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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dr. Tilde was Wrong

Friday Discourse (104)

Tilde was wrong on Hausa music
Ahmad Bello Dogarawa
I read Dr. Tilde's article on the ongoing debate
between the Ulama and the artistes in Katsina (Weekly
Trust September 7 - 13, 2000). I quite disagree with him on the Islamic ruling on music
and singing. According to Tilde, the debate on music has never been
conclusive. But a meticulous, critical analysis of the
relevant texts from the hadeeth and other authentic sources which clearly show that music, musical instruments,
singing to their accompaniment, etc., are objects
prohibited by Islamic Sharee'ah. The exceptions to
this general rule are specific, limited types of
innocent singing or chanting without any instrumental
accompaniment or to the accompaniment of the simple
hand drum [daff] on certain occasions designated by
the Sunnah.

In order to substantiate the above claim and to dispel
such false notion that the issue of music has never
been conclusive or the fault in music lies in what it
says, it is necessary to quote a number of authentic
traditions and sayings of the Salaf.
1. The Prophet [S.A.W] said: "There will be [at some
future time] people from my ummah [community of
Muslims] who will seek to make lawful: fornication,
the wearing of silk, wine drinking and the use of
musical instruments [ma'aazif].." [al-Bukhaaree]
2. The Messenger of Allah [S.A.W] said: "A people of
my ummah will drink wine, calling it by other than its
real name. Merriment will be made for them through the
playing of musical instruments and singing of lady
singers. Allah will cleave the earth under them and
turn into apes and swine." [at-Tirmidhee and Ibn
Majah, and declared Saheeh by Ibn al-Qayyim and
3. The Prophet [S.A.W] said: "Verily, Allah prohibited
wine, gambling and al-koobah; and every intoxicant is
prohibited." Sufyan said, "I asked the narrator, Ali
bin Badheemah, 'What is al-koobah?' He answered, 'It
is the drum.'" In another narration, Allah's Messenger
said, "Verily, Allah has prohibited for my ummah:
wine, gambling, a drink distilled from corn, the drum
and the lute [the Arabian guitar, termed qinneen in
the text of the hadeeth]; while He supplemented me
with another prayer, the witr." [Imam Ahmad in his
musnad and authenticated Saheeh by al-Albaanee in
Saheeh al-Jaami as-Sagheer and Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh.
These narrations have also been related by other
compilers, such as al-Bayhaqi in his Shu'ub al-Eemaan
with authentic isnaad and At-Tabaraani in al-Mu'jam
al-Kabeer with jayyid [good] isnaad].
4. Al-Haakim reported in a long hadeeth that the
Prophet [S.A.W] when asked why he wept after taking
his ailing son Ibraheem, who was in the throes of
death, replied: "Verily, I did not prohibit weeping
[per se], but rather, I forbade two voices [sowtayn]
which are imbecilic [ahqam] and sinfully shameless
[faajir]: one, a voice [singing] to the accompaniment
of musical amusement [lahw] and Satan's [wind]
instruments [a type of flute]; the other, a voice
[wailing] due to some calamity, accompanied by
striking of the face and tearing of the garments. But
this [weeping of mine] stems from compassion, and
whosoever does not show compassion will not receive
it." [The hadeeeth's degree is hasan, as proved by
al-Baghawi in Sharh as-Sunnah and al-Albaani in
Silsilah al-Ahaadeeth as-Saheehah. It has been
strengthened by another narration related by Abu Bakr
as-Shaafi'ee in his work, Rubaa`eeyat]
5. Anas bn Maalik related from the Prophet [S.A.W],
"two cursed sounds are that of the [wind] instrument
[mizmaar] played on the occasion of joy and grace, and
woeful wailing upon the occurrence of adversity."
[Abu Bakr as-Shaafi'ee in his work, Rubaa`eeyat with
authentic isnaad and quoted by al-Kanadee in his
Hukmuh as-Sharee'ah]
In reality, the companions unanimously agreed upon the
prohibition of music and song but allowed particular
exceptions specified by the authentic Sunnah. Many
authentic narrations [aathar] traced to the various
Sahaabah bear witness to this. For example, it is
authentically related by al-Bayhaqi that the
companion, Abdullah bn Mas'ood said, "Singing sprouts
hypocrisy in the heart as rain sprouts herbs and
He was also questioned regarding the meaning
of the words 'lahwal hadeeth' as appeared in Q 31:6,
and he replied, "I swear by Him besides Whom there is
no other god that it refers to singing." He repeated
it three times over to emphasise his belief that the
words from the Qur'aan were a rebuke and censure of
singing. [al-Bayhaqi and Ibn al-Mundhir. See also
Qurtubi's tafseer].
The four rightly guided caliphs
held the same view, the fuqahaa among the Sahaabah
such as Ibn Abbaas, Ibn Umar, Jaabir bn Abdullah and
Amr bn Shu`ayb, as well as the general body of
Sahaabah [R.A].
The taabi'een and their followers, the four imams and
the great majority of dependable Islamic scholars up
to the present time generally adhered to the view held
by the companions. From among the taabi'een and their
followers, there are such authorities as Sa'eed bn
Jubayr, Mujaahid, Qataadah, Ikramah, al-Hasan
al-Basri, an-Nakha'i, Qaasim bn Muhammad, Makhool,
Aliyyu bn Badheemah and Maimoon bn Mihraan. [See
al-Qurtubi's tafseer, al-Aloosi's tafseer and Kaffur
Ra'aa of Ibn Hajar al-Haythamee].
Imam Abu Haneefah has perhaps the harshest view of the
four famous imams of jurisprudence. His school of
thought is the strictest, for he detested singing and
considered it sinful. As for his disciples, they have
explicitly confirmed the prohibition of listening to
all musical amusements and pastimes, including wind
instruments [mazaameer], all types of tambourine, hand
drums [dufoof] and even the striking of sticks
[al-qadeeb]. They have asserted that such actions
constitute disobedience to Allah and that the
performer of such action is sinful, therefore
necessitating rejection of his testimony. [al-Qurtubi's al-Jaami' li ahkaamil
It is related by Ibnul Jowzi that Ishaaq bin Eesaa
at-Taba'a asked Imam Maalik bin Anas, the leading
jurisprudent of Madeenah, about the view of the people
of Madeenah regarding singing [ghinaa]. He replied,
"In fact, that is done by the sinful ones." Abut-Teeb
at-Tabari said, "As for Maalik bin Anas, he truly did
prohibit singing and listening to it." He further
related that Maalik said, "If one purchased a
slave-girl and found her to be a professional singer,
he could return her to the original owner for
reimbursement on the claim of found fault in the
merchandise." [Talbees Iblees of Ibn al-Jauzi]
Imam as-Shaafi'ee is reported as saying, "Verily, song
is loathsome [makrooh]; it resembles the false and
vain thing [al-baatil]. The one who partakes of it
frequently is an incompetent fool whose testimony is
to be rejected." [Talbees Iblees and al-Qurtubi's
tafseer]. Imam as-Shaafi'ees closest and most
knowledgeable disciples clearly stipulate that his
position on this issue is that of prohibition
[tahreem] and rebuke those who attribute its legality
to him.
Imam Ahmad's position regarding this issue has been
narrated in detail by the Hanbalite jurisprudent and
Qur'aanic commentator, Abul-Faraj Ibn al-Jauzi [d. 597
H.] in his Talbees Iblees. Ibn al-Jauzi said, Ahmad's
son and student, Abdullah relates that his father
said, "Singing sprouts hypocrisy in the heart; it does
not please me."
From the foregoing, it is evident that the general
consensus of the companions, taabi'een and the
following generations of Islamic scholars up to the
present day, including the four famous imams, points
to the ruling of prohibition of music and song [other
than the exceptions mentioned above]

