26 March 2011

Music: Love it or Shove it?

Like many topics in Islam, I highly doubt that this debate will ever be settled between Muslims. However, I have recently started to wonder if music really is as bad as many Muslims make out. I personally do listen to music, however only certain types. As a lot of English/Western music only ever seems to be about one thing and is more than likely riddled with subliminal messages, I avoid listening to it altogether. However, I do listen to general Arabic music, English nasheeds and instrumental music. I am in no way saying that this is 100% halal, I am just sceptical as to whether I would really be punished for listening to it...


Now, I know of ahadith which say that the last people will attempt to make music (amongst other things) halal and will be burnt in the pits of hell for it. I have also heard that the authenticity of these ahadith have been questioned. I know of ahadith that say that only drums and vocals are permitted on special occasions. But then what about the Prophet Dawood (David) [A] how played the flute?

Some people say it is about how the music makes you feel and what it makes you think. I quite agree, but that is more to do with the what the song is about as opposed to an intrinsic thing within the act of listening to music.

What we must remember is that nowhere in the Quran has Allah (SWT) explicitly said that music or songs are haram. Saying that something is 'haram' is a big deal. It means you will be punished if you carry out said 'sin' and don't repent before you die. It does not seem enter my logic that listening to a song about a subject is not haram will suddenly become haram because it is sung with instruments. If I were to sing the periodic table whilst playing a guitar, would I be punished..? Bit harsh :/ Anyway, what do you think? Love it or shove?


36 comments:

Riham said...

I'm going through the same dilemma with the issue of whether music is haram or not. For a while I was in denial until I saw a video by kamal el mekki called the end of music that convinced me all together. I deleted all music off of my itunes and replaced it with quran and nasheeds alhamdulilah. The reason I decided to not listen to music anymore wasn't because of the hadith you mentioned earlier, but because I know what music does to me. When I listen to music it takes me away from the quran and I find that the more I listen to music the harder my heart becomes to quran and softer to music. It's a personal choice for me that I wouldn't push on anyone else. It's really up to you..music has become such a major part of society thats its become a fitna.

American Niqabi said...

Where in the Quran does it say that Dawood played the flute? And I do agree with you, it seems like there are degrees to how bad something is. I mean, you certainly can't compare 50 Cent to Andrea Bocelli. Yes, they prolly both sing about relationships but one is in a derogatory manner and one is in a more romantic manner..

Carys said...

I think as far as music is concerned, we have to categorise it, we cannot just generalise and say everyone who listens or performs or takes part in anything musical is going to be severely punished by Allah (swt).

I think we can all agree the general western standard of popular music, where pop stars wear nothing, behave in digusting ways and encourage others to do the same (Lohan, Lady Gaga, Ke$sha etc etc) is obviously not a good thing. We can probably all agree that music obviously only produced for the money and for the sake of vain entertainment is also haram.

However, music which describes the human condition, which expresses emotion or expresses a great musical talent, I think is much better, and I consider it to be on a parr with poetry. Remember, playing an instrument can be a beautiful thing, especially if it has trained us in self restraint and helps keep our mind on the right path - think of all those who have used music as a way to escape lives otherwise filled with drugs and alchohol and prison.

And then of course, there is music in the praise of Allah (swt). We must consider Allah (swt) gave us musical talent and for that we should thank him. Everyone who plays/listens to music should take the time to dedicate some of them playing/listening time to the one who has allowed us to do so.

Of course, anyone who considers different I don't judge! :) Allah (swt) also gave us human reason for this purpose, so we could think for ourselves and not be mindless robots (which some music encourages us to do! :P). It's all about intention, is your intention to sit around listening to music when you should be praying? Or is to appreciate the talents of another and us that media to contemplate your own life?

That's my opinion, anyway. :)

Angelica said...

Personally, I also listen to music but I am quite picky about it. I listen mostly to arabic music, nasheeds, and instrumental. But I do listen to western music, however I'm very careful about the message that is being sent. That being said I'm not so much of a fan of what's been deemed popular (this was the case before I even reverted).

The idea of hadiths not being reliable is something I think we should consider because just as its bad to do something that is haraam its also bad to say something is haraam when it isn't.

