Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars:Music
r40.1 (Ibn Hajar Haytami:) As for the condemnation of musical instruments, flutes, strings, and the like by the Truthful and Trustworthy (Allah bless him and give him peace), who
"does not speak from personal caprice: it is nothing besides a revelation inspired" (Koran 53:3-4),
let those who refuse to obey him beware lest calamity strike them, or a painful torment. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:
(1) "Allah Mighty and Majestic sent me as a guidance and mercy to believers and commanded me to do away with musical instruments, flutes, strings, crucifixes, and the affair of the pre-Islamic period of ignorance."
(2) "On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will pour molten lead into the ears of whoever sits listening to a songstress."
(3) "Song makes hypocrisy grow in the heart as water does herbage."
(4) "This Community will experience the swallowing up of some people by the earth, metamorphosis of some into animals, and being rained upon with stones." Someone asked, "When will this be, O Messenger of Allah?" and he said, "When songstresses and musical instruments appear and wine is held to be lawful."
(5) "There will be peoples of my Community who will hold fornication, silk, wine, and musical instruments to be lawful ...."
All of this is explicit and compelling textual evidence that musical instruments of all types are unlawful (Kaff al-ra'a' 'an muharramat al-lahw wa al-sama' (y49), 2.269-70).
r40.2 (Nawawi:) It is unlawful to use musical instruments—such as those which drinkers are known for, like the mandolin, lute, cymbals, and flute—or to listen to them. It is permissible to play the tambourine at weddings, circumcisions, and other times, even if it has bells on its sides. Beating the kuba, a long drum with a narrow middle, is unlawful (Mughni al-muhtaj ila ma'rifa ma'ani alfaz al-Minhaj (y73), 4.429-30).
SINGING UNACCOMPANIED BY MUSICAL INSTRUMENTSr40.3 (Ibn Hajar Haytami:) As for listening to singing that is not accompanied by instruments, one should know that singing or listening to singing is offensive except under the circumstances to be mentioned in what follows. Some scholars hold that singing is sunna at weddings and the like, and of our Imams, Ghazali and 'Izz ibn 'Abd al-Salam say that it is sunna if it moves one to a noble state of mind that makes one remember the hereafter. It is clear from this that all poetry which encourages good deeds, wisdom, noble qualities, abstinence from this-worldly things, or similar pious traits such as urging one to obey Allah, follow the sunna, or shun disobedience, is sunna to write, sing, or listen to, as more than one of our Imams have stated is obvious, since using a means to do good is itself doing good (Kaff al-ra'a' 'an muharramat al-lahw wa al-sama' (y49), 2.273).
Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, Edited and Translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller
It is not lawful for you to deliberately listen to all of a falsehood nor to take pleasure in listening to the words of a woman who is not lawful for you nor to listen to musicians and singers.
- [ Falsehood is like backbiting or action like listening to musical instruments and their sound.
- [Hash: According to Ibn 'Umar, listening to it is not haram.]
A Treatise on Maliki Fiqh (Including commentary from ath-Thamr ad-Dani by al-Azhari)(310/922 - 386/996)
(an ample recompense.) Mujahid said, "Sufficient recompense." Qatadah said, "It will be abundant for you and will not be decreased for you."(And fool them gradually those whom you can among them with your voice,) [Qur'an 17:64] It was said that this refers to singing. Mujahid said, "With idle entertainment and singing," meaning, influence them with that.
Tafsir Ibn Kathir
(Allah has sent down the Best Statement, a Book, its parts resembling each other (and) oft-repeated. The skins of those who fear their Lord shiver from it. Then their skin and their heart soften to the remembrance of Allah) (39:23). He connect that with mention of the doomed, those who turn away from the Qur'an and do not benefit from hearing the Words of Allah. Instead, they turn to listening to flutes and singing accompanied by musical instruments. As Ibn Mas`ud commented about the Ayah:
(And of mankind is he who purchases Lahu Al-Hadith to mislead (men) from the path of Allah) [Qur'an 31:6], he said, "This -- by Allah -- refers to singing."
(And of mankind is he who purchases Lahw Al-Hadith to mislead (men) from the path of Allah without knowledge,) Qatadah said: "By Allah, he may not spend money on it, but his purchasing it means he likes it, and the more misguided he is, the more he likes it and the more he prefers falsehood to the truth and harmful things over beneficial things." It was said that what is meant by the words(purchases idle talks) is buying singing servant girls. Ibn Jarir said that it means all speech that hinders people from seeing the signs of Allah and following His path.
(wonder) doubting that it is true.
(And you laugh) in jest and mock at it,
(and weep not,) just as those who believe in it weep,
(And they fall down on their faces weeping and it increases their humility.)(17:109) Allah said;(While you are Samidun.) [Qur'an 53:61] Sufyan Ath-Thawri reported that his father narrated that Ibn `Abbas said about Samidun, "Singing; in Yemenite dialect `Ismid for us' means `Sing for us."' `Ikrimah said something similar.
Tafsir Ibn Kathir
Tafsir Ibn 'Abbas, trans. Mokrane Guezzou
Tafsir Ibn 'Abbas, trans. Mokrane Guezzou
Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi, trans. Mokrane Guezzou
Evidence of prohibition in the Qur’aan and Sunnah:
Allaah says in Soorat Luqmaan (interpretation of the meaning):
“And of mankind is he who purchases idle talks (i.e. music, singing) to mislead (men) from the path of Allaah…” [Luqmaan 31:6]
The scholar of the ummah, Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: this means singing. Mujaahid (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: this means playing the drum (tabl). (Tafseer al-Tabari, 21/40).
Al-Hasan al-Basri (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: this aayah was revealed concerning singing and musical instruments (lit. woodwind instruments). (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 3/451).
