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Music in Islam: Understanding the Position of Those Giving Tahlil

The permissibility of music has always been a thorny issue. Although all scholars denounce lewd music like Rap, Black Metal and other genres of indecent music, the permissibility of “clean” music has been one of considerable difference. Many of the more esoterically inclined Sufis have leaned towards the opinion of its permissibility while those Scripturalist inclined have largely inclined towards its impermissibility, the latter of which camp I have been most familiar with. Oftentimes, Scripturalists adopting the impermissibility fiqhi opinion tend to look down upon those of differing opinions that listen to music, viewing it as almost akin to someone consuming pork or some other well known agreed upon sin.

Now, our brother from the Boriqeenotes blog has presented us with a short but informative article outlining some of the arguments and scholars arguing for its permissibility from scholars that all/most Sunni Muslims tend to agree to as respectable sources. My intention of publishing this is in line with brother Boriqee’s; to increase the level of tolerance and compassion among those of different opinions of fiqh and reduce unnecessary division and hostility amongst us Muslims. Hence, I will publish his article here in full in case his blog gets taken down.

Ikhtilaf on music! Valid or not?

The basis of this post is to debunk a particular myth put forth by some adherents to tradition that ascertain the assumption that the views permitting music in Islam is a “shadh” i.e. unfounded and invalid position! Nothing is further from the truth.

1. It is the jumhoor of all schools and the majority of the salaf who opined on its tahreem (prohibition). However, THIS DOES NOT mean that the view that it was permitted entails it as “invalid”
2. My position is that position of tahrim generally.
3. Lastly, the arguments I’m going to bring forth have nothing to do with any type of legalizing modern day hip hop. Dont think of biggie or t-pain lyrics when you read these issues.

However, I’m someone who is sympathetic to the fiqh views of those who oppose my views particularly if (as with most issues) it is not clear cut as many would have us believe. The reason why I am sympathetic is not because of some lax  perception that some ignorants may think, its because I love usul al-fiqh. It is literally the defence of the religion. It is the intellectual brains of the fuqaha. In spirit of this, I follow the usuli maxim that

لا إنكار في مسائل الاختلاف
i.e. there is no rebuking over issues that are differed upon

The argument of those who opined in the disagreement over this is as follows
1. The quranic ayah that spoke of vain talk, although general and can include music via an interpretation can likewise exclude music.
One of the proofs for this is the fact that manthumaat (poetic rhythmatic flows) are in reality “singing”. What are songs literally except expression of statements in a rhytmatic flow.

So the reasoning here is that the content is the essential and substantive factor of what constitutes “vain talk” and not just the mere act of bustin a flow. I can bust a flow singing the matn of ajrumiyyah. Nobody in their right mind would call this “the singing that is prohibited because its vain talk”

2. Secondly, there are divergent wordings of the ahadith regarding the topic. The sahih ahadith that speak on its prohibition point towards instruments, and not the actual singing of the voice of the person. And the prohibitions of the singing of a person is with regards to a female and not a male. Moreover, what really opens the can of worms are other ahadith, sahih, that seemingly contradict the prohibition from the Messenger like encouraging Aisha رضي الله عنه that she should have provided a female singer to the ansar man she married her female relative to.

عَنْ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ قَالَ أَنْكَحَتْ عَائِشَةُ ذَاتَ قَرَابَةٍ لَهَا مِنْ الْأَنْصَارِ فَجَاءَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ أَهْدَيْتُمْ الْفَتَاةَ قَالُوا نَعَمْ قَالَ أَرْسَلْتُمْ مَعَهَا مَنْ يُغَنِّي قَالَتْ لَا فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِنَّ الْأَنْصَارَ قَوْمٌ فِيهِمْ غَزَلٌ فَلَوْ بَعَثْتُمْ مَعَهَا مَنْ يَقُولُ أَتَيْنَاكُمْ أَتَيْنَاكُمْ فَحَيَّانَا وَحَيَّاكُمْ
1900 سنن ابن ماجه كِتَاب النِّكَاحِ أهديتم الفتاة قالوا نعم قال أرسلتم معها من يغني قالت لا
المحدث الألباني خلاصة حكم المحدث حسن

Ibn Abbas reported: Aisha gave away one of her relatives in marriage to a man among the Ansar, and the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, came and he said, “Did you send them a girl?” They said, “Yes.” The Prophet said, “Did you send with her someone to sing?” She said, “No.” The Prophet said, “Verily, the Ansar are a people who love poetry, so you should send someone along with her to say: Here we come, to you we come, greet us as we greet you.”
Source: [Sunan Ibn Majah 1900]

Hasan (fair) according to Imam al-Albani

And there are literally dozens more narrations that seem to indicate on allowing music and instruments. Because its ambiguous, that is why there is differing views!

3. Thirdly, several scholars have pointed to inaccurateness and weaknesses in those ahadith of prohibition

Imam al-Bukhari narrates on the authority of Abu Malik or Abu `Amir Al-Ash`ari (doubt from the sub-narrator) that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, ‘From among my followers there will be some people who will consider sex, the wearing of silk (clothes), the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful.’

Although this hadith is in Sahih Al-Bukhari, its chain of transmission is not connected to Prophet ﷺ and this invalidates its authenticity. This is why Hafidh Ibn Hazm rejects it.
Moreover, the sub-narrator, Hisham Ibn `Ammar is declared ‘weak’ by many scholars of ilmul-hadeeth. Moreover, all these hadiths are declared ‘weak’ by the followers of Ibn Hazm, Malik, Ibn Hanbal, and Ash-Shafi`i.

In his book, Al-Ahkam, Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn Al-`Arabi says,

None of the hadiths maintaining that singing/music is prohibited are considered authentic”.

Ibn Tahir says,

Not even a single letter from all these Hadiths was proved to be authentic.

Ibn Hazm says, “All the hadiths narrated in this respect were invented and falsified.

Imam ash-Shawkani in his book “Nayl Al-Awtar”, says “The people of Madinah and those who agreed with them from among the dhahiriyya and the Sufis maintain that singing is permissible, even when it is accompanied by a musical instrument such as the lute or the flute. Abu Mansur Al-Baghdadi ash-Shafi`i narrates that `Abdullah Ibn Ja`far saw nothing wrong in singing, and he, himself, used to compose the music for his own slaves who used to sing these melodies in his presence.

Ar-Ruwaiyani narrates on the authority of Al-Qaffal that Malik Ibn Anas maintained that singing with musical instruments is permissible. Also, Abu Mansur Al-Furani quotes Malik as maintaining that playing the flute is permissible.

Abu Al-Fadl Ibn Tahir narrates, “The people of Madinah never disputed over the permissibility of playing the lute.”
Ibn An-Nahwi narrates in his “Al-`Umdah”: “Ibn Tahir said, ‘The people of Madinah showed consensus over this (issue). Also, all the dhahiriya maintained the same.’”

Al-Mawardi attributes the permissibility of playing the lute to some of the Shafi`i followers and students. This has been narrated also by Abuul-Fadl Ibn Tahir after Abu Ishaq Ash-Shirazi; and it is narrated by Al-Isnawi after Ar-Ruwaiyani and Al-Mawardi. Again, this is narrated by Al-Adfuwi after Imam al`Izz Ibn ‘Abd As-Salam. It is also narrated after Abu Bakr Ibn Al-`Arabi.

Here is a list of scholars, some of them from the salaf like ibn Qutaybah (famous for his ikhtilaaf mukhtaliful-hadeeth in sciences of hadith, a contemporary of Ahmad bin Hanbal) and Abu Talib al-Makki who held to its permissibility like

Abdullah bin Ja’far bin Abi Talib (al-Aqd al-Farid 6/12)
Imam al-Shawkani (Ibtal da’wa al-Ijmaa ala mutlaq al-Sama’)
Imam ibn Hazm (Al-Muhallah)
Sultan al-Ulema al-Izz ibn Abdul-Salam (Rislat al-Sama’)
Al-Qadi Ibn Qutayba  (al-Rukhsah fi al-Sama’)
Imam Ibn Tahir al-Qaysirany (pg. 31 al-Sama’)
Imam adh-Dhahabi (al-Rukhsah fil-Ghinaa wa al-Turb)
Abu Talib al-Makki (Qut al-Qulub)
Qadhi Abu Bakr Ibn Al-Arabi (Ahkam al-Quran vol. 3 pg. 1494)
Sh. Yusuf al-Majishoon the prominent

Imam ibn al-Khuzayma
Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Daqeeq al-Eid al-Hanbali (Iqtinas al-Sawanih)

And yes, you’ve read Imam adh-Dhahabee correctly. He brings in his siyaar

Ishaq al-NadIm an Imam who was a great scholar, master of many sciences. Known for music with untainted poetry…” (Siyar 11/118)

Ulayyah sister of the commander of the faithful Haroon al-Rasheed ‘Well-refined poetess known for singing and music with a pleasant voice. A modest pious women of precedence…’” (Siyar 10/187)

I guess the problem in modern times is that many folk cannot imagine music except and only in the world of hollywood entertainment of hip-hop, death metal, and all these forms of music of fasad, kufr, and unimaginable lusts. This is quite understandable since all music production is based on this framework, or at least 95% of it.

I post this as a reminder to those rigid on their opinions to understand that the matter is not as rigid as you think.”

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