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?
When Western people travel to eastern Islamic countries, they often prefer to eat the folk and favorite local food of the region. But what is it that makes western Muslims starve for a KFC classic chicken–on–the–bone bucket meal, or a McDonalds’ double burger if they don’t eat meat?! Muslims are Muslims, not vegetarians and eating meat in Islam is allowed, But like the followers of other religions who have specific slaughtering rituals, Muslims also have explicit rulings for slaughtering particular animals to make it lawful (Halal).
As it is defined in the Quran, believers are welcomed to enjoy all of the blessings of this world . Therefore, about eating meat, Allah does not mention what to eat, but He excludes what is not lawful to eat and maybe physically or spiritually harmful to the human's body and soul. "You are permitted animals of grazing livestock, except what is [now] announced to you…" (5:1) and what is recited as prohibited is mentioned in the Quran as below:
You have prohibited carrion, blood, the flesh of swine, and what has been offered to other than Allah, and the animal strangled or beaten to death, and that which dies by falling or is gored to death, and that which is mangled by a beast of prey— barring that which you may purify —and what is sacrificed on stone altars [to idols], and that you should divide by raffling with arrows...(5:3).
Other than the mentioned meats all other kinds of meat are Halal as described in the Quran: Say, ‘I do not find in what has been revealed to me that anyone is forbidden to eat anything except carrion or spilled blood, or the flesh of swine—for that is indeed unclean—or an impiety offered to other than Allah.’ But should someone be compelled, without being rebellious or aggressive, indeed your Lord is all-forgiving, all-merciful’ (6:145).
Please note that all kinds of lawful (Halal) meat must be slaughtered according to Islamic rulings: “Do not eat [anything] of that over which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned, and that is indeed transgression…” (6:121).
Even the above mentioned prohibited meats are lawful (Halal) while you are living in a problematic situation and following the rules of Islam will put you in extreme difficulty. Please note that difficulty does not mean that you do not have ready food at home and therefore you may eat forbidden (Haram) meat. A difficulty, as written in Islamic jurisprudence, is when one’s life is at risk, and there is no other food available but forbidden (Haram) meat.
A Detailed Description of Lawful (Halal ) and Forbidden (Haram ) meats
To be more precise on which meat is lawful, let’s have a review of the Islamic jurisprudence.
Fish that have scales are the only type of Halal sea creatures. Other sea creatures and fish are Haram .
Among all domestic land creatures; sheep, cow, and camel are Halal, but eating the meat of horse and donkey is detestable (Makruh). The rest of domestic land creatures such as dogs, cats, etc. are forbidden (Haram).
Deer, cow, zebra, mountain goat, and wild donkey are all Halal. However, eating the meat of wild predatory animals that are predatory in essence, have strong and sharp nails, claws, and fangs such as, lions, leopards, cheetahs, wolves, or animals with less sharp fangs such as foxes and hyenas as well as rabbits, while not part of the predatory category, are considered Haram.
Also, insects and reptiles, such as snakes, mice, lizards, hedgehogs, fleas, lice, etc., are all Haram. Animals who have undergone metamorphosis (maskh) [i] such as, elephants, monkeys, bears, etc. are Haram as well .
Birds that flap their wings more than they glide while flying are Halal, but birds that glide and spread their wings more while flying in the air instead of flapping their wings are Haram. Also, birds with gizzards and spurs at the back of their feet are Halal [ii] .
All insects are Haram [iii] .
It is permissible to eat Halal meat cooked or uncooked or even burned (as long as it has no harm to human health) .
Please note that the rules of slaughtering and eating hunted meat are slightly different from all the rulings mentioned above, and we will discuss that in a separate article.
"For every nation, We have appointed a rite so that they might mention Allah’s Name over the livestock He has provided them" (22:34).
Although Jews have their specific rules of slaughtering that have many similarities to the Islamic rulings, as there are minor differences in the slaughtering of Jews and Muslims, therefore kosher meat is not lawful (Halal) for Muslims .
[i] In Arabic, Maskh means for something to change form to an uglier one. In the Quran and Islamic tradition, this term refers to a specific divine punishment that was sent upon the wrongdoers and wrongdoing nations in the past (of course not all wrongdoers, but those who committed certain wrong acts) which can be called metamorphosis .
