The Medical Benefits of Taraweeh Prayers

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 19 July 2013 | Posted in , , ,

Muslims perform five daily contact prayers (Salaat) and voluntary prayers (Sunnah, Nafl) throughout the year and Taraweeh prayers during the month of Ramadan. This results in moderate physical exercise particularly to every muscle in the body.

By Ibrahim B. Syed

Muslims derive therapeutic and spiritual benefits starting from the Wudu to the physical movements in the Salaat - Takbir, Qiyam, Ruku, Sajda, Jalsa, and Tasleems. Muslims perform five daily contact prayers (Salaat) and voluntary prayers (Sunnah, Nafl) throughout the year and Taraweeh prayers during the month of Ramadan. This results in moderate physical exercise particularly to every muscle in the body. Some muscles contract isometrically (same length) and some contract in approximation or isotonically (same tension). The energy needed for the muscle during exercise is met by a process known as glycogenolysis. The rate of muscle metabolism increases during the performance of Salaat, resulting in a relative deficiency of oxygen and muscle nutrients. In turn this deficiency causes vasodilation - an increase in the calibre of blood vessels - thereby allowing blood to flow easily back to the heart. The temporarily increased load on the heart acts to strengthen the heart muscle and to improve the circulation within the heart muscle.

During the month of Ramadan, additional prayers are performed after Salaatul Ishaa, called Taraweeh prayers which vary from 8 rakat (unit of prayer) to 20 rakat with a few minutes break after every 4 rakat for chanting and extolling the Majesty of Allah. After Iftar (breaking of fast) the blood glucose level continues to rise from the food ingested. Just before the Iftar meals, the blood glucose and insulin levels are at their lowest level. After an hour or so after the Iftar meal, the blood glucose begins to rise and also plasma insulin. Liver and the muscles take up the circulating glucose. The blood sugar reaches high levels in an hour or two and the benefits of Taraweeh prayers come into effect. The circulating glucose is metabolised into carbon dioxide and water during the Taraweeh prayers.

Hence the Taraweeh prayers help in expending the extra calories and improve flexibility, coordination, reduce stress-related autonomic responses in healthy persons, and relieve anxiety and depression.

Physical and Emotional Well-Being

The gentle exercises performed in Taraweeh prayers improve physical fitness, emotional well-being and increase the longevity of the Namazi (one who performs the Salaat or Namaz). When a little extra effort is made, as in performing the Taraweeh prayers, there will be a betterment in the endurance, stamina, in flexibility and strength. It was noted that the five daily prayers (Salaat) produce the same physiological changes without any undesirable side effects as those produced by jogging or walking at about three miles per hour. Recent research studies performed on 17,000 Harvard alumni who entered college between 1916-1950 give strong evidence that only moderate aerobic exercise, equivalent to jogging about 3 miles a day, promotes good health and may actually add years to life. Men who expended about 2000 kcal of energy on a weekly basis (equal to a daily 30-minute walk, run, cycle, swim, etc.,) had one-quarter to one-third lower death rates than classmates who did little or no exercise. In addition to the health-boosting qualities of the Salaat, the Namazi will be trained to be ever ready for any unexpected physical exertion such as sudden lifting of children, chairs, or catching a public transportation vehicle. The elderly will accomplish this more securely and efficiently. Hence this is an advantage for the elderly to maintain their physical fitness for a longer period of time. It has been observed that those who fast and perform the Taraweeh prayers report feeling much convalescing and robust.

The Elderly

As human beings grow older, their physiological activity diminishes, as a result their bones become thinner and if not taken care of will suffer from osteoporosis (which causes the fractures of the bones when they fall in the elderly due to a loss of bone mineral content and consequent sponginess of the bones. The bone then becomes structurally unstable, brittle and susceptible to fractures). Primary osteoporosis is most common among postmenopausal (due to reduction in oestrogen) women or those who have undergone a bilateral oophorectomy (both the ovaries removed). Women are six times more likely than men to develop Type I osteoporosis. The three major prevention strategies of osteoporosis are a high dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D, regular exercise and oestrogen replacement in postmenopausal women. The skin also becomes fragile and crinkled. The repair processes of the body become slower and immune responses are decreased. In the elderly their physical activity is reduced as a result they have lower levels of Insulin Growth Factor 1. Reserve functions of all vital organs decrease and the elderly are more susceptible to mishaps and ailments. Because of repeated and regular movements of the body during Salaat the muscle strength, tendon power, joint flexibility and the cardiovascular reserve are improved. Hence Salaat and Taraweeh prayers enable the elderly to enrich the quality of life and to meet with unforeseen difficulties such as falls which could injure their bodies. Therefore Taraweeh prayers will improve their endurance, self-respect and self-confidence in being self-reliant.

Adrenaline is secreted even by minor activity. The secretion outlasts the incitement. Even after the Taraweeh prayers are over the effects of adrenaline and noradrenaline are manifest. (Adrenaline also called epinephrine is produced by the adrenal glands. The middle part of these glands, the adrenal medulla, secretes the hormone, which is chemically almost identical to the transmitter substance noradrenaline produced at the ends of sympathetic nerves. Adrenaline secretion into the bloodstream in stress causes acceleration of the heart, constriction of arterioles, and dilation of the pupils. In addition, adrenaline produces a marked increase in metabolic rate thus preparing the body for emergency.) Even the thought or the intention of performing the Taraweeh prayers is sufficient to activate the sympathetic nervous system. Sympathetic nervous system (thoraco-lumbar nervous system) is one of the two division of the autonomic nervous system, which supplies motor nerves to the smooth muscles of internal organs and to the heart muscle. Sympathetic nerve fibres arise via spinal nerves in the thoracic and lumbar regions. Their endings release mainly adrenaline, which increases heart rate and breathing rate, raises blood pressure, and slows digestive processes, thereby preparing the body for "fight or flight" and antagonising the effects of the sympathetic nervous system. The adrenaline would redistribute the blood in the body to the active muscles, would mobilise liver glycogen if necessary in order to provide glucose for the active tissues, would diminish fatigue in skeletal muscles and would facilitate alveolar ventilation relaxing bronchiolar muscle, and would initiate cardiovascular changes. Exercise induces a more effective functioning of beta-adrenoreceptors located on cell membranes.

