Dear Haadia

Assalam o Alaekum. I am a teenager, who has a passion for drawing portraits. While drawing, I feel really close to God, because I can see how perfect God’s creation is. I have heard, however, of a Hadeeth, according to which it is a grave sin to copy Allah’s (swt) creation, and that this act may lead to Shirk, i.e., associating partners with Allah (swt). I know I will never do Shirk by worshipping the pictures that I draw. My intention and passion contradicts the ruling given in the Hadeeth. What should I do?

Walaekum Assalam. First of all, before answering your question, I would like to appreciate your spirit for knowing the truth and wanting to do the right thing. May Allah (swt) guide you and make you strong in your actions, Ameen.

As far as your question is concerned, yes, you have rightly heard about a Hadeeth, according to which it is not allowed to draw live figures. The reason given for this is that it may lead to Shirk.

We cannot ignore the experiences of history. The story of Prophet Nuh (as) tells about the very first time Shirk began in this world. Nuh’s (as) nation made images of certain pious people, as a reminder to worship Allah (swt). The next generation after Prophet Nuh (as) started worshipping those images instead and used them as mediators for reaching God. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer) Alhamdulillah, you are sure that you will never commit Shirk because of these pictures. However, a hidden Shirk that all of us can get involved in at anytime is ‘I’ – the Shirk of worshipping our own Nafs (desires). In some cases, it is believing in ourselves more than in Allah (swt) as the One, Who gives us the potential and the energy. Generally speaking, think of how portraits and paintings are praised, and artists emulated to the level of creators. This is why it is said that on the Day of Resurrection, Allah (swt) will ask the one, who drew live pictures, to breathe life into them. (Agreed upon) Secondly, if we really trust Allah (swt) as our Friend and Creator, we should obey His instructions.

Your sentiments about feeling close to Allah (swt) at the time of drawing or painting should be treasured and can be channeled through much more positive ways – for example, drawing landscapes, calligraphy, creative art minus faces. Why is drawing live figures not positive? Because Allah (swt) doesn’t look at it positively.

The Prophet reports Allah (swt) describing His relationship of love with the humankind: “Allah (swt) told him that ‘My wrath descends upon a person, who bears ill will towards my friends. And only those are blessed with My love, who implicitly carry out Fard injunctions. A person keeps on advancing in My esteem through Nafil; till I choose him as My beloved. I then become his ears by which he listens, his eye by which he sees, his hands by which he holds and his feet by which he walks (that is his hearing, sight, touch and walking pace are all in perfect accord with My injunctions, and he would never even dream of employing any part of his body in any action contrary to My commands). When such a person prays for anything, I grant it to him, and if he seeks my protection, I do protect him.'” (Bukhari)