Daily Archives: Kamis, 4 September 2008

Music in Islam

pic of a daf (left)


This article is taken from A. Rahman Shad’s Al-Halal Wal-Haram. The book covers various and broad topics of Islam’s do’s and don’ts. Since the book is written in English, I would prefer summarising it to translating it to make it easier for me. So, for this article and for the next three articles I would like to present topics from this book with possible patches from various sources. In this today’s article I select the topic on music in Islam. Okay, let’s get down to the core:


Some people become musicians to earn their living. There is a great difference of opinion amongst the principal jurists regarding the legality of music in Islam. Imam Malik holds it unlawful whereas Imam Shafi’i and Abu Hanifa maintained that it is ABOMINABLE. The right decision on this matter is that song itself is LAWFUL but it becomes unlawful or abominable according to its contents and motives. Warsong is unanimously lawful because it excites heroism and valour in the minds of the warriors striving in the way of Allah. The warsongs are likely to be in praise of Allah. A religious song is also lawful since a religious song is also in praise of Allah. And of course, religious songs in praise of Allah are always lawful. It is an admitted fact that song is one of the best ways to stir up the heart and set it in motion in the path of love of Allah. It is said in this book too that it is lawful to sing mourning songs by way of repentance over sins committed by one but it is quite UNLAWFUL to sing mourning songs in the memory of the deceased relatives or friends that expired in the past because mourning for the dead according to Islam is only allowed for three days and no more! It is lawful to sing decent and joyful songs on marriages and festivals of Ids. The beating of daf (a middle eastern percussion – YNK ) is also allowed.

It is reported on the authority of A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) that Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) came to her when there were two girls near her in the days of Mina. They were beating daf. And they were singing on the Day of Bu’ath (Bu’ath is the battle between two pagan tribes in Yathrib/Madina, please double check it in case that I’m mistaken – YNK ). The prophet (Peace be upon him) was lying covered with his cloth. Abu bakar (Allah be pleased with him) suddenly came and threatened them. Then the prophet (peace be upon him) uncovered his face and said: Leave them, O’ Abu Bakr! These are the days of festival.



Now from the text, we know that music is basically lawful in Islam. But the intention of the lyrics itself that decides whether it is lawful (halal) or unlawful (haram). But for me things remain unanswered: What if we like a Russian song (for instance). We don’t understand the lyrics and the lyrics happen to be lewd or indecent. Do we sin from listening to it?? And what if the song is in English, we truly understand the lyrics which are something indecent, yet we listen to it, but we are attracted to the music not to the lyrics. Do we sin from it??

Despite an English article, comments in Bahasa Indonesia are indeed welcome. And in spite of broad and vast answers will flow in and censorship has never been attributable to this blog, friendly comments are preferred to the spirit of Ramadan. 🙂