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Aqeedah and Fiqh

Voice-Only Music: How Much Is Too Much?

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Preliminaries

My experience with discussions on music is they tend to be argumentative and I doubt this will be any different, but I’ll be happy to be wrong.  In order to keep the discussion productive, however, let’s make a few things clear:

  1. This is not a discussion which seeks to establish one fiqh opinion on music over another.  Instead, it examines a number of ways one particular opinion can be stretched.
  2. The opinion assumed is that the voice and dhaff are permissible, all else aren’t.  This does limit the practical value for many, particularly those who consider musical instruments permissible.
  3. There will be videos that may (or may not, depending on your fiqhi orientation) be “controversial”.  The point of these videos is not to promote them, but to illustrate the problem.
  4. You’re right, there are far more important issues facing the ummah – please contact us here to discuss submitting a guest article on them.

Life Without Music

The first time I was told music was forbidden in our religion, I was 17 years old, and the notion went right over my head – how could something so ubiquitous, so natural as breathing, be forbidden?  My caffeine, my drug, my high, my buzz, my constant companion was music – how in the world could anyone get by in life without it?  Whoever said it was forbidden must have made a mistake.  Or maybe it wasn’t all that big a deal.

14 years later, alhamdulillaah, I’ve given it up and stayed away from it since 2002.  With the exception of what is beyond my control, like when shopping in a grocery store, my life is music free, and I avoid it like the plague.  My four year old daughter knows it’s haraam and knows to turn down the volume on any video she watches that has music, and my son who’s only two years old reminds her in case she forgets.

I’ve replaced that (and movie-watching) with reading books and taking up other hobbies.  Without going into detail, I’m a much better and happier person today than I was 7 years ago when just leaving those addictions, and alhamdulillaah, I’m mega-grateful to Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala for this guidance.

So music has been essentially obliterated from my life.  Hmmm, well, except for one little thing.

The Voice / Dhaff – Only Opinion

Step 1:  Ahmed Bukhatir and Bukhatir-esque Nasheeds

My introduction to voice / dhaff only performances was with Ahmed Bukhatir.  Most of you, I believe, know who he is and the work he produces.  Bukhatir’s lyrics center on inspiring people to become better practicing Muslims.  In the backdrop of his nasheeds, you’ll hear a bit chanting and humming.  For those unfamiliar with his work, here’s a sample from his latest album:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6P1wfc3WSU[/youtube]

Step 2:  BeatBoxing

I turned to Dr. Wikipedia for a definition on beatboxing and came out with the following:

Beatboxing is a form of vocal percussion which primarily involves the art of producing drum beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using one’s mouth, lips, tongue, voice, and more. It may also involve singing, vocal imitation of turntablism, the simulation of horns, strings, and other musical instruments. Beatboxing is connected with hip hop culture although it is not limited to hip hop music.

Although my first exposure to beatboxing came in my years of listening to hip-hop, it’s re-introduction into my life came after viewing the following video:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2-KqapgcCw[/youtube]

Before that, it hadn’t occurred to me that it was a viable means of “music” since it was “voice-only”.  I didn’t see any discussion or disagreement with the video, and I assumed beatboxing must be good-to-go, otherwise someone would stand up and say something, right?

Not quite.  I realized later that the more intelligent students of knowledge shy away from giving fatwas and prefer to give practical advice on new issues, as a fatwa cannot and should not be given lightly (as an aside, if you want to know when your teacher is avoiding giving you a fatwa, pay attention to the language – if they say, “You should stay away,” or “I’d avoid it,” thank Allah you’ve been gifted with a teacher who fears dispensing fataawa and don’t ask again after that – it’s a lot of pressure).

To make a long story short, over the years I had heard hints of disagreement from students and teachers alike, as well as some suggestions for different ways to make the videos, particularly after the following video was released at ISNA 2009:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDTyVU0vpcs[/youtube]

As far as how it affected me personally, I found a nasheed artist named Shaheed alKawn who records tracks of himself making various beats and sound effects with voice only, then synchronizes them and sings to those beats (about Islam, his conversion, etc).  He prefaced one of his CDs by stating, “What you are about to hear is the product of human voice – no musical instruments were used to create these soundscapes.”

His work can be sampled at the following link (audio quality is really poor):

http://www.thenasheedshop.com/shaheed_alkawn.php

Step 3:  Youtube and Acapella

Acapella, for the purposes of this discussion, is singing without any sort of instrumental accompaniment (thanks again Dr. Wikipedia).  My wife found a popular group known as “Straight No Chaser”, an all-men’s group that formed in Indiana back in ’96 and continues to this day.  In their songs, some will be singing while others will be hum the beats of the song performed (they often perform songs that have already been done by mainstream artists).  So long as the lyrics were clean, I didn’t see a problem with watching or listening – here’s a sample of what they’ve performed:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiWig03ch8U[/youtube]

So far so good?  Maybe, maybe not.  Well, here’s where it gets really sticky.

Step 4:  Vocal Play

Even Dr. Wikipedia was scratching his (or her?) head on this one – what’s vocal play?  Here’s the definition:

To imitate, mimic, or become an instrument using only your voice to create the sound

The concept of vocal play differs from acapella in that with acapella, you might hum the tune of the instrument, or make a sound that sort of kind of captures the essence of the intent of the instrument, but it’s very obviously a human voice.  In vocal play, the performer mimics the instrument much more closely (though still not perfectly).  I like to think of it as seriously upgraded beatboxing and acapella wrapped in a neat package.

The group who pioneered the concept (and appears to be the only one at present doing it) is a band known as Naturally 7.  I first came to know of them when a brother I met from Ilm Summit showed me a video of them performing one of their songs live on a subway car.  When I returned home, I did a little more research, and honestly, their sheer talent just blew me away.  Whether they’re live or in studio, they’re 100% instrument free – that’s their schtick, their trademark, their raison d’etre.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, check out the following video, and in particular, cut to about 3:20 in the video where one person (who has a high-pitched voice) takes on the sound of a guitar (embedding of this video is disabled, so click on it, the message will come up to watch on youtube, right-click and open that link in a new window):

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5MkNOXSdkA[/youtube]

That last video was more a display of talent, the next one is the use of that talent to create a more mainstream sounding song:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5qc3qZqe38[/youtube]

To answer your question, yes, both of those videos are 110% pure voice.  I played this for a friend who’s into music, and I asked him what he thought of it.  He looked at me and was like, “Is there a new fatwa on music or something?” meaning, why are you, of all people, playing this?  When I explained it was all vocal, no instruments, he couldn’t believe it, and I’ve had the same response from everyone else hearing them for the first time – they can’t believe no instruments are used because it sounds just like music (or close enough that no one cares to expend the effort discerning the difference).

Dealing with Doubtful Matters

As surprising as vocal play is, I have to admit, ever since the Bukhatir phase, there’s been a little voice in the back of my head saying, “Are you really sure about all this?”  I never really had to face up to it because in the case of Bukhatir-style nasheeds, beatboxing, and acapella, I enjoyed it for a bit, became bored with it, and moved on.

When vocal play came on the scene, I had to do some serious soul searching because I was really enjoying what I was listening to, and that little voice kept asking me, “What’s the difference if there are or aren’t instruments if it all sounds the same in the end?”  The story of the Jewish people who set up fishing nets to circumvent the order forbidding work on the Sabbath came to mind – are you looking for loophole minutiae and missing the spirit of the opinion you profess to follow, that voice kept asking.

In the end, I prayed to Allah for guidance specifically on the vocal play stuff and decided that for myself and only myself, it’s better to avoid it.  However, since I’m not qualified to give fatwas to others (let alone myself), I’m not enforcing my practice on others.  My children happen to like vocal play, so my wife and I allow them to listen to their favorite songs once (like in the car), and then shut it off.

Conclusion

With the many voice-only options available, the issue of what is permissible and what is not has become clouded.  What I’ve tried to illustrate is my own experience in dealing with this issue, trying to balance between fatwa and taqwa, and I’d welcome feedback from others who follow the voice/dhaff only opinion.

There are many areas a person can draw the line – where do you draw your own line, and why?

Siraaj is the COO and interim CEO of MuslimMatters as well as its new lead web developer. He's spent nearly two decades working in dawah organizations, starting with his chapter MSA in Purdue University, and leading efforts with AlMaghrib Institute, MuslimMatters, and AlJumuah magazine. Somewhere in there, he finds time for his full-time profession as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. He holds a bachelor's in Computer Science from Purdue University and a Master's certificate from UC Berkeley. He's very married and has 5 wonderful children

166 Comments

166 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Arif Kabir

    October 19, 2009 at 1:09 AM

    I used to listen to the old-school Naats, but then realized that it’s just Bollywood all over again. If you really get to the heart of the matter, you realize that all of these things in the background tend to be Islamic phrases repeated over, and over, and over again. All of this brings into mind the practice of the Sufis and how they utter ‘Hayy’ or ‘Allahu’ over and over again. Personally, in terms of Anasheed, I only listen to vocal Anasheed like Alafasy, Ali Abdul Malik, Kamal Uddin, Samir Al Bashiri, and others because anything else just seems like an imitation of the Non-Muslims. In Fiqh, there’s the maxim that “Whatever leads to Haraam is Haraam” and that is my opinion in terms of music.

    For all of those still looking for a leeway to listen to all types of music (some use the excuse if it got good lyrics, while others say if the music is for a good purpose, etc.), ‘give your excuses a black eye’ as we say in Qabeelat Nurayn. If you need something to listen to, head over to an Islamic site like HalalTube.com, make a list of lectures that you need to listen to, and begin. Make a goal of listening to the whole Qur’an at least once every few months or at the very least, in a year. You’ll soon realize that there is another whole world out there when it comes to Islamic knowledge, and it’s available at our fingertips. All we gotta do is go seek it…

    • Avatar

      mystrugglewithin

      October 19, 2009 at 9:18 AM

      true true true.

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 19, 2009 at 11:59 AM

      Salaam alaykum Arif,

      Great comment, jazakallaah khayr for contributing. You mentioned the principle of, “What leads to haraam is haraam,” and you’ve drawn your line at nasheeds – what are your thoughts on those who would say that even those nasheeds you are listening to can lead down a path similar to what I personally traversed and can eventually lead you into music?

      Siraaj

      • Avatar

        Arif Kabir

        October 19, 2009 at 12:28 PM

        Well, without even getting into the Drums/Daff issue, we know that vocal Anasheed are allowed. I wouldn’t say these Anasheed are a solution in itself, but they lead to a solution. Many on this forum, as well as myself, went from “Islamic music” > Anasheed with Drums > Vocal Anasheed > Qur’an. It may be that this can become reversed, but I highly doubt it. The vocal anasheed have a sense of purity in it that cannot be found in the music-filled ones – lol, if we had a get-away-from-music-program like they do for drugs, I would personally take them to first vocal anasheed and then slowly transition them to the Qur’an. The sense of guilt starts to ebb away with every step. At the end of the day, you realize that music and Qur’an cannot stay together in the heart – you gotta do away with one. Vocal Anasheed are good now and then, but it never be at the same level as our recitation and listening of the Qur’an

    • Avatar

      MR

      October 20, 2009 at 9:03 AM

      HalalTunes bro!!!

      http://www.halaltunes.com

      :-D

  2. Avatar

    Asiah

    October 19, 2009 at 1:34 AM

    Awesome Post! I used to, well I did until a couple minutes ago, listen to “good” music, that had nice lyrics…but I now know I was only fooling myself!

    Thanks for this great post, I have changed my ways!

    And Thanks Arif for telling me about halaltube, I had never heard about it!

    Great job with this site, please keep it up!!!

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 19, 2009 at 12:01 PM

      Walaykum as salaam Asiah,

      If this post helped you with not listening to music, alhamdulillaah, it was well-worth writing =) If I could ask for payment, it would be that you keep me and my family in your du’aas.

      Siraaj

  3. Avatar

    light

    October 19, 2009 at 2:08 AM

    I grew up listening to Dawud Wharnsby’s cd’s (as well as Zain Bhika and Yusuf Islam) which I can honestly say made a difference in my life because while all of my friends were listening to spice girls or whatever, I had a positive influence I used to listen to that taught me really good things about Islam, the Prophet SAW’s life, Islamic manners, etc.

    Through this mode of expression, it reinforced my identity in a language and way I could understand, as a 12 year old or a 14 year old, which is one of the toughest periods of time an average young Muslims go through, so I really did appreciate it alhamdulillah. I think Muslim artists should produce stuff to listen to out of passion and perfection in what they do, not only as an “alternative” to something else though because we need to create a more indigenous form of creativity that we can identify as Muslims living in America, not living in the Middle east or southeast Asia.

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 19, 2009 at 12:06 PM

      Salaam alaykum Light,

      Excellent comment, I forgot all about the English nasheed artists (except for Shaheed alKawn). I wasn’t able to get into them myself because when I was first exposed to them, I had just finished giving up regular music, and when the two are compared, the nasheeds sounded campy and corny. I had friends who were into Christian rock and such, and it sounded so similar to that, I sort of cringed and ran away from it :) When I started hearing bukhatir, it actually helped that I didn’t understand arabic and simply appreciated the way the sound was put together rather than the lyrics, although his song on death that was in English was really powerful.

      These days, with Zain Bhika, DWA, and Yusuf Islam, I play their stuff for my kids occasionally when we’re on the road (when there’s no instruments, of course).

      Siraaj

  4. Avatar

    Leila

    October 19, 2009 at 5:08 AM

    I believe music is permissible and the reason i listen to it is for entertainment purposes and not necessarily the message it contains. I would not listen to music without instruments because it simply lacks the main ingredient.

    • Avatar

      Ibn Malik

      October 19, 2009 at 9:18 AM

      Narrated Abu ‘Amir or Abu Malik Al-Ash’ari: that he heard the Prophet saying, “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 lawful. And there will be some people who will stay near the side of a mountain and in the evening their shepherd will come to them with their sheep and ask them for something, but they will say to him, ‘Return to us tomorrow.’ Allah will destroy them during the night and will let the mountain fall on them, and He will transform the rest of them into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Resurrection.”

      Bukhari 69:494v

      WAllahu ta’alaa Alam

    • Avatar

      mystrugglewithin

      October 19, 2009 at 9:21 AM

      you’ve got so many ‘I’s .. that’s vulnerable :-)

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 19, 2009 at 12:10 PM

      Salaam alaykum Leila,

      There are different opinions on music’s permissibility, and then there are different opinions within each of those about instruments, lyrics, and so on. Bottom line, if you’re following the opinion you’re following in good conscience, and you feel that it’s not harming your relationship with Allah, then it’s between Him and you. I don’t follow that opinion myself, but I respect your decision to do so and I ask that Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala guide us to what is most pleasing to Him.

      Siraaj

  5. Avatar

    firoz85

    October 19, 2009 at 6:27 AM

    regarding the subject matter may i reccomend to you all the best nashid artist no one has heard of (i presume). just youtube Talib Al Habib! Really wonderful english/arabic nashids !

    I personally used to be a’ victim’of music. Moved from rap/rocl/pop/techno and house!
    As much as i loved it,it never really provided me the enduring peace we all think it gives us. What it really does is stir hypocrisy and all sorts of temptations within you.Emotions that could lead you to whats best avoided !

    AlHamdullilah once you start pondering/listening and studying the Quran, its absurd to even compare the effect this has on you with what music has to offer!

    jazakAllah

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 19, 2009 at 12:13 PM

      Salaam alaykum Firoz,

      LOL@techno and house – you’ve got to be around my age to remember House! Back in high school, I had a friend who had a turntable set up in his basement, he was ok as a DJ. I tried mixing a few times, and while I was disappointed back then at how horrible I was at it, alhamdulillaah, I’m glad I sucked, and it’s just a great reminder that we sometimes fail miserably at something, and it’s for the very best.

      Siraaj

  6. Avatar

    Mehedi Islam

    October 19, 2009 at 6:29 AM

    “Whoever abandons something for the sake of Allaah,
    He will replace it for him with something better than it”

    Since I started knowing about God and his religion, I realised the consequences music has on ones mind. Alhamdulilah I can now even avoid nasheeds and just listen Quran recitation or simply listen to the quietness, and trust me IT AIN’T THAT BAD :-)

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 19, 2009 at 12:17 PM

      Salaam alaykum Mehedi,

      So very true what you’ve said, especially about quiet time. After I left music, I was lost as to how I would drive long distances because I could not keep my eyes open on long drives without music to keep me awake. I moved from that to conservative talk radio because there was always something they said that would boil my blood, but after I became familiar with their arguments, while it was a great learning experience, it wasn’t the same.

      Now, when I drive to work (1 hour drive), I often use that time for quiet contemplation, and I enjoy it as well, so dude, I completely agree with you on the quiet time. There’s nothing like it. As one lyric from a song I listened to said, “Enjoy the Silence.” ;)

      Siraaj

      • Avatar

        Olivia

        October 20, 2009 at 10:36 AM

        ah, conservative talk radio! i’ll never forget as a newly-wed driving with my just-married-to husband and listening to the likes of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. it was like driving with my da,d only i was now old enough (and Muslim!) to be extremely bothered by it! our drives used to so raise my blood pressure! now i find myself listening to it when I’m driving alone or with the kids. It has provided a unique contribution to my daughter’s social studies education! =) AlMaghrib lectures provide the best music-alternative for driving though, in my opinion.

  7. Avatar

    Asfand Yar Qazi

    October 19, 2009 at 7:25 AM

    I used to listen to music. I loved guitar solos (I still do!)

    I used to cry at the artistry… I used to admire the guitarists, I used to WANT TO BE LIKE THEM, and BE WITH THEM. No voice, no words were involved. Now if I think about it, if the sounds had come from the person’s mouth, I would still have liked them (after all, I used to hum the guitar solos and riffs to myself using my voice). Just like classical music, it’s the tune that addicts, not the instruments or words or voices (they have their own fitna!)

    A former work mate told me that he studied music at school, and they were told how to manipulate emotion using musical scores. Scores! Not voices, instruments, or words! Just an abstract notation which you use to write down pitch and frequency of notes, and the delays between them!

    This clearly shows that music is harmful to the human mind, as it causes the person to feel emotions for no rational reason, making it easier for them to be manipulated by those playing it (voice or instrument).

    • Avatar

      Ibn Malik

      October 19, 2009 at 9:50 AM

      A long time ago I was exactly the same, I used to play guitar and loved guitar solos and wanted to be so much like them

      I played guitar, trombone, violin for a bit and people used to praise me all the time (not arrogant just related to story below)

      As I learned more about Islam Alhamdulillah, I started listening to less and less music, people still send me youtube videos and what not and ask if I have heard the latest song and encourage me to play guitar and what not and even try and coax me into it, saying oh you were so good etc. etc.

      However there came a point where I said to myself like the brother mentioned earlier that if you give something up for Allah then Allah will do better for you. Reading about the rulings of music after studying it I completely gave it up, overnight, I just stopped listening to it and truly gave it up for the sake of Allah.

      I was never a big nasheed person, I mean they are okay but listening to Sudais recite for me is much much better Alhamdulillah. Muslims I knew (and who knew the rulings of music) tried to coax me afterwards and said you dont have to stop listening to music completely etc but it really Alhamdulillah didnt have any affect on me.

      Even now the only nasheed that currently i find enjoyable is that Zain Bhika and Anwar Awlaki mix LOL and I think I enjoy it more for the hadeeth than the Zain Bhika part Alhamdulillah

      • Avatar

        Siraaj

        October 19, 2009 at 12:25 PM

        Salaam alaykum Ibn Malik

        Your story reminds me of a young brother I taught in Islamic sunday school years ago – he played the cello, and he absolutely loved it. When I told him he shouldn’t do that, the poor kid went to pieces and started crying. I don’t think he gave it up =)

        Alhamdulillaah, you’re one of those amazing people who put aside his talent and passion to please Allah, and you’re a great and shining example for all of us, may Allah reward you immensely with a better replacement (after I gave up music, I received a wife :D)

        Siraaj

        • Avatar

          Amatullah

          October 19, 2009 at 10:46 PM

          beautiful story ibn Malik, may Allah guide you to what pleases Him.

          SubhanAllah. I was never into listening to mainstream music but I played instruments. I don’t talk about it much anymore since no one can believe it lol but I used to play the piano for years…I had private lessons with one of the best teachers in my city (super mean old lady), practiced for hours reading and memorizing the music. My teachers used to tell me I had ‘hands made for the piano’. “Sad” doesn’t contain how I felt when I found out I couldn’t play it anymore. It was one of the few things I was actually good at as an awkwardly quiet and nerdy kid, lol. Of course I gave it up afterward alhamdulillahi Rabbil alamin but it was really hard at first since it was part of my life at that point…This was more than 10 years ago and I still get the urge to play it whenever i pass by a piano (although alhamdulillah i haven’t touched one since my playing days, and don’t plan on ever touching one again!), but alhamdulillah who has indeed replaced it with something better for me …learning and studying the Qur’an. I wouldn’t trade that for anything, I don’t care if my fingers are piano fingers

          The amount of time and effort some of us put into music, speaking from experience, seriously we could easily be huffadh of not only the Qur’an, but Bukhari and Muslim! Allahul Musta’aan.
          There is a beautiful hadeeth that I remembered when reading the comments about giving up music,

          Narrated Anas: The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “Whoever possesses the following three qualities will taste the sweetness of faith (emaan): 1. The one to whom Allah and His Apostle become dearer than anything else. 2. Who loves a person and he loves him only for Allah’s sake. 3. Who hates to revert to disbelief after Allah has brought (saved) him out from it, as he hates to be thrown in fire.” (Bukhari, Book #2, Hadith #20)

          may Allah make us among those who taste the sweetness of emaan.

          • Avatar

            Abd- Allah

            October 19, 2009 at 10:52 PM

            Those same “piano fingers” were the ones paying that mean old lady to teach you the piano, they probably compliment all their students that they have “piano fingers” because these same fingers puts money in their pockets. Not to say that you didn’t really have “piano fingers” sister, but i’m just sayin…

          • Avatar

            Siraaj

            October 19, 2009 at 11:01 PM

            I played the piano briefly when I was five, used to know how to read the notes as well. I gave one piano recital, and after that, my teacher told my parents that in order to continue, I would need a real piano in the home (was a poor kid living in an apt complex), not just my grandma’s casio keyboard :D

            Siraaj

          • Avatar

            Amatullah

            October 20, 2009 at 8:17 AM

            LOL Abd- Allah, that was funny. I’m assuming and hoping you never had a music teacher or in a program, because if you’re not good enough for their standard, they won’t work with you, doesnt matter how much they get paid.

            My mean teacher was never one to compliment anyway (seriously I never saw her smile); it was previous teachers, my public school teachers and random pianists I met while learning. In my eyes, it really doesnt matter how good I was because I do not seek to find pleasure in what Allah has prohibited. Alhamdulillah I dont miss playing it, dont plan on playing it or going back to it ever again.

            @Siraaj Yea I didn’t have one either! My dad was going to buy me one, alhamdulillah he didn’t waste his money. My cousin had one and I would practice at their house after school just about everyday.

            I was reflecting on it and I realized that my sadness during that time came not because I had to stop playing it, but moreso because of the sheer effort I put into it for all those years, how serious it became to me and that it was displeasing to Allah the whole time…I felt like it was a complete waste of those years and time I spent mastering the instrument. subhanAllah, may Allah forgive us.

      • Avatar

        ghareeb_fidunya

        October 19, 2009 at 8:44 PM

        What is this Zain Bhika and Anwar Awlaki mix? I’m quite interested to see it (no instruments I’m assuming since it’s your favorite?)

        • Avatar

          Nirgaz

          October 20, 2009 at 3:55 AM

          its on Zain’s new album 1415
          , it made me cry loads thinking about Allah when I heard it!

          • Avatar

            HMS

            October 20, 2009 at 4:01 AM

            Interesting, that you brought it up…
            I’m not pointing at you sister…

            But, I was wondering if people (i’ve heard of many) cry because they ‘really think of Allah’, or is it the emotion build up from they way the songs / nasheeds really are?

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 19, 2009 at 12:21 PM

      Salaam alaykum Asfand

      The addiction for me was the adrenaline rush, and it lead to quite some reckless driving on the road, may Allah forgive me. A relatively new book you might want to check out in the topic is, “This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession”

      http://www.amazon.com/This-Your-Brain-Music-Obsession/dp/0452288525/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255972869&sr=8-1

      Siraaj

      • Avatar

        Ahmad AlFarsi

        October 19, 2009 at 1:43 PM

        JazakAllahu khayran for the reference. I just read the first few pages on Amazon’s preview. Quite fascinating and humorous at the same time. Having come from a musical background myself (I used to be a double-major in Voice/Opera at the Peabody Conservatory, before I embraced Islam and learned the ruling on music), I can indeed testify to the mind-entrancing effects that just the notes (regardless of whether the instrument is a voice or otherwise) can have on the mind. Take, for example, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, 2nd Movement (Allegretto), or Schumann’s Piano Concerto Op. 54; simply the very melody/notes puts one in some kind of a entranced lull. When one contemplates on the effects of music on an individual’s heart/mind, the wisdoms of the prohibition of music become exceedingly clear. By simply creating the same melodies with voice or voices, it seems that the no mind is paid to the spirit of the law prohibiting music.

        Contemplate on this: even the simplest melodic nursery rhymes, when sung to toddlers and babies, make many of them start to dance in a seemingly uncontrollable trance, only to snap out of it when the singing stops :) (not that I am saying we shouldn’t sing to our children, just trying to point out an example of just how much simply melodies can effect the mind, even if done by voice)…

      • Avatar

        Sis

        October 23, 2009 at 1:16 AM

        Assalamu alaikum bro,

        Don’t mind what I’m going to say…just wondering, shouldn’t we keep our past sins hidden? It’s understandable if you tell a very specific group for the sake of helping them get over music [i.e. Sunday School high schoolers etc.], but in this blog it seems like its being mentioned quite openly, and the audience receiving this news is not entirely known, hence the effect of revealing this to the public cannot be determined.

        Also, we are making many people a witness of our past sins by speaking about them on a blog….I heard we should be so ashamed of even the smallest sin and try not to expose ourselves in front of anyone but Allah swt.

        • Avatar

          Siraaj

          October 23, 2009 at 1:23 AM

          Walaykum as salaam sis

          Jazakallaah khayr for the naseeha, don’t mind it at all – wrt to your question, I think the key is whether or not I’m bragging or boasting about it, or speaking about it with no purpose – I think part of the process of helping others overcome this issue (and I believe the overwhelming majority of people are affected / addicted) is by showing them people who have indeed gotten over it, and discussing how they’ve done so. I think besides myself, the majority of people responding have told a story of leaving music, and I can see already some people in this thread who were listening to music having second thoughts, alhamdulillaah.

          Siraaj

  8. Avatar

    AB828

    October 19, 2009 at 8:02 AM

    Awesome article, Masha’Allah!!

    I was also, like many Muslims growing up in America, obsessed with music. Especially, in high school. I always knew it wasn’t right, because my parents had never allowed it, but I thought they had exaggerated it. It got so bad that I would fall asleep listening to it, wake up to a music alarm, and listen to it during school whenever I had free time. My music of choice was Country (DON’T LAUGH!!!), so to justify to myself, I would say “at least its not as bad as rap/rock/pop,” which it isn’t….BUT its still HARAAM!

    Anyways, I stopped 7 years ago, cold turkey, also in 2002. like the author. Alhamdulillah best decision ever. I did go through another obsession, this time with Ahmed Bukhatir type nasheeds, but I think that its a bad habit. Its similar to the idea of a “rebound man/woman.” After those, I listened to super Jihad-type Palestinian nasheed…And, astagfirullah, at this time, I realized that I would rather listen to those than the Qur’an! That’s when I knew I had to give it up, for it had also become an obsession.
    So, I purchased a Mishary Al-Rashid CD set, for the absurd price its sold for, and now Its only that or lectures. Now, I can’t stand to listen to anything BUT the Qur’an, Alhamdulillah. I guess I’m an obsessive type of person.

    So, great article, and I hope it helps people out.
    :)

    • Avatar

      Clutch i Media

      October 19, 2009 at 10:54 AM

      Same for me, except I listened to everything. I was simply obsessed!

      I stopped cold turkey after attending Sh. Riad Ourzazi’s Seerah Lectures in which he spoke about the prophet’s encounter with the jinn and he went into a discussion about the world of the jinn. In this discussion, he mentioned that the jinn were super attracted to music. I was so freaked out, I stopped right that very day.

      SubhanAllah, sometimes Allah guides a person through some strange means. Alhamdulillah, 4 years later, I now continue to not listen to music except now I do it because I fear Allah and I truly find that it replaces the love of Qur’aan in the heart.

      • Avatar

        Siraaj

        October 19, 2009 at 12:31 PM

        Salaam alaykum Clutch i Media

        Makes you wonder what kind of stuff specifically attracts Jinns? Like, is it rap, country, marilyn manson…what if they also like bukhatir nasheeds, then what?

        Siraaj

        • Avatar

          Abd- Allah

          October 19, 2009 at 6:41 PM

          maybe some of the Muslim Jinns like Bukhatir nasheeds, but definitely not the kaafir jinns. lol

          • Avatar

            Sayf

            October 19, 2009 at 9:13 PM

            what if the kafir jinns thought marilyn manson was too dark

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 19, 2009 at 12:29 PM

      Salaam alaykum AB828,

      Country? That’s just WRONG on so many levels, I don’t even know where to start. Back in my super jahili days I would have said something like, “If you’re going to do something wrong, at least do it right.” ;)

      j/k, alhamdulillaah, I’m glad to read that you’ve given it all up in favor of the Qur’aan, and as long its not ruining or hurting other areas of life, feel free to obsess away, and share with us the steps you took to get to obsessing about it, as I think we all need a bit of Qur’aanic obsession.

      Siraaj

      • Avatar

        artool

        October 24, 2009 at 5:58 PM

        Country songs have some of the most profound lyrics, you’re right about being super jahil in the past.

        • Avatar

          Siraaj

          October 24, 2009 at 9:52 PM

          i think I’m super jahil even now, it’s just not as apparent ;)

          Siraaj

  9. Avatar

    Ibn Masood

    October 19, 2009 at 8:12 AM

    Long read, but I think you will like this iA :):

    Bro we asked this question to a (mashaAllah) very wise and knowledgeable faqih in my area, and instead of answering the question directly, he said: if it distracts you from the Qur’an and the rememberance of Allah swt then don’t do it. I had a feeling he was giving me the maqasid (or one of them) behind the legislation of music as being haraam but I’m not knowledgeable enough to discern that.

    Anyway, I think that is the main problem and that is what you have to weigh out here. The videos you have posted, someone can very easily love to listen to them and get attached to them… but in the same time they could have filled their heart with the recitation of the Qur’an either by listening to it (with meaning) or reciting it themselves.

    So you have to weigh out, the emotional and psychological comfort you get (or even eman for example in Bukhatir’s nasheed), would you rather have it from these things (vocal/dhuff etc) even if it is allowed… or would you rather get it from the Qur’an?

    It’s like how Sh. ibn Uthaymeen (rah) once stated in a fatwa… that he once didn’t see a problem with nasheeds (without any music whatsoever) because it was just like a person reciting poetry, the focus was on the meaning and the words and how it affected you on that level. Nowadays the vast majority of nasheeds (even if without music) are all about rhythm, beats and sound… and that’s so empty and devoid of substance yet its so enticing and captivating… it’s almost like your heart is being occupied by something that has no value. And I’ve noticed that usually the brothers I know who listen to Nasheeds a LOT, the Qur’an has been left behind or greatly diminished in its attention. And I myself went from music –> nasheeds (with music) –> nasheeds (no music) –> only Qur’an.

    Personally, my own view is that as long as I don’t make it a habit to listen to music like the ones above, So if I watch a youtube video once in a while at a brother’s house or something then I don’t mind, as long as I don’t let it enter my heart and become a habit. But I do admit that for some people, it can be used to help bring them in closer to the deen, but you have to follow up and then lead them to the Qur’an.

    In the end, as long as you constantly seek to strengthen your relationship with the Qur’an and are always active in doing so, I don’t think you can even get back to music (or its halal-in-question variants)… especially once you start learning Arabic + Tafsir and reflect on the verses recited, seek to master tajweed and enjoy your recitation. I have seen personally that the brothers and sisters who have a very strong relationship with the Qur’an, they tend to stay away from what you have mentioned in this article.

    • Avatar

      Ibn Masood

      October 19, 2009 at 8:32 AM

      Wow… poorly written but whatever lol… it was more of a thought-barf.

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 19, 2009 at 12:35 PM

      Salaam alaykum ibn masood

      Great comment! that reply from the shaykh has given me more to think about and I think it’s a very balanced approach. I think some might argue that the pull of music is very similar to the pull of one towards the person they are in love with – no matter how much reason and logic is involved in explaining things to the person, most people will not see the point and will only see their love, so judging whether something is affecting you or not may be colored by your desire to be with the object of your affection as much as possible, causing denial.

      Siraaj

  10. Avatar

    Abu Abdillah

    October 19, 2009 at 10:01 AM

    Bismillah was salaatu was salamu ‘ala rasulillah,

    assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah,

    I believe that the modern anasheed that have become more and more popular have proven the theory of many scholars who were fearful that it would not only distract people from more beneficial activities, but also lead to a greater fitna as has now taken place with the addition of videos and nasheed events in which men sing in front of women and cause temptation and attachment not unlike that of singers.

    I invite everyone to read the following article on the issue and may Allah bless you all;

    http://www.islamqa.com/en/ref/91142/nasheed

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 19, 2009 at 2:35 PM

      Abu Abdillah, this is an excellent article, I’m going to re-read it again (skimmed it just now) and was really interested in those conditions listed – that’s essentially what I’ve been looking for. Jazakallaahu khayran for providing this link, it’s a big help.

      Siraaj

      • Avatar

        Abu Abdillah

        October 19, 2009 at 11:34 PM

        Bismillah was salaatu was salaamu ‘ala rasulillah,

        Barak Allah feek Siraaj, I really appreciate this website and the overall benefit for specifically the Muslims in the West. May Allah accept your intentions and bless your work.

        I was actually in the middle of typing up a detailed response to your article when I remembered that there was an article from Islam Q&A that had already addressed the issue far better than I could ever have, so I decided to simply share it (although I probably should have simply posted a link as I don’t think the moderators liked my quoting the entire article).

        I was going to address the phenomenon of anasheed and its effects on the youth in wasting their time and taking them away from more important activities, but specifically I was going to address your concern with vocal-play and how/why does it take the same ruling as music (which the article addressed but in little to no detail).

        Consider the example of a mirror, tv or pc monitor, initially there is nothing haraam about it, i.e it is simply a reflection, a tube or liquid crystals that form shapes and images. Now, what if there were the reflection of a uncovered woman on that mirror or the assembled form of one on a tv or computer screen or likewise, what then? Would one consider that its origin is halal, or would consider the end result and affect? The correct answer is that it would then carry the same ruling as an actual women (i.e to lower your gaze) and this is an issue that the scholars have all agreed upon (i.e that it is impermissible to look at women on television or by means of computers, etc).

        Verily our religion doesn’t leave room for loopholes and playing around issues, if in the end, your ears cannot even tell the difference between music and vocal-play, then it is as if you are listening to actual music (i.e it has the same evil effects). The origin is of little consideration considering the end result and harms are the same. Rather what is hoped for is that your intention to find an alternative to actual instruments may be forgiven, however it should not be accepted and permitted for those who carry the opinion that music is forbidden, which is the majority opinion and more inline with the many evidences. In fact Shaykh bin Baz (raheemahullah) in his collection of fatawa mentioned that those who permit music are deceiving themselves and others, and even worst are those who claim it to be mustahabb and use it as a means of worship.

        wallahu ‘alam

    • Avatar

      ghareeb_fidunya

      October 19, 2009 at 9:10 PM

      Walaikum’Asalaam Warahmatullahi wa barakatoh,

      I read that Islamqa response some time ago (well after I gave up music) and it definitely is a great and thorough set of criteria. I basically just stay away from anything that feels like Music and seems to be leading to haram or harmful things.

  11. Avatar

    sms

    October 19, 2009 at 10:21 AM

    great article mA. jazakAllahukhairun. the example of the jews using nets to fish was spot-on.

  12. Avatar

    Yus from the Nati

    October 19, 2009 at 10:41 AM

    You have explained my currents religious issues through principle (not subject).

    I agree with most def. that imitating the instruments even though they AREN’T instruments is going against the Hikmah of the command/command itself (that I have ignorantly deduced without knowledge….I know…whatever). Same principle as non-alcoholic beer…

    I have been caught up in fiqhi opinions hardcore for almost everything. To the extent of leaving x,y,z, and not feeling bad about it. Etc.

    A common example is not praying Witr.

    “Majority say it’s not Fardh” etc.

    “Ok cool we safe” (as we all leave it off but rarely)

    Is this what the Messenger of Allah saw did though? (and no I’m not the crazy person who asks that for everything in life). but 4 real 4 real…. is that the POINT.. The point is to leave off something that the Messenger saw did all the time b/c we find out TECHNICALLY it’s not a “sin”? When we get closer to the deen and educate ourselves, it’s hard to sometimes combine the academic and the spiritual in this sense. So ya you CAN leave of Witr or X,Y,Z, b/c it’s not a MUST, but is that really what we supposed to be doing? The technicalities start killing you inside, and you find yourself “LEAVING the Sunnah” literally.

    I have met/know/seen brothers who also “hide behind” the fiqhi opinions as well….Knowing full well in their heart that what they’re doing doesn’t feel right… but choose to do the other way b/c it’s easier on their life (which I am not AGAINST or hating on…b/c well why not? The religion is easy)

    Summary of my retarded comment and action steps for msyelf/others:

    1) Yes, know what’s right and wrong (with good intention)
    2) REFLECT upon it though, internalize it, think about why/what’s better (not to use the intellect over law but) to know what will get us to Jannah in what way.
    3) Leave what’s doubtful (don’t have to be insane about it…like “no I shouldn’t eat this chocolate ice cream b/c i say a Kaafir eat it, it’s doubtful) gots to be grounded on sincere, truthful, knowledge.

    In the end….I usually go back to the “extremist” approach of the Sunnah and figure, man…maybe we supposed to be biting on to it with our molars. Even though everybody wants to hate (ya Sh. Yasir…that means you) on the “group in the early 90’s”. There was an INTENTION, and a principle of adhering to what is the “Haqq” and nobody can hate on that right? (yes we all agree in action is otherwise, blah blah blah). But in the end, you have to respect some of them for their intentions/heart into it. Allahu’alam.

    Yusuf – Cincinnati

    • Avatar

      Clutch i Media

      October 19, 2009 at 11:10 AM

      Yusuf, I love you for the sake of Allah for sharing your thoughts.

      I too, upon studying the way of the companions, tabi’oon & scholars of the past, have found that the best way is to simply ask oneself, “would the prophet have done this” or “did the prophet do this” and if based on sound knowledge, therein lies the answers to the fataawa we seek. As the prophet salAllahu alayhi wa sallam said in that beautiful hadith “al-ithmu mā ḥāka fÄ« nafsik” – “The sin is that which wavers in the soul” or makes your feel uncomfortable and subhanAllah it’s the way of the human being to get desensitized from a certain thing after some time! What a fitnah!

      • Avatar

        Yus from the Nati

        October 19, 2009 at 12:14 PM

        May the one for Whose sake you love me also love you.

        Woah. Don’t get me started on desensitization. I’ll throw up all over this computer from the disgust I have with myself. Definitely a fitnah!

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 19, 2009 at 12:39 PM

      Salaam alaykum,

      Another excellent comment, jazakallaahu khayran for the contribution akhi. Yes, there is a deeper, underlying issue which I’m hinting at in this article – the thought process behind balancing fatwa and taqwa. When I finally decided to pull away from listening to vocal play, it was because I had a legitimate concern that didn’t go away, and turned to istikhaarah because often, there are no fatwas. in the end, I asked Allah to guide me to what pleased Him best, and upon reflection, I realized that even if this is most pleasing to Allah, it may not necessarily be haraam, in the same way that leaving qiyaam ul layl is not wrong, yet the Prophet gave this advice to ibn ‘umar and he never left it off because it was more pleasing to Allah.

      Siraaj

    • Avatar

      Ahmad AlFarsi

      October 19, 2009 at 1:56 PM

      Not following the train of thought on non-alcoholic beer… how do you feel that goes against the hikmah of prohibiting khamr (I’d really like to know)? It’s basically just ‘barley juice’ (or whatever beer is before it is fermented). Or, better put, non-alcoholic beer is to beer as grape juice is to wine.

      Some may not like the taste (it’s certainly an acquired taste), but that can certainly be said about things like salty lassi or salty kashmiri chai :) .

      • Avatar

        Yus from the Nati

        October 19, 2009 at 2:08 PM

        Ya I wasn’t clear on that. Doesn’t necessarily go against the Hikmah of khamr itself. But goes against the Hikmah of immitating/loop-holing/liking/etc. something that Allah and His Messenger saw has made prohibited. Like you want something so bad that you got to get it…. “What? It’s not music?” or “What…it’s not alcohol?”… or “What? It’s not cigarrettes? (shi-sha)” etc. It comes off as a disrespect to the ruling or not loving/hating for the sake of Allah type of deal. Make sense?

        • Avatar

          Ahmad AlFarsi

          October 19, 2009 at 2:18 PM

          I suppose if someone is drinking it just for the purpose of imitating alcohol drinkers, then he might have some issues. But, I personally just really like the taste of fruit-flavored non-alcoholic malt beverages such as Fayrooz or Lazeeza brand beverages (watermelon and mango flavors are definitely a hit).

          Sheesha/hooka is different, because ur still actually smoking and harming your body.

          • Avatar

            Yus from the Nati

            October 19, 2009 at 2:27 PM

            I agree with you, that it probably DOES taste good even though I don’t drink it since I’m so holier than thou. jk

            I don’t think the average is to try a “non-Alcoholic” beer b/c it tastes good? I think it’s the curiosity of what it would taste like and not be alcoholic? Just as the crazy beat-boxing / or 2010 Nasheeds in general. or having Muslim proms for girls only wearing all those crazy short prom dresses and what not. Is it because it’s fun? or we’re missing out on the “fun”? I’m not saying it’s haraam, just interesting what the thought process is in going about it. Different strokes for different folks.

      • Avatar

        Arif Kabir

        October 19, 2009 at 2:08 PM

        I had written a post on this earlier and here is a quote from there:

        On Wikipedia, under the topic of low-alcohol beer, it states that,

        Although labeled as non-alcoholic, some beers may still contain small amounts of alcohol; as a result, some American states prohibit their sale to minors and even to young adults.

        In the United Kingdom, by government regulations, “alcohol-free” drinks are categorized into the following three categories:

        Alcohol-free: Contains 0.05% alcohol or less
        De-alcoholised: Contains 0.5% alcohol or less
        Low-alcohol: contains more than 0.5% but no more than 1.2%

        Basically, one is allowed to put some alcohol inside these so-called “non-alcoholic drinks”. The Prophet said that “Whatever intoxicates in large quantities, then a small quantity of it is forbidden”, so even that meager amount of alcohol would be Haraam.

        • Avatar

          Ahmad AlFarsi

          October 19, 2009 at 2:15 PM

          Based on that same hadeeth you quoted, scholars (including Sh. ibn al-Uthaymeen) actually permit non-alcoholic beer, even if it has a meager amount of alcohol (due to unintentional fermentation), as long as the non-alcoholic beer can never intoxicate you no matter how much of it you drink. See what Sh. Salman al-Oadah says about it here. Same principle is what makes vinegar and grape juice halal, even though either may contain trace amounts of alcohol.

          Of course it would be a different story if someone intentionally added alcohol to non-alcoholic beer, or any beverage for that matter. But, that is not the case for non-alcoholic beer, as I understand…

          • Avatar

            Arif Kabir

            October 19, 2009 at 2:18 PM

            Non-alcoholic beer, at least for some of them, is actually known to intoxicate people – that’s why it’s illegal for minors in many states to purchase them. If they were perfectly fine, then it wouldn’t be a problem for anybody to buy them.

          • Avatar

            Ahmad AlFarsi

            October 19, 2009 at 2:32 PM

            Not true akhi; if the beverage is under 0.5% alcohol per volume, it will not intoxicate in large quantities. IslamToday’s research committee looked into this very issue (if non-alcoholic beer intoxicates) and published the following (on the same page I linked earlier):

            For example, a person weighing a mere 54 kg (120 lbs) would have to consume at least twenty-three 330 ml bottles of non-alcoholic beer at 0.5% alcohol per volume Рthe high end of the spectrum for non-alcoholic beers Рto even begin to feel intoxicated by the alcohol that it contains. (Incidentally, this is larger than the faraq mentioned in the had̨th.) Moreover, he would have to drink this quantity within a period of less than 15 minutes. He will not be able to become intoxicated if he takes a longer time to consume those 23 bottles, since in that case the liver will be eliminating the alcohol faster than he can consume it. Needless to say, anyone who undertakes to consume 23 bottles of non-alcoholic beer in 15 minutes so he can experience a transient moment of mild intoxication is doing something unlawful in Islam.

            This is for 0.5% alcohol per volume, so, according to the UK-based definitions you provided in your comment above:

            Alcohol-free: Contains 0.05% alcohol or less
            De-alcoholised: Contains 0.5% alcohol or less

            Then both de-alcoholised and alcohol-free beverages (as defined in the UK), would not intoxicate (because it is physically impossible, by all normal standards, for a 120 lb individual to consume twenty-three 330 ml bottles in under 15 minutes).

          • Avatar

            Arif Kabir

            October 19, 2009 at 2:37 PM

            Hmm… Interesting – JazaakAllahu Khayran for letting me know about that – I never knew the concept of Faraq or that there’s a 15 minute time limit.

          • Avatar

            Ahmad AlFarsi

            October 19, 2009 at 2:46 PM

            Well, the “15 minutes” is not something found in any fiqhi ruling. That was just the number that came out of their research for the specific case of a 120 lb individual consuming a large quantity of 0.5% alcohol per volume beverage.

            It’s actually the rate of consumption that is important to consider physiologically, rather than volume, when considering whether something intoxicates. That is 23*330 ml / 15 minutes = a consumption rate of 506 mL/minute or about 30 liters per hour. It is simply physically impossible to continuously consume any liquid at that rate, therefore, it is impossible for that beverage to intoxicate you, no matter how much of it you drink. Therefore the hadith mentioned earlier actually indicates the permissibility of such a beverage. Again, think about the same analogies for grape juice or vinegar.

          • Avatar

            Abd- Allah

            October 19, 2009 at 6:07 PM

            “scholars (including Sh. ibn al-Uthaymeen) actually permit non-alcoholic beer”

            can you please provide a reference for that akhi, like where did Sh. Uthaymeen give this fatwaa?

          • Avatar

            Ahmad AlFarsi

            October 19, 2009 at 7:41 PM

            In the same IslamToday article I linked to above, a statement by Sh. ibn al Uthaymin is quoted:

            Sheikh al-`UthaymÄ«n, while discussing these hadÄ«th, says: If a small quantity of alcohol is so submerged in something else that is has no tangible or theoretical effect, then the substance keeps the ruling that is in accordance with its own attributes. As for the hadÄ«th that states ‘Whatever intoxicates in large quantities, then a small quantity of it is forbidden’, this refers to a certain beverage that intoxicates when someone drinks a lot of it but not when he drinks a little. It is unlawful to drink a small quantity of such a beverage, because even though a small quantity cannot make a person drunk, it can lead to drinking larger quantities.” [MajmÅ«` al-Fatāwā (4/260)]

          • Avatar

            Ahmad AlFarsi

            October 19, 2009 at 7:46 PM

            also, the same ruling is found on IslamQA :
            http://www.islamqa.com/en/ref/33763/

            The second type is beer that is not intoxicating, either because it is completely free of alcohol, or because it contains a minuscule amount of alcohol that does not reach the level of causing intoxication no matter how much a person drinks of it. The scholars have ruled that this is permissible.

  13. Avatar

    shirtman

    October 19, 2009 at 11:03 AM

    Siraaj,
    You have wonderful intentions Insha’Allah. Let’s focus on more pertinent issues my friend. Shirtman

    • Avatar

      sms

      October 19, 2009 at 11:14 AM

      I don’t know if the above comment was a joke but I love #4 under preliminaries…hahaha:

      “You’re right, there are far more important issues facing the ummah – please contact us here to discuss submitting a guest article on them.”

      I LOVE that siraaj had this covered from the get-go…:).

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 19, 2009 at 12:41 PM

      LOL, jazakallaah khayr for the catch SMS. Shirtman, as you can see, I agree with you, and I would encourage you to submit a guest post at the link above.

      Siraaj

      • Avatar

        Abd- Allah

        October 19, 2009 at 5:32 PM

        When I clicked on the link above to contact MM, I got the message “Error 404: Page Not Found”, so I thought ok, so maybe he didn’t really mean that people should contact them, it was just a disclaimer of some sort. The link is still broken btw.

        • Avatar

          Siraaj

          October 19, 2009 at 6:22 PM

          LOL, pre-emptive FAIL! I’ve fixed it, it should work now insha’Allah, sorry about that ;)

          Siraaj

  14. Avatar

    Ali

    October 19, 2009 at 11:39 AM

    I have software which can edit a vocal so much so it sounds like an instrument, but it seems to me that using the software to edit vocals to such a degree as in ‘vocal play’, causes the software to become an instrument of music.

    Seems to make sense, or is it just me?

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 19, 2009 at 12:42 PM

      Salaam alaykum Ali

      Great question, honestly, I’m not sure, some of our scholars need to add their input on this. Btw, in the videos above, there’s no electronic manipulation of any sort – they perform live, and they’re not lip synching, it’s crazy.

      Siraaj

  15. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    October 19, 2009 at 3:17 PM

    Baaraka Allahu feek akhi Siraaj.

    Here are my disorganized thoughts on this:

    For me personally, I draw the line with ALL vocal sounds, because I believe that music is haraam because of its negative effects on us, just like alcohol is haraam due to its effects, so if someone comes with a completely different drink that is non-alcoholic, but it has the same effects of alcohol on us, then that wouldn’t be much different than alcohol. Also if we had wine (haraam) which is turned into vinegar (halaal), then it becomes halaal even if technically for us it is considered the same drink, so we see that Islam deals with the realities of things rather than just dealing with names.

    So I believe that even if only voices were used to come up with the sounds, but the outcome or its effects on us are still the same. The fact that most people couldn’t differentiate between music and between the vocal play in those videos makes us think “is there really a difference?” or are we just trying to put our conscience to sleep by convincing ourselves that these are voices and not musical instruments? I believe that in Islam music is haraam because of its ill effects on us and on our hearts, so it doesn’t matter whether the sounds are vocal or musical, as long as they have the same effects on our hearts, then they have the same ruling.

    Personally, I wouldn’t be able to differentiate between musical instruments and vocals only, for example the AlMaghrib video that was released at ISNA 2009, if they didn’t say “no musical instruments” at the beginning of the video, I would have thought that these sounds playing in the background were musical instruments. So this brings us back to whether in Islam, things are made impermissible due to their names whether they are one of the things that have been mentioned by name as being haraam, or are things made impermissible due to their realities and what negative effects they have on us. In the end, it is like what you mentioned, are we trying to find loopholes for ourselves?

    As the Prophet sallalahu alyhi wasallam predicted that some people from his Ummah will drink wine and call it by other than its name. So he pointed out to us that names could be changed, but that doesn’t change the reality of the thing, and the importance is with the realities of things and what they actually are and not what they are called.

    Allah knows best.

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 19, 2009 at 3:37 PM

      Salaam alaykum Abd-Allah,

      Great contribution to the discussion, jazakallaahu khayran. I see where you’re coming with naming a thing by other than what it’s known as, and then calling it permissible. I have a similar gripe with “shariah-compliant” mortgages.

      However, in this case, I’m not so sure it’s the name as much as it is the source – the source is one that many scholars have said is halaal, yet the sound and the effect are the same, so to re-phrase what you’ve said slightly, my question would be, is it the source, or the effect? Or maybe a combination? What if the source sounded like a voice, but it was an instrument :D That’s a silly hypothetical, but it’s simply to push the limits of the discussion and see where it ends.

      Siraaj

      • Avatar

        Abd- Allah

        October 19, 2009 at 5:17 PM

        “is it the source, or the effect? Or maybe a combination?”

        Good question brother Siraaj, and I would say that in my own opinion, it is the combination of both the source and the effect, but either one of them on its own is also enough to pass a ruling. So for example, if the source is musical instruments that had bad effects on us, then that would be the combination. If the source was musical instruments but it did not have a bad effect on us (as some of the people who hold the opinion that music is allowed claim that as long as the music does not have any negative effects on you then it is fine, and this is what they say exactly: “All scholars have unanimous view on the prohibition of all forms of singing and music that incites debauchery, indecency, or sin.” So I guess what they agree on is that the effect is what is important, however, the scholars who say that music is haraam hold the opinion that it is the effect of music, but also in addition to that it is the source which is musical instruments) but going back to the main point that if the source was musical instruments but it did not have a bad effect on us (supposedly) it would also be haraam. And if the source was vocal sounds (which can’t be differentiated from musical sounds), but the effect was the same as what a musical instrument would have, then I don’t really see the difference that the source would make if the outcome is the same. So to sum it up, it is the combination of both the source and the effect, but either one of them on its own is also enough to pass a ruling.

  16. Avatar

    NBAJam

    October 19, 2009 at 3:33 PM

    – Personally I was shocked when AM released that trailer promoting the institute. But then I thought to myself, they have like 10 Shoyookh and i’m just one person. Personally i’d like to see that video go and AM and other institutes shy away from such tactics.

    – Lastly, MuslimMatters seems to be creeping on some very touchy issues recently. And back-to-back articles of controversial subject matter..
    – I can’t put my finger on it, but why the all the writing for potential explosive yelling, argumentation and obscene comments?
    – Lastly, why would anyone choose to write an article that you know will lead to gheebah/buhtaan/nameemah of the author himself? I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the wiser writers at MM have an issue with this and keep their writing light or nonexistent :P

    p.s.
    Good writing Siraaj.

    • Avatar

      Ibn Masood

      October 19, 2009 at 5:50 PM

      If the religious and/or knowledgeable Muslims don’t discuss controversial issues and discuss them with maturity, taqwa and a constructive attitude… and they don’t learn to listen and understand each other…

      Then the kuffar, secularists and the ahlul bid’ah will discuss them and make our decisions for us.

      • Avatar

        NBAJam

        October 20, 2009 at 8:18 AM

        I think I moreso meant the forum style comments from the people(the comments stir/create the controversy). Most are just flame wars and some are haraam in some cases. I would find it very odd to have people slandering me right below my article in the comments!!

        Someone of deep self respect would probably shy away from writing articles that could cause such harsh words against him/her. Trust me, I’ve heard of some scholars who avoid doing so due to the above mentioned :p

        • Avatar

          Holly Garza

          October 21, 2009 at 4:06 PM

          I get you’re point as I have shy”d (misspell) away from commenting due to my own personal nafs and not to argue with others.

          However MM is for bloggers to post their thoughts and blogs.

          I know on mine I go from talking about nothing important to talking about serious matters such as prayer, turning Muslim and even deeper more personal stuff. Blogs are just that our thoughts and opinions and why. I don’t think it makes some one less respected.

          If an adult types something and another adult reads it, they choose weather to take it; leave, or agree with it. I don’t think the brother is personally attacking any of us nor should his “respect” be devalued or increased based on what emotions his opinions stir in the other reader.

          I know you probably meant like MM might start to attract fitna or a “different type” (?) of believers (?) but we are all Muslim Alhamdulilah and I personally can say I enjoy all of the articles from the light to the controversial as I get to learn or understand something from all of them.

  17. Avatar

    Hasnain

    October 19, 2009 at 4:14 PM

    AsSalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatu Allah wa Barakatuh

    bro
    for the LONGEST time I disliked beatboxing efforts drawing the analogy of a PUNK ROCK nasheed band who may create punk rock guitar sounds with their mouth instead of instruments?

    Or instead of dudes who are hip-hopping about “ayeesha” we have brothas banging their heads to a metalica style tune but with words of allah… would we accept that the same way people accept the muslim rappers?

    anyway, good post overall…

    as shaykh yasir qadhi once said, u either have room for quran in your mind or music… which would you rather have?.. For those who grew up with music know exactly what he meant….!!! Think about the many many song lyrics which u sitll know by heart……….

    may allah ta’la protect us all

    Hasnain

  18. Avatar

    if.but.maybe

    October 19, 2009 at 5:22 PM

    Salaam,
    Thank you for this post. Admittedly the question over whether I should listen to music or not has bugged me for a while now. As others have stated, music influences the way you behave – personally I don’t drive, but if I’m doing a mass clean out or at the gym or something – than I blast something loud and fast – it makes me do stuff, in the same way that if I want to chill out it would be something slow and melodic

    But having read peoples comments and the article itself has definitely made me question my reliance on music. I guess what I’ve taken from all of the above is that if you’re relying on /or allowing your heart to be affected by music and instruments than that is a habit or addiction of the heart, and one which can shift your reliance and attention away from the Allah.

    In fact there have been times in the past where I’d wake up and be humming or singing to myself , and then it would strike me that the first words to come out of my mouth weren’t ‘Bismillah’ or the like, but some stupid song, usually on an equally stupid subject matter.

    As for listening to Quran, I find that I can easily listen to surahs where I know the gist of the meaning, or some of the stories they contain. But where I don’t know the meaning, the recitation almost becomes background sounds – and I personally feel that this isn’t giving the Quran the respect it deserves (this is just my thought on the matter).

    I’m also curios to know what the take is on children and music for educational purposes – I have niece who’s three, and has a DVD called ‘Baby Einstein’, which uses sounds and images to apparently stimulate the minds of kids – it takes on the same argument that a children who learn to play instruments generally do better academically. She LOVES the DVD.

    My most final comment would be regarding the disclaimer 4, in the first part of the article – or rather the comments it was pre-empting. Yes there are important things to discuss in the Ummah – but that’s no reason why we can’t discuss issues like these too. These issues, though maybe not as grand as others, are things which effect people hearts and tackling them, or at least getting people to consider an alternative is worth commending. How can we expect to take on the bigger issues facing our community, if we can’t take on the smaller issues concerning ourselves?

    Thank you for the article and apologies for the my ramblings.

  19. Avatar

    Sadiyah

    October 19, 2009 at 5:37 PM

    Better safe than sorry right?
    Nice article, jazakallah khair :)

  20. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    October 19, 2009 at 6:03 PM

    Haven’t read all the comments, so apologies if this has been said before:

    – Some types of ‘innocent’ instruments are clearly halal, even if personally I don’t find much pleasure in them. My kids, however, strongly disagree! It should be remembered, though, that even for these ‘innocent’ instruments, the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam didn’t allow Umar b. al-Khattab to prevent the girls from playing a daff because it was Eid. In other words, he allowed it as an occasional concession, and this ruling can be extrapolated to any other festive occasion (wedding, permissible gathering, etc….) To become obsessively involved with such anasheed is clearly something that will be done at the expense of that which is far more beneficial. As a maxim states, “Too much mubah might be makruh!”

    – In our times when lots of youth are addicted to music, I do see the wisdom in not being overly harsh on Islamic anasheed, even if they have some types of instruments.

    – However, I’m not comfortable with such overtly musical tones appearing in adverts of Islamic organizations; with regards to the one that I associate with, we have agreed that no future advert will contain such noises, even if they are halaal in essence, because they resemble music to an uncanny degree.

    – My father, jazahuAllah khayr, was very adamant about there not being any music played in the house while we were growing up. I attribute my love for the Quran and lack of attraction to music to this (after Allah’s blessings of course). Once, while visiting Houston, my father was in the car with all my kids, and they were listening to their nasheeds (no need to mention which of the above artists!). My father was quite shocked, and said, ‘Do you put music on for your kids?’ To which I replied, ‘This isn’t music, these are Islamic nasheeds,’ but it was obvious he wasn’t too convinced.

    It really goes to show you that if it sounds like music, plays like music, and is as addictive as music, then…

    Yasir

    • Avatar

      Ibn Masood

      October 19, 2009 at 6:25 PM

      haha Sheikh didn’t finish the sentence, as they say in karachi: CLIFFHANGER yaaar

    • Avatar

      Ikhlas

      October 19, 2009 at 10:06 PM

      Alhamdulillah same with my father. He never allowed any type of music/movies at home while we were growing up, however he had to move away from us for a while so we started watching Indian movies in his absence , but even then we would always forward the songs so Alhamdulillah when I started practicing Music was one thing which was not a Fitnah 4 me @ ALLLLL…

      In college few of my non-Muslim friends were shocked that I don’t listen to music, so they lend me few CDS to listen to and honestly speaking I couldn’t make any sense of it what so ever. Even though they were singing in English but it sounded foreign and gave me a headache…I still don’t understand its addictive nature, but may Allah swt help all those who are trying to get over its addiction.

    • Avatar

      Ikhlas

      October 19, 2009 at 10:11 PM

      I figure I would add that I was part of this Halaqa where we were memorizing couple of Juz with very strict dead-lines….About 2/3 of the class was almost NEVER able to meet the required deadline for memorization…Out of remaining 1/3, many sisters would always mention the struggle they had to face in memorizing the simplest Surahs..SubhanAllah…It made me think, was my memorization stronger because I had no music in my memory???

      Those who were addicted to music can probably share their experience of overcoming the obstacles they had to face for memorization inshaAllah.

    • Avatar

      Abu Abdillah

      October 20, 2009 at 2:00 AM

      Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah,

      Shaykh Yasir, I believe the hadith where the prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salam) allowed the girls to play the daff was as follows;

      It was narrated from ‘Aa’ishah that Abu Bakr (radhi Allahu ‘anhuma) entered upon her and there were two girls with her during the days of Mina beating the daff, and the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salam) was covering himself with his garment. Abu Bakr rebuked them, and the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salam) uncovered his face and said, “Leave them alone, O Abu Bakr, for these are the days of Eid.” That was during the days of Mina.

      (al-Bukhaari, 944; Muslim, 892)

      Allahu ‘alam, if there is another similar hadith with ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab. The scholars have mentioned that the fact that Abu Bakr rebuked them means that the initial ruling concerning the daff is that of impermissibility with the exception of ‘eid and in other ahadith weddings or celebrations.

      I do agree however that with the widespread habit of music it is important not to be overly harsh regarding the daff and anasheed in general, and to place every issue in its proper place and in a wise manner.

      Finally, jazak Allah khayr that you also had reservations about certain alMaghrib promotional videos. I remember when I was first sent said videos by different brothers advertising the events, I was not only shocked, but also afraid that individuals would use the excuse that if these ‘beats’ are used in Islamic videos for events with major du’aat in the west, it must mean that said du’aat agree with them in totality. I recall some of our ‘ulama have even spoken out against even traditional anasheed being used to promote Islamic classes and lectures, or to be played in the introduction, etc.

      wallahu ‘alam

  21. Avatar

    Muslim Girl

    October 19, 2009 at 8:06 PM

    I used to listen to music a lot too before, like keep the radio on while I slept.

    I can’t even imagine doing that now because I’ve totally cut music out of my life, alhumdulillah. I had that “ohh but what will I listen to in the car” feeling too but now I’m just too terrified that if I get into a car accident, I don’t want music to be the last thing I hear.

    And ever since I heard the hadith that one of the things the Dajjal will do is play beautiful music which will attract all the music lovers, I’ve tried to avoid it like the plague.

    And I’m happier :)

    • Avatar

      Abd- Allah

      October 19, 2009 at 8:39 PM

      “And ever since I heard the hadith that one of the things the Dajjal will do is play beautiful music which will attract all the music lovers”

      can you please provide the exact wording and the reference for this hadith?

      • Avatar

        Muslim Girl

        October 23, 2009 at 10:59 AM

        @Abd- Allah

        Assalamu Alaikum,

        I’m glad you called me out for referencing this hadith because come to think of it, I have never read the actual hadith. I read that information from a scholar’s findings “through hadiths on the Dajjal” (which is what he says).

        I apologize if I have quoted something incorrect.

  22. Avatar

    AlBaraa

    October 19, 2009 at 8:59 PM

    NBAJam said
    Personally I was shocked when AM released that trailer promoting the institute. But then I thought to myself, they have like 10 Shoyookh and i’m just one person. Personally i’d like to see that video go and AM and other institutes shy away from such tactics.

    What was foundational understanding on the issue that led you to be shocked?

    Yasir Qadhi said:
    However, I’m not comfortable with such overtly musical tones appearing in adverts of Islamic organizations; with regards to the one that I associate with, we have agreed that no future advert will contain such noises, even if they are halaal in essence, because they resemble music to an uncanny degree.

    My father, jazahuAllah khayr, was very adamant about there not being any music played in the house while we were growing up. I attribute my love for the Quran and lack of attraction to music to this (after Allah’s blessings of course). Once, while visiting Houston, my father was in the car with all my kids, and they were listening to their nasheeds (no need to mention which of the above artists!). My father was quite shocked, and said, ‘Do you put music on for your kids?’ To which I replied, ‘This isn’t music, these are Islamic nasheeds,’ but it was obvious he wasn’t too convinced.

    It really goes to show you that if it sounds like music, plays like music, and is as addictive as music, then…

    Am I right to assume that your discomfort is simply personal and not religious?

    — —

    When I first started with making trailers, it was this question that really gave me plenty of confusion until I spent a good 3 months researching the issue with on of my teachers in my community.

    What I learned and let me to take my stance was that the issue wasn’t on the definition of “Music”, rather on the definition of the specific words used in the hadeeth.

    “Music” doesn’t have any one definition. It varies from time to time and from culture to culture. In today’s western time and culture, pretty much anything with a specific rhythm is considered music, even if that rhythm is done without the use of instruments.

    One might also ask, “what is an “instrument”” rather, I believe the question to ask is “what does “ma’azif” translate to?” – thats the word used in the hadeeth that people use to prohibit “music”.

    After going over the subject and issue with my teacher, the stance I decided to take for myself personally and for the policy of Leechon is to use/produce audio that isn’t sourced from musical instruments that are specifically precussion, wind, string or brass – mainly due to the fact that the hadeeth and supporting ahadeeth specify those types.

    Allahu alam.

    Siraaj, I wrote a blog post in light of this article:
    http://su.pr/1rH2JB

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 19, 2009 at 11:11 PM

      Salaam alaykum bro,

      Read it, and it’s an awesome perspective you’re sharing on why you made the trailers the way you did – I would encourage everyone to check out what’s written (and there’s a pic of this, masha’Allah, tabaarakallaah, amazing looking brother ;)) and understand his perspective in creating the videos.

      Siraaj

    • Avatar

      NBAJam

      October 20, 2009 at 11:04 AM

      I was shocked because mimicking musical instruments defeats the purpose behind forbidding them. Quite frankly I think this is the primary reason anyone or everyone had issues with that AM trailor.

      Moreover, the fatwa by the late ‘abd allaah Ibn Jibreen (raheemahullah) on this issue makes it even clearer. He possessed profound knowledge of sharee’ah and his fatwa carries a vast amount of weight.

  23. Avatar

    UmA

    October 19, 2009 at 9:48 PM

    I came across a cd by Talib al habib called Rahma. I liked the fact that most of the nasheeds were hadeeths in nasheed form and one was Imam ash Shafiees famous poem about his complaint to Wakee’. What a great way to memorise hadeeth. Tricky part is to remember we’re listening for content, not just style.

    • Avatar

      Ibn Masood

      October 19, 2009 at 10:25 PM

      Actually… great idea… You can listen for sound there, not meaning all the time. When you first memorize, you memorize the sounds, then later as you rememorize and review you take in the meanings and make the memorization even stronger. At least that’s how it works for Qur’an in my experience. Allahu Alam.

  24. Avatar

    Ibn AbuAisha

    October 19, 2009 at 10:34 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum Ya Siraaj,

    Loved your article, Masha Allah brought back memories of my own journey towards leaving music. I follow the same opinion as yours : ). With regards to beat-boxing, Alhamdulillah the issue became clear to me after listening to Shk. Kamal El-Mekki’s “End of Music” lecture series. Definitely recommend listening to it. I wonder how he gave such a lecture amongst college going youth in NYC of all places!

  25. Avatar

    MR

    October 19, 2009 at 11:01 PM

    AstagfirAllah, may Allah forgive me. I can’t help it. My nafs just goes crazy.

    Edit: NFL Theme Song

    • Avatar

      MR

      October 19, 2009 at 11:03 PM

      Ooops, I forgot the other versions:

      Edit: Other Versions of NFL Theme Songs

      • Avatar

        MR

        October 19, 2009 at 11:05 PM

        and this also brings tears to my eyes:

        Edit: Link to another NFL Theme Song

        minus the 1998 final teams.

        now its on wack ABC

      • Avatar

        MR

        October 19, 2009 at 11:08 PM

        dang forgot MNF
        ESPN Monday Night Football Theme

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 19, 2009 at 11:07 PM

      May Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala help you with your nafs akhi – I can help you with some moderation ;)

      Siraaj

      • Avatar

        MR

        October 19, 2009 at 11:14 PM

        LOL you took out the links? Bro, what’s the diffeence between my links and the music videos you posted? come on now!!!

        at least put the name of my links before ppl think i listen to britney spears or something hahahaha

        • Avatar

          Siraaj

          October 19, 2009 at 11:18 PM

          Use of musical instruments? With the exception of maybe bukhatir, there’s not even a dhaff ;)

          Will re-edit to reflect what you had there :D

          Siraaj

          • Avatar

            MR

            October 19, 2009 at 11:22 PM

            Guarantee my links are better than the last 2 videos you have. :-D

            and the links were
            FOX NFL Theme
            CBS NFL Theme
            NBC Sunday Night Football theme
            ESPN Monday Night Football theme

            and the classic
            NBA on NBC!!!!

          • Avatar

            Siraaj

            October 19, 2009 at 11:26 PM

            Man, your links had real music – I follow the opinion that’s haraam – my two videos, I myself avoid, but you know what – no instruments AND the lyrics are clean – first song is singing nonsense, second song is singing about death (they have a church choir background).

            Siraaj

  26. Avatar

    Student

    October 19, 2009 at 11:12 PM

    Just two main points that i’ve always thought on:

    1. The perception we choose is heavily based on what we are exposed to.
    We as a group are exposed to viewpoints of what others want us to see. When seeking knowledge especially in a medium other than Arabic, (or even those who may speak Arabic but don’t have a foundation or guiding principles in such matters).
    How is this related? In cases such as this there only (within the past few decades) has been this re surge of discussions of what merits a ‘difference’ of opinion with regards to music. In the light of fiqh and what we can safely say as well as, a use and abuse of al-Maqasid Ash-Shari’ah (the higher objectives of the Islamic Law), opinions are presented to us in showing to us this ‘lax’ and ‘leeway’ methodology in fiqh (especially with contemporary issues). We are also pushed a bit further away from the true traditional opinions of the scholars (meaning here al mutaqaddimin) of islam for the more ‘contemporary.’ (meaning, al mutawasittin and al muta’akhirin).

    2. The lack of a call in this era of ours in implement prophetic principles if there arises confusion.
    I find it most ironic that when we study works such as 40 ahadith an nawawiyyah, and we go through the hadith of Al Hasan (ra) hadith 11 – of leaving the doubtful.
    To hadith Abu Hurarah (ra) – hadith 12 – part of the perfection of islam is to leave that which does not concern you.
    To hadith ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn Al ‘As (ra) – hadith 41 – that none truly believe until their desires become subservient to that which the Messenger of Allah has come with.
    and most importantly, best for last, hadith 6- Al-Nu’man ibn Bashir (ra) – the haram is clear, and the halal is clear – so at the very least – leave that which is doubtful.

    After studying these unwavering principles the question is – well where is the practical implementation of this?
    Yes we’ve been taught the 10 different opinions of such and such issue, the 8 different opinions on such and such issue. Yet i simply ask.. we’ve learned to stretch the realm of mubah far and wide, but where is attaching people to the concept that you are held accountable to Allah for your actions on the day of Judgement? Where is the call that you will stand and be asked, so therefore why not make your standing knowing you have done something with CERTAINTY that Allah was pleased with?

    Where is the call to have people worship Allah with certainty? Where is the understanding that is imparted to us?

    I believe this is the most important thing we could EVER learn in fiqh. This is the practical implication. This is when you understand that in studying those opinions it has a direct correlation and a bearing on your ‘ibaadah to Allah ‘azza wa jal.

    I find it ironic more so that when these things are quoted, there are some that view such advice as “a holy man flinging texts from the mountains.” These are established guiding principles that save a person, directly from the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam); what is more ironic that we wish to complicate things further?

    Unfortunately we’ve seemed to have strayed greatly, and we’ve only witnessed a negative consequence when teaching people without giving them such principles.

    And in conclusion, it can be best summarized when discussing with a brother on an issue in fiqh and the differences of opinion – I, personally, admired and was surprsised at the answer of the brother who said “you know akhi, All i know is that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam didn’t do such, and his description was such and such, and that’s whom I feel safe with mimicking.”

    Again, not to draw a blanket statement with that and taking it for what it’s worth – it speaks volumes.

    May Allah grant us steadfastness.
    Ameen

    jazakAllahukhair siraaj

  27. Avatar

    RizaK

    October 19, 2009 at 11:44 PM

    Personally I stay away from it as much as possible because it has basically the same attributes of instrumental music just with a different name.

    An anology, just for the sake of conveying my thought process on the matter: A collage of images of halal things when looked at as a whole resembles the awra of a woman, is this permissible to look at?

    This may be some sort of flawed logic, if so please point it out, and I’m no scholar, this is merely a question to ponder.

    • Avatar

      AlBaraa

      October 19, 2009 at 11:57 PM

      that’s totally a flawed logic :-)

      • Avatar

        RizaK

        October 20, 2009 at 6:16 PM

        How so? =P

  28. Avatar

    A.O

    October 20, 2009 at 12:22 AM

    Jazakallah khair,, its a great article.
    According to your question,,
    I think in my opinion is that it isn’t ok to keep on listening to those nasheed that they use their voices like a music instruments, because you don’t know may be one day you don’t have a problem to listen to music because of it. So my advice is “don’t listen to it, or at least don’t listen to it everyday”

    However, there are many beautiful voices and words in some nasheed which actually we cant say it’s (nasheed) because it has music, some of it only has one music instrument, and those people also have some nasheed without music, but I hop they stop using music, and I hop they Remember that when ever one listen to those music they will have the same sin like them, SO imagine how many one had listen to their music??

    May Allah shows us and guides us to the right way, amen

  29. Avatar

    lost soul

    October 20, 2009 at 1:18 AM

    Salaam,

    I really enjoyed reading this well-written article Br. Siraaj. I agree that music is 100% haraam, and all these outlets have been created (like nasheeds, etc) to help us Muslims out. My only concern is that although I stop listening to music completely in Ramadan, I feel like i’m trapped, and am just counting down until I can listen again. Once Eid arrives, I feel like I am completely free again, to listen to whatever music I was deprived of during the past month. It kind of reminds me of how Shaitan is trapped and then is freed, but I feel like this is within myself and I don’t know how to stop it. I want to stop, I honestly would love to be able to stop listening, but I feel like I cannot..but then sometimes I wonder, do I even want to stop, or is it just the idea of not listening that is lingering in my head. When I listen to the Quraan, it is so peaceful and fulfilling to the heart, but it unfortunately doesn’t make me want to quit listening to music.

    I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an addict, but I do listen more often than not. I most often listen when im driving in my car to school/work/etc., when i’m working out, and during weddings/events. I say that I want to quit, but then again I dont really know if I want to quit.

    Also, lets say I were to quit (whether it was cold turkey, or I gradually stopped), how could I control those around me? ALL of my friends listen to music, with the exception of a few, who I’m not really that close to. I’m not saying they are bad people, or they make me listen, but its just common to have music on in the car if we go somewhere together, or if we are at a party, or just hanging out. I feel like my friends are good muslimahs who strive to be the best, but in this case, we all struggle with music. We’ve all tried to give it up, but it just doesn’t happen. I’ve even told myself that music is designed to alter the way the brain thinks and change one’s emotions, but even rationally thinking about it, doesn’t seem to make me want to forget about it.

    I know there isn’t a ten step process to stopping, but there must be something that can make it easier. I know everyone says read the Quraan more and listen to it more often, and your heart will automatically turn away from music, but I havent seen that happening. I tell myself that Alhumdulillah I stay away from so much fitnah, and wear the hijab and clothe myself properly, and try my hardest to have the best akhlaaq, but fear that my addiction to music is turning myself away from Allah.

    PLEASE HELP!
    Jazakallah Khair!
    -lost soul

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 20, 2009 at 1:47 AM

      Walaykum as salaam lost soul,

      Yeah, been down that path myself – I can offer my own history, and maybe insha’Allah you’ll find that it’s ok to be where you’re at, so long as you know where you want to go.

      1. Admitting the mistake: I knew it was haraam, but I was mad addicted to it. And I was watching movies, and it was everywhere. So even as I listened to it, I made sure to not to justify it. If anyone asked, I would tell them, it’s haraam, and I’m working on it.

      2. Attempting to give it up: I then tried the cold turkey approach twice. It failed me, one because music filesharing services were becoming popular at the time, and getting all the music I never had was easy. But I did try.

      3. Victory at last: The last time I made the attempt, it was not simply because I wanted to give up music – I wanted to get married, and I realized my sins were holding me back – the practices I wanted from a wife, I myself did not do. When I realized this, I gave up many “minor” sins cold turkey that I knew were wrong (conversing with non-mahram females, watching movies, listening to music, etc). I increased my qiyaam and poof! All my bad habits were ripped out and I was married a year later to the type of wife I was looking for!

      4. Filling the time: Without music, you may need something else to fulfill the void – might be nasheeds, I turned to political talk radio on the AM stations. I read more books on personal development.

      5. Friends: When I told my friends no more music and movies in front of me because of the opinion I followed, some of them were angry because it meant we couldn’t hang out as much. It forced me to become a better conversationalist when hanging out with them (it helps that I was now reading a lot and learning so many new and exciting things to talk about, and share with them).

      In the end, you know what you believe, so keep trying your best, and be hard enough on yourself to regret and try to change, but don’t be so hard that you feel so helpless that you’ll never get over it. Do your best, and leave the rest.

      Siraaj

    • Avatar

      Ibn Malik

      October 20, 2009 at 6:42 AM

      Assalamualaikum Sister

      One excellent youtube video to watch is Ustadh. Kamal el Mekki ‘s called ‘End of Music’

      SubhanAllah you listen to some of the stories that Ustadh. Kamal el Mekki talks about it will change your life!

      I dont want to give anything away because the lecture (especially ending) is quite scary.
      Wassalam

      May Allah protect us all, and guide us all onto the sirat ul mustaqeem Ameen

  30. Avatar

    HMS

    October 20, 2009 at 1:40 AM

    music = Makes.U.SICk

  31. Avatar

    mohammed M

    October 20, 2009 at 2:41 AM

    Siraj….remember we were watchin naturally 7 that one night at IlmSummit!!! LOL

  32. Avatar

    student

    October 20, 2009 at 3:10 AM

    I absolutely love the “Preliminaries” section. More blogs and articles could benefit from this sort of thing.

