Q1: What is the definition of prohibited entertainment according to the Sharia?
A: Prohibited entertainment is all that is based on pleasure by leaving the state of solemnity and present reality to something trifling, based on directing attention to the soul, awakening its instincts and shaking its sentiments with musical rhythms in order to satisfy its desire for more excitement, grief, passion or anything else according to different pursuits.
Q2: What is the principle in recognizing the games of gambling? In other words, what does the Sharia mean by “gambling”? When it is said that playing with instruments prepared for gambling is prohibited, how can an instrument be distinguished as made for this purpose or not? Is it permissible to play with it?
A: The gambling game is one based on competition, and the goal behind it is to win money by winning and defeating. When there is doubt about a game being classified as gambling, it can be played, except what has been explicitly declared as being prohibited, such as chess and backgammon so they are prohibited regardless.
Q3: Is it permissible to play with the dice in a game?
A: Yes, it is permissible if the game is not a gambling game.
Q4: Is the domino game prohibited? What is the ruling relevant to playing it for fun rather than for gambling?
A: Domino is a gambling game, and playing it is prohibited with or without betting.
Q5: What is the ruling of playing at Arcade game centers, where children and youths attend to pass their time and play computer games, including chess, in exchange for payment?
A: The said games are permissible. Playing a gambling game is prohibited, based on obligatory precaution, as is the case with chess. Also, it is prohibited to form a legitimate transaction with a child without getting the permission of his guardian.
Q6: Nowadays, televised drama series are shown throughout the world, which propagate the culture of non-Muslims which conflicts to that of Islam. They portray marital infidelity as something quite normal as a result of which the Muslim youth does not object to it; instead, he sympathizes with the married woman who cheats her husband. Since these series aim at corrupting society, what is the ruling regarding watching them?
A: After the Muslims have been invaded in their own homes with materialistic culture in general and with these programs in particular, which have dragged other societies towards disintegration and abandonment of human values and lofty principles, they are now targeting us with the same. Since those in authority did not restrict these things and did not think about protection from them, Muslims, individuals and groups, must deal with their problems by themselves and keep danger away from themselves by going back to the teachings of their religion, to their deeply rooted lofty principles. We feel obliged to say the following in this regard:
Firstly, every individual is prohibited from watching these devilish series and its likes in two situations:
(i) If he fears for his religion and principles, bearing in mind the fact that the effect of these things on the viewer is not immediate, taking place by just watching, so the individual can find out himself whether his religion and ethics are being harmed or not. Rather, the effect is gradual and does not surface except when it is too late, when the viewer is enticed to watching the events of the drama in such a way it controls his feelings, resulting in the loss of his religion and morality so he does not become aware of its harm in order to think about stop watching them. Even after he becomes aware of this, he may not be able to stop, as is the case with many dominant bad habits.
(ii) If his viewing of them becomes a reason for encouraging others who are weak before them and dazzled by them. Prohibiting what is wrong is one of the greatest obligations; likewise, encouraging what is wrong is one of the greatest prohibitions. This is a great responsibility which a Muslim has no right to overlook. Whenever his status in the society becomes greater, so does his responsibility in this regard.
Secondly, the head of the family, due to his responsibility, has to look after his family's condition. If the family members are not on the same level of responsibility – due to their young age, lack of experience and weakness of the religious and ethical impulse within them, and due to their weakness before temptations and publicity enshrouding these matters – the head of the family is the one who bears the greatest responsibility in guiding them, directing them, guarding them and being cautious about all of that. Allah Almighty says, "O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones, over which stern (and) strong angels are appointed, (angels) who do not flinch (from executing) the commands they receive from Allah but do (precisely) what they are commanded” (Qur'an, 66:6).
Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them) have said, "Each of you is like a shepherd and is responsible for his flock." Therefore, the head of the family must look with insightful eyes into the long term catastrophic outcomes and the danger awaiting his family members' religion, principles and behavior, the apples of his eyes that they are, the perpetuation of his existence. So, you see him compassionate towards them if a thorn harms them, or when they are in pain, yet he does not try to save them from Allah's wrath and the retribution which cannot be withstood by the heavens and the earth. And you see him pay attention to their dignity in the life of this world and among people, yet he does not care about their behavior and principles which complete their humanity and complement their personality and lifts their status and honor.
So, let heads of families look at how disintegration in their families finds its way to the society as a whole when the society turns into a disintegrated and bestial one. We should derive ample moral lessons from some contemporary Western societies that have lost their cohesion as a result of deserting their values and principles.
Thirdly, the sect of the followers of the Infallible Imams (peace be upon them), may Allah increase its loftiness and dignity, has a strong propagation and guiding power which the other groups lack. This is due to their continuous religious occasions all year round, and due to the blessing of the teachings of its pure and purified Imams (peace be upon them). These teachings have urged the believers to get together to commemorate the Ahl al-Bayt, the occasions when orators and educators direct their criticism towards the culture of looseness in general and to these television drama series in particular. This could be done in the following ways:
(i) by causing repulsion from them by explaining what the Sharia’s rulings are in respect to them and the harms they inflict on the individual and the society.
