Pop culture in name of Islam

I feel very uncomfortable about the pop culture which is growing around some so-called Nasheed artists. Of course I use the term ‘Nasheed artists’ very lightly. Islamic ‘boy bands’ and Muslim ‘popsters’ would probably be more appropriate.

Eminent scholars throughout history have often opined that music is haram, and I don’t recall reading anything about the Sahaba whooping it up to the sound of music. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for people letting off steam, but in a dignified manner and one which is appropriate to their surroundings.

The reason I am expressing concern is that just a few days ago at a venue in Central London, sisters went wild in the aisles as some form of pop-mania swept through the concert venue. And I’m not just talking about silly, little girls who don’t know any better; I am talking about sisters in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, who squealed, shouted, swayed and danced. Even the security guys who looked more like pipe cleaners than bulldozers were left looking dazed and confused as they tried to stop hijabi sisters from standing on their chairs. Of course the stage groupies did not help at all as they waved and encouraged the largely female Muslim crowd to “get up and sing along.” (They’re called ‘Fluffers’ in lap-dancing circles!)

The source of all this adulation was British-born Sami Yusuf, who is so proud of his claret-colored passport that he wants us all to wave the Union Jacks. I’m amazed he didn’t encourage his fans to sing “Land of Hope and Glory.” Brother Sami asked his audience to cheer if they were proud to be British ,and when they responded loudly, he said he couldn’t hear them and asked them to cheer again.

How can anyone be proud to be British? Britain is the third most hated country in the world. The Union Jack is drenched in the blood of our brothers and sisters across Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine. Our history is steeped in the blood of colonialism, rooted in slavery, brutality, torture, and oppression. And we haven’t had a decent game of soccer since we lifted the World Cup in 1966.

Apparently Sami also said one of the selling points of Brand UK was having Muslims in the Metropolitan Police Force! Astafur’Allah! Dude, these are the same cops who have a shoot-to-kill policy and would have gunned down a Muslim last year if they could tell the difference between a Bangladeshi and a Brazilian. This is the same police force that has raided more than 3000 Muslim homes in Britain since 9/11. What sort of life is there on Planet Sami, I wonder? If he is so proud to be British, why is he living in the great Middle Eastern democracy of Egypt?

Apparently the sort of hysteria Sami helped encourage is also in America, and if it is happening on both sides of the Atlantic, then it must be creeping around the globe and poisoning the masses. Islamic boy bands like 786 and Mecca 2 Medina are also the subject of the sort of female adulation you expect to see on American Pop Idol or the X-Factor. Surely Islamic events should be promoting restrained and more sedate behavior.

Do we blame the out-of-control sisters? Or do we blame the organizers for allowing this sort of excessive behavior which demeans Islam? Or do we blame the artists themselves?

Abu Ali and Abu Abdul Malik, struggling for their Deen, would certainly not try to whip up this sort of hysteria. Neither would the anonymous heroic Nasheed artists who sing for freedom; check out Idhrib Ya Asad Fallujah, and you will know exactly what I mean.

Fallujah is now synonymous with the sort of heroic resistance that elevated the Palestinians of Jenin to the ranks of the resistance written about in the Paris Communeand the Siege of Leningrad. The US military has banned the playing of any Nasheeds about Fallujah because of the power and the passion it evokes.

If those Nasheeds had sisters running in the streets whooping and dancing, however, the Nasheeds may be encouraged because of haram activity surrounding them.

Quite frankly, I really don’t know how anyone in the Ummah can really let go and scream and shout with joy at pleasure domes when there is so much brutality and suffering going on in the world today.

The rivers of blood flow freely from the veins of our brothers and sisters from across the Muslim world. Screaming and shouting the names of musical heroes drown out the screams coming from the dungeons of Uzbekistan where brothers and sisters are boiled alive in vats of water.

How many will jump up and down and wave their arms in the air, shouting wildly for justice for our kin in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Palestine, and Iraq? There are many more killing fields as well across the Asian and Arab world. Will you climb on theatre chairs and express your rage over Guantanamo Bay and other gulags where our brothers and sisters are being tortured, raped, sodomized, beaten, and burned?

Or will you just switch off this concerned sister and switch on to the likes of Sami Yusuf because he can sell you a pipe dream with his soothing words and melodic voice?

Oh, Muslims, wake up! The Ummah is not bleeding; it is hemorrhaging.
Listen not to what is haram. Listen to the pain of your global family.

Yvonne Ridley

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Pop culture in name of Islam

  1. Pingback: The dancing Hijabi sisters at Ijtema

  2. Abu Jafar

    Praise be to Allaah.

    The aayaat of the Qur’aan and the Ahaadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) indicate that musical instruments are condemned, and warn us against them. The Qur’aan teaches that playing these instruments is one of the things that leads people astray and constitutes mockery of the Signs of Allaah. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “And of mankind is he who purchases idle talk to mislead (men) from the Path of Allaah, without knowledge, and takes it (the Path of Allaah, the Verses of the Qur’aan) by way of mockery. For such there will be a humiliating torment (in the Hell-fire).” [Luqmaan 31:6]

    Most of the scholars interpreted lahw al-hadeeth (“idle talk”) as meaning singing and musical instruments, and every voice that diverts people from the truth.

    Al-Tabari (Jaami’ al-Bayaan, 15/118-119), Ibn Abi’l-Dunya (Dham al-Malaahi, 33) and Ibn al-Jawzi (Talbees Iblees, 232) all reported that concerning the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):

    “[Allaah said to Shaytaan;] ‘And istafziz [literally means befool them gradually] those whom you can with your voice, make assaults on them with your cavalry and your infantry, mutually share with them wealth and children, and make promises to them.’ But Shaytaan promises them nothing but deceit” [al-Isra’ 17:64]

    Mujaahid said, “This refers to singing and flutes.”

    Al-Tabari reported that al-Hasan al-Basri said:

    “His voice is the tambourine.”

    Ibn al-Qayyim said in Ighaathat al-Lahfaan (1/252):

    “The grammatical structure here (idaafah – genitive or possessive) is used to make something specific (idaafat al-takhsees), and in all these words in the aayah it refers back to the Shaytaan [addressed here as ‘you’ by Allaah, may He be glorified]. Everyone who speaks about anything other than obedience of Allaah or plays a reed pipe, flute, tambourine or drum, all of this is the voice of Shaytaan.”

    Al-Tirmidhi reported in his Sunan (no. 1005) from Ibn Abi Layla from ‘Ata’ from Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) went to to al-Nakhl with ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn ‘Awf, when his son Ibraaheem was dying. He took the child in his lap and his eyes filled with tears. ‘Abd al-Rahmaan said, ‘Are you weeping when you have forbidden us to weep?’ He said, ‘I do not forbid weeping. What I have forbidden is two foolish and evil kinds of voices: voices at times of entertainment and play and the flutes of the Shaytaan, and voices at times of calamity and scratching the face and rending the garments and screaming.’”

    Al-Tirmidhi said: this is a hasan hadeeth. It was also reported by al-Haakim in al-Mustadrak, no. 1683, al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan al-Kubra (4/69), al-Tayaalisi in Musnad (no. 1683) and by al-Tahhaawi in Sharh al-Ma’aani, 4/29, and it was classed as hasan by al-Albaani.

    Al-Nawawi said: “What is meant here is singing and musical instruments.” See Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi, 4/88.

    It was reported in a saheeh hadeeth from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “In my ummah there will be people who allow fornication/adultery (zina), silk, wine and musical instruments [ma’aazif]. Some people will stay at the side of a mountain, and they will have flocks of sheep. When a poor person comes in the evening to ask them for something he needs, they will say. ‘Come back to us tomorrow.’ Then during the night Allaah will destroy them by causing the mountain to fall upon them, while He changes others into apes and swine. They will remain in such a state until the Day of Resurrection.’”

    (Reported by al-Bukhaari in al-Saheeh mu’allaqan, 51/10. Reported mawsoolan by al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan al-Kubra, 3/272; al-Tabaraani in al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer, 3/319; and Ibn Hibbaan in al-Saheeh (8/265-266). Classed as saheeh by Ibn al-Salaah in ‘Uloom al-Hadeeth (32), Ibn al-Qayyim in Ighaathat al-Lahfaan (255) and Tahdheeb al-Sunan (5/270-272), al-Haafiz in al-Fath (10/51) and al-Albaani in al-Saheehah (1/140)).

    Al-Haafiz said in al-Fath (10/55): Ma’aazif refers to musical instruments. Al-Qurtubi reported from al-Jawhari that ma’aazif meant singing, and what it says in his book al-Sihaah is that it refers to musical instruments. It was also said that it is the sound of musical instruments. In a footnote by al-Dimyaati it says: ma’aazif is tambourines and other kinds of drums. The word ‘azif is applied to singing and all other kinds of instruments that may be played.

    Ibn al-Qayyim said in Ighaathat al-Lahfaan (1/256):

    The evidence for this is that ma’aazif refers to all kinds of things used for entertainment. There is no dispute among scholars of the Arabic language on this point. If they were halaal, he would not have condemned those who permitted them, or compared permitting them to permitting wine and zina.

