Utilizing The Front Camera Of A Phone Or Laptop As A Mirror

Question

What is the ruling of using the front camera of a laptop or phone as a mirror without capturing any image? (There are applications which can be utilised as a mirror, without the camera capturing any image).

Answer

It is permissible to utilize an actual mirror in order to see one’s image. At the same time, we must understand that all types of photography/picture making are impermissible, as well as digital photography. 

The question then arises, does the camera app merely reflect one’s image, as is the case with an actual mirror? Or does it take in one’s image, reproduce it and then display it on the screen (albeit for a short while), rendering it akin to picture taking?

After carefully pondering over the above and doing some research, we have come to the following conclusion: The camera app does not merely reflect one’s image (as is the case with an actual mirror), rather it takes in the image, reproduces it and then displays it for a short while on the screen, even though one does not save the picture on file. This is proven from the following facts:

– A real and actual mirror works in the following way: A person directs a mirror in front of his face, and the glass of the mirror merely reflects his image as long as the mirror is in front of him. As soon as the mirror is taken away or the person moves out of the range of the mirror, the reflected image disappears immediately.

The camera app works differently: The camera takes in a person’s image, which is then reproduced and displayed on the screen. The camera has actually reproduced the image on the screen; the screen itself is not reflecting the image, as is the case with a mirror. Proof of this is as follows:

 

– If one places a barrier between the screen and his face (by covering the screen area); however he does not bar the hole/lens of the camera (which is at the top of the computer screen), rather the camera lens is directed at his face, his image will still be displayed on the screen. This clearly indicates that the screen is not reflecting his image, since the screen is barred from his face. Rather the camera is taking his picture, reproducing it and then displaying it on the screen.

– This reality becomes more apparent with a phone or computer that is not in a good working condition, and is responding very slowly. If the camera-lens is directed at one’s face, and he very swiftly turns it away from his face (or he turns his face away), his face will no longer be in front of the camera-lens, but his image will still remain visible on the screen for a few split seconds, if not for a few whole seconds. This cannot possibly occur with any instrument that merely reflects whatever is placed in front of it, such as a mirror.

– While the camera is directed at one’s face, if he has to close the camera app or merely open another app, this will cause one’s image to be temporarily captured in the form of a ‘tab’. Had the camera been merely reflecting one’s image, this would not have been possible.

Based on the above, we conclude that it is not permissible to utilize the camera app as a mirror. The same ruling will apply to what is known as the “mirror app” on some mobile phone platforms.

Checked and Approved By:

Mufti Muhammed Saeed Motara Saheb D.B.

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