Playing with dolls

26 Feb 2018 Ref-No#: 287



We find mention in the Ahadith that Ayesha ((May Allah Ta’ala be pleased with her) had a doll. Based on this, what it the law pertaining to playing with dolls?


Wa’alaykum as Salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

The Ahadith of A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) wherein it is stated that she used to play with dolls cannot be used to justify the playing with dolls. There are many narrations that prohibit the making of life-like statues and objects. In some narrations the incident of the messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) not entering Aa’ishas (may Allah be pleased with her) house because of there being the pictures of animate objects in the house is mentioned. Thus, it will be best to say that the dolls, which are mentioned in the Ahadith were not like the ones of today, but rather they were of a different type, perhaps something simple made of rags which did not have any specific lifelike shape and features. Thus Hadhrat Mawlana Allamah Anwar Shah Sahib Kashmiri (may Allah have mercy on him), in his book Faidh al-Bari vol. 4 pg. 395 has mentioned this;

وكانت حقيقتها في القديم أنهم كانوا يأخذون ثوبا ، و يشدّونه من الوسط فكانت لا تحكي عن صورة و شكل ،
و لم تكن كبناتنا اليوم فإنها تماثيل كالأصنام فلا تجوز قطعاً. (فيض الباري ( (4/ )395

“The reality of the dolls of previous times is that people used to take cloth and tie it in the middle. It did not have a face or a shape. It was not like the dolls of today because they are statuettes like idols; thus they are definitely not permissible.” (Faidh al-Bari vol. 4 pg. 395)

Similarly, In Badhl al-Majhud , the commentary of Sunan Abi Dawud, the footnote of Hadhrat Mawlana Muhammad Yahya Sahib (may Allah be pleased with him) is reproduced which states that the dolls of Aa’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) were not fashioned like animate objects, otherwise, there would have been no reason for Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) to inquire and ask what it was.

{ فقال ما هذا يا عائشة} كتب مولانا محمد يحيي المرحوم في التقرير قوله ما هذا يا عائشة لعل هذا يرشدك أنها لم تكن تماثيل تامة و إلا لما افتقر إلى المسألة و لما ترك في بيته ولما خفي ذلك عليه مدة كذا لأن الملك لا يدخل بيتاً فيه تصاوير فلو كانت تماثيل لامتنع الملك قبل تلك الواقعة من النزول إليه كما في جرو الكلب مع أن عائشة كانت غير مكلفة بعد انتهى. (بذل المجهود 171 /)19

Hafidh Mundhiri (may Allah be have mercy on him) has said that if (for argument’s sake), these dolls were shaped like real dolls then this incident will be said to have taken place before the prohibition of statues, and if it was not life-like then it will be said that the word lu’bah (toy, doll) can be used for something which is inanimate. Allamah Halimi (may Allah have mercy on him) also holds the same view.

وقال المنذري إن كانت اللعب كالصورة فهو قبل التحريم وإلا فقد يسمى ما ليس بصورة لعبةو بهذا جزم الحليمي فقال إن كانت الصورة كالوثن لم يجز و إِلا جاز. إه .(فتح الباري ()10/526

Finally, scholars like Imam Bayhaqi, Ibn Jawzi, Ibn Battal (may Allah have mercy on them all) and others are of the view that the narration of Aa’isha has been abrogated.

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