Folk shows

Q: We, along with some of our friends, who belong to the people of our town discussed the matter of Al-`Ardah (a sort of a poetic show) which is practiced in the villages of Ghamid and Zahran. Some people regarded it as Mubah (permissible), some considered it Makruh (disliked), and others were of the opinion that Al-`Ardah is Haram (prohibited). Evidence for those who regarded Al-`Ardah as Mubah is that the Al-Ahbash had their specific games and when `Umar ibn Al-Khattab objected to this, the Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded him, i.e. `Umar, to let them play. The Prophet said that doing so would let the Jews and the Christians know that Islam is a Din (religion) that permits good forms of recreation. The advocates of Al-`Ardah proceeded that the latter is a sign of manhood and courage. They continued, Al-`Ardah is an ancient habit that the government ratifies. On the other hand, those who were of the view that Al-`Ardah is Makruh justified this by mentioning that Al-`Ardah involves wasting money and time. However, they considered Al-`Ardah permissible if it does not lead people to neglect any Faridah (obligatory act) of their Din. In addition, the advocates of the view that Al-`Ardah is Haram (prohibited) supported their opinion by the following:Firstly: The `Ardah involves playing on Zir (musical instrument) which is the work of Satan.Secondly: All the poets of the region follow the modern artistic ways, (Part No. 26; Page No. 254) so they honor inferior people and degrade honorable ones only to gain money.Thirdly: Al-`Ardah involves squandering, for mostly five thousand riyals or more is the fee that is given to every poet. It is noteworthy that the player of the Zir, along with his band, get a similar fee, i.e. at least ten thousand riyals are spent on Al-`Ardah in one night. This sum increases according to the importance of the occasion.Fourthly: Most of the people who hold Al-`Ardah or are involved in it are conceited, arrogant, and show-offs. Moreover, people started to film Al-`Ardah and then display it in their homes. The matter thus worsened and Al-`Ardah started to be accompanied by dancing.Fifthly: Women mostly watch Al-`Ardah, while being on the roofs of their houses. They are thus filmed inside their houses and this involves great evils.Sixthly: When Al-`Ardah is held at night, which is mostly the case, it continues until later than midnight and thus most of those who join it miss the congregational Fajr (Dawn) Prayer because of their being tired and exhausted.Seventhly: Once it is played on Zir, all surrounding places become busy with cars and individuals and groups start to gather. Some very old men come to watch Al-`Ardah. Some come leaning on their walking sticks and may (Part No. 26; Page No. 255) participate in Al-`Ardah because of being overtaken by the situation.By that means I have explained to you the state of Al-`Ardah and the views of different people on it hoping that your Eminence could provide us with your detailed answer. We will strictly apply your Fatwa In sha’a-Allah (if Allah wills) for we have great confidence that your Fatwas depend on sound knowledge of Qur'an and Sunnah (whatever is reported from the Prophet, peace be upon him) - and is more deserving to be followed. May Allah's Peace, Mercy, and Blessings be upon you!

A: If the reality of Al-`Ardah is exactly as what is mentioned in the question regarding the use of musical instruments, that poets who are involved in it honor basic people and degrade honorable ones only to gain money, that Al-`Ardah involves wasting money, dancing, arrogance, filming those who participate in it and those who watch it so that such a film can be displayed in different ways and places, that women watch Al-`Ardah and all the impermissible acts that it involves while being on the roofs of their houses, and that Al-`Ardah continues until midnight so that all or some of those who joined it miss Fajr Prayer; Al-`Ardah will be Haram because of all the foregoing Munkars (things which are unacceptable or disapproved of by Islamic law and Muslims of sound intellect) it involves. Even only some of these Munkars are sufficient to consider Al-`Ardah Haram. Al-`Ardah of such a description does not have any signs of manhood, courage, or generosity. On the contrary, it involves insolence, lying, enraging those who have been defamed, tempting those who have been excessively praised, squandering and wasting money on useless matters, wasting time, spreading corruption (Part No. 26; Page No. 256) on earth, following habits of Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic time of ignorance) and blindly copying fathers and ancestors, conforming to whims and personal desires, and preferring all the foregoing over the Shari`ah (Islamic law) with all the good morals that it encourages.On the other hand, what the Ethiopians did was a parade that involved training to undertake the acts of war and to use its weapons. The Ethiopians did so on a day of `Eid (Festival) without delaying the performance of any Faridah. Such a parade is regarded as a sign of manhood and heroism.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.