Many computer games involve things that are contrary to sharee‘ah, such as music, uncovering ‘awrahs, venerating the cross, learning violence and committing crimes, and neglecting obligatory duties. We have explained in the answers to questions no. 2898, 39744 and 98769 the negative consequences of computer games. In the second of these answers (39744) we have explained the ruling on buying and selling them; and in the first answer (2898) we mentioned – when explaining what is haraam concerning them – games which are based on glorifying the cross and in which passing over it gives health or strength, or brings one back to life, or gives the player extra “lives” and so on.
Based on that, if these computer games are based on such things then playing them is haraam, and it is also haraam to buy and sell them, whether the thing that gives strength or lives is the cross or a charm, as is the case in Japanese and Chinese games. But if gaining strength for the player is done by means of training that he does, and not any of the things we have mentioned, then it seems to us that it is permissible to play these games.
With regard to imitating the creation of Allah that is mentioned in the question, the response is in two parts, from the linguistic point of view and from the shar ‘i ruling point of view.
With regard to the linguistic meaning, the discussion centres on what is meant by imitating or trying to match. Al-Khaleel ibn Ahmad al-Faraaheedi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Imitating means trying to match one thing to another. Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “They imitate the saying of the disbelievers of old” [at-Tawbah 9:30]. What is meant is: They say something like they (the disbelievers of old) said. And in the hadeeth it says: “The people who will be most severely punished on the Day of Resurrection will be those who imitate the creation of Allaah.”
Al-‘Ayn, 4/70; an-Nihaayah fi Ghareeb al-Hadeeth by Ibn al-Atheer, 3/232
With regard to the shar‘i ruling, it is mentioned in these words and synonyms in saheeh hadeeths, including the following:
It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “The people who will be most severely punished on the Day of Resurrection will be those who imitate the creation of Allaah.”
Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5610; Muslim, 2107.
According to a version narrated by Muslim: “Verily, among the people who will be most severely punished on the Day of Resurrection will be those who imitate the creation of Allaah.”
It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) say: “Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, said: ‘Who does more wrong than the one who tries to imitate My creation? Let them create an ant, or let them create a grain of wheat, or let them create a grain of barley.”
Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5609; Muslim, 2111.
This competing or imitating mentioned in the hadeeth is that which constitutes kufr. That applies in two cases:
(i) Where the image maker makes an idol – or a representation of something else that Allah created – to be worshipped
(ii) Where the image maker makes the image and claims that it is better than the creation of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted.
For more details on that, please see the answer to question no. 149026
This does not apply to games that contain characters that are animated beings, because they are not intended to match or compete with the creation of Allah. But that does not mean that they are permissible in all cases. Rather what we think is that they are only permissible for children, not adults, so they come under the same rulings as cartoons.
It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allaah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) came back from the campaign to Tabook or Khaybar and there was a curtain over her niche. The wind lifted the edge of the curtain and uncovered ‘Aa’ishah’s toy dolls. He said: “What is this, O ‘Aa’ishah?” She said: My dolls. He saw among them a horse with two wings made of cloth and he said: “What is this that I see in the midst of them?” She said: A horse. He said: “What is this that I see on it?” I said: Two wings. He said: “A horse with wings?” She said: Have you not heard that Sulaymaan had horses with wings? She said: And the Messenger of Allaah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) smiled so broadly that I saw his eyeteeth.
Narrated by Abu Dawood, 4932; classed as saheeh by al-‘Iraaqi in Takhreej al-Ihya’, 2/344; and by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
This hadeeth was quoted as evidence that it is permissible to make dolls and toys for little girls to play with; this is an exception from the general prohibition on keeping images. This was the view of ‘Iyaad, who narrated it from the majority; and they regarded it as permissible to sell toys to little girls to train them from an early age to take care of their houses and children.
Fath al-Baari, 10/527
Shaykh Sa‘d ibn Turki al-Khathlaam (may Allah preserve him) said:
Cartoons do not in fact show real images of that which Allah, may He be exalted, has created; rather they are images drawn with the hand, so the imitation in this case is not obvious; however, cartoons are drawings of animate beings, so in principle they come under the heading of haraam image-making. But if the target audience of these films is small children, which is what appears to be the case here – and Allah knows best – then there is nothing wrong with it, because of the reports which indicate that such things are permissible for small children. And we said that with regard to images, in the case of small children that may be tolerated which may not be tolerated in the case of adults. So if the target audience for whom the cartoon is intended is small children, then what appears to be the case – and Allah knows best – based on the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah, is that there is nothing wrong with it. But if the target audience is adults, then this is not permissible. Hence what is seen of these cartoons and films is haraam, but unfortunately cartoons can be found even on some Islamic channels that are aimed at adults. This is not permissible and these are images that are haraam, because in fact they clearly come under the heading of competing with the creation of Allah, because they are aimed at adults and not children.
The same applies to the cartoons that appear in some newspapers and magazines. These drawings also come under the heading of haraam images, because they are imitating the creation of Allah.
Fiqh an-Nawaazil (Mas’alat at-Tasweer)
And Allah knows best.