I've recently read a lot about how the hadith that states it is forbidden for a woman to touch the Quran during that time of the month is unreliable. There's a conflicting hadith (which is supposed to be much more reliable)which states the Prophet (SAW) asked Aisha (RA) to bring him a mat from the masjid. When she stated that she was going through menses the Prophet (SAW) said the impurity was not in her hands. (http://www.themuslimwoman.com/hygiene/naturalblood.htm)

As I understand we are supposed to use our reason and judgement. Clearly hip/hop that is derogatory is out but I see nothing wrong with "wholesome" music. Many times I feel thankful to Allah (SWT) when I hear a Beethoven symphony because something that beautiful I feel has to be a gift from Allah (SWT). :-)

Stylish Muslimah said...

American Niqabi: I am not sure if it is in the Quran, I have read it in a Hadith though.

Angelica: Thanks for the link, interesting stuff :)

Salaam
Xxx

LK said...

What I learned from my Quran teacher is that Muslims in the west are often taught music is haram because most WESTERN music is by content. And context can make it haram such as a mixed gathering, if it makes you want to dance sexy and men are around well then thats not so good.

But at my school I was taught that classical music, Islamic based music, naseeds, and some G rated songs were fine since the haram label is based heavily on content and context.

Hannah said...

I don`t really know much about hadiths / Quran ayaats regarding this, but I know that I was raised up as someone not fond of music. I`m scared to listen to music / sing it out loud cause my dad will give me that disapproval look. Seriously. and idk, somehow at school, I don`t really have friends cause of this. When people talk about music, I just stare at them, completely clueless. Fyi, I`m just 16.

FS*RawkS* said...

Just like sister Riham, I don't listen to music because I know what it does to me. I went to a talk by Dr. Bilal Philips and he said to be careful when listening to music - don't prefer music over the Quran, even if it's nasheed. And alhamdulillah since I've stopped listening to music, my heart becomes softer to Quran and Islamic lectures. But I have no problem with songs with great lyrics and great meaning. It's those songs about party, money, girls or anything materialistic that makes my ears bleed. haha

Stylish Muslimah said...

Hannah: You are old enough to be able to make your on decisions on these things so I think that you should read up about it and draw your own conclusion on music. Once you have done this, if your dad isn't happy try and talk to him about it. If he is still not happy, respect his decision by not listening to it when he is around ;)

As for not having friends because of music, I understand that it may make it slightly harder but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have friends, just chat about something else!

16 can be a bit of an awkward age but trust me, once you start college you won't have a problem with making friends :D
Xxxx

Happy Hijabi said...

I agree with you. I don't know all the ahadith on this topic, and am by no means a scholar, but surely the content is important. If I'm listening to rapsters talking sinful things, that is surely wrong. But if the content of the song is good and makes you feel and think good things that are halal, then surely that's ok.

Balance is important too. Listening to it all the time isn't right, even if the content is good. If it stops you praying on time, or delays you in reading some qu'ran or doing something good to seek Allah's pleasure, then yes, its wrong, but if you are fulfilling all your duties as a servant of Allah, then listening to a bit of good content music, surely that isn't punishable.

The Modesty Movement said...

I listen to music...mainly to islamic music & poetry, as a new revert to Islam (former Christian), I listned to Chrisitan music all the time, so long story short I still listen to music.

Anonymous said...

lol @ "rapsters".

Yukirat said...

I'm just a follower of your blog and haven't read the Hadith, but it worries me that something as primal as music is supposedly a sin --- does that make dance a sin? Why shouldn't that make art a sin? Music, dance, art are the most basic and primal part of being human.

Have you ever seen a small child dance and smile to music? God has quite obviously made them to enjoy music. Take that away, and I think one is left with a very hampered soul.

A last note: I admire religious ardour, but not all Western music is about the "one thing" --- not by a long shot. A lot of hip hop is about poverty and social injustice, a lot of folk songs are about war, a lot of electronica is just about funky cool sounds. The more good true music you listen to (yes, even the stuff about sex), the more it enriches and beautifies your soul. Also, what one sees is sometimes a reflection of self.

Lastly, sex is not a bad thing in and of itself as 100% of us would not be here on earth without it. Unfortunately, it is tempting, and this comes with the good and the bad.

Zainab said...

