Is Music Haram?
Al-Haadi Vol. 10 Issue No. 4

Q: Is music haraam? Some people are propagating the view that it is not Haraam. Many Islamic songs are sung with the playing of the duff. Is it permissible to listen to them? Also, some Islamic songs are recorded with the zikr of “Allah” played in the background. It sounds very much like drums are being played. However, it is a group of people who are saying “Allah” in unison. Is there any problem in listening to this?

A: Hazrath Anas (R.A.) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “There will certainly be people from my Ummah who will attempt to legalize fornication, the wearing of silk (for males), the consuming of wine and the use of musical instruments” (Al-Jaamius Sagheer - Pg. 139). Indeed this prophesy of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is glaring before us. Despite the clear prohibition of the use of musical instruments, great efforts are being made to “legalize” their use. While some people wish to declare all music permissible, others are opening the door slowly by declaring that only the use of the “duff” is permissible. Thus it is necessary to examine the reality of these claims in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

In Surah Luqman Allah Ta’ala declares:

“And among the people are those who purchase idle talk in order to mislead others from the path of Allah in ignorance.”

Hazrath Abdullah bin Masood (R.A.) states emphatically that this verse was revealed regarding singing and musical instruments. The same has been reported from Hazrath Abdullah bin Abbas (R.A.) and Hazrath Jaabir (R.A.) (Tafseer Qurtubi). Thus when these illustrious students of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), who witnessed the revelation of the aayaat (verses) of the Qur’an are clear that this verse prohibits music and musical instruments, the “view” of any twentieth century “scholar” to the contrary holds no weight.


Various Ahadith also clearly prohibit music and the use of musical instruments. Hazrath Abdullah bin Umar (R.A.) reports that once Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) heard the sound of the flute of a shepherd. He immediately placed his fingers into his ears (to block out the sound) (Musnad Ahmad). How tragic it is that our beloved Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) blocks his ears to the sound of music but his Ummah opens their ears wide to the same sounds. In another narration Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said: “ Verily Allah Ta’ala has sent me as a guidance and as a mercy to the Believers and He has commanded me to destroy musical instruments” (Musnad Ahmad).


As for the duff, it is also a musical instrument and therefore it will primarily be included in the above prohibition. However, some concession was given for the use of the duff on the occasion of a Nikah. The Sahaaba (R.A.), who were the direct students of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) understood the commands of the Qur’an and Hadith far better than we can ever hope to understand. It is reported regarding Hazrath Umar (R.A.) that if he heard the sound of a duff he would immediately send somebody to investigate. If it was found to be the occasion of a Walima, he would not do anything. Otherwise he would go for his whip (i.e. he would forcefully stop the playing of the duff) (Fathul Qadeer - Vol. 6, Pg. 389).


Nevertheless, to extract the laws of Shariah directly from the Qur’an and Sunnah is possible only for one who is a mujtahid [in the calibre of the four great Imaams viz. Imaam Abu Hanifa (R.A.), Imaam Malik (R.A.), Imaam Shaafi (R.A.) and Imaam Ahmad bin Hambal (R.A.)]. Together with an expert in-depth knowledge of the Qur’an and hundreds of thousands of Ahadith, they had also mastered all the numerous sciences pertaining to the Qur’an and Sunnah.

According to the Zaahirur Riwayah (the most authentic narrations) of the Hanafi school of thought, the use of the duff is completely disallowed. Latter day scholars who have attributed a restricted permissibility to the Hanafi school have erred. This complete disallowal is based on the Juristic principle of “saddan lil baab” i.e. to restrict an act that would invariably lead to impermissible actions.

The Shafi’ee Ulama have permitted the use of the duff only on the occasion of a walima subject to several conditions. Allamah Ibn Hajar Makki, Shafi’ee has detailed the various conditions, among which is that the duff should not be beaten in a manner that produces a musical sound, but rather just a simple beating which does not produce any tune or melody. Only the palms may be used to beat the duff and not the fingers. It should also be beaten only for a short while. Having stated this he says that “in our era it is makrooh to beat the duff” (since people cannot fulfil the stringent conditions).

Therefore in the light of the above one should not listen to such nazams which are accompanied by the playing of the duff.


As for the “background zikr,” this should be considered very carefully. What is the purpose of having people say “Allah” in unison in the background? Is it for the purpose of zikr itself? If yes, then why in the background? If the purpose is to create a background effect to make the nazam more entertaining, in the manner that background music is used, this is an extremely dangerous thing. It is abuse of the name of Allah Ta’ala. The name of Allah Ta’ala is not for the purpose of entertainment. If it has been deliberately made to resemble the beating of drums, it will be even more serious and even dangerous for one’s Imaan. One should totally refrain from listening to such nazams.