Q. Are muslims allowed to listen to string instruments eg. guitar, piano, etc. Some songs sang by Sami Yusuf, he was playing a piano and singing.
A. It is not permissible for Muslims to listen to string instruments. It is haram in Islam.
The four schools of law have stated that it is Haraam (unlawful) to use instruments which brings about entertainment, amusement and melody, like sticks, string instruments like the mandolin, piano, bass drum, drum, tabla, (drumming, drumbeat), single pipe instrument, the fiddle etc.
The Scholars have stated that if a person listens to these instruments, his testimony will be rejected. This is due to the statement of the Prophet (S.A) in which he said, ‘There will be people of my Ummah who would consider intoxicants, swine, silk and musical instruments as being Halaal (lawful)’. (Bukhari)
The Messenger of Allah also said ‘Certainly, there will be people of my Ummah who would consume intoxicants by giving it another name, they would play musical instruments and would listen to singing women. Allah will cause them to sink in the earth and will make from among them apes and swines’. (Ibn Majah, Tirmizi)
Both these traditions have been given as signs of the hour of judgment and they speak about the unlawful actions which will be adopted by Muslims. Hence, the idea of Muslims being entertained and amused by these instruments is from among the condemned actions in Islam.
The Scholars have also used the following verse of the Holy Quran to prove the prohibition of musical instruments. Allah says in Sura Luqman Verse 6, ‘And from among men, there are those who purchase idle talks to mislead (men) from the path of Allah’. While commenting on this verse, the great companion, Abdullah bin Abbass (R.A) said, ‘idle talks’ in this verse means music.
Imam Shafi and Imam Ahmad have also considered the use of sticks (while singing) to be Makrooh (disliked) since it creates amusement.
As for creating special sound effects from the throat, this is also totally Haraam according to all scholars. They have stated that the one who does this is a Faasiq. (Al Fiqhul Islami Vol. 4 Pg. 2665)
In the famous and renowned book of Islamic Law, ‘Raddul Muktar’, it is stated that all musical instruments are forbidden. ( Raddul Muktar Vol. 6 Pg. 348)
As for the ‘steel pan’, this is also forbidden since it is used to create amusement, entertainment and by extension musical sounds.
The prohibition of this can be clearly seen from the fact that the act of beating sticks to create a melody or sound is forbidden, as such, to a greater extent the steel pan will be forbidden. In this regard the jurists have stated, ‘The allowance to beat the Daff for Nikah’ does not bring about the allowance to use other things like the beating of sticks etc. ( Umdatul Qaari – Commentary of Saheeh Al Bukhari Vol. 3 pg. 271)
In the famous book of Islamic Verdicts, Fatawa Bazaziya it is written ‘To listen to drums, tabla etc. is totally unlawful and it is sinful’. It is also an act of transgression (sin) to sit at such places where these can be heard’. (Al Halaal wal Haraam pg. 240)
With respect to the usage of the Daff, (or Duff) it is permissible to use for weddings and other happy (allowable) occasions. However, it must be noted that the Daff is a special small drum, called a tambourine which is sealed at one end. It must not be beaten to create a resounding sound and it should not be used for entertainment and amusement. If it is beaten in this manner then it would not be permissible. The drum that is sealed at both ends is the Tabl (or Tabla) and is not permissible.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan