Music, The Quran and Ahadith 1

Classifications of Music

In regards to the various categories of Music and how to differentiate which are permitted and which are not, these can be broken up into four groups:

1. "Music" which contains both instruments that are forbidden and lyrics that are forbidden. For example, a specific type of "music" has instruments which the Islamic Shariah does not allow such as string instruments (guitar, violin, etc.); thus any "music" which contains these instruments is forbidden.

This same "music" may also have lyrics, which are vulgar or obscene, and due to this factor too, that "music" is forbidden for a Muslim. This would include most if not all forms of Rock & Roll, Country, Heavy Metal music and almost all other types of Popular Music because they ALL use forbidden instruments and their lyrics talk about sex, drugs, worshipping the devil, use of vulgar language, and other obscene things.

2. "Music" which contains instruments that are forbidden, (as were mentioned above), but their lyrics are permitted - meaning that the lyrics do not enjoin or lead one to perform or think about forbidden acts.

Some examples of this type of "music" may be the traditional "Qawwali" stemming from India, Pakistan and other parts which may contain a beautiful message about Allah, His Prophets, the Ahl al-Bait, etc., but since they may contain unlawful musical instruments, the entire thing is forbidden. Some examples that come to mind are the late Nusrat Fateh 'Ali Khan and others like him.

3. "Music" which contains instruments that are permitted such as the drum and other types, but their lyrics are not permissible. The instruments may be allowed in Islam, but unfortunately their message is negative – cursing may be involved, or for any other reason, the lyrics may not be appropriate.

Many of the hip-hop and rap music groups may fall into this category. The earlier ones may have only used a drum machine for a simple beat, but the fact that they curse, put down and outright insult women, talk about drugs, alcohol, etc. their work is useless for a true Muslim and Believer.

4. "Music" which contains instruments that are permitted (such as those mentioned above) and the lyrics are also permitted. This type of "music" is permitted in Islam, however, it is very rare to find.

You may have certain Muslim "performers" (for lack of a better word), who recite beautiful songs in praise of Allah, the Prophet, or on moral issues. They have only used "halal" instruments, and there is nothing in their vocals that one could raise objection to. We have some examples such as Yusuf Islam, Dawud Wharnsby 'Ali (from Canada), and others.

To find "music" that fits into this group is very difficult but it does exist. This music, although it contains a positive message should never be substituted for the real thing. What we mean here is that one can listen to it for a type of 'pleasure' or to teach and train the younger children, but one must turn back to reading books, listening to and reading the Qur'an and supplications, etc. to truly learn about the all-comprehensive religion al-Islam. In no circumstances should we treat this last form as 'simple' entertainment that we put on to pass time or to relax with.

Summary from the Verses of the Qur'an and the Ahadith

1. It is worthy to mention that some of the instruments used in Ghina such as the tanbur, 'Oud, Ni, Dairah, etc. that have been mentioned in the ahadith have just been used as examples of instruments which were used during that time period. Therefore, in today's day and age, any kind of Instrument for music is haram.

2. The ahadith and the verses of the Qur'an mentioned do not differentiate between the various categories of music. Thus, there is no difference between national and foreign music, original and non-original music, traditional and non- traditional music, etc. That which must be used as the measuring stick is if the music is one which would fall into the category of being considered as lahw (as was defined earlier) in which case it would be haram even if it was original or traditional music of a particular country.

This point is emphasized since Muslim youth usually note that since a particular Islamic country plays music or permits their traditional or cultural music, then this is allowed! We must learn to differentiate between what is Islam and the actions of a "Muslim" country – these two are not synonymous with one other!

3. From various verses of the Qur'an, we can deduce that a person who goes after music and these types of sounds, slowly but surely, will get to a point where he will begin to mock his religion, the verses of Allah, the Prophets and the righteous believers of Allah. The Qur'an states, "Those people who chase after false words have become so drowned in sins that they begin to misguide people, and take the signs of Allah as a joke."(1)

4. We must pay attention to the fact that Shaitan will approach people in various ways to misguide them. It is possible that by slipping or forgetfulness, the name of 'Azadari or weeping for the martyrdom of the Leader of the Shuhada Husayn (peace be upon him) and the other A'immah (peace be upon all of them) one may fall into the sin of listening to or creating ghina. All the Mara'ja Taqlid are unanimous on the fact that even the recitation of the Holy Qur'an or Marthiya (poems) to commemorate the death of the A'immah and Imam Husayn recited in the form of Ghina is haram. This is a point we all need to ponder upon when he listens to or recite Nawha or other things similar to this in our various gatherings.

5. In reality, the complete set of rules of Allah have been communicated to us through the Prophets and Imams to guide us to prosperity and success, and a true Muslim is one who accepts ALL of these rules and likewise, acts upon all of them. (2)

It is not possible for one to act according to some of them and disregard the others. A person who sins or goes out of his way to listen to music which is haram or changes his state, then even though apparently the blood of faith (iman) flows through his veins, however due to his actions, he shows that deep down he does not truly believe in Allah.

Continue in the next article: ( Music, The Quran and Ahadith 2 )



1. See The Holy Quran, Surah Luqman, Verse 6, Surah Jfijr, Verse 11, Surah Mo'minun, Verse 110, and Surah Mutaffin, Verse 29.

2. See The Holy Quran, Surah al-Baqarah, Verse 2 - 5, Surah an- Nisa, Verse 149 - 152, Surah al-Anfal, Verse 2 to 4.