Ever since the dawn of time, music has filled our ears. From the sound of animals glorifying the morning to the thuds of our feet as we walk around, music has been a social construct that both unified and divided people.
In the practice of Islamic traditions and beliefs, many of us have mixed opinions and divided standpoints regarding music. Some of us believe that music is aimed toward entertainment and emotional vibes while others perceive it as haram. Before we discuss the two varied points, we will first delve further into what haram actually is.
Derived from the Arabic text, haram means ‘forbidden’. The Quran signifies haram as prohibited acts or sinful actions that one must not succumb to. As a reference, here is a transcript that is being utilised as a basis for whether an act is haram or not.
“And of the people is he who buys the amusement of speech to mislead [others] from the way of Allah without the knowledge and who takes it in ridicule. Those will have a humiliating punishment.” [31:6]
In this broad spectrum, it is taught that everything that Allah puts in this world has a purpose. Whether it’s the sound of the waves crashing, the wind gushing, or human beings existing. However, excessive use or misuse leads to a sinful act identified as ‘haram‘.
Introduction to Music and Haram
In a viral rendition of Deen Squad to Drake’s God’s Plan, the world was shaken as people were quick to point out both the positive and negative implications of the group’s actions. Because of this, we quickly gathered the basis for people’s reasoning and reactions concerning music being haram.
Music and Musical Instruments are Haram?
Some scholars referenced this hadith in their stand of musical instruments being prohibited.
“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,” the Prophet (PBUH) said.
Listening to music is closely linked with forbidden acts of worldly temptations, alcoholic drink abuse, and premarital sex. Nowadays, music has been an influencing factor for deceiving one person to another and uttering hurtful words without much acknowledgment of the consequences of one’s actions.
With the above reasoning of scholars who brand music as haram, a verse in the Quran states the following: “O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers” (Quran 49:11)
This reinforces the scholars’ basis for saying that music could quite possibly be forbidden. Furthermore, the body movements that these music forms entice are conveyed to be prohibited too. Lyrics are also demeaning, hurtful and bland without much thought to the actual message it represents.
Music that explicitly translates violence, sex, inappropriate messages, and vulgar words are said to deviate a person from fulfilling what Allah has bestowed upon him. Although singing is permissible for events such as weddings and Eid, however, scholars condone singing that encourages forbidden activities.
Music and Musical Instruments are Not Haram?
On the other hand of the argument, some scholars believe that music or the use of musical instruments should not be prohibited. For them, there is not enough factual evidence that correlates singing and music with forbidden acts.
Music and musical instruments are acceptable as long as the message isn’t inappropriate, does not display or encourage sinful activities and do not harm or astray a person from Allah’s purpose. This statement is emphasised by scholars that firmly believe music and musical instruments are not haram.
It was reported that The Prophet (PBUH) did allow 2 girls to sing and play with an instrument on Eid.
It is also said that Nasheeds are fine, as well as acapella music is allowed so long as the vocals do not incite hatred, profanity or lead you away from faith or your Islamic duties which Western music tends to do.
Further Research and their Possible Meanings
- “And of mankind is he who purchases idle talks [“the amusement of speech”] to mislead others from the path of Allah…” [Luqmaan 31:6].
Al-Wahidi, along with other scholars of Tafsir, said that “Idle Talk” in this Ayah is singing.
The compainions, Ibn Abbas, Ibn Masud, Mujahid and Ikrimah. Ibn Masud also gave this Tasfir, saying: “By Allah, whom there is no God except Him, idle talk is singing.”
- “Never do the love of song and the love of the Qur’an come together in a person’s heart except that one expels the other” [Ibn Taymiyyah]
Ramadan is the month in which the Qur’an was revealed as timeless guidance. We should seek to recite, listen and learn it plentifully and leave that which can take us away from it. We may even find ourselves unconsciously humming or saying explicit lyrics which can distract us from a spiritual perspective.
We are not scholars, by all means. Just like you, we believe in Allah’s teachings, and we condone immoral acts that hinder a person from reaching spiritual fulfillment. However, music is an essential part of one’s senses, and there’s nothing wrong with listening to the soothing melodies of songs and musical instruments.
Use your knowledge and moral judgment to evaluate whether what you’re listening to can benefit you regarding personal achievement and guidance. If you feel like the music’s message does not vibe with your core values, don’t tolerate the action of listening to it. Should the Islamic community resolve this disagreement once and for all?
If you’re going to take part in the debate, which side will you take on?