Islam Q&A, Saudi Arabia vs. Pokèmon

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Pokemon is widely popular across the world, penetrating many cultures and markets. Everything from food beverages to aeroplanes have exhibited themes relating to Pokemon.

Introduction:— Pokemon is a children's video game franchise that was created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1990s (who is particularly notable for having been suspected[1] of having Asperger's Syndrome),[2][3] which was first published by Nintendo in February 1996.[4][5] It was a game that wasn't expected to do particularly well (only "reasonably") when it was released for the "Game Boy" handheld gaming device.[4] It was targeted at a demographic only consisting of young Japanese boys (8—14 years old),[4] but has since exploded in popularity across all demographics, ethnicities, nationalities and gaming platforms. Nintendo initially capitalised on the success of Pokemon by expanding it into other areas, such as manga,[4] and eventually anime and film,[5][6] which saw the game's popularity spiral out of control. A key component of the game is in fighting Pokemon one-on-one in gyms across the fantasy world of the series,[7][8] earning badges and winning championships.[9] The series is also about training different species in order to make them stronger, and most of all consists of friendship between man and animal, as well as obtaining strength from rapid evolution,[10] which has been particularly irksome for some religious authorities,[11] including those of Islam. Although evolution is not entirely at odds with the Islamic faith,[12][13] some Islamic scholars have deemed Pokemon "haram" (forbidden), but interestingly Muslims have responded by ridiculing and parodying such claims.[14]

Economic Impact:— Pokemon is a cultural and economic juggernaut, worth between $25—30 billion dollars in total.[15][16][17] Initial sales from between 1998 and 2003 amounted to a staggering $15 billion dollars.[4] In June 2000, approximately 65 million games had been sold, and 4.2 billion trading cards.[18] In order to give a sense of the scale of Pokemon's success, during it's first year of release it generated an income of $5 billion dollars, more than the entire US games industry at the time.[19] The Pokemon anime itself was broadcast across 68 countries worldwide by 2003.[20] Many schools in the UK even outright banned Pokemon trading cards because children were so obsessed with them.[21] Pikachu, one of the main characters in the franchise is alone worth $825 million dollars in value,[16] with the rarest Pokemon card in existence a "Pikachu Illustrator Card", worth between $20,000—$50,000 dollars.[22][23][24] Approximately 155 million games have been sold across all plaforms in total during it's first 11 years on the market.[16] It has proven so popular that even a computer virus was created to specifically target children (the first of it's kind) which was discovered in 2000.[25] Gaming news site, "Polygon", also reported that over a quarter of a billion games (260 million), 21.5 billion trading cards, 800 anime episodes, and 17 feature length films have been released as of 2014.[26] When "Pokemon GO!" was launched in 2016, it added $23 billion dollars to the stock market capitalisation of Nintendo within 2 weeks (doubling it's stock price to $40 billion dollars total, beating Sony by $2 billion dollars).[27]

Pikachu alone is worth $825 million dollars to the Japanese economy.

How Have Ultra-Conservative Muslims and Everyday Muslims Responded?

Despite some fatwas wanting to ban Pokemon, Muslims have ignored it on the grounds of it's sheer ridiculousness.

Fatwa:— In order to understand the ban around Pokemon in certain ultra-conservative Muslim circles, it is imperative to understand what a fatwa actually is. A fatwa in essence is not a judicial proclamation or ruling,[28] but is in fact a singular opinion regarding a single interpretation of Islam from a certain individual (more of an Op-Ed rather than a Papal Bull[29]). It's origins can be traced back to the companions of Muhammad,[30] who required a systematic approach in order to reach consensus on religious matters. The fatwa has, in effect, been inferred to in the Qu'ran, specifically in verses 4:127 and 4:176.[31] Overall, the fatwa began in the early phase of Islam as a way to seek knowledge about theology, philosophy, hadith, legal theories, religious duties and the Shar'iah.[31] Anyone can issue a fatwa (such as the infamous Islam Q&A website which is actually banned in Saudi Arabia vis-a-vis another fatwa),[32] as it is by and large considered non-binding,[33] primarily because it is designed to respond to only one person; which can be contrasted to that of an Islamic court, where a qadi (judge) has to hear two sides of an argument before making a ruling.[31] In the Islamic tradition, a Muslim scholar who issued a fatwa should have been knowledgeable in both the subject itself, and the legal framework surrounding Islam.[31] This can actually explain why, that despite some fatwas hating branding Pokemon haram, it has never actually been purged from every Islamic society. For example "Pokemon GO!" alone is available in a lot of Muslim countries.[n. 1]

Islam Q&A:— Islam Q&A is one of the most ultra-conservative Islamic websites in the world today (so conservative, it is banned in Saudi Arabia).[34][n. 2] In one instance it claimed Pokemon shouldn't be watched, because "[i]t is based on the corrupt, atheist, Darwinian theory that is known as the theory of evolution", and "[t]he show propagat[ing] the theory of the survival of the fittest", which "includes symbols such as the six-pointed star that are known to be strongly connected to Zionism and Freemasonry".[35] In another it claimed the franchise "include[s] the beliefs of eastern and idolatrous religions".[36] In yet another ruling, it claimed "[Pokemon] includes symbols of atheist belief whereby the heavens are almost torn, and the earth is split asunder, and the mountains fall in ruins".[37] This same ruling also went on an unusual diatribe on trying to explain how the card game is actually played, claiming that it is a "form of gambling", where the cards "may also be redeemed for other things, such as some fast foods or tinned goods".[37] The site also claims music,[38] chess,[39] dice,[40] card games,[41] TV,[42] drawing,[43] photography,[44] anime/animation,[45] travelling,[46] phones,[47] manga, sports,[48] and sexual fantasies in marriage,[49] are all "haram" too. However, cheating on your wife is apparently okay because "no evidence appears neither in the Qur’an nor sunnah requiring the permission of the first wife if her husband wishes to marry another wife".[50] Evidently, their fatwas lack any common sense.

Pokemon, the original series.
Pokemon is a harmless game that has forged millions of childhoods across the globe, which some Muslim children are missing out on. The show has left children with amazing fun filled memories.

Conclusion:— Muslims have responded to such opinions with bemusement and bewilderment. For this very reason, marketing research textbooks have noted that such fatwas are unpredictable in determining outcomes when it comes to trading with Islamic countries.[51] Muslims appear to follow fatwas which they already deem appropriate in the first place.[n. 3] This is the case when it comes to music for instance (which is an issue that is widely mired in controversy[52]), and also of smoking,[51] however when it comes to consuming coca-cola, Muslims appear to care little as to what any fatwa will say.[51] An issue which further illustrates such attitudes is in Malaysia, where a popular comic was released for sale, but who's edition was then banned because it had something to do with "Allah"; leading to a public outcry about the sheer ridiculousness of a ban, where it was then overturned.[51] Some Muslim writers have even called the bans a major intellectual blockage in the Muslim world.[53] For instance, a Sheikh, Abdel Monem abu Zent, was an anti-Pokemon activist, who later admitted he didn't know anything about what he was protesting against.[54] Even Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the highest Islamic authority in Saudi Arabia, didn't even bother researching anything about Pokemon, but instead banned it because it contained the "Star of David" symbol; thereby making himself look like an uneducated, paranoid, lazy nutcase (as "Pokemon" actually doesn't contain any such thing).[55]


Pokemon is widely popular across the world, penetrating many cultures and markets. Everything from food beverages to aeroplanes have exhibited themes relating to Pokemon.

Introduction:— Pokemon is a children's video game franchise that was created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1990s (who is particularly notable for having been suspected[1] of having Asperger's Syndrome),[2][3] which was first published by Nintendo in February 1996.[4][5] It was a game that wasn't expected to do particularly well (only "reasonably") when it was released for the "Game Boy" handheld gaming device.[4] It was targeted at a demographic only consisting of young Japanese boys (8—14 years old),[4] but has since exploded in popularity across all demographics, ethnicities, nationalities and gaming platforms. Nintendo initially capitalised on the success of Pokemon by expanding it into other areas, such as manga,[4] and eventually anime and film,[5][6] which saw the game's popularity spiral out of control. A key component of the game is in fighting Pokemon one-on-one in gyms across the fantasy world of the series,[7][8] earning badges and winning championships.[9] The series is also about training different species in order to make them stronger, and most of all consists of friendship between man and animal, as well as obtaining strength from rapid evolution,[10] which has been particularly irksome for some religious authorities,[11] including those of Islam. Although evolution is not entirely at odds with the Islamic faith,[12][13] some Islamic scholars have deemed Pokemon "haram" (forbidden), but interestingly Muslims have responded by ridiculing and parodying such claims.[14]

Pikachu alone is worth $825 million dollars to the Japanese economy.

Economic Impact:— Pokemon is a cultural and economic juggernaut, worth between $25—30 billion dollars in total.[15][16][17] Initial sales from between 1998 and 2003 amounted to a staggering $15 billion dollars.[4] In June 2000, approximately 65 million games had been sold, and 4.2 billion trading cards.[18] In order to give a sense of the scale of Pokemon's success, during it's first year of release it generated an income of $5 billion dollars, more than the entire US games industry at the time.[19] The Pokemon anime itself was broadcast across 68 countries worldwide by 2003.[20] Many schools in the UK even outright banned Pokemon trading cards because children were so obsessed with them.[21] Pikachu, one of the main characters in the franchise is alone worth $825 million dollars in value,[16] with the rarest Pokemon card in existence a "Pikachu Illustrator Card", worth between $20,000—$50,000 dollars.[22][23][24] Approximately 155 million games have been sold across all plaforms in total during it's first 11 years on the market.[16] It has proven so popular that even a computer virus was created to specifically target children (the first of it's kind) which was discovered in 2000.[25] Gaming news site, "Polygon", also reported that over a quarter of a billion games (260 million), 21.5 billion trading cards, 800 anime episodes, and 17 feature length films have been released as of 2014.[26] When "Pokemon GO!" was launched in 2016, it added $23 billion dollars to the stock market capitalisation of Nintendo within 2 weeks (doubling it's stock price to $40 billion dollars total, beating Sony by $2 billion dollars).[27]

How Have Ultra-Conservative Muslims and Everyday Muslims Responded?

Despite some fatwas wanting to ban Pokemon, Muslims have ignored it on the grounds of it's sheer ridiculousness.

Fatwa:— In order to understand the ban around Pokemon in certain ultra-conservative Muslim circles, it is imperative to understand what a fatwa actually is. A fatwa in essence is not a judicial proclamation or ruling,[28] but is in fact a singular opinion regarding a single interpretation of Islam from a certain individual (more of an Op-Ed rather than a Papal Bull[29]). It's origins can be traced back to the companions of Muhammad,[30] who required a systematic approach in order to reach consensus on religious matters. The fatwa has, in effect, been inferred to in the Qu'ran, specifically in verses 4:127 and 4:176.[31] Overall, the fatwa began in the early phase of Islam as a way to seek knowledge about theology, philosophy, hadith, legal theories, religious duties and the Shar'iah.[31] Anyone can issue a fatwa (such as the infamous Islam Q&A website which is actually banned in Saudi Arabia vis-a-vis another fatwa),[32] as it is by and large considered non-binding,[33] primarily because it is designed to respond to only one person; which can be contrasted to that of an Islamic court, where a qadi (judge) has to hear two sides of an argument before making a ruling.[31] In the Islamic tradition, a Muslim scholar who issued a fatwa should have been knowledgeable in both the subject itself, and the legal framework surrounding Islam.[31] This can actually explain why, that despite some fatwas hating branding Pokemon haram, it has never actually been purged from every Islamic society. For example "Pokemon GO!" alone is available in a lot of Muslim countries.[n. 4]

Pokemon, the original series.

Islam Q&A:— Islam Q&A is one of the most ultra-conservative Islamic websites in the world today (so conservative, it is banned in Saudi Arabia).[34][n. 5] In one instance it claimed Pokemon shouldn't be watched, because "[i]t is based on the corrupt, atheist, Darwinian theory that is known as the theory of evolution", and "[t]he show propagat[ing] the theory of the survival of the fittest", which "includes symbols such as the six-pointed star that are known to be strongly connected to Zionism and Freemasonry".[35] In another it claimed the franchise "include[s] the beliefs of eastern and idolatrous religions".[36] In yet another ruling, it claimed "[Pokemon] includes symbols of atheist belief whereby the heavens are almost torn, and the earth is split asunder, and the mountains fall in ruins".[37] This same ruling also went on an unusual diatribe on trying to explain how the card game is actually played, claiming that it is a "form of gambling", where the cards "may also be redeemed for other things, such as some fast foods or tinned goods".[37] The site also claims music,[38] chess,[39] dice,[40] card games,[41] TV,[42] drawing,[43] photography,[44] anime/animation,[45] travelling,[46] phones,[47] manga, sports,[48] and sexual fantasies in marriage,[49] are all "haram" too. However, cheating on your wife is apparently okay because "no evidence appears neither in the Qur’an nor sunnah requiring the permission of the first wife if her husband wishes to marry another wife".[50] Evidently, their fatwas lack any common sense.

Pokemon is a harmless game that has forged millions of childhoods across the globe, which some Muslim children are missing out on. The show has left children with amazing fun filled memories.

Conclusion:— Muslims have responded to such opinions with bemusement and bewilderment. For this very reason, marketing research textbooks have noted that such fatwas are unpredictable in determining outcomes when it comes to trading with Islamic countries.[51] Muslims appear to follow fatwas which they already deem appropriate in the first place.[n. 6] This is the case when it comes to music for instance (which is an issue that is widely mired in controversy[52]), and also of smoking,[51] however when it comes to consuming coca-cola, Muslims appear to care little as to what any fatwa will say.[51] An issue which further illustrates such attitudes is in Malaysia, where a popular comic was released for sale, but who's edition was then banned because it had something to do with "Allah"; leading to a public outcry about the sheer ridiculousness of a ban, where it was then overturned.[51] Some Muslim writers have even called the bans a major intellectual blockage in the Muslim world.[53] For instance, a Sheikh, Abdel Monem abu Zent, was an anti-Pokemon activist, who later admitted he didn't know anything about what he was protesting against.[54] Even Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the highest Islamic authority in Saudi Arabia, didn't even bother researching anything about Pokemon, but instead banned it because it contained the "Star of David" symbol; thereby making himself look like an uneducated, paranoid, lazy nutcase (as "Pokemon" actually doesn't contain any such thing).[55]

Sources

Footnotes

  1. ^ Albania, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brunei, Egypt, Gambia, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan.
    1. Alina Bradford (24 January 2017). Here are all the countries where Pokemon Go is available. CNET. WayBackMachine Link. Retrieved April 28th, 2017.
  2. ^ The only time where it hasn't berated Pokemon is when someone had sent an email to IslamQ&A asking them what the word "Pokemon" meant.
    1. 21179: Meaning of the word Pokemon. IslamQ&A. WayBackMachine Link. Retrieved April 4th, 2017.
  3. ^ This is because Muslims are entirely free within Islam to accept or reject a fatwa based on their own reasoning.
    Quote: "A fatwa may be authoritative for some Muslims but not others. The decision to accept or reject a fatwa is entirely up to each individual Muslim".
    1. Volker M. Heins; Kai Koddenbrock; Christine Unrau (5 February 2016). [https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=fl-FCwAAQBAJ&pg=PA145&dq=muslims+pick+and+choose+fatwas&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiqyqvU98XTAhUEwBQKHbTWDgkQ6AEINDAC#v=onepage&q=muslims%20pick%20and%20choose%20fatwas&f=false
    Humanitarianism and Challenges of Cooperation]. Routledge. p. 145. ISBN 978-1-317-33221-3.
  4. ^ Albania, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brunei, Egypt, Gambia, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan.
    1. Alina Bradford (24 January 2017). Here are all the countries where Pokemon Go is available. CNET. WayBackMachine Link. Retrieved April 28th, 2017.
  5. ^ The only time where it hasn't berated Pokemon is when someone had sent an email to IslamQ&A asking them what the word "Pokemon" meant.
    1. 21179: Meaning of the word Pokemon. IslamQ&A. WayBackMachine Link. Retrieved April 4th, 2017.
  6. ^ This is because Muslims are entirely free within Islam to accept or reject a fatwa based on their own reasoning.
    Quote: "A fatwa may be authoritative for some Muslims but not others. The decision to accept or reject a fatwa is entirely up to each individual Muslim".
    1. Volker M. Heins; Kai Koddenbrock; Christine Unrau (5 February 2016). [https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=fl-FCwAAQBAJ&pg=PA145&dq=muslims+pick+and+choose+fatwas&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiqyqvU98XTAhUEwBQKHbTWDgkQ6AEINDAC#v=onepage&q=muslims%20pick%20and%20choose%20fatwas&f=false
    Humanitarianism and Challenges of Cooperation]. Routledge. p. 145. ISBN 978-1-317-33221-3.

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External Links