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Last Updated: 2011/10/04
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Is there any hadith on prohibition of dancing? If there is any, please mention it.
Which hadith (tradition) denotes prohibition of dancing? If there is any hadith that indicates such prohibition, please provide reference.
Concise answer

Before answering the question, we wish to draw your attention to a necessary introduction. You should note that the existence of a tradition in a hadith book does not necessarily mean that we can use the tradition in our arguments or that it is a proof of something. It is only the jurisprudents and learned scholars who can use a hadith and deduce Islamic laws with reference to it. It is not possible for a layman to use a tradition or rely on it in juridical demonstrations because such an attempt needs certain pre-requisites and knowledge of other religious sciences. Only few, not all, scholars have that competence.

It is for the same reason that when we refer to jurisprudential books, we see that there is controversy among jurists about dancing. Some of them are of the opinion that all types of dancing are not ḥarām. That is to say, if dancing does not entail a ḥarām act, it is not ḥarām by itself. This is the opinion of late Ayatollah Abul Qasim al-Khoei (r.a.). In an answer to a question which asks whether or not it is permissible for women to dance and clap their hands at a wedding, he says: "There is no problem in dancing by itself insofar as it does not lead to ḥarām act like intermingling of women with men and such likes."[1]

His student, Ayatollah Tabrizi (r.a) also confirms the same opinion. Some of the grand jurists have said that dancing is ḥarām when it causes sexual excitement or entails a ḥarām act. In an answer to a similar question about dancing, Ayatollah Khamenei says: "If dancing entails sexual excitation or committing a ḥarām act like listening to ḥarām music, or it is in the presence of non-mahram men, it is not permissible."[2]

Some other scholars hold that all types of dancing are ḥarām.[3]

 As for the traditions pertaining to prohibition of dancing, there are two types of traditions that we can refer to:

1. Some of the traditions prohibit all kinds of vain acts and futile entertainments (lahw wa la'eb) in a general way. Dancing is also included in the category of futile entertainments. Imam Sadiq (a.s) is quoted as having said: "When Adam (a.s) died, Iblis and Qabil rejoiced (became very happy). Both gathered at a place and invented music instruments to celebrate. So whoever seeks pleasure on earth in such a manner, he has followed them."[4], [5]

There is a saying from the Commander of the Faithful, Ali (a.s.) who said: "He is not wise who engages himself in futile entertainments and seeks frivolity and joviality."[6]

2. Some other traditions explicitly forbid dancing. It has been narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s) that the Holy Prophet (s) said: "I forbid you from dancing, musical instruments, barbat (stringed instrument) and drum."[7]

It has also narrated from the Holy Prophet (s) that he forbade from drum, dancing and any kind of frivolous and licentious entertainments and from attending such gatherings and also listening to them….[8]

It should be noted that after discussing the validity and reliability of the traditions and their chains of transmission, each tradition requires its special technical and jurisprudential discussion that should be made in its appropriate place.[9]

[1] - Ayatollah Khoei, Serat al-Nijat, (with annotation by Ayatollah Tabrizi), vol.1, pg. 372.

[2] - Answers to Religious Questions (Ajwebat al-istiftaat) (arabic), vol.2, pg. 14.

[3] - Mahmoodi, Sayyid Mohsen, Current Legal Issues according to Religious Scholars and Grand Jurists, vol.1, pp. 203 – 204.

[4] - The Arabic version of the hadith is as such:

وَ عَنْهُمْ عَنْ سَهْلٍ عَنْ سُلَیْمَانَ بْنِ سَمَاعَةَ عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ الْقَاسِمِ عَنْ سَمَاعَةَ قَالَ قَالَ أَبُو عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع لَمَّا مَاتَ آدَمُ شَمِتَ بِهِ إِبْلِیسُ وَ قَابِیلُ فَاجْتَمَعَا فِی الْأَرْضِ فَجَعَلَ إِبْلِیسُ وَ قَابِیلُ الْمَعَازِفَ وَ الْمَلَاهِیَ شَمَاتَةً بِآدَمَ ع فَکُلُّ مَا کَانَ فِی الْأَرْضِ مِنْ هَذَا الضَّرْبِ الَّذِی یَتَلَذَّذُ بِهِ النَّاسُ فَإِنَّمَا هُوَ مِنْ ذَلِکَ.

Hurr Amili, Muhammad bin Hasan, Wasail al-Shi'ah, vol.17, pg. 314, chapter of Prohibition of Buying and Selling of Musical Instruments.

[5] - This tradition is not reliable because it has been reported through only one chain of transmission and there is the name of Abdullah bin Qasim Khazrami in it. He is known for false reports. Najashi says about him: "He is a liar and exaggerator who narrates from Ghalis; his traditions are not reliable. Also, Shaykh Tusi has said about him: "He is the follower of Waqifi religion." Mu'jam Rijal al-Hadith, vol.10, pg. 285.  

[6] - Noori, Mirza Hussein, Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol.13, pg. 220.

[7] - The Arabic version of the hadith is as such:

عَلِیُّ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِیمَ عَنْ أَبِیهِ عَنِ النَّوْفَلِیِّ عَنِ السَّکُونِیِّ عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ (ص): «أَنْهَاکُمْ عَنِ الزَّفْنِ وَ الْمِزْمَارِ وَ عَنِ الْکُوبَاتِ وَ الْکَبَرَاتِ»

Al-Kafi, vo.6, pg. 432, Chap. Al-Ghina, Wasail al-Shia, vol.17, pg. 313.

[8]  - Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol.13, pg. 218, Aalulbayt Institute, cited from Awali al-Le'ali, vol.1, pg. 262.

[9] - See: Ghayat al-Amaal fi Sharh Kitab al-Makasib, vol.1, pg. 124.

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