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Going to the cinema

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by DarulUloomTT.org
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Q. I would like to know why is it not permissible for us to go to the cinema?


A. A cinema is a place which has been built for the sole purpose of showing movies. It is a place which is filled with a great amount of sins, and one which is far away from Godliness, piety or righteousness. Many of those who frequent the cinemas are those who are void of good morals and decency, and are open violators of the requirements of religious teachings. You will find that approximately 99% of women cinema-goers do not dress modestly. Instead, most of their bodies remain unclothed and their physique, visible. It is a place where youths and others go to have a ‘good-time’ with the free uncontrolled intermingling of the sexes. The lewd and licentious behaviour of many cinema goers have no limits. Promiscuity, caressing and indecent conduct between the sexes have found its safe haven in the cinema.

Many of those who frequent the cinemas are they whose conduct and character is far from the dictates of religious teachings. Here, you will find smokers, drinkers, boyfriends and girlfriends. There is no control over the attendants, neither is there any control over their behaviour. The indecent and immoral conduct of males and females have no limit and boundary. Open sins and transgression rew at their peak in cinemas. With this amount of sins, the cinema becomes an inviter to the wrath and anger of Allah. At any time, Allah’s punishment can come upon the occupants of the cinema, due to the great amount of sins which are committed in these places.

Remember, sins do not attract Allah’s mercy, they invite His punishment. These acts of transgression are not new to the cinema. In fact, a cinema has been built to accommodate sins, lewdness, transgression and ungodliness.

In an authentic tradition, the Prophet (SA) informed us that the most beloved places to Allah on the face of the earth are the masajid (mosque), and the most hated places to Allah are the market places. The reason that the market places are most hated to Allah is due to the fact that many sins are committed in these places. If you go to the market, you will realize that it is a place where no one remembers Allah (or God). No one is concerned about praying or about religion. People are found cursing and using obscene language. They cheat, rob and lie to others. Their dress and speech are indecent, and there is full-fledged mixing and mingling of men and women without any regard for modesty, shame or shyness. These and many others, are reasons why the market places are the most hated to Allah. Based on this hadith, one can simply compare the sins that are found at the market places and those that are found in the cinemas. The result will be that those found at cinemas are much more, and worst than those found at the market places. It therefore means, that in light of this hadith, ‘cinemas are more hated and worst-of in the sight of Allah than the market places,. When this is the case, the question arises as to why would a Muslim (believer) want to visit a place which is most hated to Allah when there is absolutely no need and requirement to do so?

Further to this, we see that cinemas have been built primarily and solely for the purpose of showing movies. If we investigate movies, we will find that they are very destructive and harmful in nature. If there happens to be anything that may be deemed to be educational or ‘safe’, these are extremely minimal, and the unlawful (haram) acts and scenes shown on cinemas far outweigh whatever little seemingly benefit that may be there.

Films and movies are filled with lewdness, nudity, love affairs and love scenes. Indulgence in sexual activity and the displaying of one,s body are heavily associated with those movies. Music, cabaret dances and scenes, depicting fornication and adultery are also dominant in today’s movies. Drinking, gambling, theft, robbery, cheating, murders and violence are the norms of the day in movies.

All of these have a negative impact on those who view these movies and visit the cinema. Whether the cinema goers are parents or children, youths or adults, married or unmarried, all are negatively affected by the evils/sins that are to be found in the cinema environment. When a cinema has been built to host what we have mentioned above, how can this be a good place to visit?

Everything that you see or meet in the cinema does not remind you of Allah, Islam, your Prophet, the Holy Quran and your prayer. Instead, those who go to the cinema intentionally miss their Salah on account of these sinful deeds.

They violate the commands of Allah for the sake of fulfilling their base desires of going to the cinema. What benefit is there for one who goes to the cinema? Is it relaxation and pleasure? If this be the case, then Allah Has already informed us in the Holy Quran that ‘Certainly in the remembrance (dhikr) of Allah do hearts find peace, tranquility and relaxation’.

Going to the cinema is a waste of time and money and one gets nothing in return, except (probably) a temporary feeling of ‘so-called’ joy, which does not bring goodness to the mind, body and soul.
The movies that are shown have a direct effect on the character of the viewers. They spoil the youth, and encourage them to be inclined to that which is portrayed on the cinema screens.

You will find that many cinema-goers including Muslims, soon develop a liking for movie stars and characters, who then become their heroes and heroines. They ‘go-off’ on them, they keep their pictures, buy their books and movies, and even develop their traits and habits, likes and dislikes. You hear Muslim girls bragging about male stars, saying ‘how good he looks’ and ‘he is handsome and macho’. Muslim boys also brag about star girls and make them their topic of discussions.

Today, thoughout the world, religious, moral and social values have been drastically undermined on account of movies. A poll released on February 1995 in the U.S by ‘Children Now’, whose directors include T.V producers and Warner Bros. Chairman, reported that most children believe that what they see in movies encourages fornication, disrespect for parents, telling lies, and aggressive behaviour. As mentioned before, adults are similarly influenced by movies, which, at times, create a change in their conduct and behaviour. Everyone is affected in his own way, the results of which are no good.

So, what we have seen so far is that a cinema has been built solely for showing movies. There is no other purpose for the cinema. As for the movies, we have seen how destructive, immoral and indecent they generally are. With respect to those who visit the cinemas, they are the ones who find value and significance in the movies that are shown. They love them, they appreciate them and they will spend their hard owned money to look at them. We have also seen the sinful and bad environment of the cinema. It is a place of no rules, guidelines and restrictions with respect to dress and conduct. All that take place in the cinema are totally displeasing to Allah. They are all in violation of the blessed teachings of the Holy Quran, and are in total opposition to the Sunnah of the Prophet (SA). When one goes to cinema to look at movies, one listens to the musical instruments, songs and other similar sounds which are totally haram in Islam. In a like manner, one has no choice except to look at the awrah (concealable parts) of a man and woman which is totally haram to do. In this way, one uses the great bounties of Allah in the form of ‘sight’ and ‘hearing’ to do haram acts, which is indeed a great form of ingratitude to Allah.

In this regard, the great scholars have written, ‘Using the limbs and parts of the body for things other than that which Allah Has created them for, is denial of the favors/ bounties of Allah. It is therefore essential that one must refrain from listening to any haram (unlawful) thing (or looking at any haram thing). (Raddul Mukhtar).

With all of these, how can going to cinema be permissible in Islam? It is definitely not permissible in Islam. And this is the fatawa of all the sound, reliable and relied upon scholars of the past and present.

There are many Quranic verses and traditions which show that cinema going is totally haram, and the fatawas of the great Muftis stating that cinema going is haram are recorded in their respective books, some of which are:- In Kitabul Fatawa, Allama Qazi Khalid Saifullah writes that ‘listening to songs and looking at movies are totally haram’ (Kitabul Fatawa vol. 6 pg.161).

The great Mufti and jurist, Shaikh Mufti Ashraf Ali (AR) wrote in his fatawa that ‘going to cinema is not permissible’. He also writes that ‘to seek pleasure in something that is haram is totally impermissible’. (Imdadul Fatawa vol.4 pg.257).

Similarly, the late grand Mufti of Pakistan, Mufti Muhammad Shafi (AR), when asked about going to cinema, he wrote, ‘Cinemas are filled with many sins and acts that are in total opposition to the teachings of the shariah and hence, it is not permissible to go. Those who are actively involved in cinemas, as well as those who help and support them, are all sinful’. (Imdadul Muftiyeen vol.2 pg.1005).

The reputed scholars and muftis of Saudi Arabia have also condemned such evils and sinful acts present in movies and films (Fatawa Islamiya vol.8).

There are many other similar Fatawas that have been given by the great scholars which all show that movie, cinema-going and the likes are not permissible in Islam.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan

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