Music is a major part of today’s society; be it a lifestyle, career or just a means of background noise. It’s almost impossible to avoid it at all costs as it’s everywhere, but the question still remains: Is listening to music haram?
Occasionally over the years, I would hear someone say or read a comment mentioning that listening to music is haram. It’s not a new matter and it can even be considered to be an ongoing topic. After reading discussions in forums and articles about it, there are some that agree, some disagree and others on the fence.
What is haram?
And of the people is he who buys the amusement of speech to mislead [others] from the way of Allah without knowledge and who takes it in ridicule. Those will have a humiliating punishment. [31:6]
Everything created by Allah SWT is perfect and has a purpose, and it’s a matter of how it’s used that makes them halal or haram. There is a lower and upper limit to everything, so that the excessive use of something doesn’t harm you.
For example, food is good in itself and it is a necessity for us, but excessive eating can be harmful for one’s body. The same idea applies to knowledge. Even though it is a good thing, if knowledge is misused, it’s bad. At the end of the day, only our Creator can declare what is haram.
Who created music?
Muslim narrated from Abu Hurayrah, he said: The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: ‘He is not one of us that does not sing with Qur’an’.
Music already existed during the time of our prophet and therefore was definitely created by the Almighty. Noises and sounds in nature, when fit together into a melodic tune, that is what we consider now as music.
In that sense, by default music in itself is not haram, and as mentioned previously, it is how it’s being used that makes it bad for us.
Why is there conflict on whether or not music is haram?
It has always been a conflict on whether or not music is haram. This is because there are hadiths that prohibit it, and others that support it.
“O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers”(Quran 49:11)
The verse above mentions the ill use of words to belittle and insult others, and in that context it is prohibited. It did not explicitly state that music itself is haram, but the negative use of words in general is clearly stated.
The context of music being a distraction and hypnotising is what deems it haram. If excessive music consumption causes you to lose focus during salah or stray away from your faith, then the effect of music is negative.
Islam teaches us to work towards achieving a perfect balance in life, so that means you need know what you are doing, why you’re doing it, and its purpose. Music can be used to promote positive things and even bring people closer to the faith.
For example recitations over audio in a melodic tune – music has beneficial aspects to it too.
Music deemed Halal in scriptures
Narrated Aisha: Abu Bakr came to my house while two small Ansari girls were singing beside me the stories of the Ansar concerning the Day of Buath. And they were not singers. Abu Bakr said protestingly, “musical instruments of Satan in the house of Allah’s Apostle !” It happened on the ‘Id day and Allah’s Apostle said, “O Abu Bakr! There is an ‘Id for every nation and this is our ‘Id.” (Book #15, Hadith #72)
Narrated Abu Musa: That the Prophet said to him’ “O Abu Musa! You have been given one of the musical wind-instruments of the family of David .’ (Book #61, Hadith #568)
There have been many mentions of musical instruments and singing in scriptures, and it is not declared haram by the Almighty. With that said, music isn’t explicitly prohibited 100%, as it can be used for good and come with pure intentions.
Also Read: How To Find Inner Peace As A Muslim
The rights and wrongs in music today
This day those who disbelieve have despaired of [defeating] your religion; so fear them not, but fear Me. This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion. But whoever is forced by severe hunger with no inclination to sin – then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. [5:3]
With all that being said, today’s music has evolved from the past centuries. What we have now versus what existed in the olden days are drastically different.
There are music nowadays that uses harsh words and ill phrases, which is then explicitly mentioned in the Quran that that is prohibited. In this context, music that has a negative impact on oneself is prohibited.
On the other hand, there are music that promotes countless positive aspects in life and in faith.
According to deontology — which is an ethical theory that the morality of an action should be based on whether that action itself is right or wrong under a series of rules, rather than based on the consequences of the action — music is not haram.
Rather it’s the wrongful usage and excessive consumption of it, just like other things, that make it so.