    I think one contemporary musical development is conspicuously missing from the discussion: auto-tune. :)

  33. Avatar

    Nirgaz

    October 20, 2009 at 4:08 AM

    When I first came to Islam, the nasheeds of the likes of Dawud Wharnsby Ali and Zain Bhikha, and Yusuf Islam…were of great comfort and a source of knowledge for me…yes knowledge…I remember when people would say the phrase after saying Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) and I would be like what??? And then I heard Dawud’s nasheed…and in no time I was saying that phrase like a pro:)…Also songs like Dawud’s and Zain’s song Allah Knows are so comforting to remind you of whatever you are going thru Allah is there…Now I am not naive to not realize that as my Quranic knowldege and more specifically my Quranic Arabic knowledge grows, Allah’s words themselves are a much better comfort…but these nasheeds are also a good and beneficial reminder…instead of my mind wondering on superficial topics in the car, or me and someone else talking about nonsense or even my kids talking about dunya stuff…we are listenting to Native Deen saying “M-U-S-L-I-M I am so blessed to be with them”…to me growing up in the west, its helping, along with my intial instilling of love of Allah, this deen, etc…to instill in them a strong Muslim identity while growing up in a non-Muslim country.
    I really respect and admire the people that ONLY listen to Quran…and one day if I can master my Arabic Insh’ALlah I am sure there will be no sweeter sound to me, especially give me a good recitation of Surah Rahman, the beauty of those verses I already fathom somewhat and they blow me away!
    But I am also sure if I hear my kids put on some native deen, their old momma will still chant with them ” I am not afraid to stand ALone, If Allah is by my side, gonna keep my head up…” :)

  34. Avatar

    Qshams

    October 20, 2009 at 5:16 AM

    Assalaamu alaykum Siraaj,

    MashaAllah I really like this artcile Siraaj. The tone is very good. I think i’ve only ever commented a few times on this site before, but I felt compelled after you wrote this it was that good. And the number of responses in just over a day supports this!

    May Allah increase you in your Taqwa, and rewad you for briging up pious children with nothing less than Jannatual Firdows.

    Ameen,
    Wa’aalikum salaam.

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 20, 2009 at 1:40 PM

      Walaykum as salaam Qshams,

      Ameen to your du’aas, may Allah grant you the same and more, glad you enjoyed reading the article.

      Siraaj

  35. Avatar

    muslim sister

    October 20, 2009 at 8:07 AM

    We used to listen more to nasheeds on tape/CD, but we had an experience that changed my point of view.
    Took the kids to a nasheed concert at the masjid. Couldn’t hear the lyrics at all. The booming beat overtook everything else. Muslim girls and boys (3 to 10 range) dancing and gyrating the whole evening up the front in full view of everyone. Adult and teen genders were completely mixed throughout the darkened masjid. Could have been at any soft rock concert.

  36. Avatar

    muslim sister

    October 20, 2009 at 8:36 AM

    By the way, I used to love to sing (not very well) before accepting Islam. Now, if I feel like singing, for example when a familiar tune comes on in the supermarket, I make du’a that I have a most beautiful voice in jennah praising Allah SWT for the entertainment of the people of jennah. It’s corny, but to hope for that makes me more pleased than any music could.

    When talking to my kids about music – and make no mistake, I’ve not learned yet how to deal with music class at their public school, and other issues like that – I do try to show them how music manipulates emotions. For example, we will watch a portion of a movie with and without music to show them that most of the emotion they get from the scene is entirely due to the musical content in the background.

    That, in fact, is one of the things I hate about music. It creates strong emotions with no basis in reality. If I hear a song from a certain era, it will bring me back to that memory. Music lyrics can bring this wierd spontaneous frantic energy, or create wistful longing for love or bring a kind of false arrogance, or baseless fear, or can make one miss the “good old days” of youth, etc. It can induce sad “if only” feelings and shaytanic distractions with only a few musical notes.

    It is disturbing how deeply imbedded it can become in memory. Music implants strings on our hearts that, like a puppeteer, it can pull and master us at will — always calling us to the false hopes and false desires.

    Music is the “batil” side of emotional effect – while Qur’an provides the haqq impact on the heart.

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 20, 2009 at 1:39 PM

      I sing to my kids in the car when my wife is not around, otherwise she’ll make fun of me for being tone deaf.

      Siraaj

    • Avatar

      ATKK

      October 20, 2009 at 2:23 PM

      Assalamu Alaikum,

      “That, in fact, is one of the things I hate about music. It creates strong emotions with no basis in reality.”

      Wouldn’t that be true in regards to someone’s speech as well? As in a lecture, when the presenter raises his voice to show strength, a climax, or danger, and then lower his voice to a whisper to give other sets of emotion?

      The presenter here uses the level and pitch of his voice to “create strong emotion”. However, the difference that most people make between watching a movie or video clip with music or listening to a lecture is that the topic might direct people to Islam, therefore giving a “basis in reality”. My question is… what if the movie/video clip was also directing to a direct Islamic moral value?

  37. Avatar

    Mohammed Khan

    October 20, 2009 at 9:33 AM

    Salaam Siraj,

    Interesting article and thoughts on the subject of music. Thanks for sharing.

    Music is certainly a much more philosophical matter than most believe. Though some instruments are clearly forbidden, what constitutes musical sound and what is permissible and forbidden is certainly subjective. For example, a stylish tapping of my nails on some household surface may elicit the feeling of musical pleasure. To others, it is not music at all but some annoying non-musical sound. That’s why fatawa have gone both ways regarding music, though the vast majority and safer view is to leave it, i.e. especially what we hear on radio, MTV, etc.

    One can choose to not follow the few fatawa that allow music in some capacity. But we must still have the best opinions of them as Allah Knows Best their states of taqwa, something made up of much more than the effects of music. In other words, someone who listens to music can be a much better Muslim, overall, than someone who doesn’t listen to music. The latter person may leave music but cheat others in business, hurt others feelings, and have less taqwa in the end. One of our Ummah’s biggest problems is rapid judgement of other Muslims — even accusations of shirk, kufr, bid’ah — without giving them the benefit of the doubt. The either-or mentality must stop, even in the subject of music, lest we marginalize many well-meaning Muslims who may be better than us and who we can learn from in many good ways.

    Apart from the intricacies of music, I have personally gained a lot like yourself from leaving it. Music was indeed a ‘drug’ that brought me to states of excitement, depression, and unwarranted happiness. It brought me in my ‘little world’ separate from the reality that surrounded me. One doesn’t realize this until one actually and genuinely stops listening to music.

    Above all, I realized that music brought me away from the more important things in life. Now, AlhamduLillah, I can do many more things I didn’t do before. I am more clear-headed, more rational, more objective, and spend my time now on what is really important. Books and articles are my passion. This has bred and stimulated curiosity which has led to, as others say, a more mature and intellectual outlook on life. One feels in control and sheltered from the pressure of doing this or that negative thing caused by the intense emotions that music generated. All praises are for Allah.

    Lastly, I also believe that everyone has their time. Those who are truly genuine to Islam will eventually leave haraam music and overcome its temptation. My time is not the same as the time of others, and so I never judge Muslims negatively who listen to music. I was once like them and I can only pray for them and think well of them.

    May Allah Guide all of us on the Path that Pleases Him the Most.

    Salaam,
    Mohammed

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 20, 2009 at 1:38 PM

      Walaykum as salaam Mohammed,

      Reading what you wrote, I feel like I was reading my own experiences and perspectives verbatim from out of my own mind.

      Siraaj

  38. Avatar

    Olivia

    October 20, 2009 at 10:44 AM

    “By the way, I used to love to sing (not very well) before accepting Islam. Now, if I feel like singing, for example when a familiar tune comes on in the supermarket, I make du’a that I have a most beautiful voice in jennah praising Allah SWT for the entertainment of the people of jennah. It’s corny, but to hope for that makes me more pleased than any music could.”

    That’s very nice sister. It’s actually one of the characteristics of the women of Paradise that they sing beautifully. May Allah make you the best! I make dua’ for lots of corny things to come to fruition in Paradise too that I can’t have in this life. Good for you for not being too embarassed to share =)

  39. Avatar

    AbdAllahuAkbar

    October 20, 2009 at 11:58 AM

    Music to me in my life 2-3 years ago was a big deal and all my friends. Likely when I heard of the prohibition in Islam of music i came to get the details on it and it never made sense on how instruments can being shaytan. (though i know now everything in Islam has a reason whether Allah reveals it or not we follow).
    1.) The punishment of the grave
    2.) the places in hell for those who take part in it
    3.) The quran mentioning it as a waste of time (calling it idle talk as in surat luqman) or metioning it next to the prohibition of adultery as in surat al isra it was not until ramadan of 06 that i started shutting off the radio and limiting myself to one song a day. then week, then month then forever

    once you also see the harms of it, alhamdulilah Allah has opened my eyes, you start to hate it. As it goes in many books of tafseer that to stop a sin you must hate it. And to love Allah and his messenger you desires his desires and you hate what he hates
    Music:
    1.) Different musics gives you this false sense of reality, put you in a ‘dream’ world. hard rock makes you mad, while soul makes you hopeful, they all just change your mood and you forget this dunya.
    2.) A girl you wish to get out of your head keeps reappearing everytime you hear this one song and you remember her and Forget Allah
    3.) Let the quran tell you what to think not some song.
    4.) if there is a difference over music just stay away. do not risk the haram why would you rish the punishment?! those are the actions of the righeous in the past and still today.
    be free be strong be indipendent: All america tells us to be. Be your own person and stop music and replace it was the words of Allah, his rememberance, his ayat.

    Words of man never go above the Words of Allah
    There is never a single good deed marked in music but in Allahs words there a good deeds for each LETTER.

  40. Avatar

    QasYm

    October 20, 2009 at 12:24 PM

    I remember I stopped drinking soda for like a month. But then I couldn’t resist and had some. It tasted NASTY to say the least.

    Music is the same. Anytime I hear the current hits/or new school rap, I’m like “what the heck is this” it’s straight up disgusting.

    Love of music and the love of Quran can’t exist in the same heart.
    this is either a hadith or a quote by YQ:)

    Allahu Alam

  41. Avatar

    Haroon

    October 20, 2009 at 1:00 PM

    Asalaamualaikum

    JazakhAllah khair for a very interesting article.

    I wanted to ask what do you do to keep your mind off movies. Alhamdulillah I have given up music a long time ago but TV, especially movies is a different matter. What do you do or what would you advise to do to stay away from movies and tv? What hobbies did you take up?

    Your advice is appreciated.

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 20, 2009 at 1:35 PM

      Walaykum as salaam Haroon,

      For one, I was an avid reader of sci-fi / fantasy novels, and I was also a big reader of comic books =) Because I was a book worm (would cut through whole novels within a day or two), and because I wanted to better myself, I turned over to personal development literature, primarily time management and health / fitness magazines. As I also mentioned above, talk radio got me interested in current events and politics, so I began reading more blogs, news, etc. My focus was more domestic politics rather than international.

      When I became Ameer for AlMaghrib in Chicago, I also spent a considerable amount of time reading books on leadership, teamwork, marketing, and so on.

      These days, I only really watch 2 shows – the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. News clips on occasion, and documentaries which I’ll rent and watch at home (not in the theater because I can’t control the volume which means lots of unwanted music blasting in my ears for dramatic effects).

      I’ll also occasionally watch cartoon movies with my children, explaining any weird items that come up and muting the music. If a movie is too vulgar (shrek) or musical, we don’t get it.

      I’d say if you want to start with anything, get into sports and working out. Feels great, strengthens your ‘ibaadah, and makes you even more confident.

      Siraaj

  42. Avatar

    Abu Aisha

    October 20, 2009 at 1:05 PM

    Something from brother Mutah’s site (A.k.a Napoleon)

    http://napoleonoutlawed.com/?page_id=21 also http://napoleonoutlawed.com/?page_id=3

    also just for benefit his talk in sydney http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0eTzCLYzPc

  43. Avatar

    Secrecy

    October 20, 2009 at 1:42 PM

    Salaam,

    This was such an interesting read, hey I read it all, alhamdulillah :)

    Where do I draw the line >> I stopped listening to Music when I was 15, being a school kid we kinda rebelled against the norm, it was fun, tough, but has made me who I am today, alhamdulillah. Since then I’ve actually gone through phases, nasheeds like Sami Yusaf (his first album, I was totally uneasy with his second one and stayed away alhamdulillah) then nasheeds with the beats then I became uneasy with them, as I stared to gain knowledge, I found that I would became at unease with them. Then came the phase of arabic nasheeds and now it’s just them at a minimum though.

    So now, I occupy myself with Qur’an and at times nasheeds when I’m doing some pretty deep work and I’m unable to focus on Qur’an.

    Why?

    — Because I’m an aspiring Talib ul ‘Ilm (inshaAllaah!) and as this I don’t want to waste my time on such matters, which cause me doubt, unnecessary unease and can be spent on more beneficial matters.

    Btw, akhi Haroon, I personally advise brothers and sisters who have taken the first steps in music to gradually move onto keeping away from movies, I’m referencing Holly/Bollywood, as they include many evils. This is how I see it, how can we go up to our rooms and read kalamullah and then we switch on the TV and watch everything that was made haraam by ‘azza wa jal. It just seems so wrong.

    – The haraamness of the movie is something for you to judge.

    Regarding hobbies, Br Siraaj can expand on inshaAllaah.

    wAllaahu alem,
    JazakAllaahu khayrun for the article.

  44. Avatar

    Reemo

    October 20, 2009 at 2:43 PM

    I was recently addicted to music too… I listened to all those Disney stars, and blah blah blah. I didn’t exactly understand why music would be Haraam… but Alahdmulilah, now I’m over it, and I only listen to those nasheeds with duff, or without anything.
    Alhamdulilah.

    ~Reemo

  45. Avatar

    ATKK

    October 20, 2009 at 3:13 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    I just want to expand a little on what Albaraa mentioned about the definition of “musical instrument”

    in·stru·ment (nstr-mnt) n.
    1. A means by which something is done; an agency.
    2. One used by another to accomplish a purpose; a dupe.
    3. An implement used to facilitate work.
    4. A device for recording, measuring, or controlling, especially such a device functioning as part of a control system.
    5. Music: A device for playing or producing music.

    Based on these definitions, would a street drummer using the bottom of a trash can or cardboard box be accused of using an instrument? The trash can wasn’t made as a “musical instrument”, it was originally produced as an instrument to carry waste.

    If one says that this trash can has now become a musical instrument and therefore it is haram to listen to the rhythm it produces, then this leads me to the question of if the mouth is used to beatbox to make rhythms and melodies, wouldn’t that be haram as well?

    But as for a different topic, I would have to say that there is a HUGE difference between the Almaghrib trailer vs. the songs that were posted in the article.

    From what I read from most of the comments, people mentioning the problem was being addicted to music and listening to songs over and over again, while they drive, while at work, while falling asleep at night. However, the purpose of the trailer was for the viewer to be aware of the courses offered, and yes, build emotion and excitement for the viewer to have enough willingness to go to the Almaghrib website to register for classes. But it’s not like the music/beatboxing in the video is going to be played over and over again. It’s not like the emotional build up is going to push one away from Islam and Allah (swt).

    Am I kind of making sense here or am I just confusing myself?

    Basically, what I think I’m trying to say is that music in songs for the purpose of selling album cds and music in educational/promotional video are two completely different things and cannot be judged in the same category…

    And as for those who say that the beatboxing resembles that of non-Muslim’s… Do you think that the beat the girls in the Hadith mentioned by Sh. Yasir Qadhi was different than what they used to play before Islam?

    These are just questions I’m confused with and I pray that someone might have some the insight to clarify for me, inshAllah.

    JazakumAllah Khair,

    Wassalamu Alaikum

  46. Avatar

    shirtman

    October 20, 2009 at 4:07 PM

    Mad hate…on my comment…sheesh.. I like Siraaj you guys!

  47. Avatar

    UmmOusama

    October 20, 2009 at 4:51 PM

    Assalamu alaikum,

    There are many things that bother me with anasheeds. The first one is that there is now a “culture” of Muslim artists and nothing is done against that. some Muslim girls go mad about those artists just as normal girls go mad about their favourite singer or musical group. This is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    The second one is that anasheed were sung in Islam at times of wedding for women and at times of war for men. Anasheed shouldn’t be an every day thing. Kids learn by heart anasheed very quickly but they don’t know the Quran. Is this right? Neither do they know ahadeeth. Is this right?

    Has a nasheed ever pushed a Muslim to pray naafil salaat? Has it ever encouraged a Muslim to fast every Monday and Thursday, especially for those young boys who are commended to fast? Do anasheed help people in giving sadaqah? Has anybody who has listened to a nasheed saying you should be good to parents immediately went to help his father and mother?

    What does anasheed bring into your life? Peace? Relaxing? Obedience to Allah? Shield from everyday’s tests?

    I must admit I’ve never been a musical person, even before becoming Muslim. Yet, I urge everybody to analyse the effect of anasheed in their life and whether it really encourages you to do good or no and if it might lead you to sin by, for example, idealising the munashid.

    Umm Ousama

    • Avatar

      Nirgaz

      October 20, 2009 at 9:57 PM

      Actually my kids, listening to a nasheed about the hadeeth of respecting your mother, respect me big time…they listen to the song about “waking up in the morning morning, gotta make my prayers, am I really gonna make it make it when there is no one there” and they comment, we are gonna pray…and guess what…alll my kids from 12 down to 2 pray with us…no forcing them, now its not all about that, but its also me and their dad’s attitude, Allah and the deen are number 1 focus! But the nasheeds help inspire and motivate..
      For some people it may be nothing more than extra nonsense in their life and not motivate anything…but that is not the experience of everyone…
      Salam,
      Umsalih

      • Avatar

        UmmOsman

        October 21, 2009 at 8:19 AM

        Assalamo elikuim
        I agree with Sr.Nirgaz . There are many nasheeds that inspire a Muslim kid to do good and be proud of their religion.

        example: Native Deen’s ‘I am not afraid to stand alone’ , small deeds , lord is watching etc.
        Dawud Wharnsbury(sp) – ‘what did i do today’ is about respecting your parents, fellow Muslim and also about focusing on meaning of surah Fatiha.
        Yusuf Islam ‘s ‘God is the light’ etc

        Plus there are many more. If some kdis are behaving not correctly when nasheeds are being played, its not the fault of Nasheed artist but rather the kids or in some extent their parents.

        I am not saying that we should be just listening nasheeds etc and not Quran but to say that nasheeds are not aspriring or motivating is not completely correct.

        Wasalam
        UmmOsman

        • Avatar

          UmmOusama

          October 21, 2009 at 9:24 AM

          Assalamu alaikum,

          It is true that anasheed are good for small children. But are they for teenagers? Do teenagers really listen and implement the lyrics.

          As for the misbehaving of the teenagers, I don’t agree with you UmmOsman. It is partly due to the artists themselves. The way they portray themselves on the cover of the CD, the fact that there are concerts, the forum of some artists, all these encourage a culture similar to the musical culture of the West. Listen to some of the comments of the girls if you mention Zayn Bikha or Dawud Wharnsby: “I love his anasheed, his voice is beautiful, he is very handsome, … … …” and they go crazy if they hear something about it. Of course, parenting comes into force too to some extent. Do not blame parents though without knowing because being a parent of a teenager is tough.

          Umm Ousama

        • Avatar

          Holly Garza

          October 21, 2009 at 4:40 PM

          hahaha I chuckle because I so like their stuff-I guess I’m a kid at heart-Compared to what i used to listen to Alhamdulilah! One step closer to the goal InshaAllah

  48. Avatar

    Bilal

    October 21, 2009 at 12:25 AM

    Someone much wiser than myself once told me, ‘The heart has only enough room for one: music or Quran. Only one can fit, and demands that it be the only one present.’ I have personally found the more I have grown toward Islamic Knowledge, the closer I get toward the sweetness of Iman. This sweetness itself naturally pushed out the desire for music. I no longer listen to music, but at the same time it wasn’t a choice for me. It just happened so naturally, One day I didn’t even feel the need to keep my music collection, so I highlighted all of it and hit ‘delete.’ No regrets either.

  49. Avatar

    Megan

    October 21, 2009 at 9:07 AM

    Bismillah

    What I am enjoying the MOST in all of this is the human-ess of the article, writers, and everyone commenting. That we can all find ourselves struggling with something, and realize how much more we all do have in common behind the images we present to the world.

    I think the article is great food for thought, and if nothing else, will allow us all to think “whats the point,” behind listening to whatever it may be – because once time is spent, it is lost to the intentions behind where it was spent.

  50. Avatar

    zaki

    October 21, 2009 at 10:41 AM

    In relation to such matters, Islam considers it an act of piety for the Muslim to avoid doing what is doubtful in order to stay clear of doing something haram. This is similar to principle of blocking the ways which lead to what is haram. Such a cautious approach, moreover, trains the Muslim to be farsighted in planning and increases his knowledge of affairs and people.

    The root of this principle is the saying of the Prophet (peace be on him): “The halal is clear and the haram is clear. Between the two there are doubtful matters concerning which people do not know whether they are halal or haram. One who avoids them in order to safeguard his religion and his honor is safe, while if someone engages in a part of them he may be doing something haram, like one who grazes his animals near the hima (the grounds reserved for animals belonging to the King which are out of bounds for others’ animals); it is thus quite likely that some of his animals will stray into it. Truly, every king has a hima, and the hima of Allah is what He has prohibited.” (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim and others [this narration is taken from Tirmidhi]

  51. Avatar

    michael shea

    October 21, 2009 at 5:26 PM

    “information is not knowledge,
    knowledge is not wisdom,
    wisdom is not truth,
    truth is not beauty,
    beauty is not love,
    love is not music,
    music is the best”
    Everyone listen to more Frank Zappa and chill out. Life is hard enough
    Peace

  52. Avatar

    Umme Ammaarah

    October 21, 2009 at 5:29 PM

    I dunno if these are my ‘X’ chromosomes talking, but everytime I listen to music, I seem to take on the mood of the music….sad, upbeat, inspiring, i-don’t-give-a-duck’s feather, or whatever…. It’s SO bad, i have a lump in my throat even if i see a touching commercial, and honestly, it makes me wonder if I’m just so very crazy and ask Allah Ta’Ala to give me more control over my emotions, and wonder if it’s a sign of weak Iman…. any other sisters out there or am i reely loony? :)

    ok, maybe I’m a total goner, but I’m sure it has that effect on everybody to atleast a fraction of what i experience, and if it distracts you from the reality of now and present, maybe it clouds your judgement the same way alcohol does… so unless it’s doing something good for you definitely, like making you gung-ho about praying/fasting/doing good, keeping away is a wiser choice… and well, if the meanings are “neutral” or “not bad”, isn’t there something about keeping away from things that neither benefit nor harm, but just take away your time?

    as for Acapella, i can’t get over the Al-Azhar student Da’i Nada’s ” Maalee Rabbun Siwaa’ – such beautiful words…

    • Avatar

      Holly Garza

      October 21, 2009 at 5:49 PM

      no you are not the only one sis-I think (in my humble opinion) Thats one of the strongest factors people use for music it has The ability to move you on different levels.

      Don’t feel alone I am just as “moody” as you sister :)

  53. Avatar

    Agajuice

    October 21, 2009 at 5:50 PM

    Alright…seriously.. how did you get your 2 year old son to tell your daughter to turn the music down ? My 2 year old always does the opposite of what i tell him and seems to take a liking for music/dancing. Now I know what you guys are thinking..no we don’t have a TV at home and I take him to the masjid pretty much regularly. I do have a nasheed CD in my car that I use as a backup when he’s throwing a tantrum (mainly we listen to the Quran) and he’s taken a liking for educational videos (ABCDs, Alif-Baa-Taa) and nasheeds on youtube which contain some sort of music. So how do you communicate to such a young child that this is not appropriate? Curious….

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      October 21, 2009 at 6:08 PM

      Very simple – every time music comes on, our daughter is holding the remote and we’ll say, “Ama, no music” if she’s too immersed in the show, so he sees that, and pretty soon starts saying it. When he’s playing with his toys, 99% of them have no music, a couple of learning toys do have them, so when they come on, we immediately take it from him, turn it off, and say, “no music.”

      So we do constantly supervise, and our kids know it pretty well. I’d say shut it off completely in the home, and be careful of how much exposure they have to music. The song above, “Wall of Sound,” has a ridiculous effect, that’s the only song my son asks for, and that’s just one song.

      Siraaj

    • Avatar

      D.D.

      October 22, 2009 at 10:34 AM

      My son is also 2 and we let him watch anasheed on youtube also… but when he comes across one with some instrumental sounds, he will look at me because something doesn’t seem right to him, so I’ll tell him “no music habibi,” and then he will change the nasheed to something halaal. Alhamdulilah, kids learn fast believe me.

  54. Avatar

    Faiez

    October 21, 2009 at 10:47 PM

    Wait, so does this mean I can’t listen to people rapping about fornicating with women, overindulging in luxuries, and abusing drugs?

    That just doesn’t make any sense….

    Oh wait, it does.

  55. Avatar

    abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    October 23, 2009 at 1:20 AM

    bismillah was salamu alaykum. great article, Siraaj, mashaAllah. lots of thoughts:

    1) “I’ve been waiting all my life..” That was funny to hear — how many people who played that track were Muslims thinking, “I’ve been waiting so long to find music I can listen to!” Well, not me, except for wondering if other people were thinking it… :)

    2) by the way, have you ever heard or attended the “musical” Stomp? i went years before i went for Hajj, and there was not one vocal part in the whole night (as i recall). but there were a host of trash can lids, brooms, and other items being used to produce the most amazing percussion section i have ever heard. another category by itself.

    3) a man who claimed to have converted to Islam from Judaism, then became a devout evangelical Christian, and wrote a book about evil jihadists did a well-attended press conference for his book back when it came out. i watched it. he said in his words that the one thing that had made him give up islam was the prohibition on music. that music had always been part of his parents’ home, and it was firmly a part of his life again as a Christian.

    4) to those who choose anything that is forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, this life is short. if you’re like Fred Astaire, you risk only being “in heaven” during this lifetime. hell will be an eternity of fiery reruns that you would never be able to ignore or endure. (yes, it sucks that i can actually visualize that clip from the movie with the lyrics; may Allah forgive me for my sins. and may He accept your repentence — so hurry up!)

    5) the all-time best khutbah in my opinion, at least on the subject of music, is “Regret” by Shaykh Muhammad Alshareef, may Allah subhanahu wata ala reward him for sharing the story of those kids who had been listening to music when their car wrecked… if you have never heard it, or if it has been a while, go to halaltube.com and look it up under the shaykh’s name.

    alhamdolillah, it took me from 36 GB of music mp3s and a shelf full of CDs to the point that almost all my audio is Qur’an and lectures, alhamdolillah. the balance are a few nasheed like ghurabaa, or the tribute to Andalus that was an MM article some time back.

    6) still, music on tv, music in movies, music during news broadcasts… music my friends, family, acquaintances play (directly or in the aforementioned media)… i’d be happier in a world where it was easier to get away from music altogether.

  56. Avatar

    akhan

    October 24, 2009 at 5:04 PM

    What about throat singing? Its a technique where more than one note can be produced at a time. Its not like beatboxing where its meant to simulate instruments, but its a traditional singing technique

    example

  57. Avatar

    akhan

    October 24, 2009 at 5:08 PM

    the link didn’t come up- this is an example of throat singing w/o musical instruments http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2DxJMuftBI

    • Avatar

      yesu

      October 25, 2009 at 8:38 PM

      amazing!… if only Muslims practiced this instead of listening to silly instruments. now thats pure HALALNESS!!!

  58. Avatar

    Musaffir

    November 11, 2009 at 9:48 AM

    Jazzak Allah
    Naat

  59. Avatar

    tauseef

    November 30, 2009 at 12:20 AM

    This discussion is useless. If music were haram, it would be clear, it would not require this much discussion. The fact that modulated voice is “halal”, and the same thing from an electronic keyboard is “haram” is a go-nowhere argument. If the sound is the same, what’s the point?
    This is not similar to saying money is halal or haram depending on the source or intention. This is attempting to justify one technique of sound manufactureover another, assigning morality to technology, which is ridiculous.
    Your beatbox and vocal harmonies would not be possible without the knowledge gained through centuries of musical scholarship- instrument building, musical notation, cultural evolution of music, and most importantly, the human element of what the music communicates from, or through, the musicians to the listener, the practice of which sustains dozens of genres of music – people are actually interested in it!. Your favourite nasheed artists sing about certain themes that may be important to you. Well, other human beings share important things accompanied by musical instruments. I can’t see the Prophet (SAW) dismissing a person’s message based on whether or not it included a stringed instrument.
    Personally, i find nasheeds boring, their messages are for simpletons, and the ‘music’ is low quality, a cheap ripoff of real musicians using a range of musical instruments.
    I have spent too long on this pointless discussion already. Islam is about way more important things. Hearing music in the car or during a TV commercial should not be a sin. Gathering with 60000 fans to worship U2 could possibly be a sin. But what if they’re singing about peace on Earth? Allah knows best, and we pray for His guidance, and for His mercy upon judgment, and try to spend our lives doing His work..My gut tells me that arguing that nasheeds are superior verges on hypocrisy, which in Islam is………

  60. Avatar

    Saad

    March 6, 2010 at 5:51 AM

    Well t hanks for the post.
    Saad from naats

  61. Avatar

    quranonline

    March 11, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    i love (Ahmed Bukhatir) voice and love his voice and the way he explains mashallah keep it up

  62. Avatar

    Dreamlife

    May 17, 2010 at 7:46 AM

    I think anyone in doubt should read Khalid Baig’s book “Slippery Stone: An inquiry into Islam’s stance on music”.

    The book is VERY comprehensive and covers the arguments for and against music’s permissibility, along with the sources (i.e. Quran, Hadith, views of scholars) used to claim it’s permissibility / prohibition.

    It’s really the best reading I’ve come across on the subject – because it cuts through all the supposed ‘controversy’ and ‘difference of opinion’ and just gives you so much detail from the original sources.

    I really recommend it :)

  63. Avatar

    Umar

    December 29, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    Siraaj,

    You got it right, absolutely right with the reference about the Jews who hung the net on Friday and took it on Sunday.
    People do exactly the same with their voices, editing it and synchronising so much so that it resembles every aspect of instruments.

  64. Avatar

    UmmNusaybah

    February 3, 2011 at 1:29 AM

    asalamu alaikum

    brother siraaj…since october, when this article was first posted, and after reading the comments and having discussions has your opinion changed? just curious =-}

  65. Umm Reem

    Umm Reem

    April 1, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    In reply to my kids’ million and one questions about mouth-music, your article was an easy way out, alhamdullah!

    JazakAllah khiahr!

  66. Avatar

    om shuruk

    April 12, 2014 at 5:24 PM

    Salam alaykum brother
    you were saying above:“What’s the difference if there are or aren’t instruments if it all sounds the same in the end?”
    I have a comment:
    We all know that islam prohibites lying.I know there is a hadith that spoke about a companion of the profet Mohamed who knock at his door and ask if the profet was home.He , for some reason did not want to let him know that he was there and Aisha , his wife, pointed with a finger in her palm (hand) and say ,, he is not here”(like he is not there were she pointed , in her palm”
    She did not lie , the profet trully was not on her palm but the companion , from the other side of the door of course he did not see the gesture so he understood that was not home which actually was Aisha s intention to make him understand.
    So , if the voice imitate the musical instruments which are prohibited , it seems to me that Aisha imitate a lie that is prohibited

    I wish some comments about my opinion and I apologise about my english

  67. Avatar

    om shuruk

    April 12, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    What I want to say ia that ,, What s the difference if the lie is prohibited if islam allowed some ,, going around the bush”talking that cause the people believe an opposite of truth (lie) in the end?
    Just like the musical instruments and voice that imitate them
    is an imitation of them not a reality of them
    islam allowed imitation of lie
    imitation of lie is not a reality of lie
    but the result is the same
    I hope sis and bro you get my point

  68. Avatar

    Rawan

    November 17, 2015 at 12:33 PM

    I wanted to ask if Mike Tompkins’s (in case u don’t know him, he is an acapella singer who takes songs and makes them into acapella and he has some original songs) music is hala or haram?

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What Does Sharia Really Say About Abortion in Islam

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice, Islam recognizes the nuance.

Reem Shaikh

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The following article on abortion is based on a research paper titled ‘The Rights of the Fetus in Islam’, at the Department of Sharia at Qatar University. My team and I presented it to multiple members of the faculty. It was approved by the Dean of the Islamic Studies College, an experienced and reputed Islamic authority.

In one swoop, liberal comedian Deven Green posing as her satirical character, Mrs. Betty Brown, “America’s best Christian”, demonized both Sharia law as well as how Islamic law treats abortion. Even in a debate about a law that has no Muslim protagonist in the middle of it, Islam is vilified because apparently, no problem in the world can occur without Islam being dragged into it.

It is important to clarify what Sharia is before discussing abortion. Sharia law is the set of rules and guidelines that Allah establishes as a way of life for Muslims. It is derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which is interpreted and compiled by scholars based on their understandings (fiqh). Sharia takes into account what is in the best interest for individuals and society as a whole, and creates a system of life for Muslims, covering every aspect, such as worship, beliefs, ethics, transactions, etc.

Muslim life is governed by Sharia – a very personal imperative. For a Muslim living in secular lands, that is what Sharia is limited to – prayers, fasting, charity and private transactions such as not dealing with interest, marriage and divorce issues, etc. Criminal statutes are one small part of the larger Sharia but are subject to interpretation, and strictly in the realm of a Muslim country that governs by it.

With respect to abortion, the first question asked is:

“Do women have rights over their bodies or does the government have rights over women’s bodies?”

The answer to this question comes from a different perspective for Muslims. Part of Islamic faith is the belief that our bodies are an amanah from God. The Arabic word amanah literally means fulfilling or upholding trusts. When you add “al” as a prefix, or al-amanah, trust becomes “The Trust”, which has a broader Islamic meaning. It is the moral responsibility of fulfilling one’s obligations due to Allah and fulfilling one’s obligations due to other humans.

The body is one such amanah. Part of that amanah includes the rights that our bodies have over us, such as taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally – these are part of a Muslim’s duty that is incumbent upon each individual.

While the Georgia and Alabama laws in the United States that make abortion illegal after the 6-week mark of pregnancy are being mockingly referred to as “Sharia Law” abortion, the fact is that the real Sharia allows much more leniency in the matter than these laws do.

First of all, it is important to be unambiguous about one general ruling: It is unanimously agreed by the scholars of Islam that abortion without a valid excuse after the soul has entered the fetus is prohibited entirely. The question then becomes, when exactly does the soul enter the fetus? Is it when there is a heartbeat? Is it related to simple timing? Most scholars rely on the timing factor because connecting a soul to a heartbeat itself is a question of opinion.

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The timing then is also a matter of ikhtilaf, or scholarly difference of opinion:

One Hundred and Twenty Days:

The majority of the traditional scholars, including the four madhahib, are united upon the view that the soul certainly is within the fetus after 120 days of pregnancy, or after the first trimester.

This view is shaped by  the following hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إن أحدكم يجمع خلقه في بطن أمه أربعين يوما ثم يكون في ذلك علقة مثل ذلك ثم يكون في ذلك مضغة مثل ذلك ثم يرسل الملك فينفخ فيه الروح..

“For every one of you, the components of his creation are gathered together in the mother’s womb for a period of forty days. Then he will remain for two more periods of the same length, after which the angel is sent and insufflates the spirit into him.”

Forty Days:

The exception to the above is that some scholars believe that the soul enters the fetus earlier, that is after the formation phase, which is around the 40 days mark of pregnancy.

This view is based on another hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا مر بالنطفة إثنتان وأربعون ليلة بعث الله إليها ملكاً، فصوره، وخلق سمعها وبصرها وجلدها ولحمها وعظمها…

“If a drop of semen spent in the womb forty-two nights, Allah sends an angel to it who depicts it and creates its ears, eyes, skin, flesh and bones.”

Between the two views, the more widespread and popular opinion is the former, which is that the soul enters the fetus at the 120 days (or 4 months) mark, as the second hadith implies the end of the formation period of the fetus rather than the soul entering it.

Even if one accepts that the soul enters the fetus at a certain timing mark, it does not mean that the soul-less fetus can be aborted at any time or for any reason. Here again, like most matters of Islamic jurisprudence, there is ikhtilaf of scholarly difference of opinion.

No Excuse Required:

The Hanafi madhhab is the most lenient, allowing abortion during the first trimester, even without an excuse.

Some of the later scholars from the Hanafi school consider it makruh or disliked if done without a valid reason, but the majority ruled it as allowed.

Only Under Extreme Risks:

The Malikis are the most strict in this matter; they do not allow abortion even if it is done in the first month of pregnancy unless there is an extreme risk to the mother’s health.

Other Views:

As for the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of thought, there are multiple opinions within the schools themselves, some allowing abortion, some only allowing it in the presence of a valid excuse.

Valid excuses differ from scholar to scholar, but with a strong and clear reason, permissibility becomes more lenient. Such cases include forced pregnancy (caused by rape), reasons of health and other pressing reasons.

For example, consider a rape victim who becomes pregnant. There is hardly a more compelling reason (other than the health of the mother) where abortion should be permitted. A child born as a result in such circumstances will certainly be a reminder of pain and discomfort to the mother. Every time the woman sees this child, she will be reminded of the trauma of rape that she underwent, a trauma that is generally unmatched for a woman. Leaving aside the mother, the child himself or herself will lead a life of suffering and potentially neglect. He or she may be blamed for being born– certainly unjust but possible with his or her mother’s mindset. The woman may transfer her pain to the child, psychologically or physically because he or she is a reminder of her trauma. One of the principles of Sharia is to ward off the greater of two evils. One can certainly argue that in such a case where both mother and child are at risk of trauma and more injustice, then abortion may indeed be the lesser of the two.

The only case even more pressing than rape would be when a woman’s physical health is at risk due to the pregnancy. Where the risk is clear and sufficiently severe (that is can lead to some permanent serious health damage or even death) if the fetus remained in her uterus, then it is unanimously agreed that abortion is allowed no matter what the stage of pregnancy. This is because of the Islamic principle that necessities allow prohibitions. In this case, the necessity to save the life of the mother allows abortion, which may be otherwise prohibited.

This is the mercy of Sharia, as opposed to the popular culture image about it.

Furthermore, the principle of preventing the greater of two harms applies in this case, as the mother’s life is definite and secure, while the fetus’ is not.

Absolutely Unacceptable Reason for Abortion:

Another area of unanimous agreement is that abortion cannot be undertaken due to fear of poverty. The reason for this is that this mindset collides with having faith and trust in Allah. Allah reminds us in the Quran:

((وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْئًا كَبِيرًا))

“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty, We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (Al-Israa, 31)

Ignorance is not an excuse, but it is an acceptable excuse when it comes to mocking Islam in today’s world. Islam is a balanced religion and aims to draw ease for its adherents. Most rulings concerning fiqh are not completely cut out black and white. Rather, Islamic rulings are reasonable and consider all possible factors and circumstances, and in many cases vary from person to person.

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice. These terms have become political tools rather than sensitive choices for women who ultimately suffer the consequences either way.

Life means a lot more than just having a heartbeat. Islam completely recognizes this. Thus, Islamic rulings pertaing to abortion are detailed and varied.

As a proud Muslim, I want my fellow Muslims to be confident of their religion particularly over sensitive issues such as abortion and women’s rights to choose for themselves keeping the Creator of Life in focus at all times.

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Should I Pray Taraweeh Or Make Up Prayers?

Danish Qasim

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Every Ramadan I’m asked by Muslims whether they should pray Taraweeh or make up missed prayers. They have the guilt of missed prayers but the desire to pray Taraweeh. They do not want to miss out on the special Taraweeh prayer but know that they have to make up obligatory prayers.

I find Muslims bogged down by not only the number of prayers to make up but by the fact that they have to make up prayers that they missed, sometimes too many to count. They emotionally want to move past the memory of missing prayers. While one should not dwell on the sin of missed prayer, at the same time, they should also realize that the prayers remain a debt that needs to be addressed.

Many of us feel a shame associated with past sins. This connection is a sign of true repentance. Shame due to sins, however, becomes problematic when it serves as an impediment for our religious progress. When the guilt reaches this level, one should seek refuge in Allah from Shaytaan and ignore all negative thoughts.

We, as Muslims, should believe that Allah has forgiven our sins, including missed prayers. Forgiveness is done through our repentance. Therefore, we should see makeup prayers as an opportunity to draw closer to Allah, rather than a punishment. Allah tells us in a Hadith Qudsi that

“My servant does not draw nearer to Me with anything more beloved to Me than what I have ordained upon him. He continues to draw near to me with nafl (non-obligatory) actions until I love him” (Bukhari).

Each time we perform a make-up prayer, we are doing what Allah loves us to do the most- an obligatory action. We are drawing nearer to Allah and should feel grateful for being able to do so.

In the Hanafi school of thought, one can pray makeup prayers as non-emphasized sunnahs, which include the prayer of greeting the mosque[1] and Tahajjud prayer. Many Muslims feel more spiritual praying these types of nafl prayers, and they will take their time to pray with the presence of heart. However, when they pray makeup prayers, they rush, praying quickly to get past it as soon as possible. The dreadful feeling of makeup prayers is due to a negative association for the initial neglect, but we must see makeup prayers as not only more critical than nafl prayers, but as something that can be done as nafl prayers.

Taraweeh is an emphasized Sunnah[2] and for Hanafis that means one does not neglect taraweeh[3] due to previously missed prayers[4]. One should have a regiment of making up prayers, such as praying one makeup of Zuhur after praying Zuhur for the day and manage that along with Taraweeh.

For Malikis[5] and Shafis[6] however, one is not supposed to pray Taraweeh if he has prayers to make up. For those following this view, I would advise them to still go to the masjid if that is their habit during the Taraweeh time and pray those due prayers in a space outside of the congregation so they can still enjoy the Ramadan atmosphere in the masjid. Also, it’s worth noting that in the Shafi school, one can have the intention of a makeup prayer even if the imam is praying a different prayer[7]. Hence, twenty rakah of Taraweeh in units of two can be prayed by a follower as ten makeup prayers for Fajr.

Ramadan is a great time to form positive habits. If you do not already have a routine of making up missed prayers, establish one this Ramadan. Make your routine something that you can be consistent with throughout the year, not just when you have the Ramadan energy. We are advised in a hadith to only take on the amount of good actions that we are able to bear because the best actions are those in which we can be persistent, even if they are minor (Ibn Majah 4240).

Lastly, as Ramadan is here, I urge everyone to remember that praying Isha in congregation is more important than praying Taraweeh in congregation. Taraweeh is more alluring due to its uniqueness, and you will see latecomers quickly praying Isha so they can join the Taraweeh prayer. Each prayer is worship, but the priorities of worship are based on its status. Obligatory prayer is more important than a non-obligatory prayer, although every prayer is important. We must prioritize what God prioritizes.

[1]  “ويسن تحية ) رب ( المسجد ، وهي ركعتان ، وأداء الفرض ) أو غيره ، وكذا دخوله بنية فرض أو اقتداء ( ينوب عنها ) بلا نية)”
(رد المحتار على الدر المختار)

[2]  (التراويح سنة  مؤكدة لمواظبة الخلفاء الراشدين  للرجال والنساء إجماعا ” ( رد المحتار على الدر المختار

[3] (والسنة نوعان : سنة الهدي ، وتركها يوجب إساءة وكراهية…”  (رد المحتار على الدر المختار”

[4] وأما النفل فقال في المضمرات : الاشتغال بقضاء الفوائت أولى وأهم من النوافل إلا سنن…”
المفروضة وصلاة الضحى وصلاة التسبيح والصلاة التي رويت فيها الأخبار . ا هـ . ط أي كتحية المسجد ، والأربع قبل العصر والست بعد المغرب” (رد المحتار على الدر المختار،باب قضاء الفوائت)

[5]   (ولا يتنفل من عليه القضاء، ولا يصلي الضحى، ولا قيام رمضان…”  (لأخضري”

[6]   “وَإِنْ كَانَتْ فَاتَتْ بِغَيْرِ عُذْرٍ لَمْ يَجُزْ لَهُ فِعْلُ شَيْءٍ مِنْ النَّوَافِلِ قَبْلَ قَضَائِهَا”
(الفتاوى الكبرى الفقهية على مذهب الإمام الشافعي ,فتاوى ابن حجر الهيتمي)

[7]

تنبيه : تصح قدوة المؤدي بالقاضي ، والمفترض بالمتنفل ، وفي الظهر بالعصر ، وكذلك القاضي بالمؤدي ، والمتنفل بالمفترض ، وفي العصر بالظهر ؛ نظراً لاتفاق الفعل في الصلاتين وإن تخالفت النية ، والانفراد هنا أفضل ؛ خروجاً من الخلاف ، وعلى أن الخلاف في هذا الاقتداء ضعيف جداً فلم يقتض تفويت فضيلة الجماعة ، وإن كان الانفراد أفضل . ( تحفة المحتاج مع حاشية الشر واني ۲ / ۳۳۲ – ۳۳۳ )

وذكر في ( إعانة الطالبين ۲ / ۷ ) : وإن لم تتفق مقضيتها شخصاً . . فهي خلاف الأولى ولا تكره

. وذكر في « البجيرمي على المنهج ۱ / ۳۳۳ ) : قوله ( ويصح الاقتداء لمؤد بقاض ومفترض بمتنفل . . . ) : أي ويحصل له فضل الجماعة في جميع هذه الصور على ما اعتمده الرملي .

————————————————————

– قول متن المنهاج ( وتصح قدوة المؤدي بالقاضي ، والمفترض بالمتنفل . . . ) قضية كلام المصنف – أي النووي – كالشارح الرملي أن هذا مما لا خلاف فيه ، وعبارة الزيادي وابن حجر : ( والانفراد هنا أفضل ؛ خروجاً من الخلاف( فيحتمل أنه خلاف لبعض الأئمة وأنه خلاف مذهبي لم يذكره المصنف ، لكن قول ابن حجر بعد على أن الخلاف في هذا الاقتداء ضعيف جداً . . ظاهر في أن الخلاف مذهبي . ( الشبراملسي ) . ( حاشية الشرواني ۲ / ۳۳۲ )

وهذا لا يجوز في المذهب  الحنفي  “…يشترط أن يكون حال الإمام أقوى من حال المؤتم أو مساويا”  (رد المحتار على الدر المختار(

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Shedding Light on the Moonsighting, Isha / Fajr times, and Long Fasts

Shaykh Abdullah Hasan and Shaykh Naveed Idrees discuss the many issues that crop up pre-Ramadan, seeking harmony amid confusion.

Sh. Abdullah Hasan

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on

The aim of this discussion paper is to place the annual debate on moonsighting and fasting in its jurisprudential context, namely, that it is an area where the application of the sacred texts are open to different but valid interpretations ( ijtihadat). The sincere efforts of scholars on all sides to arrive at what they believe is the strongest opinion must be acknowledged and respected. This discussion paper does not seek to promote any particular viewpoint, but merely to illustrate the breadth of acceptable opinion.

It is also important to recognise that difference of opinion in these matters relates to the furu’ (derivative law) and not the core definitively established aspects of Religion. As individuals and groups, we should not allow differences of opinion on peripheral matters to undermine the cohesion of our families and communities. When strongly held views in Fiqh lead to dissension, discord and division, then we should give greater weighting to community cohesion and seek to avoid the negative impact on the lives of the Muslim community. There are definitively established texts that regard unity and community cohesion as wajib (an obligation). In addition, the principle of muwafaqa ahl-al-bilad (conforming with the local community) should be followed, irrespective of one’s belief in the correctness or otherwise of the dominant ijtihad in one’s locality.

Preliminaries[1]

  1. Islamic Law and the Natural World

It is part of the sacred beauty of Islam – the religion of natural disposition (din al-fitra) – that throughout our lives, our daily worship interpenetrates the rhythms of nature: the rising and setting of the sun, the waxing and waning of the moon, the turning of the seasons, and the elemental forces of fire, air, earth and water. The external world is a manifestation of the attributes of the Creator; everything within it a sign of Allah perceived by the senses (ayatullah al-manzur).

We are not merely urged to turn our gazes to the created world as an act of sacred contemplation; but rather are compelled to do so, in order to consecrate acts of worship to the Lord who transcends that same creation. The times of obligatory prayer can only be known through observation of sunlight and shadow; the obligatory and optional fasts through the phases of the moon. The length of those fasts are determined by the order of the seasons; purification for prayer is attained through water or earth.

Considering this, it is clear that far from there being animosity between ‘fiqh’ and ‘fact,’ they are mutually dependent. Science is nothing but the systematization of the same kind of observations as determine the times of prayer and fasting, and their extrapolation on the basis of sound, verifiable principles. Therefore the opinions of experts in fields such as astronomy have always been taken into consideration when issuing fatwa. An example might be the expert medical opinion which has always played a central role in applying various dispensations regarding purification, prayer, fasting and hajj.  Given this fact of our scripture and our history, the idea that both legal and scientific experts can and should work collaboratively to determine the onset of true dawn is both right and proper. At the same time, one should be cognisant of where priority lies when the opinions of these experts appear mutually contradictory.

  1. The Imperative to Follow Qualified Scholarship

Allah describes the Quran as ‘a comprehensive explanation of all things (tibyan li-kulli shay).’ However, a central pillar of its revealed guidance has been the commanding of recourse to those eminently qualified to guide others as to the true interpretation – or interpretations – of the Divine scripture. First without equal among these guides is, of course, our beloved Master Muhammad (endless peace and blessing upon him and his family); the imperative to obey him is one of the most oft-repeated commands found in the Quran. Thereafter, believers are commanded to follow those steeped in understanding of the Quran and Prophetic Sunnah – known variously as: ‘possessors of living hearts (ulu al-albab),’ ‘those deeply rooted in knowledge (al-mustanbitin fi al-ilm)’, and ‘the people of the Remembrance (ahl al-dhikr).’

The central Quranic verse on this subject is, ‘if you know not, ask the people of the Remembrance.’[2] Its clear implication is that, when matters are unclear or uncertain, the primary responsibility of the Muslim is to have the critical self-honesty to acknowledge his or her own lack of understanding. Thereafter, it behoves one to have the humility to consult those who do have true expertise in the field of religion, whom the Holy Prophet (s) termed ‘inheritors of Prophetic knowledge[3] – the scholars of Sunni Islam. These are the authorised representatives of the four orthodox schools of law – the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafii and Hanbali madhabs.

These four knowledge traditions, though they concur on most major articles of law, will often differ in its various derivative aspects, providing different answers to the same question. This is sometimes a matter of consternation for the lay Muslim – for how can the truth be multiple? And if the truth is indeed one, how can one determine which school has grasped it? The doctrine of Sunni Islam clarifies that, although the truth is indeed one, attaining unto that truth is not always obligatory.

To explain further: if the lay Muslim has obeyed Allah by asking the people of knowledge about an obscure or difficult matter, then he or she has fulfilled God’s right over them. Similarly, if those scholars have obeyed Allah by exercising all their learning and expertise to sincerely comprehend Allah’s command, they have fulfilled God’s right over them. In both cases, they will be rewarded and brought near to Allah, even if their conclusions are wrong. This is clear from the hadith, ‘if the verifying scholar is correct, he (or she) receives two rewards; if incorrect, they receive one.’[4]

On the contrary, if a lay Muslim seeks to bypass the Prophetic inheritors and determine the truth for himself – despite having none of the pre-requisite knowledge, qualities or skills – they will have disobeyed Allah and deserve His censure – even if they stumble across the right answer! This is similarly based on the hadith, ‘whoever interprets the Quran on based on [unqualified] opinion should prepare to take their seat in Hell.’[5]

It is clear, then, that the responsibility of the individual Muslim begins and ends with seeking qualified scholars to advise them on the derivative rulings of sacred law, such as the issue of when precisely the fast begins and fajr can be prayed. Thereafter, it is the responsibility of the ulamah to exert all their efforts to determine the answer to this question with as much precision as possible.

It should, of course, be noted that the terms ‘lay Muslim’ and ‘scholar’ are not absolute divisions; a learned 21st century Muslim, university-educated in physics and astronomy, is not the same as an illiterate peasant farmer in a 15th Century Turkish village. In legal terms, there is a difference between an educated non-specialist (‘aami thaqafi) and an ignorant non-specialist (‘aami jahil). The difference between them, however, lies in the nature of the questions they might ask, rather than their ability to answer them in correspondence with the sophisticated legal principles of the religion.

  1. Respecting Valid Differences of Opinion

The preceding indicates that one sometimes finds a range of opinions on a particular matter of law. There would not merely be a difference of opinion between schools, but sometimes within schools as well. Classically, these discussions would be conducted in closed classes, private debates or by correspondence between the scholars concerned. Crucially, the debates were between people who – by and large – understood the ethics of debate and disagreement. Their longstanding and sometimes fiercely contested arguments would nonetheless be characterised by civility and mutual respect.

The nature of the modern world – especially the near-total eradication of private space – has entailed these debates spilling over into the ever-expanding public domain. Increasingly, they have been witnessed by the Muslim laity who do not understand the ethics of disagreement, and erroneously assume that differences of opinion must entail antagonism. Imam Ghazali stated that, ‘debating over religion is disliked for scholars and forbidden for the laity.’[6]

A fundamental principle of our religion is that, on matters genuinely differed-upon, there can be no mutual condemnation (la inkar fi masa’il mukhtalaf fihi).[7] This has been elucidated by many scholars from the earliest generations up until present day, and accounts for the harmonious co-existence of different schools of law who worship, trade and conduct their family lives in different ways. The fact that a Hanafi might pray Dhuhr when a Shafii is praying Asr brings about no acrimony or dissension.

This does not entail a free-for-all in the domain of legal opinion; it has been further expounded by our scholarly tradition that genuine difference of opinion (alikhtilaf) is based on opinions that are derived through sound methodology from authenticated narrations. As the ulamah state, ‘if you transmit a position, let it be an authenticated one; if you make a claim, prove your point.’[8] It thus excludes aberrant, unfounded opinions or roundly rejected interpretations from the ambit of this toleration.

Overview of the specific issues that are a source of difference of opinion

There are 3 key issues that are matter of difference of opinion amongst scholars and different groups:

  1. Determining the start and end of Ramadan
  2. Determining the start and end time of Isha and start time of Fajr/Suhur in periods of persistent twilight during the summer months
  3. How to deal with the issue of long fasts during the summer period?

A Summary of the Context of these Issues

  • Scripture provides broad indicators to establish prayer and fasting times linked to the Sun and moon that are generally reliable in hot climates where the skies are clear and day & night are of moderate length
  • These indicators are not defined in a scientific manner e.g. based on precise minutes or degrees, but rely upon general observations that any ordinary person could make as part of their daily life
  • Over the last 100 years sizable communities of Muslims have established themselves in the Northern Hemisphere above 48.5 degrees latitude
  • The climate in the these regions makes it difficult to observe the Sun and Moon consistently. There are days when there is persistent twilight which means Isha and Fajr/Suhur times are difficult to establish, and there are extreme variations in the length of night and day, especially in Summer and Winter periods
  • The growth in the use of artificial lighting, industrialisation of society, and progress in the means of communication over the last 150 years has meant that work and leisure patterns were no longer linked to sunrise and sunset; instead, clocks became the means of telling the time and regulating daily life. In practice, the shari’ah indicators no longer directly play an active part in daily life.
  • Although there are texts in the Qur’an and Sunnah on these matters (see below), their application in Northern Regions above 48.5* latitude is not clear-cut and requires scholarly interpretation. This is the source of difference of opinion on these matters.
  • Scholars have attempted to convert astronomical signs which were meant to be broad into scientific and precise formulas, relying on scientific definitions, e.g. 18* as definition of disappearance of twilight and start of night/true dawn
  • Scholars continue to debate the strength and weaknesses of each opinion and whether they accurately reflect the shari’ah indicators. All opinions are supported by strong direct or indirect proofs and evidences, and are backed by references to the works of eminent scholars

An Overview of the Different Positions

Issue 1: Moonsighting

A variety of methods have been suggested in classical and modern scholarship to determine the beginning of the new month, especially Ramadan, Shawwal and Dhul Hijja. They are all based on some interpretation of what the hadith ‘fast when you see it and cease the fast when you see it’ actually means – who are ‘you’ and what does ‘seeing’ mean?

 

Position Notes Issues
Local sighting Only sighting by a local populace validates the new month, else 30 days are completed. The classical strong position of the Shafii and Maliki schools. ‘You’ means ‘the local community’ What does ‘local’ mean in the context of the modern ease of communication over vast distances, and why? On what legal basis should one restrict ‘local’ to a city, country or region?
Global sighting A valid sighting anywhere in the world is applicable to everywhere in the world. The classical strong position of the Hanafi school and some Malikis. ‘You’ means ‘the Muslims in general’ Practically, this would entail that a sighting of the moon in California at 6pm would be retrospectively valid for Muslims in Indonesia, for whom it would be 2pm the next day, so this is impractical despite the ease of communication
‘Horizonal’ sighting A valid sighting anywhere to the east, north or south is applicable for everyone to the west. A strong variant of the Shafii position and the Hanafi school Avoids the logistical difficulties of the first two options, but introduces an arbitrary restriction for which there is no textual basis. Effectively assumes the possibility of sighting the moon to the west if it has been actually sighted in the east.
Calculation If it is determined (by agreed criteria) that it is possible to sight the crescent, that possibility is deemed an actual sighting.   A strong position in the Shafii school, and held by others as well. ‘See’ means ‘potentially see’ – based on the variant hadith of Bukhari: ‘if it is obscured, then calculate’ Potential sighting criteria need to be agreed. Deviates from the literal sense of the central hadith and rejected by a number of schools. However, enables future planning of calendars and so determination of important dates in advance.[9]
Following Saudi Arabia Effectively the proposal that the Saudi decision should be binding on all Muslims. Possible to adopt as any country may choose to follow the ruling of Qadi outside its jurisdiction. ‘See’ means only the Saudis. Not a classical position despite being possible in the Middle East. Significant concerns about the validity of sightings done there, given the calculation basis of the rest of the year’s calendar (Umm al-Qura). Major Saudi scholars reject the position.

Issue 2 – Determining Suhur and Isha time during persistent twilight

Both the fajr prayer and the fast commence at al-subh al-sadiq (true dawn) by consensus, which Allah describes as being when ‘the white thread (of the sky) has become clearly distinct to you from the black thread (of the horizon) at the time of fajr’. Any fajr prayer performed before this, or fast commenced after, is definitively invalid. What precisely constitutes al-subh al-sadiq, however, is not definitive, because dawn is not a binary event: the intensity and spread of light on the horizon changes incrementally over time, making the precise determination of phenomenon open to interpretation. Equally, isha time commences by consensus at the disappearance of twilight (ghuyub al-shafaq), but there is similarly a difference of opinion about what this constitutes and how to determine it. There are thus a variety of opinions on what precise observable phenomena constitute these two critical periods.

Far northern latitudes, however, additionally experience persistent twilight, where the sun does not sink sufficiently low beneath the horizon during summer, and twilight can persist through the night until morning. This entails that the normal signs indicating the onset of isha, fajr, and the fast are absent. Classical jurists have discussed this intermittently over 800 years, focussing almost entirely on isha rather than fajr, and reaching no consensus on how to deal with this issue. In modern times, a number of suggestions have thus been propounded, given how many people are now affected by this issue. A summary of these options, most of which revolve around determining a time (taqdir) for isha and fajr, follows:

Position Notes Issues
Perform isha after midnight Assumes that there was a very brief isha time that has been missed, so it is performed effectively in fajr time Fajr therefore begins just after midnight, leading to a very long fast (up to 21-22 hours).   There also clearly is no isha time that has been missed
Taqdir according to the nearest place/time where isha enters The classical Shafii position, adopted by Malikis, Hanbalis and some Hanafis Entails a very brief isha period between 0100-0130 if adopted strictly, as well as a very long fast.
Taqdir by fixing a duration A modern solution (including Umm al-Qura) of creating an isha by adding 90 mins to sunset and subtracting 90 mins from sunrise Creates a reasonable isha and fajr time, but has no basis in observation, astronomy or Islamic law. Also entails a jump between a very early fajr/late isha to the 90 min taqdir
Taqdir by an average of the normal durations The so-called ‘1/7th of the night position’ – formed by looking at the average ration of maghrib : isha through the year A variant of the original Shafii position that avoids the hardship of the nearest place/time position but also has some basis in the observations through the year and scholarly precedent
Combine maghrib and Isha This is the position of the Islamic Fiqh Council, European Council for Fatwa & Research. This of course should not be done in perpetuity. A means of avoiding hardship, but why should it not be applied also to a very late but validly entering isha? If it should, when does it become hard? Also does not answer the question of when fajr begins
Isha is not obligatory A position debated in the classical Hanafi school, because its signs do not enter Rejected by the virtual consensus of modern scholarship, as would entail no performance of isha for months.