Stylish Muslimah:
I don't think you should encourage Hannah to go behind her parents' back and listen to music. I agree with you, 16 is old enough to do research and make your own decisions, but there is a certain respect you have to maintain for your parents. Hannah's dad only wants what's best for his daughter, and if he ever found out she was listening to music, he would be really hurt. Personally, I think it's more important to do what your parents ask you to for a few more years of your life. Being 16, she'll be moving out soon, whether it be for college or when she's ready to start a life of her own.

Anonymous said...

Interesting fact:

Chickens lay eggs more easily if they're exposed to classical music, like Beethoven and Mozart.

Something to think about next time you're constipated.

Salaam.

Stylish Muslimah said...

Anon: Ahhahaaa!! That cracked me up :D

Stylish Muslimah said...

Zainab: Hmm, I see your point but I stick with my opinion. I mean if it's not actually haram to do, her dad should not be making the halal haram, right? I know what you mean about respect, which is why she should do it when he's not there. I would never tell her to go and do haram behind her parents back but based on her knowledge and intentions, listening to music is not haram, therefore where is the sin in her doing it?

Salaam

Stylish Muslimah said...

Yukirat: If it wasn't weird, I would express my undying love for you and your comments.. OK, I just did.

On a more serious note, I do agree with you that not all western songs are about that "one thing" but many are and they talk about it and women in a very demeaning way, it just grosses me out. I guess, I just prefer Arabic music and it's content.

But, yeh, some songs are alright. I mean have you heard Friday by Rebecca Black?! It's AMAZINGGGG....

Zainab said...

Stylish Muslimah: You're not allowing Hannah to make her own decision. She needs to do her own research, and IF she finds that listening to music is halal, then she can choose to do what ever she thinks is right. I agree, it's not up to her father to make the halal haraam, but I think it might be the mindset that he was raised with, that's what he's known his whole life. He's just looking out for his daughter, and out of respect and love for him, I think it's better to just wait until she's own her own to do what she pleases. It's not like her abstaining from music is causing her any harm.

Stylish Muslimah said...

Zainab: If you refer back to my original reply to her, I have told her to draw her own conclusion on music FIRST. How is that not letting her make her own decision? Also, what is the exact difference in listening to it when he's not there and listening to it when she doesn't live with him? She's still listening to it either way, when he's not there.

Salaam

Zainab said...

Stylish Muslimah: Your whole last post was done under the assumption that music is halal. And it is different, because when she is living with him, there is always that slight chance that he walks in on her, or that he goes on Youtube from the same computer and things show up in "Recommended for You" on the front page. I'm not being paranoid, I actually had a friend that went through the same thing. She accidentally left a tab of music open, and her mother saw it. Her parents weren't angry because she had been listening to music, they were hurt because she had done something that they had specifically told her not to. And honestly, having your parents upset with you is so much worse than them being angry.

Yukirat said...

Rebecca Black's Friday! Bwahaha! My brother called me all the way from Japan to tell me what a colossally bad song it was, and how I had to listen to that piece of music history. I admit, I felt like I had just listened to something epic...ly bad.

Saudis in Audis over that, any time. Arabic-language songs are indeed gorgeous, even (especially?) Lebanese pop songs, can't blame you for preferring those indeed :). English is kind of awkward for lyrics at times.

My Little World said...

Hi hun, this topic is for scholars to discuss- not us :)

Anonymous said...

In regards to Hannah, I'm gonna assume that you are living in a Western country, and this is what I'll say.

Why do strict Muslim parents, who know very well what these Western countries are like, decide to come to these countries and raise children like they're still back home?

I'm 25, and I grew up in that same situation. My parents were fine with music, but everything else was off limits. "You can't go here", "You cant wear this", "You cant stay out this late", "You can't mix with these people", "That hair cut doesn't reflect our culture", etc. It took me a while to start questioning the logic behind all this......and guess what, there is no logic in it. This is the definition of hypocrisy on the part of these parents. Because of this hypocrisy, kids like me don't develop well socially, and that causes huge problem later in life. Did I mention I'm an only child? It's the type of hell that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

I don't think any other group except Muslims go through this.

Hang in there Hannah. Allah is guiding you and making you stronger for the future. Have mercy on your parents as you get older and stronger.

