Music in Islam


By Alia Adil – Freelance writer

Music has always topped the list whenever it comes to so-called ‘controversial’ issues. Some simply hush up anything even remotely related to it, terming it Haram, whereas others have declared it to be permissible. For a layman, there is always confusion as to what is right and what is wrong. In an attempt to clear the fog, let us take a look at what is mentioned in our Shariah regarding singing and music.

In Surah Al-Isra, Allah (swt) mentions the time when Shaitan was granted respite until the Last Day to misguide mankind. Allah (swt) allowed him to use all weapons he could for this purpose, including his voice, Sawt: “And Istafziz [literally means: befool them gradually] those, whom you can among them with your voice (i.e. songs, music, and any other call for Allah’s disobedience)…” (Al-Isra 17:64)

According to Ibn Abbas (rta), Sawt (voice) mentioned in this verse refers to every form of invitation, which calls to disobedience to Allah (swt). Ad-Dahhak said it was the sound of wind instruments. Mujahid interpreted Sawt as Ghina (singing to cause enchantment or sensual pleasure), Mazamir (wind instruments) and Lahw (distraction from important matters).

Then Allah (swt) says:“And of mankind is he, who purchases idle talks (i.e., music, singing, etc.) to mislead (men) from the path of Allah without knowledge, and takes it (the path of Allah, the Verses of the Quran) by way of mockery. For such there will be a humiliating torment (in the Hell-fire).” (Luqman 31:6)

According to Imam Qurtubi, this is one of the three verses, from which scholars have deduced the dislike and prohibition of Ghina(the third one being An-Najm, 53:59-61). The keyword here is Lahw Al-Hadeeth (idle talks).

Abdullah Ibn Masud (rtam) said: “I swear by the One other than Whom there is no god, Lahw al Hadeeth refers to Ghina.” Ibn Abbas said: “It means Ghina and the like.” Mujahid said: “It means Ghina and listening to it.” Hasan Al-Basri said: “This verse was revealed in relation to Ghina and musical instruments.”

Abu Malik Al-Ashari narrated that Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “There will be groups of people from my Ummah, who will seek to declare fornication, adultery, silk, wine, and musical instruments to be lawful.” (Bukhari)

Prophet Muhammad (sa) also said: “A people of my Ummah will drink wine, calling it by other than its real name. Merriment will be made for them through the playing of musical instruments and the singing of lady singers. Allah (swt) will cleave the earth under them and turn them and others into apes and swine.” (Ibn-Majah and Bayhaqi)

Moreover, it is recorded that Abdur-Rahman Ibn Awf (rta) reported: “The Prophet (sa) took my hand and I went with him to visit his (ailing) son Ibrahim. He was in the throes of death. The Prophet (sa) took him to his breast and held him until he breathed his last. Then he put the child down and wept. I asked: “You are weeping, O Messenger of Allah, while you prohibit crying?” The Prophet (sa) replied: “Verily, I did not prohibit weeping but rather, I forbade two sounds that are foolish and sinful: the sound of musical amusement and Shaitan’s Mazamir in time of joy and blessing; and the sound (of wailing) at the time of adversity accompanied by striking the face and tearing of garments. But this (weeping of mine) stems from compassion, and whoever does not show compassion will not receive it.” (Al-Hakim)

Ibn Taymiyah writes: “This is among the best Ahadeeth that are used to show the prohibition of Ghina.”

Thus, it is clear beyond doubt that Islam establishes a general ruling of Tahreem (prohibition), when it comes to music. However, Islam, being a balanced religion, gives room for amusement and sport that is free from sin and evil consequences. There are some occasions, such as weddings and the days of Eid, where singing and use of Duff (one-sided drum without bells) are permissible (women and girls only). It is recorded that Muhammad Ibn Hatib (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “Duff and singing in weddings distinguish the permissible from the prohibited.” (Bukhari)

Likewise, singing is allowed in order to gain strength at the time of Jihad and to ease laborious work, as was done by Prophet (sa) and his companions, while digging the trench around Madinah, in preparation for the Battle of Trench. To determine all such occasions and the extent of their permissibility, one must refer to authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (sa).

Instrument-free singing is permissible by consensus, provided certain conditions are met: it must be for a rightful purpose, it must comprise pure, non-erotic lyrics, and one must not excessively indulge in it. Moreover, one can occasionally enjoy Islamic Nasheeds, as long as the content is wholesome, virtuous, and free from polytheism and use of musical instruments.

Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyah says: “From among the artful machinations and entrapments of Allah’s enemy (Satan), with which he has snared those possessing little good sense, knowledge and Deen, and by which he has stalked the hearts of the false and ignorant people, there is the listening to whistling, wailing, handclapping and song to the accompaniment of forbidden (musical) instruments. Such things block the Quran from people’s hearts and make them devoted to sin and disobedience. For song (to musical accompaniment) is the Quran (recital) of Ash-Shaytan. It is a dense veil and barrier, preventing nearness to Ar-Rahman.”

Later on in his treatise, he says: “Therefore know that songs have particular characteristics, which faint the heart, causing hypocrisy to sprout therein, just as water sprouts plants. Among its qualities is that it distracts the heart and prevents it from contemplation and understanding of the Quran and from applying it. This is because the Quran and song can never coexist in the heart, since they are mutually contradictory…”

It is often said that music leads to tranquility of the soul. However, the tranquility that one acquires from remembering Allah (swt) is entirely different from the one experienced through music. Allah (swt) says in the Quran “… Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.”(Ar-Rad 13:28)

“To Forgive is Divine” – The Way of a Muhsin

Apr 11 - MohsinBy Alia Adil

“I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.” (Booker T. Washington)

We were studying Surah Yusuf. We read the Ayah where Yusuf (as) reassures his step-brothers that Allah (swt) will forgive them, implying that he himself has already forgiven them. Later, Yaqub (as) also tells his sons that he will soon seek forgiveness for them from Allah (swt). It made me think how easy it can actually be for a human to forgive another human, who has constantly been transgressing his rights.

Prophets of Allah (swt) are models for us to emulate, and we can only do so if we put their teachings into practice. If you have been tortured (mentally or physically), if your rights have been trampled upon or if your life has been made miserable and you feel that a particular person is responsible for it, then how easy is it to forgive?

This question led me to Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) example in Taif. The inhumane treatment meted out to him, as a result of his call to the truth, shows the level of brutality a human being can possibly have towards another. But what was his response? He did not talk about revenge. All he was concerned about was his relationship with Allah (swt) – he was desperate to know whether this trial was a result of Allah’s (swt) anger or otherwise. All that mattered to him was that his Lord should be pleased with him. As long as he had that bounty, other issues were trivial. Allah (swt) was his primary concern.

Why is it that when we face a similar situation, our reaction is entirely different? This is because our primary concern is people, leaving Allah (swt) only as the second. Aisha (rta) has narrated: “Allah’s Apostle (saw) never took revenge for his own self in any matter presented to him till Allah’s limits were exceeded, in which case he would take revenge for Allah’s sake.” (Bukhari)

We need to set our priorities right. We need to realize that Allah’s (swt) pleasure is what truly matters. When our purpose becomes to gain the pleasure of Allah (swt), then forgiving others becomes possible.

Islam is a comprehensive religion that caters to the whole of humanity, keeping their strengths and weaknesses in consideration. It also gives us space for our own unique circumstances in life. If the threat from the other person is of an ongoing nature, we are granted the right to choose how to deal with such a person. The Prophet (sa) informed us that the supplication of the oppressed does not go unanswered.

Allah (swt) says: “The recompense for an evil is an evil like thereof, but whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah. Verily, He likes not the Zalimun. And indeed whosoever takes revenge after he has suffered wrong, for such there is no way (of blame) against them. The way (of blame) is only against those who oppress men and wrongly rebel in the earth without justification, for such there will be a painful torment. And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives that would truly be from the things recommended by Allah.” (Ash-Shura 42:40-43)

Thus, everything depends upon our attitude – a positive mind will be full of hope, while a negative-minded person will remain dissatisfied and vengeful. From the early generations of Islam, we learn about a person who slandered a scholar. In return, the scholar gave him a gift of dates. Later, when asked about the gift, he said: “Because he did good to me (i.e., on the Day of Judgement, the man would have to give him some of his good deeds or take from him some of his bad ones due to this offence).”

Ibrahim At-Tamimi once said: “When a man wrongs me, I pay him back with an act of mercy.”

However, we must never forget that no one can harm us, if Allah (swt) has ordained our well-being, and no one can save us from harm, if Allah (swt) wishes so. Nothing happens outside the Decree of Allah (swt). When someone hurts you, take it as a test from Allah (swt) and handle it with wisdom.

So then, what should be our response? Allah (swt) tells us: “And those who remain patient, seeking their Lord’s Countenance, perform As-Salat, and spend out of that which We have bestowed on them, secretly and openly, and defend evil with good, for such there is a good end.” (Rad 13:22) This Ayah holds a strong message – repel evil with good, injustice with forgiveness.

Abu Hurairah (rta) has narrated: “A man said to Prophet Muhammad (sa): ‘I have relatives, I try to keep the ties of relationship with them, but they sever relations with me; I treat them kindly, but they treat me badly; I am gentle with them, but they are rough to me.’ He (sa) replied: “If you are as you say, it is as if you are feeding them hot ashes, and you will be with a supporter against them from Allah (swt), as long as you continue to do so.’” (Muslim)

Prophet Muhammad (sa) has said: “No one is wronged and bears it with patience, but Allah (swt) will increase him in honour.” (At-Tirmidhi)

At-Tabarani recorded that Prophet Muhammad (sa) has said: “Whoever seeks forgiveness for the believing men and women, then a good deed will be written for him for every single believing man and woman.”

Allah (swt) says: “The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly), then verily! He, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend. But none is granted it (the above quality) except those who are patient, and none is granted it except the owner of the great portion (of the happiness in the Hereafter i.e. Paradise and in this world of a high moral character). (Fussilat 41: 34-35)

May Allah (swt) grant us the patience to forgive others and the ability to turn our foes into our friends. Ameen.


India Eid al FitrBy Alia Adil


The payment of Zakat-Al-Fitr before offering the Eid prayer is obligatory upon every Muslim, who is self-supporting. Ibn Umar (rta) said: “The Messenger of Allah (sa) enjoined Zakat-Al-Fitr, a Sa of dates or a Sa of barley, upon all the Muslims, slave and free, male and female, young and old, and he commanded that it be paid before the people went out to pray.” (Bukhari)

A Muslim should give Zakat-Al-Fitr on his own behalf and on behalf of those, on whom he spends, e.g., wife, children, parents, if they cannot give it on their own behalf. If they are able to, then it is better for them to give it themselves.

Imam Shafi said: “Who I say is obliged to give Zakat-Al-Fitr, if a child is born to him, or he takes possession of a slave, or someone becomes one of his dependents at any time during the last day of Ramadan, then the sun sets on the night of the crescent of Shawwal,

he has to give Zakat-Al-Fitr on that person’s behalf.” (Al-Umm, Bab Zakat-Al-Fitr al Thani)

Hikmah (Wisdom)

The wisdom behind Zakat-Al-Fitr is that it makes up for any errors unintentionally made during Ramadan, and it also serves as a means to feed the poor on Eid.

Ibn Abbas (rta) has narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) prescribed Zakat-Al-Fitr as a purification of the fasting person from senseless and obscene talk, and as food for the poor. Whoever fulfills it before the (Eid) prayer, it will be an acceptable Zakat, and whoever fulfills it after the prayer, it will be counted as a Sadaqah (voluntary alms).” (Abu Dawood)

Wakeel Ibn al Jarrah said: “Zakat-Al-Fitr for the month of Ramadan is like two Sujood-As-Sahu for the prayer. It makes up for any shortcomings in the fast, just as the prostrations make up for any shortcomings in the prayer.” (Al-Nawawi, Al-Majmoo, part 6)


The amount to be given as Zakat-Al-Fitr is a Sa of any kind of staple food. What is meant by a Sa here is the Sa of the Messenger of Allah (sa), which is four times the amount that may be held in the two hands of a man of average built. Hence, one Sa is equal to four Mudd, where one Mudd is equivalent to two hands cupped together.

Sa is actually a measure of volume. In modern weights this is equivalent to approximately three kilograms. This is corroborated by Sheikh Ibn Baz on

In What Form

In Al-Saheehayn, it is narrated that Abu Saeed Al-Khudri (rta) said: “At the time of the Messenger of Allah (sa) we used to give it at a rate of one Sa of food, or one Sa of dates, or one Sa of barley, or one Sa of cheese, or one Sa of raisins…”

A number of scholars interpreted the word Tam (food) in this Hadeeth as referring to wheat, and others explained it as referring to the staple food of the local people, no matter what it is, whether it is wheat, corn or something else. Therefore, it may be in the form of raisins, barley, dates, wheat, lentils, dried curd, rye, etc.

Scholars disagree, as to whether money can be paid in lieu of food. The majority of scholars hold the view that Zakat-Al-Fitr cannot be paid in cash. It must be given in the form of food, as the Prophet (sa) and his companions did. This view is the one adopted by the Maliki, Shafi and Hanbali schools of law. The Hanafi school of law follows Imam Abu Hanifah’s opinion that it is permissible to pay Zakat-Al-Fitr in cash.


Zakat-Al-Fitr is a kind of charity that is obligatory at the time when the sun sets on the last day of Ramadan.

It is reported on the authority of Abdullah Ibn Umar (rta) that he said: “The Messenger of Allah (sa) ordered that Zakat-Al-Fitr be paid before people go out to the (Eid) prayer.” (Bukhari)

It is reported that Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz (rta) and Abu al Aliya (rta) said: “He (the Prophet (sa)) paid Zakat-Al-Fitr, when he went out for the prayer, i.e., Salat-ul-Eid.” (Al Jassas, Ahkam Al Quran, part 3, Surah Aala)

There is a time when it is Mustahab (preferable) to give it, and there is a time when it is permissible to give it. It is Mustahab to give on the Eid day. The time when it is permissible to give Zakat-Al-Fitr is one or two days before the Eid.

In Sahih Al Bukhari it is reported that An-Nafi(rta) said: “Ibn Umar (rta) used to give on behalf of the young and old. He would give it to those who took it (those who were appointed by the Imam for its collection), and it would be given a day or two before (Eid- Al-Fitr).”

It is not permissible to delay it until after the prayer, because of the report narrated by Ibn Abbas (rta), according to which the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever gives it before the prayer, it is accepted as Zakah, and whoever gives it after the prayer, it is a kind of charity.” (Abu Dawood)

Hence, Zakat-Al-Fitr may be paid a day or two in advance but not after the Eid prayer.


Zakat-Al-Fitr should be given to the poor and needy Muslims in the land or city, where it is given, because of the report narrated by Abu Dawood from Ibn Abbas (rta), who said: “The Messenger of Allah (sa) enjoined Zakat-Al-Fitr to be paid in Ramadan to feed the poor.”

Imam Al Shafi(rta) said: “Zakat-Al-Fitr should be divided among those, to whom Zakat-Al-Mal is divided, and it should not be spent anywhere else… It should be shared out among the poor and needy, slaves who have made a contract to purchase their freedom from their masters, debtors, those who are fighting in the way of Allah, and wayfarers.” (Kitab Al Umm: Bab Dayah Zakat-Al-Fitr qabla Qasmiha)

And Allah (swt) knows best.

So that you can fly

Vol 5 - Issue 2 So that you can flyBy Umm Isam and Alia Adil

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day, a small opening appeared – he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours, as it struggled to force its body through the little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and could go no farther. Then the man decided to help the butterfly.

He took a pair of scissors and snipped the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. However, something was strange. The butterfly had a swollen body and shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly, expecting the wings to enlarge and expand at any moment to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and deformed wings. It was never able to fly.
What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the small opening of the cocoon are Allah’s (swt) way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight, once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Sometimes, struggles are exactly what we need in our life.
If Allah (swt) allowed us to go through all our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could. Not only that – we would never be able fly.

Another important factor to realize is that Allah (swt) never places on us a burden heavier than our might. If life throws a challenge our way, we should be convinced in our heart that we can handle it; otherwise, we would not have encountered it. After all, Allah (swt) has created us and knows our level of strength.

Struggles are also a trial from Allah (swt) to test, which one of us loses hope and wanes away, and which one stands firm, praying to Allah (swt) earnestly and moving on with determination. They know that Allah (swt) is always on the side of those, who face struggles head on and fight with all the resources and courage they can muster, praying to Allah (swt) for help and triumph. “O mankind! It is you who stand in need of Allah. But Allah is Rich (Free of all needs), Worthy of all praise.” (Fatir 35:15)

Finally, Allah (swt) promises: “Verily, along with every hardship is relief…” (Ash-Sharh)

Another significant issue to understand is the concept of relief. To us, mortals, relief may mean regaining lost wealth, recovering from a terrible disease or winning back friends lost in a quarrel. In other words, returning to a previous state of life, which was disrupted due to a sudden change.

With His infinite wisdom, Allah (swt) views circumstances differently. He knows the unforeseen and thus decides, what is best for us, so long as we place our trust in Him, submitting to His will. This means that people may stay poor following a financial loss or die from a disease, or never patch up with lost friends. This may be relief from Allah (swt) – if our being rich or living, or socializing with certain friends would have led us to a disaster in this world and in the Akhirah (Hereafter).

Sometimes, relief comes in ways that benefits us instantly, the results of which can be witnessed, whereas at other times, relief cannot be comprehended immediately. We just have to pray to Allah (swt) to help us understand and be patient with His decision. Relief is always on its way – it is Allah’s (swt) promise!

Formula for Peace

By Alia Ahmed

Once, there was a king, who offered a prize to any artist that would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried their luck. The king looked at all the representations, and only two fascinated him. Ultimately, he had to choose between them.

The first depiction was that of a placid lake with mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. It seemed a perfect picture of peace.

