Music and Singing in the Light of the Qur'aan and Sunnah
by Shaykh Abu Bilal Mustafa Al-Kanadi
Analysis Of Qur'aanic Texts And Commentaries
It is vital that one critically assesses the extent to which certain verses of the Qur'aan allegedly stand as proof for against the legality of music and singing. Some of those verses which might be misconstrued to indicate that music, singing, dancing etc. are permissible, are mentioned first. They are then followed with a sample of verses which certain scholars have claimed to be proof of prohibition regarding this issue.
Verses Claimed To Indicate The Legality Of Music.
The following verses regarding the psalms of Dawood (upon whom be peace) is case in point.
The First Verse:
"And verily, We did favor some of the prophets over others, and to Dawood We gave the Psalms.
How does this verse purport to be proof for those who claim legality? It is a common misconception of certain Muslims especially those having a western background or living in the west that Dawood (peace be upon him) composed the Psalms and sang them to the accompaniment of music.
There are even some commentators of English translations of the Qur'aan who fall prey to the same error. For example, Abdullaah Yusuf Ali comments on this verse saying, "The spiritual gifts with which the prophets came, may themselves, take different forms according to the needs of the world and the times in which they lived, as judged by the wisdom of God. A striking example here given is the gift of song and music as given to David. . .
The fact is that the Psalms were not composed by Prophet Dawood (a. s) , but rather were revealed to him by Allah, the exalted, as is clearly stated in the Qur'aan. Additionally, now where in the Qur'aan or in the authentic traditions is there any support for this accompanying the psalms with musical instruments.
In order to properly understand the true nature of the psalms (az-Zaboor) , one must look to some of the dependable Qur'aanic commentaries (tafaseer). Ibn Katheer (Allaah’s mercy be upon him), explains the meaning of the term Az-zaboor saying: "Az-Zaboor is the name of the book revealed by Allah to Dawood (a. s).
Al-aloosi further confirms this saying, "Az-Zaboor is the name of the book sent down to Dawood (a. s) :it was revealed to him gradually, by installments.
As to the nature of these psalms, Al-Qurtubi states, "Az-zaboor is the book of Dawood, consisting of one hundred and fifty chapters; however, it contained no rulings of divine law on matters of prohibited or allowed things. Rather, it consisted of words and wisdom and admonishment.
Al-Aaloosi adds to this description that "the Zaboor also contained divine praises and glorification of Allah,
Prophet Dawoods captivating , melodious voice was exceedingly beautiful and effective. When he recited the Zaboor, men, jinn, birds and wild animals gathered around him.
The Second Verse
Some ignorant people claim that the following text regarding Prophet Ayoob (Job), whom Allah tested with various trials and tribulations , permits music and dancing:
Allah, the exalted and mighty, commands his messenger, Muhammad (saw) in the Qur'aan, "And recall Our servant, Ayoob, when he cried unto his Lord, 'Verily, Satan has afflicted me with distress and suffering . 'It was said unto him, 'Strike the ground with your foot; here is a spring for a cool bath and water to drink.'
In these verses Allah, the glorious and exalted, directs His Prophet, Ayyoob, to strike his foot upon the ground, whereupon a spring came forth. He bathed in its cool, soothing water which healed the disease afflicting the outer surface of his body. He also drank from the spring which removed the illness that afflicted his innermost body. Thus, after putting his faithful servant, Ayyoob, to excruciating tests and trials, Allah Taala judges him to be firm, patient and unwavering in his faith, saying: "Truly, we found him firm in patience and constancy; how excellent a slave. Verily, he was ever turning in repentance (to his Lord).
Regarding this verse, Al-Qurtubi mentions in his tafseer that certain ignorant ascetics and common Sufis have sought proof for the permissibility of dancing in Allaah's saying to Ayoob , "Strike the ground with your foot" accompaniment of certain ritual formulas (adhkaar) and musical instruments a form of worship (ibaadah) which brings one closer to Allah. Of course, such things are none other than bidah (blameworthy innovations and mis guidance in deen). He relates the reply of some scholars to such baseless claims. Abul-Faraj Ibnul-Jowzi says, "This is an empty argument. Had there been a command for the striking of the foot as an act of joy, there might be some slight excuse for such a view, however the fact is that the command for striking the ground with the foot was in order to get the spring water to flow from it."
Ibn Aqeel gives a further rebuttal by questioning , "How is the proof of the legality of dancing deduced from the simple fact that an afflicted person is ordered as a means of miraculous healing to strike the earth with his foot in order to cause water to spring forth?", "It would also be right to interpret Allah’s saying to Moosa, "Strike the stone with your staff" as a proof for the legality of striking (rhythmically) upon (stuffed) cushions with sticks! We seek refuge in Allah from such fraudulent playing with the Shariah."
Obviously, one could make endless far-fetched analogies between certain verses of the Qur'aan and various, false preconceived notions which one might hope to substantiate. May Allah protect us from such evil manipulation of the divinely revealed law.
It is essential at this point to mention that if it were established for the sake of argument that Dawood (peace be upon him) did in fact have musical accompaniment to his psalms: such a thing would not be proof that music, singing to musical accompaniment, etc. are followed in Islam. This is substantiated by the agreed upon principle from the science of usoolul fiqh which states that the revealed law( sharun) of those who came before us is considered applicable in so far as such law of Islam as embodied in the Qur'aan and the authentic sunnah.
However, as will be presented later, there is abundant authentic proof from the Islamic Shariah which prohibits music. Therefore, this prohibition by the Islamic Shariah abrogates all previously revealed law and nullifies any support it may have made for the legality of music. With this in mind, it becomes abundantly clear that the attempts of certain persons to such previously mentioned verses as proof for the permissibility of music are baseless and untenable .
Qur'aanic Verses Alleged To Indicate Prohibition Of Music
In his tafseer, Imam Al-Qurtubi mentions that there are three verses which have been used by the ulaama as proof of the contempt for and the prohibition of singing.
The First Verse
The first of these verses appears in Soorah An-Najm Allah, the blessed and Exalted , addresses the disbelievers from the tribe of Quraysh:
"Do you marvel at this statement, and laugh and do not weep, while you amuse yourselves (proudly) in vanities? Rather, prostrate before Allah and worship Him).
