Islam On Music and Musical instruments

A debate has been going on about permissibility of music and musical instruments since long .When we carefully analyse the issue in light of Quran and authentic hadiths we come to know that  Islam has strictly prohibited the use of music and musical instruments.

First of all we should look into the matter in the light of Quran .

The first verse of Quran which addresses this issue are as follows:

And of mankind is he who trades idle talks (i.e.music, singing, etc.) to mislead (men) from the Path of Allâh without knowledge, and takes it (the Path of Allâh, the Verses of the Qur'ân) by way of mockery. For such there will be a humiliating torment (in the Hell-fire). (Luqman 31:6)

Idle talks in this verse is a broad term covering a wide range of meanings but it is primarily applicable on music and musical instruments.

Tanwir ul Miqbas is a famous Tafseer of Quran based on work of Abdullah bin Abbas radi Allahu anhu .It states:

(And of mankind) the reference here is to al-Nadr Ibn al-Harith (is he who payeth for mere pastime of discourse) discourse of falsehood, books on legends, on the sun, the stars, mathematics and singing; it is also said this means: associating partners with Allah, (that he may mislead) by means of it (from Allah's way) from Allah's religion and obedience (without knowledge) or proof, (and maketh it the butt of mockery. For such there is a shameful doom) for these, there is a severe chastisement.

Al-Kalbi and Muqatil said: “This verse was revealed about al-Nadr ibn al-Harith. He used to travel to Persia for trade. He bought the events of non-Arabs and related them to the Quraysh, saying: ‘Muhammad relates to you the events of ‘Ad and Thamud, and I relate to you the events of Rustum and Isfindiyar and the Chosroes’. They found his tales more entertaining and they shunned listening to the Qur’an, and so this verse was revealed”. Mujahid said: “This verse was revealed about the buying of slave-girls and songstresses”. Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Muqri’ informed us> Muhammad ibn al-Fadl ibn Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Khuzaymah> his grandfather> ‘Ali ibn Hujr> Mishma‘ill ibn Milhan al-Ta’i> Muttarih ibn Yazid> ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Zahr> ‘Ali ibn Yazid> al-Qasim> Abu Umamah who reported that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “It is forbidden to teach songstresses [to sing] or to sell songstresses, and the price gotten from selling them is unlawful. It is about the like of this that this verse was revealed (And of mankind is he who payeth for mere pastime of discourse, that he may mislead from Allah’s way without knowledge…) up to the end of the verse. No man raises his voice to sing except that Allah, exalted is He, sends him two devils, one on each side, who will keep banging with their feet until it is him who keeps quiet”. Thuwayr ibn Abi Fakhitah reported from his father that Ibn ‘Abbas said: “This verse was revealed about a man who bought a slave-girl who sang to him day and night”.(  Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi)

The leading interpreter of Quran among sahabas Abdullah bin Abbas radi Allahu anhu  said: this means singing. Mujahid ,a great interpreter of Quran said: this means playing the drum . (Tafseer al-Tabari:21/40).

Imam Ibn e Kaseer rahimahullah has quoted different sayings of Sahabas and famous interprepreters of Holy Quran.

Ibne kaseer says :

As Ibn Mas`ud radi Allahu anhu commented about the Ayah:

(And of mankind is he who purchases Lahu Al-Hadith to mislead (men) from the path of Allah), he said, "This -- by Allah -- refers to singing.''

(And of mankind is he who purchases Lahw Al-Hadith to mislead (men) from the path of Allah without knowledge, ) Qatadah said: "By Allah, he may not spend money on it, but his purchasing it means he likes it, and the more misguided he is, the more he likes it and the more he prefers falsehood to the truth and harmful things over beneficial things.'' It was said that what is meant by the words (purchases idle talks) is buying singing servant girls.

 Ibn Jarir said that it means all speech that hinders people from seeing the signs of Allah and following His path.
His saying: (to mislead (men) from the path of Allah) means, he does this to oppose Islam and its followers.(and takes it by way of mockery.) Mujahid said, "This means mocking the path of Allah and making fun of it.''

The 2nd instance addressing the issue is as follows:

Do you then wonder at this recital (the Qur'ân)? And you laugh at it and weep not, Wasting your (precious) lifetime in pastime and amusements (singing, etc.). (An-Najm 53:59-61)

Ibne Kaseer rahimahullah quoted different sayings regarding this verse:

Sufyan Ath-Thawri reported that his father narrated that Ibn `Abbas radi Allahu anhu said about Samidun, "Singing; in Yemenite dialect `Ismid for us' means `Sing for us.''' `Ikrimah said something similar.

The hadiths addressing this issue are as follows:

Narrated Abu 'Amir or Abu Malik Al-Ash'ari radi Allahu anhu: that he heard the Prophet salal laho aliehi wasalam saying, "From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful. And there will be some people who will stay near the side of a mountain and in the evening their shepherd will come to them with their sheep and ask them for something, but they will say to him, 'Return to us tomorrow.' Allah will destroy them during the night and will let the mountain fall on them, and He will transform the rest of them into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Resurrection."( Bukhari : Book 7 , Volume 69 , Hadith 494)

Abu Hurairah radi Allahu anhu reported Allah's Messenger salal laho aliehi wasalam as saying: The bell is the musical instrument of the Satan. (Muslim : Book 24 , Hadith 5279)

This should be however kept in mind that only musical instrument allowed in Islam is daf which is open on one end and closed on other .This was played by small girls of Ansars when Rasool salal laho aliehi wasalam came to Medinah. More over Rasool salal laho aliehi wasalam has also allowed to use daff on occasions of Marriages.

Confusing  Poetry with Music:

 Many people who support music and have no evidence in support of music quote some hadiths where prophet salal laho aliehi wasalam has allowed poetry and singing on occasions of Eid and marriages .

Poetry and singing without any musical instrument is allowed with certain conditions.

 Some of these conditions are as follows:

 1.Poetry should not be against Islamic belief
2.Poetry should not degrade any group or tribe
3.Poetry should not discuss a particular woman or group of women
4.Poetry should not promote sensual feelings
5.Women should not sing before men because it is against Hijab

Rasool salal laho aliehi wasalam himself also listened and quoted the meaningful poetry on different occasions.This has been mentioned in the following hadiths:

1.'Amr b. Sharid reported his father as saying: One day when I rode ehind Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him), he said (to me): Do you remember any Poetry of Umayya b. Abu Salt. I said: Yes. He said: Then go on. I recited a couplet, and he said: Go on. Then I again recited a couplet and he said: Go on. I recited one hundred couplets (of his poetry) (Muslim : Book 28 , Hadith 5602)

2. Abu Hurairah radi Allahu anhu reported Allah's Messenger salal laho aliehi wasalam as saying: The truest word spoken by an Arab (pre-Islamic) in poetry is this verse of Labid:" Behold! apart from Allah everything is vain." (Muslim :Book 28 , Hadith 5604)

 The poet who praises Allah swt and His messenger without exaggeration will be rewarded by Allah swt as prophet salal laho aliehi wasalam foretold Hassan bin sabit radi Allahu anhu of his destination in paradise for his poetry in praise of Rasool salal laho aliehi wasalam and refutation of polytheists.

If poetry does not satisfy the above mentioned conditions than it is also prohibited according to the following hadiths:

1.Abu Sa`id Khudri radi Allahu anhu reported: We were going with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). As we reached the place (known as) Arj there met (us) a poet who had been reciting poetry. Thereupon Allah's Messanger (may peace be upon him) said: Catch the satan or detain the satan, for filling the belly of a man with pus is betting than stuffing his brain with poetry. (Muslim :Book 28 ,Hadith 5611)

2.Abu Hurairah radi Allahu anu reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be opon him) as saying: It is better for a man's belly to be stuffld with pus which corrodes it than to stuff) one's mind with frivolous poetry. Muslim : Book 28 , Hadith 5609)

3. Sa'd radi Allahu anhureported Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying: It is better for the belly of any one of you to be stuffed with pus rather than to stuff (one's mind) with poetry. (Muslim : Book 28 , Hadith 5610)

According to the above hadiths poetry is divided into two segments:

1.Meaningful poetry
2.Frivolous poetry

 Muslims must avoid useless poetry and poetry in itself cannot be used an evidence in favour of Musical instruments which have been prohibited by Allah swt and His Rasool salal laho aliehi wasalam.
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