An Islamic cleric, Sheikh Yelma’e, has said Islam forbids him from praying for the departed soul of popular actor, Murphy Afolabi, because he mostly used his roles in movies to promote actions inimical to the faith.
The cleric, in a video clip posted on YouTube and reposted by @mufasatundeednut on Instagram on Thursday, said he would never pray for Afolabi because he usually acted as a witch doctor, among other roles forbidden in Islam.
Noting that there was a need for religious teachers and students to start reflecting on the portrayal of actions against Islamic teachings, the cleric said praying for Afolabi’s departed soul especially when most of his roles in films contravened Islamic practice would amount to hypocrisy.
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.”
Reacting to the development, a lecturer in Film and Media Arts, Department of Theatre Arts and Music, Lagos State University, Dr Femi Olugboji, said scholars have argued that Islam forbids the portrayal of images of human beings whether through television, photography or the creation of statues, but they also argued about the importance of information whether through entertainment or news stories or other means.
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 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.”
The PUNCH had reported that Nollywood stars and entertainment lovers were thrown into mourning when news of the death of the Osun-born actor became public knowledge.
He died at the age of 49 and has been buried.