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IslamQA: Listening to Music is Permissible in Islam

Is music really haram? I'm not talking about the Rihannas "Wild Thoughts" kind of music, more of peaceful piano, flute, violin, ancient music. The kind of music that doesn't give off sexual vibe and stuff, but the music that adheres peace, you know?

[Below is a quick survey of opinions on this matter gleaned from Arabic-language sources. I may eventually write out a full essay on this, although it is not one of my topics of interest, since the permissibility of music is such an obvious thing that it is almost not worth talking about.]

It is mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet tolerated musical instruments played by some girls and did not prohibit them.

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 Messenger (ﷺ) !" It happened on the `Id day and Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "O Abu Bakr! There is an `Id for every nation and this is our `Id."

Sahih al-Bukhari 952

The musical instrument referred to here is the daff (tambourine) according to other narrations:

This hadith has been narrated by Hisham with the same chain of transmitters, but there the words are:

" Two girls were playing upon a tambourine."

(Sahih Muslim 892 b)

There is also no evidence from hadith that the Prophet ever issued a statement prohibiting musical instruments. The following hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari has been used to argue that musical instruments are forbidden in Islam:

Narrated Abu 'Amir or Abu Malik Al-Ash'ari:

that he heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying, "From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, khazz (a type of clothing), 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."

(Sahih al-Bukhari 5590)

That hadith comes from an extremely precarious chain (it has no supporting chains), so it has no power to override other hadiths that mention the Prophet tolerating musical instruments. This hadith is easily one of the lowest-quality hadiths mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari. It is strange that Imam al-Bukhari chose to include it. It seems almost certain that he recognized its low quality but included it for polemical reasons (because he himself believed music to be haram).

In order for a hadith to prove a point beyond reasonable doubt, it should come to us in the form of a binary tree chain, as follows:

But al-Bukhari 5590 comes to us like this (the reds indicate missing transmitters, I did not fill in all the missing transmitters because the diagram would have become very large, there are 120 missing transmitters and only 6 existing transmitters):

When the missing transmitters far outnumber the existing transmitters, this is strong reason to doubt the authenticity of a hadith.

Another reason for considering the hadith unreliable is that it mentions khazz (a kind of clothing) among the things that misguided Muslims will consider halal. Imam Abu Dawud says regarding this clothing:

Twenty Companions of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) or more put on khazz. Anas and al-Bara' b. 'Azib were among them. (Sunan Abi Dawud 4039)

This strongly suggests the hadith is fabricated since the evidence from the Companions tells us this clothing is halal, while the hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari says misguided Muslims will wear it.1

All in all, the hadith is unworthy of being in Sahih al-Bukhari and its doubtfulness means that it cannot be used as a basis for any argument against music. The evidence for the Prophet’s toleration of music is much stronger, so that evidence must be given preference over this strange hadith.

Many Islamic scholars reject the idea that music is prohibited. The scholar Ibn Hazm (d. 1064 CE, creator of the “fifth” school of Islamic jurisprudence) considers every hadith that has been used to make music haram fabricated, and considers listening to music the same as taking joy from a nature walk.

The scholar al-Shashi (d. 976 CE) says that Imam Malik permitted music. Imam al-Shafi`i says that there is no clear evidence to prohibit music.

The scholar al-Mawardi (d. 1058 CE) says that Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik and al-Shafi`i did not prohibit music.

The respected theologians Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, Ibn Daqeeq, Izz al-Din ibn Abd al-Salam (famous Shafi`ite scholar, known as the Sultan of Scholars in his time, d. 1262 CE), Abdul Ghani al-Nablusi, Ibn Qutaybah, al-Maqdisi, al-Dhahabi, Abu Talib al-Makki, Ibn al-Arabi al-Maliki and Imam al-Shawkani consider music permissible.

Among modern scholars who reject the prohibition on music are the Azhar scholars Muhammad al-Ghazali and Yusuf al-Qaradhawi, Hasan al-Attar, Mahmud Shaltoot, Ali al-Tantawi and Muhammad Rashid Ridha.

For a very detailed discussion of the relevant evidence on both sides of the debate, see the following (Arabic) article:

https://archive.islamonline.net/?p=25

Certain types of music can be considered forbidden due to things associated with the music, but that is a different matter.

Footnotes

  1. Many versions of Sahih al-Bukhari erroneously put al-ḥarr instead of al-khazz (the two words look exactly the same in ancient Arabic script), but the following authentic narration from Imam Abu Dawud corrects this error and many scholars such as Ibn al-Tin, Ibn al-Arabi and Abu al-Fath al-Qushayri accepted this correction according to the commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari ʿUmdat al-Qārī:

    Abu Amir or Abu Malik told me--I swear by Allah another oath that he did not believe me that he heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: There will be among my community people who will make lawful (the use of) khazz and silk. Some of them will be transformed into apes and swine.

    (Sunan Abi Dawud 4039)

And God knows best.
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Juris
Juris
5 years ago

As you have alluded to Ibn Hazm’s view on music, please note that a complete translation of this is now available in English:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1975749235/ref=sr_1_1

Talha
Talha
2 years ago

This article is filled with lies and misinformation. Shame on you people!

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago
Reply to  Talha

This was harsh and unnecessary. Difference of opinion exists.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous

A wrong difference of opinion. So will I say “there is difference of opinion whether Islam is the religion” just because there’s jews and christians?
Regardless, I advice you to take knowledge from trusted sources before you get misguided. BaarakAllahu feek

Ibrahim
Ibrahim
10 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Do you have any counterarguments against the article? Simply calling it wrong and filled with lies and misinformation without any evidence doesn’t disprove it.

Ramlah
Ramlah
2 years ago

I love this blog. It helps me to do my thesis. I am a Muslim educator. (Music Teacher). Music has made me closer to Allah as all my life is a challenging life since childhood.

Yassine
Yassine
1 year ago
Reply to  Ramlah

God bless you. Happy to hear that. Intentions matter.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago
Reply to  Ramlah

Either music or Qur’an will remain in your heart. Not both. Anyways before you get further misguided I suggest you take knowledge from those who don’t point out mistakes of scholars and justify their views.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Such a stupid comment just you listen to music does not mean you cannot have the Qur’an in your heart. The Prophet use to enjoy secular poetry as well which is like music and would you question his sincerity to the Qur’an. May you be covered with dust.

Mill Owner
Mill Owner
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Music is the Quran of Shayatan

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago

Fear Allah. There is consensus that it’s haram

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Consensus does not mean its true. The concensus of the Tabiun and Tabiut Tabiun was that it is permissible. Are you questioning the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik and Imam Shafi’, Imam Dawud Az Zahiri and Imam Hazm just due to what the followers of Ibn Taymiyyah say? Consensus among Muslims is that you don’t move your finger during tashahhud but it is part of the sunnah. Concensus only stands when it doesn’t contradict what the sunnah says. And the Sunnah says music is permissible and at most it is makruh not haram.

Arid Khan
Arid Khan
1 year ago

The claims made here are a great misrepresentation and many are false. This us blatantly clear to anyone with even the most remote knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence.

In the Hanafī madhhab, Ibn Nujaym (d. 970) states:

“It [states] in al-Mi‘rāj: ‘Musical instruments are two types: prohibited (muharram), and that is, affective instruments, [even] without singing, like the flute, whether [made] from timber or reed, like the reed flute, or other than it, like the lute and mandarin…And the second type is permissible, and that is the drum during marriage and included in its import is that which [arises] from an occasion and happiness, and it [i.e. the drum] is makrūh (tahrīmī) in other than it… and it is makrūh (tahrīmī) for men in all situations…Al-Bazāzī has transmitted in al-Manāqib consensus on the prohibition (hurmah) of singing when it is with an instrument like the lute, and when it is without it [i.e. an instrument], then you are aware of the disagreement.

After quoting other complete, authentic chains for the tradition under study, along with the sources wherein such chains of transmitters are mentioned,(Ibn Hajar concludes by emphasizing
(in reference to Al-Bukhaari’s narration):
“This is an authentic hadeeth. It has no deficiency or defect, and there is no point of weakness for any
attack to be made on it. Abu Muhammed Ibn Hazam labeled it as defective by virtue of his claim that there is a break [intiqaa’] in the chain between Al-Bukhaari and Sadaqah bin Khaalid and because of the difference of opinion regarding the name of Abu Maalik. As you’ve seen, I have quoted nine fully-connected chains of transmission (asaneed) whose narrators are thoroughly dependable. As for the difference regarding the kunyah of the companions, they are all of impeccable repute. Furthermore, in Ibn Hibbaan’s narration, the transmitter stated that he heard from both of them… I have in my possession yet other chains which could be presented here, however, I would not like to
prolong this subject further by mentioning them. In what we have stated there is enough proof for the
sensible, thinking person. And Allah is the grantor of success.”

Last edited 1 year ago by Arid Khan
Arid Khan
Arid Khan
1 year ago

The claims made in this article are reprehensible and blatantly false.

