Haram. We were not prepared to perform an impermissible action for the sake of propagating your religion.
They had no answer for this so I then asked them to consider my request.
O people of Tableegh! You also indulge in photography (for Islam) and so do I. But there are some subtle differences between your actions and mine. Your photographs are printed (therefore static) while mine are digital. Printed (static) photography is impermissible by consensus while there are differences upon digital photography. Isn’t the agreed upon matter a bigger Haram? Your (static) photographs stay at the consulate while you (physically) visit England, America etc while I personally stay at Sargodha but my (digital) images go to England, America etc. You use photography and I use photography. The difference is your photograph rests while you take the pain (of travelling) while I rest but my (digital images) take the pain of travelling! You (physically) go to get your pictures taken while my WhatsApp service serves over 80,000 subscribers, over 125,000 subscribers get it from our Facebook and then it gets shared by people. You meet a few people (physically) by indulging in photography while my images get to millions. How come you are a Da’ee (inviter to Allah) and I am a mischief maker? Please explain to me the difference? It is not my habit to crack jokes but make me get the difference between yourself and me. I am not trying to crack jokes! You are all Ulama (scholars) so let’s have an honest discussion and put an end to tale carrying and gossiping.
I was in Hong Kong and my speech was being recorded. There was a Khaleefa of Shah (Hakeem) Akhtar Saheb (RA) before me who strongly disagreed with making (of) videos and his Mureed also discussed the matter with me. I spent 40 days at the Khanqah of Shah (Hakeem) Akhtar Saheb (RA) and he had also given me Khilafah. The Mureed told me that (his) Shaykh strongly disagreed with making of videos while I indulge in it. I asked him why he had become bay’t to his Shaykh? He replied that Shah (Hakeem) Akhtar Saheb (RA) had granted his Shaykh Khilafah and it is the reason for his Bay’t. I asked him if he knew that Shah (Hakeem) Akhtar Saheb (RA) had also given me Khilafah and he knew about it. I asked him if his Shaykh was a scholar to which he replied in the negative.
I said we are both Khaleefahs but one is a Scholar and the other isn’t so shouldn’t you be given my opinion to him rather than the other way around? He had no answer. I further explained that I am not asking for him to follow my opinion or to become bay’t to me. However, I wish for conversations to be contextualised and principled.
Thus, we have decided to make videos and use digital (photography).