Beneficial effects of Gentle Exercise

The Taraweeh prayer is considered to be gentle exercise. The beneficial effects of gentle exercise on the body are many which are elaborated here.

Effects on Skeletal Muscle

Once muscles atrophy inspite of the availability of ample proteins. During the Salaat and Taraweeh, every muscle in the body contracts isotnically and others isometrically. This gentle exercise also enhances endurance and diminishes tiredness. It helps the incapacitated to make the most of their remnant capabilities. The blood flow in strung muscle is low. During the prayers the blood flow is greatly increased to the muscles. Blood flow sometimes increases even before the start of Taraweeh prayers, with just the thought of performing the Taraweeh prayers. In addition to needing fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, the human body requires minerals such as Potassium for nerve and muscle activity. It is found in fruits, meats, seafood and milk. Potassium deficiency leads to muscular and neurologic disorders. Potassium is also important in the transmission of nerve impulses and is a major positive ion in intracellular fluids. Potassium is involved in cellular enzyme activities, and it helps regulate the chemical reactions by which carbohydrates is converted to energy and amino acids are converted to protein. Also Potassium ions cause vasodilation of arterioles. During the Taraweeh prayers, systolic Blood pressure may rise (the larger number in B.P.) a little and the diastolic Blood Pressure(the lower number in B.P.) may remain unchanged or even fall. However after the Taraweeh prayers are over, the B.P. may drop to just below normal levels which is a welcome sign. Taraweeh prayers improve respiratory efficiency; circulation in the capillaries surrounding the alveoli, or air sacs, is increased, and this brings about enhanced gas exchange and deeper breathing. The increase in the maximal consumption of oxygen is what makes the Namazi feel better. Those who perform the Taraweeh prayers, apart from the prescribed Salaat, are more alert and active than those who do not perform the Taraweeh prayers, even after the age of retirement. Taraweeh prayers improve physical strength and joint stability and reduce the risk of injury to the tendons and connective tissues. After age 40, the bone mineral density falls with age. Taraweeh prayers increase bone mineral density in both menopausal and in elderly women and prevents osteoporosis and maintains normalcy in bone structures. Osteoporosis results in hip fractures in women after menopause and in elderly men. The risk of osteoporosis is substantially reduced by regular Salaat and Taraweeh prayers. The prayers improve lubrication of joints, movement, and maintain flexibility. Deep vein thrombosis (the most common cause of ulceration of the legs in the elderly) is prevented by performing Salaat and Taraweeh prayers.

Metabolic Effects

Salaat improves body weight control and expend calories without proportionate increase in appetite. A combination of moderate dietary restriction, both at the Iftar and Sahur (early morning breakfast before the start of fast) meals, accompanied by the Taraweeh prayers, should achieve weight reduction. This will also reduce both fat and body weight, but fat-free weight will remain constant or may even increase slightly. Hence during Ramadan one should not overeat at the Sahur and Iftar meals and continue to perform Salaat and Taraweeh prayers in order to lose some of the excess weight.

It is well known that exercise prevents coronary heart disease (CHD), increases high density lipo-proteins (HDL or healthy Cholesterol), increases maximum oxygen uptake, slows the heart, lowers the B.P. slightly, decreases ventricular ectopic activity, enlarges the lumen of the coronary arteries and increases cardiac output. Exercise also improves carbohydrate tolerance and improves late-onset diabetes, and helps cases of chronic respiratory diseases. Beneficial changes have been recorded in the lipid profile, B.P., clotting factors, weight reduction and insulin sensitivity of muscles and other tissues in persons who exercise regularly. Growth Hormone secretion is elevated by fasting and it is further elevated by Taraweeh prayers. As Growth Hormone is necessary for collagen formation, this may be an important factor as to why the skin of those who fast regularly during Ramadan and perform the Taraweeh prayers do not get wrinkled, even when they grow old.

Mental Health

It is a known fact that exercise improves mood, thought and behaviour. Exercise improves the quality of life, induces greater sense of well-being and energy, reduces anxiety and depression, influences mood favourably and contributes to self-esteem and an aura of confidence; improves memory in the elderly especially with constant repetition of the Ayaat (verses) from the Glorious Quran and other Ayaat which exalt His Glory. This constant repetition of the Quranic Ayaat would help to screen the mind from the incoming thoughts. It has been found by a Harvard University researcher, Dr. Herbert Benson that repetition of a prayer, Ayaat of the Quran or remembrance (Dhikr) of Allah or muscular activity coupled with passive disregard of intensive thoughts causes a "relaxation response" that leads to the lowering of Blood Pressure and decreases in oxygen consumption and a reduction in heart and respiratory rates. All these are combined in the Taraweeh prayer which is an ideal condition for "relaxation response." It combines repeated muscular activity with repetition of Salaat, chanting of words of glorification of Allah and of supplications. The Taraweeh prayer puts the mind in a relaxed state. This calm state of the mind may be partly due to the release of encephalins, beta-endorphins (endogenous morphines) and others into the blood circulation. Endorphins are any one of the neuropeptides composed of many amino acids, elaborated by the pituitary gland and acting on the central and peripheral nervous systems to reduce pain. Endorphins are categorised as alpha-endorphin, beta-endorphin, and gamma-endorphin which produce pharmacologic effects similar to morphine. Beta-endorphin found in the brain and GI(gastro-intestinal) tract is the most potent of the endorphins and is a powerful analgesic(pain killer) in humans and animals. For example during childbirth many women release endorphins reducing a woman's sensation of pain. The release of endorphins is associated with an euphoria. During childbirth, women who give birth with little or no medication sometimes label this euphoria a "birth climax."


Islam is the only religion where physical movements of Salaat and Taraweeh prayers are combined with spiritual exercise. When Salaat and Taraweeh prayers are practiced throughout a person's life, recurring every few hours or so, trains a person to undertake the difficult task of meditation during physical manoeuvres of Salaat and Taraweeh prayers, so that the Namazi(one who performs theSalaat) benefits both from spiritual as well as physical exercise. Salaat and Taraweeh prayers are unique in that tension builds up in the muscles during physical manoeuvres on the one hand, while tension is relieved in the mind due to the spiritual ingredient, on the other hand. The following benefits have been noted among those who perform the Taraweeh prayers: burning off calories and losing weight, maintaining muscle tone and body composition, joint flexibility (stiff joints are often the result of disuse, not arthritis), increasing metabolic rate, improving circulation, improving heart and lung function and aerobic capacity, decreasing heart disease risk profile, increasing your sense of self-control, reducing your level of stress, increasing your ability to concentrate, improving your appearance, reducing depression and resistance to depression, helping you sleep better and suppressing your appetite. Evidence is also accumulating that those who perform regular Salaat along with voluntary prayers can conserve and actually retard the loss of bone mass in the elderly, thus staving off the ravages of osteoporosis that afflicts both men and women. It is also possible to retard the aging process and confer some protection to health in later life. Those who have performed Salaat (Fard and Wajib), Sunnah and Nafl and Taraweeh prayers throughout life get protection and a positive effect in terms of health and longevity. They reverse the life-shortening effects of cigarette smoking and excess body weight. Even people with high blood pressure (a primary heart disease risk) reduced their death rate by one-half and their risk of dying from any of the major diseases is reduced. They also counter genetic tendencies toward an early death.

Hence Salaat (Fard, Wajib), Sunnah, Nafl and Taraweeh prayers are necessary for Muslims to preserve life and their desirable qualities into old age.

[Ibrahim B. Syed is President, Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc. (IRFI), Louisville, KY. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Science Editor. He can be contacted at islamicresearch@yahoo.com]

Education of Muslim Women

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 14 March 2012 | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Ibrahim B. Syed

In the early years of Islam, Muslim women played a role that was an envy for women of all other religious traditions.

Hazrat Khadija (R. A) was the owner of her own business and she was the first Muslim CEO (Chief Executive Officer). Muslim women played very important and varied roles. For example they became brave and heroic warriors, Judges, prolific narrators of Hadiths, leading scholars of Islam, Inspectors of Markets and occupied leading positions in other professions, too.

Muslim women have many rights and among them the first and foremost is the RIGHT AND DUTY TO OBTAIN EDUCATION. The right to work to earn money if they need it or want it.
Equality of reward for equal deeds. The right to express their opinion and be heard. And many, many more.

Causes for the Downfall

As time passed, these rights were lost or the women were unaware of them. Today Muslim women in India are largely marginalized, faceless and voiceless.

Men took advantage of the weak Hadith that says women are “Naqisul Aql” (intellectually inferior than men). On the contrary women in other communities have become heads of state, CEOs of very large companies in USA, Cabinet Ministers, Pilots, Military Generals, etc.

Families are reluctant to let their females pursue higher studies. The paramount t reason is they are afraid of looking for educated matches and secondly the husbands seeing the earnings of their wives, leave their own jobs. The concept of women as “Paraya Dhan” (woman goes to the in-laws house) has discouraged a large percentage of girls going to school. They remain at home to excel in cooking, sewing, washing, cleaning, and other chores. Elderly women say “karni to wohi chulha chakki hai” (finally as a wife and mother has to do cooking, etc). This is prevalent in almost all the Muslim countries.

U.N. statistics show that, in 2005 more than 75 million women in the Middle East and North Africa (a large part of the Muslim World) could not read or write. Afghanistan has worst case scenario when it comes to education of girls. The Taliban say “Female education is against Islamic teachings and spreads vulgarity in Society. Close girls’ schools or we will bomb them.
They did actually bomb 125 of them. In some Muslim countries women are denied to vote, to hold any political office or even to drive an automobile. Many Muslim women are losing their self-esteem and self-confidence when they are reduced to cooking and rearing role, and are treated as beasts of burden. This is contrary to amazing achievements, intellectual and otherwise, of Muslim ladies in Islamic history.

A Role Model for Muslim Women

A’isha Bint Abu Bakr (RA), Wife of Rasulullah was a great scholar in learning the Qur’an. She was an expert on lawful and unlawful manners, poetry, literature, Arab History and genealogy.

She acquired profound knowledge of medicine. She had a very sharp memory and remembered the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh) very well. Many people and scholars came to her to learn from her. She was among the great hafiz of Ahadeeth. She narrated 2,210 Ahadeeth in all. Her utterances are studied in faculties of literature, her legal pronouncements are studied in colleges of law and her life and works are studied and researched by students and teachers of Muslim history as they have been for over a thousand years.

There were several notable Muslim ladies.

The solution to the present status of Muslim women is educational empowerment that will lead to economic empowerment. It is important for them to lead a financially independent life and to advance in their careers. There is a popular saying: “When you educate a boy you educate a single individual, but when you educate a girl you educate the whole family.”

The Example of Kerala

Over 50 per cent of Muslim Women in India are illiterate today. Literate means anyone who can read and write a sentence or two. About 85 per cent of rural north Indian Muslim women are unable to read or write, whereas 88 per cent of urban South Indian women said to be literate.
According to the 2001 Census, in Kerala, the literacy rate of Muslims was 89.4 %, much higher than the national average of 64.8 %. The Muslim male literacy rate is 93.7 % while female literacy rate is 85.5 %. The secret of this revolution is Muslims have set up thousands of institutions (thanks to the money from Gulf countries) that cater to the community – not just madrasas and Masajids, but also schools, colleges, hospitals, orphanages, industrial centers, banks, newspapers and so on. In this way, the Ulema in Kerala have played a more socially engaged role compared to Muslims in the North. The Ulema in Kerala themselves are encouraging and sending their daughters to institutions that impart modern or secular education.
Now girls are taking education seriously. They want a well planned and well set life as that of the men folk. Earlier the aspirations of educated Muslim women were to become teachers. 

Now they want to become doctors, engineers, call center executives, journalists, dentists, Indian Administrative Officers, etc. etc.


Education Empowerment leads to Economic Empowerment for Muslim Women.

[Ibrahim B. Syed is President, Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc. (IRFI), Louisville, KY, USA. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Science Editor. He can be contacted at islamicresearch@yahoo.com]

Is Killing An Apostate Permissible in the Islamic Law?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 13 March 2012 | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Ibrahim B. Syed

Ridda or Irtidãd: Literally means "turning back". The act of apostasy -- leaving Islam for another religion or for a secular lifestyle.

Murtadd: Literally means "one who turns the back." An apostate.

Murtad Fitri: Literally means apostate - natural. A person born of a Muslim parent who later rejects Islam.

Murtad Milli: Literally means apostate - from the community. A person who converted to Islam and later rejected the religion.

Due lack of education and critical thinking several myths have taken root in the Muslim world over the ages, and there have not been any efforts in the past to clear these doubts. On the contrary, there has been a sort of effort to strengthen these myths and misconceptions. These misinterpretations of Islamic teachings have taken their toll on the Muslim world and have strengthened a misplaced perception that Islam is a symbol of obscurantism, a religion of intolerance and answers everything with the sword.

And there is no bigger misconception-strengthened with misunderstanding of Islamic beliefs over the years-other than the belief that Islam doesn't tolerate apostasy. The Christian missionaries and the Western world are cashing in on it. Ulama have tried to strengthen their point of view and several leading Muslim reformists have failed to tackle the issue. This misconception has also presented Islam as a medieval and killer religion. Islam bashers have time and again tried to carry the point by pointing out that Islam orders the killing of a person if he or she reverts to another religion from Islam.

Nobody is forthcoming to challenge this widely held belief as well as put forth a convincing argument about the misinterpretation of Qur'anic teachings by Ulama.

The Qur’an is completely silent on any worldly punishment for apostasy and the sole Tradition that forms the basis of rulings is open to many interpretations.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have said: ‘Whosoever changes his religion, Kill Him (man baddala Dinahu faqtuluhu)’”. It is this last quote from the Prophet that forms the basis of the said ruling.

While jurists are agreed on the authenticity of this tradition, they differ very widely on the appropriate interpretation and thus, the law concerning apostasy. Understanding the different viewpoints, and arriving at the truth is crucial to our discussion of this subject.

This tradition does not refer to Muslims who leave the religion of Islam for other religions. Finally, there is the crucial dispute over the nature of the punishment and the crime. Al-Nakha’ee and, according to Sha’rani, al-Thawri, hold that the apostate is a grave sinner who should however be continuously called back to the fold for the rest of his life, and not killed. By implication, they do not consider the offence a hadd (fixed penalty) offence with a fixed punishment that must be carried out. This view is similar to the view that apostasy is a sin that carries no fixed punishment, and any penalty for it is discretionary (ta’zeer). This is a view held by the Hanbali scholar, Ibn Taimiya and he attributes it as well to the Maliki Imam al-Baji. Among Hanafites, the jurist Shamsuddeen al-Sarakhshi holds the same view. He says in al Mabsut that the fixed penalties or hudud are generally not suspended because of repentance, especially when they are reported and become known to the Imam. He then adds in the case of apostasy “renunciation of the faith and conversion to disbelief is admittedly the greatest of offences, yet it is a matter between man and his Creator, and its punishment is postponed to the day of Judgement. (“fa’l jaza’ ‘alayha mu’akhkhar ila dar al-jaza”).

If repentance is accepted, then apostasy is not a hadd offence with a fixed punishment. Secondly, once scholars accept that a Muslim apostate has the right to be given the opportunity to repent, they lose the right to set a time limit for his repentance.

Allah (SWT) says in the Glorious Qur’an (39: 53-54: Say: “ O you servants of Mine who have transgressed against your own selves! Despair not of God’s mercy. Behold God forgives all sins, for verily He is much forgiving, a dispenser of grace! Hence, turn toward your sustainer and surrender yourselves unto him before the suffering (of death and resurrection) comes upon you for then you will not be succored.”

Any scholar who says the death sentence applies to leaving the faith, then the convict is to be given a life-time to repent, and this is the view of Sufyan al-Thawri, Ibrahim al-Nakha’ee, Shamsuddeen al-Sarakhshi, Imam al-Baji and, by strong implication, Ahmad Ibn Taimiya. One must conclude that the death sentence is not for “simple apostasy” (mujarrad al-ridda), but for apostasy accompanied by treason and sedition, or by the abuse and slander (sabb) of the Noble Prophet.

Freedom to convert to or from Islam

"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance." Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Glorious Qur'an says, "Let there be no compulsion in the religion: Surely the Right Path is clearly distinct from the crooked path." (Al Baqarah, 2:256)

"Those who believe, then disbelieve, then believe again, then disbelieve, and then increase in their disbelief - Allah will never forgive them nor guide them to the path." Surah An-Nisa', 4:137.
For example, the Qur'an says: "Let him who wishes to believe, do so; and let him who wishes to disbelieve, do so." (Al-Kahf: 29)

In another verse, Allah Almighty says: "Yours is only the duty to convey the message; you are not a guardian over them." (Al-Ghashiyah: 21- 22)

The quotation from Surah An-Nisa', 4:137, shown above, seems to imply that multiple, sequential apostasies are possible. That would not be possible if the person were executed after the first apostasy.

From the above verses it can be argued that religious freedom and the absence of compulsion in religion requires that individuals be allowed adopt a religion or to convert to another religion without legal penalty.

Hence the death penalty is not an appropriate response to apostasy.

The former Chief Justice of Pakistan, SA Rahman, has written that there is no reference to the death penalty in any of the 20 instances of apostasy mentioned in the Qur'an.

Muslims who support the death penalty for apostasy use as their foundation the above cited hadith, in which the Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said: "Kill whoever changes his religion." But this is a weak foundation because this hadith was only transmitted from Muhammad (pbuh) by one individual. It was not confirmed by a second person. According to Islamic law, this is insufficient confirmation to impose the death penalty. The Shari`ah has not fixed any punishment for apostasy.

The hadith is so generally worded that it would require the death penalty for a Christian or Jew who converted to Islam. This is obviously not the prophet's intent. The hadith is in need of further specification, which has not been documented. Many scholars interpret this passage as referring only to instances of high treason. (e.g. declaring war on Islam, Muhammad (pbuh), God, etc.).

There is no historical record, which indicates that Muhammad (pbuh) or any of his companions ever sentenced anyone to death for apostasy.

The issue of killing a murtad or the apostate is not a simple one. Scholars have debated it from various angles and it is not simply an issue of killing someone for choosing one religion or another.

The question of apostasy has been debated among scholars based on their interpretations of some hadiths since the Qur'an does not specify any worldly punishment for it. For example, there was a case at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) where a man came to him in three consecutive days and told him that he wanted to apostate. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) never took any action against him, and when the man finally left Madina, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) never sent anyone to arrest him, let alone kill him.

This is why some scholars distinguished between individual apostasy and apostasy which is accompanied by high treason. So, it cannot be confused with the freedom of conscience for every individual, which has been guaranteed in the Qur'an through hundreds of verses.
For example, one version of a hadith narrated by `A'isha (RA) concerning apostasy relates to one who left his religion and fought against Muslims.

Qur'anic Views

The Qur’an has referred to the issue of apostasy at more than one place (for example see Al-Baqarah 2: 217, Al-Baqarah 2: 108, A’l Imra’n 3: 90, Al-Nisa’ 4: 137 and Al-Nahl 16: 106). But at none of these places does the Qur’an mention the punishment of death for such people who change their religion. The Qur’an does mention that such people shall face a terrible punishment in the hereafter but no worldly punishment is mentioned at any of these instances in the Qur’an. This situation obviously raises a question mark in the mind of the reader that if Allah had wanted to give the punishment of an apostate a permanent position in the Shari`ah, the punishment should have been mentioned, at least at one of the above mentioned places. If the Qur’an had kept completely silent about the apostate, the matter would have been different. But the strange thing is that the Qur’an mentions apostasy, and still does not mention the punishment (if any) it wants the apostate to be subjected to.

Furthermore, the Qur’an has strictly disallowed the imposition of the death penalty except in two specific cases. One of them is where the person is guilty of murdering another person and the other is where a person is guilty of creating unrest in the country (fasa’d fil-ardh) like being involved in activities that create unrest in a society, for example activities like terrorism etc. The Qur’an says: "Whoever kills a person without his being guilty of murder or of creating unrest in the  land, is as though he kills the whole of mankind." (Al-Ma’idah, 5: 32)

Obviously, apostasy can neither be termed as "murder" nor "creating unrest in the land".
Thus, in view of the above facts, we are left with one option only. We can only say that either the saying has been wrongly ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh), as it is clearly contradictory to the Qur’an and the Prophet could not have said anything contradictory to the Qur’an, or that the saying ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) relates not to all apostates but to a particular and specific people.

Shaykh Subhani

Shaykh Inayatullah Subhani (author of the Book Apostasy doesn't carry death penalty in Islam) says that neither Islam forces any person to embrace neither Islam nor it forces him to remain within its fold. He writes, "Apostasy has been mentioned several times in Qur'an. It also describes the bad treatment that will be meted out for committing apostasy, but it never talks of punishment for the crime in this world." The learned scholar mentions three Ayaat (verses) from Qur'an on apostasy (Al-Baqara 217, Muhammad 25-27 and Al-Maida 54) and then says that none of these Ayaat prescribes any punishment for that though these Ayaat pass strictures on the people who commit it. There are several other Ayaat on the same issue and none of them prescribes either death penalty or any other punishment for apostasy in this world. He then adds that had there been some punishment in Islam for apostasy there was no reason as to why the issue was mentioned repeatedly in Qur'an but no punishment was prescribed.
Misinterpretation of the hadith, Man baddala Dinahu faqtuluh (kill him who changes his religion) has caused the problem. This order has been made to look general and permanent, though it was said in a particular circumstance for a particular group. Shaykh Subhani writes that this order was made to counter a scheme prepared by Jews of Madinah. They had planned that some of them embrace Islam for some time and then return to their old religion. Then some other people do the same. It was aimed to create restlessness among Muslims against their own leadership so that the strong Muslim unity should start crumbling. It was made clear in Qur'an in (Aal Imran, 3: 72-73).

To counter this planning the Prophet (SAW) ordered his companions to act in such a manner. Despite this order lengthy investigations were made to ascertain that the case was true and the person concerned was given adequate time to explain before the punishment was carried out.
Shaykh Subhani says lack of clear grasp of Qur'an misguided even leading Ulama. Otherwise it was not difficult to understand the hadith. Qur'anic teachings on the issue were not kept in mind.
He emphasizes that people who were awarded death penalty for reverting to other religions from Islam during the time of the Prophet (SAW) or during the reign of his caliphs were not given the punishment for the crime of apostasy but for the fact that they were at war with Muslims and Islamic government.

Shaykh Subhani regrets that punishment that was prescribed for certain people under special circumstances was made to look like a general order. He says that it was the order for people who posed threat to Islamic state and became at war with Islam and not for any person who reverts to other religion.