In the Hanafī madhhab, Ibn Nujaym (d. 970) states:

“It [states] in al-Mi‘rāj: ‘Musical instruments are two types: prohibited (muharram), and that is, affective instruments, [even] without singing, like the flute, whether [made] from timber or reed, like the reed flute, or other than it, like the lute and mandarin…And the second type is permissible, and that is the drum during marriage and included in its import is that which [arises] from an occasion and happiness, and it [i.e. the drum] is makrūh (tahrīmī) in other than it… and it is makrūh (tahrīmī) for men in all situations…Al-Bazāzī has transmitted in al-Manāqib consensus on the prohibition (hurmah) of singing when it is with an instrument like the lute, and when it is without it [i.e. an instrument], then you are aware of the disagreement.”

In the famous and renowned book of Hanafi Islamic Law, ‘Raddul Muktar’, it is stated that all musical instruments are forbidden. ( Raddul Muktar Vol. 6 Pg. 348)

Imam Shafi and Imam Ahmad have also considered the use of sticks (while singing) to be Makrooh (disliked) since it creates amusement.As for creating special sound effects from the throat, this is also totally Haraam according to all scholars. They have stated that the one who does this is a Faasiq. (Al Fiqhul Islami Vol. 4 Pg. 2665)

In the Shāfi‘i madhhab, Ibn Hajar al-Haythamī (d. 973 H) said:

“Al-Rāfi‘ī said in al-‘Azīzī and al-Nawawī in al-Rawdah: ‘There is no disagreement over the prohibition of the Iraqi flute and string instruments that are played.’”

In the Hanbalī madhhab, al-Mardāwī (d. 885) said:

“Listening to singing and wailing without musical instruments is makrūh…[It is] stated in al-Mustaw‘ab and al-Targhīb and other [books]: ‘It is harām with a musical instrument, without any disagreement amongst us [Hanbalīs].”

In the Mālikī madhhab, Abu l-Walīd ibn Rushd al-Qurtubī (d. 520 H) writes:

“As for the flute and trumpet, there is no disagreement that their use is impermissible for weddings and other than it…

In the book, Aadaabul Qadaa, Ash-Shaafi’ee is reported as saying, “Verily, song is loathsome [makrooh]; it resembles the false and vain thing [al-baatil]. The one who partakes of it frequently is an incompetent fool whose testimony is to be rejected.”His closest and most knowledgeable disciples clearly stipulate that his position on this issue is that of prohibition (tahreem) and they rebuke those who attribute its legality to him.This is confirmed by the later Shafi’ite scholar, Ibn Hajar Al-Haythami. He related that one of Ash-Shaafi’ee’s disciples, Al-Haarith Al-Muhaasibi (d.243 H) said, “Song is haraam, just as tIn the book, Aadaabul Qadaa, Ash-Shaafi’ee is reported as saying, “Verily, song is loathsome [makrooh]; it resembles the false and vain thing [al-baatil]. The one who partakes of it frequently is an incompetent fool whose testimony is to be rejected.”His closest and most knowledgeable disciples clearly stipulate that his position on this issue is that of prohibition (tahreem) and they rebuke those who attribute its legality to him.This is confirmed by the later Shafi’ite scholar, Ibn Hajar Al-Haythami. He related that one of Ash-Shaafi’ee’s disciples, Al-Haarith Al-Muhaasibi (d.243 H) said, “Song is haraam, just as the carcass [maytah]

Imam Abu Haneefah has perhaps the harshest view of the four famous Imams of jurisprudence. His school of thought is the strictest, for he detested singing and considered it sinful. As for his disciples, they have explicitly confirmed the prohibition of listening to all musical amusements and pastimes, including wind instruments (mazaameer), all types of tambourines, hand drums (dufoof) and even the striking of sticks(al-qadeeb). They have asserted that such actions constitute disobedience to Allah and that the performer of such action is sinful, therefore necessitating rejection of his testimony.They have further stated that it is incumbent upon the Muslim to struggle to avoid listening to such things, even if he were passing by or stationed near them (without any willful intention). Abu Haneefah’s closest disciple, Abu Yoosuf, stated that if the sound of musical instruments (ma’aazif) and amusements (malaahi) were heard coming from a house, the house could be entered without permission of its owners.The justification for this is that the command regarding the prohibition of abominable things (munkaaraat) is mandatory, and cannot be established if such entering rests upon the permission of the residents of the premises

The only exceptions to this consensus are opinions of individuals whose views are not admissible in Sunnī scholarly consensus, due to their heterodox positions. Examples, famously, include Ibn Hazm and Ibn Tāhir al-Maqdisī, who both belonged to the Zāhirī (literalist) school of thought. The scholars have not accepted their marginal opinion as an acceptable ijtihād. For example, the Shāfi‘ī scholar of hadith and fiqh, Hāfiz Ibn al-Salāh, referred to Ibn Hazm’s view as “his corrupt (fāsid) view on musical instruments.”And the Hanbalī scholar, Ibn al-Qayyim, refers to it as “his invalid/rejected (bātil) view on the permissibility of musical instruments.”

