Music and Muslims
Ibrahim B. Syed,
Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
7102 W. Shefford Lane
Louisville, KY 40242-6462, USA
and language are uniquely human. A world without either would be hard to
imagine. "Both language and music are characteristics of the human species that
seem to be universal," says the book The Musical Mind. They are
aspects of our need to communicate. So it could be said that, as is true of
language, when music "speaks" our emotions "listen." Music resounds through
creation from the blowing wind, to the chirping birds, to the human voice and
the tune of the harp. Music naturally occurs. The three great elemental sounds
of Nature are music. Is the sound of rain, the sound of wind, and the sound of
the ocean on a beach not reminiscent of an awe-inspiring rhythm? The sound
produced by a rivulet cascading merrily over pebbles and stones, is music.
Scientists are finding that the human brain is pre-wired for music ("Music on
the Mind" by Sharon Begley. Newsweek, July 24, 2000, pp.50-52) Music is a
marvelous and extremely powerful tool. The Qur'an is music. When the Qur'an is
intoned with ilhaan and tajweed: is that not music? The recitation
of the sacred Qur'anic text in rhythmic tones brought into being and developed
the religious music of Al-Islam; this was a new branch of music. All throughout
the Noble Book are images of music, such as trumpets blasting, thunder, angels
singing praises, voices calling. The Arabic language lends to its prose a
sweetness and melody. The Qur'an recited by the master chanter or Qari, is heard
daily in many parts of the world; it is unequaled in charm and harmony. Music is
one of Allah's great gifts to man, a means of rejoicing unto thy Lord, and can
be used as a healing to the body, mind and spirit. Music relaxation training is
used to treat many stress-related illnesses that include high blood pressure,
migraine headaches and ulcers. It has direct physiological effects on people. It
can make us relax or remember, or have all sorts of feelings. Music can
transform an environment by changing our state of mind. The harp has long been
recognized as an instrument for healing and calming the mind. It is important to
use music to educate, to heal, to inspire and to unite.
question whether music is permissible at all began to be debated in the first
century of Islam and the debate has continued to the present day. This debate
has filled thousands of pages. Early religious authorities had opposed music due
to the role it had played in society. This 'new music' was related more and more
with a life of pleasure and a taste of luxury. It procured connotations of
flightiness and sensual indulgence, reinforced by the participation of women in
music-making and by the dancing (often considered obscene) and the drinking of
intoxicating beverages that were associated with it. Even the two sacred cities
of Makkah and Madinah were not invulnerable from these temptations, and indeed
they quickly became authentic centers of entertainment. Islamic music is divided
into six periods. During the first period of Islam, and particularly during the
reigns of the last two Khulafa-e-Rashideen (the rightly guided Caliphs), Hadrat
Uthman(RA) and Hadrat Imam Ali(RA), Madinah became the center of intense musical
activity. Despite frequent campaigns against music by the religious authorities,
professional musicians were welcomed in the houses of the rich and noble, and
encouraged by lavish rewards. These musicians were mainly freed slaves of
Persian origin, such as Tuwais (d. 92 AH/710 AD) and Khathir (d 64 AH/683 AD),
who is said to have taught Arabic music to Nasheet, the Persian slave who became
a famous musician. Among the female musicians of Arab origin 'Azza al-Mayla (d.
86 AH/705 AD) occupies the first place. Her house was a real cultural salon,
visited by the literary and musical elite. Some of the rhythmical modes began to
crystallize during this period; its most characteristic type of song is called
the al-ghina' al-mutqan. (REF. The Dimension of Sound by A. Shiloah in
The World of Islam, Ed. Bernard Lewis, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, pp.
the Umayyads the center of musical interest moved to the new capital, Damascus.
Some of the caliphs (Khulafa) had a real passion for music; consequently musical
activity increased, musicians multiplied and their social status rose. With the
Abbasid dynasty the capital shifted to Baghdad. Here, during the next two
centuries, Islamic music attained its highest point. This was its golden age.