A number of Islamic scholars from past centuries, Ibrahim al-Naka'I, Sufyan al-Thawri, Shams al-Din al-Sarakhsi, Abul Walid al-Baji and Ibn Taymiyyah, have all held that apostasy is a serious sin, but not one that requires the death penalty. In modern times, Mahmud Shaltut, Sheikh of al-Azhar, and Dr Mohammed Sayed Tantawi have concurred.

In conclusion, we must never confuse the issue of killing a murtad with the freedom of conscience guaranteed in the Glorious Qur'an. For a detailed discussion, one should read (1) the Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi's book on this issue: Jareemat ar-riddah wal murtadd (The Crime of Apostasy and Apostate) - published by Ar-Risalah foundation.

(2) Apostasy doesn't carry death penalty in Islam (Book: Tabdili-e-Mazhab aur Islam) by Maulana Inayatullah Asad Subhani)-published by Idara Ihya-e-Deen, Bilariya Ganj, Azamgarh (UP, India) Pages: 108, Price Rs 30.

[Ibrahim B. Syed is President, Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc. (IRFI), Louisville, KY, USA. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Science Editor. He can be contacted at islamicresearch@yahoo.com]

Knowing the basics of Triple Talaq in Islam

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 08 March 2012 | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Ibrahim B. Syed

Talaq-i-Bid'ah means innovated (or sinful) form of Divorce. It is defined as a divorce which is pronounced thrice in one sitting when the wife is in the state of purity (tuhr), i.e., when man says: "I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you." The Hanafis believe that though this form of divorce is sinful and innovative, it is nevertheless valid and divorce will take place. According to the Hanafis when triple divorce is pronounced, the wife will become totally alienated from the husband and he cannot remarry her. She becomes haram (totally prohibited) for him. Neither can he take her back nor can he go for fresh nikah with her. He can go for nikah with her only after she marries another person and that person divorces her on account of marital conflict or she becomes a widow.

According to Maulana 'Umar Ahmad 'Usmani this is the position of not only Abu Hanifa but also of Imam Malik and Shafi'i. Imam Shafi'i says this form of divorce is perfectly valid. It is not innovation (bid'ah). It is quite proper on the part of the husband to pronounce such a divorce. No husband can be prevented from adopting a valid course. Even Imam Ahmad Hanbal's position is the same as that of Imam Hanifa and Imam Malik. Thus it 'seems that all major founders of four schools of jurisprudence accept the validity of triple divorce.'

But Imam Taymiyyah has proved that Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal had retracted from his earlier position of accepting the validity of triple divorce and in a later period he used to say that when I reflected on the Qur'anic position I came to the conclusion that it permits only raj'i Talaq, i.e., divorce in which the wife can be taken back. He then took the position that even if someone pronounces triple divorce it should be treated as one only. The husband thus will have the right to take his wife back within the 'iddah period or go for nikah if the 'iddah period has expired. Imam Ahmad's companions and disciples also adopted this position. Many companions of the Noble Prophet like Ibn Abbas, Hazrat Ali, etc. also were of this opinion. Some have quoted companions like Abdullah bin Mas'ud, Abdur Rahman bin'Auf and Zuber bin al-Awwam also adopting this position. Ahl-e-Hadith also are of this opinion, i.e., that triple divorce is not valid. The Ithna 'Asharis (i.e., twelve Shi'as) and Imamiyas believe that if three divorces are pronounced together, even one divorce does not take place, let alone three. Even some Hanafi jurists like Hajjaj bin Artat and Muhammad Ibn Muqatil believe that if one pronounces three divorces, no divorce will take place.

Maulana 'Usmani tells us that according to Muhammad Muqatil one of the two opinions of Imam Hanifa was that only one divorce will take place if three divorces are pronounced. Similarly according to Imam Tilmisani Imam Malik also held the opinion that only one divorce takes place if three divorces are pronounced. Usmani also quotes from Hafiz Ibn Hajar's Fath al-Bari to the effect that many eminent jurists held that if one pronounces three divorces, only one take place.

From among the 'ulama of later period, Sheikh Shaltut, who was Sheikh al-Azhar, writes in his Fatwa that if one gives three divorces, only one divorce Talaq-i-raj'i will take place and the husband will have the right to take his wife back by saying so or by having sexual contact with her. Another prominent 'Alim 'Allama Rashid Rida' in his Tafsir al-Manar (Vol. IX, p. 683) has expressed a similar opinion. Another contemporary eminent, Arab 'Alim Shaikh Jamal al-Din al-Qasim has discussed this problem at great length in his book al-Istinas and has concluded that triple divorce has no validity and it should be treated as one divorce only. Quoting all these authorities Maulana 'Usmani says that triple divorce is not in keeping with the rulings of the Qur'an.

After quoting all these authorities Maulana 'Usmani discusses the whole issue in the light of the Noble Qur'an. He refers to the Qur'anic verse 2: 229-30, which begins with Al-talaqu marratan, i.e., divorce may be pronounced twice. He says the word marratan implies a gap between two pronouncements (all Hanafi jurists accept this), which means there should be a large enough time-gap between the two pronouncements of divorce. Marratan (twice) itself carries this sense. When we say "I went to your house twice but you were not there" cannot mean one went to his house twice in one go but after some reasonable gap of time. Once he went, he was not there, then again he went, he was not there. Thus the act of going had to be accomplished in two different periods of time. 'Usmani then quotes other verses of the Qur'an where the word marratan occurs and explains that everywhere it implies a gap of time in between.

The question is despite triple divorce being sinful, innovative and against the Qur'an will it occur if someone pronounces triple divorce? The second question is did anyone make such mistake (of pronouncing triple divorce) in Prophet's (pbuh) time and did he accept it as triple divorce? Or did he take it to be one divorce only? Lastly, when would the practice of triple divorce start again?

In the Qur'an, nikah is described as misaqan ghaliza, i.e., strong bond and has explained how and with whom one can enter into this strong bond and this strong bond cannot be dissolved without proper reason and method. It certainly cannot be dissolved whimsically. A man has to pass through different stages to bring about reconciliation either by persuading his wife to behave properly, or by appointing arbitrators as per Qur'anic injunctions (4:35). If all this fail only then recourse can be taken to divorce. Thus, according to the Qur'an, divorce is not an arbitrary and whimsical thing. The method prescribed by the Qur'an for divorce is that one can give divorce twice only, i.e., on two different occasions and then either he has to keep the woman with kindness or leave her with benevolence. In pre-Islamic Arab society they used to pronounce divorce even one thousand times and keep the sword of divorce hanging on her head. The Qur'an disallowed it and permitted pronouncement of divorce only twice. The Maulana says that even giving divorce in three periods of purity (pronouncing divorce once in every period of purity thrice is also not proved by the Qur'an and is thus prohibited. Once talaq is pronounced once, it takes place and woman goes out of marital bond at once and is now free to marry other man after completing the period of 'iddah. Why then pronounce talaq more than once? For what reason? Repeating the word more than once is just absurd, says the Maulana. Talaq should not be pronounced more than once in any case.

He then takes up the second question-whether anyone had divorced thrice in the Prophet's period? And did he accept it? He then quotes from Sahih Muslim, Imam Abu Da'ud, etc., to show that during the Noble Prophet's time, during Hazrat Abu Bakr's time and for two years during Hazrat 'Umar's time three divorces given at a time were taken as one divorce only. But after two years of his Khilafat period Hazrat 'Umar again enforced it (i.e., triple divorce) as people were misusing it and there were several complaints.

Maulana 'Usmani quotes from Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal that once Rukanah pronounced three divorces against his wife but later he was very sorry for it. When the Prophet (pbuh) asked him, How did you divorce your wife? Rukanah replied that he had pronounced three divorces. The Prophet asked, Did you pronounce it in one sitting? When he said, Yes, the Noble Prophet said, Treat it as one divorce only and if you want you can take your wife back. And Rukanah took his wife back.

This hadith of the Prophet narrated by Ibn Abbas is found in Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abu Da'ud and other authentic collections of Hadith literature. No one has questioned its authenticity pertaining to marriage, divorce, inheritance or custody of children. In certain respects his views on the treatment of women differs radically from other traditional jurists. Also he bases his views entirely on the Qur'an and hadith, nothing else and comes to entirely different conclusions from many other noted traditional jurists. The Maulana has written his magnum opus Fiqh al-Qur'an in eight volumes. The book which is written in Urdu is a veritable treasure of Islamic jurisprudence though it is written in a traditional style and full of repetitions.

Maulana 'Usmani points out that Hazrat 'Umar had enforced triple divorce as triple divorce and it had become law. It is within the power of the caliph of the time to enforce certain ordinances in view of the prevailing situation, or to meet some crisis situation and no one can question it. It is, therefore, possible that Ibn Abbas might have given a fatwa accepting triple divorce after Hazrat 'Umar enforced the ordinance. The original hadith, accepting three divorces as one, therefore, is not affected, maintains 'Umar Ahmad 'Usmani. Thus it is proved by this hadith that during the time of the Noble Prophet triple divorce, if pronounced by someone, was accepted as one divorce only.

Then the Maulana takes up the third question- when did the triple divorce begin to be accepted as three divorces? It is well know that Hazrat 'Umar, after the initial two years of his Khilafat, had enforced triple divorce as triple divorce and no one will be permitted to take his wife back after pronouncing three divorces in one go. To substantiate his point the Maulana refers to the noted Egyptian historian Muhammad Husain Haykal's book 'Umar al-Farouq in which the author says that 'Umar made such an ijtihad (interpretation) in what is well established Qur'anic injunction in 2: 229-30 (Divorce is twice … which we have discussed in detail above) that until today we are opposing him in this matter. The Qur'an requires all attempts for reconciliation before a divorce (4:35)

Then Maulana 'Umar Ahmad further quotes from Haykal's book to show why Hazrat 'Umar was constrained to enforce triple divorce despite the Qur'anic injunction contrary to it. Muhammad Haykal says that when the Arabs conquered Iraq, Syria, Egypt, etc., the women prisoners from these regions were brought to Mecca and Medina. These women were very attractive and charming and the Arabs were captivated by their charm and wanted to marry them. But these women insisted on the men giving irreconcilable divorce to their former wives. To satisfy them they would pronounce triple divorce and pretend to having divorced their wives for good.

[Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed is Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville. He is also President, Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Science Editor. He can be contacted at irfi@iname.com. His works can also be seen on his website http://www.irfi.org]

Music and Muslims

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 06 March 2012 | Posted in , , , , ,

By Ibrahim B. Syed

Music and language are uniquely human. A world without either would be hard to imagine. "Both language and music are characteristics of the human species that seem to be universal," says the book The Musical Mind. They are aspects of our need to communicate. So it could be said that, as is true of language, when music "speaks" our emotions "listen." Music resounds through creation from the blowing wind, to the chirping birds, to the human voice and the tune of the harp. 

Music naturally occurs. The three great elemental sounds of Nature are music. Is the sound of rain, the sound of wind, and the sound of the ocean on a beach not reminiscent of an awe-inspiring rhythm? The sound produced by a rivulet cascading merrily over pebbles and stones, is music. Scientists are finding that the human brain is pre-wired for music ("Music on the Mind" by Sharon Begley. Newsweek, July 24, 2000, pp.50-52) Music is a marvelous and extremely powerful tool. The Qur'an is music. When the Qur'an is intoned with ilhaan and tajweed: is that not music? The recitation of the sacred Qur'anic text in rhythmic tones brought into being and developed the religious music of Al-Islam; this was a new branch of music. All throughout the Noble Book are images of music, such as trumpets blasting, thunder, angels singing praises, voices calling. The Arabic language lends to its prose a sweetness and melody. The Qur'an recited by the master chanter or Qari, is heard daily in many parts of the world; it is unequaled in charm and harmony. Music is one of Allah's great gifts to man, a means of rejoicing unto thy Lord, and can be used as a healing to the body, mind and spirit. Music relaxation training is used to treat many stress-related illnesses that include high blood pressure, migraine headaches and ulcers. It has direct physiological effects on people. It can make us relax or remember, or have all sorts of feelings. Music can transform an environment by changing our state of mind. The harp has long been recognized as an instrument for healing and calming the mind. It is important to use music to educate, to heal, to inspire and to unite.

