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Friday, May 16, 2003  

Concerning Music and Dancing as Aids to the Religious Life The heart of man has been so constituted by the Almighty that, like a flint, it contains a hidden fire which is evoked by music and harmony, and renders man beside himself with ecstasy. These harmonies are echoes of that higher world of beauty which we call the world of spirits; they remind man of his relationship to that world, and produce in him an emotion so deep and strange that he himself is powerless to explain it. The effect of music and dancing is deeper in proportion as the natures on which they act are simple and prone to motion; they fan into a flame whatever love is already dormant in the heart, whether It be earthly and sensual, or divine and spiritual. Accordingly there has been much dispute among theologians as to the lawfulness of music and dancing regarded as religious exercises. One sect, the Zahirites, holding that Allah is altogether incommensurable with man, deny the possibility of man's really feeling love to Allah, and say that he can only love those of his own species. If he does feel what he thinks is love to his Creator they say it is a mere projection, or shadow cast by his own fantasy, or a reflection of love to the creature; music and dancing, according to them, have only to do with creature love, and are therefore unlawful as religious exercises. If we ask them what is the meaning of that "love to Allah" which is enjoined by the religious law, they reply that it means obedience and worship. This is an error which we hope to confute in a later chapter dealing with the love of Allah. At present we content ourselves with saying that music and dancing do not put into the heart what is not there already, but only fan into a flame dormant emotions. Therefore if a man has in his heart that love to Allah which the law enjoins, it is perfectly lawful, nay, laudable in him to take part in exercises which promote it. On the other hand, if his heart is full of sensual desires, music and dancing will only increase them, and are therefore unlawful for him. While, if he listens to them merely as a matter of amusement, they are neither lawful nor unlawful, but indifferent. For the mere fact that they are pleasant does not make them unlawful any more than the pleasure of listening to the singing of birds or looking at green grass and running water is unlawful. The innocent character of music and dancing, regarded merely as a pastime, is also corroborated by an authentic tradition which we have from the Lady Ayesha, who narrates: "One festival-day some Negroes were performing in a mosque. The Prophet said to me, 'Do you wish to see them?' I replied, 'Yes.' Accordingly he lifted me up with his own blessed hand, and I looked on so long that he said more than once, 'Have not you had enough of watching?" Another authentic tradition narrates what follows: "One festival day two girls came to my house and began to play and sing. The Prophet came in and lay down on the couch turning his face away. Presently Abu Bakr entered, and seeing the girls playing, exclaimed, 'What! the pipe of Satan in the Prophet's house!' Whereupon the Prophet turned and said, 'Let them alone, Abu Bakr, for this is a festival-day'." Passing over the cases where music and dancing rouse into a flame evil desires already dormant in the heart, we come to those cases where they are quite lawful. Such are those of the pilgrims who celebrate the glories of the House of Allah at Mecca in song, and thus incite others to go on pilgrimage, and of mi­nstrels whose music and songs stir up martial ardour in the breasts of their auditors and incite them to fight against infidels. Similarly, mournful music which excites sorrow for sin and failure in religious life is lawful; of this nature was the music of David. But dirges which increase sorrow for the dead are not lawful, for it is written in the Qur'an, "Despair not over what you have lost." On the other hand, joyful music at weddings and feasts and on such occasions as a circumcision or the return from a journey is lawful. We come now to the purely religious use of music and dancing: such is that of who by this means stir up in themselves greater love towards Allah, and, by means of music, often obtain spiritual visions and ecstasies, their heart becoming in this condition as clean as silver in the flame of a furnace, and attaining a degree of purity which could never be attained by any amount of mere outward austerities. The Sufi then becomes so keenly aware of his relationship to the spiritual world that he loses all consciousness of this world, and often falls down senseless. It is not, however, lawful for the aspirant to Sufism to take part in this mystical dancing without the permission of his "Pir," or spiritual director. It is related of the Sheikh Abu'l Qasim Jirgani that, when one of his disciplines requested leave to take part in such a dance, he said, "Keep a strict fast for three days; then let them cook for you tempting dishes; if then, you still prefer the "dance," you may take part in it." The disciple, however, whose heart is not thoroughly