Would the muslims today allow a Tradition Zulu Warrior Dance in a mosque?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by

Assalamualykum Mufti sb Pls comment on the following:

Would the Muslims today allow a Tradition Zulu Warrior Dance in a Mosque like how the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) allowed the Ethiopians to dance with their spears in the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina?

“The story of the “sons of Arfida”—a familiar Arabian linguistic reference to Ethiopians—provides a telling illustration of the place of culture (here, of course, Black African culture) within the Prophetic dispensation. 

In celebration of an annual Islamic religious festival, a group of Black African converts began to beat leather drums and dance with spears in the Prophet’s mosque. Umar ibn al-Khathab—one of the chief Companions—felt compelled to interfere and stop them, but the Prophet intervened on their behalf, directing Umar to leave them alone and noting to him that they were “the sons of Arfida,” that is, not his people. 

The Prophet invited his wife A’isha to watch the dance, took her into the crowd, and lifted her over his back, so that she could watch them clearly as she eagerly leaned forward, her cheek pressing against his. The Prophet made it a point to dispel the Ethiopians’ misgivings about Umar’s intrusion and encouraged them to dance well and, in one account of this authentic story, reassured them to keep up their drumming and dancing, saying: “Play your games, sons of Arfida, so the Jews and Christians know there is latitude in our religion.”

The Prophet’s intervention to stop Umar made it clear that the Ethiopians were not to be judged by Umar’s indigenous Arabian standards or made to conform to them. The “sons of Arfida” had their own distinctive cultural tastes and conventional usages. *The fact that they had embraced Islam did not mean they were also required to commit cultural apostasy or become subservient to Arab customs.*

The Prophet allowed Muslim Arabs agency in their social expression and extended a similar right to non-Arabs. By his affirmation of the “sons of Arfida,” he established an overriding sunna and abiding legal precedent for respecting different ethnic and cultural traditions and acknowledging the emotional needs, tastes, and cultural inclinations of all who embraced his teaching.”

The story is related in Bukhari and Muslim, Islam’s most authoritative sources of the Prophetic Tradition; the concluding references is taken from Musnad al-HumaydÏ.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.   

Hereunder is the hadith from the Musnad of al-Humaydi:    

عن عائشة قالت: كان حبش يلعبون بحراب لهم فكنت أنظر من بين أذني رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وعاتقه حتى كنت أنا التي صددت، زاد يعقوب بن زيد في حديثه فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: ” ما منهم أحد إلا الشيطان آخذ بثوبه، يقول: انظر ” فلما جاء عمر تفرقت الشياطين قالت: وقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم «العبوا يا بني أرفدة تعلم اليهود والنصارى أن في ديننا فسحة» قالت عائشة: فلم أحفظ من قولهم غير هذه الكلمة أبو القاسم طيب أبو القاسم طيب


On the authority of Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) who said: “There were some Habshis playing with their spears. I was watching from the shoulder of the Messenger of Allah (Allah honor him and grant him peace) until I turned away.”

Ya’qub bin Zaid adds in his report: The Messenger of Allah (Allah honor him and grant him peace) said: ‘There is none amongst them except that a devil is holding on to his garment saying, “Look!”.’ As soon as Umar (Allah be pleased with him) arrived, the devils dispersed.

Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) related that the Messenger of Allah (Allah honor him and grant him peace) said: ‘Play! Oh children of Arfida. The Jews and Christians will realize the flexibility in our din.’

Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) said: “The only statement I recall of theirs is ‘Abul Qasim is gracious. Abul Qasim is gracious’.”(Musnad al-Humaydi 1/285)[1]

This incident has been transmitted through many chains of transmission in numerous books of Hadith with slight variations.  

The illustrious scholar, Imam Muhamad Abid al-Sindi, states: ‘There is no mention of drums in any version of this hadith.’[2]

Were the Habshis dancing?

Here are some of the statements of our scholars regarding the l’ab (play) of the Habshis.

