Shafaqna (International Shia News Agency) – The Grand Ayatollah Sistani answered some questions regarding entertainment. According to Shafaqna the questions and answers are as follows:
Question 1: What is the criterion of [chess] being haraam as a gambling tool? Is it the preparation with the intent of gambling or through use of urf (generally accepted practice, custom, or usage)? Also, is there any difference between an urf of a particular society and an international one?
Answer: The criterion is that it be set up for gambling and used for it, in such a manner that it is readily known as a gambling tool. It suffices to describe it accordingly in a particular society.
Question 2: Insofar as the melody is concerned, what is the standard of it being haraam? Is it because it is used in singing perpetrated by the people of moral depravity, indeed? also, is it sufficient to judge it by the circumstance and the occasion? Is there any difference between, for example, using music in Hussaini commemoration gatherings or processions, Islamic songs, and other occasions?
Answer: The crucial factor, too, is the occasion of such gatherings. However, its use in a commemoration or other occasion does not lift its being haraam mutlaqan (absolutely or under any circumstances), as a matter of ihtiyat.
Question 3: If the yardstick is the amusement or delectation, it is a grey area, for tastes and opinions vary and differ. So, when can one draw the line between halal and haraam music?
Answer: The crucial line is in it [music] being commensurate with the gatherings of entertainment and moral depravity.
Question 4: Some schools in Western countries compel pupils to learn dancing. Such dancing is not accompanied by singing and it is not for pastime, rather a component of the curriculum. Is it haraam for the parents to permit their children to attend such classes?
Answer: Yes, if it contravenes religious upbringing, rather in general, as a matter of ihtiyat. That is, with the assumption that the student be adult. The exception to this is that the mukallaf has a valid reason permitting his learning, such as following in taqleed (The following, by a lay person, of a learned scholar “mujtahid” in matters of religious practice). Such a mujtahid may have ruled on the permissibility of this act; there will, therefore, be no objection to him attending such a study.
Question 5: An artificial female organ when used by some men, they derive some enjoyment from it. If it is used without the intent of ejaculation, is it permissible? Is there a difference in the ruling between a married man and a bachelor?
Answer: Avoiding its use is recommended as a matter of ihtiyat luzumi, irrespective of whether ejaculation was intended. There is no difference in the ruling between a married man and a bachelor.
Question 6: Is it permissible for a Muslim to attend gatherings where alcoholic drink is served?
Answer: Eating and drinking in such gatherings is haraam. As for attending per se, its being haraam is based on necessary precaution. However, there is no harm in attending with the aim of forbidding evil, if it is possible.
Source: Ayatollah Sistani