purged from earthly desires, though he may have obtained some glimpse of the Mystics' path, should be forbidden by his director to take part in such dances, as they will do him more harm than good. Those who deny the reality of the ecstasies and other spiritual experiences of the Sufis merely betray their own narrow-mindedness and shallow insight. Some allowance, however, must be made for them, for it is as, difficult to believe in the reality of states of which one has no personal experience as it is for a blind man to understand the pleasure of looking at green grass and running water, or for a child to comprehend the pleasure of exercising sovereignty. A wise man, though he himself may have no experience of those states, will not therefore deny their reality, for what folly can be greater than his who denies the reality of a thing merely because he himself has not experienced it! Of such people it is written in the Qur'an, "Those who have not the guidance will say, 'This is a manifest imposture.'" As regards the erotic poetry which is recited in Sufi gatherings, and to which people sometimes make objection, we must remember that, when in such poetry mention is made of separation from or union with the beloved, the Sufi, who is an adept in the love of Allah, applies such expressions to separation from or union with Him. Similarly, "dark locks" are taken to signify the darkness of unbelief; "the brightness of the face," the light of faith, and drunkenness the Sufi's ecstasy. Take, for instance, the verse: Thou may'st measure out thousands of measures of wine, But, till thou drink it, no joy is thine. By this the writer means that the true delights of religion cannot be reached by way of formal instruction, but by felt attraction and desire. A man may converse much and write volumes concerning love, faith, piety, and so forth, and blacken paper to any extent, but till he himself possesses these attributes all this will do him no good. Thus, those who find fault with the Sufis for being powerfully affected, even to ecstasy, by these and similar verses, are merely shallow and uncharitable. Even camels are sometimes so powerfully affected by the Arab-songs of their drivers that they will run rapidly, bearing heavy burdens, till they fall down in a state of exhaustion. The Sufi bearer, however, is in danger of blasphemy if he applies some of the verses which he hears to Allah. For instance, if he hears such a verse as "Thou art changed from thy former inclination," he must not apply it to Allah, who cannot change, but to himself and his own variations of mood. Allah is like the sun, which is always shining, but sometimes for us His light is eclipsed by some object which intervenes between us and Him. Regarding some adepts it is related that they attain to such a degree of ecstasy that they lose themselves in Allah. Such was the case with Sheikh Abu'l Hassan Nuri, who, on hearing a certain verse, fell into an ecstatic condition, and, coming into a field full of stalks of newly cut sugar-canes, ran about till his feet were wounded and bleeding, and, not long afterwards, expired. In such cases some have supposed that there occurs an actual descent of Deity into humanity, but this would be as great a mistake as that of one who, having for the first time seen his reflection in a mirror should suppose that, somehow or other, be had become incorporated with the mirror, or that the red-and-white hues which the mirror reflects were qualities inherent in it. The states of ecstasy into which the Sufis fall vary according to the emotions which predominate in them - love, fear, desire, repentance, etc. These states, as we have mentioned above, are often the result not only of hearing verses of the Qur'an, but erotic poetry. Some have objected to the reciting of poetry, as well as of the Qur'an, on these occasions; but it should be remembered that all the verses of the Qur'an are not adapted to stir the emotions - such, for instance, as that which commands that a man should leave his mother the sixth part of his property and his sister the half, or that which orders that a widow must wait four months [and ten days] after the death of her husband before becoming espoused to another man. The natures which can be thrown into religious ecstasy by the recital of such verses are peculiarly sensitive and very rare. Another reason for the use of poetry as well as of the Qur'an on these occasions is that people are so familiar with the Qur'an, many even knowing it by heart, that the effect of it has been dulled by constant repetition. One cannot be always quoting new verses of the Qur'an as one can of poetry. Once, when some wild Arabs were hearing the Qur'an or the first time and were strongly moved by it, Abu Bakr said to them, "We were once like you, but our hearts have grown hard," meaning that the Qur'an loses some of its effect on those familiar with it. For the same reason the Caliph Omar used to command the pilgrims to Mecca to leave it quickly. "For," he said, "I fear if you grow too familiar with the Holy City the awe of it will depart from your hearts." There is, moreover, something pertaining to the light and frivolous, at least in the eyes of the common people, in the use of signing and musical instruments, such as the pipe and drum, and it is not befitting that the majesty of the Qur'an should be, even temporarily, associated with these things. It is related of the Prophet that once, when he entered the house of Rabia, the daughter of Muaz, some singing-girls who were there began extemporising in his honour. He abruptly bade them cease, as the praise of the Prophet was too sacred a theme to be treated in that way. There is also some danger, if verses of the Qur'an are exclusively used, that the bearers should attach to them some private interpretation of their own, and this is unlawful. On the other hand, no harm attaches to interpreting lines of poetry in various ways, as it is not necessary to apply to a poem the same meaning which the author had. Other features of these mystic dances are the bodily contortions and tearing of clothes with which they are sometimes accompanied. If these are the result of genuine ecstatic conditions there is nothing to be said against them, but if they are self-conscious and deliberate on the part of those who wish to appear "adepts," then they are merely acts of hypocrisy. In any case the more perfect adept is he who controls himself till he is absolutely obliged to give vent to his feelings. It is related of a certain youth who was a disciple of Sheikh Junaid that, on hearing singing commence in an assembly of the Sufis, he could not restrain himself, but began to shriek in ecstasy. Junaid said to him, "If you do that again, do not remain in my company." After this the youth used to restrain himself on such occasions, but at last one day his emotions were so powerfully stirred that, after long and forcible repression of them, he uttered a shriek and died. To conclude: in holding these assemblies, regard must be had to time and place, and that no spectators come from unworthy motives. Those who participate in them should sit in silence, not looking at one another, but keeping their heads bent, as at prayer, and concentrating their minds on Allah. Each should watch for whatever may be revealed to his own heart, and not make any movements from mere self-conscious impulse. But if anyone of them stands up in a state of genuine ecstasy all the rest should stand up with him, and if anyone's turban falls off the others should also lay their turbans down. Although these matters are comparative novelties in Islam and have not been received from the first followers of the Prophet, we must remember that all novelties are not forbidden, but only those which directly contravene the Law. For instance, the "Tarawih," or night-prayer, was first instituted by the Caliph Omar. The Prophet said, "Live with each man according to his habits and disposition," therefore it is right to fall in with usages that please people, when non-conformity would vex them. It is true that the Companions were not in the habit of rising on the entrance of the Prophet, as they disliked this practice; but where it has become established, and abstaining from it would cause annoyance, it is better to conform to it. The Arabs have their own customs, and the Persians have theirs, and Allah knoweth which is best. -Hujjatul Islam, Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, The Alchemy of Happiness (Kimya' as-Sa`ada) Singing and Music Among the entertainments which may comfort the soul, please the heart, and refresh the ear is singing. Islam permits singing under the condition that it not be in any way obscene or harmful to Islamic morals. There is no harm in its being accompanied by music which is not exciting. In order to create an atmosphere of joy and happiness, singing is recommended on festive occasions such as the days of 'Eid, weddings and wedding feasts, births, 'aqiqat (the celebration of the birth of a baby by the slaughter of sheep), and on the return of a traveler. 'Aishah narrated that when a woman was married to an Ansari man, the Prophet (peace be on him) said, " 'Aishah, did they have any entertainment? The Ansar are fond of entertainment.'' (Reported by al-Bukhari.) Ibn 'Abbas said, " 'Aishah gave a girl relative of hers in marriage to a man of the Ansar. The Prophet (peace be on him) came and asked, 'Did you send a singer along with her?' 'No,' said 'Aishah. The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) then said, The Ansar are a people who love poetry. You should have sent along someone who would sing, 'Here we come, to you we come, greet us as we greet you.' " (Reported by Ibn Majah.) 'Aishah narrated that during the days of Mina, on the day of 'Eid al-Adha, two girls were with her, singing and playing on a hand drum. The Prophet (peace be on him) was present, listening to them with his head under a shawl. Abu Bakr then entered and scolded the girls. The Prophet (peace be on him), uncovering his face, told him, "Let them be, Abu Bakr. These are the days of 'Eid." (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim.) In his book, Ihya ulum al-deen, (In the quarter on "Habits", in the book Listening to Singing.), Imam al-Ghazzali mentions the ahadith about the singing girls, the Abyssinians playing with spears in the Prophet's Mosque, the Prophet's encouraging them by saying, "Carry on, O Bani Arfidah," his asking his wife, 'Aishah, "Would you like to watch?" and standing there with her until she herself became tired and went away, and 'Aishah's playing with dolls with her friends. He then says: All these ahadith are reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim in the two Sahihs, and they clearly prove that singing and playing are not haram. From them we may deduce the following: First: The permissibility of playing; the Abyssinians were in the habit of dancing and playing. Second: Doing this in the mosque. Third: The Prophet's saying, 'Carry on, O Bani Arfidah,' was a command and a request that they should play; then how can their play be considered haram? Fourth: The Prophet (peace be on him) prevented Abu Bakr and 'Umar from interrupting and scolding the players and singers. He told Abu Bakr that 'Eid was a joyous occasion and that singing was a means of enjoyment. Fifth: On both occasions he stayed for a long time with 'Aishah, letting her watch the show of the Abyssinians and listening with her to the singing of the girls. This proves that it is far better to be good-humored in pleasing women and children with games than to express such disapproval of such amusements out of a sense of harsh piety and asceticism. Sixth: The Prophet (peace be on him) himself encouraged 'Aishah by asking her, "Would you like to watch?" (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim.) Seventh: The permissibility of singing and playing on the drum... and what follows, to the end of al-Ghazzali's discussion on singing. It is reported that many Companions of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them) as well as second generation Muslim scholars used to listen to singing and did not see anything wrong with it. As for the ahadith which have been reported against singing, they are all weak and have been shown by researchers to be unsound. The jurist Abu Bakr al-'Arabi says, "No sound hadith is available concerning the prohibition of singing," while Ibn Hazm says, "All that is reported on this subject is false and fabricated " However, since singing is in many cases associated with drinking parties and night clubs, many scholars have declared it to be haram or at least makruh. They state that singing constitutes that kind of idle talk which is mentioned in the ayah, And among the people is the one who buys idle talk (at the expense of his soul) in order to lead (people) astray from the path of Allah without knowledge, holding it in mockery; for such there will be a humiliating punishment. (31:6) Says Ibn Hazm: This verse condemns a particular behavior, that of doing something to mock the path of Allah. Anyone who does this is an unbeliever; if he even should buy a copy of the Qur'an, doing so in order to make it the object of his mockery and thereby leading people astray, he would be an unbeliever. It is this type of behavior which is condemned by Allah and not the idle talk in which one may indulge for mere relaxation, without intending to lead people astray from the path of Allah. Ibn Hazm also refutes the argument of those who say that since singing is not of "the truth" it must be of "error," referring to the verse, "And what is beyond the truth except error?" (10:32). He comments, The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said, 'Deeds will be judged according to intentions, and everyone will get what he intended.' (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim.) Accordingly, the one who listens to singing with the intention of using it in support of a sin is a sinner, and this holds true of anything other than singing (as well), while one who listens to singing with the intention of refreshing his soul in order to gain strength to do his duty toward Allah Ta'ala and to do good deeds, is a good and obedient servant of Allah, and his action is of the truth. And he who listens to singing intending neither obedience nor disobedience is doing something neutral and harmless, which is similar to going to the park and walking around, standing by a window and looking at the sky, wearing blue or green cloths, and so on. However, there are some limitations to be observed in the matter of singing: 1. The subject matter of songs should not be against the teachings of Islam. For example, if the song is in praise of wine, and it invites people to drink, singing or listening to it is haram. 2. Although the subject matter itself may not be against the Islamic teachings, the manner of singing may render it haram; this would be the case, for example, if the singing were accompanied by suggestive sexual movement. 3. Islam fights against excess and extravagance in anything, even in worship; how, then, can it tolerate excessive involvement with entertainment? Too much time should not be wasted in such activities; after all, what is time but life itself? One cannot dispute the fact that spending time in permissible activities consumes time which ought to be reserved for carrying out religious obligations and doing good deeds. It is aptly said, "There is no excess except at the expense of a neglected duty." 4. Each individual is the best judge of himself. If a certain type of singing arouses one's passions, leads him towards sin, excites the animal instincts, and dulls spirituality, he must avoid it, thus closing the door to temptations. 5. There is unanimous agreement that if singing is done in conjunction with haram activities—for example, at a drinking party, or if it is mixed with obscenity and sin—it is haram. The Prophet (peace be on him) warned of a severe punishment for people who sing or listen to singing in such a situation when he said, Some people of my ummah will drink wine, calling it by another name, while they listen to singers accompanied by musical instruments. Allah will cause the earth to swallow them and will turn some of them into monkeys and swine. (Reported by Ibn Majah.) This does not mean that they will be physically transformed into the bodies and outward form of monkeys and swine but rather in heart and soul, carrying the heart of a monkey and the soul of a pig in their human bodies. -Dr. Yusuf Abdullah Al-Qaradâwi, The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam (Al-Halal wal Haram fil Islam) A more recent clarification of Dr. Al-Qaradâwi's position regarding the permissibility of singing and music In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger. The whole issue of singing is controversial, whether it is with musical accompaniment or not. Some issues succeeded to gain the Muslim scholars’ agreement, while others failed. All scholars have unanimous view on the prohibition of all forms of singing and music that incites debauchery, indecency, or sin. As for musical instruments, given the weakness of the evidence indicating that they are forbidden, the rule to be applied here is the one states that all things are originally deemed permissible. Singing is no more than melodious words; if these are good, singing is considered good; but if they are bad, such singing is deemed bad. Talk that contains forbidden content is forbidden. What if that talk is accompanied with rhythm and melody? Scholars agree on the permissibility of singing without instrumental accompaniment and where the content is not forbidden. This sort of singing is allowed only in certain occasions such as: weddings, feasts, welcoming a traveler, and the like. This is based on the Hadith of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, that reads: “He, peace and blessings be upon him asked, ‘Have you given the girl (i.e. the bride) anything as a present?’ They (the attendants) replied, ‘Yes.’ He asked, 'Did you send a singer along with her?" "No", said 'Aishah. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, then said, 'The Ansar are a people who love poetry. You should have sent along someone who would sing, 'Here we come, to you we come, greet us as we greet you.'" In this case, we can say that a woman can sing only in front of women and her non-marriageable male kin. In the subject of musical instruments, scholars disagree on the matter. Some of them permit all sorts of singing, be it accompanied with musical instruments or not, and even consider it recommended. A second group of Ulama permit singing only when is not accompanied with a musical instrument. A third group declare it to be prohibited whether it be accompanied with a musical instrument or not; they even consider it as a major sin. In supporting their view, they cite the Hadith narrated by Imam Al-Bukhari on the authority of Abu Malik or Abu `Amir Al-Ash`ari (doubt from the sub-narrator) that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, says, “From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk (clothes), the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful.” Although this Hadith is in Sahih Al-Bukhari, its chain of transmission is not connected to Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, and this invalidates its authenticity. Ibn Hazm rejects it for that very reason. Moreover, the sub-narrator, Hisham Ibn `Ammar is declared ‘Weak’ by many scholars of the Science of Hadith Methodology. Besides, this Hadith does not clearly prohibit the use of musical instruments, for the phrase “consider as lawful,” according to Ibn Al-`Arabi, has two distinct meanings: First: Such people think all these (the things mentioned) are lawful. Second: They exceed the proper limits that should be observed in using these instruments. If the first meaning was intended, such people would be thus disbelievers. In fact, the Hadith in hand dispraises the manners of a group of people who indulge themselves in luxuries, drinking alcohol and listening to music. Therefore, Ibn Majah narrates this Hadith from Abu Malik Al-Ash`ari in the following wording: “From among my followers there will be some people who will drink wine, giving it other names while they listen to musical instruments and the singing of female singers; Allah the Almighty will make the earth swallow them and will turn them into monkeys and pigs.” (This Hadith was narrated by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih) Conclusion on Permissibility of Musical Instruments: In the light of the above, it’s