Tafseer Surah Luqman: Quran, Music and Idle Talk

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Adapted for Hiba Magazine by Shaheera Vakani (Jeddah)

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ

“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)

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ And of the people are those who are محرومين  and مخذولين. They are deprived from happiness, disgraced and dispraised.

And when Our Verses (of the Qur’an) are recited to such a one, he turns away in pride, as if he heard them not, as if there were deafness in his ear. So announce to him a painful torment.

Why are they deprived and disgraced?

مَن يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ they purchase idle talk that makes them heedless and deviated.  Allah is telling us that when someone chooses to purchase something, he has a desire for it and nobody is forcing him to. Qatadah said: “By Allah, he may not spend money on it, but his purchasing it means he likes it, and the more misguided he is, the more he likes it and the more he prefers falsehood to the truth and harmful things over beneficial things.”

What are the types of talk?

  • Truthful talk: is helpful and beneficial
  • Vain talk: neutral talk; it is neither good nor bad and it does not increase one’s knowledge but it will not harm him either
  • Harmful talk: these are the sins of the tongue: backbiting, lying, slandering, and mocking. It is important to safe guard the tongue from such talk and rely on Allah to be protected from such talk.
  • لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ is talk that is Haram; it is false and has no benefit in the Dunya or Akhirah.

Music and the Quran

The scholars have agreed that this verse indicates musical instruments and singing. Many people are in the misconception that the Quran does not explicitly mention that music is Haram but this verse makes it clear. It was said by scholars that singing and musical instruments sows hypocrisy in the hearts because it is not beneficial and deviates the heart from Allah’s remembrance.

What about Nasheeds?

The wisdom behind this verse is that sometimes Nasheeds become faster engrained in the hearts and minds of people than the Quran. The misconception is that Nasheeds increase in one’s faith, but if you really wish to increase your faith, then you have the Book of Allah! It is the speech of Allah that is unmatched by any other speech. This is Ihsaan, to worship Allah in the best way.

يقول أبو مالك الأشعري أنه سمع النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم يقول

ليكونن من أمتي قوم يستحلون الحر والحرير والخمر والمعازف

Abu Malik Al-Ashari said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (sa) say, “From among my followers there will be people who will consider lawful (Halal) illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcohol and the use of musical instruments.” (Bukhari)

Musical instruments were “made Halal or lawful”, which means that in the time of the Messenger of Allah (sa), musical instruments were Haram. Singing is the sound of the Shaitan, it stirs people’s emotions and deprives them from working towards the noble goal that Allah created us for. This includes movies, theatres and cinemas.

What is the reason behind purchasing this idle talk?

لِيُضِلَّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ to mislead other from the path of Allah without knowledge. He will mislead someone else by spreading this disease of idle talk. He misguides himself and others from the Quran and Sunnah and Shaitan will tempt and trick us into thinking that the path of Allah is tedious.

وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا the next step is that he will mock the verses of Allah and never take it seriously. He will become busy with things that have no wisdom or value and this shows his misbehaviour and disrespect towards Allah and His verses.

أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ for those people is a humiliating torment. The word أُولَٰئِكَ is usually used to exalt something and raise its status, but in this verse it means that those people are outcasts and far from Allah’s mercy. This status started from purchasing idle talk, which lead to misleading himself and others, which lead to mockery of Allah and His verses. They are punished and belittled and will suffer humiliating torment because of their mockery.

وَإِذَا تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِ آيَاتُنَا وَلَّىٰ مُسْتَكْبِرًا كَأَن لَّمْ يَسْمَعْهَا كَأَنَّ فِي أُذُنَيْهِ وَقْرًا ۖ فَبَشِّرْهُ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ

“And when Our Verses (of the Quran) are recited to such a one, he turns away in pride, as if he heard them not, as if there were deafness in his ear. So announce to him a painful torment.” (Luqman 31:7)

What is the condition of this person?

وَإِذَا تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِ آيَاتُنَا The verses of Allah are recited to this person because Allah has decreed that he will hear them and choose the path of guidance, but what is his response?

وَلَّىٰ مُسْتَكْبِرًا كَأَن لَّمْ يَسْمَعْهَا كَأَنَّ فِي أُذُنَيْهِ وَقْرًا He turns away and rejects the verses of Allah with complete arrogance. These verses were meant to increase him in faith but rather, the idle talk and heedless words that he would listen to and relish have blinded his heart and the verse of Allah cannot penetrate into a sinful heart. Moreover, he turns away as though he cannot hear the verses at all because there is a deafness of heaviness in his ears. At this point, the person has rejected the truth as a result of ignorance and arrogance.

فَبَشِّرْهُ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ So announce to him a painful torment. Allah will give him respite and show him the signs to bring him to guidance, but the person rejects this. The temporary satisfaction that he got out of this idle talk resulted in painful torment of the body and heart because he turned away from the speech and remembrance of Allah.

 Etiquettes and Manners of Reciting the Quran

  1. Sincerity: to be sincere to Allah in your intention and to recite it only for His sake
  2. Purity: it is recommended to make Wudhu and be in a purified state when reciting the Quran. However, a person in the state of Janabah is not allowed to recite the Quran. Also, the area he is sitting to recite should be clean and pure.
  3. Use of Miswak: to have a clean mouth before reciting the Quran is a Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (sa)
  4. Seeking refuge with Allah from Shaitan: Shaitan does not want you to recite the Quran and will distract you and discourage you
  5. Saying Bismillah: It should be said when starting a new Surah, except for Surah At-Taubah. When starting the middle of a Surah, however, it is enough that only the Istiadhah is said.
  6. Reciting clearly: to recite clearly and slowly without hastening, and to recite with Tajweed while pondering the meanings
  7. Beautifying the voice: beautify your voice when reciting the Quran without exceeding the limits of Tajweed
  8. Stop reciting if tired or sleepy: when tired or sleepy, it is better to stop reciting because you are not fully aware of what you are reciting.
  9. Patience with difficulty: It is mentioned in a Sahih Hadith that the one who recites the Quran with expertise is with the honourable angels, while the one who has difficulty reciting gets two rewards: reward for reciting and reward for patience
  10. Facing the Qiblah: it is from the manners of reciting the Quran but it is also allowed to recite in any other position; sitting, walking, riding and even if you are lying down. The best way is to sit and face the Qiblah.