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THE WISDOM BEHIND ITS PROHIBITON BY THE DIVINELY REVEALED SHARIAH

Perhaps the most salient feature of the divinely revealed shari'ah is its all-encompassing benefit (maslahah) for the sake of mankind, regarding all aspects of their spiritual and material welfare. Thus, it is, that various ordinances in the form of divine legislation have been given to man, directing him to pious works of worship (ibaadat)and social transactions (mu'aamlaat). Such works lead to spiritual peace and material prosperity. In accordance with Allah's infinite knowledge, wisdom and mercy, it is necessary that He( glorified be His praise) should prohibit certain things whose effects are evil and harmful to His slaves. This principle is perfectly epitomised in the following authentic tradition of the Prophet (upon whom be peace and blessings):

"By the One in Whose hand is my soul, there is not a thing which brings you nearer to Paradise and distances you from the Fire, except that I have directed you to it; and there is not a thing which brings you closer to the Fire while distancing you from Paradise, except that I have prohibited it for you."(*152)

From the foregoing hadeeth , as well as other texts of the Quraan and sunnah, the scholars of usool(*153) have formulated certain vital objectives (maqaasid) of the divine law. Among these is the principle that nothing has been ordained for man except that which is for his own good and benefit, while nothing has been prohibited except that which is harmful and detrimental to his welfare. With this principle in mind, one perhaps can have a general understanding of the infinite, divine wisdom behind the prohibition of music and its adjuncts. Its potential moral, spiritual and social evils are a danger to the Muslim individual as well as the Islamic community at large.

In order to convey some of the divine wisdom behind prohibition, it is useful to quote a few excerpts from the writings of the authoritative scholar, Ibnul-Qayyim,(*154) who has dealt with this subject extensively.(*155) In the section which exposes Satan's deception of those who claim "spiritual mysticism" (tasawwuf)(*156) in their dancing, singing and listening to music, he says, "From among the artful machinations and entrapments of Allah's enemy [Satan], with which he has snared those possessing little good sense, knowledge and deen [faith], and by which he has stalked the hearts of the false and ignorant people, there is the listening to whistling, wailing, handclapping and song to the accompaniment of forbidden [musical] instruments.(*157) Such things block the Quraan from people's hearts and make them devoted to sin and disobedience. For song [to musical accompanient] is the Quraan(*158) of Ash-Shaytaan (Satan). It is a dense veil and barrier, preventing nearness to Ar-Rahmaaan!(*159) By way of such song, Satan deceives vain souls, making it appear pleasing to them through his cunning appeal to their vanities. He insidiously whispers false, specious arguments suggesting the 'goodness' in song. These arguments are accepted, and as a result, the Quraan becomes an object of neglect and abandonment."(*160)

Ibnul-Qayyim describes in detail the physical and emotional change which overcomes the "Sufis" when they begin to hear such song and music. They begin to strike their feet in time to the rhythm, ans swaying effeminately to the tune, they whirl to a frenzy, screaming and wailing and tearing their clothes, like donkeys around the axis of a grinding mill. Such a laughing stock is the very joy of the enemies of Islam.(*161) Yet such people pretend that they are the very "elite"(*162) of Islam while taking their deen as an amusement and pastime. Hearing the [musical] instruments of Satan is dearer to them listening to the recitation of the Quraan.(*163)

He concludes by saying that "the result of preoccupation with song and music is that you never find its devotee other than astray from the path of guidance, in thought and deed. Such a person develops an aversion to the Quraan and a devotion to song. If he were offered a choice between listening to song/music or the Quraan, he would most certainly choose the former over latter, the audition of which is like a heavy burden upon him."(*164)

Later on in his treatise, Ibnul-Qayyim specifies other aspects of the divine wisdom: "Therefore, know song has particular characteristics which faint the heart, causing hypocrisy to sprout therein, just as water sprouts plants. Among its qualities is that it distracts the heart and prevents it from among contemplation and understanding of the Quraan, and from applying it.(*165) This is because Quraan and song can never coexist in the heart, since they are mutually contradictory. For verily, the Quraan forbids the pursuing of vanities and ordains restraint of the souls passions and temptations to evil. Song, on the other hand, encourages the very opposite of these virtues, as it excites the hidden inner self and entices the soul to inequity by driving it towards every shameful desire..."

Among the signs of hypocrisy is one's rarely remembering Allah(*166) and one's laziness in rising to prayer along with its poor performance. Seldom do you find one infatuated by song except with such blameworthy attributes.

"Furthermore, hypocrisy is based on falsehood, and song contains the falsest lyrics. It attempts to beautify the abominable and encourages it, while seeking to make ugly and discouraging that which is good. Such is the very essence of hypocrisy. A person's addiction to song peculiarly makes listening to the Quraan a heavy weight upon his heart, hateful to his ears. If this is not hypocrisy, then hypocrisy has no reality."(*167)

Needless to say, the preceding exposition highlights the negative effects of music and song upon the Muslim. These effects induce in him hypocrisy, vice, neglect, vanity and a host of other attendant evils, the worst of which is its insidious ability to turn the devotee away from remembrance of Allah, His Book and His deen.

The adverse ramifications of music and song and their various attendant evils are well known facts experienced by all enlightened, thinking believers.(*168) It is this reality which has convinced a host of prominent American and European musicians and singers who have embraced Islam to leave this vile and ignoble profession(*169) {And verily, Allah guides the believers to a straight path.}(*170)

Footnotes
(*93)The ijmaa' (consensus or agreement) of any generation of scholars on a certain religous issue is binding upon the following generations. The Prophet has related in various traditions that the scholars from among his ummah (community) will never at a conensus that contains misguidance or error. Allah, the exalted, protects them from his. Because they were the closest generation to the Prophet, the companions were the most qualified to arrive at a consensus (ijmaa').

(*94)Muhammad bin Taahir Al-Maqsadi (448-507 H.). Ad-Dhahabi says he has known to err and distort narrations of hadeeth in a gross manner (Meezanul I'tidaal, vol. 4, p. 587). Ibn Hajar says he deviated from the path of ahlus sunnah to a type of displeasing tasawwuf (mysticism). The critical scholars of hadeeth do not accept his transmissions because of his distortion of texts and errs in conveying them. Furthermore, he has written in defense of the permissibility of staring at young boys with sinful intent and his madhhab was one of licence (al-ibaadah). For details see, Ibn Hajar's Lisaanul Meezan, vol. 5, pp. 207-210.

(*95)In his treatise, Kaffur Ra'aa'an Muharramaaatil Lahwi was Samaa'a (Desistance of the Rabble from Partaking of Unlawful Amusements and Audition Thereof), p. 25.

(*96)Kaffur Ra'aa, p. 65.

(*97)They listened to permissible recitations of poetry, chants or melodious songs by youths. They were lawful because they were not accompanied by musical instruments, nor were the words or methods of singing licentious.

(*98)Kaffur Ra'aa, p. 66.

(*99)The disputed type is other than the singing of innocent songs (without musical accompaniment) or the chanting of poetry and hymns which are pure and clean in subject matter and in form of delivery.

(*100)Quoted from Kaffur Ra'aa, p. 67.

(*101)Condensed from p. 67 of Kaffur Ra'aa. As for the types of song and music permitted by consensus, this refers to those particular examples of exception to the general rule of prohibition as mentioned in the authentic sunnah of the Prophet and the example of the companions. These examples will be dealt with in the latter part of this treatise.

(*102)Page 293 of his book, Al-Halaal wal Haraam.

(*103)It is incumbent upon anyone who makes a statement in religion to bring the isnaad (the chain of transimtters) on which that statement depends. No statement carries any value whatsoever unless its claimant presents the isnaad. Otherwise, as pointed out by the critical scholars of hadeeth, one could say whatever he wants in matters of religion. Any statement not supported by a validly related authentic isnaad is useless and rejected.

(*104)See Soorah Luqmaan, 31:6.

(*105)Authentically related by Al-Bayhaqi, Ibnul-Mundhir and others.

(*106)See Al-Qurtubi's tafseer, vol. 14, pp. 51-52, and Al-Aaloosi's tafseer, Roohul Ma'aani, vol. 21, pp. 66-68.

(*107)See pp. 67-68 of Kaffur Ra'aa; Al-Qurtubi's tafseer, vol. 19, p. 51 and Shaykh Saalih Fowzaan's Al-'Ilaam bi Naqdi Kitaabil Halaali wal Haraam, pp. 72-74.

(*108)The first of the four famous imaams. He was born in Koofah, Iraq in the 80th year of the Hijrah. He died in Baghdad in the year 150 H. See Adh-Dhahabi's Seeyar A'laamin Nubalaa, vol. 6, pp. 390-403.

(*109)Such as flutes, pipes, horns and related wind instruments.

(*110)Small hand drums without steel jangles. This permitted type is to be used on certain restricted occassions as designated by the sunnah, the details of which will follow.

(*111)Testimony given by witnesses concerning matters or crimes involving punishments is only accepted from trustworthy, obedient Muslims.

(*112)In shari'ah, the mere suspicion of vice is not sufficient to warranat invasion of privacy by the authorities. Here, however, the violation is not confined to the privacy of the home and should be prevented, even forcibly, to avoid corruption of society.

(*113)Quoted from 'Ownul Ma'bood Sharhu Sunan Abi Dawood, vol. 13, pp. 273-274.

(*114)Stated by Abut Teeb Taahir At-Tabari and quoted in Al-Qurtubi's Al-Jaami'li Ahkaamil Quraan, vol. 14, p. 55.

(*115)He was born at Madeenah in the year 93 of the Hijrah and died there in 179H. For details of his life and times, see Qaadi Ayyad's Tarteebul Madaarik, vol. 1, pp. 107-147.

(*116)In the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the world economy was almost completely based upon the institution of slavery. Wisdom and foresight demanded a gradual elimination of this deeply rooted social system. The Islamic method was to limit the ways in which slaves could be taken to only one - jihaad (lawful warfare), while at the same time imposing conditions under which a slave must be freed and encouraging the freeing of believing slaves as an act of worship which brings one closer to Allah. Mistreatment of slaves was strictly prohibited and they were always entitled to respect as human beings. These guidelines protecting slaves are still applicable today.

(*117)The previous sayings related to Maalik were quoted from Ibnul-Jowzi's Talbees Ibless, p. 229.

(*118)Al-Jaami'li Ahkaamil Quraan, vol. 14, p. 55.

(*119)Ibid., vol. 14, p. 54.

(*120)He was born 150 H. in Gazzah in Palestine. He died and was buried in Cairo, 204 H. Details of his life and works are chronicled in Al-Bayhaqi's Manaaqibush Shaafi'ee.

(*121)See Al-Qurtubi's tafseer, vol. 14, p. 55 and Ibnul-Jowzi's Talbees Iblees, p. 231. Also refer to footnote no. 111.

(*122)See 'Ownul Ma'bood, vol. 13, p. 274.

(*123)Designates the carcass of the animal which has not been slaughetered in a manner acceptable to the shari'ah, but has died in a manner rendering it unlawful for food, such as dying from a disease, accident, naturally or by being hit by a blow, etc. However, the skin of such an animal may be used after proper curing.

(*124)Kaffur Ra'aa, p. 61.

(*125)Talbees Iblees, pp. 230-231. A sample of such scholars along with a refutation of their position will follow in the next section of this work.

(*126)He was born in Baghdad, 164 H. and died there in 241 H. See the excellent biography of his life as narrated by Ibnul-Jowzi in his Manaaqib Al-Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal.

(*127)In Arabic these are called qasaaiduz zuhd.

(*128)"Singing" here means without musical accompanient.

(*129)Indicates a change in the state of mind or disposition of a person who appears "overcome" by the mention (dhikr) of God in supplication (du'aa) performed in a humble, humiliating stance. Those who partake in this experience of being "overcome" are moved to extreme delight or grief by the manner in which such poetry is delivered. It is usually delivered in an affected, throbbing style which moves them to dance and gyrate to the beat and melody of such rythmic poems. Because of this "change" (taghyeer) which overcomes them, they were called al-mughayyarah. Refer to Talbees Iblees, p. 330.

(*130)Talbees Iblees, p. 228.

(*131)All of these scholars, including Ahmad, did not mind a certain type of chanting, singing and recitation of poetry or stories, etc. without musical accompanient or other prohibited aspects.

(*132)Refer to footnote no. 116.

(*133)The loss incurred by selling the slave girl not as singer but as an ordinary worker.

(*134)This statement was made during the 6th century of the Islamic era. Therefore, what could be said of what we hear and see of music and singing today!

(*135)Talbees Iblees, pp. 228-229.

(*136)Other than the simple hand drum known as the daff, because of authentic hadeeths allowing it on specific occasions as an exception to the general rule of prohibition.

(*137)Quoted from Ibn Taymiyyah's Majmoo'ul Fataawa, vol. 11, p. 576.

(*138)From the first and second century of the Islamic era.

(*139)See p. 55, vol. 14 of Al-Qurtubi's Al-Jaami'.

(*140)Refer to the section under the title, "The Position of the Companions on this Issue."

(*141)See the preceding section, entitled "Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal," for details.

(*142)Who died in the year 456 of the Islamic calendar.

(*143)He lived during the years 435-532 of the Hijrah.

(*144)He was born in the year 450 H. and died in 505 H.

(*145)Refer to the section on the sunnah, entitled "The Traditions and their Degree of Authenticity: The Narration of Al-Bukhaari."

(*146)Refer to the whole of the section, entitled "A Critical Analysis of the Hadeeth Literature" (on the issue of the ruling regarding music).

(*147)Soorah An-Nisaa, 4:65.

(*148)Such as Yoosuf Qardaawi in his Al-Halaal wal Haraam Fil Islam, pp. 292-293.

(*149)See Ibnul-Qayyim's Madaarijus Saalikeen, p. 493.

(*150)Other than that permitted by the texts of the authentic sunnah, namely the small hand drum (daff).

(*151)Authentically related by Imam Al-Bukhaari.

(*152)Authentically related by Ahmad and Ibn Khuzaymah.

(*153)The science outlining a methodology whereby a legal ruling issue may be derived, based upon the texts of the Quran and sunnah, or upon principles extracted from these two texts.

(*154)Imam Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Ani Bakr (691-751 H.), popularly known as Ibn Qayimmil Jowziyyah. He was one of the most erudite scholars of the Quraanic and hadeeth sciences and mujtahid in his own right. He was the most brilliant of the many disciples of Shaykhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah.

(*156)They claim that dancing, singing and music raise their "spiritual conciousness" and elevate them to a higher "mystical level", thus bringing them nearer to the divine presence!!

(*157)Whenever he uses the word song or singing (ghinaa), he means the forbidden form to musical accompanient.

(*158)Literally, "reading "or "recital" used here with this general meaning in mind. Thus, such song is the "revelation" and "sacred recital" of Satan; whereas the text of the inimitable Al-Quraan Al-Kareem is the revelation of Allah and the sacred recital of His word.

(*159)Ar-Rahmaan, an attribute of Allah, means the One who has absolute mercy for all of His creations.

(*160)Page 224, vol. 1 of Ighaathatul Lahfaan.

(*161)Such as the Orientalists, missionaries and others who use the misguided deeds and beliefs such Muslims to suggest that Islam is without sense and decorum.

(*162)According to their reasoning, "elite" (khawwaas) means "the holy people" or "special chosen people" who follow one of their Sufic "paths".

(*163)Condensed from Ighaathatul Lahfaan, vol. 1, p. 224.

(*164)Ibid., vol. 1, p. 241.

(*165)Obeying its commands, desisting from its prohibitions and adhering to its guidance, in all walks of human life.

(*166)This refers to dhikrullah, the rememberance of Allah in the heart and on one's tongue, by mentioning His beautiful names and by praising and glorifying Him. The loftiest form of dhikr is reading Allah's Book with contemplation and understanding.

(*167)Abridged from Ighaathatul Lahfaan, vol. 1, pp. 248-250.

(*168)All Muslims having a backgroung in the West can vouch for the manifold evils associated with music and song evident in so-called funk, soul, rock, acid rock, punk rock, blues and jazz. It is essentially libidinous, sexual music which drives ones passions and animal desires to a frenzy. Its objectives (especially when coupled with calculated themes embodied in certain lyrics) are sex, violence, desperation, suicide, hedonism and nihilism. In fact, every foul passion, sense, feeling, idea or thought is embodied in this demonic medium. It is truly another of Satan's many vehicles harnessed in his apparent "joy ride" to Hell, the foulest destination and final abode of such evil doers.

(*169)A special case in point is the enlightened Yousuf Islam (originally Cat Stevens), formerly a prominent singer from Britian. Would that others of our western brothers take him as a noble example to follow.

(*170)Soorah Al-Hajj, 22:54.

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