Afghanistan: Wedding musicians out of work because of religious ban

30 August 2007
Musicians in the Balkh province are out of work since a new fatwa – a ban – was issued on wedding parties by a religious council

In mid-July 2007, the Ulema Shura – the religious council – in the northern province of Balkh issued a fatwa and banned lavish and expensive wedding parties in the Balkh province, reported Ibrahimi Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, an Institute for War and Peace staff reporter based in Mazar-e-Sharif, on 28 August 2007.

Male musicians in the area are uniformly glum about the fatwa.
“We had to go to Pakistan during Taliban times because music was banned,” said the head of one male band, who did not want to be named.
“Now we might have to leave the country again. Since the fatwa, no one invites us to their parties any more. And even if we do get some work, they only pay us for the men’s party, we cannot play for the women. I have to make a living, for heaven’s sake.”

Except for one engagement party, they ruled, all celebrations should be held in the home, to cut down on expenses and prevent locals from bankrupting themselves. Weddings, and the attendant parties, form the backbone of the Afghan social scene and are often extremely costly.

“The fatwa violates Afghanistan’s constitution, and disrupts the normal legislative mechanism. The constitution guarantees freedom to Afghanistan’s citizens,” said Lawyer and politician Kabir Ranjbar to the Institute for War and Peace reporter. “No one has the right to deprive people of these freedoms,” he added.

But the Ulema is not overly concerned with the constitution. According to Mullah Mohammad Sadiq Sadiqatyar, they are answering to a Higher Power. “The rules of God are above everything,” he said. “We respect the law. But the fatwa we issued is according to the dictates of God and the sayings of the Prophet. And this is higher than even the constitution.”







Institute for War and Peace, – 28 August 2007:
‘Mullahs Spoil the Party’



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