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Islamic Society ( 6 May 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Is Music Forbidden in Islam?



By Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

Many Islamic scholars believe that one of the reasons the Quran is so unique is that its poetic form cannot be emulated. Its language is described as “rhymed prose”, meaning it contains both prose as well as poetry. Poetry is nothing but music. So if music is forbidden then reading the Quran too becomes forbidden.

The Psalms, the Samaveda, the Gita and the Quran, all contain the examples of the finest standard of poetry and music. The word ‘psalms’ originally in Greek means “music of the lyre” or any piece of music; ‘Samaveda’ in Sanskrit means the knowledge of the melody; ‘Bhagavad Gita’ means the Song of the Lord; and ‘Quran’ means recitation- they are all related to music and song. In Islam, music which deviates Muslims from the “straight path” is forbidden, otherwise music is allowed- God Himself used it!

How did this idea emerge that music is prohibited? The answer is many folds, but let me give the readers just one example. The Prophet (pbuh) prohibited that music which the pagans used to play and which involved sexual activities by the women. This was sinful music as it deviated people from the “straight path”, hence he prohibited these kinds of music.

Kashmir’s top clergyman, Mufti Azam Mufti Bashiruddin three months ago had issued a ‘fatwa’ against three Kashmiri girls for being part of a rock band. He said that music is against Islam and the girls should inculcate “better values”. He further said "All bad things happening in the Indian society are because of music."

Many fanatic Muslims even supported this outlandish idea. How was it that many Muslims were able to swallow this strange idea?  Some of the credit goes to Dr Zakir Naik. He had also given a ‘fatwa’ (opinion, in this case) that music is Haram. He quotes the following couple of Hadiths:

Narrated Abu Amir or Abu Malik Al Ashari: he heard the Prophet (pbuh) saying that, "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. And there will be some people who will stay near the side of a mountain and in the evening their shepherd will come to them with their sheep and ask them for something, but they will say to him, 'Return to us tomorrow.' Allah will destroy them during the night and will let the mountain fall on them, and He will transform the rest of them into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Resurrection." [Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol.7 Hadith No.5590]


Narrated Abu Malik Al-Ashari:

"The Messenger (pbuh) of Allah (SAWT) said, "Some people of my Ummah will drink wine, calling it by other than its real name, merriment will be made for them through the playing of musical instruments and the singing of lady singers. Allah will cleave the earth under them and turn others into monkeys and swine.

[Ibn Ma'jah Vol.5 Hadith No.4020]

After these he says that ‘Daff’ is allowed, rest are all Haram. He concludes by saying:

“Music usually intoxicates a person and takes one away from the path of Allah (saw). Music engages a person’s mind and takes him/her away from the remembrance of his/her Creator and from realizing and focusing his/her attention on the purpose of his/her creation. In musical songs, most of the times the listeners even appreciate illogical, incorrect and blasphemous matter and content. A person will realize this when he starts pondering over the meaning of many Hindi and English songs, lyrics and Ghazals. Here we find that it is because of music that the persons mind is intoxicated and the person deviates from the straight path. And Allah Knows the Best.”

Ok, for the sake of argument let us agree with these couple of Hadiths and his conclusion. But how about these:

Narrated Abu Musa that the Prophet (pbuh) said to him: 'O Abu Musa! You have been given one of the musical wind-instruments of the family of David.' (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Virtues of the Qur'an, Volume 6, Book 61, Number 568)"

Let us look at Noble Verse 17:55 "And it is your Lord that knoweth best all beings that are in the heavens and on earth: We did bestow on some prophets more (and other) gifts than on others: and We gave to David (the gift of) the Psalms."

From Bukhari Volume 2, Book 15, Number 70:

Narrated Aisha:

Allah's Apostle (pbuh) came to my house while two girls were singing beside me the songs of Buath (a story about the war between the two tribes of the Ansar, the Khazraj and the Aus, before Islam). The Prophet (pbuh) lay down and turned his face to the other side. Then Abu Bakr came and spoke to me harshly saying, "Musical instruments of Satan near the Prophet (pbuh)?” Allah's Apostle (pbuh) turned his face towards him and said, "Leave them."

In fact the Quran approves music.

“And thou wilt see the angels surrounding the Throne (Divine) on all sides, singing Glory and Praise to their Lord. The Decision between them (at Judgment) will be in (perfect) justice, and the cry (on all sides) will be, "Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds!" 039.075

Contrary to what Dr Naik has said, music actually helps us in improving concentration and reducing stress.

Patients taking part in the study at John Radcliffe Hospital Oxford were split into two groups - one group underwent operations under local anesthetic and was played music during the operation, whilst the other group was operated on without music. Levels of anxiety were measured. The results, published in the 'Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons,' showed that the patients who were played music during their operations measured 29% less on anxiety levels and had a lower average breathing rate.

By now it should become very clear that Islam does not disapprove of music. But the music (and the words) which are sinful should be eschewed.