The important phrase is Allaah's saying, "(Wa antum saamidoon") ("While you amuse yourselves (proudly) in vanities). Due to the root 'samada' having various interpretations in the Arabic language, the scholars differ about this phrase's meaning. As a result, different interpretations are given by the commentators of the Qur'aan, such as the companions, taabieen and later scholars of tafseer.
Al-Qurtubi refers to the various derived meanings mentioned by the linguists. Among the meanings understood from the root' samada' is the raising of ones head up proudly or in disdain. When conjugated , the noun form 'sumood' means leisure or idle play, while saamid (the doer of the action) means one who plays idly with musical instruments or other objects of play. It is said to the singing girl, "Asmideena!" ("Amuse us with your singing!") However, saamid can also designate one who lifts his head in pride and haughtiness, as mentioned in the ancient dictionary, As-sihah A further meaning derived from the root "samada" is the notion of standing motion less or idle. This was mentioned by Al-Mathdawi one of the famous grammarians, but he added that the common, established meaning in the language points to the idea of turning away by making fun and amusement. Finally, Al-Mubarid mentions the meaning of saamidoon saying, "Saamidoon" means "khaamidoon (silent, motion less) .
At-Tabari mentions in detail the various narration traced to the "sahaabah" and "taabieen" According to Ibn Abbaas, the word "saamidoon" in this verse refers to the "mushrikeen's habit of singing and playing noisily whenever they heard the Qur'aan being recited, in order to drown out the reciter's voice so that others wouldn't hear it. This meaning is used by the people of Yemen.
Ibn Abbas also indicated a second, more general meaning for the word "saamidoon"; namely, that they were playing and amusing themselves and making light of the affair. The same opinion was held by some' taabiyeen' such as Ikrimah and Ad-Dahhaak. A third meaning given by Ibn Abbaas is that they held their heads up in pride. Of the 'Tabieen have indicated certain meanings similar to the preceding linguists views. Thus, Qataadah reports Al-Hasan as saying that 'Samidoon is the mushrikeens being inattentive and negligent. Mujaahid says it indicates their being in a state of extreme anger or rage. It is interesting to note that other major commentaries of "ahkamul Qur'aan" (jurisprudential rulings derived from the Qur'aanic texts) do not even mention this verse as proof for the prohibition of music, etc. For example, see the works of Al-Jassaas, Ibnul-Arabi and Ilkeeyaa Al-Harraasi.
Clearly, the term "saamidoon" has various possible meanings e.g.. that those referred to were singing noisily and amusing themselves with music and idle play, that they were holding their heads in pride, or that they were exhibiting extreme anger and hatred for what they heard of the Qur'aan and the message of Islam. Furthermore, it could indicate that they were indifferent, negligent and not caring in their attitude. All of these meanings are possible, and are not in essence contradictory. Most likely, saamidoon is a comprehensive description of their different reactions upon hearing the verses of the Qur'aan and the new message of tawheed. However, it must be said that when a Qur'aanic term yields a number of different possible meanings and we have no clear, authentically reported statement from the Prophet defining it in a strict sense, then such a verse containing the said term cannot be used as an unequivocal, decisive proof (daleelun qatee) of any particular meaning. Thus, this verse cannot stand alone as an incontestable proof of the prohibition of singing, music, etc. Rather, other evidence, either from the Qur'aan itself or from the authentic sunnah, must prove such a position. The Second Verse
Another verse alleged to be proof of the illegality of music, singing, etc. is mentioned in Soorah Al-Israa as follows: After Iblees (Satan) refuses to bow before Adam as ordered, he requests that Allah grant him respite until the day of resurrection, so that he may misguide all but a few of the descendants of Adam (peace be upon him). Allah, the Glorious and exalted, addresses Satan thus,
"And excite any of them whom you can with your voice. Assault them with your cavalry and infantry, be a partner with them in their wealth and children, and make them promises. But Satan promises them nothing except deceit.
It is related that some of the commentators from the generation of the taabieen, such as Mujahid and Dahhaak interpreted Satan's exciting mankind with his voice to mean through the use of music, song and amusement. Ad-Dahaak said it was the sound of wind instruments. However, according to Ibn Abbaas, the voice mentioned in the verse refers to every form of invitation which calls to disobedience to Allah, the Exalted. After mentioning the various interpretations of the commentators, At-Tabari says, "The most correct of these views expresses that verily, Allah, the blessed and Exalted, said to Iblees, "Excite whosoever of Adam's progeny 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 Satan's 'voice which is referred to in the Qur'aanic verse.
In conclusion , this verse like the preceding one -is too general in its meaning , and is not by itself an explicit and unequivocal proof of the prohibition of music and singing , except in the case that such singing and music invites or leads to disobedience to Allah. Therefore, one must look at other unambiguous texts which clearly show music, singing, etc. to be prohibited intrinsically and not due to some extraneous variable.
The Third Verse
The final verse, and the one most often presented as proof of prohibition is located in Soorah Luqmaan. Allah, the exalted says:
"And there are among men those who purchase idle talk in order to mislead others from Allaah's path without knowledge , and who throw ridicule upon it. For such there will be a humiliating punishment."
After mentioning the condition of the felicitous (those who are guided by Allaah's Book and who benefit from listening to it), Allah, the glorious and Exalted, reveals the condition of the miserable ones who refuse to benefit from hearing the word of God. They only devote themselves avidly to idle and foul talk, empty amusements and all other false works and deeds whose purposes are to turn others away from Allaah's path and to make it the butt of mockery.
Ibn Jareer At-Tabari, in his Jaamiul Bayaan , mentions that the interpreters of the Qur'aan differed as to the meaning of the term "lahwal hadeeth" "idle talk" which occurs in the above quoted verse. Their views regarding its meaning can be formulated into three basic categories.
