An Islamic cleric, Sheikh Yelma’e, has said that Islam bans him from praying for the soul of popular actor Murphy Afolabi because he frequently exploited his on-screen roles to support actions against the Islamic religion.
In a video clip shared on YouTube and reposted by @mufasatundeednut on Instagram on Thursday, the cleric said that he would never pray for Afolabi since he frequently acted out professions that are prohibited in Islam, such as herbalist.
The cleric noted that it was important for religious instructors and students to begin considering how activities depicted in films went against Islamic principles, and he claimed that praying for Afolabi’s soul would be hypocritical given how many of his roles in films went against Islamic law.
He said, “What we posted yesterday was that we cannot pray for (late) Murphy Afolabi because in the movies he usually acts, and particularly Yoruba movies, it has a lot of forbidden things including traditional sacrifices and it is rare for the actors not to be involved in such traditional sacrifices.
“They might be acting that way with the thinking that they are joking but anything that has to do with Almighty Allah should not be joked with. Acting like herbalist, witch, or wizard, is against Islamic teachings and Islam is against such actions.
“What will make a Muslim start using what nonbelievers do to make people laugh? It is common in Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo films, but mostly in Yoruba films. I feel it is time for religious teachers and students to start looking into these issues.
“When any of these actors with a Muslim name acts like herbalist in Yoruba movies and later dies, it becomes hypocritical for people to expect us to pray for them. As for Murphy Afolabi, I won’t pray for him, and neither will I curse him because he might not know.”
Dr. Femi Olugboji, a lecturer in film and media arts at Lagos State University’s Department of Theatre Arts and Music, responded to the development by saying that while scholars have argued that Islam forbids the portrayal of human beings in images on television, in photographs, or in statues, they have also argued about the importance of information, whether it comes from entertainment, news stories, or other sources.
He said, “They (scholars) said Islam does not forbid education through the portrayal of human images but what Islam forbids is the way human beings, especially women, are portrayed through their mode of dressing, and as well as the content that misleads the public.
“What is the intent of Murphy Afolabi’s acting roles in line with what the cleric mentioned? Is it to correct society? Were his actions in those films to correct the ills in society or was it to mislead the society? We need to be very objective by taking a deep look at his works to see what he was trying to achieve or achieved through the actions he displayed in his films.
“The cleric to some extent may be wrong; if for example I assume a role of an herbalist and through that role I used it to correct something wrong in society, does it mean I have committed a sin? What exactly does the cleric know about the media and media content? He is looking at the issue from his personal belief and not Islamic religion.”
Explaining further, Olugboji said there was a need for movie practitioners to understand the audience and what they want from the media, adding that entertainers and performers would want to satisfy the needs of the audience.
He said, “If the audience felt that Murphy Afolabi’s works during his lifetime were misleading, he wouldn’t have been as popular as he was when he was alive. This means that to a large extent, he achieved a goal in society through his works.
“We should understand that every individual in the society evolves from a socio-cultural and religious background and based on the background that we evolve from; we have enough that can build media literacy that can help us to judge or decide between what is good or bad in the media.”
It was earlier reported that Nollywood celebrities and fans of the arts were plunged into sadness when word of the actor’s passing reached the general public.
He was buried after passing away at the age of 49.