Musicians continued to enjoy favor at the caliphs' court and to play an
important part in the country's cultural life. Society was eager for knowledge
of all kinds. The study of music was now obligatory for every educated man, part
of the encyclopedic learning he was expected to acquire, and in the intellectual
flowering, which reached a climax in the IV/10th century music played
a role. At the same time, the musician was expected to be widely cultured. Music
itself became highly sophisticated and began to be the subject of learned
controversies between thinkers with different artistic conceptions. The melodic
and rhythmic modes were definitively codified. Theories were evolved, practice
described. Instruments themselves were perfected and standards of performance
rose even higher. Among the great musicians were Ibn Misjah (d.169 AH/ 785 AD),
Ibn Muhriz (d, 97 AH/ 715 AD), Ibn Surayj (13-108 AH/634-726AD), al-Gharid (d.
106 AH/724 AD), Siyyat (d. 169 AH/785 AD), Zalzaal (d. 175 AH/791 AD), Mukhariq
(d. 229 AH/845 AD), 'Alluya and 'Amr ibn Baanaa (d 278 AH/891 AD). Distinguished
female singers were Basbas, 'Ubayda, Shariyya, Dananir and Mahbuba. In Muslim
Spain music continued to play a prominent part in spite of the worsening
greatest of Arabic theorists, al-Farabi (d. 339 AH/ 950 AD), wrote in his
Kitab al-Musiqi al-Kabir: 'Theory did not appear until practice had already
achieved its highest development.' This was certainly the case by his own time.
was no clear line of separation between sacred and secular music, and sacred
music itself has throughout its long history oscillated between art and folk
music. According to some of the traditions, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) approved the
folk music and not the art music. Consequently art music was completely
Qur'an is the only text that proclaims absolute Divine Laws, "Shari'ah". What is
haram is clearly haram and what is halal is clearly halal. On the theological
level, the authorities to which the two sides appeal are the Qur'an, the
Hadith, the writings of religious leaders, the opinions of mystics and legal
precedents. The Qur'an provides no specific verdict one way or the other, so it
was the hadith which was the main source of ammunition. Literal
interpretation of texts was reinforced by reasoning by analogy.
(d.505 AH/1111 AD) makes brilliant use of this method and the chapter devoted to
music in his Ihya Ulum al-Deen (Vivification of the Religious Sciences) is a
masterpiece. In it he says that there is something wrong with the man or woman
who does not like music. He declared " One who is not moved by music is unsound
of mind and intemperate; is far from spirituality and is denser than birds and
beasts: because everyone is affected by melodious sounds." (ASK Joommal, Al-Balaagh,
Supplement to August/September, 1985)
African Muslim named Sa'id, who traveled widely, translated the songs of other
countries into Arabic, and first worked out the system which became classic for
has always been the most common and most loved form of music, partly no doubt
because of the Arabs' fondness for poetry. Good songs and poetry have been in
Islamic culture since the time of the Prophet (pbuh), and who himself listened
to good poetry and encouraged Hassan bin Thabit (known as the Poet of the
Prophet) to say the poetry in the praise of Allah and in the honor of His
Religion and His messenger. Most often simple instruments accompany it. Early
Muslims studied theories of sound and music, and the rhythmic measuring of music
was practiced among the Arabs long before it was known in Europe and the use of
the baton goes back to the eighth century, so the modern Drum Major is all
unconsciously in their debt. They knew nothing of harmony and made little use of
accent, but they adorned the melody by a comparison note now and again, which
perhaps prepared the way for harmony, later developed in the West.
instrumental music was a part of pagan ways of worship, Prophet Muhammad (peace
be upon him) forbade it to his followers, saying it was "the devil's muezzin,
calling men to worship him."
objections were soon ignored. Military bands accompanied armies and shared in
the celebration of victories. They had drums, kettle-drums, pipes of many sorts,
cymbals, and tambourines. Making musical instruments became a fine art.
lute was the earliest stringed instrument; it was of many shapes and sizes. Then
came the guitar-qitara, the harp, and the rabab, an instrument played with a
bow. Skilled players could drive away fears and depression, as the young
shepherd Prophet David (Dawood-peace be upon him) for King Saul. More modest
fiddlers played at weddings, raveling from village, to village, as they do today
using the same instruments.
Madinah became centers of music. Musicians in gala attire accompanied the
pilgrimage processions to Makkah, rivaling in interest even the festivities of
the Hajj itself, for the people believed that rejoicing with music and
companionship was preparation for he ecstasy of the sacred celebration.
Allah-the God of Islam, Muslim Life and Worship by Florence Mary Fitch,
published by Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Co., Inc. New York, 1950 p.90)
and Singing Haram?
following excerpts are taken from: Sharif Khan, " Music and Singing in Islam
(Submission) The true Islam," in the Web pages of Submitters (www.submission.org/music.html).
One of the
most outrageous statements by some of the Muslims who refuse to accept the law
of God in the Quran is that music and singing are haram (Prohibited). The
sincere Muslim who is following the Quran will not find in the Quran ANY
PROHIBITION OF MUSIC OR SINGING. Quran is the book that God calls COMPLETE,
PERFECT and FULLY DETAILED. God, the Most Merciful, NEVER prohibited music or
singing in the Quran, but some scholars and their followers did, despite their
knowledge with the Quran. The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), lived by, ruled by,
preached and followed the Quran. God is the ONLY source of law (Qur'an, 6:114).
No one can prohibit what God did not (Qur'an, 66:1). When the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh)
once did, God admonished him in public to remind the believers that ONLY GOD can
prohibit. (See Qur'an, 66:1 and 33:37).
prohibition of Music and singing cannot be found in the Quran because God did
not prohibit them. The list of prohibitions in the Quran does not include Music
"Say, "Who prohibited the
nice things God has created for His creatures, and the good provisions?"
Say,"such provisions are to be enjoyed in THIS life by those who BELIEVE.
Moreover, the good provisions will be exclusively theirs on the Day of
resurrection." We thus explain the revelations for people who know." (QUR'AN,
before responding to those Muslims who claim that Music and singing are Haram,
let us ponder for few seconds at our universe and the way God created this
world. While we might remember that Galileo once said, "Mathematics is the
language in which God wrote the universe." it may be fair enough to say that
Music is the basic sound of that universe.
keen observer of the universe will realize that the whole universe was created
with music in every corner of it. Our heart beats, bowel sounds, breath sounds,
the sound of our blood flow or even our brain waves are but music. The birds,
the dolphins, the animals, the trees, the rain, the oceans, the wind and the
clouds are all created with their own music. Those who are blind in the heart
and deaf to the truth do not and cannot understand that music is in every corner
of their universe. With music in every thing around us, it is naive to think
that the One God who created all this music prohibited it. One of the most
valuable gifts given to man is the voice box or the larynx, which is in reality
a music box. It is one important instrument that allows us to communicate with
each other and with other creatures around us. The arrival of the newborn to
this life is announced by his/her scream, the best music to the mother's ear.
(1) First, it
is interesting to see the inverted logic of these people. After finding no proof
in the Quran to prohibit music, by their own admission, they resort to the
weaker sources one after the other to prove what they could not find in the
Quran. This is almost like failing to have the approval of the president of the
country on a matter, so they get the approval of his house keeper. If they fail,
then they get the approval of his servant who cleans his room then claim that
the approval they have is the approval of the president. Those who refuse to
accept the Quran as a complete book for this religion, are led by Satan into
inventing all kinds of laws from sources outside the Quran.
