Music: a Gift from God
By: Belal Yusuf
Music is a gift from God, for us to enjoy, without
which our lives will be dull and dry. A gift that was
given to all mankind across the globe. A gift that
helped spread religions and became part of our rituals.
A gift that makes our lives colorful and bright
Few days ago, during at a casual family gathering, a
relative turned to me and said: “I have an audio tape
that might interest you. In it, an imam proves that
music and singing are Haram… sort of like adultery”.
I froze for a second, stared at him with utter shock,
and looked away trying to make sense of that statement.
To explain how painful this was to me, I have to
mention that I am a hardcore music aficionado, and that
I play many instruments besides singing privately. I
managed, years ago, to overcome an earlier assertion
that playing instruments keeps a good Muslim from
praying or reading Quran. I did so by praying on time
and reading Quran regularly. I managed to satisfy my own
faithful conscious -which is what really matters- that
music is not affecting my religious practice in any way.
But now this new challenge was tougher and required a
lot of research and pondering. But am I prepared for a
negative result? Are you?
To me, the question was how can anyone simply accept
this judgment of one of our lives’ dearest and seemingly
innocent pleasures? Am I committing adultery with every
singer that I listen to? Am I committing a sin by
humming an old tune in the shower? Many jokes come to my
mind at this stage of the argument, but banning music is
not a joking matter. Associating it with adultery is far
When I tried to seek a judgment on this issue I soon
realized the importance of music in our lives. It comes
so naturally to humans that every nation in the world
plays and listens to it in its own special way. It is so
emotional that it could brighten your day or bring you
to tears. It goes straight to the heart and that is
probably why it was, and still is, practiced along the
rituals of every religion. Some religions take it a
little far by playing instruments in their place of
worship; but in the end it is a way to capitalize on the
spiritual power of music.
Take the Arabic word Tarteel for example; Muslims can
read Quran to research it and learn from it, but they
use Tarteel when reading is a ritualistic practice.
Reciting Quran using Tarteel, or listening to a recorded
recitation is such an elevated and a heartwarming
experience that far exceeds the impact of monotone
reading. Some would refrain from associating Tarteel
with music, but the fact remains that the tonality of
the recited words is a basic musical manifestation.
Athan is another way where music finds a natural
place in Islam; five times a day we hear the words
Allahu Akbar called with the touching voices of the Mu’
athins. Of course some prefer not to intone their Athans
for various reasons, but it’s the ones that do make the
most impact. So much so that even a Christian friend
admitted getting goose-bumps whenever he heard our Athan.
Another example that comes to my mind is the Arabic
poem “Tala’l badru alaina” (The full moon has risen upon
us) that was sung by the people of Meddinah to welcome
prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This is probably the first tune
that I memorized when I was a child, and it still sends
shivers through my spine every time I hear it. Many
people I know also expressed their fondness of that
Music becomes part of our lives from the moment our
mothers or grandmothers sing us lullabies to sleep
–another worldwide practice. It’s been recently proven
that lullabies and light music is soothing and relaxing
to the infant. It is that sensation that grows with us
makes music such a joy. So if, hypothetically speaking,
music was indeed Haram, are we to ban mothers from
humming to their babies? Or are lullabies an exception?
Where do we draw the line?
This last question brings up an important
distinction; innocent music versus the dirty lyrics and
imagery that is being propagated today in the name of
music and art. There is nothing musical about girls
exposing themselves and “dancing” like professional
strippers in video clips. There’s also nothing artistic
about vulgar sexual references in the lyrics of today’s
popular songs. Such vice-infested media should not be
put in the same category with a pure tune like Mua’lem.
(A popular Islamic song and a video clip about Prophet
This topic seems to me like another example of the
bad guys spoiling it for everybody; Greedy producers
selling pornography in the name of art, and giving
talented musicians a bad name. That’s why we need to
make a distinction between what is acceptable and what
is not; Calling to ban vice and sex from music is a call
that I strongly support, but to ban music all together
is to kill an innocent pleasure by unjust association.
An association that is now being exploited by zealous
scholars using unconfirmed or misinterpreted material.
Music in its pure and innocent forms is a gift for us
to enjoy, without which our lives will be dull and dry.
A gift that was given to all mankind across the globe. A
gift that helped spread religions and became part of our
rituals. A gift that makes our lives colorful and
bright. A gift from God which man is trying to take