There is agreement among the four Imams that all
musical instruments [ma'aazif] are forbidden. Shaykhul
Islam Ibn Taymiyyah affirms this in his Fataawa.
However, a few scholars see no harm in singing and/or in the playing of music. In order to remove any doubt from the reader's mind regarding this vital
issue, it is necessary not only to mention these
scholars and their claims but also to establish the
proof against them.
Ibn Hazam and Ibn al-`Arabi al-Maaliki claimed that
there is no authentic hadeeth, which prohibit music,
song and musical instruments. They asserted that
al-Bukhaari's hadeeth earlier is not authentic on the
ground that there is a missing link between
al-Bukhaari and the next narrator, implying that the
hadeeth's isnaad is disconnected [munqati'] and
therefore not a valid proof in the prohibition of
music, song, musical instruments and singing. In
addition, Ibn Hazam, as quoted by al-Qardaawi in
al-Halal wa al-Haraam fil Islaam, said, 'Every hadeeth
related [prohibiting music and singing] is false and
forged.'" However, al-Bukhaari's hadeeth is authentic,
because there exist fully connected chains for it,
which fulfill the conditions of authenticity. This was
stated by great scholars of hadeeth such as Ibn
as-Salah [in his Uloomul Hadeeth], al-Haafidh
al-Iraaqi and Ibn Hajar in his Fathul Baari and
Taghleequt Ta'leeq. They all have conveniently refuted
Ibn Hazam's claim and rendered it unfounded. In short,
al-Bukhari's narration is authentic and consequently
constitutes a valid and binding text to be referred to
in determining the ruling regarding music.
Imam al-Ghazaali, is often quoted by some as having
maintained a view of permissibility. It must be made
clear that he argued in favour of only innocent
singing, physical sport and entertainment. Nowhere did
he mention or argue in favour of the permissibility of
musical instruments or musical accompaniment to
singing. Thus, those who quote him [like al-Qardaawi]
as a proof for the legality of music commit a gross
error and do him a great injustice, for they impute to
him that which he himself did not claim.
As for the assertion made by Abu Taalib al-Makki [as
even quoted by Tilde], that some prominent companions
of the Prophet and those who followed them have
listened to songs, and that even now, the people of
Hijaz in Makkah listen to songs in the most sacred
days of the year, that is the appointed days in which
God enjoined His worship and remembrance, the reply
would be: al-Adhra'i has quoted Abul-Qaasim ad-Dowlaqi as
saying: "It has not been related regarding any one of
the companions [R.A] that he listened to the sort of
singing which is of the disputed type, nor is it
related that gatherings for song were organised for
him, nor that people were invited to them - either
publicly or privately, nor that he praised such song;
rather, it was the companions' habit to censure and
blame such gatherings for the purpose of listening to
it." [See Kaffur Ra'aa and al-Qurtubi]
What justification can one find from the foregoing to
accept the permissibility of ghinaa? It is based on
some of these reasons, al-Qardaawi rescind his
position of permissibility on the issue at stake by
accepting all the corrections made to his al-Halaal
wal Haraam by Muhammad Naasiruddeen al-Albaani in
Ghaayatul Maraam [as indicated by al-Qardaawi himself
in his Kaif Nata'aamal ma' Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah]. And
for the sake of, if al-Makki or any other scholar had
argued for the permissibility of music/or singing to
its accompaniment, the reply would be: When it is in
contradiction to the authentic Sunnah, one cannot
accept the view of any other person after Allah's
Messenger [S.A.W].

§ The use of all musical instruments is forbidden,
except the daff, whose permissible use [in the
restricted form explained above] is a specification of
or an exception to the general ruling. The categories
of musical instruments are as follows: (a) wind
instruments such as flutes, horns, trumpets,
accordions, saxophones and trombones; (b) string
instruments which include guitars, violins, banjos,
harps, sitars, lutes, basses and cellos; (c)
percussion instruments such as gongs, cymbals, bass
drums, bongos, congas and tambourines; and (d) a
combination of two or more of the above such as the
piano, which combines percussion and string
instrumentation. This ruling has been arrived at
through the texts of authentic hadeeths narrated by
Ahmad, al-Bukhaari, Ibn Maajah, al-Haakim and
al-Bayhaqi quoted earlier on.
§ Preceding texts of the Sunnah designated the general
ruling of prohibition regarding singing under certain
circumstances. The narration of al-Haakim described
the singing voice coupled with music as imbecilic and
sinful. Naturally, singing to musical accompaniment is
forbidden since it is coupled with music. As for
innocent singing to the accompaniment of just the
daff, this has been allowed on only specific
§ Singing without musical accompaniment is permitted
under certain circumstances and with particular
conditions. The lyrics of the songs must be pure and
innocent, and must keep within the moral bounds set by
Islamic teachings
§ Dancing to musical instrument is prohibited since
that which is coupled with a prohibited thing becomes
forbidden. As for dancing without music, or to the
accompaniment of the daff only, such is restricted
solely to women and children and is not befitting the
role of males.
§ Dancing by women has its conditions. No music other
than that provided by the daff and the human voice is
allowed. Women must be properly clothed and are
restricted to the company of women and children only.
It should also be a simple, natural rhythmic swaying
free from every form of obvious or covert vice.
§ The profession of music, singing, dancing and
instrument making and selling are all forbidden. In an
Islamic state such instruments may be seized from
their owner and destroyed without recourse to
§ It is the duty of a Muslim that he avoid listening
to music and singing in so far as it is within his
power and jurisdiction. As for what he hears from his
neighbour's yard, or when he passes through the
streets or markets, that is not a sin upon him, nor is
it his responsibility to try to stop it unless he has
the power and authority to do so. Similarly, where he
is forced to hear music without the will or desire to
do so, he is not to blame, provided it
is with the sole intention of deriving benefit from
the information contained therein and not for the
purpose of seeking pleasure in hearing the music.
§ The supposed contribution of Hausa singers and
musicians in entertainment, social mobilization and
cultural continuity is not enough reason for the
championing of this issue, or disagreeing with a
Fatawa issued by the Ulama. I do not know of any
scholar who opines the permissibility or canvass the
continuity of any issue prohibited by the Prophet on
the basis of its so-called contribution.
§ The claim by Dr. Tilde that the issue is not
conclusive or we have no basis in religion to abrogate
music and singing is therefore unfounded and untenable.

According to al-Munajjid in his Muharramaat, music and
singing form one of the greatest temptations of our
times. What is difficult is the fact that nowadays
music is part of so many things, such as clocks,
doorbells, children's toy, computers, telephones,
etc., and avoiding it takes a great deal of
Notwithstanding, it is the duty of every Muslim to
strive his utmost to find acceptable [lawful]
alternatives to the prohibited forms of music and song
as delineated in this write up. Some suggestions are:
§ Sweet and melodious recitation of and listening to
the reading of Allah's book.
§ Singing and listening to Islamic songs
§ Remembrance of Allah [Dhikr]
§ Healthy physical sports

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