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Minister rejects fatwa against watching Arab Idol

June 20, 2013 5:10 P.M. (Updated: June 25, 2013 10:51 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – The Palestinian minister of endowment and religious affairs Mahmoud al-Habash on Thursday rejected a legal pronouncement by the mufti of Nablus declaring the popular reality show Arab Idol a violation of Islamic law.

The mufti of Nablus urged Muslims, namely Palestinians, to avoid watching the show and voting for competitors because, according to him, that is all unacceptable under Islamic regulations.

Responding to that fatwa, the minister of religious affairs al-Habbash said that “singing is permissible in Islam when it ... does not encourage depravity. It is poetry, after all.”

The mufti of Nablus made his pronouncement amidst unprecedented support by the Palestinian public to the Palestinian Arab Idol finalist Muhammad Assaf, who is thought to have a strong shot at winning the title Saturday. He made his remarks on his Facebook account Thursday.

“Watching Arab Idol and supporting singers through voting is unlawful according to Islamic law. This distracts Muslim peoples from performing their religious duties,” he wrote.

Al-Habbash, the minister, rejected the remarks.

“I personally disagree with those who prohibit singing and those who urge the people to stop voting for Muhammad Assaf. Nobody is authorized to declare that unlawful except if they mention a good justification from the religion.”

Speaking to Ma’an, al-Habbash highlighted that Palestinian participation in any international activity or forum helps show the bright aspects of the Palestinian people. This includes singing, literature, poetry and other genres as long as they do not violate Sharia law.

He added: “Singing was present during Prophet Muhammad’s days.”

He also cited an episode when the Prophet Muhammad’s closest companion Abu Bakr saw two maids singing and ordered them to stop, but the prophet asked him to leave them alone.

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