Al-Shawkānī does not take the position that musical instruments are permissible in the book in reference. Rather, his aim was to refute the claim that there is consensus on the impermissibility of listening to songs. Although he produces valid evidences for his claim with regards to songs that are not accompanied by musical instruments, the evidences he cites to substantiate this claim for musical instruments are invalid for a number of reasons, which we cannot enumerate in this short answer.

Imām al-Ghazālī stated clearly in his Ihyā’ ‘Ulūm al-Dīn that string instruments and flutes are, in general, prohibited in the Sharī‘ah. He also said: “The Iraqi flute, all string instruments, like the lute, cymbal, rebab, the Persian lute and [other instruments] besides them are harām.” He further said: “Listening to string instruments from the one who plays them [even] without a concordant, pleasant rhythm is harām.” Hence, it is clear Imām al-Ghazālī, in line with the consensus of the scholars, agreed on the prohibition of musical instruments.

The great Shāfi‘ī jurist, al-Adhra‘ī, said:

“That which al-Ghazālī opined, in terms of the permissibility [of the reed flute]…is anomalous (shādhdh), and I have not seen any predecessor to al-Ghazālī for his preference.”

With regards to the claim that the hadīth of Sahīh al-Bukhārī is mu‘allaq (meaning, there is a gap between al-Bukhārī and the first narrator of the chain), and is, therefore, not an official hadīth of his collection, the scholars of the sciences of hadīth (‘Ulūm al-Hadīth) have not accepted this claim. The reason for this is that Hishām ibn ‘Ammār, who al-Bukhārī narrates this report from, is amongst his teachers. Al-Zarkashī said:

“The statement of al-Bukhārī about the one he met from his teachers, ‘So-and-so said,’ its ruling is not the ruling of ta‘līq. Rather, it is from the unbroken/connected [chains]…”

Furthermore, regarding the hadīth , Hāfiz Ibn al-Salāh, says:

“There is no discontinuity in this at all, from the perspective that al-Bukhārī met Hishām and heard from him, and we have explained in the book Ma‘rifat ‘Ulūm al-Hadīth that when meeting and hearing is found, along with the absence of tadlīs (a narrator’s omission of intermediaries between himself and his teacher), what he narrates from him will be treated as [actual] audition in whatever wording it is, just as the statement of a Sahābī: ‘The Messenger of Allāh said’ is treated as having heard him.”

The hadīth is authentic according to Imāms al-Bukhārī, al-Ismā‘īlī, Ibn Hibbān, Ibn al-Salāh, Ibn Jamā‘ah, Ibn Kathīr, Ibn al-Mulaqqin, al-Irāqī, Ibn Rajab, al-‘Aynī, al-Asqalānī, al-Sakhāwī and others.

After quoting other complete, authentic chains for the tradition under study, along with the sources wherein such chains of transmitters are mentioned,Ibn Hajar concludes by emphasizing (in reference to Al-Bukhaari’s narration):
“This is an authentic hadeeth. It has no deficiency or defect, and there is no point of weakness for any attack to be made on it. Abu Muhammed Ibn Hazam labeled it as defective by virtue of his claim that there is a break [intiqaa’] in the chain between Al-Bukhaari and Sadaqah bin Khaalid and because of the difference of opinion regarding the name of Abu Maalik. As you’ve seen, I have quoted nine fully-connected chains of transmission (asaneed) whose narrators are thoroughly dependable. As for the difference regarding the kunyah of the companions, they are all of impeccable repute. Further more, in Ibn Hibbaan’s narration, the transmitter stated that he heard from both of them… I have in my possession yet other chains which could be presented here, however, I would not like to prolong this subject further by mentioning them. In what we have stated there is enough proof for the sensible, thinking person. And Allah is the grantor of success.”

Second, Imām Ahmad narrated with his chain to Ibn ‘Abbās (radiyAllāhu ‘anhumā) that Rasūlullāh (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

“Verily, Allah has forbidden wine, gambling and the drum.” (Musnad Ahmad)

The editors of Musnad Ahmad, led by Shaykh Shu‘ayb al-Arnā’ūt, concluded: “Its isnād (chain of transmission) is sahīh (rigorously authentic).” The hadīth was also collected by Imāms Abū Dāwūd, Ibn Hibbān, al-Tahāwī, Abū Ya‘lā, al-Bayhaqī and al-Tabrānī.

