A few thoughts on fiqh-ish guidelines for developing toys

Someone asked about some basic guidelines for toys. In addition to yesterday’s post which covers some of the fiqh related to toys in the form of animate creatures [link], here are a few other things to consider:

A toy needs to fit certain conditions to be permissible & valid to sell (e.g., pure and useful according to the Sacred Law).

A toy should not be developed if its intended purpose is to carry out or facilitate acts that are unlawful, or acts that are likely to lead to violating the objectives of the Sacred Law. One reason is that it is unlawful to perform or assist in performing what is unlawful.

There are also conditions for a particular individual’s pursuit of a lawful form of entertainment to remain lawful, such as not neglecting one’s obligatory responsibilities. A toy designer ought to ensure that their design helps ensure that usage will stay within these limits.

Rulings & considerations may apply to different classes of toys in different ways (e.g., physical toys, physical games, and digital games); and each class may have different rulings & considerations that apply to it.
Also, it is careless to claim that any product that meets safety standards is halal to use is careless. Here are some reasons:

  • Safety standards are secular: they do not take the akhirah into consideration, and they do not take the fiqh ruling of intended and potential uses into consideration.
  • Safe to use doesn’t always mean halal to use, especially for multi-use products.
  • Halal for minors doesn’t always mean halal for adults to buy, possess, and gift.

Concerning the last one: Muslim parents ought to ponder the potential future harms of playtime activities and stories that simulate or pivot around acts that are unlawful for Muslims to engage in and potentially detrimental to one’s iman.

Muslim parents who are totally fine with their kids pretending to be magicians, wizards, and witches need to reflect on why they see no problem in that but would if their little girl pretended to be a member of the oldest profession even though its sin is less than the first two.

If a Muslim boy wants to dress up as a pirate or gangster, have them dress up as Fudayl Ibn Iyad the brigand whose tawbah is an examplar & inspiration for us all. (May Allah have mercy upon him and bless us with such an earnest tawbah!)

Also, toys and playtime activities are a means for developing a lifelong habit of good behavior and character. Direct the fun towards what will benefit them in the dunya & the akhira, or just the akhirah, or just the dunya—in that order.

Direct children away from activities that are haram or makruh for responsible individuals to engage in and, as they near maturity, teach them how intention turns neutrally-permissible, rewarded-less activities into ones worthy of reward.

And Allah knows best.

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