Question # 485: Is it permissible for adults to watch cartoons just for entertainment? Since dolls are exempted from the ruling on images, then is it possible to say that cartoons may also go under that ruling? I know some say that realistic dolls that look like real babies should be avoided. These cartoons do not look like real images. Also, Aisha was about 14-16 when she played with those dolls, so this most likely means that the ruling is the same for children and adults.
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).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: Having some time for amusement or entertainment is permissible in the Shari’ah, which includes watching cartoons for fun, so long as it is free of anything that is contrary to Islamic teaching and does not divert the person from the remembrance of Allah. However, at the same time, Muslims should not spend too much in such activities as every person is going to be asked on the Day of Judgement, about the time and life he/she spent in this world. Nevertheless, the following types of movies are prohibited (not an exhaustive list):
- Those which depicts the Prophets and the Sahabah (companions);
- Those which spread belief of shirk; for example, false prophecies, and showing characters such as superheroes/Hindu gods possessing extraordinary/supernatural powers claiming to control the universe;
- Those which contain other elements of shirk such as matters relating to soothsaying, witchcraft, fortune-telling, reviving the dead, and theory of evolution;
- Those which propagate obscenity (nudity); and
- Those which promote … forbidden things like music or gambling.
As a final note, since it is almost impossible to find any movie free of all prohibited matters these days, there is no harm in watching movies that include some minor prohibitions provide the overall purpose is to convey a good message and is predominantly lawful. Nevertheless, one should strive to avoid those prohibitions to the extent possible, for example, one can mute the music when being played or lower one’s gaze from looking at forbidden images or scenes. When a problem becomes widespread, then this necessitates being lenient and tolerating the issue as determined by the jurists.
Long Answer: The basic principle with regard to adults watching cartoons for fun is that it is permissible, so long as they are free of anything that is contrary to Islamic teaching such as corrupt beliefs, music, and so on. But that should be done on rare occasions and only for a short time [and at the same time, it is permissible on the condition that it does not lead a person to miss an Islamic obligation.] Al-Bayhaqi reported in Shu’ab Al-Eemaan and Ibn Hibbaan in his Saheeh that Wahb ibn Munabbih said, “Among the words of wisdom of Dawood (عليه السلام) is: A wise person should divide his time into four: a time to address his Lord [such as in prayer, supplication….]; a time to hold himself into account for his deeds; a time when he resorts to his brothers who would sincerely inform him about his shortcomings and faults and advise him in this regard; and a time to entertain and enjoy himself with what is permissible – as this latter time helps him endure the other times and is a way of comforting his heart.”
[Further,] it should be noted that Allah will question each person on the Day of Resurrection about his life and his youth, and in what ways he spent them, as it says in the hadith that was narrated by at-Tirmidhi from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), who said: “The son of Adam will not move on from standing before his Lord on the Day of Resurrection until he is questioned about five things: about his life and what he did during it, about his youth and how he spent it, about his wealth and from where he earned it and on what he spent it, and what he did with the knowledge he acquired.” (Classed as hasan by Shaykh al-Albaani in Sahih Sunan at-Tirmidhi)
Nevertheless, the following types of movies are prohibited – this is not an exhaustive list but every Muslim should evaluate what they watch and take precautions or refrain in the light of the following:
- [Those which] …depict the Prophets (عليه السلام) in general and our Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) in particular… According to Islamic Fiqh Council, depicting [Prophets], whether [in] an animated drawing or otherwise, whether …three-dimensional image or not – all of that is haraam and is not permissible according to Islam. According to a fatwa of the Standing Committee…, portraying the Sahabah or one of them is [also] forbidden… This is in addition to what many of these serials and movies contain of distortion and fabrication of events according to what is dictated by the media.
- [Those which] …which tell stories of shirk. Seeing and hearing them can cause serious damage to the heart of the Muslim. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) got angry with Umar ibn al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) when he saw him with a piece of the Tawrah (Torah) in his hand and told him to destroy it. Many of the Muslims do not have sufficient protection or the level of knowledge required to recognize the corrupt ideas in these movies, so some viewers may develop doubts that damage their eemaan and shake their belief. The recent …movies based on distorted Biblical beliefs or the false prophecies of liars and charlatans [are gaining popularity in the West. On the other hand, there are movies, which show characters (superheroes/Hindu gods) possessing] …extraordinary/supernatural powers that claim to control the universe, and present the struggle that is between these powers and the human being.
- [Those which contain other elements of shirk such as disbelievers’ theory of evolution,] soothsaying, [witchcraft,] and fortune-telling such as claiming the possibility of knowing …unseen matters in the future or telling that such and such matter will occur, [or reviving the dead], then …it is not permissible … to watch them. Also Refer to Question # 204 about ‘Reading Stories containing Magic and Fantasy’ and Question # 261 about ‘Astrology, Horoscopes, Fortune-telling – Elements of Shirk (disbelief)’.
- [Those which propagate obscenity (nudity).] This leads to viewers becoming [immune] to such shameful sins, and killing their sense of honor.
- [Those which promote] … forbidden things like music or gambling, or those which encourage evil or any act of deviation, and other prohibited things. Also, Refer to Question # 160 about ‘Music and Musical Instruments’.
There is no harm in watching movies with good objectives and that convey a good message, if they are predominantly lawful; [however since it is almost impossible to find any movie free of all prohibited matters these days, it is permissible to watch such movies if] if they include some minor prohibitions. Nevertheless, one should strive to avoid those prohibitions [to the extent possible]. If there is music, for example, one should mute the volume, and one lowers his gaze from looking at the forbidden images (or scenes)… When a problem becomes widespread, then this necessitates being lenient and tolerating the issue as determined by the jurists.
(The above reply is based on various answers on similar topics provided by:
- Islamqa.info; and
- Islamweb.net, a web site belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar)
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.