Just like every action of life, entertainment is also governed by certain guidelines described by Quran and the authentic Sunnah. Prohibition on entertainment involving Shirk & Kufr in Islam is one of these guidelines.
The greatest sin that a human can commit is to give the exclusive rights of Allah to anyone other than Him. This is known as shirk, and it can take many forms.
We will discuss here only those forms of shirk and kufr that are often viewed as harmless forms of entertainment, the most common of which is real magic (sihr). Islam has condemned magic very staunchly; in fact, the Qur’an has declared as a disbeliever every person who learns magic. Allah has said:
“… It was not Solomon who disbelieved, but the devils disbelieved, teaching people magic …” (Qur’an 2: 102)
The Islamic punishment for magicians and sorcerers is execution by the sword. Since magic is hated in Islam and regarded as kufr, watching and enjoying someone else performing magic would be, at the very least, a sin; some scholars argue that it is also a form of kufr. Note that the above refers only to sihr and does not include illusionary tricks such as those done with cards and ropes.
The word ‘magic’ has many definitions in English language. It could mean ‘black magic’ which may include sorcery, amulets, talismans, potions, charms, spells exorcism etc. But it could also mean just a sleight of hands used for entertainment.
Magic in this sense or sihr, witchcraft, oracles, Palmistry, fortune telling etc. are all forbidden or haraam in Islam.
However, mere tricks for entertainment purposes should not be called sihr in the classical sense. Through these shows we can teach our children that they should not be deceived by illusions. Some people may use the sleight of their hands and make them believe that they control supernatural powers. Children should be aware of those characters and should not be naive to believe such people.
Another form of shirk that is being practiced as entertainment nowadays is fortune telling. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Whoever visits a fortune-teller and believes him has disbelieved in what has been revealed to Muhammad.” (Sahih Bukhari and Abu Dawood)
It is an act of kufr to believe a fortune-teller. It is tantamount to shirk because one believes the fortune-teller to possess one of the attributes of Allah: knowledge of the unseen. Fortune telling includes reading horoscopes.
Many Muslims today argue that they only listen to the fortune teller or read their horoscope for fun and they do not believe in either of them. However, this is similar to the person who watches acts of magic for fun. There is also a hadith stating a clear punishment for this.
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Whoever goes to a fortune-teller and asks him about something, his prayers will not be accepted for forty nights.” (Sahih Muslim)
The person still has to pray during these forty days but will get no reward for it, as a punishment for the sin. If he or she does not pray, that will be considered as a separate sin.
Finally, many Muslims today see nothing wrong with watching people indulging in acts of shirk in films. This is especially common in “Bollywood” movies, wherein the characters worship idols and actors sometimes play the role of Hindu gods.
Yet many Muslims watch and enjoy such films. It is forbidden to enjoy seeing anybody doing an act of shirk, because it is compulsory for Muslims to hate shirk and kufr and to work to remove them from society.