    We may understand from the hadeeth that all kinds of musical instruments are forbidden. This is clear from the hadeeth for a number of reasons:

    The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said “… there will be people who allow…” It is clear that the things listed here, including musical instruments, are forbidden in sharee’ah, but those people will allow them.

    He compared musical instruments to things that are definitely known to be haraam, namely zina and alcohol. If instruments were not haraam, he would not have made this comparison. The evidence of this hadeeth that singing is haraam is definitive. Even if no other hadeeth or aayah spoke about musical instruments, this hadeeth would be sufficient to prove that they are haraam, especially the kind of singing that is known among people nowadays, the essence of which is obscenity and foul talk, based on all kinds of musical instruments such as guitars, drums, flutes, ouds, zithers, organs, pianos, violins and other things that make it more enticing, such as the voices of these effeminate singers and whores.

    (See Hukm al-Ma’aazif by al-Albaani, Tas-heeh al-Ahkta’ wa’l-Awhaam al-Waaqi’ah fi Ahaadeeth al-Nabi ‘alayhi’l-salaam by Raa’id Sabri, 1/176).

    Shaykh Ibn Baaz said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 3/423-424):

    “Ma’aazif refers to singing and musical instruments. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told us that at the end of time there will come a people who will allow these things just as they will allow alcohol, zina and silk. This is one of the signs of his Prophethood, for all of this has happened. The hadeeth indicates that [musical instruments] are haraam, and condemns those who say they are halaal, just as it condemns those who say that alcohol and zina are allowed. The aayaat and ahaadeeth that warn against singing and musical instruments are many indeed. Whoever claims that Allaah has allowed singing and musical instruments is lying and is committing a great evil. We ask Allaah to keep us from obeying our desires and the Shaytaan. Even worse and more seriously sinful than that are those who say it is mustahabb. Undoubtedly this stems from ignorance about Allaah and His Religion; it is insolent blasphemy against Allaah and lying about His Laws. What is mustahabb is to beat on the daff [simple hand drum] at weddings. This is mustahabb for women only, in order to announce the wedding and to distinguish it from fornication. There is nothing wrong with women singing amongst themselves, accompanied by the daff, so long as the songs contain no words that encourage evil or distract people from their duties. It is also a condition that this should take place among women only, and there should be no mixing with men. It should also not cause any annoyance or disturbance to neighbours. What some people do, of amplifying such singing with loudspeakers is evil, because of the disturbance it causes to other Muslims, neighbours and others. It is not permissible for women, in weddings or on other occasions, to use any instrument other than the daff, such as the oud, violin, rebab (stringed instrument) and so on. This is evil, and the only concession that women are given is that they may use the daff.

    As for men, it is not permissible for them to play any kind of musical instrument, whether at weddings or on any other occasion. What Allaah has prescribed for men is training in the use of instruments of war, such as target practice or learning to ride horses and competing in that, using spears, shields, tanks, airplanes and other things such as cannons, machine guns, bombs and anything else that may help jihaad for the sake of Allaah.”

    Shaykh al-Islam said in al-Fataawa (11/569):

    “I know that in the ‘golden age’, the first and best three centuries, in the Hijaaz, in Syria, in the Yemen, in Egypt, in the Maghreb, in Iraq, in Khorasan, none of the religious and righteous people, the ascetics and those who worshipped Allaah much, would gather to listen to this whistling and clapping and drum-beating and so on. This was innovated after that at the end of the second century, and whenever the imaams saw it, they denounced it.”

    As for these anaasheed which are described as “Islamic” but are accompanied with musical instruments, giving them this name lends them some measure of legitimacy, but in fact they are singing and music, so calling them Islamic nasheeds is falsehood and deception. They cannot be a substitute for singing, as an evil thing cannot be substituted for another evil thing. We should replace something evil with something good. Listening to it on the grounds that it is Islamic and an act of worship is bid’ah, and Allaah does not allow this. We ask Allaah to keep us safe and sound.

    For more information, see:

    Talbees Iblees (237) and al-Madkhil by Ibn al-Haaj (3/109); al-Amr bi’l-Ittibaa’ wa’l-Nahy ‘an al-Ibtidaa’ by al-Suyooti (99 ff); Dham al-Malaahi by Ibn Abi’l-Dunya; al-I’laam bi-anna al-‘Azif haraam by Abu Bakr al-Jazaa’iri; Tanzeeh al-Sharee’ah ‘an al-Aghaani al-Khalee’ah wa Tahreem Aalaat al-Tarab by al-Albaani.

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