Music in the Quran

Here are four Ayats of the Qur’an which forbid the Muslims from indulging into music.

“So abstain from the pollution of the idols and abstain from false vain words.” (22:30).

The Arabic word “Zoor” has several meanings which include falsehood and the musical expressions. According to Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (a.s.)

“pollution of the idols” means Chess and “Vain words” means music.

See how ‘Music’ has been joined in this Ayat with the pollution of idols”, only then you can appreciate the seriousness of the sin of Music.

“And of the people there is he who buys a ‘vain talk’ so that he may lead others astray from the path of Allah without (real) knowledge and takes it (the revelation of Allah) for a mockery for these shall be a disgracing chastisement (punishment).” (31:6).

‘Lahw’ means anything which diverts the mind from serious thinking. “Vain talk” has been interpreted by the Imam as some talk, sound or thing which diverts the attention of man from the ultimate aim of his creation; in other words makes him forget Allah and His commands. For example fictions and such useless talks. “It includes ‘Music’, intoxicants and all such diversions.”1
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) said:

Music is among the things for which Allah has promised the Fire (of Hell). Then he recited the above Ayat2.

“Indeed successful are the believers those who in their prayer are humble and those who keep themselves aloof from Vain (words and deeds).” (23:1-3).

‘Laghv’ (Vain words and actions): The first Imam, Imam Ali (a.s.) said that

“all that is void of the remembrance of Allah is ‘Laghv’.

According to other authentic traditions of Imams, ‘Laghv’ means all useless entertainment, wasteful of times among which music has been specifically mentioned. Also included in this term are vain games played just to while away the time.

“And the servants of the Merciful Allah are those………. who bear not witness to what is false, and when they pass by what is vain they pass with dignity”(25:72).

The words ‘Zoor’ and ‘Laghv’ have been explained earlier. According to the traditions of Imams (a.s.), the first part may also be translated in this way: “who do not witness what is vain”! And accordingly, it has been interpreted in the exegesis of the Qur’an as “do not listen to music.”
The following two traditions explain the second part:
Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (a.s.) asked some of his companions:

“Where are you staying?”
They replied: “With so and so, who has singing and dancing girls. Imam said: “You should have dignity.”

They thought that Imam (a.s.) had advised them to treat that man generously. But they were not sure; so they returned to the Imam and requested him to explain his meaning to them.
Imam said:

“have not you heard Allah saying ‘when they pass by what is vain they pass with dignity’?

Imam meant that you should not stay with a man who has singing and dancing girls.
Second tradition: Muhammad bin Abi Ibad was known to indulge in music and liquor. He once asked Imam Ali Ar-Ridha (a.s.) about listening to music.
Imam said:

Some people in Hijaz have their own view about it but that view is absolutely wrong. Have you not heard the word of Allah ‘when they pass by what is vain they pass in dignity’?”

1. Tafseer As-Safi.
2. Kafi; Wasael us Shia; Tafseer As-Safi.