Manama: A fatwa by a Saudi scholar banning participation in prayers led by an imam who held the view that music was not forbidden in Islam has waded into controversy.

Shaikh Adel Al Kalbani last week said that music was tolerated in Islam and that people could listen to songs.

However, his view was promptly resisted by conservative religious scholars and social media users who said that the pro-music fatwa was not valid.

Despite the pressure, Shaikh Adel said that he would not revoke the fatwa. “I never regretted issuing any fatwa and I have never retracted a fatwa or an opinion,” he said on Friday.

His stance further infuriated those who opposed him and, on Sunday, Shaikh Saleh Al Fawzan said that Muslims should not pray behind an imam who insisted that music was not forbidden, stressing that his opinion could not be accepted.

People following the debate used social networks to argue over the merits of the contradictory viewpoints expressed by two of the best-known religious scholars in the kingdom.

“I will this Friday deliberately go to pray behind Shaikh Adel,” one blogger posted. “I do not know what reasoning was used to ban praying behind him. I believe it is a kind of pressure on Shaikh Adel,” he said.

For another user, Shaikh Adel reflected the new thinking within the religious class.

However, another blogger, writing under the moniker Zahef, said that he appreciated Shaikh Saleh’s stance.

“We have always admired your courage to state facts as they are and to highlight the truth,” he said.

Another blogger said that he welcomed the fatwa by Shaikh Saleh.

“We thank you Shaikh Saleh for your invaluable contributions. You are a true leader on religious matters,” he said.

One comment urged Shaikh Adel to focus on matters that did not divide the people

“Shaikh Adel is causing unnecessary problems,” the post said.

Another participant in the debate urged people to visualise an imam who had not problems with listening to music after his prayers. “He gets in the car, puts on music and starts swinging to the tunes. This is so hard to imagine,” he said.

Some social network users took the arguments to a new level by insisting that imams who did not condemn usury should be the ones to be banned from leading Muslims in prayers.