The proper means of entertainment has been a subject of debate among scholars. It is a delicate matter that needs an extensive research and scrutiny. The following are a series of questions that people have directed to His Eminence, the late Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra):
Q: What is the ruling on reading love and romance stories, knowing that some scholars prohibit them because they agitate the reader’s sexual desire? However, I read them only for amusement or when I feel exhausted due to the stress of studying, but not for excitement?
A: It is not prohibited to read love and romance stories if they do not agitate your sexual desire, but you have to be careful not to be affected by their negative impacts due to their atmosphere which is in contrast with the proper religious upbringing.
Q: Is it prohibited to listen to the songs that celebrate certain occasions such as: Eids, weddings, patriotic occasions?
A: It is permissible to listen to them in case they do not contain prohibited meanings.
Q: Is it permissible to listen to songs such as love songs in weddings? Is it permissible for women to dance in such parties, knowing that they are exclusively for women?
A: Yes, this is permissible in the weddings that are attended by women only. It is also permissible for them to dance but not in a dissolute way.
Q: Is it permissible for me to play a musical instrument in front of a group of audience?
A: It is permissible to do so if the music does not arouse the instincts.
Q: It is known that lottery is prohibited, whereas I heard that this does not mean that it is prohibited to take the money that one gains from participating in competitions, is that
A: Lottery and competitions are considered permissible. Besides, the gained money is also deemed lawful.
Q: Why do you deem it permissible to play cards, although cards are gambling tools?
A: It was proved that gambling is prohibited, but, there is no evidence to prove that playing with the gambling tools without betting is prohibited.
Q: Is it permissible to play chess?
A: It is permissible to play chess just for fun without betting, and it is an recommended precaution not to play it.
Q: What is the ruling on reading the signs of a cup of coffee and soothsaying? Is this practice deemed lawful or prohibited?
A: That is deemed prohibited if it is intended to unveil the unseen.
Q: Some people believe in Katiba (a kind of black magic) and the like… What is your opinion regarding these issues? I do not believe in such things although it might be sometimes practiced by using the Holy Quran?
A: All what is related to magic, fortune-telling and medical treatment that are not based on science or reality, is considered Batil (falsehood) and we do not believe in it. Besides, the Holy Quran is a book for guidance and it is prohibited to use it in such matters except what has been said in certain authentic traditions about the use of some verses as a kind of protection.
Q: My son wants to know if it is permissible to watch or practice magic tricks, if the answer is no, please write the reasons so that I could explain it to him?
A: This is permissible if it is a kind of magic tricks, but, the magic that deceives people and makes them believe that it is a true magic and overwhelms their minds or the ones that are made to hurt others, are deemed prohibited.
Q: What is the difference between astrology and astronomy or what is called Chinese horoscope that we read about in the daily newspapers and magazines? Would you please explain what is meant by this verse: (The astrologers lie even when they say the truth)?
A: The stars and their movement is a universal issue, but, it is not true that the unseen could be discovered through them, since, only Allah knows the unseen. The aforementioned phrase is not a verse, it is a Hadith indicating that it is prohibited to believe the astrologers because they cannot be right about the reality and they do not have the knowledge that they pretend to have, although what they say may happen by chance.