Question # 460: Assalamu Alaikum wrwb. Is it permissible to have dolls and stuffed animals in a child’s room? I know it’s not permissible to have pictures hung up that angels don’t enter the house if there are, but does this apply to dolls and stuffed animals for kids?

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: There is nothing wrong with young children playing with dolls and stuffed animals and keeping them as it is considered an effective means for child development; also, it helps children learn how to take care of their homes and young ones and feel compassionate towards animals. It was reported that ‘Aa’ishah (رضي الله عنها) played with such kind of toys and Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did not object to it.

Long Answer: Most of the scholars have exempted the making of girls’ toys from the prohibition on making images and statues. This is the view of the Maalikis, Shafi’is and Hanbalis. Al-Qaadi ‘Iyaad narrated that most of the scholars said that this is permissible, and he was followed in that by al-Nawawi in his commentary on Muslim. He said: “Exempted from the prohibition on making images that have a shadow are things that are used as toys for girls, because of the exemption that was narrated concerning that. This means that it is permissible, whether they are toys in the shape of people or animals, three-dimensional or otherwise, and whether they are supposed to represent real animals or not, such as a horse with wings…”

The majority of scholars quote as evidence for this exemption the hadith of ‘Aa’ishah (رضي الله عنها) in which she says: “I used to play with dolls in the house of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). I had friends who used to play with me. When the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) came in, they would hide themselves, then he would call them to join me and play with me.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)

According to another report, it was reported that ‘Aa’ishah (رضي الله عنها) narrated: “When the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) arrived (at her house) after the Battle of Tabook or Khaybar (the doubt is from the narrator), the wind raised one end of a curtain that was covering her store-room, revealing her dolls. Among them, he noticed a horse with wings made of rags and asked, “What is this that I see among them?” She replied, “A horse.” He asked, “What is this that it has on?” She replied, “Two wings.” He asked, “A horse with two wings?” She replied, “Have you not heard that Sulaymaan (Solomon) had horses with wings?” She then said, “Thereupon, he laughed so heartily that I could see his molars.” (Abu Dawood)

Al-Haleemi used [above reports] to support his argument. He said: “There are two benefits of that in the case of girls, one immediate and one which comes later. The immediate benefit is that they have fun, which is one of the most effective means of child development. If a child is well taken care of and feels happy and content, his development will be stronger and better. That is because joy energizes the mind, which in turn energizes the soul, and that has an effect on the body and produces physical strength. The benefit which is seen later on is that through that (play), the girls learn how to deal with children, love them and feel compassion for them, and that becomes second nature to them so that when they grow up and see for themselves the things they used to play at, they will find that the compassion they used to play at is something very real indeed. Ibn Hajar quoted in al-Fath from someone who thought that making toys was haraam and that it had been permitted at first but was then abrogated by the general prohibition on making images. He responded by noting that the abrogation could have been the other way round and that the permission to make toys came later, on the grounds that in the hadith of ‘Aa’ishah (رضي الله عنها) about her toys, there is the indication that this happened at a later date because it mentions that this happened when the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) came back from Tabook. So, the apparent meaning is that it happened later on.” (al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah – Maaddat al-Tasweer)

Ibn Hajar said: [The above] hadith indicates that it is permissible to have images of girls (i.e., dolls) and toys for girls to play with. This is an exception from the general meaning of the prohibition on having images…They permitted the sale of dolls to girls so as to teach them from a young age how to take care of their homes and children. Ibn Hibbaan stated that it is permissible for young girls to play with toys.

(The above reply is based various answers provided by Islam Q&A on similar topics)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam