What is the ruling of praying in a room that contains images of that which possesses a soul, such as images from newspapers and notebooks?
The prayer is valid if he is not completely distracted by the image to the point in which his heart and mind become absent from the prayer. In this case, his prayer becomes invalid.
If he fulfills the obligations and pillars of the prayer it is valid. However, it is not appropriate to pray in these places. If they are prayed in, (It can be said) The Companions entered some churches and perhaps some of them permitted the prayer to performed in them despite their decoration and imagery.
Having said that, it is better for the person not to pray in these places as the Prophet said ﷺ (after praying in a garment containing marks)
اذْهَبُوا بِخَمِيصَتِي هَذِهِ إِلَى أَبِي جَهْمٍ وَائْتُونِي بِأَنْبِجَانِيَّةِ أَبِي جَهْمٍ، فَإِنَّهَا أَلْهَتْنِي آنِفًا عَنْ صَلاَتِي
Take this garment of mine to Abou Jahm and bring me the blanket of Abou Jahm because it has certainly distracted me from my prayer just now.
[Narrated by Aisha in Al-Bukhari, hadith number 373 and Muslim, hadith number 556. This is the wording of Al-Bukhari]
Therefore it is better for the person not to pray in the vicinity of imagery so he is not distracted and caused to make errors in his prayer. However, if he does so fulfilling all of the requirements of the prayer then his prayer is valid although it is not befitting for him to pray in this place.
It is obligatory upon him to eradicate or remove these images as the Prophet ﷺ removed them from the Ka’bah upon entering it and prayed two units of prayer afterwards.
Answered by: Shaykh Abu Bilaal Al-Hadhramy – may Allah preserve him
Answered on: 21 Safr 1441(20th October 2019)
Translated by: Abu Sufian Saami ibn Daniel Al-Ghaani