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: And concerning the same topic similar comments were narrated from Sahl ibn Sa’d al-Saa’idi, ‘Imraan ibn Husayn, ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr, ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Abbaas, Abu Hurayrah, Abu Umaamah al-Baahili, ‘Aa’ishah Umm al-Mu’mineen, ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib, Anas ibn Maalik, ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Saabit and al-Ghaazi ibn Rabee’ah. Then he mentioned it in Ighaathat al-Lahfaan, and it indicates that they (musical instruments) are haraam.

Last edited 1 year ago by Arid Khan
Arid might be arid instead of Khan
Reply to  Arid Khan

Hey Brother Arid, where can I find all these writings and Opinions of scholars like Original manuscripts or writings, can you send them to me and I would find a translator?

I’ve found Al Muwatta by famous Islamic scholar, Malik Ibn Anas, the oldest manuscript of the earliest hadith collection book that has only parchments of the paper which are parts of sentences and no full text.

What you Don’t Have, arid, is the Sufficient Evidence or something like a video or personally written document of The Prophet SAWS prohibiting musical instruments or music in general.

For example:

“Imām Ahmad narrated with his chain to Ibn ‘Abbās (radiyAllāhu ‘anhumā) that Rasūlullāh (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

“Verily, Allah has forbidden wine, gambling and the drum.” (Musnad Ahmad)”

Imam Ahmad Hanbali (the founder of Hanbali school of thought)

IS AN ACTUAL STARTER OF THE CHAIN OF NARRATION FOR THAT HADITH as there is no single evidence for anyone to believe different; no witnesses, no written saying from the Prophet SAWS nor any of his Sahabas, nothing.

Mind it that Imam Ahmad was born in 780 AD which is 148 YEARS AFTER THE PROPHET SAWS’S PASSING.

So, Imam Ahmad’s only source is TRUST ME BRO.

In judiciary science and criminology, a perpetrator and accomplices usually (but not always) make their stories synchronised and that’s how the testimony of a witness carries less weight today.

So the Chain of Narration IS NOT 100% CERTAINTY that these are the words of Our Beloved Prophet Muhammed SAWS.

The only real Standard or Reference would be Qur’an Kerim that touches the music matter at least in Surah Poets, or chapter 26, Ayah 227.

Bringing out Ayahs like Surah Luqman or 31:6 is not enough since the Context and historicity of the time in which the Ayah was revealed tells about the Old Stories of Previous Kings and their accomplishments that Mushriqeen used to hire women to sing them near the Masjid to make Salah for The Prophet and his Sahabas hard to do.

That’s where the ‘Don’t buy Idle Tales or Hadiths’ in that specific Ayah comes from as Allah (SWT) addressed The Prophet SAWS to not listen to nor pay attention to the accomplishments and times of previous kings.

On the other hand, there are Opinions that this referred to music where the above mentioned Historicity of the Ayah makes such Interpretation/Opinion of Qur’an Kerim 31:6 COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE.

I do accept that not all music is good for people just as not every water is safe for drinking.

What I would agree upon is that, not all music is haram.

Generally, if Qur’an Kerim didn’t prohibited nor allowed specifically, we should use Qur’an Kerim wisdom of differentiating between the haram and halal simply by:

If it benefits more than it damages then it’s Halal, vice versa is Haram.

Selam Alejkum,

Last edited 1 month ago by Arid might be arid instead of Khan
Arid might be arid instead of Khan
Reply to  Arid Khan

“Second, Imām Ahmad narrated with his chain to Ibn ‘Abbās (radiyAllāhu ‘anhumā) that Rasūlullāh (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

“Verily, Allah has forbidden wine, gambling and the drum.” (Musnad Ahmad)”

In addition, Ibn Abbas RA was The Sahabah of The Prophet Muhammed SAWS, have died in year 687 AD which is

93 YEARS BEFORE IMAM AHMAD WAS EVEN BORN.

So, how did Imam Ahmad collected this hadith from the Dead Person?

If Ahmad have learned it from unknown people or followers of Ibn Abbas RA that lived long after this Sahabah, he should have stated their names and surnames to see the flow of Narration and to gain more credibility.

Since he failed to do so or the arid khan omitted it, then it’s his own fault.

Again, Ibn Abbas RA was born in year 687 AD.

Imam Ahmad Hanbali was born in year 780 AD, that’s 93 YEARS OF DISCREPANCY.

How did imam Ahmad Hanbali collected hadith from a dead person?

By the way, in Qur’an Kerim, gambling and wine are forbidden but THE DRUM?

Selam Alejkum,