Watching Movies on the Lives of the Companions

Shaykh Jamir Meah is asked about watching movies of the lives of the companions.

Through the years, I have seen many serials depicting the life of the Companions of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, come out, though they do not show the Prophet himself, blessings and peace be upon him.

I was wondering if it is permissible to watch them as some of them have been based on true stories of the past and could teach Muslims the stories of their Companions, Allah be pleased with them.

I have also been told that watching some actor depict a Companion could create wrong perceptions in our imagination and would lead us to embed the on screen face in our head. I would like to receive a clarification on this issue.

Thank you.

Ma‘ssalam

Our teachers have said that it would be impermissible to watch television shows or movies which depict the Companions, Allah be pleased with them all. This is because the mere act of a person portraying one of the Companions is lowering their noble station, a rank which cannot be done justice no matter how good and respectful the actor or the production.  

Each character, their every word, their voice, their facial expressions, their mannerisms, their actions, and each event in their lives, is portrayed through the understanding and lens of the actor or the filmmaker, which may not always be true, and in fact, may be grossly incorrect and a disservice.  

Islamic Serials and Movies

Though I’m sure that there are good intentions in some of these productions, and that they do have an obvious appeal to many people today, the nature of dramatics, whether the theatre, television or the film industry, is exactly that, drama, a relentless desire and attempt to do one better, to excite, to push the boundaries of art and entertainment.  

This is why we have seen, in true Disney fashion, productions go from cartoons to live action, and then mediocre serials to the current trend of lavish Islamic productions. These have gone from biographies of well-known historical figures, scholars and saints, to depictions of the Companions (including all the major companions), then of previous Prophets, and then finally the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, himself! And we seek refuge in Allah.  

In many ways, these serials feel like a devaluing of our rich history and beloved and noble figures, who gave everything they had, even their lives, so the word of Allah and his Messengers could be preserved and reach us today. We should honor and guard this by learning and preserving our connection to the prophets and the companions through the oral and textual traditional, which were protected and transmitted in the most meticulous manner by men and women of pure hearts.  

While this may lack the heightened entertainment factor that modern shows offer, ultimately, somethings should be left alone and respected, and this is one of them. Instead, we should explore the means of human interaction to attain knowledge and insight, to read books to form our own opinions, and the power of the mind and imagination to find meaning and inspiration.

Alternatives

An alternative and a middle ground for those who feel they need to watch something, is to look for Islamic television shows where a scholar or presenter talks about the lives of the Companions or the Prophets, such as Amr Khaled’s popular series on the lives of the Companions, which had a huge following among the youth in Egypt and is available with English subtitles.

Additionally, good quality and inspiring audio lecture series are available on similar topics by notable speakers. These also make excellent family listening. 

And Allah knows best. 

Please also refer to this answer which deals with some of the topics we have discussed: Does Drawing the Prophet Muhammad or Any Other Prophet Entail Disbelief?

Warmest salams,

Jamir 

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

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