The Status of Music in Islam 2

Divine Bounties (Barakah) are Removed

Amir Al-Momineen ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (Pbuh) says: “Angels do not even enter a house in which there is wine, drums, tambourines or a flute. Even the prayers of the inhabitants of this house are not accepted. They are deprived of any barakah.” (1)

Imam ‘Ali ibn Musa ar-Rida has said: “To listen to a musical instrument is one of the major sins.” (2)

Blackened Face of the Musician

The Holy Prophet of Islam has stated: “A person who possesses a ‘sitar’ will be raised on the Day of Judgement with a black face. His hands will be holding a ‘sitar’ of fire. Seventy thousand angels with maces of fire will hit him on the face and the head. The singer will arise from his grave – blind, deaf and dumb. The adulterer will be similarly raised. The player of flute will also be made to rise in this way, as will be the drum player.” (3)

It means that all such people will appear on the field of “Mahshar” (on the day of reckoning) as blind, deaf and dumb.

Houses Where Music Is Played for Forty Days

Imam ‘Ali ibn Musa ar-Rida has said: “A person invites Divine wrath when instruments like flute, drum and chess are played for forty days in his house. If this man dies within these forty days, his death would be of a sinner and a transgressor. His place shall be in Hell and what a dreadful place this is!” (4)

Music in the Last Period of Time

The traditions concerning the signs of the last stage before the return of our twelfth Holy Imam mentions the following about music: “You shall see that music will be so prevalent that no one will dissuade others, nor will one find in oneself the need to do so. You shall see that music will be openly played even in the two sanctuaries (the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah).

This is what we see in the present age where obscene music is openly played: in the markets, on the streets, in shops, in houses and even cars, and no one bothers to prevent it! So far we have mentioned the punishment in the hereafter for the playing or listening to music. Now, we shall discuss the evils of music that affect one’s life on earth.(5)

Effects of Music on Nervous System

Expert Doctors, Scientists and Biologists have defined two types of nerves - the principal nerves and the arterial nerves. The principal nerves stretch from the neck to all vital organs; while the arterial nerves spread from the main nerves to all parts of the body. The secondary nerves are connected to outward parts of the body and convey the messages to the brain. When the veins enlarge, the blood pressure decreases. Due to the shriveling of blood vessels, the blood pressure increases. When the blood pressure varies at different parts of the body, thus as a result, it affects the health.

The secondary nerves work to produce heat, whereas the function of the central nerves is to produce the opposite effect. It is due to these nerves that feelings of sloth, sleep, thoughtlessness, forgetfulness, grief, sorrow, fainting, unconsciousness and even death occur. Since music affects various nerves, it can give rise to various maladies. Mental diseases, as well as physical ailments can also occur, and these mental effects can destroy man’s reasoning capacity. It is for this reason that one who listens to music is unable to perform work that can be accomplished by a sane person.

Music creates vibrations in the body which are conveyed to all parts of the body through the nervous system. As a result of this, indigestion occurs. Music affects the heart in such a way that the heart beats become irregular. The blood pressure goes awry. All such ailments make a person permanently ill.

Consequently, even modern medical science, in spite of its astonishing progress, fails in such a situation. Sometimes, the music is so intense that the listeners lose their sanity; and they become dumb and various kinds of mental diseases occur. In places where music is more prevalent, we find that there are more neurotic illnesses. It is for this reason that more mental hospitals are found in Europe and America.

Dr. Adlen writes against music, "Even though it seems pleasant, the effects of music is profound upon the nervous system. Especially, when the temperature is high, the ill effect of music is more. This is the reason that ill effects of music are more in the hot areas of Iran and Saudi Arabia. The American people are so disgusted with the bane of music that they have united to demand from the senate a permanent ban on music. It is a pity that the whole world clearly perceives the evils of music but yet still adopt it as entertainment."(6)

Initially, it may seem unrealistic that any pleasing or harmonious sound could be forbidden and one will be given such a painful punishment for indulging in such a thing, but there is no need to be amazed. Insha-Allah, by the end of this article, that which is forbidden will be made clear, and that which is allowed will also be made clear. In Islam, the term Ghina is used in reference to "singing" and as explained in the beginning of this article, not every pleasing sound or voice in which the pitch is changed up and down can be classified as singing – thus making it forbidden to listen to.

From this, it is clear that not all sounds that are pleasing are forbidden. However, if one recites something in a manner in which those listening would think he/she is reciting it in a way of singing, then it crosses the boundaries of permissibility making it Ghina and a sin. It makes no difference if what is being recited is Qur'an, a Dua, Nawhas (poetry in praise of the Prophet, or the Ahl al-Bait recited during the months of Muharram, Safar, and other times), or anything else.

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1. Wasail ash-Shia, Vol. 17, P. 315

2. Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, Vol. 13, P. 220

3. Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, Vol. 13, P. 219

4. Tafsir Ithna Ashari, Vol. 9, P. 49

5. These evils too are numerous; and scholars have compiled complete books on this subject. For example, there are the following books in Persian: “Munazrah Doctor-o-Peer – A Discussion between a Doctor and a Patient”, “Balahaee Ijtemai – Societal Problems”, “Mauseeqi-o-Islam – Music and Islam”, etc.

6. Refer to the booklet; "Tasir Mausiqi bar Asaab - The Effects of Music on Parts of the Body" Pg. 3, 6,10