Rulings on Music

Question: Please inform us what is meant by entertaining music?

Answer: That music which is used in vain gatherings and gatherings of amusement.

Question: Please inform us how to differentiate between entertaining music and music that is not such, especially since the common people differ concerning one particular type of music. Those who used to listen to music in the past for example, would say that it is entertaining music, and others that have not heard that type of music will say that it is not entertaining music; in either scenario, what is one's responsibility in this difference? Is it permitted to listen to such types of music?

Answer: The basis of determining entertaining music is either one's own certainty that that kind of music is entertaining music, or else one can refer to the common people. In the event that one is in doubt, it is not a problem to listen to it.

Answer: The basis of determining entertaining music is either one's own certainty or those who have knowledge (of music) inform him. Notwithstanding, in the event that someone else does not tell him something that contradicts the speech of those who have knowledge (regarding music). However, if the common people have a difference in regards to a type of music such that the person doubts whether it is entertaining music or not, then in this case listening to it, according to Ihtiyat Wajib, is not permitted.

Question: What is the meaning of entertaining music?

Answer: Entertaining music is that which changes a person's mental state into one that is not normal, and brings about pleasure and joy.

Rule: It is not a problem to listen to or compose 'War Songs', or music that is used at the time of war or 'Azadari – in summary, whatever type of music that is not considered as entertaining music that would change one's mental state (is allowed).

Question: If a person does not get stimulated or aroused by listening to music, then what is the ruling for him listening to such types (of music)?

Answer: The basis for music being haram is that which the general public consider as entertaining music or otherwise, and it does not matter whether a particular individual becomes stimulated or not (by listening to it).

General Rule

Therefore, listening to or producing any type of entertaining music is haram, whether because of that (entertaining music), one would become stimulated by it or not, and whether one would gain pleasure from it or not. It makes no difference if the music brings one happiness or sadness; whether it is traditional music or otherwise; Iranian or non-Iranian; whether it be in a wedding ceremony or anywhere else.

In the event that the music is not entertaining music, then it is not a problem to listen to or compose it. If a certain type of music is doubtful (one does not know whether it is entertaining music or not), then it is not a problem for one to listen to or compose it (according to most of the Mara'ja Taqlid).

Question: Is it permissible to listen to certain types of music if we are listening to it without the intention of it being a vain and futile act? For example, music that is said to be good to calm and soothe the body, or music that some doctors recommend (their patients to listen to) for healing, or music that has been composed for the war in which there is no intention of vain and futile acts?

Answer: In all instances, as long as the music is not entertaining music, then it is not a problem to listen to it.

Rule: It is haram to listen to entertaining music and singing, however hearing these (without paying attention to them) is not a problem.

Summary: Sometimes a person listens to music and is actually paying attention to it – this is l;aram; however if a person simply hears the music but is not paying attention to it - then in this instance, it is not a problem. An example of this is if music can be heard from the house of one's neighbours; or someone else who is listening to entertaining music drives by, but the person pays no attention to it - in these instance, even if the person hears the music, it is not a problem (because he did not intend to want to listen to it).

Reciting

Rule: It is not a problem for men to recite, as long as it is not in the form of Ghina and there is no corruption involved with it.

Question: Please clarify to us what Ghina means. Does reciting something in a pleasing way constitute Ghina?

Answer: A pleasing sound, or reciting something in a pleasing way in itself does not constitute Ghina, rather Ghina can be explained as: prolonging the sound, along with a change in the pitch in such a way that is suited to vain and futile gatherings and assemblies of music and sinning.

Answer: Ghina can be explained as something that takes place in the gatherings of the people of corruption.

Answer: Ghina is a sound in which the tone comes from the throat which the common people refer to as singing, it causes excitement in the person, and is suitable for gatherings of vain and futile entertainment. L

Answer: If a text, poem or prose is read in such a way that it would be appropriate for gatherings of vain and futile entertainment, then it would be considered as Ghina.

Question: In auspicious occasions, is it permissible to recite songs, poetry, various supplications or poems in praise of the Sinless Imams (peace be upon all of them) which contain a virtuous message with a good voice?

Answer: To recite anything – whether it be poetry, prose, Qur'an, or poem in praise of the Pure Imams - in any form that would be considered as Ghina is haram; and to recite the Qur'an, supplications or things such as this in the form of Ghina would actually incur more of a punishment.

In closing, one point should be mentioned regarding what some may see as an apparent 'conflict' between what has been written by the late Dastghaib Shirazi in his book, The Major Sins as well as other teachers of Akhlaq and Irfan and what some of the Mara'ja Taqlid have expressed in regards to learning, teaching or listening to music and addition to the listening of certain instruments which may indeed be permitted according to the Mara'ja.

The 'Ulama of Fiqh teach us the 'minimum' requirements for a Muslim and what he or she must refrain from to be protected from the punishment of Allah. By following them, we can be 'guaranteed' our spot in Paradise since we have performed that which Allah has commanded us to do and refrained from that which He has prohibited us from. On the other hand, the teachers of Akhlaq or Etiquette teach us the spiritual path of Islam, which will not only keep us away from the hell-fire, but will raise our rank and station in the Hereafter.

As it has been said, following the rulings of our Marja' makes us fall into the fold of being called a Muslim, whereas following what the teachers of Akhlaq have conveyed to us makes us enter into the level of being called a Mo'min or true believer. Thus, although some forms of music may be permitted according to the Fiqh of Islam, but if one wants to reach to that station of proximity to Allah in this world, and one of closeness to the Prophet and his Ahl al-Bait ' in the hereafter, it is necessary to refrain from even those things which may be permitted - music being one of them.

Insha-Allah, it is hoped that with this short article, issues and confusions regarding Music is made clear and that those types of Music which are indubitably forbidden are shunned. May Allah (SWT) guide us all to His pleasure.

Written by Saleem Bhimji

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