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Is music prohibited in Islam?

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The sections of this article are:

1-  Is music prohibited in Islam? 
2-  The definition of the Psalm or Psalms. 
3-  Does this mean that we (Muslims) must play music while we pray? 
4-  Did Allah Almighty or Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him prohibit music? 
5-  Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him allowed music. 
6-  Conclusion. 


Some Muslims believe that Music is prohibited/sinful in Islam.  According to Islam: Music that leads to sinful acts such as drugs, sex, violence, etc... is absolutely sinful in Islam.  But otherwise, how would it be sinful when Allah Almighty Himself allowed it to Prophet David peace be upon him?

Narrated Abu Musa:  "That the Prophet said to him 'O Abu Musa! You have been given one of the musical wind-instruments of the family of David.'    (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Virtues of the Qur'an, Volume 6, Book 61, Number 568)" 

Let us look at Noble Verse 4:163 "We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: we sent inspiration to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms." 

Let us look at Noble Verse 17:55 "And it is your Lord that knoweth best all beings that are in the heavens and on earth: We did bestow on some prophets more (and other) gifts than on others: and We gave to David (the gift of) the Psalms." 

In the above Saying (Hadith) and Noble Verses, we clearly see that Allah Almighty did send the Book of Psalm to Prophet David peace be upon him.  We also see that Allah Almighty called that Book a gift.  If Allah Almighty allowed David peace be upon him and his followers to sing and play music, then how could we then claim that music is sinful and prohibited? 
 

The definition of the Psalm or Psalms:


First let us define what the word "Psalm" or "Psalms" mean:

A collection of sacred poems forming a book of canonical Jewish and Christian Scripture.

Often capitalized [Middle English, from Old English psalm, from Late Latin psalmus, from Greek psalmos, literally, twanging of a harp, from psallein to pluck, play a stringed instrument]
First appeared before 12th Century

A sacred song or poem used in worship; especially : one of the biblical hymns collected in the Book of Psalms

From the America Online Dictionary.  

Does this mean that we (Muslims) must play music while we pray?


I was asked this question before.  My answer is:  No, that is not what I am suggesting!  In Islam, Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him was inspired the instructions that taught us how to pray.  Muslims do not sing nor play music while they pray, and it is prohibited to play music or sing while praying to Allah Almighty in Islam.  But the point I am trying to make is, if Allah Almighty allowed music and songs to be played to people before us, then what gives us the right to prohibit music now? 

Did Allah Almighty or Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him prohibit music?


There is not a single Noble Verse in the Noble Quran that prohibits music.  In fact, music and songs are allowed in the Noble Quran as we saw above.  Some Muslims however claim that Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him did prohibit music.  Well, the section below actually proves the otherwise from the Sayings of Prophet Muhammad himself.

Muslims must also remember that when Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him reached the Holy City of Madina from the Holy City of Mecca with his best friend Abu Bakr; may Allah Almighty always be pleased with him, the Muslims played music and sang the famous Islamic song "Talaa El-Badru Alayna" which means "The full moon had come upon us."

The music that Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him prohibited was the one that the infidels used to play which involved sexual activities by the women.  It was part of the pagan Arabs' custom, and Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him wanted to prevent Muslims to be anywhere near that type of music, because it was a sinful music; a music that led to sinful activities.   

Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him allowed music:


From Bukhari Volume 2, Book 15, Number 70: 

Narrated Aisha: 
Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) came to my house while two girls were singing beside me the songs of Buath (a story about the war between the two tribes of the Ansar, the Khazraj and the Aus, before Islam). The Prophet (p.b.u.h) 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 (p.b.u.h) ? " Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) 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. It was the day of 'Id, and the Black people were playing with shields and spears; so either I requested the Prophet (p.b.u.h) or he asked me whether I would like to see the display. I replied in the affirmative. Then the Prophet (p.b.u.h) made me stand behind him and my cheek was touching his cheek and he was saying, "Carry on! O Bani Arfida," till I got tired. The Prophet (p.b.u.h) asked me, "Are you satisfied (Is that sufficient for you)?" I replied in the affirmative and he told me to leave. 

This same Hadith is reported to us again in Sahih Muslim:

Book 004, Number 1942: 

'A'isha reported: The Messenger of Allah (way peace be upon him) came (in my apartment) while there were two girls with me singing the song of the Battle of Bu'ath. He lay down on the bed and turned away his face. Then came Abu Bakr and he scolded me and said: Oh! this musical instrument of the devil in the house of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him)! The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) turned towards him and said: Leave them alone. And when he (the Holy Prophet) became inattentive, I hinted them and they went out, and it was the day of 'Id and negroes were playing with shields and spears. (I do not remember) whether I asked the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) or whether he said to me if I desired to see (that sport). I said: Yes. I stood behind him with his face parallel to my face, and he said: O Banu Arfada, be busy (in your sports) till I was satiated. He said (to me): Is that enough? I said: Yes. Upon this he asked me to go. 

Once again in Bukhari, this event is recorded:

Volume 5, Book 58, Number 268: 

Narrated Aisha: 
That once Abu Bakr came to her on the day of 'Id-ul-Fitr or 'Id ul Adha while the Prophet was with her and there were two girl singers with her, singing songs of the Ansar about the day of Buath. Abu Bakr said twice. "Musical instrument of Satan!" But the Prophet said, "Leave them Abu Bakr, for every nation has an 'Id (i.e. festival) and this day is our 'Id." 

And then in Bukhari, another Hadith relates a connection between musical instruments and the family of David (saw). Further evidence that, indeed, the Psalms were musical in nature: 

Volume 6, Book 61, Number 568: 

Narrated Abu Musa: 
That the Prophet said to him' "O Abu Musa! You have been given one of the musical wind-instruments of the family of David .' 

And on one final note, I thought the following Hadith can also be used in the matter. The Hadith relates of how the adhan came to be, and how the Prophet's companions suggested the use of musical instruments such as the horn or bell like the People of the Book. Now although the Prophet ultimately approved the use of the human voice, there is no mention that the Prophet chastised his companions for suggesting musical instruments for the adhan. And if the Prophet was so very much against musical instruments, then why would his companions dare to suggest the use of such sinful things in the call to prayer????  

From Muslim Book 004, Number 0735: 

Ibn Umar reported: When the Muslims came to Medina, they gathered and sought to know the time of prayer but no one summoned them. One day they discussed the matter, and some of them said: Use something like the bell of the Christians and some of them said: Use horn like that of the Jews. Umar said: Why may not a be appointed who should call (people) to prayer? The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: O Bilal, get up and summon (the people) to prayer. 

DOES ISLAM PROHIBIT MUSIC?

For years I was confused on this point.

You see many Muslims who have not bothered to ACTUALLY READ THE QURAN and HADITHS classify most music as "haram"!

Look at the "Action Items" published on one Salafy site:

"Get rid of those Michael Jackson CD's"

"If you had a large music collection as a kafir, have a collection just as large, but instead fill your library with Islamic audio tapes and lectures. 

"Think about how many hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars you've spent on music cd's and tapes that you could now spend on a home Islamic library. 

"Replace any kafir aerobic exercise video tapes with recorded drum sounds, such as African drums, etc...

What is the basis for the "music prohibition"? 

UNSUPPORTED BY THE QURAN

The "music banners" have cited the following ayahs in support of a "music prohibition": 31:6, 17:64, 53:57-62.

NONE OF THESE AYAHS SAYS A WORD ABOUT MUSIC!

031.006 
YUSUFALI: 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.

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. 

017.064 
YUSUFALI: "Lead to destruction those whom thou canst among them, with thy (seductive) voice; make assaults on them with thy cavalry and thy infantry; mutually share with them wealth and children; and make promises to them." But Satan promises them nothing but deceit.

PICKTHAL: And excite any of them whom thou canst with thy voice, and urge thy horse and foot against them, and be a partner in their wealth and children, and promise them. Satan promiseth them only to deceive.

SHAKIR: And beguile whomsoever of them you can with your voice, and collect against them your forces riding and on foot, and share with them in wealth and children, and hold out promises to them; and the Shaitan makes not promises to them but to deceive:


053.057 
YUSUFALI: The (Judgment) ever approaching draws nigh: 
PICKTHAL: The threatened Hour is nigh. 
SHAKIR: The near event draws nigh. 

053.058 
YUSUFALI: No (soul) but Allah can lay it bare. 
PICKTHAL: None beside Allah can disclose it. 
SHAKIR: There shall be none besides Allah to remove it. 

053.059 
YUSUFALI: Do ye then wonder at this recital? 
PICKTHAL: M arvel ye then at this statement, 
SHAKIR: Do you then wonder at this announcement? 

053.060 
YUSUFALI: And will ye laugh and not weep,- 
PICKTHAL: And laugh and not weep, 
SHAKIR: And will you laugh and not weep? 

053.061 
YUSUFALI: Wasting your time in vanities? 
PICKTHAL: While ye amuse yourselves? 
SHAKIR: While you are indulging in varieties. 

053.62 
YUSUFALI: But fall ye down in prostration to Allah, and adore (Him)!
PICKTHAL: Rather prostrate yourselves before Allah and serve Him. 
SHAKIR: So make obeisance to Allah and serve (Him).

Actually, the Quran APPROVES music! THATS RIGHT:

039.075 
And thou wilt see the angels surrounding the Throne (Divine) on all sides, singing Glory and Praise to their Lord. The Decision between them (at Judgment) will be in (perfect) justice, and the cry (on all sides) will be, "Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds!" 
 
If music is so wrong, why do Allah's angels "sing" to the Almighty!

THE AHADITH ARE IN CONFLICT

Even the hadith collections are in conflict on this point:

Compare:

Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 69, Number 494v: 

Narrated Abu 'Amir or Abu Malik Al-Ash'ari: 
that he heard the Prophet 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. And there will be some people who will stay near the side of a mountain and in the evening their shepherd will come to them with their sheep and ask them for something, but they will say to him, 'Return to us tomorrow.' Allah will destroy them during the night and will let the mountain fall on them, and He will transform the rest of them into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Resurrection."

With:

Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 15, Number 72: 

Narrated Aisha: 
Abu Bakr came to my house while two small Ansari girls were singing beside me the stories of the Ansar concerning the Day of Buath. And they were not singers. Abu Bakr said protestingly, "Musical instruments of Satan in the house of Allah's Apostle !" It happened on the 'Id day and Allah's Apostle said, "O Abu Bakr! There is an 'Id for every nation and this is our 'Id." 

Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 268: 

Narrated Aisha: 
That once Abu Bakr came to her on the day of 'Id-ul-Fitr or 'Id ul Adha while the Prophet was with her and there were two girl singers with her, singing songs of the Ansar about the day of Buath. Abu Bakr said twice. "Musical instrument of Satan!" But the Prophet said, "Leave them Abu Bakr, for every nation has an 'Id (i.e. festival) and this day is our 'Id." 

Muslim, Book 004, Number 1938: 
 
'A'isha reported: Abu Bakr came to see me and I had two girls with me from among the girls of the Ansar and they were singing what the Ansar recited to one another at the Battle of Bu'ath. They were not, however, singing girls. Upon this Abu Bakr said: What I (the playing of) this wind instrument of Satan in the house of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) and this too on 'Id day? Upon this the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Abu Bakr, every people have a festival and it is our festival (so let them play on).

Muslim, Book 004, Number 1940: 

'A'isha reported that Abu Bakr came to her and there were with her two girls on Adha days who were singing and beating the tambourine and the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) had wrapped himself with his mantle. Abu Bakr scolded them. The Messenger of Allah (may peace he upon him) uncovered (his face) and said: Abu Bakr, leave them alone for these are the days of 'Id. And 'A'isha said: I recapitulate to my mind the fact that once the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) screened me with his mantle and I saw the sports of the Abyssinians, and I was only a girl, and so you can well imagine how a girl of tender age is fond of watching the sport.

Now if music and musical instruments are so bad, why did the Prophet (pbuh) tell Abu Bakr "Let the show go on!"?  

The "music prohibition" is yet another instance in which the Salafy have committed bidah by innovating prohibitions NOT FOUND IN THE QURAN!

Say, "Who prohibited the nice things God has created for His creatures, and the good provisions?" Say,"Such provisions are to be enjoyed in THIS life by those who BELIEVE. Moreover, the good provisions will be exclusively theirs on the Day of resurrection." We thus explain the revelations for people who know."  QURAN, 7:32

Say "Do you see that which God has provided for you, you make some of it Unlawful (Haram) and some of it Lawful (Halal)?" Say "Did God allow you to do this? Or do you tell lies about God?" 
QURAN, 10:59

The "music prohibition" is a fiction, that finds scant support even in the various ahadith collections.

If the Salafys want to abstain from music, they are free to do so. But don't tell the rest of Islam that "music prohibition" is THE WORD OF ALLAH! It Isn't!


Conclusion:


Music is not prohibited in Islam.  Allah Almighty in the Noble Quran allowed music and inspired it upon David peace be upon him. Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him didn't prohibit music unless it was used for sinful activities.  Otherwise, music is allowed.  It's been proven by science that music relaxes the mind and helps the person to gain energy and refresh himself.   Most production plants in the industrial countries allow their workers to play music while working to helping them gain more energy. 

Allah Almighty created music so we can use it in a positive and Islamic way to help us ease some of the burden of life from us.  Even animals enjoy good music.  In the Middle East, some people have their horses dance beautiful dances on music in many of the rural areas while they're celebrating.  
 

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