Singing and the Sounds of Music
Are They Legal?
Here is an excerpt from The Emergence of Islam by Dr. M. Hamidullah
From Questions and Answers on music ...


You mentioned that the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught Bilal how to call the faithful to prayer. He taught him how to prolong certain words and to shorten others. Thus he taught him the sounds of music. In the light of this statement, what are the possible limits of music in lslam?


Not only this. There are many other instances which indicate that music is not at all forbidden in lslam. What is forbidden is music during prayers or music which is usually considered decadent as a form of entertainment. Let me give you a few examples which prove that music as such is not forbidden. The Prophet (peace be upon him) on returning from a marriage feast remarked to 'A'ishah that there was no music in the wedding party given by one of her relatives and he wondered why. The implication is clear. Music and wedding celebrations go together.

Here is another example. It relates to the Farewell Pilgrimage. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was camping in Mina. 'A'ishah relates that a few girls were playing on duff, a musical instrument, in her tent where the Prophet (peace be upon him) lay, taking rest with a piece of cloth on his face. Abu Bakr, 'A'ishah's father, came to call on the Prophet (peace be upon him) and scolded the girls who were indulging in music. The Prophet (peace be upon him) who was not asleep, lifted his head and addressing Abu Bakr said that it was the day of 'Id. In other words, he suggested that the girls were perfectly within their right to celebrate the occasion with music.

Yet another example relates to 'Id during the year 2 or 3 AH. 'A'ishah narrates that there was some noise in front of the house on the 'Id day. The Prophet (peace be upon him) got up to see what it was. 'A'ishah also got up to see the spectacle. There was an Abyssinian quarter in Madinah. They used to display their feats of javelin throw[ing] in the streets, especially on 'Id days, and people used to pay them some money in appreciation. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not stop the Abbysinians. On the contrary, he asked 'Aishah to witness the show. She saw it to her heart's content and left only when she felt tired.

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) migrated to Madinah, he halted at Quba. The entire populace, Muslim and non-Muslim, turned out in strength to welcome him as a mark of hospitality. The Abyssinian boys were among the crowd. They entertained the Prophet (peace upon rum) with javelin feats. The Prophet (peace he upon him) appreciated their gesture and received them with consideration and kindness, and possibly gave them some money.

The recitation of the Qur'an is also a form of music. The Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered Ihat the Qur'an should not be read like ordinary prose. It should be recited melodiously. He added that God had not given a greater sanction to any branch of music than the recitation of the Qur'an. There is a hadith that God does not lend His ear so much to any sound as to a melodious rendering of the Qur'an. In brief, there is no ban in principle on music provided it has a good objective and does not interfere with the discharge of our obligation of prayer. There is a whole chapter devoted to this subject in al-Ghazali's Ihya Ulum al-Din. He deals in detail with the status of music in Islam.

On Music

by Syed Mumtaz Ali

Websters Dictionary defines 'music' as : (a) the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity and (b) vocal, instrumental, or mechanical sounds having rhythm, melody, or harmony.

And/or the recitation and listening to the reading of Allah's Book so aptly described by the English translator of the Qur'an (Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall), as:

"That inimitable symphony, the very sounds of which move men to tears and ecstasy."
(Symphony in Webster's dictionary means: "an extended musical composition in sonata form for full orchestra)

In a number of authentic (sound) Tradition's, the Prophet p.b.u.h. stressed that the Qur'an was to be CHANTED or sung in a sweet and melodious voice

(Chanted in the dictionary means: "to utter in a singing voice -- a repetitive singing utterance.")

"Abu Huraira reported that Allah's Prophet said:

Whoever does not chant the Qur'an is not one of us. (Bukhari)
In another hadith:
Abu Baraa bin Aazib related that Allah's Messenger said: "Adorn the Qur'an with your voices." (Abu Dawood and Ahmad bin Hambal)
It is therefore incumbent upon Muslims to learn how to recite Allah's Book in beautifully sweet and melodious voices in accordance with the rules of tajweed, to constantly practice its reading and to listen to others. For nothing like the Qur'an uplifts the spirit and puts peace and tranquility into one's heart and soul.

The Qur'an must be recited in accordance with the rules of TAJWEED, the precise science which details the rules for Quranic recitation. The notes are to be extended (al-madd) according to a certain number of beats. The letters 'noon' and 'meem' are melodiously held and then notes emphasized, etc. One is required to learn this method of recitation. Abu Bilal Mustafa Al-Kanadi' (i.e. of Canada) states in his work Music and Singing under the heading "Singing and listening to Islamic songs:

"Islamic songs (anasheed Islamiyyah) contain moving lyrics which fire enthusiasm and desire for jihad and encourage noble Islamic manners, morals and practices in all aspects of the Islamic faith. There is presently a great surge of these amaasheed flooding the world of the Arab Muslim Youth, and there is no reason why such inspiring songs could not be composed on various pertinent subjects by the enlightened Western, English-speaking youth of today. He expresses his views and opinions on this subject in these words:
"I could certainly encourage the likes of Yusuf Islam (the former Cat Stevens) and others to use this medium for Islamic revival and as a means for da'wah (invitation of non-Muslims to the path of Allah)."
He also asserts that:
"it is the duty of every Muslim to strive his utmost to find acceptable (lawful) alternatives to the prohibited forms of music and song," as suggested above.