Music and the Duff (drum)

Q: Is it permissible to listen to Islamic songs with the sound of music in the background? Some people assert that beating of the Duff (drum) isestablished in Hadith.

A: To assert on the basis of some Ahaadith that to listen to Islamic songs with music in the background is incorrect. Several Ahaadith clearly prohibit the use of the drum as well as other musical instruments. Consider the following Ahaadith:

  • Hadhrat Ibn Mas'ood (Radhiallaahu Ánhu) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) declared every wine, gambling, beating of drums and every intoxicant as Haraam. (Abu Dawud)

  • Hadhrat Ali (Radhiallaahu Ánhu) narrates that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) prohibited the beating of drums. (Kanzul Ummaal)

  • The Kubah (drum) is Haraam. (Bayhaqi; Musnad Bazzar)

These Ahaadith are general and prohibit the beating of the drum. Those who claim that the beating of drums is permissible generally use the Hadith wherein it is reported that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, 'Announce the Nikah even though it be with the Duff.' (Mishkat)

In another narration, it is reported that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) passed by little girls who were beating drums. (Ibn Maajah)

However, to use these Ahaadith to substantiate the beating of drums as a musical instrument is baseless. The beating of drums on the occasions was for the purpose of announcement of a Nikah or the arrival of somebody or the sighting of the moon. There is no evidence whatsoever that drums were used merely for 'entertainment'. Rather it is reported that when Umar (Radhiallaahu Ánhu) heard the sound of beating drums, he would send a person to inspect the occasion. If it was a Nikah (which was being announced by means of the drum) he would keep quiet. Otherwise, he would punish those involved. (Fathul Qadeer)

In contemporary times there is no need to use the drum to announce any occasion, nor is it used for such purposes. In these times, it is used commonly as a musical instrument. The use of the drum as a musical instrument is expressly forbidden as has been clearly ascertained from the Ahaadith mentioned in the beginning. Also, music itself is expressly forbidden in Deen. Allah Ta'ala says:

  • Almighty Allah Taãla says in the Noble Qurãn: 'And there are some people who purchase idle talk. for them is a severe punishment'. Ibn Masóod (Radhiyallaahu Ánhu) says that this verse was revealed regarding singing.

  • Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said, 'Allah ordered me to destroy musical instruments.'

  • Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said, 'People from my Ummat will drink wine and give it other names and singing girls and musical instruments will be played before them. Allah will cause the earth to swallow them, and disfigure their faces into apes and pigs.'

  • Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) mentioned, 'When singing girls and musical instruments becomes common, wait for red winds, earthquakes, the earth swallowing people, disfiguring and many more punishments.' (Mishkãt 470)

In the light of the above, it is not permissible to hear Islamic songs having the sound of beating drums in the background.

and Allah Ta'ala Knows Best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai,