Is it haram for men to post their photos on social media?

The Details of the Question

- You do not find it appropriate for women to post their photos on social sites because it is not suitable for privacy. Are Muslim men allowed to do it?
- There are always articles and discourses on this issue, which is haram for women. Why is it not in question for men?
- How can something that is haram for women not be for men?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- In Islam, the privacy area of women and the privacy area of men are different. For example: A man is obliged to cover the parts of his body between his navel and kneecap. However, a woman is obliged to cover her entire body (except for the hand and face). In this respect, the expression of the following verse is clear:

“And say to the believing women that they … should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof.” (an-Nur, 24/31)

- The permission for women to show their faces - due to a necessity - does not make it legitimate for non-mahram men - unless there is a need - to look at women’s faces. This decree is an issue on which all Islamic scholars agree. (see W. Zuhayli, al-Fiqhul-Islami, 3/560-562)

- In fact, it is haram for a woman to look at a man just as it is haram for a man to look at a non-mahram woman. (see an-Nur, 24/30-31)

However, Islamic scholars have interpreted the decrees of those two verses differently in the light of some hadiths regarding the issue:

- According to a strong view in Shafii madhhab based on this verse, there is no difference between a man’s looking at a woman and a woman’s looking at a man. (Zuhayli, 3/565)

Accordingly, it is not permissible for a man to look to any parts of a non-mahram woman except her hands and face in case of need and without lust; similarly, it is not permissible for a woman to look to any part of a non-mahram man except his hands and face. The basis for this view of Shafis is the following hadith:

“The Prophet He ordered his wives Umm Salama and Maymuna to hide from Abdullah b Ummi Maktum, who was blind; when they said, ‘he is blind / visually impaired’, the Prophet said, ‘Are you blind too? Do you not see him?’(Tirmidhi, Adab, 29; Abu Dawud, Libas, 34)

- On the other hand, according to the opinion of the majority (the other three madhhabs), a woman can look at a man’s entire body (without lust), except between his navel and the kneecap, which is determined as mahram parts of a man. (Zuhayli, 3/564)

The basis of the three madhhabs is the following hadith: The Prophet gave Fatima b. Qays the following advice:

“Complete your iddah (waiting period) in Ibn Ummi Maktum’s house. He is a man but even if you take off your hijab/dress near him, he will not see you.” (Muslim, Talaq, 38; 41; Nasai, Nikah, 8; Ibn Hajar, Fathul-Bari, 9/477-480)

- It is understood from the explanations above, according to the majority of scholars, that a woman can look at all parts of a non-mahram man, except between his navel and knees, without lust. However, a man cannot look at a woman’s body except her hands and face, even if it is without lust.

- So, there is a big difference between posting a photo of a man and a photo of a woman on the Internet.

Accordingly, it is permissible for a woman to look at the parts of a man’s body that are not between the navel and the knees without lust and without repeating it. It is also permissible for a man to look at a woman’s hands and face without a feeling of lust. However, it is forbidden for a man or a woman to look at those parts of the bodies of each other, with a sexual pleasure; it is haram.

- The following statement of Imam Ghazali also shed light on this issue:

“... Women should not look at men’s faces either. However, the women’s looking at men’s faces is not the same as men’s looking at women’s faces because throughout the history of Islam, women have veiled their faces and men have had their faces uncovered. It shows that it is much worse for non-mahram men to look at women’s faces.” (Ghazali, Ihya, 1/398)

- Badiuzzaman Said Nursi’s view regarding the issue is as follows:

“Just as the Qur’an severely prohibits the worship of idols, so it forbids the worship of images, which is a sort of imitation of idol-worship. Whereas civilization counts the representation of forms as one of its virtues, and has attempted to dispute the Qur’an in this matter. But represented forms, whether pictorial or concrete, are either embodied tyranny, or embodied hypocrisy, or embodied lust; they excite lust and encourage man to oppression, hypocrisy, and licentiousness. Moreover, the Qur’an compassionately commands women to wear the veil of modesty so that they will be treated with respect and those mines of compassion will not be trodden under the feet of low desires, nor be like worthless goods for the excitement of lust…

“While worship of the human form in particular has shaken morality in appalling fashion, causing the abasement of man’s spirit. This may be understood from the following: to look lustfully and with desire at the corpse of a beautiful woman who is in need of pity and compassion destroys morality; so too, to look lasciviously at the representations of dead women, or of living women, for they are like little corpses, shakes to their very roots the elevated human emotions, and destroys them.” (see Sözler, p. 410)

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