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To sing or to sin?


One of the most heated issues that are debated in fiqh is the permissibility or not of music in Islam. While the majority of the classical scholars, it appears, prohibit the usage of musical instruments in singing [accompanied with licentious activities or not], a minority among them opine the view that music in itself is not unlawful except when it is accompanied with the drinking of alcohol and other prohibited practices, then it is prohibited.


The maqsad of this blog is not to highlight the differences among the scholars and which view is more closer to the truth. I wish to highlight and remind myself and the readers of some very important issues pertaining to da’wa and the way in which we should approach knowledge and people who we may not agree with.During a course on the principles of fiqh, a member of the audience asked the Alim ‘why he is wasting his time authoring a book that exceeds four hundred pages on music? The Scholar replied by asking what the questioner thinks of those scholars who permit the usage of musical instruments in singing? To which, if my memory serves me right, the questioner fervently replied by saying that they are fussaq. This is the reason why I have compiled a book of over four hundred pages on the issue of music’, answered the Shaykh.


The above example demonstrates the problem in seeking knowledge amongst the youth in our current times. Many have left the correct decorum when addressing the scholars. The shaykh’s reply was not only humbling but it shows the difference between a scholar and a layman. It seems that people are more concerned with labelling people and putting them in strands in order to degrade them and their scholarship, than to ascertain the truth and respect permissible differences when they arise. This is extremely unfortunate especially when we compare the level of scholarship of the scholars who they oppose or criticise and their own level of knowledge. The difference is like night and day!


Before I am labelled of being a liberal or a conservative [that again depends where ones stands], allow me to clarify my position, not that it really matters what my view is on this, nevertheless, I incline towards what appears to be the view of the majority of people, that music [intruments] is considered unlawful in Islam, whether it is accompanied with other prohibited activities or not.


Returning to the main purpose of this blog I want to clarify an important issue. In Islam the scholars looking at the rulings or the evidences of the rulings deduced from the Qur’an and Sunnah, classify the evidences in two categories, firstly those verses and Ahadith that are from the immutable or the definitive [thawabit or the qat’iyat], which means that they have fixed rulings and they are not open to interpretation. Secondly, those that are from the mutable or speculative [mutagayyirat or zanni], which means they may have more than one interpretation. Majority of the rulings in the Shar’iah, according Imam ash-Shinqeeti, are from the second category and therefore require the juristic reasoning of the scholars [ijtihad] to establish a position, and this inevitably results in deducing more than one ruling on a particular matter, hence the four main Sunni madhabs.


The scholars say that if one scholar holds an opinion that is contrary to what I believe, as long as this opinion is within the parameters of the Shar’iah, then we must not condemn or degrade him, because the well established legal maxim propounds, ‘in matters where there is ikhtilaf [differences] there is to be no condemnation of either opinion’.


Anyone who has reached the station of ijtihad, and most of those who permit music, in my opinion, have reached the level to perform ijtihad, have the right to hold whatever opinion they want to hold. We may not agree with them and we have the right to follow other scholars who are not in agreement with them but we do not have the right to condemn them. Some ‘people of knowledge’ and eager Islamic activists, unfortunately, do just that.


Disagreeing turns into censuring which invariably leads to harbouring malice and hatred for a scholar. Yes, we cannot know or judge ones inner feelings but the external emotions sometimes inform us of the internal disharmony towards someone. Unfortunately, we often see that people take things personally, and rather than clarifying the truth, the discussions and forums become ignited with defaming and reviling people who they disagree with.


Another important point which needs to be mentioned is the issue of prioritising our da’wa. When it comes to the issue of music and other matters, people have forgotten that we as an Ummah and a minority here in Britain are facing and will face great challenges. There are people who look like us and dress like us uttering statements that clearly go against the well established principles within the Shar’iah. Why are we not addressing the clear cut issues and upon which the vast majority of the Muslims agree upon? This is like a person giving attention to his wounded finger while neglecting his heart.


Finally, differences will not cease, we will have people differing on issues until the Day of Judgment. However, we have to be cautious of not vilifying others because they hold opinions which we may disagree with. It is unfortunate that some assume that they are the only people upon the Sunnah and others are misguided and deviants. We have become so utopian and elitists in our approach and understanding of matters that some even shun well-established principles of goodwill and loving each other [brotherhood]. So, let us work for the overall betterment of Islam and overlook our differences as Imam Rashid Rida said, “We must cooperate in matters wherein we agree and excuse one another in those wherein we disagree.” [Overlook legitimate differences]

This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 4:49 pm and is filed under Abdullah al-Hasan . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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 AAA says:

17.06.09 at 17:02 But those who condemn the fatwa permitting music do so as as they do not see this issue as one of ‘legitimate ikhtilaaf’. Just because several statements/opinions existed in 1400 years of Islamic history does not necessarily make that a matter for legitimate disagreement. There’s plenty of examples of strange opinions that were rejected (even by the sahaba against other sahaba) because they were not under the spehere of legitimate ikhtilaaf.


Which ultimately brings this whole issue to the crux which is: is this issue a matter of ikhtilaaf saaigh/legitimate ikhtilaaf and how do we determine it to be so?

 Ahmadi says:

17.06.09 at 17:36 Actually AAA, the scholars regard it as a matter of ikhtilaf and in fact many introduce the issue by clai that there exists differences of opinion. If the scholars are referring to it as so, then it must be so.

 Muzzammil says:

17.06.09 at 21:02 Another dead, and refuted issue brought back to life; excuse for the ignorant lay who have no access to the works of the great ulama, to now think there is a genuine ikthilaaf. May allah save us.


Please spend more time on real current crisises, rather than deal with issues, that many great men of bygone have dealth with.



 Abdullah al-Hasan says:

17.06.09 at 22:15 Asslaamu Alaikum,


A reminder to the readers. I urge everyone to READ the blog post carefuly and if anyone disgarees withe points mentioned pleae cite your relevant evidences from the Qur’an and Sunnah. Thank you.



 AAA says:

17.06.09 at 23:27 Some of the scholars who strongly condemned the permissibility of music despite the fatawaa stating otherwise, when asked why they do not apply the adab of ikhtilaaf, explained that the reasoning used by the permitters is not credible and does not allow it to fall under the field of liegitimate ikhtilaaf. Again, just because a few scholars may have said something does not mean it immediately becomes a matter of legitimate ikhtilaaf. For example, the great sahabi ibn Abbas was condemned by the other sahaba because of his initial views regarding temporary marriage (br abdullah al-hasan can correct me if I’m wrong), and they did not accept it as a matter to allow disagreement on.


But I’m repeating myself here. The question ultimtely comes down to whether this is a matter to allow disagreement on or not. Did the ‘majority’ over the 1400 years allow ikhtilaff on this issue the way we have it today? I would be greatful if br Abdullah could clarify, as if it indeed a true matter of ikhtilaaf that is unanimously agreed by scholars (past and present) as a matter of ikhtilaaf, then we can apply the adaab of ikhtilaaf and not condemn each other etc. But if it is not, the we cannot expect everyone to accept what is not in their view a real matter of disagreement.


On a seperate note, why the sudden insistence on the ’strange’ opinion in this day and age? Like many other opinions of the pasts – vague or rare statements – that are all of a sudden being promoted as the mainstream view; e.g. the denial of the capital punishment for apostasy…

Would these be an issue if we were not under so much pressure from opponenents of islam livng in the west, and were for exampe living in a remote villae in Bangladesh or living in Makkah?

 AAA says:

17.06.09 at 23:30 And by the way, I am not implying that br Abdullah is defending the minority view (he has already stated otherwise in his post). I just wanted to learn about the ikhtilaaf question. Jazakumullahu khairan.

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