Al-Sa’di (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: this includes all manner of haraam speech, all idle talk and falsehood, and all nonsense that encourages kufr and disobedience; the words of those who say things to refute the truth and argue in support of falsehood to defeat the truth; and backbiting, slander, lies, insults and curses; the singing and musical instruments of the Shaytaan; and musical instruments which are of no spiritual or worldly benefit. (Tafseer al-Sa’di, 6/150)
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The interpretation of the Sahaabah and Taabi’in, that ‘idle talk’ refers to singing, is sufficient. This was reported with saheeh isnaads from Ibn ‘Abbaas and Ibn Mas’ood. Abu’l-Sahbaa’ said: I asked Ibn Mas’ood about the aayah (interpretation of the meaning), ‘“And of mankind is he who purchases idle talks’ [Luqmaan 31:6]. He said: By Allaah, besides Whom there is no other god, this means singing – and he repeated it three times. It was also reported with a saheeh isnaad from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with them both) that this means singing. There is no contradiction between the interpretation of “idle talk” as meaning singing and the interpretation of it as meaning stories of the Persians and their kings, and the kings of the Romans, and so on, such as al-Nadr ibn al-Haarith used to tell to the people of Makkah to distract them from the Qur’aan. Both of them are idle talk. Hence Ibn ‘Abbaas said: “Idle talk” is falsehood and singing. Some of the Sahaabah said one and some said the other, and some said both. Singing is worse and more harmful than stories of kings, because it leads to zinaa and makes hypocrisy grow (in the heart); it is the trap of the Shaytaan, and it clouds the mind. The way in which it blocks people from the Qur’aan is worse than the way in which other kinds of false talk block them, because people are naturally inclined towards it and tend to want to listen to it. The aayaat condemn replacing the Qur’aan with idle talk in order to mislead (men) from the path of Allaah without knowledge and taking it as a joke, because when an aayah of the Qur’aan is recited to such a person, he turns his back as if he heard them not, as if there were deafness in his ear. If he hears anything of it, he makes fun of it. All of this happens only in the case of the people who are most stubbornly kaafirs and if some of it happens to singers and those who listen to them, they both have a share of this blame. (Ighaathat al-Lahfaan, 1/258-259).
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“[Allaah said to Iblees:] And befool them gradually those whom you can among them with your voice (i.e. songs, music, and any other call for Allaah’s disobedience)…” [al-Israa’ 17:64]
It was narrated that Mujaahid (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “And befool them gradually those whom you can among them with your voice” – his voice [the voice of Iblees/Shaytaan] is singing and falsehood. Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: This idaafah [possessive or genitive construction, i.e., your voice] serves to make the meaning specific, as with the phrases [translated as] “your cavalry” and “your infantry” [later in the same aayah]. Everyone who speaks in any way that is not obedient to Allaah, everyone who blows into a flute or other woodwind instrument, or who plays any haraam kind of drum, this is the voice of the Shaytaan. Everyone who walks to commit some act of disobedience towards Allaah is part of his [the Shaytaan’s] infantry, and anyone who rides to commit sin is part of his cavalry. This is the view of the Salaf, as Ibn ‘Abi Haatim narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas: his infantry is everyone who walks to disobey Allaah. (Ighaathat al-Lahfaan).
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Do you then wonder at this recitation (the Qur’aan)?
And you laugh at it and weep not,
Wasting your (precious) lifetime in pastime and amusements (singing)”
‘Ikrimah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: it was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas that al-sumood [verbal noun from saamidoon, translated here as “Wasting your (precious) lifetime in pastime and amusements (singing)”] means “singing”, in the dialect of Himyar; it might be said “Ismidi lanaa” [‘sing for us’ – from the same root as saamidoon/sumood] meaning “ghaniy” [sing]. And he said (may Allaah have mercy on him): When they [the kuffaar] heard the Qur’aan, they would sing, then this aayah was revealed.
Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning) “Wasting your (precious) lifetime in pastime and amusements (singing)” – Sufyaan al-Thawri said, narrating from his father from Ibn ‘Abbaas: (this means) singing. This is Yemeni (dialect): ismad lana means ghan lana [sing to us]. This was also the view of ‘Ikrimah. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer).
It was reported from Abu Umaamah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Do not sell singing slave women, do not buy them and do not teach them. There is nothing good in this trade, and their price is haraam. Concerning such things as this the aayah was revealed (interpretation of the meaning): ‘And of mankind is he who purchases idle talks (i.e. music, singing) to mislead (men) from the path of Allaah…’ [Luqmaan 31:6].” (Hasan hadeeth)
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“Among my ummah there will certainly be people who permit zinaa, silk, alcohol and musical instruments…” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari ta’leeqan, no. 5590; narrated as mawsool by al-Tabaraani and al-Bayhaqi. See al-Silsilah al-Saheehah by al-Albaani, 91).
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: This is a saheeh hadeeth narrated by al-Bukhaari in his Saheeh, where he quoted it as evidence and stated that it is mu’allaq and majzoom. He said: Chapter on what was narrated concerning those who permit alcohol and call it by another name.
This hadeeth indicates in two ways that musical instruments and enjoyment of listening to music are haraam. The first is the fact that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “[they] permit” which clearly indicates that the things mentioned, including musical instruments, are haraam according to sharee’ah, but those people will permit them. The second is the fact that musical instruments are mentioned alongside things which are definitely known to be haraam, i.e., zinaa and alcohol: if they (musical instruments) were not haraam, why would they be mentioned alongside these things? (adapted from al-Silsilah al-Saheehah by al-Albaani, 1/140-141)
Shaykh al-Islam (Ibn Taymiyah) (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: This hadeeth indicates that ma’aazif are haraam, and ma’aazif means musical instruments according to the scholars of (Arabic) language. This word includes all such instruments. (al-Majmoo’, 11/535).
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: And concerning the same topic similar comments were narrated from Sahl ibn Sa’d al-Saa’idi, ‘Imraan ibn Husayn, ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr, ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Abbaas, Abu Hurayrah, Abu Umaamah al-Baahili, ‘Aa’ishah Umm al-Mu’mineen, ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib, Anas ibn Maalik, ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Saabit and al-Ghaazi ibn Rabee’ah. Then he mentioned it in Ighaathat al-Lahfaan, and it indicates that they (musical instruments) are haraam.
It was narrated that Naafi’ (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Ibn ‘Umar heard a woodwind instrument, and he put his fingers in his ears and kept away from that path. He said to me, O Naafi’, can you hear anything? I said, No. So he took his fingers away from his ears and said: I was with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and he heard something like this, and he did the same thing. (Saheeh Abi Dawood). Some insignificant person said that this hadeeth does not prove that musical instruments are haraam, because if that were so, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would have instructed Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with them both) to put his fingers in his ears as well, and Ibn ‘Umar would have instructed Naafi’ to do likewise! The response to this is: He was not listening to it, but he could hear it. There is a difference between listening and hearing. Shaykh al-Islam (Ibn Taymiyah) (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Concerning (music) which a person does not intend to listen to, there is no prohibition or blame, according to scholarly consensus. Hence blame or praise is connected to listening, not to hearing. The one who listens to the Qur’aan will be rewarded for it, whereas the one who hears it without intending or wanting to will not be rewarded for that, because actions are judged by intentions. The same applies to musical instruments which are forbidden: if a person hears them without intending to, that does not matter. (al-Majmoo’, 10/78).
Ibn Qudaamah al-Maqdisi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: the listener is the one who intends to hear, which was not the case with Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with them both); what happened in his case was hearing. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) needed to know when the sound stopped because he had moved away from that path and blocked his ears. So he did not want to go back to that path or unblock his ears until the noise had stopped, so when he allowed Ibn ‘Umar to continue hearing it, this was because of necessity.
(Even though the hearing referred to in the comments of the two imaams is makrooh, it was permitted because of necessity, as we will see below in the comments of Imaam Maalik (may Allaah have mercy on him). And Allaah knows best).
The views of the scholars (imaams) of Islam
Al-Qaasim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Singing is part of falsehood. Al-Hasan (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: if there is music involved in a dinner invitation (waleemah), do not accept the invitation (al-Jaami by al-Qayrawaani, p. 262-263).
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The view of the four Imaams is that all kinds of musical instruments are haraam. It was reported in Saheeh al-Bukhaari and elsewhere that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said that there would be among his ummah those who would allow zinaa, silk, alcohol and musical instruments, and he said that they would be transformed into monkeys and pigs… None of the followers of the imaams mentioned any dispute concerning the matter of music. (al-Majmoo’, 11/576).
Al-Albaani (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The four madhhabs are agreed that all musical instruments are haraam. (al-Saheehah, 1/145).
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The madhhab of Abu Haneefah is the strictest in this regard, and his comments are among the harshest. His companions clearly stated that it is haraam to listen to all musical instruments such as the flute and the drum, even tapping a stick. They stated that it is a sin which implies that a person is a faasiq (rebellious evil doer) whose testimony should be rejected. They went further than that and said that listening to music is fisq (rebellion, evildoing) and enjoying it is kufr (disbelief). This is their words. They narrated in support of that a hadeeth which could not be attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). They said: he should try not to hear it if he passes by it or it is in his vicinity. Abu Yoosuf said, concerning a house from which could be heard the sound of musical instruments: Go in without their permission, because forbidding evil actions is obligatory, and if it were not allowed to enter without permission, people could not have fulfilled the obligatory duty (of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil). (Ighaathat al-Lahfaan, 1/425).
Imaam Maalik (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about playing the drum or flute, if a person happens to hear the sound and enjoy it whilst he is walking or sitting. He said: He should get up if he finds that he enjoys it, unless he is sitting down for a need or is unable to get up. If he is on the road, he should either go back or move on. (al-Jaami’ by al-Qayrawaani, 262). He (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “The only people who do things like that, in our view, are faasiqs.” (Tafseer al-Qurtubi, 14/55).
Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Among the types of earnings which are haraam by scholarly consensus are ribaa, the fee of a prostitute, anything forbidden, bribes, payment for wailing over the dead and singing, payments to fortune-tellers and those who claim to know the unseen and astrologers, payments for playing flutes, and all kinds of gambling. (al-Kaafi).
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, explaining the view of Imaam al-Shaafa'i: His companions who know his madhhab (point of view) stated that it is haraam and denounced those who said that he permitted it. (Ighaathat al-Lahfaan, 1/425).
The author of Kifaayat al-Akhbaar, who was one of the Shaafa’is, counted musical instruments such as flutes and others, as being munkar (evil), and the one who is present (where they are being played) should denounce them. (He cannot be excused by the fact that there are bad scholars, because they are corrupting the sharee’ah, or evil faqeers – meaning the Sufis, because they call themselves fuqaraa’ or faqeers – because they are ignorant and follow anyone who makes noise; they are not guided by the light of knowledge; rather they are blown about by every wind. (Kifaayat al-Akhbaar, 2/128).
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: With regard to the view of Imaam Ahmad, his son ‘Abd-Allaah said: I asked my father about singing. He said: Singing makes hypocrisy grow in the heart; I do not like it. Then he mentioned the words of Maalik: the evildoers (faasiqs) among us do that. (Ighaathat al-Lahfaan).
Ibn Qudaamah, the researcher of the Hanbali madhhab – (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Musical instruments are of three types which are haraam. These are the strings and all kinds of flute, and the lute, drum and rabaab (stringed instrument) and so on. Whoever persists in listening to them, his testimony should be rejected. (al-Mughni, 10/173). And he said (may Allaah have mercy on him); If a person is invited to a gathering in which there is something objectionable, such as wine and musical instruments, and he is able to denounce it, then he should attend and speak out against it, because then he will be combining two obligatory duties. If he is not able to do that, then he should not attend. (al-Kaafi, 3/118)
Al-Tabari (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The scholars of all regions are agreed that singing is makrooh and should be prevented. Although Ibraaheem ibn Sa’d and ‘Ubayd-Allaah al-‘Anbari differed from the majority, (it should be noted that) the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Adhere to the majority.” And whoever dies differing from the majority, dies as a jaahili. (Tafseer al-Qurtubi, 14/56). In earlier generations, the word “makrooh” was used to mean haraam, then it took on the meaning of “disliked”. But this is to be understood as meaning that it is forbidden, because he [al-Tabari] said “it should be prevented”, and nothing is to be prevented except that which is haraam; and because in the two hadeeths quoted, music is denounced in the strongest terms. Al-Qurtubi (may Allaah have mercy on him) is the one who narrated this report, then he said: Abu’l-Faraj and al-Qaffaal among our companions said: the testimony of the singer and the dancer is not to be accepted. I say: if it is proven that this matter is not permissible, then accepting payment for it is not permissible either.
Shaykh al-Fawzaan (may Allaah preserve him) said: What Ibraaheem ibn Sa’d and ‘Ubayd-Allaah al-‘Anbari said about singing is not like the kind of singing that is known nowadays, for they would never have allowed this kind of singing which is the utmost in immorality and obscenity. (al-I’laam)
Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: It is not permissible to make musical instruments. (al-Majmoo’, 22/140). And he said: According to the majority of fuqahaa’, it is permissible to destroy musical instruments, such as the tanboor [a stringed instrument similar to a mandolin]. This is the view of Maalik and is the more famous of the two views narrated from Ahmad. (al-Majmoo’, 28/113). And he said: …Ibn al-Mundhir mentioned that the scholars were agreed that it is not permissible to pay people to sing and wail… the consensus of all the scholars whose views we have learned about is that wailing and singing are not allowed. Al-Shu’bi, al-Nakha’i and Maalik regarded that as makrooh [i.e., haraam]. Abu Thawr, al-Nu’maan – Abu Haneefah (may Allaah have mercy on him) – and Ya’qoob and Muhammad, two of the students of Abu Haneefah said: it is not permissible to pay anything for singing and wailing. This is our view. And he said: musical instruments are the wine of the soul, and what it does to the soul is worse than what intoxicating drinks do. (Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 10/417).
Ibn Abi Shaybah (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported that a man broke a mandolin belonging to another man, and the latter took his case to Shurayh. But Shurayh did not award him any compensation – i.e., he did not make the first man pay the cost of the mandolin, because it was haraam and had no value. (al-Musannaf, 5/395).
Al-Baghawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) stated in a fatwa that it is haraam to sell all kinds of musical instruments such as mandolins, flutes, etc. Then he said: If the images are erased and the musical instruments are altered, then it is permissible to sell their parts, whether they are silver, iron, wood or whatever. (Sharh al-Sunnah, 8/28)
An appropriate exception
The exception to the above is the daff – without any rings (i.e., a hand-drum which looks like a tambourine, but without any rattles) – when used by women on Eids and at weddings. This is indicated by saheeh reports. Shaykh al-Islam (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: But the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) made allowances for certain types of musical instruments at weddings and the like, and he made allowances for women to play the daff at weddings and on other joyful occasions. But the men at his time did not play the daff or clap with their hands. It was narrated in al-Saheeh that he said: “Clapping is for women and tasbeeh (saying Subhaan Allaah) is for men.” And he cursed women who imitate men and men who imitate women. Because singing and playing the daff are things that women do, the Salaf used to call any man who did that a mukhannath (effeminate man), and they used to call male singers effeminate – and how many of them there are nowadays! It is well known that the Salaf said this.
In a similar vein is the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), when her father (may Allaah be pleased with him) entered upon her at the time of Eid, and there were two young girls with her who were singing the verses that the Ansaar had said on the day of Bu’aath – and any sensible person will know what people say about war. Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “Musical instruments of the Shaytaan in the house of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)!” The Messenger of Allaah had turned away from them and was facing the wall – hence some scholars said that Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him) would not tell anybody off in front of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), but he thought that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was not paying attention to what was happening. And Allaah knows best. He (the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)) said: “Leave them alone, O Abu Bakr, for every nation has its Eid, and this is our Eid, the people of Islam.” This hadeeth shows that it was not the habit of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his companions to gather to listen to singing, hence Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq called it “the musical instruments of the Shaytaan”. And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) approved of this appellation and did not deny it when he said, “Leave them alone, for every nation has its Eid and this is our Eid.” This indicates that the reason why this was permitted was because it was the time of Eid, and the prohibition remained in effect at times other than Eid, apart from the exceptions made for weddings in other ahaadeeth. Shaykh al-Albaani explained this in his valuable book Tahreem Aalaat al-Tarab (the Prohibition of Musical Instruments). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) approved of young girls singing at Eid, as stated in the hadeeth: “So that the mushrikeen will know that in our religion there is room for relaxation.” There is no indication in the hadeeth about the two young girls that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was listening to them. The commands and prohibitions have to do with listening, not merely hearing, just as in the case of seeing, the rules have to do with intentionally looking and not what happens by accident. So it is clear that this is for women only. Imaam Abu ‘Ubayd (may Allaah have mercy on him) defined the daff as “that which is played by women.” (Ghareeb al-Hadeeth, 3/64).
An inappropriate exception
Some of them make an exception for drums at times of war, and consequentially some modern scholars have said that military music is allowed. But there is no basis for this at all, for a number of reasons, the first of which is that this is making an exception with no clear evidence, apart from mere opinion and thinking that it is good, and this is wrong. The second reason is that what the Muslims should do at times of war is to turn their hearts towards their Lord. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“They ask you (O Muhammad) about the spoils of war. Say: ‘The spoils are for Allaah and the Messenger.’ So fear Allaah and adjust all matters of difference among you…” [al-Anfaal 8:1]. But using music is the opposite of this idea of taqwa and it would distract them from remembering their Lord. Thirdly, using music is one of the customs of the kuffaar, and it is not permitted to imitate them, especially with regard to something that Allaah has forbidden to us in general, such as music. (al-Saheehah, 1/145)
“No people go astray after having been guided except they developed arguments amongst themselves.” (Saheeh)
Some of them used the hadeeth about the Abyssinians playing in the mosque of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) as evidence that singing is allowed! Al-Bukhaari included this hadeeth in his Saheeh under the heading Baab al-Hiraab wa’l-Daraq Yawm al-‘Eid (Chapter on Spears and Shields on the Day of Eid). Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: This indicates that it is permissible to play with weapons and the like in the mosque, and he applied that to other activities connected with jihaad. (Sharh Muslim). But as al-Haafiz ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: whoever speaks about something which is not his profession will come up with weird ideas such as these.
Some of them use as evidence the hadeeth about the singing of the two young girls, which we have discussed above, but we will quote what Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, because it is valuable:
I am amazed that you quote as evidence for allowing listening to sophisticated songs the report which we mentioned about how two young girls who were below the age of puberty sang to a young woman on the day of Eid some verses of Arab poetry about bravery in war and other noble characteristics. How can you compare this to that? What is strange is that this hadeeth is one of the strongest proofs against them. The greatest speaker of the truth [Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq] called them musical instruments of the Shaytaan, and the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) approved of that appellation, but he made an exception in the case of these two young girls who had not yet reached the age of responsibility and the words of whose songs could not corrupt anyone who listened to them. Can this be used as evidence to allow what you do and what you know of listening (to music) which includes (bad) things which are not hidden?! Subhaan Allaah! How people can be led astray! (Madaarij al-Saalikeen, 1/493).
Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) was young at that time; nothing was transmitted from her after she reached the age of puberty except condemnation of singing. Her brother’s son, al-Qaasim ibn Muhammad, condemned singing and said that it was not allowed to listen to it, and he took his knowledge from her. (Talbees Iblees, 229). Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: A group of the Sufis used this hadeeth – the hadeeth about the two young girls – as evidence that singing is allowed and it is allowed to listen to it, whether it is accompanied by instruments or not. This view is sufficiently refuted by the clear statement of ‘Aa’ishah in the following hadeeth, where she says, “They were not singers.” She made it clear that they were not singers as such, although this may be understood from the wording of the report. So we should limit it to what was narrated in the text as regards the occasion and the manner, so as to reduce the risk of going against the principle, i.e., the hadeeth. And Allaah knows best. (Fath al-Baari, 2/442-443).
Some people even have the nerve to suggest that the Sahaabah and Taabi’een listened to singing, and that they saw nothing wrong with it!
Al-Fawzaan (may Allaah preserve him) said: We demand them to show us saheeh isnaads going back to these Sahaabah and Taabi’een, proving what they attribute to them. Then he said: Imaam Muslim mentioned in his introduction to his Saheeh that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Mubaarak said: The isnaad is part of religion. Were it not for the isnaad, whoever wanted to could say whatever he wanted to.
Some of them said that the ahaadeeth which forbid music are full of faults. No hadeeth was free of being criticized by some of the scholars. Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The ahaadeeth which were narrated concerning music being haraam are not full of faults as has been claimed. Some of them are in Saheeh al-Bukhaari which is the soundest of books after the Book of Allaah, and some of them are hasan and some are da’eef. But because they are so many, with different isnaads, they constitute definitive proof that singing and musical instruments are haraam.
All the imaams agreed on the soundness of the ahaadeeth which forbid singing and musical instruments, apart from Abu Haamid al-Ghazzaali, but al-Ghazzaali did not have knowledge of hadeeth; and Ibn Hazam, but al-Albaani (may Allaah have mercy on him) explained where Ibn Hazam went wrong, and Ibn Hazam himself said that if any of (these ahaadeeth) were saheeh, he would follow that. But now they have proof that these reports are saheeh because there are so many books by the scholars which state that these ahaadeeth are saheeh, but they turn their backs on that. They are far more extreme than Ibn Hazam and they are nothing like him, for they are not qualified and cannot be referred to.
Some of them said that the scholars forbade singing because it is mentioned alongside gatherings in which alcohol is drunk and where people stay up late at night for evil purposes.
Al-Shawkaani (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The response to this is that mentioning these things in conjunction does not only mean that what is haraam is what is joined together in this manner. Otherwise this would mean that zinaa, as mentioned in the ahaadeeth, is not haraam unless it is accompanied by alcohol and the use of musical instruments. By the same token, an aayah such as the following (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, he used not to believe in Allaah, the Most Great,
And urged not on the feeding of Al‑Miskeen (the poor).”
would imply that it is not haraam to disbelieve in Allaah unless that is accompanied by not encouraging the feeding of the poor. If it is said that the prohibition of such things one at a time is proven from other reports, the response to that is that the prohibition of musical instruments is also known from other evidence, as mentioned above. (Nayl al-Awtaar, 8/107).
Some of them said that “idle talk” does not refer to singing; the refutation of that has been mentioned above. Al-Qurtubi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: This – the view that it means singing – is the best that has been said concerning this aayah, and Ibn Mas’ood swore three times by Allaah besides Whom there is no other god, that it does refer to singing. Then he mentioned other imaams who said the same thing. Then he mentioned other views concerning the matter. Then he said: The first view is the best of all that has been said on this matter, because of the marfoo’ hadeeth, and because of the view of the Sahaabah and the Taabi’een. (Tafseer al-Qurtubi).
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him), after quoting this Tafseer, said: Al-Haakim Abu ‘Abd-Allaah said in the Tafseer of Kitaab al-Mustadrak: Let the one who is seeking this knowledge know that the Tafseer of a Sahaabi who witnessed the revelation is a hadeeth with isnaad according to the two Shaykhs (al-Bukhaari and Muslim). Elsewhere in his book, he said: In our view this hadeeth has the same strength as a marfoo’ report. Although their tafseer is still subject to further examination, it is still more readily acceptable than the tafseer of those who came after them, because they are the most knowledgeable among this ummah of what Allaah meant in his Book. It was revealed among them and they were the first people to be addressed by it. They heard the tafseer from the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) in word and in deed. And they were Arabs who understood the true meanings of (Arabic) words, so Muslims should avoid resorting to any other interpretation as much as possible.
Some of them said that singing is a form of worship if the intention is for it to help one to obey Allaah!
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: How strange! What type of faith, light, insight, guidance and knowledge can be gained from listening to tuneful verses and music in which most of what is said is haraam and deserves the wrath and punishment of Allaah and His Messenger? … How can anyone who has the least amount of insight and faith in his heart draw near to Allaah and increase his faith by enjoying something which is hated by Him, and He detests the one who says it and the one who accepts it? (Madaarij al-Saalikeen, 1/485)
Shaykh al-Islam said, discussing the state of the person who has gotten used to listening to singing: Hence you find that those who have gotten used to it and for whom it is like food and drink will never have the desire to listen to the Qur’aan or feel joy when they hear it, and they never find in listening to its verses the same feeling that they find when listening to poetry. Indeed, if they hear the Qur’aan, they hear it with an inattentive heart and talk whilst it is being recited, but if they hear whistling and clapping of hands, they lower their voices and keep still, and pay attention. (Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 11/557 ff)
Some say that music and musical instruments have the effect of softening people’s hearts and creating gentle feelings. This is not true, because it provokes physical desires and whims. If it really did what they say, it would have softened the hearts of the musicians and made their attitude and behaviour better, but most of them, as we know, are astray and behave badly.
Perhaps – for fair-minded and objective readers – this summary will make it clear that the view that music is permissible has no firm basis. There are no two views on this matter. So we must advise in the best manner, and then take it step by step and denounce music, if we are able to do so. We should not be deceived by the fame of a man in our own times in which the people who are truly committed to Islam have become strangers. The one who says that singing and musical instruments are permitted is simply supporting the whims of people nowadays, as if the masses were issuing fatwas and he is simply signing them! If a matter arises, they will look at the views of fuqahaa’ on this matter, then they will take the easiest view, as they claim. Then they will look for evidence, or just specious arguments which are worth no more than a lump of dead meat. How often have these people approved things in the name of sharee’ah which in fact have nothing to do with Islam!
Strive to learn your Islam from the Book of your Lord and the Sunnah of your Prophet. Do not say, So-and-so said, for you cannot learn the truth only from men. Learn the truth and then measure people against it. This should be enough for the one who controls his whims and submits himself to his Lord. May what we have written above heal the hearts of the believers and dispel the whispers in the hearts of those who are stricken with insinuating whispers. May it expose everyone who is deviating from the path of Revelation and taking the easiest options, thinking that he has come up with something which none of the earlier generations ever achieved, and speaking about Allaah without knowledge. They sought to avoid fisq (evildoing) and ended up committing bid’ah – may Allaah not bless them in it. It would have been better for them to follow the path of the believers.
And Allaah knows best. May Allaah bless and grant peace to His Messenger who made clear the path of the believers, and to his companions and those who follow them in truth until the Day of Judgement.
