In answering questions about singing in Islam, we cannot say that singing is completely forbidden (Haram) in Islam. Like any other issue, we have to find out what kind of singing is allowed (Halal) and that if there is a prohibition, what is that makes it forbidden (Haram)?
In deriving the ruling of singing from the Quran, jurists usually refer to two main verses:
“Among the people is he who buys diversionary talk that he may lead [people] astray from Allah’s way without any knowledge, and he takes it in derision. For such, there is a humiliating punishment” (31:6).
Some interpreters have taken the phrase “diversionary talk” (Lahw al-hadith) as any sort of speech that deviates people’s minds from the righteous way and attracts the concentration of people to an unjust saying. Jurists have expanded the unjust saying to any sort of expression of mind which may contain poetry or singing or music .
Also, it is said in another verse: “So avoid the abomination of idols, and avoid false speech …” (22:30).
In the interpretation of “false speech” (Qowl al-zur) in this verse, it is said that a false statement is any word that deviates people from the righteous way and remembrance of God .
When jurists want to define the forbidden (Haram) singing in Islam, they use the term “ghina”. In Islamic jurisprudence, singing is not forbidden (Haram) unless it is known to be ghina.
Ghina is the voice of a human, which is produced in a rise and fall pattern to create the effect of rapture that is suitable for frivolous and carouse gatherings. It is forbidden (Haram) to engage in this type of singing; as well as listening to it, even if it does not lead to rapture in the listener .
Any kind of singing that deviates a person from a moderate mood (may it be happy or sad) is referred to as ghina. The most visible sign of this deviation from a moderate mood is when the person loses his self-control; like the feeling that occurs to man after drinking wine. Islam has always prevented Muslims from being stuck in such moods.
Gatherings of merrymaking and sin are those kinds of gatherings that are formed for singing, dancing, debauchery, and sensuality.
Also, there might be some songs that do not deviate one from his/her moderate mood but are common for gatherings of merrymaking and sin. Those are also known as ghina.
Have you ever seen in some concerts, how the audience lose their mind and apart from dancing or crying with the song, they shout or faint out of rapture? This kind of singing is ghina, and those sorts of gatherings are referred to as gatherings of merrymaking and sin. Any kind of singing that changes the normal and rational mood of a person is ghina .
Ghina is the type of song that is branded for amusement gatherings and parties.
Ghina is related to the type of song; meaning that if the lyrics of a song convey positive messages to the listener but the music of the song is jaunty, it makes that music forbidden (Haram) .
Ghina is when the lyrics of a song are about describing the beauties of a woman (whether physical or erotic description), or it has been written about wine, or dance or other prohibited (Haram) things in Islam .
Ghina is any song that changes the mood of the listener; makes him/her either happy or sad; any music or song that makes a gap between the present moods of the listener with his/her “real self” and weakens the control of the person over her speech or behavior.
Ghina is the sort of song that has such hopeless content, which destroys the positive motivations of the listener.
Ghina is any kind of song that by content, lyrics, or the specific sound of the musical instrument can arouse sexual temptation.
Having mentioned the criteria of forbidden (Haram) singing, we can say that those songs which do not contain the conditions mentioned above are lawful (Halah).
Overall, if the listener maintains that as per common view they are not enraptured, there is no problem in listening to the songs (with or without music). Thus, neither the intention of the singer nor the content have anything to do with this ruling .
In the matter of listening to a woman reciting poetry and other material with rising and falling her voice to the accompaniment of music, if the vocalization does not amount to ghina, listening to it is not driven by lust, and does not lead to a bad consequence, there is no problem in listening to it for women. If a woman’s signing is sexually exciting or listening to it leads to vile consequences, it is not allowed to listen to it at all. 
Regarding women’s singing to be heard by men, if it is not ghina and is not intended for questionable purposes or does not lead to vile consequences, as long as it is not sexually erotic, it is not forbidden (Haram). But as it often happens that listening to the beautiful voice of women is joyful for men, it is better if women do not sing for men and for men not to listen to women singing.
- Ma’aref and Ma’arief, vol. 8, p. 283
- singing in Islam
- Rouhollah Khaleghi, An overview of music, p.4
- muslim singing
- Sayyid Mujtaba Husseini, Questions and Answers by Students (Rules regarding Music), pg. 40-42
- Art from the point of view of the supreme leader, p. 32-4
- Tafsir –e Qartabi, vol. 7, p. 5136
- Are Muslim allowed to sing?
