Since 2014-01-06

In researching music, references to it in the Quraan and in the sunnah of our beloved Prophet, its non-permissibility is obvious. We shall start with the verses:

Shariffa Carlo

Last week, a brother asked me to write on the subject of music. I agreed, a bit hesitantly, for several reasons. The first reason was that I know that of all the vices I had to give up when I became Muslim, music was the hardest, even harder than giving up a nasty cigarette habit, if you can believe that. Second, it is a highly disputed subject. So many people seem to feel that music is halal. Last, but not least was the fact that it is not an easy one to logically explain, and so many people expect logical explanations for all the do's and don'ts of Islam. We have come to expect it as a given that we will be able to explain everything. The reality is that there are many things that we may never understand, but here I will make my best attempt to explain it in as logical a fashion as possible.

In researching music, references to it in the Quraan and in the sunnah of our beloved Prophet, its non-permissibility is obvious. We shall start with the verses:

Do ye then wonder at this recital? And will you laugh and not weep? While ye amuse yourselves in vanities? Rather prostrate yourselves before Allah and serve Him. (53:59-62).

"...Allah the Blessed and Exalted addresses the the disbelievers from the Quraish,... The important verse is Allah's saying, "wa antum saamidoon" (while you amuse yourselves in vanities). Due to the root samada having various interpretations in the Arabic language, the scholars differ about the verses meaning." however, it can be narrowed to the following: "Clearly, the term saamidoon has various possible meanings, e.g. that those referred to were singing noisliy and amusing themselves with music and idle play, that they were holding their heads up in pride, or that they were exhibiting anger and hatred for what they heard of the Quraan and the message of Islam. Furthermore, it could indicate that they were indifferent, negligent and rejectionist in their attitude. All of these meanings are possible and are not - in essence - contradictory." (Music and Singing, Abu Bilal Al Kanadi, p. 7). Because of this generality, however, we can't use this verse to conclusively say that music is haram. We must use other evidences from the Quraan and the sunnah together to come to that understanding.

The second Quraanic proof is in the verse:

And beguile whomsoever of them you can with your voice, and collect against them your forces riding and on foot, and share with them in wealth and children, and hold out promises to them; and the Shaitan makes not promises to them but to deceive: (17:64).

Here again, we have the same problem, the verse alone is too general. "Some of the taabiin like Mujahid and Ad-Dahaak interpreted it to be the voice of shaytan through music, song and amusement. Others like Ibin Abass says the voice refers to any invitation to disobeidience of Allah. At-Tabari says, "The most correct of these views expresses that verily, Allah, the blessed said to Iblees, 'And beguile whomsoever of them you can with your voice' and He did not specify any particular type of voice. Thus every voice which is not an invitation to Allah's worship and to His obedience is included in the meaning of Shaytan's voice which is reffered to in the Quraanic verse." (Music and Singing, Abu Bilal Al Kanadi, p. 8).

So, now we look to the third verse which is commonly used to show that music is haram. This verse is the most clear and the most often quoted on in this issue. Allah says:

But there are, among men, those who purchase idle tales, without knowledge (or meaning), to mislead (men) from the Path of Allah and throw ridicule (on the Path): for such there will be a Humiliating Penalty. (31:6).

"Ibn Jareer At-Tabari, in his Jaami'ul Bayaan, mentions that the interpreters of the Quraan differed as to the meaning of the term, "lahwal hadith" (idle talk) which occurs in the above-quoted verse. Their views regarding the meaning can be formulated into three basic categories. The first category defines the term, "lahwal hadith": (a) singing and listening to songs, (b) the purchasing of male or female singers and (c) the purchase of instruments of amusement, namely the drum. The elements of this category revolve around the reference to the blameworthy usage of instruments of idle amusement, in short, music and song. This view was held by a number of companions such as Ibn Masood, Jaabir and Ibin Abaas." (Music and Singing, Abu Bilal Al Kanadi, p. 9).

However, since there are others from the companions of the Prophet who state that this verse refers to things like talking which leads to shirk or all false talk or actions or deeds that take people from the rememberance of Allah, we have to search deeper for definite proof against music. At any rate, we must admit that this verse, by itself, is quite compelling.

Since we can not leave it as this, we need to search for much more conclusive evidence, which, alhamdulillah, can be found in the hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad.

Narrated Abu 'Amir or Abu Malik Al-Ash'ari: that he heard the Prophet saying, "From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful... Sahih Bukhari: Volume 7, Book 69, Number 494v.

This hadith has been authenticated as sahih by Sheikh Ibin-us-Saleh, in Uloom ul Hadith, Haafidh Al Iraaqi, Al Islamaaeeli in Al Mustakhraj, and Ibin Hajaar in Taghleequt Ta'leeq. (Music and Singing, Abu Bilal Al Kanadi, p. 15).

Now, I have looked to this hadith many times. It strikes me that the hadith is written in the negative. It does not directly say that these items are haram, nor does it command us to avoid these acts, but when we look to the structure and the contents, this becomes glaringly clear. First: Why would our beloved Prophet care that people declare halal to be halal. That is illogical. Therefore, it must mean that all the objects in this statement are haram, and understood to be so. Second, we know from many other hadiths that the other items are haram. Few people will deny that silk (for men), intoxicants and illegal sexual intercourse are forbidden in Islam. And about these items I offer a blurb of proof: the following evidences:

About intoxicants, Allah says: O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination,- of Satan's handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper. (5:90).

About fornication and adultery, Allah says:

And come not near unto adultery. Lo! it is an abomination and an evil way. (17:32).

About silk, the prophet said,

Narrated 'Abdullah bin Umar:

Umar bin Al-Khattab saw a silken dress (cloak) being sold at the gate of the Mosque and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Would that you buy it and wear it on Fridays and when the delegates come to you!" Allah's Apostle said, "This is worn by the one who will have no share in the Hereafter." Later on some silk dresses were brought and Allah's Apostle sent one of them to 'Umar. 'Umar said, "How do you give me this to wear while you said what you said about the dress of 'Utarid?" Allah's Apostle said, "I have not given it to you to wear." So, 'Umar gave it to a pagan brother of his in Mecca. Sahih Bukhari: Volume 3, Book 47, Number 782.

Yet, regardless of the evidences, we find that two of these four are being currently declared as lawful by so- called scholars of Islam, silk and music. (Silk is said by some to be ok in the form of a tie -- Allah Knows Best why some people have begun making this distinction. But, that is another topic on its own). Amazingly -- is this not what the Prophet warned us about?

Now, when we look at these four items, another element appears. They are not just haram, but considered "abominations", "of those who will have no share in the hearafter," and "Satan's handiwork". These are mighty strong words that Allah and His Prophet are using. Therefore, we can conclude that these sins are not minor sins. If this is so, what can we conclude about the grouping of the four together? It is a possibility - at the very least - that enjoying music is also not a minor sin.

Another hadith which supports this is:

Anas bin Malik related from the Prophet that "two cursed sounds are that of the mizmaar (winded instrument of Shaytan -- *can also be understood to be a specific term for the general category -- musical instruments -- This can be understood by Omar's usage of the term even though he was speaking of the duff in a hadith that will come later.) played on the occasion of joy and happiness and woeful wailing upon the occurance of adversity." (Abu Bakr Ash Shaafiee, Al Bazzaar (with a slightly different wording), and Al Haafidh Nooruddeen Al Haythami - Authentic).

Now, we can add the term cursed to the list of descriptions of the severity of the sins in this list, and this one has been directly attributed to music for those who doubt its seriousness.

After exploring the verses and the hadiths as a simple student of the deen, I must now turn to those great scholars who have preserved and explained the deen to us. I will give a brief summary of the opinions of the companions, the taabi'een and the four schools of thought as explained by Al Kanadi (pp. 28-40), which I recommend to anyone who wants to seriously study the subject.