Summary of a paper entitled al-Darb bi’l-Nawa li man abaaha al-Ma’aazif li’l-Hawa by Shaykh Sa’d al-Deen ibn Muhammad al-Kibbi.
For more information, please see:
Al-I’laam bi Naqd Kitaab al-Halaal wa’l-Haraam, by Shaykh al-‘Allaamah Saalih ibn Fawzaan al-Fawzaan
Al-Samaa’ by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn al-QayyimTahreem Aalaat al-Tarab, by Shaykh Muhammad Naasir al-Deen al-Albaani (may Allaah have mercy on him)
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid, Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 5000
When a person commits a sin (may Allah save us all) believing that a sin is being committed and feels regret and remorse in the heart, then this is far better then committing the sin and believing it to be lawful (halal). In the former situation, only one sin is being committed, and it is very likely that the individual may repent out of the remorse felt in the heart. In the latter case, however, in addition to the sin being committed, there is the greater sin of trying to justify it. Normally, such an individual does not receive the guidance to repent from his sin. (May Allah save us all, Ameen).
Music and Singing?
The case with music and unlawful singing is the same. It has been decisively prohibited in Shariah, as the evidences mentioned further along will show. Yet there are individuals that are not ready to believe that it is Haram.
In the modern era, music has spread to such an extent that nobody is free from it. Individuals are confronted with situations where they are forced to listen to music. It is played nearly in all department stores and supermarkets. If you sit in a taxi, make a phone call or even walk down the street, you will not be saved from this evil. Young Muslims drive around in their cars with the music fully blasted. The increasing popularity of music, which is prevalent in our society, poses a great threat to the Muslims.
Music is a direct ploy of the Non-Muslims. One of the main causes for the decline of the Muslims is their involvement in useless entertainment. Today we see that Muslims are involved, and at the forefront perhaps, of many immoralities and evils. The spiritual power which once was the trait of a Muslim is nowhere to be seen. One of the main reasons for this is music and useless entertainment.
Harms and effects of music
We should be aware that nothing has been prohibited by the Almighty Creator except that which is harmful to the Muslims and the society as a whole. There are great harms and ill-effects of music.
Islam totally forbids adultery and also those things that lead to it. Allah Most High says:
“And do not come near to adultery, for it is a shameful deed and an evil, opening the road (to other evils)” (al-Isra, 32).
Islam does not only prohibit adultery and fornication, but also those things that may lead to it. This is the reason why the Qur’an orders Muslim men and Women to lower their gazes. It prohibits one from being alone with someone from the opposite sex (khalwa). Informal interaction with the opposite sex has also been made unlawful.
This is also one of the main reasons for the prohibition of music, as it effects one’s emotions, creates arousal, passion and excitement, and also leads to various physiological changes in the person. It is a psychological proven fact that two things are instrumental in arousing the human sexual desire, one being the voice of a female (for males) and the other music.
This is the reason why Allah Most High says:
“O wives of the prophet! You are not like other women, if you are god-fearing. So do not be soft in speech. Lest in whose heart is disease should be moved with desire.” (Surah al-Ahzab, v. 32).
Thus, Islam forbids listening to the female voice with lust and desire. The great Hanafi Jurist, Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) states:
“It is permissible for women to converse with non-Mahram men at the time of need (and visa versa, m). However, what is not permissible is that they stretch, soften and raise their voice in a melodious way” (Radd al-Muhtar, V.1, P. 406).
Similarly, it is also unlawful for women to listen to the voice of non-Mahram men with lust and desire. One of the great western thinkers said: “the voice is one of the quickest ways that make a woman fall in love with a man. This is the reason why many women adore singers”.
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) was also wary of this fact when he said to the Companion Bara ibn Malik: “O Bara! Let not the women here your voice” (Kanz al-Ummal, 7/322). The same has also been reported from the Companion Anjasha (Allah be pleased with him).
Physical Effect of Music
Experiments carried out by doctors and researchers confirm that music is such that it does not only affect the brain, but each and every organ of the body. There is a close relationship between music and bodily movements.
It is also proved that music affects one’s emotions, increases arousal in terms of alertness and excitement and also leads to various psychological changes in the person. In a psychological experiment, it was found that listening to moderate type of music increased one’s normal heart beat, whilst listening to rock music the heart beat increased even further, yet people claim that music has no effect.
In conclusion, music and the instruments used for singing are a cause for arousing the sexual desire of an individual. It could lead a person to adultery and fornication. Therefore, Islam takes the preventive measure rather than suffer the consequences. This is also one of the principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, namely ‘blocking the means’ (sadd al-dhara'i). This is based on the idea of preventing an evil before it actually materializes, and is taken from the heart of the guidance of the Qur’an and Sunnah that, “Preventing harm is given precedence even to achieving possible benefits.”
Becoming Heedless of Allah
One of the harms of music is that it distracts one from his Creator. It serves as a temporary means of pleasure and satisfaction, which makes one forget who he really is and why he was created. This is the reason why musical instruments are known in the Arabic language as ‘malaahi’ meaning instruments that prevent one from the remembrance of Allah Almighty.
Human has been created for a noble purpose. Allah Most High says:
“I have created jinn and humans only that they serve (worship) me” (Surah al-Dhariyat, 56).
Music and temporary entertainments sink the human in physical pleasures and prevent him/her from true spiritual gains. In conclusion, music has a great role to play in preventing a human from realising the purpose of creation.
Another harm of music is that it instills the ideologies of the Non-Muslims in the heart and mind. The messages of today’s music follow a general theme of love, fornication, drugs and freedom.
We find that the whole world is obsessed with the Kufr idea of unrestrained freedom, i.e. freedom of speech and movement, etc… This idea of freedom, “it’s my life, I’ll do what I want” is a predominant theme of music today. It is used as a means of drilling western ideologies into the hearts and minds, which are totally contrary to Islamic values and teachings.
The Difference Between Legal Wisdom and Legal Reasons
The above are just some of the harms and evil effects of music. One must remember here that these are the wisdoms for the prohibition of music and not the reason (illah). The Shariah ruling is based upon the reason, and not the wisdom. In other words if the harms for the prohibition of music is taken care of, it does not make music permissible.
An example for this is that the wisdom behind the prohibition of wine and alcohol is that it creates enmity and hatred between people and it hinders one from the remembrance of Allah. The reason, however, is that it is an intoxicating substance. Now, if one was to say that wine will be Halal for me, as I will lock myself up after drinking wine, thus no destruction will be caused. Any sane person will conclude that he is wrong, as wine is Haram whether you cause any destruction and damage to others or not. The reason being, that the cause for the prohibition of wine is that it intoxicates you, regardless of whether the wisdom is present or not.
