Islamic Law regarding Music

Source of “Law” in Islam

The “LAW” (Hukum/Rulings) was revealed to Moses in the Torah, fulfilled by Jesus, and finally, reconfirmed in the Quran. Muslims are not allowed to invent any laws other than what is mentioned in the Quran.

Examples:

  • Prohibition of Murder:
    “Whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely.” (Quran 5:32)
  • Prohibition of Intoxicants & Gambling:
    “They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: In both of them there is a great sin and a little profit for men, but their sin is greater than their profit.” (Quran 2:219)
  • Prohibitions in Marriages:
    “Prohibited to you [for marriage] are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father’s sisters, your mother’s sisters, your brother’s daughters, your sister’s daughters, your [milk] mothers who nursed you, your sisters through nursing, your wives’ mothers, and your step-daughters under your guardianship [born] of your wives unto whom you have gone in. But if you have not gone in unto them, there is no sin upon you. And [also prohibited are] the wives of your sons who are from your [own] loins, and that you take [in marriage] two sisters simultaneously, except for what has already occurred. Indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.” (Quran 4:23)
  • Dietary Prohibitions:
    “He has only forbidden to you decaying flesh of dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah . But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Quran 2:173)

Music in the Quran vs Hadiths

Unlike Hadiths, the Quran doesn’t forbid Music. Therefore, to classify music as haram (forbidden) would be considered “Bid’ah” (alteration/modification/innovation) of the religion.

Misconceptions

Muslims believe that the Quran condemns music in it’s 31st Surah, Luqman Verse 6 translated by Muhsin Khan:

“And of mankind is he who purchases idle talks (i.e.music, singing, etc.) to mislead (men) from the Path of Allah without knowledge, and takes it (the Path of Allah, the Verses of the Quran) by way of mockery. For such there will be a humiliating torment (in the Hell-fire).”

The first thing to notice here is that “idle talks” is explained by the translator as “Music, Singing etc.”. Where as the literal translation for “idle talks” would be “sayings” or “stories”. The literal meaning of the word “Hadith” is “Statement, Talk, Story, Conversation or Communication”

Secondly, we can also refer to other translations of the same verse where music is not mentioned:

“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.” (Sahih International)

“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.” (Pickthall)

“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.” (Yusuf Ali)

“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.” (Shakir)

“And of mankind are (they) who trade diverting discourse to lead into error away from the way of Allah without knowledge, and to take it to themselves in mockery; those will have a degrading torment.” (Dr. Ghali)

Considerations

  • Why do we sing our Call for Prayer?
  • Why do we sing the verses of the Quran instead of simply reading them?
  • Why do the Jews and Christians sing the praises of God as a part of their worship?
  • Why do people in most Arab/Muslim countries spend particular nights singing Nasheed?
  • Why did Prophet David play the Harp?
    Why did God ask Prophet David to sing?
    “We bestowed Grace aforetime on David from ourselves: “O ye Mountains! Sing ye back the Praises of God with him! and ye birds (also)!” (Quran 34:10)

Music in Islamic Culture

 

Islamic Music in non-Muslim culture

 
National Taiwan University Chorus
National Lutheran Choir
French Canadian Choir
High Point University
Ragazzi Boys, San Mateo, California.
Colorado State University
Our Saviour's Atonement Lutheran Church
pourChœur

 

God knows best.