"..The companions unanimously agreed upon the prohibition of music and song but allowed particular exceptions specified by the authentic sunnah. many authentic narrations (aathaar) traced to the various sahaabah bear witness to this. Also, the four Khalifas, the fuqahaa among the saahabah such as Ibin Abaas, Ibin Umar, and Jaabir bin Abdullah as well as the general body of saahabah (may Allah be pleased with them all). Al Qurtubi's Tafseer, vol 14, pp51-52, and Al-Aaloosi's Tafseer, Roohul Ma'aani, vol. 21, pp. 66-68)

Abu Haneefah is the toughest of the four in his understanding. He forbids "listening to all musical instruments, all types of tamborines, hand drums (duff), and even the striking of sticks." (Al Kanadi, p. 31). As for Imam Maalik, it is generally understood that he found it to be haram, but some forms of innocent singing (without instruments) were allowed by him. (Al Kanadi, p. 32). As for Imam Shaafiee, while in one of his books he is reported to have said it was makrooh, this has been carefully and conclusively disputed by many of his students. One student, Ibin Hajaar Al Haythami related that Shaafiee student, Al Haarith Al Muhaasibi (d.243H) said, "Song is haram, just as the carcass (maytah) is." (Al Kanadi, p. 34). Next, we have Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal. He forbid all but those which have been mentioned as exceptions in the sunnah.

Since, I have made references to the exceptions that do exist, I will now try to explain them. The exception that is made is singing and playing the duff. The duff is a round hand drum which resembles a tambourine without the metal attachments. We know that at least on special occasions, like weddings and Eid, it was not only allowed, but encouraged. We find this in the following hadiths:

Narrated Aisha:

*That once Abu Bakr came to her on the day of 'Id-ul-Fitr or 'Id ul Adha while the Prophet was with her and there were two girl singers with her, singing songs of the Ansar about the day of Buath. Abu Bakr said twice. "Musical instrument of Satan! (Mizmaar)" But the Prophet said, "Leave them Abu Bakr, for every nation has an 'Id (i.e. festival) and this day is our 'Id." Sahih Bukhari: Volume 5, Book 58, Number 268.

Narrated 'Urwa on the authority of 'Aisha:

On the days of Mina, (11th, 12th, and 13th of Dhul-Hijjah) Abu Bakr came to her while two young girls were beating the duff and the Prophet was lying covered with his clothes. Abu Bakr scolded them and the Prophet uncovered his face and said to Abu Bakr, "Leave them, for these days are the days of 'Id and the days of Mina." 'Aisha further said, "Once the Prophet was screening me and I was watching the display of black slaves in the Mosque and ('Umar) scolded them. The Prophet said, 'Leave them. O Bani Arfida! (carry on), you are safe (protected)'." Sahih Bukhari: Volume 2, Book 15, Number 103. and

Narrated Ar-Rabi':

(the daughter of Muawwidh bin Afra) After the consummation of my marriage, the Prophet came and sat on my bed as far from me as you are sitting now, and our little girls started beating the duffs and reciting elegiac verses mourning my father who had been killed in the battle of Badr. One of them said, "Among us is a Prophet who knows what will happen tomorrow." On that the Prophet said, "Leave this (saying) and keep on saying the verses which you had been saying before." Sahih Bukhari: Volume 7, Book 62, Number 77.

Muhammad bin Haatib Al Jumahi relates that the Messenger of Allah said, "The difference between the unlawful and the lawful (in marriage celebration) is the duff and the voice". (At Tirmidhi - authentic).

Aisha related that the Messenger of Allah said, "Proclaim the marriage and beat the duff on its occasion." (At Tirmidhi, Ibin Hibban and others -- authentic chain).

So on these occasions, we have been allowed the singing and the duff. This is the exception made to the rule. It is not carte blanche to say that all music is ok simply because this exception was made. The hadiths clearly specify the voice and the duff. Nothing else has ever been known to have been allowed, so we have no freedom to generalize, although some jurists have stated that it is allowed on occasions of joy because these occasions mentioned were joyful occasions approved of in the sunnah. I tend to agree with this position based on evidence heard from Al Albaani that states that once the Prophet asked Aisha if she wished to listen to some singers while there was no wedding or Eid being celebrated, while Al Kanadi says it is incorrect.

Now, as to the reason why music is generally forbidden, I can not offer much in the way of logic. I must start with the fact that Allah is the Most Wise, and while we may not be able to understand all that is encompassed in that Wisdom, we are not exempt from obeying Allah and His Messenger because something is not understood by our limited mind.

Having said this, I can show that there are effects upon us when we listen to Music. For this, I will simply copy at the end of this class, a research article which discusses this. Just logically -- anyone who has listened to music knows that it affects him/her. Even a child is naturally moved to sway at hearing musical tones. Music is a kind of therapy and as a kind of control over minds.

Last but not least, we have to recognize that Allah, at times gives us commands which we are simply to obey. They may never be explained. He told us as much in the verse:

"It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the East or the West (in prayers), but righteousness is the one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets, and gives of his wealth, in spite of his love for it, to his kinsfolk, to the orphans, and to al masakeen (the poor), and to the way-farer, and to those who ask, and to set slaves free, performs as salat and gives zakat and who fulfill their covenant when they make it, and who are patient in extreme poverty and ailment at at such time of fighting (during the battles). Such are the people of truth and the muttaqun (pious)." (2: 177).

This verse refers to the change of the Qibla. There is no logical reason for the change. Allah so much as tells us that it is not the direction that counts. What counts is that we hear Allah's command and we obey. Allah will test us many times in our life to see if we will obey, without explanation, but smply because He and/or His Prophet commanded us to do a thing. It is the duty of the Muslim to live by the words we say when we go to hajj - Labbaik. What is labbaik -- it is a statement which says here I am -- command me and I will obey. So, we have received the command -- Allah and His Messenger forbid musical instruments. Now the choice is ours -- will we be saying Labbaik Allahu Labaik or labaiki naffsi (self) labaiki?

Subhanak allaahuma wa bihamdik/Glory & praise/gratitude is to You OH Allaah, ash-hadu allaa illahaa illa Ant/I bear witness there is none that has the right to my worship but You, astaghfiruka wa a tubu Eellaik/I ask Your forgiveness and repent unto You.

The following is the article about the effect music has on us.




Music has a great emotional significance in many people's lives. Some examples are given of the types of claims that people make about the importance of music to them. In extreme cases, people can claim that their relationship to music is far more important to them than their relationship to any other human being (1).

Music can intensify and change emotional states. Its effect is normally positive, and thus shares core features with some forms of therapy. One function of music may be self-therapy. There are other functions, but many of them (e.g. group identification, remeniscence) seem also to be emotion-laden.

Much response to music is unobservable, and quite difficult to describe. But one group of responses is quite common, and has behavioural outcomes. This group includes crying, and skin sensations (hair standing on end, shivers down the spine). 90% of people experience such reactions, usually in combination with the experience of strong emotion.

It turns out to be possible to predict to some extent when such responses are most likely to be experienced. A set of common musical devices (found in all tonal music from 15 to 20th Century) seem to trigger these responses. They include appogiaturas, sequences, and certain harmonic changes. They appear to work by playing on subconscious expectations. Strong emotions in or out of music are triggered by confirmations or violations of expectancy (2).

Not all people, however, experience these feelings every time they listen to music. They depend on the characteristics and state of mind of the listener (for instance, women experience stronger reactions to music than men, relaxed people experience stronger reactions than anxious people). It also matters how much you like or identify with the particular piece of music, or its style.

The role of the performer cannot be underestimated. The subtle differences between one performer and another can heighten or destroy the emotional effect of the music. The effects of different performances of the same piece on emotional power are currently being investigated.

(1) Sloboda, J. A. (1992) Empirical studies of emotional response to music. In M. R. Jones & S. Holleran (Eds.) Cognitive Bases of Musical Behaviour. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

(2) Sloboda, J. A. (1991) Music structure and emotional response: some empirical findings. Psychology of Music, vol 19, pp 110-120.

Source: Islamic Awakening

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