Leisure and Entertainment (malāhī) in Contemporary Islamic Legal Thought: Music and the Audio-Visual Media

In: Islamic Law and Society

Abstract

The status of leisure and entertainment (hereafter: malāhī) is an age-old issue that emerged during the very early stages of Islam and is still being debated today. Generations of Muslim scholars and jurists have attempted to identify and delineate the permissible and the forbidden in this regard to accommodate the socio-cultural contexts of their respective societies. This article examines contemporary Islamic discourse on entertainment, particularly music and audio-visual media, e.g., television, Internet, cinema and theater. How do contemporary Muslim scholars define and relate to malāhī? What is the nature and characteristics of legitimate entertainment and leisuretime activities from the Islamic religio-legal perspective? I suggest that modern-day Muslim scholars, like their predecessors, never came to an agreement on the nature and scope of malāhī. These scholars merely acknowledge that different ethico-legal boundaries are applied to malāhī in contemporary Muslim societies.

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