Update: The rector of Darul Uloom came out to clarify some of the statements included in the original Hindustan Times article quoted in this post. We have included the significant portion of the update at the bottom.
In response to a question by an engineering graduate who wanted to follow his passion for photography, Darul Uloom, India’s leading Islamic seminary, issued a fatwa declaring photography and that particular career path “unlawful and a sin.”
According to the Hindustan Times, the fatwa — a technical term defined as “a ruling on a point of Islamic law given by a recognized authority” — was posted on the school’s website. In response to the engineer and photo enthusiast’s question, the fatwa reads:
Photography is unlawful and sin. Hadith (recorded Islamic tradition) warns sternly against it. Do not do this course. You should search any suitable job based on your engineering course.
Many high-ranking members of India’s Islamic community have come out in support of the fatwa, agreeing that photography should not be allowed, and that anybody who practices a career involving it will be “answerable to God.”
“Photography is un-Islamic,” Vice Chancellor of Darul Uloom, Mufti Abdul Qasim Nomani, told the Times. “Muslims are not allowed to get their photos clicked unless it is for an identity card or for making a passport.”
When asked about the fact that Saudi Arabia allows photography in the holiest of Islamic cities, Mecca, going so far as to beam live coverage through the year, Nomani stuck to his guns saying, “Let them do it. We do not allow it. Not everything they do is correct.”
“Just because they are richer than us doesn’t mean they are also correct,” added All India Muslim Law Personal Board member Mufti Abul Irfan Qadri Razzaqi. “If they are allowing photography they will be answerable on the Day of Judgement in the court of God.”
(via Hindustan Times)
Update: The original source for this post, The Hindustan Times, has published a new article in which the Mr. Nomani clarifies his and the seminary’s stance on the issue:
The rector of influential Islamic seminary Darul Uloom of Deoband, Abul Qasim Nomani, has denied that a fatwa “banning” photography by Muslims as un-Islamic had been issued by the institution.
“Darul Uloom does not have powers to ban anything. It is the government that has such powers. Our fatwa department simply issues religious advice when its views are voluntarily sought by an individual for his or her own personal use,” he told HT from Deoband.
He however said Islam did not permit idol or image worship, which is why the Prophet did not allow his portrait to be made. This is why images of human beings, whether in the form of a drawing or photograph, are not encouraged. “But there is no ban from our side,” he said.
He went on to say that, “If a Muslim in genuine need of advice on Islam’s position on such matters were to approach us, then we are duty bound to give the advice. We can’t issue fatwas just for making news.”
Thanks for sending in the tip, Sam!