clear that the religious texts that stand as a basis for those who maintain that singing is Haram are either ambiguous or inauthentic. None of the Hadiths attributed to Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, is valid as evidence on the judgment of prohibition. Moreover, all these Hadiths are declared ‘Weak’ by the followers of Ibn Hazm, Malik, Ibn Hanbal, and Ash-Shafi`i. In his book, Al-Ahkam “The Legal Rulings”, Al-Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn Al-`Arabi says, “None of the Hadiths maintaining that singing is prohibited are considered authentic (by the scholars of the Science of Hadith Methodology).” The same view is maintained by Al-Ghazali and Ibn An-Nahwi in Al-`Umdah (The Reliance of the Traveler). Ibn Tahir says, “Not even a single letter from all these Hadiths was proved to be authentic.” Ibn Hazm says, “All the Hadiths narrated in this respect were invented and falsified.” Proofs of Those Who Maintain that Singing is Halal: First: The Textual Proofs: They base their argument on some authentic Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. One of these Hadiths is the following: `Ai’shah, may Allah be pleased with her, narrates: “Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, came to my house while two girls were singing beside me the songs of Bu`ath (a story about the pre-Islamic war between the two tribes of the Ansar, the Khazraj and the Aus). The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, lay down and turned his face to the other side. Then Abu Bakr came and spoke to me harshly saying, ‘Musical instruments of Satan near the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him?’ Thereupon, Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, turned his face towards him and said, ‘Leave them.’ When Abu Bakr became inattentive, I signaled to those girls to go out and they left.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari) This indicates that these two girls were not so young as claimed by some scholars. If they were, Abu Bakr would not have been angry with them in such manner. In addition, in this Hadith, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, wanted to teach the Jews that Islam has room for merriment and that he himself was sent with a moderate and flexible legislation. There is also another important lesson to learn here. It draws our attention to the fact that one needs to introduce Islam to others in a good fashion, along with displaying its moderateness and magnanimity. Moreover, we can also cite as corroborating this Allah’s words that read, “But when they spy some merchandise or pastime they break away to it and leave thee standing. Say: That which Allah hath is better than pastime and than merchandise, and Allah is the best of providers” (Al-Jumu`ah: 11) In this verse, Allah Almighty enjoins pastime with merchandise. He does not dispraise any of them, He just only rebuked the Companions, who left the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, alone giving the Khutbah (Friday Sermon), when they all rushed to attend to the caravan and beating of the drums celebrating its arrival. Second: In Respect of Islam’s Spirit and Basics: It is a fact that Allah had prohibited for the Children of Israel some of the good things of this present life as a punishment for their misdeeds. He says, “Because of the wrongdoing of the Jews, We forbade them good things which were (before) made lawful unto them, and because of their much hindering from Allah's way. And of their taking usury when they were forbidden it, and of their devouring people's wealth by false pretences. We have prepared for those of them who disbelieve a painful doom.” (An-Nisa’: 160-161) Before sending Muhammad, He referred to him in the earlier scriptures as, “Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them. He will enjoin on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and prohibit for them only the foul.” (Al-A`raf: 157) Thus, Islam left nothing good or sound but declared it to be Halal (lawful). This is a sign of mercy to this very Ummah (nation or community), moving along the line of its comprehensive and eternal message. Allah Almighty says, “They ask thee (O Muhammad) what is made lawful for them. Say: (all) good things are made lawful for you.” (Al-Ma’idah: 4) If we are to delve deeply into this matter, we will find that love for singing and melodic voices are almost a human instinct. We can observe an infant lying in his cradle soothed and sleeping by the sound of a lullaby. Mothers and nannies are always in the habit of singing for babies and children. Moreover, birds and animals respond to nice voices and rhythmic melodies. Thereupon, if singing is thus a human instinct, it is not for Islam to defy humankind’s instincts. Islam came to refine and promote the human instinct. Ibn Taymiyyah says, “Prophets were sent to polish and discipline man’s instinct and not to change or modify it.” This is pursuant to the Prophet’s Hadith that reads, “When Allah’s Messenger came to Madinah, he found them (i.e. the people of Madinah) celebrating two days. He said, ‘What are these days?’ They replied, ‘We used to rejoice in these days during the Pre-Islamic era.’ He, peace and blessings be upon him, said, ‘Verily, Allah Almighty has given you two alternative days which are much better: these are Al-Adha and Al-Fitr days (`Ids).’” (Narrated by Ahmed, Abu Dawud and An-Nasa’i) Moreover, if singing is to be considered rejoicing and play, these (rejoice and play) are not Haram, this is in pursuant to the famous idea that man needs some time to relax a bit and rejoice. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said to Hanzalah who thought himself to be a hypocrite for his attendance to his wife and children and the change that affected him when he was apart from Allah’s Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, “O Hanzalah! Part of your time should be devoted (to the worldly affairs) and part of time (should be devoted to prayer and meditation).” (Narrated by Muslim) `Ali Ibn Abu Talib says, “Amuse yourselves for some time, for if hearts are exposed to too much strain, they turn blind.” Abu Ad-Darda’ said, “I refresh myself with some amusement in order to make myself stronger on the path of right.” Imam Al-Ghazali answered someone who asked him: “Is not singing some kind of play and rejoice?” He said, “Yes. But, all that exists in this present life is mere play and rejoice. All that takes place between a husband and his wife is play, except sexual intercourse that is the direct cause of reproducing children. This has been reported from Allah’s Messenger and his honorable Companions.” In fact, leisure time is refreshing to the heart and alleviates its tensions at the same time. Excessive strain and efforts render the heart bored and blind. Amusing the self refreshes and renews its strength and vigor. One who continuously works hard at something should take a break for a while in order to restore and regain his energy and firm will lest he totally collapses in future. When one takes a break, he thus restores his strength and vigor. Only Prophets can stand absolute seriousness. Having leisure time is a form of treatment for diseases of the self, weariness and boredom. But, leisure should not be excessive. This will go against the whole issue of rejoicing hearts to make them able to go on. One who is familiar with and experienced in the nature of the human heart and self knows for certain that recreation and relaxation are necessary treatments for one’s well being. These proofs on the permissibility of singing are extracted from the texts and rules of Islam, and these are sufficient to clarify the issue. In addition, the people of Madinah, who were very pious and God-fearing, the Zahiriyyah, who were very literal pertaining to the textual proofs, and the Sufis, who were very strict and rigid, were all quoted to have declared the permissibility of singing. Imam Ash-Shawkani says in his book “Nail Al-Awtar”, “The people of Madinah and those who agreed with them from among the Zahiriyyah and the Sufis maintain that singing is permissible, even when it is accompanied by a musical instrument such as the lute or the flute. Abu Mansur Al-Baghdadi Ash-Shafi`i narrate that `Abdullah Ibn Ja`far saw nothing wrong in singing, and he, himself, used to compose the music for his own slaves who used to sing these melodies in his presence. This took place during the time of Commander of the Faithful, `Ali Ibn Abu Talib. Abu Ja`far Al-Baghdadi narrates the same after Al-Qadi Shuraih, Sa`id Ibn Al-Musaiyb, `Ata’ Ibn Abu Rabah, Az-Zuhri and Ash-Shi`bi.” Ar-Ruwaiyani narrates on the authority of Al-Qaffal that Malik Ibn Anas maintained that singing with musical instruments is permissible. Also, Abu Mansur Al-Furani quotes Malik as maintaining that playing the flute is permissible. Abu Al-Fadl Ibn Tahir narrates, “The people of Madinah never disputed over the permissibility of playing the lute.” Ibn An-Nahwi narrates in his “Al-`Umdah”: “Ibn Tahir said, ‘The people of Madinah showed consensus over this (issue). Also, all the Zahiriyyah maintained the same.”' Al-Mawirdi narrates the permissibility of playing the lute after some of the Shafi`i followers and students. This has been narrated also by Abu Al-Fadl Ibn Tahir after Abu Ishaq Ash-Shirazi; and it was narrated by Al-Isnawi after Ar-Ruwaiyani and Al-Mawirdi. Again, this was narrated by Al-Adfuwi after Sheikh `Izz Ad-Deen Ibn `Abd As-Salam. It was also narrated after Abu Bakr Ibn Al-`Arabi. Al-Adfuwi determined that this is permissible. All these scholars consider singing that is accompanied by musical instruments permissible, but as for singing that is not accompanied by musical instruments, Al-Adfuwi said, “In some of his jurisprudence-related books, Al-Ghazali narrates the consensus of the scholars on its permissibility. Also, Ibn Tahir narrates the consensus of the Prophet’s Companions and those who succeeded them on this very topic. Ibn An-Nahwi states in Al-`Umdah that singing and listening was deemed permissible by a group of the Companions and the Followers. Conditions and Terms: There are some conditions and terms that should be observed pertaining to listening to singing. These go as follows: 1. Not all sorts of singing are permissible. Rather, the permissible song should comply with the Islamic teachings and ethics. Therefore, the songs praising the tyrants and corrupt rulers disagree with Islamic teachings. In fact, Islam stands against transgressors and their allies, and those who show indifference to their transgression. So, the same goes for those songs that imply giving praises to such attitude ! 