The same is with music. If one is saved from the abovementioned harms, even then music will still remain Haram. It can not be held lawful even if one is saved from its harms. This is a well established principle in the science of Usul al-Fiqh.
Ruling on musical instruments and unlawful singing
In the light of the evidences that will be mentioned later, the following are unlawful in Shariah:
a) Musical instruments that are exclusively designed for entertainment and dancing, and create charm, pleasure and bliss on their own (even without the singing), such as the drum, violin, guitar, fiddle, flute, lute, mandolin, harmonium, piano, string, etc… are impermissible to use under any circumstance.
There is a consensus of the whole Ummah on this. Since the first century, the Companions (sahaba), their followers (tabi’een), jurists (fuqaha) and the scholars have been generally unanimous on this ruling.
b) Singing that is a cause for a sin is also unlawful with the consensus of all the scholars, such as songs that prevent one from the obligatory (fard & wajib).
c) Any singing that is accompanied by other sins, such as songs that consist of unlawful, immoral, and sexual themes, or it is sang by non-Mahram women, etc will also be unlawful. This ruling is also with the consensus of all the scholars.
There are numerous evidences in the Qur’an and Sunnah which support this view. We will attempt to look at a few:
1) Allah Most High says:
“And there are among men, those that purchase idle tales, to mislead (men) from the path of Allah and throw ridicule. For such there will be a humiliating punishment” (Surah Luqman, V. 6).
The great Companion Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) states in the explanation of the word “idle tales”:
“By Allah its meaning is music” (Sunan al-Bayhaqi, 1/223 & authenticated by al-Hakim in his Mustadrak, 2/411).
Imam Ibn Abi Shayba related with his own transmission that He (Ibn Mas’ud) said:
“I swear By Him besides whom there is no God that it refers to singing” (132/5).
The great Companion and exegete of the Qur’an, Abd Allah ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) states:
“The meaning of the word is music, singing and the like” (Sunan al-Bayhaqi, 1/221& Musannaf Ibn abi Shayba, 132/5).
He also stated:
“Music and the purchase of female singers” (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba, 132/5).
Hasan al-Basri (Allah be pleased with him) said:
“This verse was revealed in relation to singing and musical instruments” (Tafsir ibn Kathir, 3/442)
The same explanation has also been narrated from Mujahid, Ikrima, Ibrahim Nakha’i, Mak’hul and others (Allah be pleased with them all).
The above verse of the Qur’an, along with the statements regarding its meaning is clear in the prohibition of music. It also serves as a severe warning for those who are involved in the trade of music in any way, shape or form, as Allah warned them of “Humiliating punishment”.
As for those that say, the verse refers to things that prevent one from the remembrance of Allah and not music, do not contradict the aforementioned explanation. The interpretation of the verse with “things that prevent one from the remembrance of Allah” is a more general interpretation which includes music and song, as one of the foremost things that stop you from the remembrance of Allah is music. This is the reason why the majority of the exegetes of the Qur’an have interpreted the verse with music only, or with all those acts that prevent one from the truth with music being at the forefront.
2) Allah Most High says whilst describing the attributes of the servants of the Most Compassionate (ibad al-Rahman):
“Those who witness no falsehood, and if they pass by futility, they pass by it with honourable avoidance” (Surah al-Furqan, V. 72).
Imam Abu Bakr al-Jassas relates from Sayyiduna Imam Abu Hanifah (Allah be pleased with him) that the meaning of “falsehood (zur)” is music & song, (Ahkam al-Qur’an, 3/428).
3) Allah Most High said to Shaytan:
“Lead to destruction those whom you can among them with your (seductive) voice” (Surah al-Isra, V.64).
One of the great exegete, Mujahid (Allah have mercy on him) interpreted the word “voice (sawt)” by music, singing, dancing and idle things. (Ruh al-Ma’ani, 15/111).
Imam Suyuti (Allah have mercy on him) quoted Mujahid as saying: “Voice (in this verse) is singing and flute” (al-Iklil fi istinbat al-tanzil, 1444).
Another exegete, Dahhak (Allah have mercy on him) also interpreted the word “Sawt” with flutes. (Qurtubi, al-Jami` li Ahkam al-Qur’an, 10/288).
Here also, a general interpretation can be given, as indeed some commentators of the Qur ' an have done, but this, as mentioned earlier, does not contradict the meaning given by Mujahid and Dahhak, as it is included in the more broad and general meaning.
Guidance of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace)
The are many Ahadith of the blessed Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) which prohibit music and the usage of musical instruments to the extent that some scholars have gathered approximately forty Ahadith, of which the chain of transmission of some is sound (sahih), some good (hasan) and some weak (da’if). We will only mention a few here:
1) Sayyiduna Abu Malik al-Ash’ari (Allah be pleased with him) reports that he heard the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) say: “There will appear people in my Ummah, who will hold adultery, silk, alcohol and musical instruments to be lawful” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
2) Abu Malik al-Ash’ari (Allah be pleased with him) narrates a similar type of Hadith, but a different wording. He reports that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Soon there will be people from my Ummah who will consume alcohol, they will change its name (by regarding it permissible. m), on there heads will be instruments of music and singing. Allah will make the ground swallow them up, and turn them into monkeys and swine” (Sahih Ibn Hibban & Sunan Ibn Majah, with a sound chain of narration).
In the above two narrations, the word ma`azif is used. The scholars of the Arabic language are unanimous on the fact that it refers to musical instruments (Ibn Manzur, Lisan al-Arab, V.9, P.189).
The prohibition of musical instruments is clear in the two narrations. The first Hadith (recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari) mentions that certain people from the Ummah of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace) will try to justify the permissibility of using musical instruments, along with adultery, silk and alcohol, despite these things being unlawful (haram) in Shariah.
Moreover, by mentioning music with the likes of adultery and alcohol just shows how severe the sin is. The one who attempts to permit music is similar to the one who permits alcohol or adultery.
The second Hadith describes the fate of such people in that the ground will be ordered to swallow them and they will be turned into monkeys and swine (may Allah save us all). The warning is specific to those that will hold music, alcohol, silk and adultery to be permissible. It is something that should be of concern for those who try and justify any of these things.
Also, to say that music will only be unlawful if it is in combination with alcohol, adultery and silk is incorrect. If this was the case, then why is it that the exception is only for music from the four things? The same could also be said for adultery, alcohol and silk. One may then even justify that alcohol and adultery is also permissible unless if they are consumed in combination with the other things!
