In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful.

Let’s talk about music and it’s position in Islam. First of all, I’d like to remind everybody reading this that music in Islam can be a confusing subject, because there are some scholars who says that music is permissible and others that says that music is definitely forbidden. In writing this entry I will try to present a fair view, and of course I’ll let you judge for yourself.

The basic facts:

Music in today’s world (generally),
– It is almost impossible for someone to avoid music, you find it everywhere from shopping malls to taxis to restaurants, even in public toilets.
– Today’s majority of popular music focuses on themes like love, lust, relationships, and beautiful women.
– And they come with music videos displaying young and beautiful people in minimal clothing and have sexual content.
– Dance music played in rave parties, dance clubs, and discotheques promotes drinking of alcohol and sexual activities.
– The popular music industry is targeting young people.
– The media exploited music public figures doing bad things giving bad examples to the young generation.

As a trained musician, I know how far music can influence someone’s life. Music is very powerful, it touches a person right to the soul. Now, when you look at the facts above, and knowing how powerful music can be, suddenly it all makes sense why music is a “be careful” subject in Islam, because clearly, music can make it’s listeners glide away from the Islamic ways of life.

On the other hand, there are certain types of music that brings more good than harm, music that promotes a good way of living, music that are used for health therapies, and of course, the nasyid. Problem is, those types of music are not among the popular music and not many people know about them.

More facts:

In Islam, the saying “an ounce of prevention is is worth a pound of cure” is taken seriously. That’s why the consumption (drinking) of alcohol is forbidden even if it’s only in a small amount.

In Islam, everything has limitations, everything excessive is forbidden. In music, sometimes feelings are exaggerated, sad becomes sadder, happy becomes happier. In studying a musical instrument, like if someone wants to become a master pianist, he/she will have no problem practicing for hours and hours everyday, he may forget about everything else while practicing. i think that’s also one of the concerns in music prohibition.

The holy Qur’an says:

let’s look at this ayah (verse) from the holy Qur’an,

“But there are, among men, those who purchase idle tales, without knowledge (or meaning), to mislead (men) from the Path of Allah and throw ridicule (on the Path): for such there will be a Humiliating Penalty.” (Surah 31. Luqman, V. 6, Yusuf Ali translation).

The great Companion Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) states in the explanation of the word “idle tales”: “By Allah its meaning is music” (Sunan al-Bayhaqi, 1/223 & authenticated by al-Hakim in his Mustadrak, 2/411).

This is one of the ayah that the scholars mention when explaining about music. Though some muslim scholars say this ayah doesn’t say anything about music. Either way, I personally would like to point out that in the ayah, the line which says “to mislead (men) from the path of Allah and throw ridicule.”

The same ayah (31:6) by different translations:

Pickthal: “And of mankind is he who payeth for mere pastime of discourse, that he may mislead from Allah’s way without knowledge, and maketh it the butt of mockery. For such there is a shameful doom.”

Shakir: “And of men is he who takes instead frivolous discourse to lead astray from Allah’s path without knowledge, and to take it for a mockery; these shall have an abasing chastisement.”

The use of musical instruments:

A hadith narrated Abu ‘Amir or Abu Malik Al-Ash’ari, that he heard the Prophet (pbuh) saying,

“From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, 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.

Now, during the pre-Islamic period or jahilliyah (period of ignorance), the use of musical instruments in Arabia was associated with vices such as chess, love poetry, wine drinking and homosexuality. No wonder music has a bad name at that time.

In the catholic Europe during this time, according to music history, music is forbidden outside of church, and at the time, the music was monophonic A-Capella Gregorian chants. So you see, it’s a lot different back then.

About singing:

The next hadith, according to some scholars, is proof that singing is permissible by the Prophet (pbuh). `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated:

“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 Awus). The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) laid 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.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari.)

Although some scholars argue that the two girls was singing a song about war and without musical instruments accompaniment therefore it’s lawful.

Also it is known that when the Prophet (pbuh) came to Madinah, people there sang “Thala’al Badru Alayna” to welcome him (citation needed).

About entertainment:

`Ali Ibn Abu Talib said, “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: “Isn’t 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.”

About halal and haram:

Halal 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) who said: “It was not the habit of those who preceded us, the early pious Muslims, who set good example for the following generations, to say, ‘This is halal, and this is haram. 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 you considered what provision Allah has sent down for you, how you have made of it lawful and unlawful? Say: Has Allah permitted you, or do you 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. (taken from here)

My personal thought on this matter:

I understand that for every rule in Islam there must be a logical explanation to “why?” and, yes music does have a lot of negativity it in but not always. Music can be used to help children learn, even it can be used for health therapies. Check out Yusuf Islam’s album “I look, I see” dedicated to teach young children about Islam.

The one thing we need to remember is the priority, and the intention. Music or any other type of entertainment should never be used to justify or even promote free sex, drugs, alcohol, and other negative behaviors.

I’m a music coach, and my number one purpose is that to give my students knowledge about music so they will be a critical person, and so that they choose their music with a positive mind. Because like I said earlier, it’s almost impossible to avoid music in this global modern information era. I hope that all my students Muslims or non-Muslims will never ever use their musical skills for negative purpose.

And the most important thing for me now, I pray to God, please show me the right path, if You’re not happy with my profession, please God, show me another way. And may Allah Almighty forgive me if I am violating what is righteous.

Links to more information on music in Islam: