Is music haram? Can you learn an instrument in Islam?
This is a full course. Music is a very controversial and very disagreed on topic. There has been much written about it and there are many books on it.
Let me summarise it. We need two things in order for something to be prohibited – authentic evidence and clear meaning. This is known as qatay suboot qatay dalala. In the absence of clear evidence, something cannot be called haram, it is less than that.
No ayah in the Quran talks about the prohibition or the permissibility of music. Some people say that the statement of Ibn Abbas about the ayah in Surat Luqman refers to music:
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)
However this ayah is not about music, it is referring to speech (hadith).
The critics of hadith collected all the hadith pertaining to music. There are some interpretations of these hadith by the companions of the Prophet (peace be on him) but it is not incumbent on us to follow their interpretation.
The prohibition of music does not stand the critique of the scholars of hadith. The majority of these narrations are weak and some are even fabricated. There are some good narrations but their meaning is not clear, particularly the hadith which is mentioned in Bukhari:
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. [Bukhari No: 5268]
I can summarise that there is not clear agreed on meaning. Accordingly the summary of this is that music is permissible.
There are issues with the chain of narrators, particularly Hishaam ibn Ammaar, which make this narration mu’allaq (disconnected).
In the narrative are other things which people will attempt to make lawful besides wine and musical instruments. These include “Hirr” (i.e. a woman’s private parts) and “Hareer” (i.e. silk). Both “Hirr” and “Hareer” are not absolutely prohibited acts in their nature. Therefore the music and the drinks here belong to a particular kind of music and drinks which are morally prohibited.
As there is no clear prohibition, that means music is neutral, neither halal nor haram. It is halal or haram depending on its usage, like television, which is halal if the programme being watched is halal, or haram if the program being watched is haram.
We certainly need to consider the lyrics and the type of music itself. If it is hard, rough and damaging with hidden messages then we need should not listen to it. However if it is background music, such as in documentaries and some nasheeds that is fine.
Are we allowed to learn musical instruments?
Yes. It’s fine. Although again this opinion is not agreed upon, nevertheless it is very valid. In summary don’t listen too music, or in place of the Quran. Don’t let music be like an addiction. If someone is addicted to music they should wean themselves off it.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Culture vs Islam (Western Culture) 2020
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