Music: Seeking to Make it Lawful by Abu Abdissalam

Regarding music, below are some random thoughts and points:

1) Music is clearly haram by the Qur’an, Sunnah and consensus of the early Muslim scholars:

a) Qur’an

“Do you marvel at this statement, and laugh and do not weep, while you saamidoon? Rather, prostrate before Allah and worship Him [alone].” Al-Najm (59-62)

Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the word ‘saamidoon’ in this verse is talking about the mushrikin who would sing and play music loudly whenever they heard the recitation of the Qur’an so they could drown out the sound so others would not hear verses of the Qur’an.

“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. For such there will be a humiliating punishment.” Luqman (6)

Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the phrase “Lahw al-hadith” as “Huwa al-ginaa wa ashbahuhu” (it is music and the like). Hasan Basri rahimahullah, who died in 110AH, said that this ayah was revealed about music and the flute. In fact, the great scholar Mak-hul said, “Because of this ayah, I will not read the Salah al-Janazah over the one who buys a singing girl to sing and amuse him and continues this till he dies.”

b) Sunnah

The Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“There will come a people from my Ummah who will seek to make lawful zina (fornication and adultery), the wearing of silk (for men), the drinking of win and the use of musical instruments. 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 : ‘Come back 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 this state until the Day of Resurrection.” [Bukhari]

Note that nowadays we do hear many Muslims seeking to make lawful music, as mentioned in this hadith.
The Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam also said:
“A people of my Ummah will drink wine, calling it by other than its real name. Merry will be made for them through the playing of musical instruments and by the singing of female singers. Allah will cleave the earth under them and turn them into apes and swines.” [Ibn Majah and Abu Dawud]

It is also reported that the Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

“Music grows hypocrisy in the heart just as water causes the crops to grow.” [Bayhaqi]

C) Statements of the Early Muslim scholars

When ‘Umar Ibn ‘Abdil ‘Aziz, may Allah be pleased with him, sent his son to his teacher, Suhayl, he wrote:
“The first lesson to be taught to him is hatred of musical instruments, which begins from shaytan and ends with the wrath of Allah. I have heard from reliable scholars that to be present in gatherings of music and to listen to it causes hypocrisy to grow in the heart like water causes grass to grow. By my soul, it is easier for an intelligent person to save himself from the evil of such places than to allow hypocrisy nourishing in the heart.”

Al-Hasan said: if there is music involved in a walimah (dinner invitation) then do not accept it.

Ibrahim Nakha’i, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “We used to go searching from road to road to take away and tear the musical instruments away from the children.”

Abdullah, the son of Imam Ahmad, said: “I asked my father about singing and he replied: ‘Singing makes hypocrisy grow in the heart; I hate it’. Then he quoted the words of Malik: ‘the fasiqs among us do that.””

Al-Sarakhshi, the Hanafi jurist, said : “The testimony of a singer, who gathers people and is accompanied by people for the purpose of such entertainment, will not be accepted.”

Ibn al-Qayyim said: “Listening to the music of a strange women and a beardless youth is one of the greatest prohibited acts. Imam Shafi said regarding the owner of a female slave that if he gathers the people to listen to her then he is a foolish person whose testimony will not be accepted and above this he is regarded as a ‘Dayyoos’ (cuckold, i.e. one who is married to an unfaithful wife!).”

He also 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 haram and deserves the wrath and punishment of Allah and His Messenger? … How can anyone who has the least amount of insight and faith in his heart draw near to Allah 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?”

Al-Qurtubi said: “The addiction of the sufis to the listening of music with melodious instruments, like the reed flutes, tambourines, strings (of the musical instrument) and the piano, which has been innovated by them is Haram.” (p. 54/4 Tafsir Qurtubi).

Ibn Taymiyah said: “Whoever plays these instruments as a form of worship is undoubtedly misguided and ignorant. However, if he does it as a form of entertainment, then the view of the four imams is that all musical instruments are haram. It is proven in Sahih al-Bukhari and elsewhere that the Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said that there would be among his ummah those who regarded zina, silk, alcohol and musical instruments as lawful, and he said that they would be transformed into monkeys and pigs.”

Al-Albani said that: “the four imams are united that all musical instruments are haram”

2) If people claim there is a difference of opinion regarding this issue, then it is clear that the difference was not from the early Muslim scholars, but it was rather from those from this ummah, as the Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “who would seek to make lawful”, among other things, musical instruments.

3) The exception to this general prohibition of music is the playing of the duff (drum). The scholars have differed here whether it is allowed for everyone all the time, just for women all the time, or just for women at happy occasions like Eid and weddings, etc.

4) Regarding those who play music loudly and broadcast it to others, they are acquiring extra sin: firstly for listening to it, and secondly for making / encouraging others to listen to it.

5) Regarding eating in a restaurant that has music or hearing music without choice
, see this full article by Shaykh Munajjid:

Question :

I have previously stopped listening to music, by me not putting it on, but I hear it at school and other places, where I try not to enjoy it but sometimes I do?
Would that count as listening, and would I be accounted for it or not?

Answer :

Praise be to Allaah.

There is a difference between the one who listens to music and the one who hears it. The one who listens to songs hears them deliberately, wants to hear them and enjoys that, whereas the one who only hears the sound that reaches him, without wanting or intending to do so, such as when riding in an airplane or a bus in which there is music, or who goes to the marketplace and hears that from some stores without wanting or intending to listen to it. There is a difference between the latter and the one who sits down to listen to and enjoy this haraam thing.

Hence Shaykh al-Islam (Ibn Taymiyah) said: The command and the prohibition have to do with listening. Merely hearing something is like seeing; it has to do with the intention behind seeing, not what happens without a person choosing it…. The same applies to committing sin through the five senses of hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch; the commands and prohibitions are connected to what a person intends and does, but whatever happens without him choosing it, there is no command or prohibition with regard to that.

(Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, part 5, p. 566)

One has to denounce that evil as much as possible, but if he cannot do that, then he should denounce it in his heart. One of the things implied by denouncing it in one’s heart is not remaining in a gathering or a place where that evil is happening, if one is able to leave.

With regard to listening to it, one must strive against that as much as possible and seek refuge with Allaah from the Shaytaan, and remember Allaah. Then Allaah will take that away from you. If that makes your heart attracted to it, then you should keep away from those parts of the school. If it will not cause you a lot of trouble to miss some of those classes in which these things happen then you should not attend them. You have to remember that Allaah is always watching and fear Him, for whoever fears Allaah, Allaah will give him a way out. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty)”

[al-Talaaq 65:2]

And Allaah is the Source of strength.

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