Is it regarded unbelief to take pleasure from musical instruments and music?

The Details of the Question

- The Prophet (pbuh) said, "It is haram to listen to musical instruments; it is fisq (sin) to sit in a place where they are played; it is kufr (unbelief), that is, ingratitude for bounties, to take pleasure from it." (Raddul-Muhtar)

- My question is this: It is stated in the hadith above that it is unbelief (kufr) to take pleasure from musical instruments. Is the kufr mentioned in the hadith used in the sense of the kufr that makes a person exit the religion of Islam? I could not understand it. Will you explain it?    
- For instance, there are some music pieces that we like. There are some types of music that we take pleasure from listening; is it kufr to listen to them by taking pleasure?
- There are bad words that include sins in some songs. I know that those songs are haram. Are the songs that do not include bad words also haram?  
- Is it kufr to listen to songs that do not include any sins by taking pleasure from them? 

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Let us have a look at the state of musical instruments in general first:

The soundest hadith showing that musical instruments are haram is the following hadith included in Bukhari: This issue exists in our website but it will be better to deal with it again:

According to what is reported from Abu Malik al-Ash'ari, the Prophet (pbuh) said,

"From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments as halal and lawful…” (Bukhari, Ashriba, 6)

The word “al-Ma’azif” mentioned in the hadith and translated as “musical instruments” is the plural form of the word “Mizafa”. Scholars define this word in various meanings that are close to one another as “musical instruments, music, songs for entertainment and tambourines”. (see Ibn Hajar,10/55)

- Some scholars like Ibn Hazm states that none of the narrations related to musical instruments including the Bukhari hadith above is sound but this view is rejected by other scholars. (see Ibn Hajar, Fathul-Bari, 10/52-53)

- Some Sufis say it is permissible to play the tambourine and ney (a kind of reed flute) but others say it is not permissible. (see Ghazali, Ihya, 2/271-277, W. Zuhayli, al-Fiqhul-Islami, 3/573-575)

- Hanafi scholars say, “All musical instruments are haram.” (see Ibn Abidin, 6/348)

- Imam Ghazali holds the view that some musical instruments like tambourine are permissible except for those clearly forbidden in shari’ah. (see Ihya, ibid)

- According to a number of fatwas issued by a committee of scholars of Saudis, all of the musical instruments and types of music you mention in the question are haram. (see Fatawal-Lajnatid-Daima; Majmuu Fatawi Ibn Baz)

- Imam Shafii uses the word “makruh” for music. Acting upon this, some Shafii scholars say mubah (permissible) for music while others say it is haram. (see Majmuu Fatawi Ibn Baz,3/418)

Badiuzzaman Said Nursi, who is a Shafii follower, states the following in an explanation in which he distinguishes between the sounds that do not remind man of Allah, lead him to ownerless thoughts and produce the sorrow of the orphan and the sounds that produce sorrow due to temporary separation:

“...It is for this reason that the Shari‘a deems lawful such sounds as excite an elevated love and the sorrow of love, and it declares unlawful any that inflame the carnal appetites and produce the sorrow of the orphan. Any the Shari‘a does not specify for you, judge for yourself according to the effect they have on your spirit and conscience.” (İşarat-ül İ'caz,70)

- The hadith narration meaning “It is haram to listen to musical instruments; it is fisq (sin) to sit in a place where they are played; it is kufr (unbelief), that is, ingratitude for bounties, to take pleasure from it" was reported from Bazzaziya. (see Ibn Abidin, 6/349- for this hadith, see also al-Ikhtiyar,4/165-166; al-Bahrur-Raiq, 8/215)

The decree of fiqh scholars about the issue is clear.  

- The concept “kufr” mentioned in the hadith is explained as “ingratitude for bounties” in the hadith itself “because it is evaluated as follows: when man does not use his organs for the purposes they were created, his attitude for that bounty will be ingratitude, not gratitude.”

- The principle accepted unanimously by Ahl as-Sunnah scholars regarding the issue is as follows:

“No sin, whether it is minor or major, leads man to unbelief. A person who commits a sin does not become an unbeliever.”  

- Finally, we state that we have not been able to find – despite our research –  the resource of this hadith, which exists in some Hanafi fiqh books.

We have seen in a fatwa issued in an Arabic website that it is emphasized that “the original form of this hadith has not been found”. (see Fatwa:214891)

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