Salaam.

p.s. NO MORE MUSIC DISCUSSIONS! please!

Suslique said...

as salamu aleykum.

i was a music addict. i didn't listen to pop music, but good, high quality bands. and based on my own experience i'm sure that there can be no place in one heart for music and Quran. i had to stop listening to music to start learning tajweed. before that it was impossible, i didn't like listening to Quran. once i stopped with music, i fell in love with Quran recitation!

Stylish Muslimah said...

Anon: You talk a lot of sense, I wish more people could be as logical as that :)

Salaam

Stylish Muslimah said...

My Little World: I'm not even going to begin arguing with THAT comment. I must say though.. Your name suits you :)

Anonymous said...

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Hope you like. Salaam.

Stylish Muslimah said...

Anon: Thanks, they're really interesting :)
Salaam

lala said...

Thought I'd already replied to this, boy am I forgetful lately o.O I want to remind everyone that the Prophet Dawud composed music for Allah SWT only. So if you choose to use that as your reason, don't forget that part... That would only make an argument for nasheed with instruments. Then you have to consider he did so before the Prophet PBUH came along and see if that changes your way of thinking or now.
Among Muslims music seems to be such a sticky subject and I just hope we all really question what answer we come up with as honestly as possible. If music hardens your heart at all to the Quran or you listen to Quran less because of music, you probably should reconsider listening to music. I believe the only music we should listen to is music for praise, or music that brings you closer to Allah SWT. That's just me.

food for thought
"Every statement in which God is not mentioned is a vanity. Every silence in which there is no thought of Him is carelessness. Every reflection in which there is no consideration of Him is an idle pastime." -Imam Ali AS

lala said...

PS, arguments like if Allah swt didnt want us to enjoy music he wouldn't have created it should be questioned. Many things are forbidden for us Muslims that have been created and, let's face it, might seem enjoyable to our hearts. It's really important to evaluate these reasonings deeper so they cant act as excuses... I'm just saying they cant be our ONLY reasons for listening to music/not listening to music. We are required to make informed decisions and not ones simply based on "i think" or "i kinda feel." I'm not bashing anyone btw, just urging caution. The human heart faces a lot of temptation, and Allah SWT assures us we will be tested. For the argument I was talking about above, think of this and how they kinda sound the same: if Allah SWT didnt want us to enjoy pork, why would he have made it? If Allah SWT didnt want us to show our hair, why do we have it? If men can't have more than 4 wives, why did solomon?
Again, JUST food for thought. I just hope everyone takes a deep, unforgiving look at their own reasons to make sure they aren't just excuses. We are judged by our intentions so let's make them as pure as possible! Defiantely more worthwhile than judging others actions.

Stylish Muslimah said...

Lala: You make some very good points :) And the saying you quoted is beautiful. Thanks!

Salaam

Talib said...

wow.. there are so many comments on music. i'll try to be short and sweet. i listen to music, all kinds. i listen to what i like based mostly on the words, sometimes the sound only (like in the case of rap! LOL) I know some music is bad, but if our decision about music or other forms of entertainment rely on the enteratiner's life.. i dont think we'd listen to or watch any secular tv or movies! lol it would be nasheed, quran recital, and tv during ramadan. :D but, we all have to answer for our own actions.

as for dawood and playing the flute. if we go by the accounts of dawood's zaboor in the Christian context, he played the lyre and his book (the book of Psalms) was all nasheed.

Anonymous said...

is drawing haram? please i really need an answer!thxs

Stylish Muslimah said...

Anon: Um, I personally wouldn't say it was haram but I know many Mulims that say making images is not allowed. This is because of a story about a man who mad an image of his late father and years down the line people started to worship the statue that he had made. I advise you to go and research about it and draw your own conclusions based upon what you find - I can't give you an answer because I haven't read enough about it myself.
Salam :)

mumtaza said...

this is sooo sad to me as a Muslim. what Western music are you referring to??? Wagner, Stevie Wonder, Pavarotti, Snoop Dogg, Prince, The Doors, Elton John, the Trashwomen, Depeche Mode, Edith Piaf, Public Enemy...what...?? English is "awkward for lyrics"?? where are y'all from and how old are you? I am ashamed of this whole conversation.