Is it permissible to buy toys for muslim children with eyes on them?
Some scholars have mentioned that based on certain traditions reported from Aisha (R.A.) there is a concession for children to play with toys which are made in the form of humans, animals etc. A narration mentioned by Abu Daud states that Aisha (R.A.) says, “I used to play with dolls and whenever the Messenger of Allah (S.A.) entered the house, my friends who were with me would come out of the house and whenever he exited they would enter.” She also reports that, “One day the Messenger of Allah returned from the expedition of Tabuk or Khaibar and in her room was a curtain covering dolls which she used to play with. The wind blew strong and removed the curtain thereby causing the dolls to be visible. Upon seeing this the Messenger of Allah (S.A.) asked, “What are these Oh Aisha? She replied, “My dolls.” He then saw a horse in the middle of them with two wings made of paper. He said, “What is this which I see in the middle?” Aisha replied, “A horse.” He asked, “What are these on it?” Aisha replied, “Two wings.” He said, “A horse with two wings?” She said, “Have you not heard that Solomon had horses with wings.” She said, “The Messenger of Allah laughed until I saw his molars.” (Abu Daud). Based on these traditions some scholars have mentioned that it is allowable for little children to play with dolls and other toys of the same nature. However other scholars have considered these toys and dolls to be under the same prohibition of pictures and images as evident from the traditions. Their argument is that the allowance which seems to be evident from the traditions of Aisha (R.A.) refers to the period before pictures and images became prohibited. As such the allowance would not remain after such clear prohibitions nor can these traditions of Aisha be used as an evidence for the same. Most of the scholars of Hadith have adopted this view.
In support of this view Allama Ibn Jauzi has quoted a tradition narrated in the Musnad of Ahmad. It stated that, “A person was with Abu Hurairah when he (Abu Hurairah) saw a girl with a horse made of paper in her hand. Upon this Abu Hurairah said to the person, “Have you seen this? The Messenger of Allah (S.A.) has stated that, “This is the action of such people who have no share in the Hereafter.”
Some others (i.e. scholars) have stated that the allowance to use such toys is only for (children) who have not reached the age of puberty since the traditions reported of Aisha shows that she played with such toys when she was still a minor (i.e. not having reached the age of puberty).
As such, the prohibition of dolls and toys will remain for those who have reached the age of puberty. Other scholars have also mentioned that Aisha (R.A.) got the permission to play with such toys since they were incomplete and defaced images. This reason is evident from the traditions of Aisha (R.A) which states that the Prophet of Allah (S.A.S) even after looking at the image, did not know what it was, so he asked, “What is this”? If it were not defaced or incomplete he would have immediately seen that it was a horse. All these explanations given by the great Traditionists and Jurists from among the Sahabas and Tabe’eens are valid and sound. It is quite clear that Aisha’s (R.A) playing with the dolls occurred in the very beginning period when the prohibition of images and pictures were not yet present. It is also evident that at that time she was a very young girl of six or seven years of age. One must therefore be precautious in this matter.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan