In this booklet, the author discusses the detrimental effects of music on our lives. He talks about the origin of music and its effects from various points of views. He also discusses what the Qur'an and narrations of the Ahlul Bayt have to say on this matter.
Nowadays, people are getting more and more involved in Music and for them, it has become a part of their daily life. Their mind has become so saddled with tension, and tempo of life is so fast that they seem to accept high blood pressure and nervous breakdown as the unavoidable side effects of modern civilization. It is a pity that they do not pause to think about the adverse effects of music on their physical and mental health.
I have endeavoured to present in this booklet the scientific and spiritual points of view on music and dance etc. These observations have been quoted from various books of Persian, Urdu and English languages.
I am very grateful to Maulana Sayyid Sa’eed Akhtar Rizvi, the Chief Missionary of the Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania for editing and scrutinizing this effort of mine.
I hope this booklet will help the readers in understanding the philosophy of the rule of Islam which forbids music.
Music, according to the New National Dictionary, means "Art of combining sounds or sequences of notes into harmonious patterns pleasing to the ear and satisfying to the emotions; melody". According to the Great Encyclopaedic Dictionary, this combining of sounds is "for reproduction by the voice or various kinds of musical instruments in rhythmic, melodious and harmonious form so as to express thought or feeling and affect the emotion;" and the word is also used for the "sound so produced," and for ‘written or printed score of musical compositions." Not so technically, it is also used for "pleasant sound, e.g., song of a bird, murmur of a stream, cry of hounds."
In Islam music is called Ghina, and in Shia Sha’riah is counted as one of the ‘great sins’. At first, it may seem unrealistic to ban every "pleasant sound"; but there is no need to be alarmed. The Sha’riah has defined ‘Ghina’ in a different way. In Islam, vocal music means: "Prolongation and vibration of sound with variation of the pitch to such an extent that people may say that ‘he/she is singing’."
It is evident from the above definition that the Sha’riah does not forbid ‘pleasant sounds’; but if someone recites any thing with prolongation of sound and variation of pitch so much so that a common man thinks that he/she is singing, then and only then it will be ‘Ghina’ and sin.
And it makes no difference whether the thing recited was the Qur’an, religious poem or love song.
No doubt music is one of the most ancient methods of merrymaking and enjoyment, of expressing feelings and emotions. It is called ‘international language’, because it encompasses the whole world and does not know any geographical or political boundary.
Let us find out what is the reason for its worldwide prevalence. We have it on the authority of Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (a.s) that when Hadhrat Adam (a.s) died, his infamous son Cain (Qabil) and Satan were very happy. Both gathered at a place and invented some musical instruments to celebrate the death of Hadhrat Adam (a.s). And in the words of Imam (a.s), all such musical things which people now use for merrymaking have originated from that1.
So, religion and anthropology both agree that music is a very ancient thing and therefore its no wonder that it has spread widely with the spread of the human race. But how dare a sensible ‘child of Adam’ especially if he is a Muslim "enjoy" music, which is an invention of Satan and Cain, the rebellious and disloyal son of Adam ?
Here one may ask: But what is the harm in music? Why has it been forbidden in Islam?
The answer is that music does have harmful effects on nervous system and is the cause of many ailments including ulcer, diabetes and madness. It creates imbalance in human faculties, retards spiritual development, and lowers the ethical values.
For further details, read the following chapters.
Before explaining its effects on nerves it is necessary to briefly describe an intricate and awe-inspiring part of the nervous system itself. These details are quoted from the "Foundation of Biology"1 and "How your Nervous System Works"2 :
"Many reflexes that help control the internal environment involve a special part of the nervous system (ANS). This system consists of nerves making up the motor pathway to the heart, stomach, intestine and other internal organs. These nerves are not under voluntary control, that is, you can not make your heart beat faster on command."
"The two major divisions of the automatic nervous system are called the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems."
Sympathetic nerves leave the middle regions of the spinal cord.
"Parasympathetic nerves leave the central nervous system from the upper regions where they travel in cranial nerves (i.e., 12 pairs of nerves attached to the brain and serving head and neck), and from the lower most regions of the spinal cord where they travel in spinal nerves.
"Most internal organs of your body are supplied with both parasympathetic and sympathetic nerve fibres."
"In general, these two types of nerves work in opposite ways. For example, impulses travelling along sympathetic nerve fibres towards the heart increase your heart-beat rate, whereas impulses travelling along the parasympathetic nerves leading to the heart decrease its rate.
"When we examine the effects of sympathetic stimulation of various organs, a pattern begins to emerge. We find that sympathetic stimulation causes a number of events:
1. Widening of air passage leading to the lungs;
2. Constriction or narrowing of blood vessel in the skin and in the intestinal tract, resulting in blood being shifted from the digestive organs and skin to the muscles;
3. A general slowing down of movements in the intestinal tract;
4 An increase in the force and rate of heart-beat:
5. Release of the blood sugar from the liver;
6. Release of the hormone adrenaline.
All of these activities prepare the human being for emergencies such as running or fighting. The widening of air passages makes it easier for the human being to breathe faster and get more oxygen. Blood is shifted from regions where it will not be needed during the emergency (the intestinal tract, for example) to skeletal and heart muscle which will need oxygen and blood sugar.
The heart beats faster and stronger so that blood circulates through the muscles at a higher rate. Blood sugar is released from storage in the liver into the blood stream where it will be available to supply muscles with energy.
In short, sympathetic stimulation prepares the man for emergencies and in this process increases the blood pressure, retards the function of digestive system and increases the sugar contents of the blood.
The function of Parasympathetic nerve system is opposite to the sympathetic system:
"It widens the veins, releases noradrenalin hormones and generally retards activities.”
"The two nervous systems run parallel to each other and in co-operation from one part of the body to another. The co-operation of the two systems is essential for maintaining the equilibrium of the body, which in turn has a great bearing and effect on the physical and mental health of man. Should at any time there be a lack of co-operation between these two systems, physical or mental disorders could arise resulting in one disease or another."
Some actions or movements outside human body can adversely affect the natural equilibrium of these two systems. One of those things is music.
A brisk and lively musical programme, particularly if it is accompanied by musical instruments, disturbs this equilibrium of the various systems; digestion is badly affected; palpitation of the heart is increased; blood pressure goes high and abnormal secretion of hormones leaves a lasting bad effect upon general health.
Music stimulates mostly the sympathetic nervous system; and it may create insomnia (lack of sleep); it may cause tempers to flare up; sudden laughter or nonsensical talks are amongst its possible effects. It may even lead to mania (a kind of madness).
Such people may be seen to move their hands and feet in dancing pattern even when not listening to music.
Dr. Vollf Adler, who was a professor in the Columbia University, found out that the best melodious record of music can badly harm the nerves of a human body and the warmer the weather the more the harm. He proved that music upsets the nervous systems unnaturally and causes considerable fatigue.
This research of Dr. Adler had a widespread effect on many Americans; many stopped listening to music altogether. The belief that music was harmful for a progressive nation like U.S.A. reached a stage when a member of the Senate proposed a resolution to ban the music in the country. Relevant proofs and arguments were put before the Senate. But in a nation steeped in lust and materialism, not many senators could be found to vote for that resolution3.
It is an accepted fact that mental tension creates many ailments. Excitement and tension are like a fire which destroys the natural functions of human body. It has already been shown that music creates excitement and tension. Not only madness and nervous breakdown, but even ulcers and heart diseases are caused by mental tension. It has been mentioned earlier that music releases the hormone ‘adrenalin’ in abnormal quantity. This hormone clots the blood vessels and finally leads to heart attack. This relation between excessive release of adrenalin and heart attack was discovered in France in 19571.
Professor Celie experimented by injecting adrenalin into a monkey. Its skin became paralysed and the animal suffered a heart attack2 .Dale Carnegie quotes Dr. Joseph Montagu to have said that stomach ulcer is caused by mental tension and violent anger3.
Many of the present day common diseases are the legacy of our so called civilization which creates tension and exhausts the tolerance of physical and mental faculties. One of the main causes of this tension and exhaustion is music. The ailments, which are caused by such condition, are diabetes, rheumatism, and even the birth of deformed or disabled children4.
Concentration on listening to musical concerts or Jazz bands at times causes such violent tension that mental stability is thrown out of window. The daily ‘Kayhan’ (Tehran), in its issue No 6626, published a news of the Reuter Agency: About 50,000 youths had gathered in Melbourne (Australia) for a musical concert. The concert overwhelmed them so much that they started assaulting each other with fists and knives. Many were seriously injured; some girls were molested. The police was called in and with much difficulty controlled the situation. The point to ponder is this: The youths were so much excited that they did not know what they were doing.
Now that we have come to Jazz, and important finding must be quoted here from The Reader’s Digest5 :
"Ontologists say that youngsters are going deaf by blasting their ears with electronic pop music.”
"Experts know that prolonged exposure to a noise level above 85 decibels will eventually result in a reduction of hearing acuity in the frequency range most important for understanding the human speech. Dr. Charles Lebo, of the Pacific Medical Centre took measuring instruments into two San Francis co dance halls where the cacophony from amplified instruments caused sound intensity from 100 to 119 decibels in the low frequency range.
"Lebo estimates that under such conditions 80 per cent have their hearing sensitivity temporarily reduced by 5 to 30 decibels; 10 per cent suffer temporary 40 decibel impairment. Some might suffer permanent damage after a year of steady listening6.
In short high blood pressure, insomnia, emotional instability mania and madness, nervous break downs, ulcers, heart troubles, diabetes, rheumatisms temporary permanent deafness and birth of deformed or disabled babies are the effects of music.
No wonder, Islam, being a religion from Allah, has warned us against this disabling habit.
According to the philosophy of Islam, man has been endowed with two main faculties: (i) Intellect; and (ii) Emotions.
Emotions may be divided into two categories: Positive and Negative. We may call them ‘Attraction’ and ‘Repulsion’, or ‘Love’ and ‘Hate’; or ‘Desire’ and ‘Anger’ respectively. Let us call them here ‘Desire’ and ‘Anger’.
Thus, we have three faculties in all:
1) Intellect: Its function is to think and understand;
2) Desire: Through it man tries to attain things which are beneficial to him or which give him satisfaction and enjoyment;
3) Anger: By this facility man defends himself against, and repulses the things which he considers harmful to himself.
Of the above three faculties, the first one, i.e., Intellect, has been designed by Allah to guide and control the remaining two, i.e., Desire and Anger. If a man wants to remain on the right path, he must ensure that the two perform their functions under the guidance of Intellect.
For example, the ambition to get rich is the result of Desire. But it is the Intellect which guides the man that the wealth should be obtained by honest labour, hard work and not by robbery or fraud.
Likewise, the Anger inspires the man to resist pain. But it is the Intellect that tells him, for example, to submit to the surgical operation so that he may avoid greater pain in future.
When the Faculty of Intellect is sufficiently developed and dominates over the other two faculties, the man advances spiritually and ethically and surpasses the angels because angels have got only the Intellect and do not have to contend with desire and anger.
Uncontrolled desire and anger are dominating factors of animals. If these faculties were to be nourished by the man beyond the ethical limit and freed from the control and guidance of Intellect he would sink to the abysmal depth of depravity and would become worse than animals.
After understanding this principle, it is easy to appreciate the reasons behind laws of Islam forbidding various actions.
It has been already described that music is among those things which boosts the emotions and arouses the sensual powers beyond their natural limit; music gives desire or anger an upper hand and makes them dominant over the Intellect. As has been shown with a few examples this state could reach a stage where Intellect ceases to function altogether; man becomes the slave of his emotions — desire and anger.
A time comes that he forgets his Creator and does not remember the real aim of his life (which is to know his Creator and obey Him).
The Love and Fear of Allah promotes virtues and good deeds and restrain the man from sins and evils. Islam aims at producing best of the characters in its followers and therefore it has forbidden those things which tend to divert attention from Allah and from man’s divine duties. Music is one of those things which has a toxic effect on human mind. Therefore, Islam has forbidden not only the playing of music but also listening to it; also forbidden is participation in musical programmes whether it is in places like theatres, night clubs, and cinemas or in one’s own home.
Incidentally, the same is the reason behind the law forbidding liquor and gambling.
In the last chapter, I explained the harm which music brings upon the spiritual well being of a man. Connected with it is the effect of music on ethics and morals.
Those intoxicated by music should try to reply to these questions:
Why those engaged in singing and dancing profession almost always sink to the lowest level of immorality?
Why the film actors and actresses change their wives and husbands with every change of weather?
Why singing and dancing was considered a ‘Must’ for prostitutes in Indian subcontinent?
Why marital sanctity and conjugal bliss are words without meaning in the world of singers
and dancers? Why? Oh! Why?
The following quotations from ‘The Bridal Bed’1 will provide an answer to these questions:
(Dance) is the start of culture. Though some of these dances are sensationally erotic, the sexual element is present in most of the world’s dancing. It is sublimated even in ballet.
Many primitive dances, the world over, serve as preliminaries to mating, being closely connected with the choice of a marriage partner............A description or two will make this clear.
The Dinka, a gentle pastoral tribe, live on the east bank of the White Nile. They are astonishingly tall, sometimes more than six and a half feet high. Blacker than charcoal, often above a naked body, the hair glistens a longish pale gold mop, when it has been dyed with cow’s urine....Dinka buy their wives......But first they see the women in dance.
Within a village clearing the drums and gourd rattles are ready. Possibly as many as three hundred Dinkas have been waiting an hour or more under the yet powerful and declining sun, the tall girls standing together in a line, by now worked up to a pitch of excitement bordering on hysteria as they await the moment for the dance to develop. But what is strange here is that although the dance will mirror by no means deeply buried sexual desires, it remains curiously abstract and impersonal.
The magnificent nubile Negresses, with narrow hips and slim limbs, suggest bronze antiquely proportioned statues full of shy giggles; they begin to shuffle with their feet, beads and bracelets jangling on smooth wrist and dusty ankle. A laughing girl retreats, advances, invites her warrior partner, her arms tapering into the narrow palms of clasped simian hands stretched out behind her, her pointed breasts trembling. Her bead skirt rattles and sways, as she jerks her lacquer-like thighs forward and backwards as in love. Her partner guides her movement with his spear, thrusting his loins forward in a mime of pursuit."
In Sierra Leone the ‘Dance of the Susu Bundu girl’s has much more actual colour. Previously, the girls will have been circumcised in the Bundu Bush according to the ancient rites, and instructed in household accomplishments to prepare them for marriage. They are presumed to be virgins. It is night, but little fires flicker red in a moon-lightened darkness. Parents and relations of the participants cluster together with the rest of the village to watch. Monkeys chatter noisily from the trees.
As the girls step forward, they show gleaming teeth and the whites of their eyes. They are wearing their best finery: lengths of garish flower-patterned cloth are wound about their thin waists to the ground; high turbans composed of flaring coloured silk scarves decorate their small vivacious heads. Behind, over their skirts fall black velvet kirtles sewn with rows of bells. Each girl carries a showy handkerchief in one hand. Naked above the waist, her breasts, with prominent nipples, are thrust forward. Valleyed between the shoulder-blades, her upright back shines as though oiled. She dances with a proud, unspoiled grace of carriage.
No sudden crash of drums heralds the opening of this dance. Instead, a sweet wailing music from a native instrument, almost bell-like, blends with the controlled drums and the gentle swish of calabash, as the girls sway like dark columns of smoke, bending, skimming the earth with the fingers of first one hand then the other. More instruments join the rhythmic theme, emphasizing the flowing snake-like movements. On the girls’ now serious faces appears entranced concentration. The orchestra speeds the tempo; the sensuous vigour of the Negresses changing to such a vibrating single energy of supple writhing forms that individually the dancers can hardly be separated. The speed is so great that the girls appear to be mingled in one florid streak of colour.
But from among the audience the boys have been watching with aroused attention, picking out the girls they would like for brides. Often at the end of such a dance, a girl will fall to the ground exhausted. Then, in a flash, a boy will dash out, pick her up in his alms and carry her into the bush nearby, where, with a sigh, she may thank the darkness for preserving the myth of her virginity.
The reader should not think that these rites of the primitive tribes have no connection with the ‘refined’ dances of the so-called civilized world. It has been quoted above that "the sexual element is present in most of the world’s dancing."
European civilization celebrates a marriage with dancing. The bride is obliged to dance with the guests. Have you ever stopped to think what is the significance of this custom?
In early feudal times the bride might have spent her wedding night not with her husband but with her feudal lord, who had the right to deflower her.
Old writers of the history of Scotland say that King Evenus III — contemporary with the emperor Augustus — ‘made a law by which he and his successors in the throne were authorized to lie with every bride, if a woman of quality, before her husband could approach her and in consequence of this law the great men of the nation had a power of the same kind over the brides of their vassals and servants. It would seem that this law remained effective throughout the kingdom, for more than ten centuries, until St. Margaret persuaded her husband King Malcom III to have it abolished. After this, any vassal or servant who wished to redeem the first night of his bride had to pay a tax in money.
In almost all countries of Christendom, "sometimes even monks, who were feudal lords, held the right of sleeping with the bride on her first night as a married woman.
Now, such customs have been diluted, and the dance with the bride has been substituted in place of sleeping with her on her first night.
In Swedish weddings it is still usual for the bride to dance with all the men; elsewhere in Europe, as in parts of Germany, there is tradition that every guest who dances with the bride must pay her some money!
In Hungary, for example, on the day of marriage, many rites are performed. "At last, at about midnight, comes the “putting bed” ritual. First every man present dances with the now almost exhausted bride, each giving her money for this privilege." Not only in weddings but even in social dances the erotic factor dominates and survives. You must have seen in Western countries (and in their blind `followers) that when a state guest arrives, the wife of the host stands with the guest and the wife of the guest stands with the host. And the same thing happens during the dances given in honour of the guest. Do you know the origin of this custom? In ancient times there was a custom which still survives in the Chukchee tribe of Asiatic Eskimos. It is the system of "Group marriage" which anthropologists believe to be the most primitive form of marriage.
(Dr. Bogoras) states that marriage among the Chukchee does not deal with one couple only but extends over an entire group. The men belonging to such a marriage union are called ‘companions in wives’......but takes advantage of his right comparatively seldom, namely, only when he visits for some reason the camp of one of the ‘companions’. Then the host cedes him his place in the sleeping room.
As the author says, "the custom of loaning wives to strangers or friends, for a fee or just as an act of hospitality has been common and widespread over many lands from time immemorial and not only among savage tribes."
And this system survives in the form of loaning the wife to the guest in the dance room, in place of the bedroom.
Now that we have seen the relation between the dance and music on one hand and sexual promiscuity on the other, we can easily understand the following tradition of the Holy Prophet of Islam: Music is the magic of fornication.
It is no secret that songs, music and films depend upon sex-appeal for their success. The more sexy a song the more its sale and the more suggestive a music the more its market value. And also it is no secret that building the character of the children begins from their very tender age. If they are exposed to obscene songs, sexy music and suggestive dances in their childhood their entire outlook on the matters of sex morality and marriage-sanctity will become jaundiced. They will lose the capacity to distinguish between moral and immoral modesty and immodesty, chastity and promiscuity.
Some people think that the children do not understand these things! Such people are wrong.
Thus, by listening to the songs and seeing the dance on television, we ruin the moral uprightness of our children. If we believe that children are given to us by Allah as a trust and that we are responsible to give them such a training that they become good Muslims and virtuous servants of Allah, then we must abstain from songs and music and must keep them safe from the evil influence of these sinful habits. You will find this subject adequately explained in the Appendix.
After briefly explaining the evil effects of Music and dance, now time has come to give here some of the ayats of the Qur’an and some of the traditions of the Holy Prophet (S) and Imams (a.s.) on this subject.
Here are four Ayats of the Qur’an which forbid the Muslims from indulging into music.
"So abstain from the pollution of the idols and abstain from false vain words." (22:30).
The Arabic word "Zoor" has several meanings which include falsehood and the musical expressions. According to Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (a.s.) "pollution of the idols" means Chess and "Vain words" means music.
See how ‘Music’ has been joined in this Ayat with the pollution of idols", only then you can appreciate the seriousness of the sin of Music.
"And of the people there is he who buys a ‘vain talk’ so that he may lead others astray from the path of Allah without (real) knowledge and takes it (the revelation of Allah) for a mockery for these shall be a disgracing chastisement (punishment)." (31:6).
‘Lahw’ means any thing which diverts the mind from serious thinking. "Vain talk" has been interpreted by the Imam as some talk, sound or thing which diverts the attention of man from the ultimate aim of his creation; in other words makes him forget Allah and His commands. For example fictions romantic stories and such useless talks. "It includes ‘Music’, intoxicants and all such diversions."1
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) said: Music is among the things for which Allah has promised the Fire (of Hell). Then he recited the above Ayat2.
"Indeed successful are the believers those who in their prayer are humble and those who keep themselves aloof from Vain (words and deeds)." (23:1-3).
‘Laghv’ (Vain words and actions): The first Imam, Imam Ali (a.s.) said that "all that is void of the remembrance of Allah is ‘Laghv’. According to other authentic traditions of Imams, ‘Laghv’ means all useless entertainment, wasteful of times among which music has been specifically mentioned. Also included in this term are vain games played just to while away the time.
"And the servants of the Merciful Allah are those.......... who bear not witness to what is false, and when they pass by what is vain they pass with dignity"(25:72).
The words ‘Zoor’ and ‘Laghv’ have been explained earlier. According to the traditions of Imams (a.s.), the first part may also be translated in this way: "who do not witness what is vain"! And accordingly, it has been interpreted in the exegesis of the Qur’an as "do not listen to music."
The following two traditions explain the second part:
Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (a.s.) asked some of his companions: "Where are you staying?"
They replied: "With so and so, who has singing and dancing girls. Imam said: "You should have dignity."
They thought that Imam (a.s.) had advised them to treat that man generously. But they were not sure; so they returned to the Imam and requested him to explain his meaning to them.
Imam said: "have not you heard Allah saying `when they pass by what is vain they pass with dignity’?
Imam meant that you should not stay with a man who has singing and dancing girls.
Second tradition: Muhammad bin Abi Ibad was known to indulge in music and liquor. He once asked Imam Ali Ar-Ridha (a.s.) about listening to music.
Imam said: Some people in Hijaz have their own view about it but that view is absolutely wrong. Have you not heard the word of Allah ‘when they pass by what is vain they pass in dignity’?"
I think this much should be enough for a follower of, Muhammad (S) and Ahul ul Bait (a.s.).
After Ayats of the Qur’an, I mention here some of the traditions of the Holy Prophet of Islam (S) and Imams (a.s.) about musical sound, musical instruments, and musical parties.
1. The Holy Prophet (S) said: "When my Ummat (followers) will acquire fifteen habits they will be visited by disasters:
1) When the booty will be treated as personal property;
2) and trust will become like a booty of war;
3) and charity will be (disliked) like a loss;
4&5) and man will obey his wife and disobey his mother;
6&7) and will be generous to his friend and tyrant to his father;
8) and voices will be high in the mosques;
9) and a man will be respected as a safeguard against his evil;
10) and the leader of the people will be the worst of them;
11) and men will wear silk;
12) and people will keep singing and dancing girls;
13) and will keep musical instruments;
14) and will drink intoxicants;
15) and fornication will increase;
At that time expect red storms or depression of land-mass or changing your faces like the image of animals and the victory of your enemy upon you and then you will not be helped (by Allah)."
2. The Holy Prophet of Islam describing the signs of the Day of Judgment said: "Verily amongst the signs of the Hour is that people will neglect prayers (will not pray in the preferred time)! And will follow their desires, and will incline towards their own preferences..................... In those days, there will be people who will learn the Qur’an for other than Allah (i.e. for earning worldly benefits) and will treat the Qur’an as musical instrument (as is happening today in Islamic countries where Qur’an is recited on the radios just to entertain the listeners) and there will be people who will study religion for other than Allah (for earning prestige or wealth as is happening today when the main purpose of study of religion is to be come a good orator, so that higher and higher fees may be demanded from the audience) and number of illegitimate children will increase and people will sing the Qur’an.......... and will adore musical instruments and will dislike enjoining the good and forbidding the evil.............These are the people who will be called unclean and dirty in the kingdom of heaven."
3. Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (a.s.) said: "Music is the nest of hypocrisy."
4. Also he said: "Music is the worst of the sounds."
5. Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (a.s.) said: The place where music is performed, Allah does not look at its participants (with mercy).
6. Also the Imam (a.s.) said: "Listening to music and vain (sounds) grows hypocrisy as the water grows the plants.
7. Hassan (a companion of Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq a.s.) said: There was a man in my neighbourhood who had singing girls and he always remained immersed in music and dance. When I went to W.C., I used to stay a bit longer (to listen to those sounds). When I went to Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (a.s.), he told me: O Hasan, Verily the ear, and the eye and the heart, all of them will be asked. The ear and what it listened to, the eye and what it looked at and the heart and what it intended."
Hasan says: When I heard that Ayat of the Qur’an, it was as though I had never heard it before. Then I repented (from my sin of listening to music) and made a convent with Allah not to do it again.
The Imam (a.s.) said: "Stand up have bath and pray to Allah as much as you wish. How bad would have been your position if you had died with this habit. Repent before Allah and ask His forgiveness for every evil because Allah does not dislike but evil, leaves evil for evil people because for everything are its people.
In a list of major sins which he sent to Caliph Mamun Rashid, Imam Ali Ar-Ridha (a.s.) mentioned the participation in the musical gatherings.
Caliph Omar heard the sound of a flute of a shepherd and he hastily plugged his ears with his finger and turned his mouth to a different path saying : "The Prophet (S) heard the sound of a shepherd once when I was with him. He did not like it."
Abu Aamah reported on the authority of the Holy Prophet (S) that Holy Prophet (S) prohibited trade in singing slave maids and training them for singing and said that their sale proceeds were unlawful.
On the authority of the Holy Prophet (S) Hazarat Ayesha narrates that the Prophet (S) said that Almighty Allah has made unlawful the trade in singing slave maids, their training and listening to their songs.
Abdur Rahman bin Auf narrates that the Holy Prophet said that Almighty Allah has forbidden two nonsensical and wicked voices, one is melody and the other is the cry in distress.
Akramah reports the words of Ibn Abbas that the Prophet (S) said that Almighty Allah has raised me to destroy flute and the drum.
Sahl Bin Saad narrates that Holy Prophet (S) said, "Submersion below the surface of the earth, raining of stones from the sky and mutilation of figures shall come about in my ummat."
The companions asked, "O the Prophet of Allah when shall it happen?"
The Prophet (S) there upon said:" When musical instruments shall be in abundance and there shall be a large number of singing girls and shall be unlawful."
Abu Talib Tibri says that Imam Malik condemned music and forbid listening to it and said :"If you buy a slave maid and afterwards you find her to be singing girl, it shall be lawful for the buyer to restore her to the seller."
Imam Shafii said that music was an abhorrent sport. It was just like a filthy thing and the one who listens to excessive music was a fool. His evidence shall be rejected.
Abu Tayyab says: Shafii declared music as abhorrent.
Tradition on abhorrence of music has also come down from Ahmad Bin Hambal.
Abu Tayyab Tibri says that Imam Abu Hanifa considered music as abhorrent and held singing as sin. The same is the view of all the scholars of Kufa like Ibrahim, Shahabi, Hammad, Soufian Thousi and other. There is no difference even among the scholars of Basarah in respect of its being abhorrent and forbidden.
This was the reaction of the companions towards the ordinary music of past times. How forceful would have been their condemnation of music, musical bands and dance of today.
Holy Prophet (S) said, "I forbid you to dance and to play the flute, the drum and the tambourines."
Holy Prophet (S) said," Molten lead will be put in the ears of that person who listens attentively to music and songs.
Imam Ali Reza (a.s) said," And to listen attentively to the musical instrument (is also a greater sin )....." manufacturing, buying or selling musical instrument is forbidden, and the profits accrued from such dealings are illegal and the transaction is also null and void. Even safe keeping of musical instrument is forbidden and to destroy them is obligatory.
Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (a.s) said," Allah has prohibited the manufacturing of such things which are used for harmful purpose. And the things which only create harm. Thus the manufacturing of harp, flute, chess, musical instruments, cross of crucification, idols is forbidden."
Imam Mohammed Baqir (a.s) said: Singing is one of those sins for which Allah has reserved the punishment of Hell.
The place where songs and music are played, Allah’s wrath descends, as the following traditions say:-
Imam Ali (a.s) said," And music and songs give rise to hypocrisy and is one of the ways leading towards poverty and hunger.
Holy Prophet (S) said," Molten lead will be put in the ears of that person who listens attentively to music and songs.
Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (a.s) said," Thus to teach singing and music, to learn to play it or to receive payment for it and to indulge in any kind of musical pastime is forbidden."
Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (a.s) said," Don’t enter a house in which Allah’s Blessings and bounties are turned away from the habitants of the house, at such a place neither the Supplications are responded nor the Angels come near such place."
Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (a.s) said," One who has been bestowed with favours of Allah while in possession of such favours plays flute, he has been unthankful to the favours of Allah."
Masoomeen (a.s) said," And you will see that music will become so common that no one will forbid others. Nor will anyone find the courage to forbid anyone."
The words of Masoomeen are a proven fact as we do experience the situation in our day to day lives.
Singing becomes the cause of Adultery as the below mentioned tradition states:-
The Holy Prophet (S) said," Singing is a ladder to Adultery."
Singing gives rise to the lust in man which ultimately gives out bad consequences. Not only he who sings but also the one who listens attentively to it becomes negligent towards Allah and is ready for immoral deeds.
Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (a.s) said," All those past times and amusement are major sins, which makes a person negligent in remembering Allah. For example people indulging in singing, music and musical gadgets.
Yes, indeed it’s a fact that music not only makes shame and modesty disappear but also destroys love, brotherhood and generousness. In short, it makes the whole environment a specimen of Hell.
Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (a.s) said, "One who plays music in the house for forty days will be beset by a Satan named Fogander. Allah will cause that Satan to occupy each and every part of that person’s body. When this would happen then shame would depart from him and he would not care what he is saying nor what is being said about him. Then the Satan would blow unto him and after that his modesty would be completely destroyed. Then he would not feel ashamed even if the chastity of his women is being defiled."
The Holy Prophet (S) said," the playing of violin causes hypocrisy to grow in the heart in the same way as water becomes the cause of the growth of greenery."
Imam Ali (a.s) said," Angels do not enter the house which has wine, drum, tambourine or a flute. Even the innovations of the people of that house are not accepted and the fortunate blessings from them are taken away."
Imam Ali Reza (a.s) said," That person in whose house is kept for forty days a drum, flute or any other musical instrument, chess or similar things that person invokes the wrath of Allah and if that person dies during those forty days his death shall be of a transgressor and a libertine. His abode shall be Hell and what a terrible abode it is."
The Holy Prophet (S) said," A person who sings will be put in the group of those people on whom Allah will not look with grace on the Day of Judgement."
Dance halls are modern nurseries of the Divorce Courts, training shops of prostitution, and the graduating school of infamy and vice1."
