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.