Quran An Sunnah Society

Duff: A musical instrument similar to a tambourine, though it has no bells or cymbals

Singing accompanied by the beating of duff is an approved type of lahw (vanity) for WOMEN during the Eid. Aa’ishah (raa) said: “Allaah’s Messenger (saws) entered (my house) when I had two little girls singing the songs of Bu`aath (Pre-Islaamic war lore) and beating on a duff; so he lay down on the bed and turned his face away. Then Abu Bakr came in and scolded me saying, ‘The flutes of Shaytaan (the Devil) played in the presence of Allaah’s Messenger?’ So Allaah’s Messenger (saws) turned toward him and said, Leave them alone, O Abu Bakr! Every people have an Eid, and this is our Eid.” (Al-Bukhaaree, Muslim, Amad, and Ibn Maajah)


After Abu Bakr (raa) left this situation Umar (raa) arrived and the girls ran away. Upon the children running away the Prophet (saws) said that shaytan always runs when Umar enters the room. Of course the two little girls were not Shaytan. Therefore once again this proves that musical instruments are Shaytan (including the duff)!

Al-Baghawee commented on this hadeeth by saying: “Bu’aath is a famous battle of the Arabs, in which there was a great victory for the Aws over the Khazraj. The war between the two tribes went on for one hundred and twenty years – until Islaam came. The two girls were singing poetry that described fighting and courage, the mention of which is supportive to the Deen.

But as for songs that involve mentioning sins, announcing prohibited matters, and displaying evil deeds – it is all prohibited. And it is impossible that anything like that would ever take place in the Prophet’s (saws) presence without him objecting adamantly to it.

And as for his saying this is our Eid, it provides the reason for displaying joy in the two Eids as being a symbol of the Deen, because they are different from other days.” (Sharh us-Sunnah 4:322)

From this hadeeth, and other subsequent evidence, it is important to note the following:

A. The Prophet (saws) did NOT object to Abu Bakr’s statement that THE DUFF, BEING A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT, IS A FLUTE OF SHAYTAAN. This is taken as an approval from him (saws) of this general rule, which conforms with other authentic evidence prohibiting the use of musical instruments (including the duff).

B. He (saws) modified Abu Bakr’s (raa) understanding by indicating that there is an exception to this general rule on specific occasions.

C. The occasions in which Islaam permits WOMEN (not men) to beat on the duff are the following:

1. The two Eids,

2. weddings, and

3. to celebrate the arrival from travel of a respected individual. The evidence for the third kind is the hadeeth about the woman who came to Allaah’s Messenger (saws) and said, “O Allaah’s Messenger, I have made a vow, if Allaah brought you back safe, to beat the duff over your head.” Allaah’s Messenger (saws) sat down and said, Fulfill your vow! [Recorded by Abu Daawood from the way of `Abdullaah Bin `Amr (raa); authenticated by al-Albaanee in Irwaa’ ul-Ghaleel. It was also narrated, with more details, by Buraydah (raa) and recorded by at-Tirmithee.]

D. On these occasions, HEARING the beating (not beating themselves) of duff is permitted for men, for Allaah’s Messenger (saws) did so and approved of it, as is seen in the above hadeeth. However, it is NOT permissible for men to listen to women’s singing, because this is a unjustifiable source of great fitnah. The Prophet’s (saws) listening to two little girls does not constitute an evidence in this regard.

E. Because of the general texts prohibiting the use of musical instruments in general, the only musical instrument that the WOMEN (not men) are permitted to use is the duff; deriving any analogy from this to other instruments is wrong, and is in clear violation of simple principles of fiqh and reason.

F. This privilege of using the duff is NOT GRANTED TO MEN ON ANY OCCASION – as will be discussed below.

G. The permission given to sing during the Eids applies only to acceptable poetry that encourages good deeds and behavior. It cannot be extended to the songs calling to sins and disobedience, as is common in many cultures (see the earlier citation from al-Baghawee).

As indicated above, there are NO REPORTS that the male companions beat on the duff. Thus, beating on the duff is allowed for WOMEN (not men) because it is typical of them, and Allaah’s Messenger permitted them to do it, but he (saws) forbade men’s imitation of women and vice-versa. This view is upheld by the majority of the scholars; for instance, Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (raa) said: “The Prophet (saws) permitted some types of rejoicing on the occasion of weddings and their like. He permitted the WOMEN (not men), as well, to beat the duff during weddings and festivities. As for the men, during his time, not one of them would beat the duff nor clap their hands. Rather it is confirmed in the Two Saheehs that He (saws) said: “Clapping the hands is for WOMEN (not men); and raising the voice with tasbeeh [Saying subhaanallaah (may Allaah (swt) be exalted)] is for men.

And: Allaah (swt) curses those men who imitate women, and those woman who imitate men.

And singing and beating the duff are of the acts typical of women. Because of this, the righteous pious predecessors labeled the man who did that, effeminate.” (Majmoo` ul-Fataawee 11:565)

And Ibn Qudmah (raa) said: “As for beating it (the duff) for men, it is makruh (A hateful act) in ALL situations. It as only done by WOMEN (not men); and if men do it, they would be imitating the women; and the Prophet (saws) has cursed those men who imitate the women.” (Al-Mughnee 9:17)

Ibn Hajar al-Haythamee, commenting on Ibn Qudaamah’s words, said: “It is obvious that his words mean its prohibition (for men).” (Kaff ur-Ru`aa` 35)

And Ibn ajar al-Asqalaanee said: “The hadeeth that says, ‘Announce (masculine plural command) the weddings and beat (masculine plural command) the duff for it,’ is used by some people as an evidence that beating the duff is not specific to women. However, this hadeeth is unauthentic; and the authentic hadeeths (in this regard) give that permission to do that for women. Men cannot be included in that because of the general prohibition for men to imitate them.” (Fat ul-Baaree 9:226)

Al-Mubarakpuree (raa) agreed with this statement from Ibn Hajar, and he added: “The fuqahaa’ (scholars) have said that the duff is that which has no bells, as Ibn al-Hammaam mentioned… Likewise, the permissible singing during weddings is specific to WOMEN; it is NOT allowed for men.” (Tuhfat ul-Awathee 4:210)

And Ibn Katheer (raa) said: “… Nothing is excluded from that prohibition of musical instruments, except beating the duff for the young girls – during Eid days, at the arrival of a respected individual from travel, and during weddings – as has been indicated in the hadeeths, and as has been established in various places. And permitting that in SOME situations does NOT lead to permitting it in ALL situations.” (Commentary on Ibn ul-Qayyim’s book, “Al-Kalaamu fee Mas’alat is-Samaa`”)

Common in our times are the ugly scenes prophesied by Allaah’s Messenger (saws) in which men and women gather to entertain themselves with musical instruments and other prohibited acts. (Al-Bukhaaree, Abu Daawood, al-Bayhaqee and others)

May Allaah (SWT) guide the Muslims to what is good for them in both lives. Ameen!



Author Unknown

The Prohibition

The Noble Qur’an – Luqman 31:6 “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 Qur’an) by way of mockery. For such there will be a humiliating torment (in the Hell-Fire).”

Ibn Masood (ra) said about this verse “I swear by the One other than Whom there is no God that it refers to singing [ghinaa].”, and he repeated this three times. Ibn Abbaas (ra) said it refered to ‘singing and the like’ while Jaabir (ra) is reported to view its meaning to signify singing and listening to songs. Many taabi’oon such as Mujaahid, Ikrimah, Mak-hool and Umar ibn Shu’ayb viewed it as a censure of music and song.

Hadith – Bukhari (#787) [Also related by Tabari] Sa’id ibn Jbayr reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said about the verse: “And of mankind is he who purchases idle talks” (31:6), that, “ldle talks means singing and the like.”

The Noble Qur’an – Al-Isra 17:64 “And Istafiz [literally means: befool them gradually] those whom you can among them with your voice (i.e. songs, music, and other call for Allah’s disobedience)…”

Hadith – Bukhari 7:494 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 (from them), there will be some 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 Allah will transform the rest of them into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Resurrection.”

The Noble Qur’an – An-Najm 53:57-62 “The Day of Resurrection draws near, None besides Allah can avert it, (or advance it, or delay it). Do you then wonder at this recital (the Qur’an)? And you laugh at it and weep not, Wasting your (precious) lifetime in pastime and amusements (singing, etc.). So fall you down in prostration to Allah, and worship Him (Alone).