I attack the modern dance as a reversion towards savagery. As a medical man, I flatly charge that modern social dancing is fundamentally sinful and evil. I charge that it is the most insidious of the manoeuvres preliminary to sex betrayal. It is nothing more or less than damnable diabolical animal physical dissipation. Do brother and sister dance like that? Father & mother? Mother & son? I tell you the basic spell of the dance is the spell of illicit physical contact..... We doctors know trial of broken homes prove this."2
The Holy Prophet (S) said," The person possessing aguiler will be brought on the Day of Judgement with a black face he would have a guitar of fire in his hand, and above him will be seventy thousand angels all carrying the maces of fire. They would be striking the maces on the head and face of that person and the singer shall arise from his grave blind, deaf and dumb and the adulterer shall also be raised from the grave in this way. And the one who plays flute shall be similarly raised and the one who plays the drum too."
The above Tradition clearly proves that all those people involving themselves in singing, committing adultery or playing musical instruments will be gathered on the Day of judgement as Deaf, Dumb and Blind.
Let us seek refuge in Allah from the temptations of Shaitaan so that he may never lead us into the disgraceful vice of listening to music. Let us make a firm resolution to keep our houses clean of this ignominy, let our children listen to sounds invocating and glorifying Allah(swt) rather than the satanic chants of music.
Let us not follow the habits promoted by the killers of Imam Hussain (a.s.).
Let us make a firm determination to eradicate this sin from our society completely.
Often people are heard saying: "But music has so much influence upon our feelings; so why such a thing should be forbidden?" But it is precisely because of its great influence upon heart and mind that it is forbidden. There would have been no need to ban it if it were with out any effect. The thing which is to be decided is whether its influence is good or bad. And it has been shown in the previous pages that music and dance have harmful effects physiologically, spiritually and ethically upon human beings.
Music is like intoxicants in that it makes one forget one’s surroundings and one does not know what is happening to him or her. The following episode is a good example of the effect of music:
Frank King is reported in ‘Reader’s Digest’1 as saying:-
"I returned home one evening and noticed a large red mark that looked like a burn on my wife’s right cheek. When I asked her what had happened she sheepishly told me the story. She set up the iron-board in the living room so that she could watch a favourite television programme while doing the ironing, the telephone table was also near at hand. As she was intently watching TV, the phone rang and she reached out automatically and answered the iron."
Another interesting story was published in the Tanganyika Standard2 some 23 years ago. A pregnant woman attended a musical programme in a local cinema. She became so much engrossed in it that she gave birth to a baby on the spot without realizing what was happening to her. ‘Was it a cinema hall or maternity home?’ asked the paper.
Realizing the importance of this engrossing quality of music, the scientists are trying to use it as an aid in surgery. Reader’s Digest3 writes:
"Audio-analgesia or painkilling by sound is one of modern science’s newest discoveries. The combination of music and other sounds have alleviated pain in dentistry, surgery and childbirth. Nobody can predict how widely the technique will be used but those who have experienced it entertained high hopes —like the new mother who wheeled from the delivery room exclaiming, `What a wonderful experience! I’ll always remember south pacific.
Palcetry Galiard while on the operation table asked for one of his own musical tapes to be played in the room. The effect was a spate of grief which made all present cry and the operation was performed without any anaesthetic.
All this goes a long way to prove that the music has the same effect on nerves and mind as the anaesthesia. Nobody in his right mind would suggest that chloroform should be daily used by the general public because it is such a good thing in the operation theatre. If music is a good anaesthetic let it be used in surgery and deliveries of children. But can that use ever justify its common use in every home at all times and in all circumstances?
If a child is afraid of something expose him to it often and his fears will diminish or disappear.
Dr. Victor B. Cline, a University of Utah (U.S.A.) Psychologist and four year research assistant, wrote, "Psychologists have for years demonstrated for example that you can overcome a person’s fear of snakes by gradually exposing him to others who casually play with snakes."
He then adds, "It stands to reason that you can also change attitudes and emotional responses to violence, sex and various antisocial behaviour by repeated exposure."
Everyone, especially a Muslim, should seriously consider the effect before he exposes himself or his children to anti-religious behaviour.
These days it is a sign of "Education" and "intelligentsia" to have Television at home giving little thought to its long-term effect especially on children.
Much research has been done in the United States of America on the effect of Television on its viewers. President Nixon had appointed a Commission to study Causes and Prevention of Violence. The commission in its Report published in 1970 said that Television networks were "pandering to a public preoccupation with violence that television itself has helped to generate." The Commission concluded that on the basis of many experimental studies "observed violence stimulates aggressive behaviour."
Dr. Robert M. Liepert of the State University of New York at Stony Brook (U.S.A.) after considerable research concluded: "There is a link between televised violence and aggressive behaviour for the majority of normal children." Although it has previously been assumed that only abnormal children would be affected by viewing scenes of violence, Liepert strongly disagreed. He writes, "The data show no evidence that only a minority is influenced. This is a factual error."
Dr. Victor B. Cline, the Psychologist, says that "The media are powerful teachers of values and ethical behaviour and sometimes may play a more significant role than the Church."
To this "Newsweek" commentator, Joseph Morgenstern, adds: "If the effect of Television violence on children has been finally demonstrated, it’s not un reasonable to assume that ultra-violence in the movie has some effect on adults."
