Are paintings and pictures of Prophet (pbuh) strictly prohibited in Islam? if so, then is there an explantion for several paintings of the Prophet (pbuh) from the 16th century?
There is nothing in the Shari`ah that directly prohibits paintings of the Prophet. Of course, none of these paintings are a true representation of the face of the Prophet (PBUH).
There is however an important concern that can lead us to conclude that it is better avoiding making such paintings:
Human beings tend to give false attributes and values to things. People like tangible things and this sometimes impels to try changing intangible religious concepts to tangible ones. It is not difficult to imagine how people might go to extremes in perceiving a painting of the Prophet; assuming religious values for the painting and attributing false things to it, behaving towards it as an holy object and seeking cures or answers to prayers from it. In fact, there might not be even any need for the imagination, examples of such behaviour can be found in many societies (including in some of the Muslim communities).
Accordingly, it is better to avoid painting these pictures because of the possible undesired consequences among people. However, painting them per se is not prohibited by the Shari`ah.
July 1, 2005
Answer published by Abdullah Rahim