The first category defines the term "lahwal hadeeth" (a) singing and listening to songs (b) the purchasing of professional male or female singers and (c) the purchase of instruments; namely, the drum (tabla). The elements of this category revolve around reference to the blameworthy usage of instruments of amusement, in short, music and song. This view was held by a number of companions such as Ibn Masood, Jaabir and Ibn Abbaas. It is related that the former was questioned regarding the meaning of the verse under discussion to which he replied, "I swear by the One other than whom there is no god that it refers to singing (ghinaa)"; He repeated it three times to emphasize his position. It is related that Ibn Abbaas said it referred to "singing and the like" Jaabir is reported to view its meaning to signify singing and listening to songs. This general view pointing to censure of music and song was also held by a great number of taabieen, such as Ikrimah, Mujaahid, Makhool and Umar bin Shuayb, to name only a few.
The second category of interpretation centers around the idea that "lahwal hadeeth" indicates conversation inviting to or consisting of shirk(polytheism). This view was the view of some tafseer scholars from the generation after the companions , such as Ad-Dahaak and Abdur-Rahmaan bin Zayd bin Aslam.
The third category conveys the meaning of all false talk, actions or deeds, whose nature it is to divert people from Allah’s path and from His worship and remembrance. For example, Al-Aaloosi relates that Al-Hasan AlBasri was reported as saying that "lahwal hadeeth" includes "everything which distracts one from worship and the remembrance of Allah such as whiling the night away in idle conversation or entertainment, jokes, superstitious, tales, songs and the likes thereof" Al-Aaloosi supports this view, saying that the verse should be interpreted to include all such blameworhty words and deeds which divert one from Allah’s path.
After having conveyed the previously -mentioned categories of tafseer, Ibn Jareer relates the commentary of Ibn Zayd about the verse, "And there are among men those who purchase idle talk in order to mislead others from Allah’s path without knowledge, and who throw ridicule upon it. "Ibn Zayd said, "The people referred to (in this verse) are the disbelievers. Don’t you see that it says(in the immediately following verse). "And when our revelations are recited to such a person he turns away in pride as if he hadn’t heard them, as if there was a deafness in his ears. The people of Islam are not as those described here, although some say the verse refers to Muslims(as well). The verse refers to the disbelievers who pitched their voices in a tumultuous clatter to drown out the hearing of the Quraan.
At-Tabari concludes by offering his own weighted preference for the general, inclusive meaning as conveyed in this final category. He states , "The most correct view regarding the meaning of (lahwal hadeeth) is the one which indicates every form of conversation which diverts from Allah’s path-the hearing of which has been prohibited by Allah or his messenger(s. a. w). This is because the statement by Allah, the exalted, is general and inclusive, and does not exclude certain forms of conversation. Therefore, His statement remains in its general context unless proof which specifies it appears and singing and polytheism(shirk) are included in this general statement.
From what has preceded , it is to be understood that a specific or exclusive meaning such as singing or shirk cannot be proven; rather, the verse and particularly the phrase(lahwal hadeeth) should be interpreted as anything which diverts one from Allah’s path. Music, singing, etc.(since they occupy peoples attention and distract them from Allah’s worship and remembrance and invite to His disobedience), no doubt fall under the general censure, blame and rebuke cast upon those who fall into this category. However, this verse is not itself an explicit, unequivocal proof for the prohibition of music, singing, etc. Rather, its prohibition is conditional and incidental as stated above. Thus, this issue requires other external proofs which are both clear and categorical, so as not to leave the least bit of doubt in the mind of the conscientious , truth seeking believer. In order to achieve such a lofty, yet absolutely vital objective, it is necessary to turn to the second source of the Islamic shariah, the authentic sunnah of Allah’s Messenger(s. a. w)
Critical Analysis Of The Hadeeth Literature
A meticulous, critical analysis of the relevant texts from the hadeeth literature reveals that contrary to the commonly held belief, there are a number of authentic narrations from the prophetic sunnah which clearly point to the INDISPUTABLE fact that music, instruments, singing to accompaniment, etc. are objects prohibited by the Islamic Shareeah. The exceptions to this general rule are specific, limited types of innocent singing or chanting without any instrumental accompaniment of the simple hand drum(duff) on certain occasions designated by the sunnah. Their details require discussion later.
Unfortunately, due to certain modern scholars blind imitation (taqleed) of a few earlier scholars, many Muslims entertain the misconception that all the hadeeths relating to music, singing, musical instruments, etc. are either weak(daeef) or forged(mowdoo). A critical analysis of the available hadeeth literature clearly reveals that this is an untenable position. In order to substantiate this claim and to dispel such false notions, it is necessary to quote a number of authentic traditions along with the translation of their meanings.
The translation of the hadeeth follows: "The Prophet(saw) said:
"There will be (at some future time) people from my Ummah (community of Muslims) who will seek to make lawful: fornication, the wearing of silk, wine-drinking and the use of musical instruments(ma'azif). Some people will stay at the side of the mountain and when their shepherd comes in the evening to ask them for his needs, they will say, 'Return to us tomorrow ‘Then Allah will destroy them during the night by causing the mountain to fall upon them, while He changes others into apes and swine. They will remain in such a state until the Day of Resurrection"
A Crictical Discussion Of The Isnaad Of The Hadeeth:
"There will be (at some future time) people from my Ummah (community of Muslims) who will seek to make lawful: fornication, the wearing of silk, wine-drinking and the use of musical instruments(ma'azif). Some people will stay at the side of the mountain and when their shepherd comes in the evening to ask them for his needs, they will say, 'Return to us tomorrow 'Then Allah will destroy them during the night by causing the mountain to fall upon them, while He changes others into apes and swine. They will remain in such a state until the Day of Resurrection."
Prior to a discussion of the meaning of the part of this hadeeth relevant to this treatise, its is necessary to refute certain unfounded criticisms of its authenticity directed at it by a few scholars of the past and present, struggling under unfortunate misconceptions.
At the beginning of the isnaad, Imam Al-Bukhaari related, "Qaala Hishaamu-bnu Ammaar. . . "("Hishaam bin Ammaar said. . . ")This statement was misconstrued by Ibn Hazm to indicate that there is a missing link between Al-Bukaari and the next narrator i.e. Hishaam, implying that the hadeeths isnaad is disconnected(munqati) and therefore not valid as proof in the prohibition of music, song, musical instruments, etc. This type of isnaad, termed muallaq, contains a missing link. However, Al-Bukaaris hadeeth, Shaykh Ibnus-Sallah, in his celebrated work, Uloomul Hadeeth, Shaykh Ibnus Sallah, in his celebrated work, Uloomul Hadeeth(his treatise on the science or methodology of hadeeth criticism and assessment). In his commentary of Saheehul Bukhaari, entitled Fathul Baari, Ibn Hajar mentioned Ibnus Salaahs meticulous refutation of Ibn Hazms statement.