The real danger of films shown on Television lies in the philosophy of life or value system that they propagate very subtly in many cases. This underlying system does not get edited out for television, as do most of the sex scenes and profanity.
And one cannot switch off the set as soon as something objectionable appears because often the viewer does not even realise the subtle moral implication of the film. Even an intelligent and educated person can easily be affected by such films.
On U.S.A. T.V. a film "Easy Rider" was shown which made heroes of two young men who "earned their freedom to take a cross-country motorcycle tour by smuggling heroin into the United States from Mexico. No criticism of their offense or even of their own indulgence in drugs was implied in the film. In fact, smoking marijuana was portrayed as perfectly normal and very agreeable and even the use of hard drugs left no ill-effects. When these points were discussed with a group of College freshmen-all of them from highly religious homes admitted that the film had left them confused about using drugs. "It (the film) made it look so nice, "he said”4 .
In some films the main characters are portrayed as sweet, gentle, loving and admirable young people, in spite of the fact that they are in bed with partners whose names they do not know. Even a person with firmly grounded sexual morals and little temptation to change them begins to sympathize with these gentle youngsters and to feel that, after all, such behaviour is not particularly damaging.
When children are exposed to such films, it gradually changes their attitude and undoes what the poor Mulla or Maulana has been trying to instil in them.
Almost every evening he sees ngomas, dances, kissing, dating, violence, scenes of night clubs and eventually he accepts all these things as normal and starts considering all those who oppose these things as "abnormal".
It might be argued that not much violence or immoral films are shown on local Television. It should, however, be borne in mind that poison, however small the dose, seeps in and does damage.
Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that the standard of morality of those who control showing of television programmes is different from ours. Things which in their eyes are "innocent" are most objectionable from our point of view. Drinking, dating, dancing, kissing, etcetera, may be "innocent" to them but we would not like our children to accept these ideas and follow them.
Even with much noise being made by those in authority about guarding the morality of the public, quite often extremely objectionable films, even from their own point of view are shown on television. Once such a highly objectionable film was shown on Nairobi television about which "East African Standard" had to write as follows:-
"The `Nana’ controversy is just dying out the film having now been "deported" to Mombasa. But another `Nana’ in the name of `Celestina’ appeared on V.O.K. television last Wednesday, as the Midweek movie.
Part of this otherwise excellent drama depicts Celestina’s husband indulging in massage treatment to a charming and highly romantic young girl.
The exercise develops into proper romance when Celestina’s husband starts undressing the girl, and she obliges. The bedroom scene continues until: Enter Celestina, looking furious.
Having suspected what was taking place she picks up a knife and drives it into her husband’s heart. I would not mind seeing this film, and particularly the sex scene, in a cinema, as it would be my individual decision to see it by paying for it.
What V.O.K. has done is to bring right in our homes such a film with highly romantic scenes. What are we expected to do in our houses with children around? Just look at such scenes and laugh them off? One wonders what sort of society we are trying to build."5
The "Perry Mason" and "Falk" series films which are often shown on our television are American films showing violence, immorality, etc, which is likely to have an effect, specially on children. Some of these films propagate "ends justify the means" slogan.
In a film called "Evening Rider" shown on Cost television, a teenager was shown married to a man her father’s age and being tempted by the husband’s own son of the same age.6 . It left one with the impression that adultery, for such a teenager was justified.
"Grab Game" was shown on Nairobi television which showed a person looking for a job attacking the manager of the firm and the manager tells him in fear to "come next Thursday"7 it was nothing but propagation of "Might is right".
That such films have an effect on even adults car be judged from the reviews of these programmes from accredited journalists who are not only intelligent but highly educated.
A reviewer of Television of East African Standard once wrote, "I have in mind the fact that a procrastinating father finds himself sharing a girl friend with his own son. One may turn round and blame the poor girl for having extended both hands, but what about difficult time when the father, and I bet he was doing it without the knowledge of his perhaps halfway starving family, offers assistance, including paying overseas academic fees and all that goes with it. ?8
It can be seen that instead of revolting against the immorality of the girl viewers are made to sympathize with her and condone her actions.
The censor Boards controlling showing of programmes on television change and we may see a time when the Board is more lax and permissive. We may then see highly objectionable films being shown on our television which have brought chaos in the United States of America.
It will then be difficult to tell our children to stop viewing TV when we have introduced it to them and made them its addict.
However strict we may be at home in trying to control what programme our children should see, but once they are addicted to it they will see even the highly objectionable programmes as and when they get an opportunity. We shall be held responsible before God for introducing televisions to them and weakening their moral fibre. God says in Quran,
"O ye who believe, save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones." (66.7)
Let us not expose our children to immoral behaviour and turn them into fuel of fire.
1. Translation of the Holy Qur’an, by M.V. Mir Ahmad Ali
2. Ghina Ki Hurmat, by Seyyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi
3. Falsafa-e-tahrime-E-Musiqui; published by ‘Dar Rah-e-Haqq’, Qum
4. Intisharate-e-Yazdahgana; published by Anjuman-e-Tablighat-e-lslami, Tehran
5. How your Nervous System Works; by J.D. Ratcliff; Reader’s Digest — Book of Human Body
6. Foundation of Biology, by William D.Mc Elory & Carl P. Swanson and others; Prentice-Hall Inc., U.S.A.
7. The Bridal Bed, by Joseph Braddock; Corgi Books, U.S.A.