The Holy Quran and Music

In addition to the al-hadith, there are numerous verses of the Qur'an dealing with "music" as we know it today, and in actuality, anything which is vain or futile. Allah has mentioned:

... فَاجْتَنِبُوا الرِّجْسَ مِنَ الْأَوْثَانِ وَاجْتَنِبُوا قَوْلَ الزُّورِ.

"So abstain from the pollution of the idols and abstain from false, vain words."(1)

The Arabic word Zur (false, vain words) has several meanings some of which include falsehood and the musical expressions. According to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq "pollution of the idols" means chess; and "vain words" means music. In this verse we see how Allah compares refraining from "idols", with staying away from "vain words" or music!

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ.

"And amongst people there is he who buys 'vain talk' so that he may lead others astray from the path of Allah without (real) knowledge and takes it (the revelation of Allah) for a mockery; for these shall be a disgracing chastisement (punishment)."(2)

'Lahw' means anything that diverts the mind from serious thinking. "Vain talk" has been interpreted by the Imam as any talk, sound or thing which diverts the attention of man from the ultimate aim of his creation, in other words, it makes him forget Allah and His commands: example, fictions, romantic stories, novels, and such literature and as well as all useless talk. It includes music, intoxicants and all such diversions.(3)

Imam Muhammad ibn 'Ali al-Baqir said: "Music is among the things for which Allah has promised the Fire (of Hell). Then he recited the above verse."(4)

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ * الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ * وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنِ اللَّغْوِ مُعْرِضُونَ.

"Successful indeed are the believers those who in their prayers are humble and those who keep themselves aloof from vain (words and deeds)."(5)

What does the word 'Lahw' (vain words and actions) mean in this verse? The first Imam, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib said that "all that is void of the remembrance of Allah is 'lahw''. According to other authentic traditions of the A'immah, 'lahw' means all useless entertainment, wasteful of times among which music has been specifically mentioned. Also included in this term are vain games which are played just to waste time.

وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَشْهَدُونَ الزُّورَ وَإِذَا مَرُّوا بِاللَّغْوِ مَرُّوا كِرَامًا.

"(And the servants of the Merciful Allah are those...) who bear not witness to what is false, and when they pass by what is vain they pass with dignity."(6)

The words 'Zur' and 'Lahw' have been explained earlier. According to the traditions from the A'immah, the first part may also be translated in this way: "who do not witness what is vain;" and accordingly, it has been interpreted in the exegesis of the Qur'an as "do not listen to music." The following two traditions explain the second part of the verse:

Imam Ja'far ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq asked some of his companions: "Where are you staying?" They replied: "With so and so, who has singing and dancing girls." Imam said: "You should have dignity." They thought that the Imam had advised them to treat the host generously. But they were not sure so they returned to the Imam and requested him to explain the meaning of it to them. The Imam said: "Have you not heard Allah saying 'when they pass by what is vain they pass with dignity'? The Imam meant that you should not stay with a man who has singing and dancing girls.

Muhammad ibn Abi 'Ibad was known to indulge in music and liquor. He once asked Imam 'Ali ibn Musa ar- Riqa about listening to music. The Imam said: "Some people in Hijaz have their own view about it; but that view is absolutely wrong. Have you not heard the word of Allah 'when they pass by what is vain they pass in dignity'?" Meaning that his opinion regarding music was that those who 'heard' it, would pass by it and pay it no heed.

عن أبي بصير قال: سألت أبا عبدالله (ع) عن قول الله عز وجلّ: (فَاجْتَنِبُوا الرِّجْسَ مِنَ الْأَوْثَانِ وَاجْتَنِبُوا قَوْلَ الزُّورِ) قال: الغناء.

It has been narrated from Abi Basir that he said, "I asked Aba 'Abdillah regarding the words of Allah, The Glorious and Great, '.and stay away from the filth of the idols and stay away from the vain talk.'(7)

The Imam said, 'This is Ghina"(8)

عن أبي عبدالله (ع) قال في عن قول الله عز وجلّ: (فَاجْتَنِبُوا الرِّجْسَ مِنَ الْأَوْثَانِ وَاجْتَنِبُوا قَوْلَ الزُّورِ) قال: الرجس من الاوثان الشطرنج وقول الزور الغناء.

It has been narrated from Abi 'Abdillah that he said regarding the words of Allah, the Glorious and Great, '.and stay away from the filth of the idols and stay away from the vain talk.' That he said, "The filth of the idols is chess and the vain talk is ghina."(9)

(وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَشْهَدُونَ الزُّورَ) أي مجالس الفسّاق ولا يحصرون الباطل.

"...and those people who do not witness false speech." Means the gatherings of the immoral (people) and those who are not surrounded by false (speech).(10)

عن أبي جعفر(ع) قال: الغناء مما وعد الله عزّ وجل عليه النار وتلا هذه الآية: (ومِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ).

It has been narrated that Abi Ja'far said: "Ghina is that (sin) for which Allah, the Glorious and the High, has promised the hell-fire." The Imam then read the following verse of the Holy Qur'an:

"And among the people is he who purchases vain talk so as to mislead people from the path of Allah without knowledge and he takes that (vain talk) as treat it as a matter of fun. Verily for them is a punishment."(11)

الغناء مجلس لا ينظر الله إلى أهله وهو مما قال الله عزّ وجل: (و مِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ).

Imam Ja'far said: "A gathering in which there is Ghina is one in which Allah does not even look upon the people in attendance (meaning His blessings and mercy are taken away from the people in such a gathering) and it is this kind of a gathering that Allah, the Glorious, the High has said, "And amongst the people is he who purchases vain talk to mislead people from the path of Allah."(12)

A man said, "I was in the presence of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq when someone said to him, 'May my father and mother be sacrificed for you! My neighbor has a slave girl who sings while using the Oud (a type of musical instrument). When I need to go to the washroom, I delay my stay there so as to be able to listen to her longer!". The Imam replied: "Do not do this! On the Day of Judgement, you will have no excuse or justification to present. Have you not heard the words of Allah in the Qur'an where He said, 'Verily the ears, the eyes and the heart all of them will be questioned!'" (13)

The man replied, "I swear by Allah! It is as if I have never heard this verse be it from an 'Arab or a non- 'Arab. I promise to Allah that from this day on, I will never do this again and I ask forgiveness from Him." The Imam then said, "Get up and perform a ghusl and however much you are able to, perform Salat since up until now you have been submerged in performing a major sin. What kind of a bad state you would be in were you to die like this!" (14)

(وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنِ اللَّغْوِ مُعْرِضُونَ) يعني عن الغناء والملاهي.

"And those who stay away from vain talk meaning from al-Ghina and Music." (15)

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of ahadith in relation to the prohibition of music and singing, which we cannot mention here. The above mentioned ahadith and verses of the Qur'an should suffice for the true Shi'a and follower of the Prophet of Allah to convince him/her that listening to various (if not all) types of music are forbidden in Islam.

NOTES:

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1. The Holy Qur'an 22:30

2. The Holy Qur'an 31:6

3. Tafsir As-Safi

4. al-Kafi; Wasail ash-Shia; Tafsir As-Safi

5. The Holy Qur'an 23:1-3

6. The Holy Qur'an 25:72

7. Surah al-Hajj, Verse 30

8. Al-Kafi, Vol. 6, P. 431

9. Tafsir Nur ath- Thaqalain, Vol. 3, P. 496

10. Tafsir Noor al-Thaghalain, Vol. 4, P. 41

11. Al- Kafi, Vol. 6, P. 431

12. Al-Kafi, Vol. 6, P. 433

13. Surah al-Isra, Verse 38

14. Al-Kafi, Vol. 6, P. 432, Mustadrak al-Wasa'il, Vol. 13, P. 221

15. Tafsir Nur al-Thaqalain, Vol. 3, P. 539, Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 76, P. 24

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