Use of a Simple Drum

Use of the “duff” (simple drum) is permitted in Islam for a practical purpose (such as establishing a simple beat for exercise, rowing, and other labors), but not to be done by a Muslim for entertainment or idleness. In such instances, it must not be played as music, such as by enhancing rhythm, whistling a tune and whatnot. Ibn al-Qayyim said in Ighaathat al-Lahfaan (1/256) that the prohibition against the use of instruments refers to “all kinds of things used for entertainment.”

According to the Sunnah, females can sing and beat the duff on the two ‘Eids (specific Muslim celebrations) and to announce a Muslim wedding amongst themselves, and their voices shouldn’t be raised loud enough or near enough to be heard by the men.

Poetry is also permitted, but it must not contain shirk (the major sin of associating a partner in worship with Allah, i.e. trinity, major or minor shirk, etc.).

The woman’s voice should not be used in an attractive way around non-mahram men and to them it must be limited to necessity (physical necessity such as asking for something at the store, not emotional ‘necessity’ such as social conversation). Men and women must not engage in idle or social conversations with non-mahrams (those not related as specified in The Quran). Muslim men should avoid listening to a non-related (i.e. non-mahram) female voice (such as pop singers, etc.) except when it is unavoidable or due to her speaking out of necessity and not socializing.

The Noble Qur’an – An-Najm 53:57-62 “The Prophet came to me after consumating his marriage with me and sat down on my bed as you (the sub-narrator) are sitting now, and small girls were beating the duff* and singing in lamentation of my father who had been killed on the day of the battle of Badr. Then one of the girls said, “There is a Prophet amongst us who knows what will happen tomorrow.” The Prophet (saws) said (to her),”Do not say this, but go on saying what you have spoken before.”

*duff /daff- a one-sided drum made of animal skin.

The Noble Qur’an – Al-Ahzab 33:32 “O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women. If you keep your duty (to Allâh), then be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy, or evil desire for adultery, etc.) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honourable manner.

Explanation from Sheikh Ibn Baz

Shaykh Ibn Baz (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 3/423-424: “Ma’aazif refers to singing and musical instruments. The Prophet (saws) told us that at the end of time there will come a people who will allow these things just as they will allow alcohol, zina and silk. This is one of the signs of his Prophethood, for all of this has happened. The hadeeth indicates that [musical instruments] are haram (prohibited), and condemns those who say they are halal (permissible), just as it condemns those who say that alcohol and zina are allowed. The aayaat and ahaadeeth that warn against singing and musical instruments are many indeed. Whoever claims that Allaah has allowed singing and musical instruments is lying and is committing a great evil. We ask Allaah to keep us from obeying our desires and the Shaytaan. Even worse and more seriously sinful than that are those who say it is mustahabb. Undoubtedly this stems from ignorance about Allaah and His Religion; it is insolent blasphemy against Allaah and lying about His Laws.

What is mustahabb (recommended) is to beat on the daff [simple hand drum] at weddings. This is mustahabb for women only, in order to announce the wedding and to distinguish it from fornication. There is nothing wrong with women singing amongst themselves, accompanied by the daff, so long as the songs contain no words that encourage evil or distract people from their duties. It is also a condition that this should take place among women only, and there should be no mixing with men. It should also not cause any annoyance or disturbance to neighbours. What some people do, of amplifying such singing with loudspeakers is evil, because of the disturbance it causes to other Muslims, neighbours and others. It is not permissible for women, in weddings or on other occasions, to use any instrument other than the daff, such as the oud, violin, rebab (stringed instrument) and so on. This is evil, and the only concession that women are given is that they may use the daff.

As for men, it is not permissible for them to play any kind of musical instrument, whether at weddings or on any other occasion. What Allaah has prescribed for men is training in the use of instruments of war, such as target practice or learning to ride horses and competing in that, using spears, shields, tanks, airplanes and other things such as cannons, machine guns, bombs and anything else that may help jihaad for the sake of Allaah.”

Hadith – Sunan of Abu Dawood, #4909, Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas’ud Salam ibn Miskin, quoting an old man who witnessed AbuWa’il in a wedding feast, said: They began to play, amuse and sing. He united the support of his hand round his knees that were drawn up, and said: I heard Abdullah (ibn Mas’ud) say: I heard the apostle of Allah (saws) say: Singing produces hypocrisy in the heart.

Intentions as it Relates to Hearing Music

Shaykh Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Concerning (music) which a person does not intend to listen to, there is no prohibition or blame, according to scholarly consensus. Hence blame or praise is connected to listening, not to hearing. The one who listens to the Qur’aan will be rewarded for it, whereas the one who hears it without intending or wanting to will not be rewarded for that, because actions are judged by intentions. The same applies to musical instruments which are forbidden: if a person hears them without intending to, that does not matter. (al-Majmoo’, 10/78).

Imaam Maalik (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about playing the drum or flute, if a person happens to hear the sound and enjoy it whilst he is walking or sitting. He said: He should get up if he finds that he enjoys it, unless he is sitting down for a need or is unable to get up. If he is on the road, he should either go back or move on. (al-Jaami’ by al-Qayrawaani, 262). He (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “The only people who do things like that, in our view, are faasiq’s.” (Tafseer al-Qurtubi, 14/55).

Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: It is not permissible to make musical instruments. (al-Majmoo’, 22/140). And he said: According to the majority of fuqahaa’, it is permissible to destroy musical instruments, such as the tanboor [a stringed instrument similar to a mandolin]. This is the view of Maalik and is the more famous of the two views narrated from Ahmad. (al-Majmoo’, 28/113). Ibn Abi Shaybah (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported that a man broke a mandolin belonging to another man, and the latter took his case to Shurayh. But Shurayh did not award him any compensation, i.e., he did not make the first man pay the cost of the mandolin, because it was haram and had no value. (al-Musannaf, 5/395).

A Haram (Prohibited) Profession

It is haram (prohibited) to be work as a salesperson in a store that sells musical instruments. It is permissible to sell an instrument for its parts, such as to have it melted down, etc. It is of course, as shown by the evidences above, haram to be a musician.

Al-Baghawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) stated in a fatwa that it is haram to sell all kinds of musical instruments such as mandolins, flutes, etc. Then he said: If the images are erased and the musical instruments are altered, then it is permissible to sell their parts, whether they are silver, iron, wood or whatever. (Sharh al-Sunnah, 8/28)

Effeminate Men

Shaykh Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The Prophet (saws) made allowances for certain types of musical instruments at weddings and the like, and he made allowances for women to play the daff at weddings and on other joyful occasions. But the men at his time did not play the daff or clap with their hands. It was narrated in al-Saheeh that he said: “Clapping is for women and tasbeeh (saying Subhaan Allaah) is for men.” And he cursed women who imitate men and men who imitate women.

Because singing and playing the daff are things that women do, the Salaf (men of the far past) used to call any man who did that a mukhannath (effeminate man), and they used to call male singers effeminate – and how many of them there are nowadays! It is well known that the Salaf said this.



Author Unknown

The legality of music and singing in the Shari’ah (The Islamic Law) is a topic which is hotly debated amongst individuals and and the scholars of our present day. Much has been written both pro and con regarding the legality of music and singing, clouding the issue, and creating confusion where there should be none.

The sources of Islam, the Qur’an and Sunnah, as well as the rulings of the Sahaba (Companions of the Prophet (saws)), the Tabi’in (the generation that followed the sahaba and learned from them), and Imams Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafi’i, and Ibn Hanbal are unanimous in their verdicts, that music and singing, with certain limited exceptions, is haraam.

Let us examine the daleel (evidence or proof) for this fatwa (verdict):

1) The Holy Qur’an: In his tafseer(Qur’anic exegesis), Imam Al-Qurtubi mentions that there are three verses in the Qur’an which have been used by the Ulamaa (body of Islamic scholars) as proof for the contempt for and prohibition of music and singing. they are:

A) Allah addresses the disbelievers of the Quraysh as follows, “Do you marvel at this statement, and laugh and do not weep, while you amuse youselves (proudly) in vanities? Rather, prostrate before Allah and worship Him.” (53:59-62) The important phrase is Allah’s saying, “wa antum saamidoon” (while you amuse yourselves (proudly) in vanities). Due to the root samada having variant meanings in the Arabic language, the scholars differ regarding the meaning of this phrase. As a result, different interpretations are given by commentators on the Qur’an, such as the sahaba, tabi’in, and later scholars of tafseer.

Al-Qurtubi refers to the various derived meanings mentioned by linguists. Among the meanings understood from the root samada is the raising of one’s head in pride or distain. When conjugated, the noun form sumood means leisure or idle play, while saamid (the doer of the action) means one who plays with musical instruments, and other objects of play. It is said to the singing girl, “Asmideena!” (amuse us with your singing!).

At-Tabari mentions in detail the various narrations of the sahaba and tabi’in regarding this verse. According to Ibn Abbas, the word samidoon in this verse refers to the mushrikeen’s(idol worshippers’) habit of singing and playing music loudly whenever they heard the Qur’an being recited, in order to drown out the reciter’s voice so as to prevent the Word of Allah from being heard. Ibn Abbas also indicated a second, more general meaning for the word samidoon; namely that they were making jokes, and amusing themselves playing and making light of the affair. A third meaning given by Ibn Abbas was that they held up their heads in distainful pride. These same opinions have been reiterated by various tabi’in. Al-Hasan is reported to have said that samidoon is the mushrikeen’s being inattentive and negligent. Mujahid states that it indicates their extreme anger or rage.

Clearly the term samidoon has a number of possible meanings. These meanings are by no means contradictory. Indeed, it is most likely that the term is a comprehensive description of the different reactions amongst the mushrikeen upon hearing the verses of the Qur’an being recited. However, it must be said, that when a Qur’anic verse yields numerous possible meanings, and we have no clear, sahih(authentic) report from the Prophet (saws)defining it in a strict sense, then such a verse cannot be used as decisive proof of the prohibition of music and singing. Rather, further evidence from the Qur’an or the Sunnah is required.

B) Allah (swt) addresses satan thus; “And excite any of them whom you can with your voice. Assault them with your cavalry and infantry, be a partner with them in their wealth and children, and make them promises. But satan promises nothing but deceit” (17:64)

Numerous commentators from the tabi’in, such as Mujahid and Ad-Dahhak, interpreted satan’s exciting mankind with his voice to mean through the use of music, song, and amusement. However, according to Ibn Abbas, the voice mentioned in the verse refers to any form of invitation which calls to disobedience to Allah. At-Tabari says; “The most correct of these views expresses that verily, Allah, the Blessed, the Exalted said to Iblees(satan), “Excite whomsoever of Adam’s progeny you can with your voice” and He did not specify any particular type of voice. Thus, every voice which is not an invitation to Allah’s worship and His obedience is included in the meaning of “satan’s voice” which is referred to in the Qur’anic verse.”

In conclusion, this verse, like the one preceding, is too general in meaning to be explicit and unequivocal proof of the illegality of music and singing, except in the case that such music invites or leads to disobedience of Allah. Therefore, we must have other, unambiguous texts which clearly show music and singing to be intrinsically prohibited, and not due to some outside variable.

C) The third verse, and the one most often referred to as evidence of the prohibition of music and singing is found is Sura Luqman. “And there are among men those who purchase idle talk in order to mislead others from Allah’s path without knowledge, and those who throw ridicule upon it. For such there will be a humiliating punishment.” (31:6) Ibn Jareer At-Tabari mentions in Jami’ul Bayaan, that the interpreters of the Qur’an differ as to the above of the term “lahwal hadeeth” (idle talk) as it occurs in the verse above. Their views regarding the meaning fit into three categories.

The first category defines “lahwal hadeeth” as (a) singing and listening to songs, (b) the hiring of professional male or female singers, (c) the purchase of musical instruments. The elements of this category revolve around reference to the blameworthy usage of instruments of idle amusement, i.e. music and song. This view was held by a number of Sahaba, including Ibn Abbas, Jaabir, and Ibn Masood. Ibn Masood said of this verse, “I swear by the One other than Whom there is no god that it refers to singing(ghinaa): He repeated this three times to emphasize his point. Ibn Abbas said that it referred to “singing and the like.” while Jaabir said it referred to singing and listening to songs. This general view pointing to censure of music and song was also reported from a great number of tabi’in, Ikramah, Mujahid, Mak-hool, and Umar ibn Shuayb, to name a few. The second category of interpretation consists of the idea that “lahwal hadeeth” refers to conversation inviting to or consisting of shirk(polytheism). This was the view of a few of the tafseer scholars amongst the tabi’in, such as Ad-Dahhak.

The third category conveys the meaning of all false talk, actions, or deeds, whose nature it is to divert peoplefrom Allah’s path and from His worship and remembrance. For example, Al Aloosi relates that Al-Hassan al-Basri was reported as saying “Lahwal hadeeth includes everything which distracts one from the worship and the remembrance of Allah, such as whiling away the night in idle conversation or entertainment, jokes, superstitious tales, songs, and the like.” Al-Aloosi supports this, saying that the verse should be interpreted to include all such blameworthy deeds which divert one from Allah’s path. This is the preferred opinion on this.

From what has preceded, it is to be understood that a specific or exclusive meaning such as singing or shirk cannot be proven. Rather, the verse is inclusive and should be interpreted as referring to anything which diverts one from Allah’s path. Music, singing, and the like, (since they occupy people’s time and attention, and distract them from Allah’s worship and remembrance and invite them to his disobedience) no doubt fall under the general censure, blame, and rebuke cast upon those things which fall into this category. However, this verse also is not explicit in it’s prohibition, but rather is conditional and incidental, as stated above. Thus, the issue requires other external proofs which are both clear and categorical, so as not to leave a trace of doubt in the mind of the conscientious truth-seeking believer. For this purpose, we turn to the second source of the Shari’ah, the Sunnah of the Prophet (saws).

1) “The Prophet (saws) said, “There will be (at some future time) people from my ummah (community of muslims) who will seek to make lawful: fornication, the wearing of silk(by men), wine-drinking, and the use of musical instruments(ma’azif). Some people will stay at the side of a mountain and when their shepherd comes in the evening to ask them for his needs, they will say, ‘return to us tomorrow’. Then Allah will destroy them during the night by causing the mountain to fall on them, while he changes others into apes and swine. They will remain in such a state until the Day of Resurrection.(related by Imam Al-Bukhari in Fat-hul Baari, graded sahih)

2) “The Messenger of Allah said, “A people of my ummah will drink wine, calling it by another name. Merriment will be made for them through the playing of musical instruments and the singing of lady singers. Allah will cleave the earth under them and turn others into apes and swine.” (related by Imam Ibn Majah in Kitabul Fitan, also related by Al-Bayhaqi and Ibn Asakir, graded sahih)

3) “Allah’s Messenger said, “Verily Allah has prohibited for my ummah; wine, gambling, a drink distilled from corn, the drum and the lute, while He has supplemented me with another prayer, the witr.” (related by Ahmad ibn Hanbal in his Musnad, also related by Al-Bayhaqi, graded sahih. it is also narrated by At-Tabarani with a hasan chain.)

4) Upon finding his infant son, Ibrahim, in the throes of death, the Prophet (saws)took his son in his arms, and held him until his spirit left him. Then he put him down and wept. His companion, Abdurrahman ibn Awf asked in astonishment, “You are weeping, O messenger of Allah, while you prohibit crying?” The following was the reply of the Prophet (saws). “Verily I did not prohibit weeping (per se), but rather, I forbade two voices that are imbecilic(ahmaq) and sinfully shameless. One, a voice singing to the accompaniment of musical amusement and satan’s instruments; the other, a voice [wailing] due to some calamity accompanied by striking of the face and the tearing of garments. But this [weeping of mine] stems from compassion, and whoever does not show compassion will not receive it.” (related by Al-Hakim, graded hasan)

5) Anas ibn Malik related from the Prophet (saws)that, “two cursed sounds are that of the musical instrument(mizmaar) played on the occasion of joy and grace, and the woeful wailing upon the occasion of adversity.” (related by Ash-Shafi’i, Al-Bazzaar, and Al-Haythami, graded sahih) These narrations taken together prove the illegality of music and singing to musical accompaniment. The traditions quoted are not the only available authentic hadith regading this subject which establish prohibition, however, the sample above is sufficient proof, for, “Verily therein is a reminder for any who has a heart or who gives ear and earnestly witnesses [the truth]” (50:37) In order to further strengthen the view regarding prohibition previously established, I will relate the opinions of the Sahaba, Tabi’in, and the fou r Imams (Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafi’i, and Ibn Hanbal, who founded the four schools of jurisprudence).

Amongst the companions, there is no difference of opinion regarding music and singing. Ibn Masood said that music and singing “Sprout hypocrisy in the heart as rain sprouts herbs and greens.” Also, Ibn Masood said, as related earlier, regarding verse 31:6, “I swear by Him besides Whom there is no god, it refers to singing.” This same view was held by the rightly guided caliphs, the fuqahaa amongst the sahaba such as ibn Abbas, Ibn Umar and Jaabir ibn Abdullah, as well as the general body of sahaba. The prohibition of music was also the unanimous opinion of the tabi’in, including scholars like Mujahid, Ikrimah, An-Nakha’i, and Al-Hasan Al-Basri. Imam Abu Hanifa detested singing and considered it sinful. His students have confirmed the explicit prohibition of listening to all musical instruments and pastimes. Indeed, according to the Hanafi school, the testimony of one known to listen to music is to be rejected. Imam Malik was asked about singing(ghinaa). He replied, “In fact, it is done by the sinful ones. Al-Qurtubi confirmed Malik’s view by saying that the only exception to this general ruling was the type of innocent songs sung to placate the camels during travel, or during hard labor or boredom, or during times of festivity and joy, such as Eids and weddings, without musical accompaniment, or with only the daff (a small hand drum). Al-Qurtubi then said, “as for that which is done in our day, by way of the blameworthy innovations of the sufi mystics in their addiction to hearing songs to the accompaniment of melodious instruments such as flutes, string instruments, etc. such is haraam.” In his book Adaabul Qada, Imam Shafi’i says, “verily song is loathsome; it resembles the vain and false thing. The one who partakes of it frequently is an incompetent fool whose testimony is to be rejected.” One of Shafi’i’s students, Al Haarith Al Muhaasibi said, “Song is haraam, just as maytah(the flesh of something that dies of it’s own) is.” Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal said, “Singing sprouts hypocrisy in the heart. It does not please me.” When told that singing “sensitizes and softens the heart.” Imam Ahmad said, “it is a bid’ah(blameworthy innovation).” Yaqoob Al-Haashimi relates that Imam Ahmad despised At-Taghyeer(an affected, throbbing and melodious style of poetry) and prohibited listening to it.

Having established the prohibition of music and singing to accompaniment, it is necessary to note that there are several exceptions to the general prohibition on singing. In the balanced Islamic way of life, there is room for amusement, merriment, and sport, as these are natural yearnings of the human soul. Islam provides for healthy, decorous amusement and sport which are free from the sin and evil generated by the prohibited forms. Occasions in which innocent singing, unaccompanied by musical instruments other than the daff(small hand drum) is permissible are specified in the Sunnah. These are: 1) Jihaad. During jihad and other struggles in the way of Allah, battle songs are of great moral and spiritual benefit to the fighters. In these circumstances, song incites courage and valor and excites the muslim people to take up arms for the cause of Allah, so that His Word may be raised up, and the word of the disbelievers be relegated to the depths. The Prophet (saws) and certain of his companions occasionally resorted to this method to rouse the spirits of the muhajideen(those who fight for Allah’s sake) before or on the way to combat. The text of the following hadith clearly relates this: Al Baara reported that Allah’s Messenger (saws) carried earth on the Day of Al-Khandaq (the day before the battle of the trench) until his stomach was covered in dust, while he chanted these verses: “By Allah, if not for Him we never would be guided, nor have been charitable, nor have prayed. So send down peace and tranquility upon us, and make the feet firm if we meet [our enemy]. Verily the others rebelled against us. When they desired discord [fitnah], we refused, we refused.” The Prophet (saws)raised his voice with the refrain, “we refused, we refused.”(Bukhari and Muslim, graded sahih) 2) The two Eid festivals. During the days of festivity which mark the celebration of the eids, innocent singing and beating on the daff as a rythmical accompaniment is permissible as indicated by a number of authentic hadith, such as the following: Ayeshah said, “Allah’s Messenger entered into my presence while two young girls were singing the songs of Bu’aath(songs commemorating a particular battle), whereupon he laid down and turned his face away. Abu Bakr entered and scolded me saying, “The flute of satan in front of the Prophet?” Allah’s Messenger turned to Abu Bakr saying “Leave them be.” Ayeshah continued, “When the Prophet (saws)dozed off, I signaled to them and they left.” In another narration, Ayeshah mentioned that her father came to her during the days of Mina. There were two young girls with her, beating on the daff, while the Prophet (saws)was covered with his cloth. then Abu Bakr began scolding the girls, whereupon the Prophet (saws)disclosed his face [from under the cloth] and said, “leave them, Abu Bakr, for these are the days of the Eid festival.” (Bukhari, graded sahih) 3) Wedding feasts. Similarly, it is permissible for women and girls to sing and beat the daff during the wedding feast. Such songs must not describe love or acts of immorality. Singing and beating upon the daff serves to proclaim the occasion of the wedding and brings joy the the guests. This permission is found in hadith such as the following: Ayeshah reported that a woman was given in marriage to a man of the ansar. The Prophet (saws)said, “O Ayeshah, did you send a young girl with the bride to beat upon the daff and sing?” she replied, “what should she say in her song?” He replied, “let her say, ‘To you we have come, to you we have come! So welcome us, as we welcome you!”(At-Tabarani, graded sahih) 4) Other occasions agreed upon by the scholars. Other occasions during which innocent singing is permitted is mentioned by the scholars. For example, to give one strength when carrying heavy loads, or doing monotonous, laborious work, pure songs with clean lyrics may be sung individually or in chorus, as was done by the Prophet (saws)and his companions in digging the trench around Madinah. During long journeys, one may sing or chant rythmically to relieve boredom and quicken the animal’s pace, as was done by the Prophets (saws) camel driver, Anjashah. In addition to this, innocent singing to one’s self during loneliness or boredom is allowed, as is the singing of a parent to an infant or small child, in order to amuse it or quiet it or put it to sleep. In conclusion, songs whose lyrics heighten spiritual consciousness and encourage people to pious works such as jihad, charity, prayer, etc. are all praiseworthy, but should be resorted to in moderation, on appropriate occasions, and with proper decorum.

My dear brothers and sisters, it is clear that the use of all musical instruments is haraam. This ruling is arrived at through the analysis of the texts of the sahih ahadith narrated by Al-Bukhari and Ibn Majah, in which the word al-ma’azif (musical instruments) occurs. Since the wording of the text is general, it’s directive encompasses all types of musical instruments except the daff, whose permissible use is a specification of the general text, or an exception to the general ruling. As for singing, the sunnah clearly designates the general prohibition on singing under certain circumstances. The hadith found in al-Hakim describes the singing voice coupled with music as imbecilic and sinful. Naturally, singing coupled with music is forbidden, since music is forbidden. As for innocent singing accompanied by the daff, this has been allowed on specific occasions. Singing without accompaniment is permitted under certain circumstances and with conditions. The lyrics of the songs must be pure and innocent, and must keep within the moral bounds set by Islamic teachings. Hence, lyrics which are erotic, or sung in a licentious manner are undoubtedly forbidden. Singing by women is restricted to a female audience, so as not to excite sexual feelings in the male listener. Generally speaking, these songs should be pure and innocent, although they need not be restricted to Islamic themes. They may express simple joys, wisdom, etc. or the lyrics may commemorate historic events such as battles, etc. Among the best songs are those which encourage piety throught good deeds done for the sake of Allah.



By Shaykh Al ‘Allaamah Saaleh al Fawzaan

Translated by Zulfiker Ibrahim Almemoni Alatharee

Taken from Majallatut-Da’wah No: 1632. 7th Dhul-Qa’dah 1418 A.H. Corresponding to 5th March 1998


Question: A considerable amount of discussion has taken place with regards to ‘Islaamic Nasheeds’; some have given a formal, legal opinion of it being permissible, whilst others hold them to be an alternative to music. What is your opinion with regards to the above, your eminence?

Answer: The phrase ‘Islaamic Nasheeds’ is incorrect, because it is a newly invented phrase. Hence, for this reason there are no such things [known as] ‘Islaamic Nasheeds’ in the books of the pious predecessors, and from the rulings of those who are considered and relied upon to be from amongst the people of knowledge. Rather what is well known is that the Sufis [1] are the ones who have accommodated and incorporated these ‘Islaamic Nasheeds’ into their Deen, and they name this Deen of theirs as (ÇáÓãÇÚ) ‘As Samaa’[2]. In this day and age, when different parties & groups have arisen and increased, this has resulted in all these groups & parties adopting their own fanatical zealous anthems which they have named as ‘Islaamic Nasheeds’. This labelling of ‘Islaamic Nasheeds’ has no authenticity or soundness [in our Deen]. Therefore, it is not permissible to accept these Nasheeds or to circulate and promote them amongst the people.

Allaah is the possessor of all prosperity & success.

[1] For a detailed case study on the history of Sufism & their heretic beliefs refer to the English translation of the book ‘The reality of Sufism’ by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Rabee’ ibn Haadee Almadhkhalee, published by Alhidaayah, Birmingham, U.K. [TN]

[2] A gathering of Sufis who listen & chant songs [with music] about Allaah, [TN]

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