(2) In every
verse they used in an attempt to prove that music is Haram, they ended by
concluding that the verse does not really prohibit Music. Despite that, they
never got the message that God DID NOT PROHIBIT MUSIC OR SINGING. They also
failed to understand that prohibition laws ONLY COME from God. When the prophet
Muhammed (pbuh) gave any prohibitions it was FROM THE QURAN ONLY, and was not
from his own. Here are the verses that they claim to prohibit music and singing:
addresses the disbelievers of the Quraysh as follows,
"Do you marvel at this statement, and laugh and do not weep, while you amuse
yourselves (proudly) in vanities? Rather, prostrate before Allah and worship
of the statement "amuse yourselves" these Muslims twisted the words and the
logic to make a conclusion that music and singing is what is meant here. The
word is general and indicates that any kind of amusement that keeps you from
paying your duties to God is leading you to commit a sin. It does not make it
haram or prohibited. If you amuse yourself by watching Baseball while forgetting
to do your Salat-prayers on time then you are committing a sin but this does not
make Baseball haram. If you amuse yourself by playing games with your children
while forgetting to pray on time you are committing a sin but playing with your
children will not be haram. If you listen to music or singing and forget to do
your prayers then you commit a sin but music does not become haram. Remember
that music is like air and water, it is not haram per se, but the way it is used
in certain circumstances will control its status then. These group of Muslims
find in human beings like sahaba, tabi'in, and later scholars of tafseer to
prohibit for them what God did not. Al-Qurtubi, At-Tabari, Ibn Abbas, Al-Hasan,
Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak, Ibn Jareer... etc. are more important to these people than
Allah (SWT) addresses Satan thus;
"And excite any of them whom you
can with your voice. Assault them with your cavalry and infantry, be a partner
with them in their wealth and children, and make them promises. But Satan
promises nothing but deceit" (Qur'an, 17:64)
this verse as a proof of prohibition of music and singing shows only how naive
and misguided are these people. No intelligent human being can accept the voice
here as pointing to music and singing. It is clear from this verse that there is
no prohibition here. They quote here Ibn Abbas, as saying "the voice mentioned
in the verse refers to any form of invitation which calls to disobedience to
Allah." If this form of invitation is "talking nicely" to someone to make
him/her disobey Allah, this does not make "talking nicely" haram. If the
invitation here is accompanied by music or singing, this does not make the music
or singing haram but rather it is the invitation to disobey God in any form that
is haram. They do not like what God says in the Quran, but find nothing wrong in
listening to Ibn Abbas even if they do not know who Ibn Abbas is.
third verse, and the one most often referred to as evidence of the prohibition
of music and singing (according to them) is found is Sura Luqman.
"And there are among men
those who purchase idle talk in order to mislead others from Allah's path
without knowledge, and those who throw ridicule upon it. For such there will be
a humiliating punishment." (31:6)
like the previous verse, using the statement "idle-talk" (lahwal hadeeth)
to condemn music and singing is clearly corrupt. Idle-talk or idle-tales, can be
any form of talk and not necessarily singing and music. Even a tale or story can
be constructive and enlightening or idle, false and mischievous. The Arabic word
for music is "musiqah". Musiqah means music. Hadeeth means tales. Are the
learned Ulama suggesting that Allah (SWT) would use one word when he meant
another? Allama Yusuf Ali in his commentary on the words "lahwal hadeeth"
in the Qur'an 31:6, in his note 3584 says, " Life is taken seriously by men who
realize the issues that hang upon it. But there are men of a frivolous turn of
mind who prefer idle tales to true Realities and they are justly rebuked here.
In the time of the holy Prophet there was a pagan, Nadhr ibn al-Haarith who
preferred Persian romances to the Message of God, and turned away ignorant men
from the preaching of God's Word". The Qur'an never mentions anywhere that music
QURAN DOES NOT PROHIBIT MUSIC OR SINGING,
these people looked for other sources to do this for them. A look at what they
claimed as hadith of the prophet (pbuh) will show their misguidance and
confusion. Here is an example of what these people quote and claimed it to the
prophet which is a clear lie. The prophet (pbuh) cannot deviate from the Quran.
Prophet (SAWS) said, "There will be (at some future time) people from
my ummah (community of Muslims) who will seek to make lawful: fornication,
the wearing of silk (by men), wine-drinking, and the use of musical
instruments (ma'azif). Some people will stay at the side of a mountain and
when their shepherd comes in the evening to ask them for his needs, they
will say, 'return to us tomorrow.' Then Allah will destroy them during the
night by causing the mountain to fall on them, while he changes others into
apes and swine. They will remain in such a state until the Day of
Resurrection. (related by Imam Al-Bukhari in Fat-hul Baari, graded sahih) .
Allah (SWT) teaches us in the Qur'an that the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) did
not know the future. This will immediately expose the falsehood of this
hadith and similar ones and expose the hypocrisy of those who claim to be
Muslims but refuse to believe Allah (SWT) in the Qur'an. Allah (SWT) told
them Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) did not know the future.
Jewish Rabbis of Yathrib had instructed the idolaters to ask Prophet
Muhammad (pbuh) " of some youth who were of old, what was their fate? " of a
much-traveled man who reached the sunrise regions of the earth and the
sunset regions thereof, what was his history?" And " of Spirit, what it is"
as a test of his Prophethood. Verses 60-82 of Surah Al-Kahf (The Cave) and
verse 85 of Surah Bani Israel or Al-Isra were revealed to Prophet Muhammad
to answer these questions. Furthermore nobody knows when Aakhira (the Last
Day) will occur.
"Say (O Muhammed), "I have
no power to benefit myself, or harm myself. Only what God wills happen to me. If
I KNEW THE FUTURE, I would have increased my wealth, and no harm would have
afflicted me. I am no more than a warner, and a bearer of good news for those
who believe."(Qur'an, 7:188).
"Say (O Muhammed), "I am
not different from other messengers, I have NO IDEA what will happen to ME OR TO
YOU. I ONLY follow what is revealed to me. I am NO MORE than a profound warner."
For the past 1400 years there have been millions who listened to music and
songs without mountains falling on top of them or turning into apes and
pigs. What will happen to millions of people, who are turning to their
computers now, will they turn into pigs and monkeys because their computers
have all kinds of music built into them?
who really appreciate music and the beautiful voices that God created, are more
appreciative of God's creations and closer to God than those who prohibit what
God did not and see evil in every beautiful creation of God.
"Say, "Who prohibited the
nice things God has created for His creatures, and the good provisions?"
Say,"such provisions are to be enjoyed in THIS life by those who BELIEVE.
Moreover, the good provisions will be exclusively theirs on the Day of
resurrection." We thus explain the revelations for people who know." (QURAN,
these Muslims who prohibit which is not unlawful, who will be surprised on the
Last Day that the prophet Muhammed (pbuh) will complain to God form them because
they deserted the Qur'an (Qur'an, 25:30).
SINGING WERE NEVER PROHIBTED BY GOD. They are part of the most beautiful
creations of God. As long as they do not call on the people or encourage them to
commit sins, they are for the TRUE BELIEVERS TO ENJOY while remembering God with
every beautiful note or rhythm.
La Elaha Ella
Allah, There is no god besides God. Is it time yet to wake up and follow the
QUR'AN, instead of following the man-made laws? (REF: Sharif Khan, Music and
Singing in Islam (Submission) The true Islam, in the Web pages of Submitters
Yusuf Al-Qaradawi in his well-known book, "The Lawful and the Prohibited in
Islam", (American Trust Publications, Indianapolis, 1980, pp.300-304) says,
" Among the entertainments which may comfort the soul, please the heart, and
refresh the ear is singing. Islam permits singing under the condition that it
not be in anyway obscene or harmful to Islamic morals. There is no harm in its
being accompanied by music, which is not exciting. In order to create an
atmosphere of joy and happiness, singing is recommended on festive occasions
such as the days of "Eid, weddings and wedding feasts, births, 'aqiqat
(the celebration of the birth of a baby by the slaughter of sheep), and on the
return of the traveler." He continues "It is reported that many Companions of
the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them) as well as second generation Muslim
scholars used to listen to singing and did not see anything wrong with it. As
for the ahadith which have been reported against singing, they are all
weak and have been shown by researchers to be unsound. The jurist Abu Bakr
al-'Arabi says, "No sound hadith is available concerning the prohibition
of singing," while Ibn Hazm says, "All that is reported on this subject is false
Muzammil Siddiqui, President of ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) says,
"Imam Shawkani in his famous Nail al-Awtar (vol.8 pp.260-271) has mentioned that
some Sahabah, the Companions of the Prophet, used to listen to music. He even
wrote a book with the title, "Ibtal Da'wa Al-Ijma' 'ala Tahrim Mutlaq al-Sama' "
(The Refutation of the Alleged Claim of Consensus on the Absolute Prohibition of
Music and Songs). While it is not right to say that all music is prohibited in
Islam, it is important to use great discretion in the case of music. A lot of
music that is available in the markets now days are very dangerous and harmful.
Muslim youth should be extremely careful. There are, however, some Muslim groups
in different countries who are developing songs that are very good, enjoyable,
entertaining, and have good positive message."
music industry in America today is a multibillion-dollar business. Popular
musicians and their promoters are making a great deal of money. However, it is a
fact that unhappiness, premature death, and suicide have marked the lives of
some very successful musicians. Our own Yusuf Al-Islam can testify to this fact
from his own life experience. And it has been adequately demonstrated that
some music is morally, emotionally, and spiritually debasing and can lead to
violent, antisocial behavior. Hence it is important to have a balanced view of
music. Some music can enrich one's life and bring a measure of joy and
contentment. It can uplift us emotionally and spiritually. The ancient Hebrews
did not read the psalms in the Torah, they sang them. Often they did so
with beautiful musical accompaniment- a powerful way to link the wisdom of their
God, with the emotions that trained singers could impart to the listeners.
Spiritual music (Samaa') is the strength of the soul. Spiritual music is a
specific cure of all desires. He, who hears it faithfully, finds the way to God;
he who hears it to satisfy his sensual appetite turns a heretic. For Muslims the
melodious recitation of the Qur'an is embedding more deeply in the hearts of the
listeners, the knowledge of Allah, and Taqwa which are needed to guide our
lives. In this 21-century world, which emphasizes education in science,
economics, and logic, the development of the emotional side of personality
through the arts is often neglected. Listening to a piece of fine music can be a
beneficial and pleasurable experience. Of course, as with other good things in
life, there is a need for moderation, good judgement, and selectivity in this
area of entertainment (music). This is true not only in the type of music chosen
but also in the amount of time spent in listening to or playing music.
is one of the great provisions from God that we should be grateful for. We
should use it and enjoy it, like we enjoy
all the other provisions. Indulgence in eating favorite food or drinking
favorite juice to the point that one does not have time to do the required
duties towards Allah (SWT), then one is committing a sin. Hence food and drinks
would not become haram (prohibited). If one indulges in any kind of music or
singing that occupies one at the expense of remembering Allah (SWT), then one is
committing a sin. However the music itself does not become haram (prohibited).
If someone sings a song encouraging corruption or misbehavior then listening to
that song intentionally may be a sin but this does not make all singing haram
(prohibited). It is true that many of the songs and lyrics we hear these days
are disturbing but this does not make music or singing haram, it makes these
specific songs undesirable and should be avoided. (Sharif Khan, ibid).
If a certain
type of music is beginning to have a negative effect on your emotions, actions,
and relationships, then select another style. Protect your ears to protect your
emotions to protect your heart and mind! If we should ever find that through the
power of music, our emotions are beginning to becloud our critical judgement and
reason and misdirect our actions, and then it is time to change our
music-listening habits. The power of music can affect your heart and your
mind-either for good or for bad! Without music, the world will be quiet,
desolate, and lifeless, like a graveyard. On the issue of music, prominent
Muslim jurists, such as Imam Ibn Hazm, Imam Ghazali, Imam Mufti Muhammad Abduhu
and Shaikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi have held the opinion that good music is good and
bad music is bad. If music promotes corruption and evil, it is not accepted.
However, if it promotes sensitivity and a sense of beauty, then there is no