(ii) by belittling them, explaining how shallow they are and how shallow their sources are, that they represent a trivial lewd culture. Due to the strength and terseness of argument, these orators and educators are able to show these immoralities are so repulsive that only trivial individuals pay attention to them. Such psychological warfare is more effective on people than explaining to them how the Sharia prohibits them. By this, the value of these programs and their impact and control are weakened.
We still remember what some newspapers published on the occasion of the first campaign against Hijab in France. Some “educated” Frenchmen provided their argument against Hijab in order to ban it, saying that such a ban would be a victory for the dignity of the French, because through their Hijab the Muslims practically declare that the French society is morally loose, lewd and contemptible.
From the above, the importance of the psychological element becomes obvious in dropping the values of the loose Western culture versus the firmness of the honorable ethical values: The West portrayed the abandonment of Hijab as being the highest principle of sophistication, progress and civilization, whereas Hijab is the outcome of ignorance, lagging behind and backwardness. Yet, they fear Hijab and see in it a challenge to their dignity and a declaration of its fall and disintegration.
Orators and preachers have to pay attention to this aspect. We plead to the most Praised One to grant the believers success as they attempt to safeguard their religion and principles and to feel proud of them; surely my success comes from Allah; upon Him do I rely, and to Him is my ultimate return; surely there is neither will nor power save in Allah, the High, the Great.
Q7: What is the ruling regarding watching television series in which Muslim or non-Muslim women are shown uncovering their hair and parts of their bodies, in addition to the immoral context of some of them?
A: Looking at them while deriving sexual pleasure is unlawful. The same applies if a person watching these programs encourages others to commit sins and becomes a cause for propagating it and making it a usual norm.
Q8: Does the concept of singing revert to conventional understanding?
A: Singing is a sound which includes changes in the tone of the voice and vowel elongation in particular way that can potentially cause physical movement of the body in harmony with it with the intention of gaining pleasure in a way that the people of sin and pleasure are accustomed to. We do not mean by this that such sound is used currently by those people, such that it becomes permissible to listen to singing which those people abandoned; rather, it is anything based on deriving pleasure by leaving the state of seriousness and current reality towards something trifling, based on directing attention to the soul, awakening its instincts and shaking its sentiments with rhythms in order to satisfy its desire for more excitement, grief, passion, pride, love or anything else according to different pursuits.
Q9: We see how some of those who recite religious commemorations or birth anniversaries imitate songs' melodies while changing their wordings. How can one determine whether these are prohibited or not?
A: From what has already been mentioned, it appears that it is legitimate to imitate songs' melodies in the gatherings of mourning Imam Hussein (peace be upon to him). This is so because they intend neither to entertain nor to gain pleasure; rather, the intention behind them is to draw tears due to the grief over the usurpation and injustice against him (peace be upon him) and to manifest the tragedy, and the like, which the Sharia permits.
Q10: Is it permissible to listen to singing which causes sadness and reminds us of our homeland and our people and it sometimes causes us to weep?
A: It is not permissible.
Q11: We are a group of female graduates of Physical Education and are working in the field of training women. The nature of our work is to conduct physical fitness exercises for women. These exercises require performance according to the rhythms of Western musical tracks specifically written for performing swaying movements that look like dancing. Most often, interaction and harmony take place between the musical note and the trainer as well as trainee alike. We ask your eminence to explain the ruling in this regards.
A: Listening to the music in the indicated way is prohibited, and it is not legitimized when the nature of work depends on it.
Muslims are supposed to choose their line of work based on what the Sharia rules in its regard, and in the appropriate way, not in the way it is imposed by intrusive averse cultures. We plead to the most Praised and Exalted One that the Muslim graduates and all the faithful would be committed to their religion and proud of their culture which raised them to the level of responsibility and noble humanity; surely, He is the Master of the believers.
Q12: Is it permissible for women to dance with women?
A: Based on an obligatory precaution, one should abandon anything that results from a systemized rhythm similar to a musical one even if it is not accompanied by music. However, if it is not done in the said way, there is no harm in it, and it may not be even labeled as dancing.
Q13: Does this include clapping, too?
A: Clapping by itself is lawful unless it is similar to a musical beat; in which case, based on compulsory precaution, one should abandon it.
Q14: Is it permissible for the wife, in order to excite and please her husband, to dance and sing [for him]?
A: The criterion in the prohibition has been clarified in the aforementioned guidelines. Exciting and pleasing the husband in this way does not make lawful what has been prohibited.
Q15: Does the woman have the right during weddings to dance and sing in the way whereby people of sin are accustomed to?
A: She is allowed to sing if no non-Mahram man hears her voice and without a musical beat in the case of weddings in particular. With respect to dancing, the ruling relevant to it is as has already been mentioned.
Q16: Is it permissible for women during the wedding to listen to common audiotapes of male and female singers if they are accompanied by music?
A: No, it is not permissible.