2. Also, the way the song is performed weighs so much. The theme of the song may be good, but the performance of the singer – through intending excitement and arousing others’ lusts and desires along with trying to seduce them – may move it to the area of prohibition, suspicion or even detest. The Glorious Qur’an addresses the wives of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, saying, “O ye wives of the Prophet! Ye are not like any other women. If ye keep your duty (to Allah), then be not soft of speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease aspire (to you), but utter customary speech”. (Al-Ahzab: 32) So, one has to show caution to music when there is softness of speech accompanied with rhyme, melody, and special effects! 3. Singing should not be accompanied with something that is prohibited such as the following: alcohol, nakedness, mixing of men with women that is common in pubs and nightclubs. 4. Islam has declared excessiveness prohibited in everything, even in acts of worship. The same goes for excessiveness in leisure and recreation even though these things are permissible ! This indicates that the emptiness of the mind and heart has to be observed and tackled during man’s short-term life. One should know that Allah Almighty will ask every one of us about his life and his youth in particular: How did you spend these? There are some things in which one is to be his own judge and Mufti. If there is some kind of singing that arouses his own lust or desire, and takes him away from the real life, he should avoid it then and block that very gate from which the winds of trial and seduction may come and erase his religion, morals and heart. If he does this, he will live in peace and tranquility. Warning against playing with the word “Haram” To conclude, we address the respectful scholars who tackle the word “Haram” easily and set it free in their writings and Fatwas. They should observe that Allah is watching over them in all that they say or do. They should also know that this word “Haram” is very dangerous. It means that Allah’s Punishment is due on a certain act or saying, and should not be based upon guessing, whims, weak Hadiths, not even through an old book. It has to be supported by a clear, well established text or valid consensus. If these last two are not found, then we revert the given act or saying to the original rule permissibility governing things. We do have a good example to follow from one of our earlier pious scholars. Imam Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, says: “It was not the habit of those who preceded us, the early pious Muslims who are set good example for the following generation, to say, “This is Halal (lawful), and this is Haram (prohibited). But, they would say, ‘I hate such and such, and maintain such and such, but as for Halal and Haram, this is what may be called inventing lies concerning Allah. Did not you hear Allah’s Statement that reads, “Say: Have ye considered what provision Allah hath sent down for you, how ye have made of it lawful and unlawful? Say: Hath Allah permitted you, or do ye invent a lie concerning Allah?” (Yunus: 59) For, the Halal is what Allah and His Messenger made lawful, and the Haram is what Allah and His Messenger made unlawful. Allah Almighty knows best.



posted by SuFiSTiC | 5/16/2003 06:47:00 AM |
As for him who fears to stand before his Lord and restrains the ego its desires, the Garden is shelter.
(The Snatchers:40)
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "The Fire is surrounded by all kinds of desires and passions, while Paradise is surrounded by all kinds of disliked, undesirable things."
(Bukhari)
Whoever does good at night is rewarded during the day and whoever does good during the day is rewarded at night. Whoever is sincere in abandoning a desire is saved from catering to it. God is too noble to punish a heart that has abandoned a desire for His sake.
(Abu Sulayman ad-Darani)
Beware of your ego, and trust not its mischief;
The ego is worse than seventy devils.
(Arabic Poem)
Abu Bakar Balkhi
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I seek God's forgiveness, and do not claim that my intention in producing this Blog is confined to good religious purposes; how may I do so when I am aware of the hidden desires, egotistic passions, and worldly wishes that I harbour? I do not claim innocence for myself; the ego is indeed an inciter to evil, save when my Lord shows mercy; my Lord is indeed Forgiving, Merciful. O God! I seek Your protection against my committing idolatry [shirk] knowingly, and Your forgiveness for that of which I am not aware! I ask God to make me and all other believers benefit from this Blog and to render my production of it purely for the sake of His Noble Countenance.

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