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Music: A Prohibited and Fake Message of Love and Peace pt 3

Following on from our discussion on consensus and ijtihad, I would like to emphasise that a particular aim of this discourse is to present rational arguments without entering into details of Islamic law and textual proofs behind the impermissibility of using musical instruments. The debate is not limited to a matter of opinion, proof or consensus; it extends to one of rationality. I have purposely taken this approach to enlighten Muslims, especially those residing and raised in Western countries who are not aware of its significance; it is crucial to maintain and uphold what has already been established in the Shari’ah: correctly understood textual scripture and valid absolute rationale operate in tandem with each other and lead to the same result.

The second reason for this approach is to emulate the practice of scholars throughout Islamic history whereby they would submit to the verdicts of the overwhelming majority of scholars before them without attempting to reinvent the wheel and discuss ‘the grounds’ behind such established rules. As repeatedly mentioned any opinion that goes against the opinion of the overwhelming majority of scholars of our Islamic history is void and null. To meticulously discuss its grounds nowadays with the standpoint of challenging it or seeking to double-check its legitimacy after this extensive and sturdy legacy may appear to some to give the issue some weight but in actual fact, it is weightless. Can we discuss the obligation of hijab in this manner? Can we examine the evidence for the prohibition of homosexuality with this intent? Can we try to verify the textual proofs that prohibit dealing with usury [riba] to see their level of authority and ‘true’ interpretation? The answers to these questions are clearly no as they are well-established rulings. If we start doing so, we will end up destroying our religion by our own doings and will loose confidence in any Islamic principle or ruling as it may be questionable and hence we need to understand it and be convinced of its legitimacy! Moreover, once we open this door we will start every now and then a new discussion about such well-established rulings and turn away from discussing the real agenda that at times discreetly and other times openly initiates debate around them. We will consume our time and effort in discussing what does not require discussion and ignore to our own peril pressing matters that require our attention such as the ongoing challenges the Muslim community and ummah continuously face. A typical example of such deception is the debate that took place a while ago around a woman assuming the role of an imam and leading men in prayer; unfortunately, a number of scholars and students started to discuss the ruling on this matter purely from a juristic point of view when it was sufficient to raise awareness to the consensus or the overwhelming agreement of scholars throughout Islamic history on this. During this hot debate, many were oblivious to the dangerous agenda behind this action and the movement to support it. It is beyond the scope of this series of articles to discuss this agenda and its methods; however we intend to point out the fallacy of certain reactions and approaches and their perilous consequences.

The view of scholars towards music
Numerous scholars have declared consensus [ijma’] on the prohibition of using musical instruments which suggests at the very least that the opinion which permits using musical instruments is unreliable.

The list includes scholars such as al-Tabari (d.311 A.H.), al-Nawawi (d.676 A.H.), Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdasi (d.620 A.H.), al-Qurtubi (d.671 A.H.) and Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728 A.H.). The famous companion Ibn Mas’ud held that listening to musical instruments gives birth to disbelief and hypocrisy in one’s heart. Al-Awza’i (d.157 A.H.), a very famous scholar of the second generation, narrated that the righteous Caliph Umar Ibn Abdul‘Aziz (d.101 A.H.) sent a letter to one of his governors with the words, ‘…and your presentation of musical and woodwind instruments is an innovation in Islam. I had resolved to dispatch to you someone who would shear the hair on the back of your head, such vile hair!’ Likewise, Imam Malik (d.179 A.H.), who resided in Madinah – the home of the vast majority of the Companions of the Prophet stated, ‘Only the very sinful amongst us listen to music’. Imam Malik’s opinion was in fact a Madinian opinion, which reflected their consensus: a source of authority if not legislation. Can it be reasonably argued that while so many early scholars greatly detested using musical instruments, there were those who believed it was acceptable? This cannot be the case and is precisely the reason why some scholars negate the opinion (of allowing music) being attributed to any of the early scholars. The famous Hanbali scholar Ibn Hajar al-Hanbali (d.795 A.H.) stated, ‘Whoever attributes the opinion permitting music to any of the scholars who are respected in legal issues has surely erred.’

Music: the message of peace and love?
In his article, Sami Yusuf stated, ‘In the midst of all this, it is upon all conscious and responsible artists who look beyond the commercial to work in refining arts and music. Apart from entertaining audiences, music is a powerful medium to communicate values and social messages. In these times where heinous crimes against humanity are being committed, we as artists – Muslims or non-Muslims, British or non-British – have a duty to use this medium to bring some sanity to this world of unrest, fear, violence, terror and war. Human life and dignity are values that should be cherished and championed by all’.

Those who erroneously support such an idea go even further and compare their music to the poems of Hassan Ibn Thabit, the famous Companion who would use his poetic skills to defend the Prophet may Allah praise and send peace upon him, and the Islamic values which he propagated. The idea that music is a powerful medium to communicate values and social messages is merely an emotional and unscholarly view. However appealing this idea may seem, we must understand that it is far from reality. We must consider the power in Hassan’s poetry and the reasons why the Prophet not only endorsed but also encouraged him to defend Islam. The strength of Hassan’s poems lay in the denotation of his rhythmic and eloquent words; this is what makes a poem effective. There are no legal issues with regard to Muslims practising the art of poetry. One dreams of Muslim poets eloquently articulating and defending Islam and its values.

However, the discussion here is focused on the use of musical instruments which are normally accompanied by bodily movements as mentioned by Sister Yvonne. Furthermore, music may be a weapon, but a counterproductive one, for embedded within it is a culture of permissiveness and liberalism. Many non-Muslims concede this fact and have undertaken research analysing the connection between music, behaviour and crime.

There is no comparison between the power of comprehendible and eloquent words and insignificant sounds. This method of argument to promote idealistic concepts is akin to Christian use of flowery language and idealism in order to promote that which cannot be defended using rational arguments. Attempts by some Christians to sugar-coat theological inconsistencies failed and turned people away. One can say that the public have lost faith in the methodology of using music to propagate messages of love and peace as they have realised that it lacks practicality. Furthermore, these methods have led many people to the conclusion that they are being duped in order to keep the focus away from the root cause of problems.

In our current climate, how can music contribute to solving the many conflicts that exist in many parts of the world? It certainly has not brought some sanity to this world of unrest, fear, violence, terror and war. How will music contribute to stopping Western troops from attacking innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan, or stop Israelis from shedding the blood of innocent women and children in Lebanon and Palestine? Such a view is utterly erroneous and we must free ourselves of using such fanciful idealistic concepts that have no relevance to reality. Let us take an intellectual and rational approach to the problems and their solutions.

The reality of this world is quite different from what we may hope it to be. We should be calling Muslims to arise and face the real challenges, such as taking a leading role in promoting correct principles and values, values such as freeing people from servitude of man to the servitude of Allah alone.

Such an imperative undertaking requires maturity and seriousness to the extent that we should be willing to sacrifice our lives and wealth for the cause. I call upon all Muslims to remember that this life is a test as we are informed in the Qur’an, ‘Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the dominion, and He is Able to do all things; Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving.’1 Allah also said, ’The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (i.e., a deceiving thing).2 Hence, this life is essentially a conflict between truth and falsehood and even a cursory glance at history would visibly affirm this reality. A moral system should be based on a sense of what is good and evil, what is truth and falsehood. Peace and love form only a part of the reality, and thus, our discussion should not be limited to these values in isolation of others for that would certainly end with detrimental consequences. Any system that promotes these values without having power, strength and rule of law to protect and maintain them is nothing but a hoax. This is contrary to the reality of Islam and this should reflect in our literature and discourses. It is the practicality of Islam that will be convincing to people from all spectrums.

The debate is not limited to Music
An essential aspect of pop culture (including music) is the resulting various evil effects which are usually overlooked in discussions. It is the norm however to analyse such effects within Islamic jurisprudence. It is sad to witness respected Muslim figures speaking about music and its permissibility and citing examples of the music played at the beginning of news programs or what is occurs and is heard unintentionally in the street. Their discussions are usually limited to these simple cases; however, their views are frequently misunderstood as a justification for contemporary music. Sami Yusuf in his response to Yvonne correctly stated that, ‘The obsessive fascination of fans towards any celebrity – be it in arts, music, politics, media, etc – to the point of hysteria and hero-worshipping is definitely unhealthy not to mention un-Islamic’.

However, he also stated, ‘I definitely did not see girls dancing or behaving indecently in any of my concerts. To state otherwise is a gross exaggeration if not an outright fallacy’. I have personally asked numerous people about many ‘Islamic concerts’ and their comments and views resemble those of Yvonne’s. Recently, I attended a major Islamic event, at the end of which there was an ‘Islamic concert’. I remained behind for a few minutes in order to observe; I could not believe what was being done in the name of Islam! Members of the opposite sex where freely mixing, so much so that they were sitting next each other and their thighs were touching.

