The literal meaning of the word ‘souk’ is market-place. Although Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) discouraged visiting market-places, these venues are permissible due to the legitimate needs of people. But, it is not permissible to visit even a lawful market-place for fun, amusement, entertainment and dawdling away the time.
About souks, i.e. permissible market-places, Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“The most abhorred places by Allah are the souks”
“The best of places on earth are the Musaajid and the vilest places are the market-places.”
According to the Hadith, the very first being present in any souk is Iblees. Therefore, when necessity constrains one to visit a legitimate market-place, one should recite Ta-awwuz, and withdraw in haste as soon as one’s need has been accomplished. A Muslim does not visit a lawful toilet for joy and amusement. He goes there to execute an imperative need. The same logic is applicable to visiting a lawful market-place. Even a halaal souk is not a place for dawdling and enjoyment.
Shaitaan sometimes appeared to the Ambiya and the Auliya and engaged them in discussion. Once Hadhrat Junaid Baghdaadi (Rahmatullah alayh) saw Iblees stark naked in a market-place. He said to shaitaan: “At least have shame for the people.” Shaitaan, with a smirk on his face, responded: “If there were people here, I would have had shame.” In other words, the people in the souk were like animals in their conduct, hence even Iblees felt no shame to be naked in their presence.
The criticism, despite the permissibility, for souks mentioned in the Ahaadith refer to legitimate market-places, not to haunts for which jaunts of amusement and entertainment are undertaken. It is a massive deception to dub such shaitaani haraam haunts ‘souk’. Yes, it will be appropriate to describe such haunts as the Devil’s Souk, and that is precisely what the Ansaarush Shaitaan ‘souk’ is.
Since people have to fulfil their needs, there is permission to go to the legitimate market-place for fulfilling needs. But, it is not permissible to go to even a legitimate souk for entertainment, fun and amusement. Even the legitimate souk is a haunt for the shayaateen, hence the need to exercise caution despite the permissibility.