Question: Assalaamu Alaikum Sir,
I have started the background to the project and I would like to get the Islamic law/position and/or ahadith regarding music, the playing of musical instruments, singing and dancing. If you can kindly provide the citation/reference as well for me to include in my thesis, I would appreciate it. My supervisor indicated that he wants to see this aspect in particular. Thank you Sir.
Answer: Assalamu Alaikum,
The expert jurists and leading scholars from the early centuries of Islam until today have established the prohibition of Music from Quranic verses as well authentic traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
In this regard, the following verses have been cited:
1. “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.” (Surah 31 verse 6)
Here, in this verse it is mentioned that there are people who purchase discourses of distracting amusements to misguide people from the path of Allah. About these people, Allah says that for them is a humiliating punishment. While explaining what is ‘Amusement of speech’ (in Arabic Lahw Al Hadeeth), the great scholars and jurists from the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) like Abdullah Bin Masood, Abdullah Bin Abbas, Jabir (R.A) and others have stated that it means ‘Music and Singing’. The great scholars and jurist experts from among the Tabi’een (2nd generation Muslims) like Ikrama, Saeed Bin Jubair, Mujahid, Makhool, Amr Bin Shu’aib (A.R) and others have given the same explanation. The great authority of Hadeeth (Prophetic Traditions) and Islamic Law of the second generation Muslims, Hassan Al Basri has also stated that the above verse was revealed about singing and musical instruments. That is, the verse was revealed to condemn these. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol. 3 pg. 583 Maktaba Dar Al Faiha Damascus 1998).
Another verse of the Holy Quran, Allah says,
2. “And [the believers] those who do not testify to falsehood, and when they pass near ill speech, they pass by with dignity.” (Surah 25 verse 72).
While explaining the word “falsehood” in the verse (the Arabic is Az Zoor), the great scholar Muhammad Bin Al Hanafiya writes, ‘falsehood here means vain talks, singing and musical instruments.’ (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol. 3 pg. 439. Maktaba Dar Al Faiha Damascus 1998).
In Surah Al Isra (17) verses 63, 64, Allah says to Satan and his followers:
3. “[Allah] said, “Go, for whoever of them follows you, indeed Hell will be the recompense of you – an ample recompense. 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.”
In the above verse (i.e 64), mention has been made about Satan using his voice to befool the believers. With respect to what is the voice of Satan, the great exegetes and jurists experts from among the companions of the Prophet (s.a.w) and the 2nd generation Muslims like Abdullah Bin Abbas (R.A), Mujahid and Dhahak have stated, ‘The voice of Satan is singing and Music’. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol. 3 pg. 70. Maktaba Dar Al Faiha Damascus 1998; Tafseer Al Qurtubi Vol. 10 pg. 288. Maktaba Rasheediyah Queta Pakistan).
With respect to the traditions of the Prophet (s.a.w), it is narrated by Anas Bin Malik (R.A) that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said, ‘there are two sounds that are cursed in this life and in the Hereafter. One is the Musical instruments in joy and happiness and the second is wailing in adversity,’ (Az Zawai’d Al Bazaar). Another tradition on the authority of Abdullah Bin Abbas states that the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Verily Allah prohibited wine, gambling, and drums.’ (Sunan Abu Dawood). In another tradition, Abdur Rahman Bin Awf (R.A) narrates, ‘The Prophet (s.a.w) took my hand and I went with him to visit his (ailing) son Ibrahim. He was in the throes of death, the Prophet (s.a.w) took him to his chest and held him until he breathed his last. Then he put the child down and wept. I asked, ‘You are weeping O Messenger of Allah, while you prohibit crying?’ the Prophet (u.w.b.p) replied, ‘Verily, I did not prohibit weeping, but rather, i forbade two sounds that are absurd and sinful. The sounds of musical instruments in time of joy and happiness, and the sound of wailing at time of adversity accompanied by striking the face and tearing of garments. But this (weeping of mine) stems from compassion, and whoever does not show compassion will not receive it.’ (Majma’ Az Zawaaid by Al Haithami)
It is recorded by Abu Hurairah (R.A) that the Prophet (s.a.w) said, ‘Bells are part of the musical instruments of Satan’ (Sahih Muslim). From this tradition, it is evident that when bells are disliked, then to a further extent other musical instruments would be disliked as well.
With respect to the books of Islamic Jurisprudence and law, it is well established that Musical Instruments are all prohibited in Islam. In the well renowned book of Islamic law, Al Fatawa Al Bazzaziyyah (a compendium of Islamic formal verdicts written by Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Shihab Al Bazzazi d. 827 A.H/1424 AD), it is stated, ‘Listening to musical instruments is Haram (unlawful). The Messenger of Allah (Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) said, ‘Listening to Musical instruments is sin, sitting for it is transgression, and enjoying it is Kufr.’ (Fatawa Al Bazaziyyah)
While giving the ruling of the scholars of jurisprudence, the great scholar Abdul Hayy Al Hasani writes, ‘it is well known that in the four schools (i.e of Imams Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafi, Ahmad (A.R)) wind instruments, string instruments and drums are prohibited. So playing them or listening to them is Haram (unlawful) according to them’. (Al Ghina Fil Islam pg. 87). The celebrated grand jurist Ibn Al Hummam writes, ‘singing poetry with permissible text/words is permissible. However, when such permissible poems are sung with musical instruments then they are prohibited. Even songs full of religious admonition and wisdom are prohibited when sung with music. However, in this case, the reason for the prohibition is musical instruments and not the song.’ (Fath Al Qadeer- commentary of Al Hidaya vol. 7 pg. 381-382). Similarly, in Al Mughni, the major text of the school of thought of Imam Ahmad bin Hambal, the following is written: “Musical instruments fall into two categories. First, the prohibited ones, like the instruments that can cause enchantment and sensual pleasure even without singing, like wind instruments, Mandolin and the like. This is so because according to the report of Abu Umamah, the Prophet (s.a.w) said, ‘Allah most high sent me as a mercy to the worlds and commanded me to eradicate Ma’azif and Mazamir (musical instruments).’ Second, the permissible one, and it is the duff when used in weddings and other joyous occasions.” (Fath Al Qadeer- (Ibn Al Hummam) Book- Testimony, chapter, ‘whose testimony will be accepted and whose will not.’ Vol. 7 pg. 383 Darul Kutub Al Ilmiyah Lebanon 2009).
In the renowned book of Islamic Law, ‘Raddul Mukhtar’ it is stated that all musical instruments are forbidden.’ (Raddul Mukhtar vol. 6 pg. 348). While narrating the official verdict given in the four schools of Islamic Jurisprudence/law, the great scholar Dr. Wahba Az Zuhaili writes, ‘As for musical instruments, they are all haram (unlawful) according to the popular/known and well accepted verdicts in the four schools of Islamic Jurisprudence (namely, that of Imam Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafi, Ahmad bin Hambal). This includes all the instruments that bring about enchantment/sensual pleasure like the lute, fretted lutes (like the sitar, mandolin), stringed, wind and percussion instruments, drum, flute, rebec (violin) and others from among the stringed instruments and flute and musical instruments,. (Al Fiqh Al Islami Wa Adilatihi vol. 4 pg. 2664 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan)
From these quotations, it becomes clear that all types of musical instruments are unlawful in Islam.
As for the Daff (Duff), it is permissible to use for weddings and other joyous accassions like Eid. It is to be noted that the Daff is a small drum, called a tambourine which is sealed at one end. It must not be beaten to create a resounding sound.
With respect to dancing, this is also totally prohibited in Islam. About this, the great jurist Dr. Wahba Az Zuhaili writes, ‘As for dancing, this is haram (unlawful) and one who considers it permissible is a Fasiq (sinner). (Al Fiqh Al Islam Wa Adilatihi vol. 4 pg. 2665 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan).
The great scholar Imam An Nawawi has also written that dancing is totally Haram (unlawful) and impermissible. (Sharh Al Muhazab vol. 15 pg. 558).
The great jurist expert Qazi Khan has written that the jurists have stated that ‘dancing is against one’s dignity and civil conduct. (Fatawa Qazi Khan vol. 2 pg. 461).
From all these statements, explanation and verdicts, it becomes well established that musical instrumental and dancing are unlawful/prohibited in Islam.
And Allah Knows Best.
Mufti Waseem Khan.