The general view in Islam is that music is not allowed and legal scholars have debated this based on Quran and hadith. The rulings that come from this also include singing and dancing as they are closely linked with music. Due to a hadith, scholars have said that musical instruments are haram from the clear wording of the Prophet SAW.
Then come the arguments of the common people, who have very little knowledge in deen and start to make up their own rulings and basis for making permissible that which they feel inclined towards.
So just to get this out of the way, we, as unlearned people within the faith of Islam MUST stay away from giving our own opinions and saying whatever we feel will justify our mindset.
Among the community are great scholars, who have spent most of their life studying and learning the faith and even then, so many consider themselves of a lowly rank and not on such a level where they are able to give rulings.
So who are we to make decisions without correct teaching and understanding?
Is music allowed in Islam?
Music is Haram
As with a lot of these in-depth, debatable scenarios, there are two sides to the problem. One side says that all music is completely haram and things associated with it such as clubbing, singing and dancing are also haram.
The second view is that not all music is haram and there are certain conditions which make music haram.
As for the first view, scholars have taken the following hadith as evidence:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There will appear people in my community, who will hold adultery, silk, alcohol and musical instruments to be lawful.”[Sahih Bukhari]
Due to this, scholars have said that musical instruments are haram from the clear wording of the Prophet SAW. Others have linked dancing and singing to this also and include them under this label of haram.
This hadith indicates in two ways that musical instruments and enjoyment of listening to music are haram. The first is the fact that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “[they] permit” which clearly indicates that the things mentioned, including musical instruments, are haram according to sharee’ah, but those people will permit them.
The second is the fact that musical instruments are mentioned alongside things which are definitely known to be haram, i.e., zina (adultery) and alcohol: if they (musical instruments) were not haram, why would they be mentioned alongside these things? (adapted from al-Silsilah al-Saheehah by al-Albaani, 1/140-141)
The other evidence scholars supporting the first view which is used is the Quran verse:
The scholar of the Ummah, Ibn ‘Abbas RA said: this means singing. Mujaahid (may Allah have mercy on him) said: this means playing the drum (tabl). (Tafseer al-Tabari, 21/40).
Al-Hasan al-Basri RH said: this ayah was revealed concerning singing and musical instruments (lit. woodwind instruments). (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 3/451).
Ibn al-Qayyim RH said: The interpretation of the Sahaba and Taabi’in, that ‘idle talk’ refers to singing, is sufficient. This was reported with saheeh isnaads (correct chains of narration) from Ibn ‘Abbas RA and Ibn Mas’ood RA.
Singing and music bring hypocrisy within the heart and this leads to deficiency in our good deeds and worship. If these harmful acts and persisted upon then it can even lead one towards kufr and shirk as the lyrics of songs may contain such words of kufr and shirk. So if you follow along and say it these words then you have fallen into that category. And even if you don’t say these words of disbelief or associate partners with Allah, the evil will slowly corrupt you and change your beliefs and mindset. So, overall, it is simple better to completely stay away.
Tafseer of Quran verse
It is narrated that Mujaahid (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “And befool them gradually those whom you can among them with your voice.” In tafseer ibn Katheer, this has been referred to singing. What it means is that Satan uses his voice to sing and bring entertainment and as a tool to influence people to do wrong and commit sins.
So those who constantly listen to music, whether it contains foul language or not, and those who sing, whether they sing bad lyrics or not, are more prone to come under the influence of shaytaan, leading them to go and do more bad deeds. This would take away the sweetness of Imaan from their hearts and their actions will have less and less sincerity in them. If tawbah and repentance is not carried out frequently and with devotion then there is a great risk of falling into disbelief and committing shirk. May Allah protect us all.
Music is allowed
Those scholars who have said that music is not haram have stated that this is because there isn’t enough evidence to class it as haram. They say that music, dancing and singing don’t always lead to committing sins and if they don’t have any foul and vulgar language then it’s allowed.
However, this was the opinion of scholars many years ago and times have changed, especially for the music industry. Nowadays, it is very rare to even find some sort of music without swearing or saying bad words and there are the music videos which come along with this. These videos include all sorts of sin and things which are certified haram!
Is Ramadan Haram for music?
Another matter which many argue about is ‘Islamic music’ and alternatives to songs in the holy month of Ramadan. This would include listening to nasheeds but with background music and the use of musical instruments.
This situation has been summarized by scholars like this: if the music or singing distracts you from doing ibaadah and worshipping Allah or it takes you away from doing good actions and it leads you to wasting your time, then you shouldn’t listen to music. It may not be classed specifically as haram but it comes under wasting your time and something which takes you away from the remembrance of Allah.
If you listen to something just because it has a nice beat to it or it gives you goose bumps, even if it’s a nasheed in Arabic then don’t listen to it. However, If you feel like it increases your spiritual awareness and reminds you of Allah, and encourages you to pray or do good, then by all means listen to it.
Summary – is music haram?
One thing you must remember is that whatever you put into your body will be shown outwardly. This is the same for food and eating haram. As the saying goes: you are what you eat, it is correct in a sense. If you eat haram then you will do haram actions. Same with pork, if you eat pork and pig then you will act like a pig. If you drink alcohol then you will commit all sorts of immoral acts. This is contrary with halal, if you eat halal then you will do halal. If you listen to swearing and foul language then you will incorporate swearing and foul language in your daily speech.
Beware of what you allow to enter your body! Keeping it clean and pure will keep your heart clean and pure. The noor and lights of Islam will enter your heart easily and even this will show outwardly. It could be through your actions or your speech or it could even be from a glow or shine on your face.
It is narrated that Abu Al-Hawra’ As-Sa’di said:
“I said to Al-Hasan bin ‘Ali, RA: ‘What did you memorize from the Messenger of Allah [SAW]?’ He said: I memorized from him: ‘Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.'”
What does this teach us? Even if music is not haram, although it most likely is, because there is doubt whether it’s permissible or not, you should stay away from it. If you’re not sure what the lyrics are and if they contain bad language or not then stay away from it. And go to that which doesn’t make you doubt if its halal or haram, like reading Quran or doing zikr of Allah.