MUSIC - Yes or No? (Part 2 of 4 parts)
Part 1 of 4 parts "Music In Islam" www.islamnewsroom.com/music-hot-topics-60
Part 2 of 4 parts "Music in Islam" www.islamnewsroom.com/news-we-need/491
Part 3 of 4 parts "Music in Islam" www.islamnewsroom.com/news-we-need/492
Part 4 of 4 parts "Music in Islam" www.islamnewsroom.com/news-we-need/493
MUSIC - Did Modern Scholars Make it Halal?
Music - Halal or Haram? - The Proof
. . in Dr. Yusuf Qaradawi's "Al Halal Wal Haram Fee Islam" regarding hadeeths in Sahih Al-Bukhari.
Thank you for asking about Islam's ruling on singing and music. We too have been asked many times about this topic and it seems even when the people hear the answer from the proofs of Islam, they want to keep on asking and even arguing against Allah's rulings. Amazing isn't it?
Anyway, we offer the following ruling based on the work of Abu Bilal Mustafa Al-Kanadi in hopes it will bring closure to the subject for the true seekers of knowledge:
[NOTE: We recommend converting this long file to .PDF by using the icon of the left of the 3 icons - upper right side]:
A Critical Analysis Of Quranic Texts And Commentaries
It is vital that one critically assesses the extent to which certain verses of the Quran 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 Dawud (prophet David), peace be upon him, 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 Quran who fall prey to the same error. For example, Abdullah 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 (David), peace be upon him, but rather were revealed to him by Allah, the exalted, as is clearly stated in the Quran. Additionally - now where in the Quran 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 Quranic commentaries (tafaseer). Ibn Kathir (Allah’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 (David), peace be upon him.
Al-Aloosi further confirms this saying, “Az-Zaboor is the name of the book sent down to Dawood (David), peace be upon him: 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 (David), 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-Aloosi adds to this description that, “the Zaboor also contained divine praises and glorification of Allah, Prophet Dawood’s captivating, melodious voice was exceedingly beautiful and effective. Whenever 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 Ayoub (Job), peace be upon him, whom Allah tested with various trials and tribulations, permits music and dancing:
Allah, the exalted and mighty, commands his messenger, Muhammad, peace be upon him, in the Quran:
“And recall Our servant, Ayoub (Job), 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, Ayoub (Job), peace be upon him, 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, Ayoub, peace be upon him, to excruciating tests and trials, Allah Judges him to be firm, patient and unwavering in his faith, saying:
“Truly, We found him firm in patience and constancy; how excellent a servant. Verily, he was ever turning in repentance (to his Lord).”
Regarding this verse, Al-Qurtubi mentions in his tafsir that certain ignorant ascetics and common Sufis have sought proof for the permissibility of dancing in Allah’s Saying to Ayoub , “Strike the ground with your foot” accompaniment of certain ritual formulas (adhkaar) and musical instruments a form of worship (ibadah) which brings one closer to Allah. Of course, such things are none other than bidah (blameworthy innovations and misguidance in deen). He relates the reply of some scholars to such baseless claims.
Abul-Faraj Ibnul-Jowzi says, “This is an empty argument. If there had 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?” (if this were so, then), “It would also be right to interpret Allah’s saying to Musa, “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 Quran 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, for the sake of argument, if it were established that Dawood (prophet David), peace be upon him, did in fact have musical (instruments) 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 usulul 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 Quran 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.
Quranic Verses Alleged To Indicate Prohibition Of Music
In his tafsir, 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 Surah 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 without partners).
The important phrase is Allah’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 Quran, such as the companions, taabieen (those following after the first companions of the prophet, peace be upon him) and later scholars of tafsir (exegesis of Quran).
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 motionless 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 narrations traced to the “sahabah” (companions of the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) and “taabieen” (followers and students of the companions).
According to Ibn Abbas, the word “saamidoon” in this verse refers to the, “mushrikeen's habit of singing and playing noisily whenever they heard the Quran being recited, in order to drown out the reciters 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' taabieen' (followers after the companions time period) such as Ikrimah and Ad-Dahhaak.
A third meaning given by Ibn Abbas is that they held their heads up in pride. The Taabieen have indicated certain meanings similar to the views of the preceding linguists.
Qatadah reports Al-Hasan as saying that, ‘Saamidoon is the mushrikeens (idolaters) 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 Quran” (the jurisprudential rulings derived from the Quranic 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.; those referred to have been 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 Quran and the message of Islam.
Furthermore, it could indicate that they were indifferent, negligent and rejecting 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 Quran and the new message of tawheed.
However, it must be said that when a Quranic 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 Quran 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 Surah Al-Israa (chapter 17) 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-Dahhaak said it was the sound of wind instruments.
However, according to Ibn Abbas, 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 Quranic 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 Surah Luqmaan. Allah, the exalted says:
“And there are among men those who purchase “lahwal hadeeth” idle talk in order to mislead others from Allah’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 Allah’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 Allah’s path and to make it the butt of mockery.
Ibn Jeerer At-Tabari, in his Jamiul Bayan , mentions that the interpreters of the Quran 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
- 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 Masud, Jabir and Ibn Abbas. 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 Abbas said it referred to “singing and the like”.
Jabir 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, Makhul 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 tafsir scholars from the generation after the companions, such as Ad-Dahhaak 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-Aloosi relates that Al-Hasan Al Basri 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-Aloosi supports this view, saying that the verse should be interpreted to include all such blameworthy words and deeds which divert one from Allah’s path.
After having conveyed the previously mentioned categories of tafsir, Ibn Jeerer 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 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 Quran.”
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, peace be upon him. 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, peace be upon him.
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 Shariah.
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 scholar’s 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 (mowdu'a). 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.
A translation of the hadeeth follows:
“The Prophet, peace be upon him, 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.” (hadeeth #494B in Vol. 6, Sahih Al-Bukhari)
A Critical Discussion Of The Isnaad Of The Hadeeth:
Prior to a discussion of the meaning of the part of this hadeeth relevant to this treatise, it 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-Bukhari related, “Qaala Hishaamu-bnu Ammaar”(“Hisham the son of Ammaar said . .“) This statement was misconstrued by Ibn Hazm to indicate that there is a missing link between Al-Bukhari and the next narrator i.e. Hisham, 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, Shaikh Ibnus-Sallah, in his celebrated work, Ul-Umul Hadeeth, (his treatise on the science or methodology of hadeeth criticism and assessment), in his commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari, 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 Hajar's sheikh, Al Hafidh Al-Iraqi. He stated that the isnaad (chain of narration) is found connected in Al Ismaeli’s work, entitled Al-Mustakhraj, which collects together other chains of narrators (or similar ones) for the same hadeeths mentioned in Al-Bukhari's collection.
And finally, there is Ibn Hajar’s distinctive work, Taghleequt Taleeq. This is a rare and stupendous masterpiece, which brings together connected, authentic chains (asaneed) of transmitters for those traditions which appear in Al-Bukhari’s compilation in the form of the disconnected (mualliq) type of hadeeth.
This dispels 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-Bukhari’s 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-Bukhari and Sadaqah bin Khalid and because of the difference of opinion regarding the name of Abu Malik. 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 Hibban's narration; the transmitter stated that he heard from both of them. I have in my possession even more chains of narration 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-Bukhari is authentic and consequently constitutes a valid and binding text to be referred to in determining the hukm (ruling) 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-Halal wal Haram 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. And the Qaadi 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 weak, according to “scholars of hadeeth” is a gross error on Dr. 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 Taimiyyah, Al-Hafidh Ibn Abdul-Hadi, says of Ibn Hazm,
“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 Hazm's erroneous assignment of a ruling of daeef (weakness) to Al-Bukhari’s hadeeth.”
Regarding the degree of this hadeeth, the views of Ibnus Salah, Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani and Al-Hafidh Al-Iraqi have already been mentioned.
Among the qualified scholars who also agree with his assessment are the great scholars, Ibnul Qayyim and Ibn Taimiyyah. 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. If he had executed such an analysis, undoubtedly he would have arrived at a sound decision and avoided much blame and censure.
MUSIC - Yes or No? (Part 2 of 4 parts)
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