What is the ruling on taking on acting roles as prophets (peace be upon them), the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet), and the Tabi`un (Followers, the generation after the Companions of the Prophet)?
What is customary in plays is considered as amusement and an embellishment of speech and actions to attract the attention and hearts of the audience and to overpower their feelings. While doing this the actors twist words of those they are portraying, misrepresent them, or make additions to them. All this is not befitting to the actor when they are playing the role of an ordinary person, let alone when in the role of the prophets, their companions and successors. This is especially so when it relates to what they said in terms of Da`wah (calling to Islam) and the message of religion, and how they performed `Ibadah (worship) and struggled to perform the obligations and gain support for Islam.
Those who work in the field of acting are not likely to investigate the truth and do not possess good Islamic morals. And there are those who are daringly foolhardy and are not concerned about sliding into what is not appropriate, as long as this entices people, earns them money, and they appear successful in the eyes of huge audiences. If they appear on the screen in roles playing the Sahabah or other righteous people, this may lead the audience to mock and deride them, and it may undermine their honor and the respect in which they are held. (Part No. 3; Page No. 269)
If an actor was to play the role of a Kafir (disbeliever), such as
Abu Jahl, or other disbelievers, alongside other actors in the roles of believers, such as Prophet Musa (Moses) or Muhammad (peace be upon them), and those who followed them, those playing the Kafirs would say words of Kufr (disbelief), hurl curses and insults at the prophets; accuse them of lying, sorcery, and madness; discredit the visions of the prophets and those who follow them; and they would shock people with the evil and slanderous accusations that
Fir`aun (Pharaoh) and
Abu Jahl hurled at the prophets and those who followed them. They would not be telling a story of the disbelievers, but they would actually be saying these words of Kufr and misguidance themselves, if not adding other words of their own that may make the situation more ugly, and increase ignorance and false accusations. The crime of acting is grievous and its affliction severe. It may lead to disbelief and corruption in society, and a lack of respect being shown towards the prophets and the pious people.
Reality has disproved the claims that dramatic presentations of the events that took place between Muslims and disbelievers provide an effective and successful means of communicating the message of the prophets and Da`wah. Even if this was true the evil from this prevails over the good and the benefits, and in this case it is obligatory to prevent it and eradicate any thoughts of it.
There are many avenues available to communicate and disseminate the message of Islam, and perform Da`wah. They have been depicted through the examples of prophets with their people, and have proved to be successful and brought fruits for (Part No. 3; Page No. 270) Islam and honor to the Muslims; Islamic history attests to this. Accordingly, we must follow this Straight Path, the path of those whom Allah has favored from among the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of truth, and the righteous people, and suffice ourselves with this rather than indulging in the games and gratification of desires of acting, as this is preferable in terms of seriousness and superiority. And to Allah is all matters and He is the Highest Judge.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.