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.

Why has Islam prohibited music, and what is the philosophy in prohibiting it?


Why has Islam prohibited music, and what is the philosophy in prohibiting it?


Music has become so common that most people are not ready to think about music in its proper perspective (about the bad evil effect of the music) and follow ferociously this wrong way of thinking according to which whatever is in common practice is seen to be without blemish.
They are not ready to study the evil and pernicious effects of music. To the extent that the people who are realistic are not content to this condition also, and in spite of those things being common they always endeavor to understand the reality and are engaged in research.
Music from many viewpoints is worth investigation.
(1) It causes harm to the physics of human body and leaves a bad effect on the nervous system. Keeping these factors in mind a Professor of Columbia University, Dr. Wolf Adler says:

‘The best and most fascinating tunes of music leaves the worst kind of effects on the nervous system of humans and especially when the climate is hot; then the unpleasant effects are too much.’

The famous French expert Dr. Lycus Carl says:

“It is possible that the fulfillment of beastly lust might be having some importance, but there is nothing unfair than this that the life passes in fun.

The general deficiency of intelligence and understanding is the effect of alcohol and in the end it is the result of indiscipline in the habit. There is no doubt in it that films, radio, television are partner to the worrisome moment.
Generally music should be counted as something which has narcotic effect (which causes benumbing of sense), because, it’s benumbing cannot be denied by any means. There are many types of benumbing and a person can numb his nerves in different ways.
Sometimes numbness comes by food. For example alcoholic drinks create great numbness in the nerves and render ineffective the power of thinking and senses. Sometimes something is inhaled through the nose that creates numbness; for example heroine, which is absorbed in the body through the nostrils, which for a certain period of time makes one intoxicated and many such patients who require anesthesia by such matter, is injected into their veins.
Sometimes this numbness comes through the ears by listening to music and concert. This effect sometimes is so strong that it takes out the person out of reality like a dazed one. And his attention is withdrawn from everything.
Keeping this point in mind, you will agree that music is nothing but numbness and it is the bearer of all or most of the vices and damages of intoxication.
Mainly people get so much pleasure and entertainment from music because of this numbing effect. Sometimes this effect is so powerful that, a person loses his senses and brain to the extent that he starts behaving in a strange manner.

For example when the benumbing effect of music becomes severe a person’s power of making right decisions is curtailed. Then he cannot perceive correctly between good and bad, right and wrong, because most of the time he is under the effect of music and his mind, thoughts and strength of his senses, manners becomes prisoner of intoxication of the fierce tunes of the music. Hence he commits such uncultured actions, that in normal conditions doing such things he will think that it is against his status and contrary to human behavior.
We think that, this part of our conversations is not in need of any example or model, because every sensible person knows that, in those dinner parties where stranger males engaged in dances with unrelated stranger females, always they are consistent with loud keynotes of music, and the vibration of tunes of music puts curtain on the mind and understanding of the people in such a way that, for them doing every despicable act and all such acts which are below the dignity of humans, to perform them becomes so easy and simple for them.
What greater intoxication can be there other than this when the voice of music affects the mind of a person, a kind of indolence takes over his nerves? And that foolish person cannot think of anything from human imagination, except sex.

On his intelligence and on his power of comprehension a curtain is drawn in such a way that he forgets the sacred concepts of life like mercy, benevolence, kindness, chastity, modesty, trust, integrity, equality, brotherhood, greatness, eminence and magnificence, making efforts and hard work to fight for the attainment of the purpose and to be steadfast.

There is no second opinion that, right from day one, alcohol and music had been the greatest factors of encouraging sexual promiscuity for the lustful males and females and they on special occasions for intoxicating their nerves take help of these (i.e. alcohol and music).
It is correct that Islam never restrains man from his natural pleasures, but it prohibits those temporary and artificial entertainment created by intoxicating the nerves and arousing lustful desires and it takes away man from his natural condition.

Ethical limits of music

Is there any doubt that among the factors of moral deterioration are these writings and the heart-rending tunes of music do not spread its wings for propagating of arguments contrary to chastity?
Does not the fascinating voice of women and girls along with musical tunes arouse lust; create fervor for lovemaking in the youths? And the heart, which is packed with lustful songs and amorous writings, does it have any for remembrance of Allah? Does that heart, which is drowned in the whirlpool of loving voices and vibrations of music, can think regarding the needy and the poor?
As a principle it should be seen that what are the ingredients and occasions of musical parties. And what are the demands of and different kinds of stimulations? In those gay dance and music parties is there anything else except sexual promiscuity, wine and tasty foods? And the thing, which causes these evil consequences, can be allowed by a heavenly law?

The conclusion is that musical tunes have pernicious effects with regard to numbing of the nerves. And from the ethical point of view also it arouses lustful desires in the human beings.
By way of protecting health also it is proved that, in our time, there are different factors and causes of increase in the number of unexpected and sudden deaths, one of which is the craze of music, because music creates excitement and excitement damages the balance of nervous system.
People who are day and night bombarded by songs and music are prone to heart failure and brain hemorrhage.
However much is not necessary to show that nerves very soon become unserviceable because of continuous excitement.
This was one side of the harms of music.

Philosophy of Islamic Laws:Ayatullah Naser Makarem Shirazi, Ayatullah Jafar Subhani

Is Islam Against Fun, Recreation and Joking?

smiling-kidsIn order to answer this question, we first need to analyze what Islam’s viewpoint is on the purpose of the creation of mankind and the usage of natural blessings such as the mountains, jungles and legitimate recreation and joy and the like. The main source of Islamic law and teachings, the holy Quran says: “I did not create the jinn and the humans except that they may worship Me (so that as a result, they perfect and draw nearer towards Me).”

According to this, the least concentration on the purpose of creation allows us to draw the conclusion that the main purpose is servitude (which is the perfection of man) and other reasons such as knowledge and being put to the test are all actually ways of getting us to the main goal of servitude which results in Allah’s great grace and mercy towards us.

Islam also has some statements regarding joking; for instance it has been reported that Imam Sadiq (as) said: “All believers have “do’abeh”. It was asked “What is do’abeh?” His Excellency replied: “Joking.” There are many hadiths in our hadith books that say that joking is mustahabb.

Yunus Shaybani narrates from Imam Sadiq (as) that his Excellency asked about how I joke with others. I answered that I joke very little. His Excellency said in a scolding manner: “Why don’t you kid with others? Don’t you know that kidding with others is part of one’s good character and behavior?” In this hadith, his Excellency goes on to say that even the Prophet (pbuh) used to kid with others, trying to make them happy.

The many examples of our prophet (pbuh) kidding with others and his decent acts for making others happy all show that although his Excellency was of good behavior and a joyful and kidding personality, yet he would never cross the borders of truth in speech and his jokes were never false, bad, unacceptable or nonsense. As he himself says: “I might kid around but I only say the truth.” This statement both shows us that kidding was part of the tradition of Rasulullah (pbuh) and it also lets us know of the boundaries of this tradition.

Imam Ali (as) tells his son: “The believer is one who has these three times in his/her day: one part of the day needs to be spent in spiritual matters and calling Allah (swt) and supplication, one part of the day goes for earning a living and having an income and other worldly affairs and a third part must be spent in recreation and halal pleasures and fun.” What is interesting is that in another similar hadith, there is another phrase in the end of the hadith that says that this third part of the day is a help to the other programs one has during the day. What is important is that recreation and the like must be religiously legitimate, or else other problems will come up. There are many illegitimate forms of recreation that cause spiritual and physical problems, resulting in the individual not being able to work for a while, and this is exactly the opposite of what the hadith calls as one of the main reasons for having fun (in order to get energy for other important plans one has for the day such as working and studying).

Recreation in Islam is a very important issue to the extent that it has been reported that competitions were held in the presence of the holy Prophet (pbuh) and that he even was supervisor and referee to some of them. Imam Khomeini has also considered travelling a form of legitimate recreation in his risalah and his sayings: “There is no problem in travelling for fun and recreation, the only thing is that it needs to be legitimate.” He goes on to say: “I don’t mean to say that we aren’t supposed to have any recreation and that we always have to be busy (with work), what I mean is that the youth need to organize and plan their time.” He also says regarding listening to the radio and watching television: “Television is the most sensitive instrument of propagation, thus it must observe morality and be educational and at the service of Islam and not that it mustn’t be used at all.”

Not only doesn’t Islam object to swimming in the sea, but it encourages us to teach our children how to swim, shoot and horse-ride. Of course, one must be careful not to mix these sound activities with illegitimate acts, and that is why Imam Khomeini was against those who would go to the beach and cause illegitimate and haram acts to take place.

In short, there is no monasticism and extremism in Islam, as it has been reported that the Prophet prohibited monasticism in Islam. Taking into consideration the clues that were mentioned from the Quran and traditions, one can easily conclude that Islam is a religion that has guidelines for all of the different aspects of life, even materialistic ones and how to consume and make use of the various blessings that Allah (swt) has bestowed upon us and how to joke and have fun.