Thus the above two narrations of the beloved of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) are clear proof on the impermissibility of music and songs.
3) Imran ibn Husain (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “This Ummah will experience the swallowing up of some people by the earth, metamorphosis of some into animals, and being rained upon with stones”. A man from amongst the Muslims asked: “O Messenger of Allah! When will this be?” He said: “When female singers and musical instruments appear and alcohol will (commonly) be consumed” (Recorded by Imam Tirmizi, Imam Ibn Majah in their respective Sunan collections, and the wording here is of Sunan Tirmizi).
4) Sayyiduna Ali ibn Talib (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the blessed Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “When my Ummah begin doing fifteen things, they will be inflicted with tribulations, and (from those 15 things He said): “When female singers and musical instruments become common” (Sunan Tirmizi).
5) Na’fi reports that once Abd Allah ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with them both) heard the sound of a Sheppard’s flute. He put his fingers in his ears, turned his mule away from the road and said: “O Nafi’! Can you hear? I (Nafi’) replied with the affirmative. He carried on walking (with his fingers in his ears) until I said: “the sound has ceased” He removed his fingers from his ears, came back on to the road and said: “I saw the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) doing the same when he heard the flute of the Sheppard” (Recorded by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad and Abu Dawud & Ibn Majah in their Sunans).
6) Abd Allah Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Verily Allah has forbidden alcohol, gambling, drum and guitar, and every intoxicant is haram” (Musnad Ahmad & Sunan Abu Dawud).
7) Abu Umama (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace) said: “Allah Mighty and Majestic sent me as a guidance and mercy to believers and commanded me to do away with musical instruments, flutes, strings, crucifixes, and the affairs of the pre-Islamic period of ignorance” (Musnad Ahmad & Abu Dawud Tayalisi).
8) Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Song makes hypocrisy grow in the heart as water does herbage” (Sunan al-Bayhaqi).
9) Anas (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace) said: “On the day of Resurrection, Allah will pour molten lead into the ears of whoever sits listening to a songstress” (Recorded by Ibn Asakir & Ibn al-Misri).
10)Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Bell is the flute of Shaytan” (Sahih Muslim & Sunan Abu Dawud).
There are many more narrations of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace) in prohibition of musical instruments and unlawful singing. I have merely mentioned a few as an example.
The imam of the Shafi`i school, Imam Ibn Hajr al-Haytami gathered all these Ahadith which approximately total to forty in his excellent work ‘ Kaff al-Ra’a an Muharramat al-Lahw wa al-Sama’ , and then said: “All of this is explicit and compelling textual evidence that musical instruments of all types are unlawful” (2/270).
Statements of the Fuqaha
The great Hanafi jurist al-Kasani states:
“If a singer gathers people around him only to entertain them with his voice, then he will not be considered a upright person (a’dil), even though if he does not consume alcohol, as he will be considered the leader of sinners. If however, he only sings to himself in order to eradicate loneliness, then there is nothing wrong in doing so.
As far as the one who uses musical instruments is concerned, if the instruments themselves are not unlawful, such as the bamboo and tambourine, then there is nothing wrong with that and he will still be considered upright. However, if the instrument is unlawful, such as the lute and the like, then he will not be considered a upright person (to be a witness in the court. m), as these instruments can never be considered lawful” (Bada’i al-Sana’i, 6/269).
It is stated in Khulasat al-Fatawa:
“Listening to the sound of musical instruments is unlawful (haram), as the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Listening to songs is a sin” (4/345).
Ibn Humam, the great Hanafi Mujtahid makes a decisive statement in his famous Fath al-Qadir:
“Unlawful (haram) singing is when the theme of the song consists of unlawful things, such as the description of a particular living person’s beauty and features, the virtues of wine that provoke wine-drinking, the details and particulars of family affairs or those songs that mock and ridicule others.
However, songs that are free from such unlawful things and they consist of descriptions of the natural things, such as flowers and streams, etc… will be permissible. Yes, if they are accompanied by musical instruments, then it will be unlawful even if the song is full of advice and wisdom, not because of what the songs consist of, rather due to the musical instruments that are played with it.
And it is stated in the al-Mugni of Ibn Qudamah (Hanbali Madhhab) that musical instruments are of two types:
1) Unlawful, Such as those that are specially designed for entertainment and singing, like the flute and mandolin, etc…
2) Lawful, like the playing of the tambourine (daff) at weddings and other happy occasions” (Ibn Humam, Fath al-Qadir, 6/36).
The same has more or less been mentioned in the other Hanafi works also, such as al-Ikhtiyar, al-Bahr al-Ra’iq, al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya and others.
Imam an-Nawawi, the great Hadith and Shafi’i scholar states:
“It is unlawful to use or listen to musical instruments, such as, those which the drinkers are known for, like the mandolin, lute, cymbals, and flute. It is permissible to play the tambourine (daf) at weddings, circumcisions and other times, even if it has bells on its sides. Beating the Kuba, a long drum with a narrow middle, is also unlawful” (Mugni al-muhtaj, 4/429, & Reliance of the traveller, 775).
There are many other statements of the Fuqaha and scholars such al-Qurtubi, and each of the four Madhhabs, but due to the length of the article, I will suffice with the above.
As for those who hold music to be lawful usually present the Hadith of Sahih al-Bukhari in which two girls were singing in the presence of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) and Sayyida A’isha (Allah be pleased with her).
However, the permissibility of music can not be justified with this Hadith. The Hadith expert, Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani has refuted this claim in length in his Fath al-Bari, 2/345).
Firstly, theses young girls were singing without any unlawful musical instruments and secondly, the content of the song was regarding war, thus perfectly lawful. Also, they were not professional singers as the words of the Hadith clearly indicate.
Some try to justify music with the Hadith in which the permissibility of playing the tambourine (daf) is mentioned.
However, as stated in the works of the Fuqaha, to play the tambourine is permissible at weddings, as it is not designed for sole entertainment and pleasure, rather for announcement, etc…
In the light of the above evidences from the Qur’an, sayings of our beloved Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace) and texts of the various Fuqaha, the following is the decisive ruling with regards to music:
Musical instruments that are solely designed for entertainment are unlawful, with or without singing. However, to play the tambourine (daf) at weddings (and other occasions according to some fuqaha) will be permissible.As far as the songs are concerned, if they consist of anything that is unlawful or they prevent one from the obligatory duties, then they will be unlawful. However, if they are free from the abovementioned things (and they are not accompanied by instruments), then it will be permissible to sing them.
Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari, SunniPath, Question ID:1786
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