Among the other great critical scholars of hadeeth, who mentioned that the Isnaad is soundly connected (mowsool) is Ibn Hajars shaykh, Al Haafidh Al-Iraaqi. He stated that the isnaad is found connected in Al Ismaaeelis work, entitled Al-Mustakhraj, which collects together other chains of narrators(or similar ones) for the same hadeeths mentioned in Al-Bukhaaris collection.
And finally, there is Ibn Hajars distinctive work, Taghleequt Taleeq, a rare and stupendous masterpiece, which brings together connected, authentic chains (asaneed) of transmitters for those traditions which appear in Al-Bukhaaris compilation in the form of the disconnected (mualliq) type of hadeeth, thereby dispelling accrued misconceptions regarding the claim of "weak" hadeeths occurring in the text(matn) of Al-Jaamis As-saheeh). After quoting other complete, authentic chains for the tradition under study, along with the sources wherein such chains of transmitters are mentioned. Ibn Hajar concludes by emphasizing(in reference to Al-Bukhaaris narration):
"This is an authentic hadeeth. It has no deficiency or defect, and there is no point of weakness for any attack to be made on it. Abu Muhammad Ibn Hazam labeled it a defective by virtue of his claim that there is a break (intiqaa) in the chain between Al-Bukhaari and Sadaqah bin Khaalid and because of the difference of opinion regarding the name of Abu Maalik. As you've seen , I have quoted nine fully connected chains of transmission (asaneed) whose narrators are thoroughly dependable. As for the difference regarding the kunyah of the companions , they are all of impeccable repute. Further more, in Ibn Hibbaans narration, the transmitter stated that he heard from both of them. . . I have in my possession yet of the chains which could be presented here, however, I would not like to prolong this subject further by mentioning them. In what we have stated there is enough proof for the sensible, thinking person. And Allah is the grantor of success".
In short, this particular narration of Al-Bukhaari is authentic and consequently constitutes a valid and binding text to be referred to in determining the ruling (hukm) regarding music.
It should be mentioned that certain modern-day writers, who blindly imitate previous scholars by quoting their views without applying the critical sciences of hadeeth research, have merely parroted the position of Ibn Hazm, and due to this, have caused many unwary persons to go astray regarding this issue. For example Yusuf Al-Qardaawi, in his popular book, entitled Al-Halaal wal Haraam fil Islam says in regard to the extant hadeeths on music: "As for what has been mentioned by way of prophetic traditions (relating to the subject of music), all of these have been assessed to have some point or another of weakness according to the fuqahaa of hadeeth and its scholars. The Qaadi Abu Bakr Ibnul-Arabi said, 'There is no authentic hadeeth and its scholars. The Qaadi Abu Bakr Ibnul-Arabi said, "There is no authentic hadeeth prohibiting singing. 'And Abu Bakr Ibnul-Arabi said, 'There is no authentic hadeeth prohibiting singing'. And Ibn Hazm said, 'Every hadeeth related (prohibiting music and singing) is false and forged." Unfortunately, the statement that "all" the narrations are weal according to" scholars of hadeeth "is a gross error on Al-Qardaawi’s part and is not the result of meticulous critical research. Rather, It is due to an uncritical, blind acceptance of the words of Ibn Hazm and Ibnul Arabi. Ibn Hazm was no doubt a virtuous , sharp -minded scholar: however, in the area of hadeeth assessment and verification(as in the case in many aspects of his school of Dhaahiri fiqh), he has certain untenable and unfounded, even some very abnormal views. The accomplished hadeeth scholar and student of Ibn Taymiyyah, Al-Haafidh Ibn Abdul-Haadi, says of Ibn Hazm that "he often errs in his critical assessment of the degrees of traditions and on the conditions of their narrators. In fact, there is unanimous consensus among the most reputable critical scholars of hadeeth regarding Ibn Hazms erroneous assignment of a ruling of daif(weakness) to Al-Bukhaaris hadeeth. Regarding the degree of this hadeeth, the views of Ibnus Salaah, Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalaani and Al-Haafidh Al-Iraaqi have already been mentioned . Among the qualified scholars who also agree with his assessment are the great scholars, Ibnul_Qayyim and Ibn Taymiyyah. Ibnul-Arabi is similar to Ibn Hazm in that he is quick to give a ruling of forgery or weakness on a hadeeth, without the necessary, detailed analysis and synthesis of all extant chains of narration relating to the subject. Had he executed such an analysis, undoubtedly he would have arrived at a sound decision decision and avoided much blame and censure.
Having established the authenticity of the afore mentioned narration recorded in Imam Al-Bukaaris compilation, the meaning of his hadeeth and its stand as an indisputable proof of the unlawfulness of music may now be discussed.
Commentary On Al-Bukhaaris Hadeeth
The portion of Al-Bukhaaris hadeeth which is presently of concern is that segment whose text states: Its translation follows":
"There will be a people of my Ummah(nation) who will seek to make lawful: fornication , the wearing of silk, wine-drinking and the use of musical instruments. . . "
The word of consequence here is the Arabic term' maazif'. In order to discover what it implies, one must turn to Arabic dictionaries of hadeeth terms and other scholarly works. According to Lisaanul Arab maazif is the plural of mizaf or azf and indicates objects or instruments of play or leisure which are beat upon their sound. If the singular form is used (mizaf), it specifically means a type of large wooden drum use mainly by the people of Yemen. The noun 'azf' also stands for the act of playing with 'maaazif' is hand drums (duff) or other instruments which are struck upon. Al-Jowhari, the author of the ancient dictionary, As-sihaah, asserts that maazif signifies musical instruments, al-aazif indicates one who sings, and the azf of the wind is its voice. In the famous Taajul 'Aroos min Jawaahiril Qaaamoos, besides quoting the above mentioned meanings, the small hand drum (duff) or other such musical objects. And finally, in the small hand drum (duff) or other such musical objects. And finally, in the famous dictionary, An-Nihaayah fee Ghareebil Hadeeth. Ibnul Atheer mentions the meaning of maazif as it is used in various hadeeths. He comments, "By 'azf is meant playing with maazif, consisting of duff (hand drums) or other instruments which are beat upon "He also mentions the derived noun form, 'azeef, which means "sound" or voice", while 'azeeful jinn' signifies the ringing of the jinns' voices. It is said that the people of the desert imagined the shrill ringing of the winds in the desert air to be the voice of jinns.
