Summary of the Fatwa, al-Musiqi wa al-Ghina’ fi Mizan al-Islam, about Music & Singing

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is taken from A Detailed Fatwa about Music & Singing by Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Yusuf al-Juday (r.a.).  This was originally from al-Musiqi wa al-Ghina’ fi Mizan al-Islam, Music and Singing in the Balance of Islam.  It was translation by Ustadz Usama Hasan, 13th February 2010.

We begin by highlighting briefly the main conclusions of this study:

1. There is no consensus, ijma’, about the legal ruling on music and singing, whether considered together or as separate issues.

2. There is no unequivocal text, nasw, from the Noble Qur’an that speaks about these two issues.

3. There is no unequivocal text, nasw, from the sunnah that definitely forbids music or singing.

4. In the legal positions, madzahib, of the companions and successors, there is no clear prohibition of music or singing.  Rather, some of them listened to music and singing and permitted this.  Precursors of the view of prohibition began to appear after them, but without indisputable, clear-cut prohibition.

5. To claim that the a’immah of the four main Sunni madzahib agreed on the absolute prohibition of music or singing is inaccurate.

6. The issues of music and singing return to the basic principle, aswl, in matters of habits and objects, and the established position based on evidence in this regard is one of permission, ibahah, which cannot be modified without evidence.

7. The basic principle, aswl, in sounds and speech is the permissibility of making and listening to these, and similarly for humming.  A beautiful voice or sound, in itself, is a blessing from Allah (s.w.t.).

8. All that is narrated in condemnation of music and singing, which some hold to, thinking it is legal evidence, includes very little that is clear and indisputable.  The latter is not authentically narrated, and it is not permissible to base legal judgments on unsound narrations.

9. Those texts from the authentic sunnah which the prohibitors of music and singing think is legal evidence, are in reality evidence against them to falsify their claims.  Rather, there are numerous unequivocal texts, nusus, in the authentic sunnah that confirm the basic principle and necessitate the view that music and singing are permissible.

A Principled Judgment on Music & Singing

Musical instruments were found in Arab society before Islam and remained afterwards: no clear-cut, authentic, indisputable text, nasw, came to forbid these.  Sounds arising from musical instruments are lawful, halal, in principle.  They remain within the sphere of permissibility unless they are used as a means towards disobedience of Allah (s.w.t.).

The exact definition of permissible singing is: that which involves intrinsically-permissible words or lyrics, whether or not it is accompanied by music.  Use of the permissible for purposes involving vice changes the ruling of permissibility to prohibition in that circumstance, not in general.  There is no distinction between men and women in the ruling of permissibility for music and singing.  Males listening to the singing of females, or vice-versa, are intrinsically harmless: this is authentically-narrated in several evidential texts.

The usage and learning of music and singing are permissible, mubah, since there is no basis to forbid what is permissible in principle.  A ruling derived from this is that practising the arts of music and singing, being attracted to these or listening to them, does not by themselves damage the integrity, ‘adalah, of a person.  To amuse oneself by songs, whether these are called ‘Islamic’ or ‘national’ or other, is permissible and allowed, mubah ja’iz, whether accompanied by music or not, as long as the lyrics are intrinsically acceptable, mashru’ah.  As for the remembrance of Allah Exalted by words of sanctification and praise, and as for prayers of blessing upon His Prophet (s.a.w.), it is acceptable and encouraged to gather together for such purposes.  It is permissible to do this melodiously, bi at-taghanni, as it is permissible to recite the Qur’an melodiously.  However, it should be noted that all of this is worship, ‘ibadah, and not amusement, lahw, and so it cannot be accompanied by music because the latter is a form of amusement, and amusement cannot be a means of worship.  Similarly, it was disliked to use the trumpet or bell to call people for prayer, and the announcement by a human voice, adzan, was legislated instead.

The ruling on music and singing does not differ in our times from previous ages.  Any judgment on what is popular in these matters is based on the individual lyrics.  If these lead to a prohibited matter, then the judgment is one of prohibition. haram.  If permissible music and singing is accompanied by prohibited scenes, such as the uncovering of private parts, ‘awrah, the forbiddance would extend to looking at such scenes, but not to the music and singing itself.

Concluding Remarks

Firstly, music and singing are forms of amusement, lahw, so the basic principle is that they should be used to realise recognised benefits, maswlahah mu’tabarah, such as expressing acceptable happiness or warding off boredom and tedium.  If they are used too much, the benefits will be correspondingly obstructed.  The permissible is harmless as long as it does not overcome the obligatory or recommended, or lead to what is prohibited or disliked, in which case it changes from being permissible to being prohibited or disliked.

Secondly, the fact that many people exceed the bounds of permissibility with such amusement does not falsify the basic principle regarding music and singing.  What is rejected of their actions is what is excessive, and it is not allowed to make changing times or improper use into a reason to prohibit the permissible.  Keeping people to the basic principle of the shari’ah is safest for the responsibility of the person of knowledge, even if this agrees with the desires of a person of lust, for the sin is not incurred by doing what is lawful, halal, but by falling into the prohibited, haram.

Thirdly, the way to recognise the lawful, halal; the prohibited, haram; and the major symbols, sha’a’ir, of Islam is the Book and the authentic sunnah, based upon clear principles and evident rules.  It is not by rejected and fabricated ahadits, or by opinions devoid of proof or baseless views.  Otherwise, whoever wished to could say whatever they wanted, and people’s religion would become corrupted for them.  This is just one issue where we can see how far false narrations and weak opinions have played with the views of many people, whilst infallibility is only for the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) in what he conveyed on the authority of his Lord, Most Exalted.

This conclusion to this study will not agree with the wishes of many people, but it is enough for me that I have only arrived at it in the light of the evidence and proof of the shari’ah, following the guidance of the basic principles and proper analysis in matters of disagreement with my opponents.


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