[ii] Birds with sharp claws such as eagles, hawks, falcons, etc. are Haram.
[iii] If a locust is caught by hand or any other means, it is lawful (Halal) (after dying) .
- “Say, who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which he has produced for his servants and the good (lawful) things of provision?”(7:32)
- Imam Khomeini, Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 2, pg. 137, the book of foods and drinks, issue 2; al-Mukhtasar al-Nafi’, pg. 251; Sharayi’ al-Islam, pg. 169.
- food in Islam
- Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pg. 603.
- Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pg. 593, issue 2622.
- Imam Khomeini, Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 2, pg. 162
- Halal food
- halal food in Islam
As explained in the first part of the topic, Islam has spread much more quickly compared to other religions all over the world. The traits of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) were introduced as one of the reasons. Here, the effect of the scientific and social interactions with the rest of the world throughout the Islam's history is discussed.
As an introduction, it is good to know that Islam has adopted two types of regulations; confirmed rules and established ones. The Islamic approach regarding the confirmed rules -the regulations which existed before and were conserved or revised if needed- is one of the keys to the development and permanence of Islam. And, this will be the focus of this article.
The Islamic approach to the habits and rules that were common in the pre-Islamic era was that it neither opposed them totally nor accepted them entirely. In some cases, Islam has affirmed and preserved some rules. That was when those rules or customs were not in contradiction to the social order and the living facilities of humans or in case of the righteous customs and traditions that existed before the emergence of Islam; e.g., some of the rules on making contracts.
However, some of the useful regulations required to be revised and this was accomplished by adding some conditions. On the contrary, some customs and routines were opposed and removed due to the bugs and disadvantages or because they were manipulated or misused for personal benefits; e.g., usury (Riba) .
The rules conserved by Islam, such as those about the ownership and property, are called confirmed rules. On the other hand, the rules instituted by the Islamic jurisprudence which never existed before are called established rules . This demonstrates that Islam has always been in constant interaction with the world, and the positive aspects of human societies are considered. Hence, the message of Islam and its framework have not been far from what people are familiar. This consequently has made it easier to accept Islam.
Islam has urged everyone to seek knowledge. The first verse of the Quran revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) enjoined reading which is the key to knowledge: “Read in the Name of your Lord who created” (96:1). Literacy and having knowledge are so important in Islam that Quran equals illiteracy to being in darkness. According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), seeking knowledge is obligatory (Wajib) for every Muslim and God loves those who seek knowledge .
Learning and seeking knowledge have been emphasized such that Muslims have been encouraged even to travel in order to learn things. Imam Ali (AS) recommended traveling to acquire privilege and named gaining knowledge as one of the achievements of traveling . Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) advised seeking knowledge even if for that purpose one should go to the lands far away .
The Holy Quran also addresses the believers as those who are not affected by the wrong behaviors of others since they have been guided. So, the believers can peacefully learn from the positive aspects of others. Another proof of the attention paid to knowledge in Islam is that Muslims used to release the prisoners of wars who taught literacy to a certain number of Muslims. All these emphases and recommendations have urged Muslims to travel to gain knowledge. As a result, Muslims who traveled to other places and countries were practically the messengers of Islam there, which, in consequence, accelerated the spread of Islam.
The actual advances all over the world are the outcomes of the efforts that various nations and civilizations have made in the course of time, among which are the Islamic civilizations . Muslims in different countries, like Spain and Italy, have always been in interaction with other people; therefore, they could transfer the Islamic civilization and culture to others and also receive from them. As an instance, in the battle of the Trench (Khandaq), Salman Farsi proposed to dig a trench around Medina.
This was a tested strategy in Persia, and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) accepted it. Many of the important Arabic resources and books were translated into European languages, some of which were later on taught and used as references in scientific centers in non-Muslim countries. The bonds between Muslims and Christians through marriage [i] and social relationships were of other means to expose non-Muslims to Islam . All these factors have helped the quick spread of Islam.
From what has been discussed, we can see that the Islamic approach of making regulations under the form of confirmed rules, the encouragement to obtain knowledge and literacy, and cultural exchanges with the rest of the world played significant roles in attracting many savants and people to the religion of Islam.
[i] This kind of marriage named Interreligious marriage is permitted in Islam under the certain conditions.