Printing cakes with animate images

Question

I would like to inquire about the permissibility of doing screen printing on cakes with human or animal printing also to make cakes in that manner as well e.g. a lion etc.

Answer

بسم الله الرحـمن الرحيم

The Shariah strictly prohibits the drawings, painting, printing, carving and sculpturing of any animate object e.g. humans, animals, birds, insects etc. This prohibition is clearly mentioned in numerous Ahaadith of the Prophet ﷺ. Just to mention a few:

  1. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: The people who will receive the severest punishment from Allah will be the (animate) picture makers.’ [al Bukhari]
  2. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: Angels (of Mercy) do not enter a house where there are (animate) pictures.” [Bukhari]
  3. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: to Ali [ra] “do not leave any image/statue except that to remove/destroy it. [Muslim]
  4. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Verily, those who make these images will be tortured on the Day of Resurrection. It will be said to them: ‘Bring to life what you have created.'” [Bukhari and Muslim]
  5. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: All the picture makers would be in the fire of Hell. A soul will be breathed in every picture made by him and it shall punish him in the fire of Hell. [Muslim]

With regards to your specific query, even though the image is printed or painted on a cake (or any other edible item), it will still be regarded as an animated image and hence the prohibition. Similarly, is the case if a cake, biscuit, (or any other edible item) were to be carved or sculptured into the form or shape of any animate object.

However, Mufti Rafi Uthmani (db), in his Maqalaat Fiqhiyah, mentioned six conditions in which the Jurists of the four followed schools of Islamic law have considered when regarding an animate object as being prohibited. In the third condition, he states; “It is made with material that has the quality of permanence, such as iron, copper or wood; not from that which does not have the quality of permanence, such as dough or cake.” (pg 156 vol.2)[1]

It is also stated in Durar al-Bahiyyah min al-Fatawa al-Kuwaitiyyah that; “the making of bread [and other edibles], in the form of animals, is not prohibited because it is not made to last [ i.e., does not have the ability of permanence] and is quickly perishable. However, it is better to refrain from making it due to its resemblance to those animated images and objects which are prohibited.” [pg. 202 vol 10][2]

Nevertheless, we haven’t seen from the books of Hanafi Fiqh, the Jurists making any distinction regarding the prohibition of a sculptured or painted, animated item being edible as opposed to not being edible. Furthermore, we haven’t seen the Hanafi Jurists making a distinction with regards to an animated item having permanence as opposed to being perishable. Hence the rule of prohibition will be equally applied to these items.

Alaamah Nahlawi (ra) mentions in al-Durar al-Mubaha fi al Hadhar wa al Ibaha that; “Images of animals (and other animated beings) are strictly prohibited even though it is not made with the purpose of respect or reverence. It is prohibited in all regards, whether it be in clothing, sheets, coins, utensils, plaques, walls etc.” (pg 164)

In conclusion, though there may seem to be some form of concession regarding the issue, one should abstain from making such items.

Nb: The aforementioned relates to the maker of the item. As for the purchaser or consumer, he or she should also refrain from doing so. However, in principle, the transaction will be valid and its consumption will also be regarded as Halal provided that all of its ingredients are permissible.

And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Kaleem Muhammad

Darul Iftaa, Jaamia Madinatul Uloom

Marabella Trinidad

www.fatwa-tt.com /www.jaamia.net


[1] حكم الثماثيل المجسدة (المجسمة) لذوات الارواح:

الصور الحيوانات كالانسان و البهائم والطيور والحشرات الارض ان كانت متصفة بالاوصاف التالية فحرمتها متفق عليها فيما بين الفقهاء..ثم ذكر الشيخ حفظه الله تعالى ستة أوصاف و منها:

(ج) أن تصنع بما يدوم من الحديد أو النحاس أو الخشب، لا بما لا يدوم كالعجين و الكعك هــ

[2] إن انتاج و صناعة الخبز على شكل حيوانات مختلفة ليس حراما لأن مآله الى التلف السريع و مع ذلك ترك صناعته على شكل حيوانات لما فيه من شبهة التصوير المحرم