By Part Time Punjabi
We all do it. We constantly read those ingredients on the back of food items. Like citric acid, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, monosodium glutamate, niacin, soybean oil, xanthan gum and “artificial flavors”. And when we come across gelatin or vanilla extract, we automatically stop reading and put it back on the shelf. You know gelatin comes from bones and pig tissues and vanilla extract contains khamr (wine & alcohol). You instinctively know they are unlawful for you and furthermore our religion strongly prohibits them.
So why can’t we do that with music? Before you comment and tell me that there are different views on the prohibition of music, I want to make two things very clear. When I say music is unlawful, I’m talking about the instruments and not the lyrics. The lyrics play a minor role on the impact of your imaan. It is the musical instruments in the back that capture your heart, squeeze it and suffocate your imaan. It doesn’t matter if you are listening to soft rock/indie or hip hop. The second thing is that two types of instruments are forbidden: wind and string.
Narrated by Abu Umamah (ra), The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Allah has sent me as a mercy to the universe and as guidance to the universe, and my Lord, Who is Great and Glorious, has commanded me to annihilate stringed instruments, wind instruments, idols, crosses and pre-Islamic customs. My Lord, Who is Great and Glorious has sworn, ‘By My might, none of My servants will drink a mouthful of wine without My giving him a similar amount of pus to drink, but he will not abandon it through fear of Me without My giving him drink from the holy tanks.'” [Ahmad transmitted it. Al-Tirmidhi No. 1029]
The hadith puts instruments of wind and string along with idols, crosses and pre-Islamic customs. It couldn’t be any clearer than this hadith.
But I’m not going to bash ourselves and convince others not to listen to music. Often times we encounter many great alternatives to music like nasheeds. However many nasheeds do contain music. So before you start to lose yourself over a nasheed or any song, check the ingredients! Make sure it doesn’t contain string and wind instruments (like you would check for gelatin and vanilla extract in food). There are so many beautiful nasheeds that praises Allah and gives blessings to His Messenger (pbuh) but why did the composers have to put a guitar in the background? It just doesn’t make sense.
Why are string and wind instruments so bad anyways? They cause sickness and weakness to the heart. Music and the Qur’an can’t be in the same heart and you are going to have to choose only one. But you can probably think of a few good songs that helped you make it through a situation in your life. And you could argue that there are great songs out there to help you and motivate you. Well what if I told you that I have something better? Listen to the Qur’an. For every problem, there is an ayah in the Qur’an. You don’t even need nasheeds. Make your choice: Music or Qur’an and then tell me which is more motivating!
Finally, I want to urge everyone to not become judgmental when they see a brother or sister wearing headphones. Just because they have headphones in doesn’t mean they are grooving and jamming. They could be listening to lectures or nasheeds or even the Qur’an. There isn’t any need to judge someone on the basis that they have headphones on.
Whether it is music or food, check the ingredients first and then decide if it is lawful for you to have it.
And always, Allah knows best.