For modern people who live in this era and feel that their smart devices can solve all of their problems, it may be a question that why they should follow a religion like Islam, while they are pros.
It is true that the power of human intellect and thought is useful in different dimensions of his life such as: choosing friends, finding a spouse, selecting a job, or making decisions for going on a trip, or more importantly standing against unrighteousness and oppression. In all of these minor decisions, human beings, using their intellect, make plans and take it into action.
Some people believe that the human being is capable of managing his life, solely by using his intellect. But the fact is that human being is still an unknown creature, and the more we become acquainted with him, the more undiscovered talents and capabilities we find within him. Now, could a creature that is still unknown to himself and his kind, be able to dominate all aspects of his creation, and manage his life into reaching the happiness? Can human, who is still unknown to himself, realize what is good or bad for him and find his way towards happiness or misery?
Putting the individual aspects aside, the human is a social creature, with social needs, and in his social life, he would face lots of problems and issues. And because he is a human, his happiness, misery, ambitions, his criteria of good and evil, and his path is mixed up with other people’s happiness, misery, ambitions, criteria of good and evil, and other people’s paths. Therefore, he is not able to choose an individual path towards happiness and let others alone. But he should find his salvation and happiness in a path through which all people can reach eternal happiness.
And when it comes to the afterlife and eternal life of the soul, it becomes even more complicated as human intellect has no experience of the unseen. Therefore, the need for a life structure or an ideology comes up; a coherent, comprehensive plan that aims to guide human into perfection; a framework that shows the right and wrong, good and evil, goals and tools, pains and cures, responsibilities and duties.
All the guidelines mentioned above are delivered to human beings by God’s messengers in a framework called religion (Shari’ah).
Some people think that in the modern era that human beings have reached high levels of technology, religion is no more efficient for them. But the fact is that modern technology cannot supersede human’s need for religion for a better life. Humankind needs religion in both social and individual life. Religion is also required to make a bond between man and the creator.
It is not easy to point out all the benefits that religion can have for human beings. Some people can point out the disadvantage of religion that in some areas limits their freedom. But it is important to keep in mind that religion, like any other system of law, is not there to give complete freedom to people.
In all societies, laws are there to make the life safer and easier for all the people in the society. This safety may not be reachable but to limit the freedom of those who wish to break the social norms. Therefore, the rulings of religion will sometimes limit the freedom of individuals for the benefit of the whole society.
Most of the people who do not believe in religion, and as a result do not believe in the afterlife will at some point feel absurd and void; even those who are very successful in their worldly life. The main reason for that is the contradiction that non-religious people feel inside them. It is the contradiction between their great and unlimited talents and desires with the limited and mortal life of this world.
But when people have faith in the afterlife, and that nothing in this world has been created vain and pointless, they will try their best for the unlimited success, part of which they may gain in this world, and the whole in real life: “The life of this world is nothing but diversion and play, but the abode of the Hereafter is indeed Life (itself), had they known!” (29: 64)
When people follow a religion and believe that their religious lifestyle, and following the rules and frameworks of their religion will lead them toward eternal bliss, their reactions towards problems and challenges of this life will be different. Of course, everyone in this world will go through hardship and sorrows. But they are only to strengthen them for the higher levels of life.
Therefore, those who believe in God and the afterlife, when facing a problem, instead of fearing and mourning on it, will choose a more logical way to tackle their problems. Because they know it is a test for them to improve their spiritual and even their worldly position.
People who keep denying religion and its power to make human successful and powerful in every aspect will spend a whole life in bewilderment. They may reach great positions in this life, but because they do not have an eternal goal, they will feel absurd at some point. Living life with the no belief in eternal life will lead people to absurdity, depression, meaningless life and finally it may lead them to suicide.
However, you should keep in mind that only saying that “we are religious” is not going to make us successful. Maybe that is why followers of many religions do not reach the great success and peace. Achieving the eternal bliss and success through religion is only possible by obeying and following every single rule that religion has prescribed for us. Otherwise, it will be like going to the GP and getting a prescription without using it. Would we ever gain our health back?
Therefore, as narrated from our prophet (PBUH&HP) To be a religious person is to believe in that religion by heart, and to manifest the belief by tongue and to practice the rules of religion in full. 
- The Quran, Chapter 29, verse 64
- Esfahani, R. Mu’jam-e Mufradaat-e Alfaaz-e Quran, p. 22
Imam Hussain (AS) is one of the important figures in Islam whose brilliant and lofty character together with his inspiring movement has been praised by many famous characters of the world. In this regard, Mahatma Gandhi said that: “My admiration for the noble sacrifice of Imam Hussein (AS) as a martyr abounds, because he accepted death ..., but did not submit to unjust authorities. I learned from Hussain how to attain victory while being oppressed.” . Antoine Bara, a thinker, scholar, Christian and Syrian who wrote a book titled, “Imam Hussein in Christian ideology,” said that: “I am a Christian but call on humanity to follow the holiness of Imam Hussein as he is the conscience of all religions.” . These quotes and others indicate that Imam Hussain (AS) is not an exclusive role model for Shi’a or Muslims, but belongs to the whole world. One might ask in what ways is Imam Hussain’s (AS) uprising an inspiration for human beings. We try to explain that through the following lines.
Yazid’s reign was corrupted and illegitimate from the beginning. According to the peace treaty made between Imam Hassan (AS) and Mu’awiyah, the latter was forbidden to designate anyone as his successor after his death. But after the martyrdom of Imam Hassan (AS), Mu’awiyah broke the treaty. He appointed his son Yazid as his successor because he thought no one would be courageous enough to object to the decision of caliph. Hence, Yazid became caliph illegally after the death of Mu’awiyah . Besides, according to historical resources, Yazid had a corrupted immoral character. He dared to act against Islamic rulings openly and perform forbidden deeds (Haram) in Islam publicly .
Imam Hussain (AS) was observant and aware of Yazid’s acts and intention. So, he refrained from pledging allegiance to Yazid. Moreover, oppression, tyranny, unjust use of public property, etc. had made life miserable for people . Imam Hussain (AS) believed that Yazid’s manner and governing style was obviously against Islamic teachings and would eventually alter and spoil Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH&PH) Sunnah. Hence, he stood up against Yazid to prove that his reign was illegitimate and to unravel the truth. Therefore, he (AS) said that he would never take the oath of allegiance to Yazid, even if there would be nowhere safe on the earth for him to go . He never intended to take on the leadership and come to power, instead aimed at eliminating injustice and corruption.
One might wonder why Imam Hussain (AS) did not pledge allegiance to Yazid to calm down his hostility so that he would have more time to make plans and find more companions to defeat Yazid. The reason was that Yazid’s behavior and deeds were too far from true Islamic principles and moral values such that Imam (AS) could not ignore them. Moreover, he (AS) did not want to play a trick as it is denounced in Islam.
Imam (AS) had other possibilities to defeat Yazid and take over the leadership, but he (AS) refused to do so. Through his missionary in Kufa, Muslim ibn Aqil, Imam (AS) could kill Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad [i] before the battle of Karbala and before the enemy declared war against them. But, as a man who had stood up for justice, he did not act unfairly. Imam’s (AS) reaction was in the same manner as well; before the battle started when the enemy was fewer in number and easier to defeat, one of his (AS) companions recommended fighting them. He (AS) replied that he would rather defend if a war were imposed on him instead of initiating it. Moreover, when the enemy was impatient to start the battle, he (AS) did his best to prevent it by negotiating and bringing awareness to them by revealing the truth .
These examples demonstrate that Imam (AS) did not want to reign at any price; the same was true for other Infallible Imams (AS). This is of the traits of true divine leaders; unlike oppressive unjust powers. They never take the lead, whatever the cost.
Up to now, we found out about two reasons that make Imam Hussain’s (AS) uprising a worldwide inspiration. Firstly, one should be alert and sensitive to what happens around him\her. Then, to take the right action for the sake of justice and humanity. Secondly, even if one holds a noble intention, it does not mean that he\she is allowed to achieve that by any means; the end does not justify the means.
Imam Hussain’s (AS) movement has other lessons for human beings that we will discuss in the second part of this title.
[i] The governor of Kufa during the reigns of Yazid, who executed Aqil, sent troops to intercept Imam Hussain (AS) when he arrived near Kufa and was one of the leaders of the battle against Imam (AS) in Karbala.