The other image had mountains too, but these were rugged and bare. Above was an enraged sky, from which rain fell and lightening flashed. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a furious, foaming waterfall. Apparently, this was not all, for when the king looked closely behind the waterfall, he saw a tiny bush growing in the crack of a rock. In that bush, a mother bird had built her peewee nest. In the midst of the rush of angry water, the mother bird sat on her nest in perfect peace.

Guess, which one turned out to be the award-winning illustration? Yes, the second one. Why? “Because,” explained the king, “peace does not mean being in a quiet place void of trouble or hard work. Peace means being in the midst of it all and still remaining cool, calm, and composed in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.”

This narration compels one to ponder and cogitate. Since the basic unit of the human kind is an individual human, it is evident that in order to achieve peace in the outer world, it must first be attained within the heart of that individual. Consequently, outer peace, or world peace, is a by-product of personal tranquility and mental satisfaction of individuals that inhabit it. Thomas Kempis said: “First keep the peace within yourself, then you can bring peace to others.”

Some people are of the opinion that peace will only be achieved, when they control every single element in their lives. Maybe they are just oblivious to the fact that this is not possible. One must understand the difference between things that are within our control and things that are beyond. The concept of predestination (Qadar) is central to this understanding. Religious scholars and intellectuals are of the view that tribulation and distress in today’s world may have a perspicuous cause-we have lost the path that leads to salvation, because we are missing out on Allah’s (swt) cardinal instructions.

Inner peace is a feeling of calmness and satisfaction within our hearts. But the delicate question is: how can that be attained? ‘Iman’ – the true faith in Allah (swt) and the beliefs, on which the Islamic faith is based – is the only real fountain for one’s inner calmness and rapture. This Arabic word is derived from the root word ‘Amn’, pointing towards peace and tranquility that a believer enjoys in his heart as a result of practising and bolstering these beliefs. There must be no half-hearted consents but total submission to God’s commands. Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “Truly, in remembering Allah (swt) do hearts find rest” (Ra’d 13:28). Dhikr, the remembrance of Allah (swt), leads to Allah (swt) consciousness, which persuasively brings forth total submission to His commands. Thereupon, it is imperative that in order to bring tranquility into our lives, we must live according to His commandments.

Another significant factor that massively contributes towards acquiring a complacent soul is ‘Shukr’ – thankfulness to Allah (swt). ‘Shukr’ is derived from the root word, ‘sh-k-r,’ and it literally refers to ‘when a cow feeds on less fodder but gives more milk’. Conspicuously, it indicates, how we as believers should be. We should be grateful to Allah (swt) under all circumstances. We must learn to develop a sense of gratitude within ourselves for all the blessings we have received. Most of us have a great deal in our lives to make us blissfully content, but, unfortunately, we lack the ability to acknowledge and appreciate it. A lot is taken for granted and this ingratitude prevents us from attaining tranquility within our hearts. As Melody Beattie says: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Gratitude (Shukr) is considered to be the best and the highest of all the stations of faith (Iman). Gratitude also includes in itself the virtue of patience (Sabr). When we look at the life of Prophet Muhammad (sa), we find that there is nothing greater than his patience and gratitude. He was ‘Saboor’ and ‘Shakoor’. The reality is that as servants of Allah (swt), we can be in one of the two states during our lifetime. Either we enjoy a bounty, for which we should be thankful for, or we may be suffering a calamity that we should meet with patience and forbearance. Muslim states the Hadeeth: “Amazing is the believer, for whatever Allah (swt) decrees for him! If he is tested with a bounty, he is grateful for it, and this is better for him; and if he is afflicted with hardship, he is patient with it, and this is better for him.”

Patience has three main forms:

(a) patience for avoiding the prohibitions and sins,

(b) patience for acts of worship and obedience,

(c) patience required in the face of afflictions and hardships.

The Quran explicitly mentions the finest tools that may be applied to help ease the effects of suffering and hardship: patience (Sabr) and prayer (Dhikr). It is stated in Surat-al-Baqarah, verse 152-153: “Therefore, remember Me (by praying, glorifying (Dhikr)). I will remember you, and be grateful to Me (for my countless favors on you) and never be ungrateful to Me. O you, who believe! Seek help in patience and Salah (the prayer). Truly, Allah (swt) is with the As-Sabireen (the patient).” One may conclude that ‘Sakina’ – peace and tranquility within the heart – is a gift from Allah (swt), and the most essential ingredients that contribute to a serene and placid heart are: remembrance of Allah (swt), gratitude and patience. Consequently, a heart that remains thankful and patient, while in constant remembrance of its Creator, can never lose peace of mind.