Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 1 year ago

I'll be happy to drop a few thoughts on this.

First, it can be challenging to discuss "music in Islam", because the English-language word "music" covers anything that is tonal/rhythmic. For instance, someone who speaks English as a native language might consider a Qur'anic recitation to be "music", whereas many Muslims would find that horrifying. That being said, I can gather that by "certain music" you mean, well, certain music that we all know what it is.

Second, of course, when discussing the reasons behind shariah, unless the reasons are clearly stated in the source texts, any explanation for why it is the way it is is simply a guess. 

Third, the experience of music today is far different than it was at any other time in human history. (As indeed is the case for many things) In the past, music was a human activity; it required a musician (the self, a family member, a professional performer, a slave, etc.). It wasn't a physical commodity that could be bought and sold. It was almost unheard of to be able to listen to music on demand or 24 hours a day or on repeat.

Lastly, when we discuss reasons for things in Islam today, we often focus on material or physical effects only. While one can also discuss the physical and material effects of music (for instance, the music industry), seeing as sound/chanting is used in almost every world religion (if not every world religion), it stands to reason that different types of sound/music/chanting also have spiritual or invisible effects that are typically not addressed.

With respect to music in the time of the Prophet (S) and Imams (A), it seems that the main concerns were (a) morality, in that music was associated with immoral acts, (b) extravagance and wastefulness, since it was often associated with excesses by the elite, perhaps (c) slavery and the buying and selling of slave-musicians, and (d) filling the mind with vain diversions distracting one from more important things. However I would not negate other possibilities such as spiritual or other effects.

This was then. However the world today is far different from what most people would have imagined .As for music today, I would say the following. First, people are much more likely to accept the words and ideas that they hear in a song as opposed to hearing the words on their own. Many of the profane things that are in songs today would have been completely unacceptable to be said in polite company even a few decades ago. Over my lifetime, and the lifetimes of people older than me, there has been a gradual decay in what is acceptable to discuss in public that directly correlates to newer and more "shocking" explicit or other things said in music. Along the same lines, in some societies, there has been a corresponding decline in public morality. Correspondence doesn't prove causality but I think there is something to that. 

This is not to say that all songs have bad lyrics, as indeed some songs have very thoughtful or socially beneficial lyrics, but - for various reasons - there has been a strong move towards music promoting things which are not good from the viewpoint of Islamic ethics. (I'm sure I don't need to give examples!)

Perhaps a similar example to bring up here is the Qur'anic discussion of wine. It doesn't say that wine is entirely bad; it says there is a little good and much evil. For that reason, wine is forbidden - because the bad outweighs the good, individually and socially. 

Second - and this is something much more relevant in the modern world - music is addictive. It does affect the brain, and it is not uncommon for people to suffer addictions to music of various kinds.

At the same time, it occupies the brain and prevents you from thinking about other things. It can distract one from the reality one is living in so that it acts more as a drug that masks our circumstances rather than encouraging us to improve them. 

Third, it actually has been shown that different types of music actually do significantly affect the way that the brain functions in ways that are positive or negative (here, we are talking about music that is negative). That is, there is something about the input that causes the brain to mimic its patterns and then this affects both our thoughts and our actions. This is not to say that this is always bad; for instance, listening to Mozart has been shown to improve mathematical reasoning temporarily. However, in many cases, this effect is undesirable. (Again, I'm sure I don't need to give examples!)

Lastly, we usually look at these things only from the perspective of the listener (that is, the consumer) of music; one has to keep in mind that the music also needs to be produced. The professional music industry is fraught with all sorts of problems and, at the least, one can say it is not an environment that ethically uplifts most people who have to deal with it. So, one should keep the good of the performers in mind as well.

These are just a few thoughts, I am sure others will contribute as well!