The action mentioned in the question is one of the most abhorrent of actions. It is haraam in and of itself and because of what it leads to. As for it being haraam in and of itself: a woman in principle is entirely ‘awrah and it is not permissible to take her picture in the first place, even if nothing appears but her face and hands, so how about if what appears is more than that. What if the picture shows her most private ‘awrah? Undoubtedly this is more abhorrent and sinful and leads to greater punishment.
The scholars of the Standing Committee were asked:
Is a picture of a woman in her passport or elsewhere ‘awrah or not? Is it acceptable for a woman, if she refuses to have her picture taken, to delegate someone to perform Hajj on her behalf, because she cannot get a passport for that reason? And what is the limit of covering for women according to the Qur’aan and Sunnah?
She does not have the right to allow her face to be photographed, whether in a passport or otherwise, because it is ‘awrah, and because having her picture in a passport or elsewhere is a cause of people being tempted because of her. But if she cannot travel for Hajj without doing that, then she is granted a concession allowing her to have her picture taken so that she may perform the obligatory duty of Hajj, and it is not permissible for her to delegate someone else to do it on her behalf. The entire woman is ‘awrah according to the evidence of the Qur'aan and Sunnah, so what she is required to do is to cover all of her body before non-mahrams, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers …”
“And when you ask (his wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and for their hearts”
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz, Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Ghadyaan, Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Qa’ood. Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (1/718, 719).
In the answer to question no. 13342 we quoted Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzan as saying:
Taking pictures of women is not permitted at all, because of the temptation and evil that results from that, in addition to the fact that taking pictures is forbidden in and of itself. So it is not permissible to take pictures of women when traveling or for any other reason. The Council of Senior Scholars has issued a statement that this is haraam. End quote.
The husband has no excuse for taking pictures of his wife naked because he is her husband. That does not make it permissible for him to do this abhorrent act, and his being away from his wife is not regarded as an excuse for him, because it is haraam to take pictures of women in the first place – we have quoted fatwas of the scholars concerning that – and because of the evil consequences to which it leads. Among the consequences to which keeping pictures of one’s wife when she is naked or immodestly dressed may lead are the following:
1. The husband’s belongings may be stolen or he may lose or forget the picture in a public place, so the picture may be spread far and wide and it may fall into the hands of fools who would make use of the picture to cause more evil and corruption.
2. He and his wife may get divorced, in which case she would become a stranger (non-mahram) to him, in which case it would not be permissible for him to look at her after the divorce which makes her a stranger to him.
3. The husband may use it against his wife. There have been many such cases where the husband uses such things against his wife to make her give up her financial rights or fulfil his haraam desires or keep quiet about his abhorrent actions, and all of that happens because he possesses pictures or a video of her when she is naked or semi-naked.
4. The husband’s looking at a picture of his naked wife when he is away from her will never extinguish his desire, rather the opposite is the case. It will inflame his desires and they cannot be extinguished – in most cases – except by doing haraam actions such as the secret habit – which is the least of them – or zina or homosexuality – Allaah forbid.
So his excuse for taking pictures of his wife and keeping them so he can look at them when he is away from her is unacceptable, and his action is a cause of him falling into haraam, because of the picture-taking itself, and because of the evils to which it leads.
It is not permissible for the husband to take a picture of his wife when she is naked or semi-naked. He should have the attitude of protective jealousy for his honour, and do whatever he can to protect his honour and not neglect it by doing such actions. Similarly, it is not permissible for the wife to agree to do that and she should denounce him and not respond to him.
Allaah has made each spouse a libaas (screen) for the other. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“They are Libaas [i.e. body-cover, or screen, or Sakan (i.e. you enjoy the pleasure of living with them) Tafsir] for you and you are the same for them”
The husband should pay attention to that: he is a screen for his wife, so how could he seek to uncover her by means of this action when the basic principle is that he should be a screen and conceal her?
The husband should not stay away from his wife and family a great deal, because he needs them and they need him. His wife needs him so that they can keep one another chaste, and the children need him to raise them and look after them. If the husband has to go away and the wife agrees to that, then he must fear Allaah, his Lord, and keep away from anything that may provoke his desire such as mixing with women, being alone with a member of the opposite sex or looking. He should do a lot of acts of worship, especially fasting, and he should choose righteous companions who will guide him to do good and encourage him to obey Allaah.
We ask Allaah to help him to do that which He loves and which pleases Him.
And Allaah knows best.