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Instument-free Music

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Question

I have a question regarding what is commonly know as Acapella.

 

Acapella is a form of instument-free music. Typically perfomed by a group of singers some of whom sing lyrics whilst the rest make the sound of intruments with their mouths. Some songs however are sung with only lyrics and no fake instrumental music.

 

I understand and accept that music is Haraam and i am not questioning that. I want to however know would this be allowed and under what circumstances. If they are not singing about immoral acts and there are no women singing would this be acceptable?

 

To me this is not unlike the listening to Naats and Nazms as many people do not understand what they are listening to and merely enjoy how its sounds.

 

Answer

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatoh

 

The word “a cappella” is used for both singing without musical instruments as well as for vocal music. Therefore, both issues are discussed separately.

 

 

Singing

There exist many proofs that prohibit singing. Here under are a few:

Allāh Ta’āla says in the Qur’an

 

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا أُولَئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُهِينٌ (لقمان:6)

 

There are those amongst men who purchase vain speech without knowledge, to mislead from the Path of Allāh and throw ridicule on (the Path). For them there is a humiliating chastisement. (Luqmân: 6(

 

Ibn Mas’ūd (Radiyallāhu ‘Anhu) was asked regarding this verse and he replied, “It is music, by the oath of that being there is not deity except Him.” – (Al-Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shayba 11/101 Majlis al-‘Ilmi)

 

 

 

 

Ibn ‘Abbās (Radiyallāhu ‘Anhu) says, “It is singing and the purchasing of singing women.” – (Al-Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shayba 11/101 Majlis al-‘Ilmi)

 

 

 

 

Ikrima (Rahimahu Allāh) regarding this verse says, “It is singing.” – (Al-Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shayba 11/101 Majlis al-‘Ilmi)

 

 

 

 

Mujāhid (Rahimahu Allāh) regarding this verse says it is singing and listening to it (Al-Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shayba 11/101 Majlis al-‘Ilmi)

 

 

 

 

Sa’īd ibn Jubayr (Rahimahu Allāh) says, “It is singing and its like.” (Al-Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shayba 11/102 Majlis al-‘Ilmi)

 

 

 

 

عن أبي مالك الأشعري قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم ليشربن ناس من أمتي الخمر . يسمونها بغير اسمها . يعزف على رءوسهم بالمعازف والمغنيات يخسف الله بهم الأرض . ويجعل منهم القردة والخنازير  - ابن ماجه

 

Abu Mālik al-Ash’ari (Radiyallāhu ‘Anhu) narrates that the Prophet of Allāh (SAW) said: “Soon people from my Umma will consume alcohol and call it with another name. On there heads will be instruments of music and singing women. Allāh will make the ground swallow them up, and turn them into monkeys and swine.” (Sunan Ibn Mājah)

 

 

 

There are also some narrations permitting certain types of singing for specific occasions such as the narration of Sahīh Bukhāri:

 

 

 

 

عن عائشة قالت دخل علي رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم وعندي جاريتان تغنيان بغناء بعاث فاضطجع على الفراش وحول وجهه ودخل أبو بكر فانتهزني وقال مزمارة الشيطان عند النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم فأقبل عليه رسول الله عليه السلام فقال ( دعهما ) . فلما غفل غمزتهما فخرجتا – صحيح البخاري

 

 

 

‘Āisha (RA) narrates that the Prophet of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam) came to my house while two girls were singing beside me the songs of Buath. The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam) lay down and turned his face to the other side. Then Abu Bakr came and spoke to me harshly saying, “Musical instruments of Satan near the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam)?” The Prophet of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam) turned his face towards him and said, “Leave them.” When Abu Bakr became inattentive, I signaled to those girls to go out and they left. (Sahih al-Bukhari)

 

 

 

 

The Prophet of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam) has prohibited singing accompanied by musical instruments. Similarly, he has prohibited such singing without music which makes a person heedless of the hereafter. Singing accompanied by tambourine drums (daff) is permitted for certain occasions such as for announcement of marriage; in expressing joy on those days which Shari’a has permitted e.g., ’Eid and post-marital feast; or for assistance in a journey (the travelers would recite a form of poetry to make the camels ride faster and for them to take their mind off of the discomforts of the travel.)

 

 

Mufti Shafi (ra) writes that the Shari’a has not prohibited any action except that it in itself is a vile deed or disliked due to external reasons. The example for the former is disobedience of Allāh, ascribing partners to Allāh, etc. An example of the latter is doing transaction during the time of the adhān of Jumu’a. The transaction itself is permissible, but by engaging in it during the adhān of Jumu’a it delays a person from going to the masjid (السعي الي الجمعة). Obviously, the first category which comprises of vile deeds is unlawful at all times and under all circumstances. The ruling for the second category is not the same, as it can be permissible for some while impermissible for others; permissible at certain times and impermissible at other times. The ruling will differ according to the situation. The issue of singing falls in this second category.

 

 

 

 

Shaykh ‘Alauddin al-Kasani in his Bada’i al-Sana’i writes:

 

وأما المغني فإن كان يجتمع الناس عليه للفسق بصوته فلا عدالة له وإن كان هو لا يشرب لأنه رأس الفسقة وإن كان يفعل ذلك مع نفسه لدفع الوحشة لا تسقط عدالته لأن ذلك مما لا بأس به لأن السماع مما يرقق القلوب لكن لا يحل الفسق به 

Translation:

As for a singer, if he gathers people around to entertain them with his voice, then he will not be considered an upright person (عادل), even if he does not drink, as he is the leader of sinners. If he sings to himself in order to dispel loneliness, then he will still be considered as upright as there is nothing wrong in doing so since a melodious voice is something that sooths the heart, however it is not permissible to entertain with it.

Bada’i al-Sana’i (6/269) Dar al-Kutāb al-‘Arabi

 

 

Ibn Humām in his Commentary on Al-Hidāya, Fath al-Qadīr in the chapter of Shahāda writes:

 

قال في الهداية ( ولا من يغني للناس ) لأنه يجمع الناس على ارتكاب كبيرة…قال أبن الهمام: ونصوا على أن التغني للهو أو لجمع المال حرام بلا خلاف…ثم قال: فإن قلت : تعليل المصنف رحمه الله يجمع الناس على كبيرة يقتضي أن التغني مطلقا حرام وإن كان مفاده بالذات أن الاستماع كبيرة لأنهم إنما يجتمعون على الاستماع بالذات لأن كون الاستماع محرما ليس إلا لحرمة المسموع ، وليس كذلك فإنه إذا تغنى بحيث لا يسمع غيره بل نفسه ليدفع عنه الوحشة لا يكره .وقيل لا يكره إذا فعله ليستفيد به نظم القوافي ويصير فصيح اللسان .وقيل ولا يكره لاستماع الناس إذا كان في العرس والوليمة ، وإن كان فيه نوع لهو بالنص في العرس .فالجواب أن التغني لإسماع نفسه ولدفع الوحشة خلافا بين المشايخ . منهم من قال : لا يكره ، إنما يكره ما كان على سبيل اللهو احتجاجا بما عن أنس بن مالك رضي الله عنه أنه دخل على أخيه البراء بن مالك وكان من زهاد الصحابة وكان يتغنى ، وبه أخذ شمس الأئمة السرخسي رحمه الله . ومن المشايخ من كره جميع ذلك ، وبه أخذ شيخ الإسلام ، ويحمل حديث البراء بن مالك أنه كان ينشد الأشعار المباحة التي فيها ذكر الحكم والمواعظ ، فإن لفظ الغناء كما يطلق على المعروف يطلق على غيره .قال صلى الله عليه وسلم { من لم يتغن بالقرآن فليس منا } وإنشاد المباح من الأشعار لا بأس به .ومن المباح أن يكون فيه صفة امرأة مرسلة ، بخلاف ما إذا كانت بعينها حية ، وإذا كان كذلك فجاز أن يكون المصنف رحمه الله قائلا بتعميم المنع كشيخ الإسلام رحمه الله ، إلا أنا عرفنا من هذا أن التغني المحرم هو ما كان في اللفظ ما لا يحل كصفة الذكر والمرأة المعينة الحية ووصف الخمر المهيج إليها والدويرات والحانات والهجاء لمسلم أو ذمي إذ أراد المتكلم هجاءه لا إذا أراد إنشاد الشعر للاستشهاد به أو لتعلم فصاحته وبلاغته … فأما الزهريات المجردة عن ذلك المتضمنة في وصف الرياحين والأزهار والمياه المطربة… فلا وجه لمنعه على هذا .نعم إذا قيل ذلك على الملاهي امتنع وإن كان مواعظ وحكما للآلات نفسها لا لذلك التغني والله أعلم… وفي مغني ابن قدامة : الملاهي نوعان : محرم وهو الآلات المطربة بلا غناء كالمزمار والطنبور ونحوه ، لما روى أبو أمامة أنه عليه الصلاة والسلام قال { إن الله تعالى بعثني رحمة للعالمين ، وأمرني بمحق المعازف والمزامير } .والنوع الثاني مباح وهو الدف في النكاح ، وفي معناه ما كان من حادث سرور .

 

 

Translation:

In Al-Hidāya it is written, “nor (is the testimony of those is accepted) who sing for people, due to the fact that he will be gathering people to indulge in a major sin.”

 

Ibn Humām commenting on this writes: The Jurists have clearly stated that singing for futile reasons or for the purpose of collecting money is unlawful without a difference of opinion in it.

 

He later writes: If you were to say, the reasoning of the author of gathering people upon a major sin indicates that singing in general is unlawful, even if there is a benefit in the singing. The listening to songs is a major sin due to the fact that they have gathered to listen to the song itself and the listening only becomes unlawful if what is listened to is unlawful. The reality of the matter is not so, since if a person sings in a manner that no one hears him and does it for himself to remove loneliness, then it is not impermissible. Some Jurists say that it is not impermissible if it is done to learn and benefit from the rhythm of the poem in order to become eloquent in speech. And some Jurists say that it is not impermissible for people to listen to it if it is on the occasion of marriage and post-marital feast, even if there is some form of futility, since there is explicit text regarding (the permissibility of songs in) marriage.

 

The answer to this is that there has been a difference of opinion on the issue of singing for oneself or to remove loneliness amongst the Jurists. There are those who state that singing is not impermissible, only that form is impermissible which done in futile. They take proof from the narration of Anas bin Mālik (Radiyallāhu ‘Anhu) that once he visited his brother, Barā’ bin Mālik, who was considered to be one of the ascetics of the Sahāba and was singing. Shams al-A’ima al-Sarakhsi takes this view. From the Jurists are also those who do not permit any form of singing, and Shaykh al-Islām takes this view.  They interpret the narration of Barā’ bin Mālik that he was reciting permissible forms of poetry which contain wisdom and advice, as the word ghinā how it is used for its normal meaning (singing), it is also used for other meanings. The Prophet of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam) has said:

من لم يتغن بالقران فليس منا

Who so ever does not recite the Qur’ān in a melodious voice is not from us.

 

 

There is no harm in saying permissible poetry. From those things permitted in poetry is describing the traits and qualities of an unspecified and unknown woman as opposed to a specific woman (as this will not be permissible).

 

If the matter is such, then it is possible that the author is of the opinion of all forms of singing being unlawful, as was the view of Shaykh al-Islam, except we will say that this is in regards to those unlawful songs which have words that are impermissible e.g., describing body parts meant to be concealed, characteristics of living woman, wine and enticing people towards wine, discussions of internal family affairs, ridiculing a Muslim or non-Muslim citizen, etc. This is when the intentions of the person is to ridicule a person and not to say poetry in order to explain a word or to become more eloquent.

As for songs free from these evils such as the description of flowers and streams, etc. there is no reason for its impermissibility. Yes, if they are accompanied by musical instruments, then it will be unlawful even if the words are of wisdom and advice, due to the instruments and not the song. And Allāh Knows Best.

 

In Al-Mughni of Ibn Qudāma, it is written that musical instruments are of two types.

 

 

a.)    Unlawful – Those instruments which exclusively for entertainment e.g., flute mandolin, etc. Due to the narration of Abu Umāma that the Prophet of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam) said, “Allāh has sent me as a mercy for mankind and has instructed me to break the violin and the flute.

 

 

b.)    Lawful – The use of tambourine drums (daff) in marriage and similar joyous occasions.

 (Fath al-Qadīr 6/481 Rashīdiyya)

End of Translation

 

 

From the above detailed explanation of Ibn Humām, the following points can be understood:

 

1.      Singing in itself to remove loneliness is permissible by the consensus of the Hanafi Jurist. Those that have stated to be impermissible are stating it regarding the songs which contain words that are inappropriate.

2.      Songs accompanied by music is unlawful according to all the Hanafi Jurist.

3.      Those musical instruments, for which the sole purpose is entertainment, are unlawful. Those instruments that are at times used in futile and at times used for announcements will be permissible to use in marriages and other similar occasions and impermissible at other times.

 

 

Singing in today’s time will not be permissible as it is either for entertainment, accompanied by music, or have inappropriate words.

 

 

See also Ahkām al-Qur’ān (3/203 Section written by Mufti Shafi’)

 

 

 

 

Non-instrumental music – vocal music

 

 

Due to the fitna of today’s time, vocal music will also not be permissible. Vocal music, as found in the background of many anāshīd, is done solely for entertainment and has become a common substitution for music. It carries the same disastrous and poisonous affects of music. At times, it becomes difficult to differentiate between a cappella and music produced from musical instruments. In fact, sometimes the harms of vocal music become graver than that of music produced from musical instruments, since those that are religiously inclined recognize the unlawfulness of music and abstain from it, but do not apply the same cautiousness towards a cappella. Thus, they begin listening to a cappella and become affected by its tune just how a person would have been affected by music produced by musical instruments. For some, a cappella has been the means to start the evil habit of listening to music itself. It has become a hidden virus which is lingering within the Muslim communities and people are oblivious to it. May Allah make the Muslim umma aware of all that which is detrimental to the imān and give the ability to abstain from it, Amīn.

And Allah knows best
Wassalam

Ml. Ehzaz Ajmeri,

Student Darul Iftaa

Checked and Approved by:

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In’aamiyyah

 

Source

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