The commentaries of the scholars of hadeeth also agree on the above quoted meanings for the term maazif mentioned in Al-Bukhaari narration. In Ibn Hajars exhaustive commentary of Saheehul Bukhaari, he adds that an earlier hadeeth scholar, named Ad-Dimyaati, says that the word 'azf is also used to describe singing(ghinaa).
Such a detailed analysis of the meaning of the term maazif, as mentioned in the most authoritative dictionaries of the Arabic language , is "interpret" it in a matter suiting their pre conceived notions or opinions. It clearly has been established that the word maazif-according to correct Arabic usage-indicates a specific number of things(a)musical instruments (b) the sounds of those musical instruments(music) and (c) singing to instrumental accompaniment.
Analysis Of The Text As A Proof Of Prohibition
An analysis of the hadeeths wording clearly indicates the unlawfulness of music. In the text it is said that people from the Prophets ummah will" seek to make lawful "that which is termed "maazif". This statement("seek to make lawful") is derived from the verb" yastahilloona", whose first part, yasta, is the conjugated addition to the root ahalla. The conjugated form is a means to seek, try, attempt. desire, etc. while the root ahalla means to make lawful. Taken together it means "to seek to make lawful". Obviously, one can only seek, desire or attempt to make lawful that which is not lawful. For if something is already lawful, it is nonsensical for one to seek to establish it. Other things which people will attempt to make lawful are named along maazif. These additional matters are definitely prohibited in Islam-namely, illegal sexual intercourse, the drinking of wine or, liquor and the wearing of silk(for males). Had maaziff not been prohibited , they never would have been associated with other prohibited objects in one and the same context.
In order to dispel the common misconception prevalent among certain Muslims that "only one hadeeth" in Al-Bukkhaari's compilation stands as proof of prohibition regarding this issue, it is necessary to mention a sample of other authentic hadeeth. The fact that the majority of traditions regarding music, instruments and singing are weak and rejected (munkar) does not negate the existence of an appreciable number whose degree is saheeh(authentic) or hasan(of good, acceptable quality).
The Narration Of Ibn Maajah
There is a narration by Ibn Maajah in Kitaabul Fitan in the chapter on punishments, whose sanad and text in Arabic is as follows: The translation is:
"The messenger of Allah(s. a. w)said: ‘A 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 apes and swine. "
This is an authentic hadeeth. It was also narrated by Al-Bayhaqi and Ibn Asaakir with the same wording. The renowned scholar of hadeeth and fiqh, Ibnul-Qayyim, authenticated it as mentioned in the famous hadeeth commentary of the 'allaamah, Abtut-Teeb Muhammad Shamsul-Haqq Adheem-Aabaadi Furhtermore, it was given a degree of saheeh by muhaddith of our era, Shaykh Muhammad Naasiruddeen Al-Albaani. mentioned its detailed, critical evaluation and assessment in his Silsatul Ahaadeeth As-Saheehah and in his Saheehul Jaamis Sagheer. It further mentioned and authenticated in his Ghaayatul Maraam Takhreejul Halaali wal Haraam.
The Narration Of Ahmad Bin Hanbal
There are a number of narrations proving the prohibition of music and instruments in Ahmad bin Hanbals Musnad. Although many of the are weak, two narrations from his compilation, which have been verified to be authentic, follow.
The First Text The Prophet(s. a. w) said:
"Verily, Allah prohibited wine, gambling and al-koobah, and every intoxicant is prohibited. "Sufyan said, "I asked the narrator, Ali bin Badheemah, 'What is al-koobah? He answered, 'It is the drum"
The Second Text: It is translated thus: Allah’s Messenger(s. a. w)said
"Verily, Allah has prohibited for my Ummah: wine, gambling, a drink distilled from corn, the drum and the lute while He supplemented me with another prayer, the witr. "
These narrations have also been related by other compilers, such as Al-Bayhaqi in his Shubul Eemaan with an authentic isnaad and At-Tabaraani in Al-Mujam Al-Kabeer with a jayyid(good) isnaad. The detailed proof of their verified authenticity are mentioned in Al-Albaanis Saheehul Jaamis Sagheer. It is further authenticated in his Mishkaatul Masaabeeh and in his work, Al-Ahadeeth As-Saheehah.
The Narration Of Al-Haakim And Others
Its is reported by Al-Haakim in his Mustadrak that the Prophet(saw) took three hand of the companion, Abdur Rahmaan bin 'Owf(ra), and they proceeded to visit the Prophet(saw)'s ailing son Ibraheem. They found the infant in the thrones of death, so the Prophet(saw)took him to his breast and held him until his spirit left him. Then he(saw)put the child down and wept, whereupon Abdur-Rahmaan asked in astonishment, "You are weeping , Oh Messenger of Allah(saw), while you(saw) prohibit crying!?" The following is the Prophet(saw)'s reply:
"Verily, I did not prohibit weeping[per se]but rather, I forbade two voices [sowtayn] which are imbellic (ahmaq) and sinfully shameless[faajir]:one, voice[singing]to the accompaniment of musical amusement [lahw]and Satans[wind]instruments; the other, a voice [wailing] due to some calamity, accompanied by striking of the face and tearing of garments. But this face and tearing of garments. But this[weeping of mine] stems from compassion, and whosoever does not show compassion will not receive it. "
This hadeeths degree is hasan and it has been strengthened by another narration related by Abu Bakr Ash-Shafiee in his work, Ar-Rubaaeeyat. Its abbreviated text follows.