Once the ‘Islamic’ music began, the audience began to clap and their bodies to shake in their chairs. I decided to leave disgusted at what I had observed and met another brother who had also entered the hall with the intention to examine the ongoing of such concerts; he was surprised that I had departed so early on though the concert had not properly began. Muslim singers mention that music plays a major role in communicating ‘values and social messages’. Based upon what happens in such concerts, can they still argue that these noble goals are achieved? Furthermore, the youth exchange singers’ photos by e-mail and text message. They hang posters of these singers’ on their bedroom walls. They act with bad manners, pushing and shoving in order to reach their hero to attain his autograph, jumping and screaming as the singers make their way to the stage. This clearly resembles idolisation of the famous which contravenes the Islamic code of conduct. Our ummah is calling out to us to produce genuine men and women who can meet the hardships it faces and provide a future with hope and optimism for the establishment of servitude to Allah and welfare of our brothers and sisters; this cannot be achieved through fads and mere dreams of betterment and through incapacitating our youth via the escapism and harmful effects of music: a matter out-rightly rejected and deemed impermissible throughout our fourteen hundred year history. In my next article, I will move onto exploring some thoughts on the discussion around Britishness and identity, by the will of Allah, may he be Glorified.

Notes: Published on: Jul 26, 2007

1. Surah al-Mulk 67:1
2. Surah Aal Imran 3:185

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About Shaikh (Dr) Haitham Al-Haddad

Dr. Haitham al-Haddad is a jurist and serves as a judge for the Islamic Sharia Council (UK & Eire). He has studied the Islamic sciences for over 20 years under the tutelage of renowned scholars such as the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia as well as the retired Head of the Kingdom's Higher Judiciary Council. He specialises in many of the Islamic sciences and submitted his doctoral thesis on Islamic jurisprudence concerning Muslim minorities. Shaikh Haitham is highly respected having specialised knowledge in the field of fiqh, usul al-fiqh, maqasid al-shari'ah, ulum al-Qur’an, tafsir, aqidah, and fiqh al-hadith. He provides complex theories which address the role of Islamic jurisprudence within a western environment whilst also critically re-analysing the approach of Islamic jurists in forming legal rulings (ifta’) within a western socio-political context. He has many well known students most of whom are active in dawah and teaching in the West. The shaikh is an Islamic jurist (faqih) and as such is qualified to deliver verdicts as a judge under Islamic law, a role he undertakes at the Islamic Sharia Council as Islamic judge and treasurer. Dr Haitham al-Haddad also sits on various the boards of advisors for Islamic organisations, mainly in the United Kingdom but also around the world.


  1. There is a difference between the harm of western values spread through music and its associated culture and the shariah rule concerning its permissibilty or prohibition.

    The western culture pervaids over so many areas not least education and the damage this does to the muslim is far greater than music, but are we going to abandon education?

    No doubt, we have to protect ourselves from the harm of foreign values but this is not a problem of music but rather the absence of Islam as a force.

  2. the truthe
    yes barak allah fikom its true and good idea

  3. Hijabi^&ProudAlhamdulilah

    I heard in a lecture
    Asa, Thank you for this article. Alhamdulilah I have managed to cut music out of my life and it has really helped me focus on my life and deen, also the whispers of the shaytan are slowly dying keeping my iman strong. I recently heard of a story from a lecture which was about Adam(may Allah be pleased with him) when he was expelled from paradise, his sons Quabil and Habil, had a progeny of people… One group where living in the mountains, and the other group was living on the land, and they were never allowed to mix. the people of the land, thier women were not as attractive but their men were, but the people in the mountins thier women were attractive where as thier men werent. Iblis(satan) back then was posing as a 17 year old apprentice and he worked with a black smith, and what he did was create a flute, which he used to bring the people of the mountins together… once he played the flute the people begain to mix and this was the first act Zina(fornication) in man and women, making them totally forget about Allah, and seth was sent as thier prophet to stop this act. could this be another clear example of why music is haram? because today music tends to do this to people, making them go deeper and deeper into sin… and all the santanism used by pop culture today made me think about how the shaytan still works today…. May Allah Help us from these evils of the world, and may he make us invincible to the whispers of shaytan… Amen ya Rub…

    jazakAllahu khaire

  4. Sister in Islam

    sorry Muslimah – I just found the term Haram a really strong one ( if you’d been more subtle and not used capital letters, I wouldn’t have viewed your comment as aggressive.)
    I’m comfortable allowing my children to listen and sing to Nasheed and am in no way trying to impose my views upon anyone. I do differentiate between those who sing in the name of Islam and those whos don’t, as such, we only listen to songs sung and written by Muslim Artists.The world our children are growing up in has music imbeded in everything…Islam moves with the times and we do need a more realistice take on the subject. At least, that’s my view. Allah know’s best.

  5. As Salaam aleykum warahmatullaahiw abarakaatuh
    Masha Allah, Jazaka Allah kheiran for this article!!!
    MUSIC IS HARAM Quran chapter 17:64 And incite [to senselessness] whoever you can among them with your voice and assault them with your horses and foot soldiers and become a partner in their wealth and their children and promise them.” But Satan does not promise them except delusion… AND…
    MUSIC IS HARAM Qura’an Chapter 31:6 And of the people is he who buys the amusement of speech to mislead [others] from the way of Allah without knowledge and who takes it in ridicule. Those will have a humiliating punishment.
    Wasalaam aleykum warahmatullaahi wabarakaatuh

    • Chapter 17:64 does not seem to be in the context of music. However, chapter 31:6 could be about song, but more likely about reading poems and fictional books to pass time.

  6. Jazalhallah for his, this really clarified a very murky subject for myself. Although I stopped listening to mainstream Music, I thought I had found an alternative in ‘Islamic Music’. Music has very little to do with education, honestly how many of us really ponder on the words…when you have a host of beats that are comparative to exactly what we reject in mainstream music. I witnessed the exact same events where people started swaying to deafening Music. It is asolutely right that we remain devoted and steadfast against the backdrop of modern pressures and trends. People lose their focus when the lines become blurred, one of the very many reasons why most people revert to Islam. Wasalam and Jazahallah for this helped me to analyse myself and inshallah it will serve the same purpose for others.

  7. Prohibitions
    If islam really prohibites Music and Television how i heard.. than i think 90 % of all us muslims dont follow this rule.. becouse i heard that even drawing of pictures and viewing of pictures are proibited , and if that is true .. than this website is prohibited too becouse its fully of gif files which are pictures too etc…
    please give me an explain for this brothers and sisters.

    Salamu Aleykum.

    • There seems to be no clear and explicit instruction in the Quran making music haram, but it would be safe to say that the ruling by scholars is that it is discouraged.

      With regards pictures, the drawing of life forms is highly discouraged and the use of life form imagery for religious reasons is haram. The use of images via media, internet and telecoms is permitted. For example, including the use of cameras and screens to show the imam in remote parts of masjid.

      Old school Islam is about moderation, middle ground and encouraging and discouraging with grey areas. New school Islam is about black and white (haram and halal).

      On the subject of music, it would be correct to say that majority of songs are haram because of the subject matter. But it would be incorrect that all music is haram, for example, there are classical and instrumental pieces which may not be haram. But then if listening to the music is distracting you from performing any duties, then even this debatable music may be considered haram.

      There was music in the 7th century, Allah (swt) would have given clear guidance in the Quran if He wanted to deem it haram.

      Just as women praying in the same hall without dividers is a test. (The Ottoman turks in their wisdom introduced dividers between men and women in the masjid in the 14th century, whilst Prophet Mohamed had chosen not to do this – as is current practiced in Mecca at Hajj) Music seems to be another test.

  8. Fatima Barkatulla

    Ma sha Allah, just the sort of article that was needed on this topic Sheikh. Barak Allahu Feek.


  9. Farouk Michaels

    really good article – we need more intellectual discussion like this as opposed to the deobandi method of blindly following.

  10. Poetry and Music
    Assalamu Alaikum,
    Some issues,
    1.Arent there a single hadees relating that Sahabas praised Shuhadas and Prophets? Why even when Prophet S.A.W. entered Madinah, what was the welcome method?

    2.Daff is allowed. Why? Because that form of music in accordance with Islamic verses induces one to concentrate on Allah. There were no other forms of music at the time of Prophet S.A.W.

  11. MashaAllah very good article, I could not agree with you more Sheikh!

    Keep up the good work and May Allah reward you and guide us all to the truth- Ameen

  12. explanation re shearing hair on the back of his head
    an explanation given is that he was vain about his hair so this was a threat to curtail him

  13. opps
    Sorry not hadeeth! but Caliph Umar Ibn Abdul‘Aziz (d.101 A.H.) sent a letter to one of his governors with the words… but still can someone please explain it to me.

  14. Hadeeth explanation request
    MashaAllah i am enjoying this series of articles!

    just one point can someone please explain to me “I had resolved to dispatch to you someone who would shear the hair on the back of your head, such vile hair!”

  15. Can you please use simple language for us common folk please ya shaikh.

  16. Abu Abdurrahman

    …It meas that the SOUND rationale will always tally with the correct and sound texts. So they esssentially will complement one another. But that is on condition of the rationale being truely sound and not merely distorted by surrounding and one’s environment.

  17. ???
    ‘valid absolute rationale operate in tandem’, what does that mean??

  18. A topic that needed to be desperately clarified; what our stance should be on this issue. May Allah Preserve the Shaykh, Ameen.

  19. “escapism of music”
    That is a very true point. I now and again listen to music when i know i shouldn’t and it does make you dream of things a lot :-) but absloutely no connection to what’s really going on and your own life!
    great article with some valuable points

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