Issue 3 – Dealing with a Very Long Fast

The length of the fast varies much more widely in northern latitudes than in any of the classical Muslim lands, with the significant exception of the lands of Bulghar, which are now in Kazakhstan. In summer, the fasts can reach to 18-21 hours, depending on how far north one is and what position to determine fajr one adopts. As such, very little attention is paid to the length of the fast in summer months in northern latitudes in classical works, likely because a textually-specified dispensation for hardship already exists. The default is that the fast remains obligatory no matter how long it is, though the time of al-subh al-sadiq can be determined by taqdir. Should keeping the fast prove too onerous, it should be broken and made up on easier days. This has been the default practice of the Bulghars for hundreds of years, as well as the Muslim populations of the west for the last 40 years or so.

However, a number of renowned Egyptian scholars in the 19th-20th centuries proposed that fast durations should be artificially set in far northern countries in the same way that prayer times were determined there by taqdir. It was proposed that the length be set by either the length of that day’s fast in Makka or another mid-latitude country. Their rationale was three-fold: an extension of the taqdir of prayer times in the absence of their signs (in this case the onset of dawn), the relieving of excessive and harmful difficulty from people in having to keep such long fasts, and retaining the sanctity of Ramadan – as it would be inconceivable to simply not fast during a summer Ramadan. Scripture relating to the timings of the fast needed to be understood in the context of the geographical realities of mid-latitude countries, and to not exempt those outside this range would be to misunderstand the underlying purpose of sacred law related to the fast.

The position has been critiqued from a number of perspectives: the explicit delineation of fasting times by scripture, the fact that – though the onset of the fast can be estimated by taqdir – sunset does in fact occur and should be adhered to, the existence of a scripturally-mandated dispensation for difficult fasts, and the crucial factor that there is neither medical or experiential evidence that fasting 18-21 hours daily is significantly harmful to health or functioning in most cases. Given this, the position of these late Azhari scholars should be considered anomalous (shadh) and in contradiction to that of the overwhelming majority of both classical and modern scholars, and therefore not followed. If people are genuinely struggling and fasting causes harm then the legal dispensation is present in the shari’ah to break the fast. Individuals should consult reliable and authoritative scholars in their locality.

General Counsel to the Muslims

We would strongly counsel the lay Muslim to remember and act upon the following principles in their daily practice:

  1. It is a communal obligation (fard kifaya) to accurately determine the prayer times and the start and end times of the fast, as well as the commencement of Islamic months. If some members of the community have fulfilled the responsibility, it is lifted from the remainder.[10]
  2. Furthermore, such determinations are a matter of public order (min al-umur al-intizamiyya) – that is, they are not meant to be carried out by just anyone. Rather, in the traditional Muslim world, fulfilling this particular duty would be the role of a government department or authorized working group. For those living as minorities in non-Muslim lands, the responsibility devolves onto the community as a whole, who in turn appoint figures of authority, such as the ulamah and educated mosque committees, to fulfil the task on their behalf. In either case, it is imperative to act in consultation with those qualified for the task (ashab al-ahliyya) – in this case, legal and scientific experts.
  3. By the grace of Allah, this fard kifaya has already been performed by a number of scholars over the decades in the UK. Their differing results are likely a function of the sighting difficulties and differing legal positions noted earlier on.
  4. Most importantly, it should be noted that senior, qualified scholars have given fatwa on the differing positions. In accordance with the well-known legal principle, in the absence of a judge (qadi) to rule decisively or a clear preponderance of opinion in a school, the lay Muslim may follow any of the positions agreed by their scholars without fear of their prayers or fasts being invalid. By doing so, they have fulfilled their personal responsibility to Allah.
  5. At the same time, we urge those given responsibility by the community to come together, clearly review the evidence – scriptural, legal, astronomical and observational – and agree upon a way forward for all their communities that brings unity (muwafaqa) despite any ethnic, legal or minor doctrinal differences that may exist in our diverse community.
  6. Finally, it is imperative that we avoid sowing doubt in people’s minds about the validity of their fasts and prayers. This is a matter of genuine scholarly debate and ongoing discussion – there is much work that still needs to be done. We would therefore urge everybody to remember that there should be no condemnation about matters genuinely differed upon in the religion.[11]

May Allah provision our minds with clear understanding, our bodies with willing and joyful submission, and our hearts with a unity that comes from love and mutual respect, despite our differences.

‘Oh Allah, let us see the truth as true and follow it, and let us see falsehood as false, and avoid it.’

Appendix 1: Central Source Texts for Moonsighting, Prayer Times and Fasting

As a starting point, ijtihad (independent juristic reasoning) is only permissible in the absence of a clear and unequivocal text (Nass) whose authenticity is established (qat’i al-dalalah, qat’i- al wurud). In the context of these issues, the sacred texts establish clear positions in general terms, but are open to multiple interpretations when applied in different contexts. For ease, only basic referencing will be used – for further discussion, please refer to specialist works on the topics.

Texts relevant to Key Issue 1 (determining the start and end of Ramadan – moonsighting)

“They ask you concerning the crescent moons, say they are measurements of time for people and for the pilgrimage” (2:189).

Abu Huraira narrated: The Prophet (s) said, “Start fasting on seeing the crescent (of Ramadan), and give up fasting on seeing the crescent (of Shawwal), and if the sky is overcast, complete thirty days of Sha’ban.”

(Sahih Bukhari, book 30, hadith 19).

Do not fast until you see the crescent-moon, and do not break the fast until you have seen the crescent moon, but if conditions are overcast for you then calculate it (f’aqdiruhu).”

[Bukhari, Muslim, Muwatta]

What is definitively established from the above texts (qat’i al dalala) is that the start and end of Ramadan should be established based on the sighting of the moon.   These texts, however, are not definitive on the issue of what should be done if visibility is impaired, or whether some form of local sighting (ikhtilaf al matal’i) is sufficient, or can a sighting anywhere (ittihad al-matal’i) in the world be relied upon, or whether calculations can be relied on if atmospheric conditions do not permit sighting of the moon.   There are multiple interpretations within the parameters of these texts that are possible, and this has been an area of discussion and debate amongst scholars both past and present. Similarly, scholars have differed over the nature of seeing e.g actual physical sighting, scientific data only as ru’ya can mean to know, or actual physical sighting with use of scientific data to support or negate (Ithbat wa Nafiy). Completing 30 days in regions such as the UK over a number of months will lead to some months eventually being 25 or 26 days, and the lunar year would become more than 355 days!

Texts relevant to Key Issue 2 (determining suhur and prayer times during periods of persistent twilight)

‘And eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to You distinct from the black thread (darkness of night), Then complete Your Saum (fast) till the nightfall.’ (2:187)

The above text is definitive in establishing the start of the Fast (imsak) where these astronomical signs are observable. However, in regions above 48.5 degrees latitude the phenomenon of persistent twilight means that the distinguishing signs are no longer observable. In these regions, this is an area where ijtihad is permitted, as the text is not clear on what approach should be taken in the absence of these signs. Scholars have resorted to various methods of estimating the start time of suhur (subh Sadiq) by trying to find an equivalence based on solar degrees of depression ranging from 12-18 degrees ( see Appendix). However, it is important to note that there is no direct text that links the astronomical signs with any particular degree. These correspondences are based on the ijithad of scholars. Similarly, there is no (definitive and unequivocal) text that supports the options for taqdir (calculation of a time): nearest day, nearest city, one seventh of the night, Umm al Qura time (1hour 20/30 mins), Half night (nisf-ul-layl). The legal basis of all these is the intellectual efforts of scholars since the 4th Century Hijri.

As for the timings of prayer, many texts establish these times. For example:

‘Establish regular prayers – at the sun’s decline till the darkness of the night, and the morning prayer and reading: for the prayer and reading in the morning are witnessed.’ (15:78)

“The time for the morning prayer lasts as long as the first visible part of the rising sun does not appear and the time of the noon prayer is when the sun declines from the zenith and it is not time for the afternoon prayer and the time for the afternoon prayer is so long as the sun does not become pale and its first visible part does not set, and the time for the evening prayer is that when the sun disappears and (it lasts) till the twilight is no more and the time for the night prayer is up to the midnight.”

(Sahih Muslim)

This and other similar texts are clear that Isha time starts with the disappearance of twilight. The scholars have differed on the meaning of twilight whether it refers to the redness or whiteness after sunset. In addition, these texts are not definitive on the issue of when Isha time starts during periods of persistent twilight. This again is an area where the scholars have exerted their efforts to arrive at a solution.

Texts relevant to key issue 3 (long fasts in summer days)

‘And eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to You distinct from the black thread (darkness of night), Then complete Your fast till the nightfall … but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) during later days. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties.’ (2:187)

Allah’s Messenger (s) said, “When night falls from this side and the day vanishes from this side and the sun sets, then the fasting person should break his fast.” (Sahih Bukhari)

The phenomenon of fasts of more than 18 hours is an issue that has arisen in modern times due to the settlement of significant Muslim communities in the Northern Hemisphere. This text is definitive and unequivocal in regions that do not experience persistent twilight. In regions that experience this phenomenon it is impossible to distinguish darkness of night from twilight, therefore 2:189 is not a Nass that can be applied.   The scholars have proposed various solutions to resolve this issue (see appendix 1).

There is a difference of opinion amongst scholars whether the texts that relate to timings of prayer are applicable only where day and night are roughly equal. In regions where there is a significant disparity e.g day length is more than 18 hours, these texts are silent and therefore ijtihad can be relied upon to achieve an outcome that is consistent with the aims of the Shari’ah. This is based on the juristic principle that a hadith scholar, “The [primary] texts pertain to common and normal circumstances and not to what is uncommon.” (Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, in Fath al-Bari (2/62): and “the general texts are construed in reference to what is prevalent and common and not in reference to what is uncommon and unknown. (Ibn ‘Abdin, Rad al-Muhtar ‘ala al-Dur al-Mukhtar (2/123), and “The [prayer] times, which Jibril (pbuh) taught the Prophet [pbuh], and which the Prophet [pbuh] taught his community, are those which the scholars mentioned in their books, and which refer to normal days.” (Sheikh Ibn Taymiyah, Mukhtasar al-Fatawa al-Misriyyah (1/38). As a result some scholars ( e.g Sh Mustafa Zarqa’) have stated that people living in these regions should fast based on an average day, and have proposed fasting to the length of Makkah or Madinah. العقل والفقه في فهم الحديث النبوي للشيخ الزرقا   ص : 124 طبعة دار

القلم 1996

Ayah 2:185 is a definitive and unequivocal text on creating an exemption from fasting for one who is ill or is travelling. However, it is not clear on the issue of one who is struggling to fast during long summer days. Based on ijtihad some scholars have extended the exemption in 2:185 to include people living in regions that have abnormal length of day, based on analogy (qiyas) with those who are ill, and have advised people to make up (qadaa’) of fasts at another time of the year.

Appendix 2: Key Texts on The principle of Muwafaqa Ahl-al-Bilad (conforming with the local community)

The importance of maintaining community cohesion and not dividing the family or community has been explicitly mentioned in the Quran, and is a core principle of religion.

3:13. the same Religion has He established for you As that which He enjoined on Noah – the which we have sent by inspiration to Thee – and that which we enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: Namely, that ye should remain steadfast In religion, and make no divisions therein: to those who worship other things than Allah, hard is the (way) to which Thou callest them.

19:94. He [Hârûn (Aaron)] said: “O son of My mother! seize (me) not by My beard, nor by My head! Verily, I feared lest You should say: ‘You have caused a division among the Children of Israel, and You have not respected My word!’ “

In matters relating to communal religious practice that are not based on qat’i texts and that relate to differences of opinion, it is obligatory to maintain unity within a local community than to insist on following one’s opinion. An example of this is the principle of ‘muwafaqa ahl al-bilad’ (conforming with the local community) which seeks to avoid ill feeling, hatred and division in a local community. There are countless examples of the pious predecessors (salaf) giving up their opinion to maintain community cohesion. In the context of Eid and Ramadan, the principle of Muwafaqa states that one should fast with the local community even if it means that you end up fasting one day extra or one day less. Aisha overruled Masruq when he sought to fast out of caution on the day of Sacrifice stating:

‘Sacrifice is on the day that people make the sacrifice, and the end of the fast is when people end the fast’

This is supported by the following hadith:

The fast is the day when you all fast, and the end of the fast is when you all end the fast, and the Eid of sacrifice is when you make the sacrifice.

(Tirmidhi 697 – hasan gharib), Abu Dawud (2324), Ibn Majah (1660)

Commenting on this Hadith Imam Tirmidhi states: ‘some of the people of knowledge have explained this to mean that one should fast and end the fasting with the community (Jama’a) and the majority of the people.’   Similarly, San‘ani comments: ‘in this is evidence that the conformity of a people on can be taken into account when establishing the Day of Eid, and that it is obligatory (wajib) on a solitary witness who has sighted the moon, to conform with the local community.

The scholars are clear that even if the local community makes an error in their ijtihad on the day of Eid or Ramadan, this will not affect the validity of the fasts and Eid even if it later transpires that a mistake was made. For instance Abu Dawud narrated the aforementioned hadith of the Prophet under the chapter heading: ‘if people make an error in sighting the moon’. Finally, the following hadith also has bearing on this matter:

‘If you see differences, then stick with the vast majority…’

It is important to point out that there can never be Eid on one day all over the globe, due to different time zones. However, what is obligatory is that within one family, neighbourhood or city, there should be one Eid. This is in keeping with the core principle of religion which came to bring people together, it is time to revive the Sunnah of the pious predecessors (salaf) and give up our opinions on matters that are from the ‘Furu’ (peripheral) aspects of religion, in order not to fall into the conundrum of creating fitnah and division amongst the believers.

Appendix 3: Parameters within which the Moonsighting and Ramadan Debate should take place

  1. The issue of which method should be used is a matter that relates to the Furu’ (Peripherals) and not the Usul (Core matters) of the Deen established by definitive /texts/ proofs based on al-Dalil al-Qat’i)
  2. This is a matter that relates to Fiqh and not Aqidah
  3. It is not a matter on which takfir of individuals or groups should be made
  4. The Nusus (text) on many of these issues are open to different interpretations
  5. There is no ijma’ (consensus) amongst the scholars on which method to deploy if visibility is impaired, or there is persistent twilight
  6. All parties are sincerely trying to arrive at what they believe is the strongest shar’i (legal) position
  7. People are free to follow any of the sound and valid ijtihads
  8. It is not wajib to follow any of these ijtihads exclusively
  9. It is legally (in fiqh terms) wrong to claim that the fast/Eid of those who follow a different ijtihad is invalidated.
  10. The matter of creating harmony and avoiding discord amongst the community of Believers is established by definitive texts. This is wajib.
  11. Giving up the ijtihad of the group or scholar you follow to avoid discord and division will not invalidate your fast/Eid
  12. In some cases it may be considered wajib to give up the opinion you feel strongly about, if it will cause division within a family or a town/city
  13. The Qur’an and Sunnah are full of examples of prioritising community cohesions and harmony e.g The prophet pbuh ordered a Mosque to be pulled down, as it was dividing the Muslim community, the Prophet Haroon did not enforce his will on the Children of Israel for fear of splitting the community (faraqta bayna bani israeel, Surah Taha)
  14. Disagreements in this area amongst the Muslims, leads to a negative portrayal of Islam, and is damaging from a Dawah perspective
  15. The Maqasid of Eid as a celebration that brings the entire community together is violated by having Eid on different days within the same family, town or city
  16. There is no precedent in Fiqh that justifies Eid being celebrated on different days within the same family, town, city for people who are resident there (Ahadith refer to companions who were travelling and returning to their city)
  17. Having Eid on different days disrupts the education of children, makes it difficult to organise holiday leave for working people, which means that many people end up booking the wrong day and therefore end up working on Eid day

Appendix 4: further reading

Book: Shedding light on the dawn: on the determination of prayer and fasting times at high latitudes by Sheikh Asim Yusuf

The challenge of how to determine twilight prayer and fasting times at high latitudes is an issue that has vexed successive generations of Muslims since the community first began to dwell in northern lands. This work represents the most comprehensive, meticulous and balanced approach to the subject composed in any language. The author has both demonstrated and collapsed the complexity of the subject by exploring it from the perspective of definitions, science, scripture, and sacred law, as well as providing a literature survey of classical and modern attempts at observation, before presenting the results of his own systematic, scientifically-rigorous set of observations. As well as providing a comprehensive set of recommendations for the issue under discussion, this work sets a standard for works on modern legal issues in general.

This is a necessary read on this subject. The author is a friend and colleague who has tirelessly and meticulously researched the issues of long fasts and prayer times. Some of the discussions above have been taken from the book.

For more information on the book and how to purchase it: http://www.lightonthedawn.com/

Few articles providing overview of some issues discussed:

http://www.understanding-islam.org.uk/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=8054:towards-understanding-the-moonsighting-debate-in-the-u-k&Itemid=102

Arguments for using calculation:

https://musafurber.com/2015/06/06/ramadan-moonfighting-shafi%CA%BFic-calculations/

An Analysis of Moon Sighting Arguments

The argument against using calculation:

http://www.islam21c.com/islamic-law/964-an-insight-into-moon-sighting/

https://almadinainstitute.org/blog/an-islamic-legal-analysis-of-the-astronomical-determination-of-the-beginnin/

Issues of the long fast:

http://www.islamtoday.net/bohooth/artshow-86-136794.htm

http://www.exploring-islam.com/fasting-during-the-long-summer-days-in-some-western-countriesworship.html

http://alrukn.com/long-fasts-fiqh/

Combining Maghreb and Isha:

https://www.e-cfr.org/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B1%D9%82%D9%85-3-2/

https://www.leedsgrandmosque.com/isha-prayer-in-british-summer

https://www.islam21c.com/fataawa/166-summer-isha-a-fajr-prayer-times/

[1] All from the introduction to ‘Shedding Light on the Dawn’

[2] Al-Nahl 16:43

[3] Jami’ Tirmidhi 2683

[4] Bukhari 7352, Muslim 4487

[5] Jami Tirmidhi

[6] Ihya Ulum al-Din, Kitab al-Ilm

[7] Al-Ashbah wa al-Naza’ir of Suyuti – a very well-known principle among the righteous predecessors (salaf) and their successors (khalaf).

[8] Kubra al-Yaqiniyyat al-Kawniyya 34: in kunta naqilan fa al-sihha, wa in kunta muda’iyyan fa al-dalil.

[9] NB: contrary to popular opinion, crescent visibility curves are not a modern invention, having been known about in the classical Muslim period. There are many examples in medieval astronomical literature that look very similar to modern ones

[10] Ibn Qudama in his al-Mughni [2:30-31], for example, notes that, ‘when one hears the adhan from a reliable source, one should commence prayer, without attempting to work out whether the time has entered oneself, for the Prophet (s) said, ‘the muadhins are entrusted,’ (Abu Dawud) and ‘there are two duties Muslims must perform that hang from the necks of the muadhins: their prayers and their fasts’ (ibn Majah). – dar alam al-kutub

[11] Al-Ashbah wa al-Naza’ir of Suyuti 224 – la yunkar al-mukhtalaf fihi, innama yunkar al-mujma’ alayh: a well-known principle among the righteous predecessors (salaf) and their successors (khalaf).

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