The Narration Of Abu Bakr Ash-Shaafiee
Anas bin Maalik related from the Prophet(saw)that "Two cursed sounds are that of the [wind]instrument[mizmaar] played on the occasion of joy and grace, and woeful wailing of joy and grace, and woeful wailing upon the occurrence of adversity".
A similar text with slightly different wording is related by Al-Bazzaar in his collection of hadeeths. Al-Haafidh Nooruddeen Al-Haythami mentioned it in his Majma'Az-Zawaaid and indicated that the narrators of this isnaad are all dependable. Thus, these last three narrations prove the illegality of music and singing to musical accompaniment, especially wind instruments( mazaameer), which are referred to as "flutes of Satan" in the tradition related by Al-Haakim. The traditions quoted are not the only available authentic hadeeths which establish prohibition. The traditions quoted are not the only available authentic hadeeths which establish prohibition. There are others, however the scope of treatise does not allow a more detailed exposition. The sample mentioned sufficient proof, for "Verily therein is a reminder for any who has a heart or who gives era and earnestly witnesses[the truth].
Consensus Of The Companions, Taabieen, Imams And Other Fuqahaa
No doubt, the companions of the Prophet(saw) were the best people after the Messengers of Allah. The companions received the knowledge of Islam from the Prophet(saw) and faithfully conveyed it to us. Therefore, it is useful to know their views regarding the subject of this treatise, for their consensus(ijtimaa) carries absolute weight in this matter and clarifies the correct view, removing any lingering doubts in the hearts of those who have not yet been graced with the gift of surety(yaqeen) and conviction.
In order to further strengthen the view previously established , it is necessary to review the opinions of the tabieen, the four imams and other accomplished to review the opinions of the tabieen , the for imams and other accomplished scholars of Islam. One of the attributes of sound Islamic methodology is the reference to the views and positions held by the pious predecessors of the Islamic ummah and the respectful consideration with which one approaches them. However, their views, as with the views of all, must be subjected to the criterion of Allah’s Book and the authentically related prophetic traditions. Since the prohibition of music has already been established beyond the slightest doubt through detailed proof from the authentic sunnah, this section of the treatise is presented merely for the sake of the readers knowledge and Islamic awareness.
The Position Of The Companions On This Issue
A few of the late Shafiite scholars related Ibn Taahirs claim that the sahaabah and taabieen unanimously agreed upon the permissibility or singing(ghinaa); therefore, those who came after them have no right to challenge their authority. The Shaaffite scholar, Ibn Hajar Al-Haythami Makki(909-974 H), mentioned that some went so far as to claim the supposed consensus of ahlul Madeenah on this question. They even accused 24 scholars from among the sahaaabah, as well as innumerable tabieen, their followers , and the four imams and their disciples of singing and listening to song. However, regarding the previously mentioned claim by Ibn Taahir and those who indiscriminately followed him, an authority on Shaafiite scholarship, Shihaabuddeen Al-Adhraai(708-783 AH)refuted such facile reports and insisted that Ibn Taahirs book Safwatut Tasawwuf(The vanguard of Sufism)and his treatise, As-Sammaa(Listening [to music, singing, etc.], one finds disgraceful, scandalous things along with ugly instances of fraudulent presentations of material(in defence of his position on this issue) Al-Adhraai further clarified that what has been attributed to the companions could not be established by authentically related narrations (aaathaar), but rather, their assertions were based on reports of certain companions listening to poetry, chants or songs. This does not substantiate their allegations, for such things are permitted by consensus and fall outside the realm of this area of dispute. Clearly, it was related that some companions performed permitted aspects of singing etc., however , these actions were distorted out of context by such persons to include every type of singing, without specification or restriction.
Al-Adhaari then quoted an authoritative Shaafiite imam, Abdul-Qaasim Ad-Dowlaqi, who clarifies in his book As-Samaa, the vital point which is at the crux of this issue. He says, "It has been related regarding anyone of the companions(ra)that he listened to the sort of singing which is of the disputed type nor is it related that gatherings for song were organized for him, nor that He(saw)praised such sing; rather, it was the companions' habit to censure and blame such gatherings for the purpose of listening to it"(100) Ibn hajar Al-Haythami concludes his discourse by pointing out that it is clear from what has preceded that it is not permissible to blindly adhere to Ibn Taahir's views, because he has deviated in both the point of view of his narrations (naql), and his personal opinions(aql). He was also a liar, innovator and a libertine. As for those who relate that the companions and others permitted the disputed types of song, they have committed an ugly mistake and have fallen prey to gross error. The issue of song and music is of two types; the first type is permitted by consensus, and the second type is disputed about as to its prohibition. To intimate that the companions' type is invalid arbitrariness and is not based on the principles of jurisprudence and hadeeth science. Such principles clearly indicate that we must interpret whatever has been related on this issue regarding the companions as that type of song permitted by consensus.
Regarding this particular issue, Yousuf Al-Qardaawi makes a bold and misleading statement. It reads: "It is related a large number of companions and taabieen , that they used to listen to song(ghinaa), and they didn’t see any harm in that." This assertion is misleading for a number of reasons. Firstly, he claims that it has been "related", however, he brings no valid proof of such a statement-not even a single pertinent tradition(athar)related to the companions. Secondly, he leads the reader to believe that the sahabah listened to all typed of song. This accomplishes with the general wording "used to listen to song". In reality, they only listened to particular types, as specified lawful in the sunnah. These types are restricted as to who may sing and who may listen on what occasion they are allowed and in what manner they are to be delivered. The difference between what Qardaawi has intimated and what really occurred is like night and day.
In reality, 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. For example, it is authentically related by Al-Bayhaqi that the companion, Abdullah bin Masood said, "Singing sprouts hypocrisy in the heart as rain sprouts herbs and greens. "As was related in an earlier portion of this treatise, when he was questioned regarding the meaning of the words[lahwal hadeeth], he replied, "I swear by Him besides Whom there is no other god that it refers to singing." He repeated it three times over to emphasize his belief that the words from the Quraan were a rebuke and censure of singing. In addition to this, the same view was held by the four rightly guided caliphs, the fuqahaa among the sahaabah such as Ibn Abaas, Ibn Umar and Jaabir bin Abdullah, as well as the general body of sahaabah(may Allah be pleased with them all). Any one who claims differently is requested to bring proof. It is further requested that it be an authentically reported, clear and unambiguous text that it relate specifically to the point of dispute(mahallun nizaa)
The View Of The Tabieen Imams And Scholars After Them
The view held by the companions was generally adhered to by the taabieen and their followers, the four imams and the great majority of dependable Islamic scholars up to the present time. From among the tabieen and their followers, there are such authorities as Mujaahid, Ikrimah, An-Nakhai and Al-Hassan Al-Basri.
Imam Abu Haneefah
Imam Abu Haneefah has perhaps the harshest view of the four famous Imams of jurisprudence. His school of thought is the strictest, for he detested singing and considered it sinful. As for his disciples, they have explicitly confirmed the prohibition of listening to all musical amusements and pastimes, including wind instruments(mazaameer) all types of tambourines, hand drums(duff) and even the striking of sticks(al-qadeeb). They have asserted that such actions constitute disobedience to Allah and that the performer of such action is sinful, therefore necessitating rejection of his testimony. They have further stated that it is incumbent upon the Muslim to struggle to avoid listening to such things, even if he were passing by or stationed near them (without any willful intention). Abu Haneefah's closest disciple, Abu Yoosuf, stated that if the sound of musical instruments(maazif) and amusements(malaahi) were heard coming from a house, the house could be entered without permission of its owners. The justification for this is that the command regarding the prohibition abominable things (munkaaraat) is mandatory, and cannot be established if such entering rests upon the permission of the residents of the premises. This is the madhab (position) of the rest of the Kufixc scholars as well, such as Ibraheem An-Nakhai, Ash-Shabi Hammad and Ath-Thowri. They do not differ on this issue. The same can be said of the general body of jurisprudence of Al-Basrah.
It is related by Ibnul-Jowzi that Ishaaq bin Eesaa At-Tabaa asked Imaam Maalik bin Anas, the leading jurisprudence of Madeenah, about the view of the people of Madeenah regarding singing (ghinaa). He replied, "In fact, that is done by the sinful ones. "Abut-teeb At-Tabari said, "As for Maalik bin Anas, he truly did prohibit singing and listening to it. " He further related that Maalik said, "If one purchased a slave-girl and found her to be a professional singer, he could return her to the original owner for reimbursement on the claim of having found fault in the merchandise." The ruling of prohibition (tahreem) is generally agreed upon by the scholars of Madeenah. The Maaliki jurisprudence and commentator, Al-Qurtubi , reports Ibn Khuwayz Mandaad as saying that Imam Maalik had learned singing and music as a small boy until his mother encouraged him to leave it for a study of the religious sciences. He did, and his view became that such things were prohibited. Al-Qurtubi confirmed Maaliks view by saying that the only exception to this general ruling was the type of innocent songs such as those sung to placate the camels during travel, or during hard labour or boredom or during times of festivity and joy, such as the Eed days and weddings-the latter to the accompaniment of a simple duff(hand drum). Al-Qurtubi then said, "As for that which is done in our day, by way of the (blameworthy) innovations (bidah) of the Sufi mystics in their addition to hearing songs to the accompaniment of melodious instruments such as flutes, string instruments such as flutes, string instruments etc. such is haraam(forbidden)
In the book, Aadaabul Qadaa, As-Shafiee is reported as saying, "Verily, song is loathsome (makrooh); it resembles the false and vain thing (al-baatil). The one who partakes of it frequently is an incompetent fool whose testimony is to be rejected." His closest and most knowledgeable disciples clearly stipulate that his position on this issue is that of prohibition (tahreem)and they rebuke those who attribute its legality to him. This is confirmed by the later Shafiite scholar, Ibn Hajar Al-Haythami. He related that one of the Ash-Shaafiites disciples, Al-Haarith Al-Muhaasibi(d. 243 H) said, "Song is haraam, just as the carcass(maytah) is." Further more, the statement that singing is haraam is found in the treatise, Ash-Sharh Al-Kabeer, by the authoritative
Shaffiite Scholar, Ar-Raafiee(d. 623 H). This is further corroborated by the accomplished Shaaffiite jurisprudence, Imam An-Nawawi(d. 676 H)in his Rowdah). Such is the correct view of the dependable scholars of the Shaffiite madhab. However, due to limited knowledge and personal fancy and desire, a few of their later day scholars disagree with this view.
Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal
Imaam Ahmads position regarding this issue has been narrated in detail by the Hanbalite jurisprudence and Quranic commentator, Abul Faraj Ibnul-Jowzi(d. 597 H. )in his treatise, Tablees Iblees(Sataan's deception). He tells us that ghinaa during Ahmads era consisted primarily of a rhymed, rhythmical chanting (inshaad)of poems whose purpose was to lead people to a pious, abstentions way of life. However, when such chanters began to vary their simple style to one of a throbbing, affected melody, the narrations regarding Ahmad began to differ. His own son and student , Abdullah, relates that his father said, "Singing sprouts hypocrisy in the heart; it doesn’t please me. "The scholar, Ismaeel bin Ishaaq ath Thaqafi, reports that Ahmad was questioned regarding ones listening to those poems (qasaaid) to which he replied, "I despise it, for it is a bidaah(innovation). Don’t sit down to listen to its reciters. 'Abul-Haarith relates that Ahmad said, "At-Taghyeer(129)is an innovation "whereupon it was said, "But it sensitizes and softens the heart". Ahmad rejoined, "It is a bidaah (blameworthy innovation). " Yaqoob Al-Haashimi narrates that Ahmad said, "At-taghyeer is a recent innovation" and Yaqoob bin Gayyath reports him a s saying that he despised at-taghyeer and prohibited ones listening to it.
Ibnul-Jowzi then mentioned some narrations related by Abu Bakr Al-Khlallaal and Ahmads son Saalih, which indicate Ahmads not being averse to poetry sessions. It is related that Ahmad heard a singer(qawwal)a didn’t reproach him, whereupon Saalih said to him, "Oh father, didn’t you used to criticize and censure such a thing?" Ahmad replied, "That was because I was told that they were doing reproachable things, so I despised it; as for this, I do not dislike it" Ibnul-Jowzi commented at this point, "Some of this scholars of our(Hanbalite school mention that Abu Bakr Al-Khallaal(d. 311 H)and his disciple, Abdul-Azeez, permitted singing(ghinaa). Such a statement refers to the spiritual poems(qasaaid zuhduyyaat) which were prevalent during their time. This is precisely the type of singing which was not disliked by Ahmad(as previously mentioned) Ahmad bin Hanbal attests to this in the instance where he was asked regarding a deceased person who left behind him a son and a professional singing)slave-girl. The son then needed to sell her. Ahmad said that she was not to be sold on the basis of her being a singer. Upon this it was said to him that, (as a singer), she was worth, 30000 dirhams, whereas if she were sold only on the basis of her being simply a slave-girl. "Ibnul Jowzi explained, "The reason Ahmad said this is because the singing slave-girl doesn’t sing spiritual poems(qasaaid zuhdiyaat); rather she sings throbbing lyrics which incite passion in ones being. This is proof that such singing is haraam, for if it were not so, the incurred loss of the orphans sons wealth would not be permissible. Furthermore, it is reported by the jurisprudence Al-Mirwazi that Ahmad bin Hanbal said, "The earnings of the effeminate(mukhannath)singer are foul (khabeeth)because he doesn’t sing spiritual poems, but rather, he sings erotic poetry(al-ghazal)in a licentious, cooing manner. "
Ibnul-Jowzi concluded that it is obvious from what has preceded that the variant narrations relating to Ahmads dislike of (karaahah)or permission for singing depended upon the type of singing that was meant. As for the type of singing which is popular today, it would be forbidden according to Ahmads view. If only he could see what the people have added to it by way of innovation.
In conclusion, the general consensus of the companions, taabieen and the following generations of Islamic scholars up to the present day, including the four Imams , points to the ruling of prohibition of music and song(other than the exceptions to be mentioned later)
The Wisdom Behind Its Prohibiton By The Divinely Revealed Shariah
Perhaps the most salient feature of the divinely revealed shariah is its all encompassing benefit(maslahah) for the sake of mankind, regarding all aspects of their spiritual and material welfare. Thus, it is, that various ordinances in the form of divine legislation have been given to man, directing him to pious works of worship(ibaadat)and social transactions (muaamlaat). Such works lead to spiritual peace and material prosperity. In accordance with Allah’s infinite knowledge, wisdom and mercy, it is necessary that He(glorified be his praise)should prohibit certain things whose effects are evil and harmful to His slaves. This principle is perfectly epitomized in the following authentic tradition of the Prophet(saw):
"By the One in Whose hand is my soul, there is not a thing which brings you nearer to Paradise and distances you from the Fire, except that I have directed you to it; and there is not a thing which brings you closer to the Fire while distancing you from Paradise, except that I have prohibited it for you. "
From the foregoing hadeeth , as well as other texts of the Quraan and sunnah, the scholars of usool(153)have formulated certain vital objectives(maqaasid) of the divine law. Among these is the principle that nothing has been ordained for man except that which is for his own good and benefit, while nothing has been prohibited except that which is harmful and detrimental to his welfare. With this principle in mind, one perhaps can have a general understanding of the infinite, divine wisdom behind the prohibition of music and its adjuncts. Its potential moral, spiritual and social evils are a danger to the Muslim individual as well as the Islamic community at large.
In order to convey some of the divine wisdom behind prohibition, it is useful to quote a few excerpts from the writings of the authoritative scholar, it is useful to quote a few excerpts from the writings of the authoritative scholar, Ibnul Qayyim, who has dealt with this subject extensively. In the section which exposes Satans deception of those who claim "spiritual mysticism"(tasawwuf) in their dancing, singing and listening to music, he says, "From among the artful machinations and entrapments of Allah’s enemy(Satan), with which he has snared those possessing little good sense, knowledge and deen(faith), and by which he has stalked the hearts of the false and ignorant people, there is the listening to whistling, wailing, hand clapping and song to the accompaniment of forbidden(musical)instruments. Such things block the Quraan from Peoples Hearts and make them devoted to sin and disobedience. For song (to musical accompaniment) is the Quraan of Ash Shaytaan(Satan). It is a dense veil and barrier, preventing nearness to Ar-Rahmaan! By way of such song, Satan deceives vain souls, making it appear pleasing to them through his cunning appeal to their vanities. He insidiously whispers false, specious arguments suggesting the' goodness' in song. These arguments are accepted, and as a result, the Quraan becomes an object of neglect and abandonment."
Ibnul-Qayyim describes in detail the physical and emotional change which overcomes these "Sufis "when they begin to hear such song and effeminately to the tune, they whirl to a frenzy, screaming and wailing and tearing their clothes, like donkeys around the axis of a grinding mill. Such a laughing stock is the very joy of the enemies of Islam. Yet such people pretend that they are the very "elite" of Islam while taking their deen as an amusement and pastime. Hearing the (musical)instruments of Satan is dearer to them listening to the recitation of the Quraan.
He concludes by saying that "the result of preoccupation with song and music is that you never find its devotee other than astray from the path of guidance, in thought and deed. Such a person develops an aversion to the Quraan and a devotion to song. If he were offered a choice between listening to song/music or the Quraan, he would most certainly choose the former over latter, the audition of which is like a heavy burden upon him." Later on in this treatise, Ibnul-Qayyim specifies other aspects of the divine wisdom:
"Therefore, know song has particular characteristics
which faint the heart, causing hypocrisy to sprout therein, just as water
sprouts plants. Among its qualities is that it distracts the heart and
prevents it from among contemplation and understanding of the Quraan, and
from applying it. This is because Quraan and song can never coexist in
the heart, since they are mutually contradictory. For verily, the Quraan
forbids the pursuing of vanities and ordains restraint of the souls passions
and temptations to evil. Song, on the other hand, encourages the very opposite
of these virtues, as it excites the hidden innerself and entices the soul
inequity by driving it towards every shameful desire. . . " Among the signs
of hypocrisy is ones rarely remembering Allah and ones laziness in rising
to prayer along with its poor performance. Seldom do you find one infatuated
by song except with such blameworthy attributes. "Furthermore,