Hafiz Ibn Hajr (Allah have mercy on him) states:

‘The l’ab with the spears was not mere play, but rather it was training the valiant about the positions of warfare and (also) preparation for the enemy.’ He quotes Muhallab (Allah have mercy on him) saying: ‘The masjid is erected for the safety of the Muslims. Those acts which benefit the din and its people are permissible in the masjid.’[3]

He then quotes Zain ibn al-Munayyar (Allah have mercy on him) saying:

‘The narrator has called this act (of theirs) l’ab (play) even though it is actually training for warfare-and war is a serious matter-because of its resemblance to play. The warrior moves forward as if to strike but doesn’t.’[4]

Imam Nawawi (Allah have mercy on him) comments:

‘In this hadith is the permissibility of playing with weapons and tools of war in the masjid. And those means which assist in jihad and good deeds follow the same ruling.’[5]


Imam Nawawi (Allah have mercy on him) writes regarding the appearance of the word zafn (dancing) in some versions of this incident:

‘The scholars have interpreted zafn as jumping with spears and playing with weapons in a manner which resembles a dancer. Most of the versions have only l’ab with their spears. Hence, this word (zafn) will be interpreted to conform to the rest of the narrations.’[6]

Why did Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, rebuke them?

Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, tried to deter them believing such activities violate the sanctity of the masjid.[7]  


It is clear from the statements of the illustrious scholars of Hadith, the hadith in question does not refer to dancing. The l’ab of the Habshis was not an act of amusement which drew spectators in the manner that is common today. The question of permitting a Zulu dance in the masjid has no support from the Hadith.[8]  


Islam allows one to engage in their cultural peculiarities as long as these peculiarities stay within the parameters of Sharia.    

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Tahmid Chowdhury

Student Darul Iftaa

New York, USA

Checked and Approved by,

Mufti Ebrahim Desai.



مسند الحميدي ١/٢٨٥

حدثنا الحميدي قال: ثنا سفيان قال: ثنا هشام بن عروة، عن أبيه عن عائشة قال: حدثنا يعقوب بن زيد التيمي [ص:286]، عن عائشة قالت: كان حبش يلعبون بحراب لهم فكنت أنظر من بين أذني رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وعاتقه حتى كنت أنا التي صددت، زاد يعقوب بن زيد في حديثه فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: ” ما منهم أحد إلا الشيطان آخذ بثوبه، يقول: انظر ” فلما جاء عمر تفرقت الشياطين قالت: وقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم «العبوا يا بني أرفدة تعلم اليهود والنصارى أن في ديننا فسحة» قالت عائشة: فلم أحفظ من قولهم غير هذه الكلمة أبو القاسم طيب أبو القاسم طيب


فتح الباري لابن حجر (1/ 549)

واللعب بالحراب ليس لعبا مجردا بل فيه تدريب الشجعان على مواقع الحروب والاستعداد للعدو وقال المهلب المسجد موضوع لأمر جماعة المسلمين فما كان من الأعمال يجمع منفعة الدين وأهله جاز فيه


شرح النووي على مسلم (6/ 184)

فيه جواز اللعب بالسلاح ونحوه من آلات الحرب في المسجد ويلتحق به ما في معناه من الأسباب المعينة على الجهاد وأنواع البر

كف الرعاع عن محرمات اللهو والسماع (ص: 56)

والجواب: أنَّ هذا الحديث لا يتناوَل محلَّ النزاع؛ فإنَّ ذلك لم يكن من الحبشة رقصًا على غِناء، ولا ضربًا بالأقدام، ولا إشارة بأكمام، بل كان لعبًا بالسلاح، وتأهُّبًا للكفاح؛ تدريبًا على استعمال السلاح فِي الحرب، وتمرينًا على الكرِّ والفرِّ والطَّعن والضَّرب، وإذا كان هذا هو الشَّأن فأين أفعال المخانيث والمخنَّثين من أفعال الأبطال والشُّجعان؟!


شرح النووي على مسلم (6/ 186)

ومعناه يرقصون وحمله العلماء على التوثب بسلاحهم ولعبهم بحرابهم على قريب من هيئة الراقص لأن معظم الروايات إنما فيها لعبهم بحرابهم فيتأول هذه اللفظة على موافقة سائر الروايات


فتح الملهم ٤/٣٨٥



كف الرعاع عن محرمات اللهو والسماع (ص: 52)

وأنَّ الرَّقص إنْ كان فيه تكسُّر كفعل المخنث كان حرامًا، وإنْ خلا عن ذلك كان مكروهًا


كف الرعاع عن محرمات اللهو والسماع (ص: 53)

(تَنْبِيه) ما تقرَّر فِي الرقص من أنَّه إنْ كان فيه تثنٍّ أو تكسُّر حرم على الرجال والنساء، وإن انتفى كلٌّ منهما عنه كره، قال الرَّافِعيُّ: لأنَّه مجرَّد حركات على استقامة هو المعتمد فِي مذهبنا، وقيل: يكره مع التكسُّر أو التثنِّي ولا يحرم، وقيل: يُباح مع عدمها ولا يكره، وقال بعض أصحابنا: إنْ أكثر منه حرم وإلاَّ فلا، وأشار القاضي حسين فِي تعليقه والغزالي فِي “إحيائه” إلى أنَّ محلَّ الخلاف فيمَن فعَلَه باختياره بخلاف مَن كان من أهل الأحوال، فحصل له وجدٌ اضطرَّه إليه، فإنَّ هذا لا حُرمة ولا كَراهة عليه اتِّفاقًا.


قواعد الأحكام في مصالح الأنام (2/ 220)

وَأَمَّا الرَّقْصُ وَالتَّصْفِيقُ فَخِفَّةٌ وَرُعُونَةٌ مُشْبِهَةٌ لِرُعُونَةِ الْإِنَاثِ لَا يَفْعَلُهَا إلَّا رَاعِنٌ أَوْ مُتَصَنِّعٌ كَذَّابٌ وَكَيْفَ يَتَأَتَّى الرَّقْصُ الْمُتَّزِنُ بِأَوْزَانِ الْغِنَاءِ مِمَّنْ طَاشَ لُبُّهُ وَذَهَبَ قَلْبُهُ، وَقَدْ قَالَ – عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ -: «خَيْرُ الْقُرُونِ قَرْنِي ثُمَّ الَّذِينَ يَلُونَهُمْ ثُمَّ الَّذِينَ يَلُونَهُمْ» ، وَلَمْ يَكُنْ أَحَدٌ مِنْ هَؤُلَاءِ الَّذِينَ يُقْتَدَى بِهِمْ يَفْعَلُ شَيْئًا مِنْ ذَلِكَ.

وَإِنَّمَا اسْتَحْوَذَ الشَّيْطَانُ عَلَى قَوْمٍ يَظُنُّونَ أَنَّ طَرَبَهُمْ عِنْدَ السَّمَاعِ إنَّمَا هُوَ مُتَعَلِّقٌ بِاَللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَلَقَدْ مَانُوا فِيمَا قَالُوا وَكَذَبُوا فِيمَا ادَّعَوْا إلخ


تفسير القرطبي (10/ 263)

اسْتَدَلَّ الْعُلَمَاءُ بِهَذِهِ الْآيَةِ عَلَى ذَمِّ الرَّقْصِ وَتَعَاطِيهِ. قَالَ الْإِمَامُ أَبُو الْوَفَاءِ ابْنُ عَقِيلٍ: قَدْ نَصَّ الْقُرْآنُ عَلَى النَّهْيِ عَنِ الرَّقْصِ فَقَالَ:” وَلا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحاً” وَذَمَّ الْمُخْتَالَ. والرقص أشد المرح والبطر


تفسير القرطبي (10/ 366)

وقال الامام أبو بكر الطرسوسي وسيل عَنْ مَذْهَبِ الصُّوفِيَّةِ فَقَالَ: وَأَمَّا الرَّقْصُ وَالتَّوَاجُدُ فَأَوَّلُ مَنْ أَحْدَثَهُ أَصْحَابُ السَّامِرِيِّ، لَمَّا اتَّخَذَ لَهُمْ عِجْلًا جَسَدًا لَهُ خُوَارٌ قَامُوا يَرْقُصُونَ حَوَالَيْهِ وَيَتَوَاجَدُونَ، فَهُوَ دِينُ الْكُفَّارِ وَعُبَّادِ الْعِجْلِ

This answer was collected from, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.

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