Music and Singing by al-Ghazali
TREATING OF THE DISAGREEMENT ABOUT MUSIC
A statement of the sayings of the learned and of the Sufis as to its being lawful or forbidden. Know that the listening comes first and that it bears as fruit a state in the heart that is called ecstasy;
a bears as fruit a moving of the extremities of the body, either with a motion that is not measured and is called agitation or with a measured motion which is called clapping of the bands and swaying of the members.
Let us, then, begin with the rule as to listening-it comes first—and we will adduce with regard to it those sayings which express clearly the views which have been held on it.
Thereafter, we will mention what points to its permissibility and follow that up with an answer to what has been laid hold of by those who assert that it is forbidden.
As for the adducing of views, the Qaidi Aba-t-Tayyib at -Tabari’ has related from ash-Shafiiand Malik and Abū Hanifa and Sufyān and a number of the learned, expressions which indicate that they viewed it as forbidden.
He said, “ Ash-Shāfi’i (may God have mercy him !) said in The Book of the Laws of giving Judgment, ‘Singing is & sport which is disliked and which resembles what is false; he who meddles much with it is light of understanding, you shall project his testimony.’ Further, the Qādi Abū-t- Tayyib said,
“That a man should listen to a woman who is not within the prohibited degrees of kinship is unlawful according to the followers of Ash-Shāfi’i, equally whether she is in plain view or behind a curtain, is free or a slave. Further, he said, “Ash-Shāfi’i (may God be well pleased with him!) said, If the possessor of a slave-girl gathers men together to listen to her, he is of light understanding, you shall reject his testimony.’
And he narrated further from ash-Shāfi’i: “He disliked beating time with a stick (gadib), and was wont to say that freethinkers made use of that to divert their attention from hearing the Qur’ān. And ash-Shāfiʻī said, ‘On account of tradition, playing at back-gammon is disliked more than playing on any kind of musical instrument. And I do not like playing chess ;
I dislike all the games which men play because the play does not belong to the actions of the people of religion and manly virtue’ [murū’a]. And as for Mālik? (may God have mercy on him !), he has forbidden singing.
He said, “When a man buys a slave-girl and finds that she is a singer, then it is his duty to send her back.’ That is the view of the rest of the people of al-Madina except Ibrāhīm b. Sa’d 3 alone.
And as for Abii Hanifa! (may God be well pleased with him!), he disliked it and made hearing singing a sin and so all the people of al-Kiifa, Sufjan ath-Thewri and Hammad’ and Ibrahim! and ash-Sha’bi® and the rest,” All this the Qadi Abi-t-Tayyib at-Tabari has adduced,
But Abii Talib al-Makki® adduced the allowableness of listening to music and singing from a number of the first believers. He said, “Of the Compenions, ‘Abd Allih b, Ja’far? and “Abd Alléh b, az-Zubayr§, and al-Mughira b, Shu’ba? and Mu‘awiya! and others listened to music and singing.” Ho suid further, “Many of the excellent first believers, both Companions, and Followers,” have done that along with pious works,” And he said,
“The people of al-Mijaz with us in Makka did not cease to listen to music and singing even in the most excellent of the days of the year, and these are The Few Days! in which God commanded His servants to remember Him, such as the days of ateTashrig, And the people of al- Madina, like the people of Makka, have not ceased petting in listening to mus and singing up to this our time, We have known Abu Marwan the Qidi’ who had slave-girls who chanted in public and whom he had prepared to sing to Safi” And he said further, ‘Ati? had two slavegirls who chanted, and his brethren were wont to listen to them,”
And he eid further, “They suid to Abis|-Hasan b. Sali’ ‘How dot thou forbid listening to music and siuging when Junayd! and Sari aa-Sagati* and Dhii-n-Nin * were wont to listen” Then be suid, ‘Aud how have I forbidden music and stuging when thove that are better than I have allowed it and listened to it??” Aud ‘Abd Allah b, Jafar at-Payyie™ was wont to listen, and he only forbad sporting and playing in listening.
And it is related to Yahya b. Mu‘adh that he said, ‘We miss three things and do not see them, and I shall not see them increase save little, the beauty of face with modesty, the beauty of speech with honesty, and beauty of brotherliness with abiding by duty.’”
And I saw in some books this very thing related from al-Harith al- Muhasibi,? and it shows that he permitted listening to music and singing in spite of his asceticism and piety and strenuousness and energy in religion.
Further, he said, “Tbn Mujahid * was not wont to accept an invitation except there was to be music and singing.” And more than one has narrated that he said, “
‘We gathered together to a banquet, and along with us were Abii-l-Qasim b. bint Mani‘* and Abii Bakr b. Da’tid® and Ibn Mujahid with others they’re like, and there was music and singing there.
Then Ibn Mujahid began to urge on Ibn bint Mani‘ against Ibn Da’iid as to listening to the singing. And Ibn Da’ud said, ‘My father related from Ibn Hanbal® that he disliked listening to music and singing, and my father disliked it, and I hold the view of my father.’
Then Abi-Qasim b. bint Mani‘ said, ‘As for my grandfather Ahmad b. bint Mani‘! he told me from Salih b, Ahmad? that his father used to listen to the voice of Ibn al-Khabbiza.’
Then said Ibn Mujahid to Ibn Da’ud, ‘Don’t bother us with your father’; and to Ibn bint Mani’, ‘Don’t bother us with your grandfather. What do you say, Abii Bakr, of one who recites a verse of poetry; is it unlawful?’
Ibn Da’iid said, ‘No’ ‘And if he has a beautiful voice, is it unlawful for him to recite it?” He said, ‘No.’
‘And if he recite it, and recite more than one and shorten in it that which is long and lengthen in it that which is short, is it unlawful?’
He said, ‘I am not equal to one devil; then how should I be equal to two?’”
Further, he said, “ Abi-l-Hasan al- ‘Asqalini, the black,‘ one of the Saints, was wont to listen to music and singing and to be distracted with longing thereat, and he wrote a book about it and overthrew in that book those who blame music; and, similarly, a number have written to overcome those blaming it.”
Further, it is related from one of the Shaykhs that he said, “I saw Abi-l-‘Abbas al-Khadir® (peace be upon