Discussing the issue of music in Islam sounds a bit controversial. If we suppose that music is food for the soul, we cannot easily say if it is allowed (Halal) or not. Unlike the issue of meat in Islam that is precisely explained in the Holy Quran, the issue of music has never been mentioned in the Quran. However, we cannot say that because God has not directly spoken about music, therefore it is allowed (Halal) or forbidden (Haram). Because music is something that does exist in this world and God has not left us without guidance in such matters.
Since there is no explicit information about music in the Quran, people keep questioning if the music is allowed in Islam or not.
Therefore, the goal of this article is to explain the characteristics of lawful (Halal) and forbidden (Haram) music in Islam, based on the rulings from jurists.
In the description of the music, it is said that “Music is the technique of mixing sounds and voices in a pleasant way that makes the listener enjoy as well as making an internal revolution for his/her soul” .
To distinguish between lawful (Halal) and forbidden (Haram) music, it is easier to find out what forbidden (Haram) music is. Then any kind of music that does not include the characteristics of forbidden (Haram) music is lawful (Halal).
Before explaining forbidden (Haram) music, it is useful to get familiar with a few related phrases:
Mutrib music: a sort of music that causes impulsive movement for the listener.
Lahwi music: a sort of music that is common or suitable for frivolous gatherings and carouses.
Apart from these descriptions, and to provide a better conceptual understanding for the phrases above, we could say that mutrib or lahwi music is that which due to its characteristics keeps human beings away from Allah, and away from moral merits and drives them towards sinful acts and carelessness.
The forbidden (Haram) type of music is suitable for dissolute gatherings of sin. Any music which is lahwi and mutrib in the common view is forbidden (Haram). Distinguishing the subject of this ruling depends on the view of each religiously responsible individual (mukallaf ), and there is no objection to listening to a song if it is distinguished as Halal; keeping in mind that the personality of the musician, the vocalized words accompanying the music, the venue, and all other circumstances may contribute to placing it in the category of forbidden (Haram), lahwi, mutrib music, or another forbidden (Haram) category; e.g., if the music, due to the mentioned things, leads to certain corruptions .
We Should Recognize Which Music Is Forbidden (Haram) for Us
In the controversial case of music, it is up to the Muslim person to realize if the music he/ she is listening to is forbidden (Haram) or not.
When we want to listen to a song we should see:
If it is mutrib music (immaterial)
If it is lahwi music and suitable for carouses (Irrespective of whether it contains the element of excitement or engenders in the listener a state of melancholy and crying.)
If it contains ghina in its singing
If it contains vain and useless concepts that create distance between God and us.
For example, the musician may disagree with the listener’s point of view. In this case, what the Muslim person regards as lahwi and suitable for gatherings of sin is forbidden (Haram) for him to listen to. As for the sounds which fall in a grey area, the ruling in their regard is that it is permissible to listen to them .
Any music that does not include the above characteristics is lawful (Halal), and there is no objection to listening to such music in Islam.
There is no objection in using musical instruments to play non-lahwi tunes if it is for revolutionary or religious chanting or carrying out useful cultural and other programs aiming at rational and lawful (Halal) purposes, provided that it results in no bad consequences.
At the same time, using musical instruments to play lahwi and /or mutrib tunes is not permissible .
Learning and teaching music for the above-mentioned causes are allowed (If it is for revolutionary or religious chanting or carrying out useful cultural and other programs aiming at rational and lawful (Halal) purposes).
Musical instruments which, according to the common view, are of dual - lawful (Halal) and forbidden (Haram) - purposes can be used in a non-lahwi manner for lawful (Halal) purposes. Instruments, which the common view regards as special to the production of lahwi music, are not permissible to use .
Also, in itself, there is no problem in teaching and learning music for the purposes mentioned above .
There is no problem in buying and selling musical instruments that serve dual purposes [i], intending to use them in playing non-lahwi tunes.
Accordingly, it is not permissible to buy, sell, or distribute CDs that contain mutrib and/ or lahwi music that is suitable for gatherings of carouse, regardless of the language it is composed in or the country of origin .
There is no harm in the use of musical instruments to play tunes for revolutionary chanting, national anthems, or any other lawful (Halal) and useful pursuit provided that it does not entail rapture and frivolity suitable for the gatherings of carouse and falsehood.
But with regards to singing with music, the musician should make sure that the music will not be accompanied by ghina .
Therefore, any type of music that is branded for gatherings of carouse is forbidden (Haram), even if it does not arouse sexual temptation. As a result, any kind of music that is not common for such gatherings is lawful (Halal), such as martial music.
Making these types of lawful (Halal) music for the use of Muslims and for the improvement of the community, or for spreading good values is lawful (Halal).
Overall, any kind of music that creates a distance between the soul and God is forbidden (Haram).
[i] Musical instruments are divided into two groups; 1- specific instruments, 2- dual-purpose instruments. The first group is those instruments that are known to be specifically used in carouse gatherings, while dual-purpose instruments are those which can be used for both lawful (Halal) and forbidden (Haram) purposes. Most jurists have named a few instruments as dual-purpose instruments such as a chime, drum, piano, dulcimer, etc. but in the case of specific instruments, they have not named any and have left the recognition to the Muslim person .
- Rouhollah Khaleghi, An overview on music, p.4
- music in Islam
Have you ever thought about the concept of earning in Islam? Or what role wealth plays in our lives and why we really need to earn money? To some people, money could be a result of the exchange of value. In other words, what you are doing is of value to someone, and that is why you are paid for it.
You might get excited to know the value you are delivering to people is making their lives better; then you will be probably more motivated to enhance your get-rich potential and try to make more and more money! This would be an ideal reason for someone to earn money. However, we all need money to spend for certain reasons, e.g., food, clothing, shelter, etc.
Muslims believe wealth is one of the innumerous blessings of Allah that is referred to as ‘Khair’ -meaning goodness- in some verses of the Holy Quran (2:215, 2:180). In another verse, it is mentioned as an attraction of this worldly life (18:46). What’s more, gaining wealth has been given so much importance in the religion of Islam that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “Seeking lawful earnings is compulsory for every Muslim” .
Islam also seriously recommends attaining the sustenance provided by God through hard work and striving. It is stated in the Islamic narrations that Allah does not like a person who prays for income while he has quit earning and does not try for it . The holy Quran also says:
“That nothing belongs to man except what he strives for, and that he will soon be shown his endeavor, then he will be rewarded for it with the fullest reward” (53:39-41).
Along with the importance Islam attaches to gaining wealth through hard work, it places greater emphasis on making money through lawful (Halal) ways.
“Eat of what is lawful and pure in the earth, and do not follow in Satan’s steps” (2:168).
Based on this verse, consuming only what is lawful (Halal) and good, and abstaining from unlawful (Haram) things, are among the basic principles of the Islamic lifestyle. Many Islamic narrations advise and praise the acquisition of livelihood through fair means, i.e., NOT through stealing, cheating, betting, etc. Islam actually underscores the importance of productive enterprises that can increase output and generate jobs; this is the reason why earning money through gambling is Haram in this religion.
According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in order for an income (in trading) to be Halal, one should not
fault the product he/she is buying,
praise the product he/she is selling,
swear to God while trading .
“Whoever lives on Halal earnings for forty days, God shall enlighten his heart” . Some benefits of earning income through fair means are:
Receiving the Protection of God
Allah says: “If what you eat is Halal and pure, I will protect you” .
Acceptance of Prayer
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says if you want your prayer to be accepted and fulfilled by Allah, make sure your income is Halal and pure .
Receiving God’s Glory and Honor on the Day of Judgment 
Strengthening One’s Faith [i]
Getting Allah’s Blessings and Favors (Barakah):
Your income sometimes may not seem enough, but if it is gained through Halal ways, it will be blessed by Allah; so it will suffice: “And whoever puts his trust in Allah, He will suffice him” (65:3)
“You see many of them actively engaged in sin and aggression, and consuming illicit gains. Surely, evil is what they have been doing” (5:62).
Here are a few negative effects that await people who choose the wrong way of earning money (by foul means) either for their greed or deprivation:
Their Halal income will be reduced, and they will be deprived of Allah’s blessings (Barakah) 
Their prayers will not be answered .
They will become hard-hearted and cruel .
Consumption of Haram will have negative effects on their offspring and descendants .
Our sustenance lies with Allah
Finally, we should always remember that God is the All-provider (51:58) who has ordained Halal sustenance for all creatures, and the creatures’ efforts to earn their living is placed alongside His will. So, we will definitely reach what is provided for us by Him if we try more patiently, and if we are content with and thankful for what we already have.
God has not forgotten any of us; the Holy Quran says: “There is no animal on the earth, but that its sustenance lies with Allah, and He knows its [enduring] abode and its temporary place of lodging. Everything is in a manifest Book” (11:6) Then we had better avoid what Allah has told us is unlawful (Haram) since:
“Yet it may be that you dislike something, which is good for you, and it may be that you love something, which is bad for you, and Allah knows, and you do not know” (2:216).
[i] “Never give up striving for lawful livelihood as it reinforces your faith”. Imam Sadiq (AS) 
- Bihar al-Anvar, vol. 103, p. 9
- Ayatollah Javadi Amoli, Mafatih al-Hayat, p. 582
- Ibid p.589
- Bihar al-Anvar, vol. 53, p. 326
- Ayatollah Javadi Amoli, Mafatih al-Hayat, p.589
- al- Daawat, p. 24
- Kanz al-Ummal, vol. 14, p. 249
- Ayatollah Javadi Amoli, Mafatih al-Hayat, p. 593
- earning in Islam
- Bihar al-Anvar, vol. 71, p.128
After an exhausting day of unending work, you decide to have a night out with your friends. And you end up in a nightclub or casino where you can enjoy your time by playing a fun and simple-looking game. In no time you find yourself engaged in a gamble which seems to be going on forever. And you end up either losing the money – no matter how much - you have gained through too much effort, or achieve some money without doing any profitable action in return. That is only one instance of this kind of so-called fun called gambling. Though, it sometimes turns out to be much more than simple entertainment and results in losing one’s whole living in a matter of a few seconds. But does Islam allow its followers to go through such an experience? The answer is a definite No [i] & [ii], for this is a lose-lose situation for both parties, financially and psychologically, even though it may not look so. In this matter, Islam, as always plans what is best for the lives of human beings. Let’s regard this issue in depth. Is Gambling in Islam Allowed?
According to all Islamic jurists, games that include the special means of gambling such as cards, backgammon, etc. are forbidden if they are accompanied with betting. Moreover, every kind of game that is played through betting is forbidden. Nevertheless, some scholars believe that playing with the special means of gambling, even without betting, is not allowed [iii]&. This is because the one who plays with particular means of gambling will automatically be accused of betting or may seem like doing it.
The adverse effects of gambling on one’s life as well as the society he/she lives in are many and have been mentioned by many Islamic and/or non-Islamic scholars.
According to a study done in the United States, “more than $5 billion has been lost each year to gambling addictions. In addition, $40 billion has been spent on social services and creditor losses. These studies go on to state that two out of three gambling addicts will engage in illegal acts to pay for their gambling debts. The effect is that the addiction places a severe hardship on prison systems, public assistance programs and legal systems” .
Lose of credit and job is only one among many financial losses that are caused by gambling on an individual but it will not be limited to him/her and requires the society to take care of him/her. Moreover, when a game turns to a real-life lose or win, the one who engages in it sees his/her opponent as a real-life enemy whom he/she needs to defeat. This, as a result, spreads the feeling of enmity, avarice, and vengeance within the society . Quran also emphasizes the evilness of this action: “Indeed Satan seeks to cast enmity and hatred among you through wine and gambling, and to hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and prayer. Will you, then, relinquish?” (5:91).
No matter you lose or win in this game, the effect would be detrimental for you. Let’s say you are a very lucky person and win every time you gamble, what would you do with the growing sense of greed for money? Or with this incessant desire to gamble more and more to the point that you cannot think about anything except gambling? Losing also brings its own destructive results; aside from losing the money that you could spend in a much useful way for yourself or your family, you lose your own self-confidence and feel undermined.
The pressure that is inflicted upon the gambler will inevitably lead to physical problems. According to a study, “the stress of gambling problems sometimes causes health problems, for both the person who gambles and the family. This can include anxiety, depression and stress-related problems such as poor sleep, ulcers, bowel problems, headaches, and muscle pains”. Also, in some cases this mental pressure caused the individual to feel suicidal and want to end his/her life .
When your mind is occupied with gaining more money, how to beat your opponent on the next gamble or how to pay your debts, no place will remain for you to turn and remind yourself of your duty toward Allah and His mercy upon you. And when Allah is absent from your heart and mind, the result is the constant feeling of insecurity and stress, for: “…The hearts find rest in Allah’s remembrance!”(13:28).
Finally, gambling is the cause of many harms to the individual as well as the society. Based on a general rule in Islam, no one is allowed to either “cause harm or return harm”  to him/herself or others. As it was mentioned above, gambling brings many financial as well as psychological complexities for the people involved in it and the society they live in. Therefore Islam does not allow its followers to bear such disadvantages.
[i] (2:219), (5:90).
[ii] Imam Reza (AS) Said: “Allah forbids His followers from any kind of gambling and ordered them to refuse doing them and called them impure and evil…” .
[iii] It is important to note that for the participants in horse racing and archery the action of betting is allowed . The reason for that was Islam’s attention to the importance of learning the martial arts for Muslims.