Is Music Permissible?

The question whether music is permissible at all began to be debated in the first century of Islam and the debate has continued to the present day. This debate has filled thousands of pages. Early religious authorities had opposed music due to the role it had played in society. This 'new music' was related more and more with a life of pleasure and a taste of luxury. It procured connotations of flightiness and sensual indulgence, reinforced by the participation of women in music-making and by the dancing (often considered obscene) and the drinking of intoxicating beverages that were associated with it. Even the two sacred cities of Makkah and Madinah were not invulnerable from these temptations, and indeed they quickly became authentic centers of entertainment. Islamic music is divided into six periods. During the first period of Islam, and particularly during the reigns of the last two Khulafa-e-Rashideen (the rightly guided Caliphs), Hadrat Uthman(RA) and Hadrat Imam Ali(RA), Madinah became the center of intense musical activity. Despite frequent campaigns against music by the religious authorities, professional musicians were welcomed in the houses of the rich and noble, and encouraged by lavish rewards. These musicians were mainly freed slaves of Persian origin, such as Tuwais (d. 92 AH/710 AD) and Khathir (d 64 AH/683 AD), who is said to have taught Arabic music to Nasheet, the Persian slave who became a famous musician. Among the female musicians of Arab origin 'Azza al-Mayla (d. 86 AH/705 AD) occupies the first place. Her house was a real cultural salon, visited by the literary and musical elite. Some of the rhythmical modes began to crystallize during this period; its most characteristic type of song is called the al-ghina' al-mutqan. (REF. The Dimension of Sound by A. Shiloah in The World of Islam, Ed. Bernard Lewis, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, pp. 161-180, 1976)

Under the Umayyads the center of musical interest moved to the new capital, Damascus. Some of the caliphs (Khulafa) had a real passion for music; consequently musical activity increased, musicians multiplied and their social status rose. With the Abbasid dynasty the capital shifted to Baghdad. Here, during the next two centuries, Islamic music attained its highest point. This was its golden age. Musicians continued to enjoy favor at the caliphs' court and to play an important part in the country's cultural life. Society was eager for knowledge of all kinds. The study of music was now obligatory for every educated man, part of the encyclopedic learning he was expected to acquire, and in the intellectual flowering, which reached a climax in the IV/10th century music played a role. At the same time, the musician was expected to be widely cultured. Music itself became highly sophisticated and began to be the subject of learned controversies between thinkers with different artistic conceptions. The melodic and rhythmic modes were definitively codified. Theories were evolved, practice described. Instruments themselves were perfected and standards of performance rose even higher. Among the great musicians were Ibn Misjah (d.169 AH/ 785 AD), Ibn Muhriz (d, 97 AH/ 715 AD), Ibn Surayj (13-108 AH/634-726AD), al-Gharid (d. 106 AH/724 AD), Siyyat (d. 169 AH/785 AD), Zalzaal (d. 175 AH/791 AD), Mukhariq (d. 229 AH/845 AD), 'Alluya and 'Amr ibn Baanaa (d 278 AH/891 AD). Distinguished female singers were Basbas, 'Ubayda, Shariyya, Dananir and Mahbuba. In Muslim Spain music continued to play a prominent part in spite of the worsening political situation.

The greatest of Arabic theorists, al-Farabi (d. 339 AH/ 950 AD), wrote in his Kitab al-Musiqi al-Kabir: 'Theory did not appear until practice had already achieved its highest development.' This was certainly the case by his own time.

There was no clear line of separation between sacred and secular music, and sacred music itself has throughout its long history oscillated between art and folk music. According to some of the traditions, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) approved the folk music and not the art music. Consequently art music was completely banished.

The Qur'an is the only text that proclaims absolute Divine Laws, "Shari'ah". What is haram is clearly haram and what is halal is clearly halal. On the theological level, the authorities to which the two sides appeal are the Qur'an, the Hadith, the writings of religious leaders, the opinions of mystics and legal precedents. The Qur'an provides no specific verdict one way or the other, so it was the hadith which was the main source of ammunition. Literal interpretation of texts was reinforced by reasoning by analogy.

Imam Al-Ghazali (d.505 AH/1111 AD) makes brilliant use of this method and the chapter devoted to music in his Ihya Ulum al-Deen (Vivification of the Religious Sciences) is a masterpiece. In it he says that there is something wrong with the man or woman who does not like music. He declared " One who is not moved by music is unsound of mind and intemperate; is far from spirituality and is denser than birds and beasts: because everyone is affected by melodious sounds." (ASK Joommal, Al-Balaagh, Supplement to August/September, 1985)
An African Muslim named Sa'id, who traveled widely, translated the songs of other countries into Arabic, and first worked out the system which became classic for Arabic music.

Singing has always been the most common and most loved form of music, partly no doubt because of the Arabs' fondness for poetry. Good songs and poetry have been in Islamic culture since the time of the Prophet (pbuh), and who himself listened to good poetry and encouraged Hassan bin Thabit (known as the Poet of the Prophet) to say the poetry in the praise of Allah and in the honor of His Religion and His messenger. Most often simple instruments accompany it. 

Early Muslims studied theories of sound and music, and the rhythmic measuring of music was practiced among the Arabs long before it was known in Europe and the use of the baton goes back to the eighth century, so the modern Drum Major is all unconsciously in their debt. They knew nothing of harmony and made little use of accent, but they adorned the melody by a comparison note now and again, which perhaps prepared the way for harmony, later developed in the West.

Since instrumental music was a part of pagan ways of worship, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) forbade it to his followers, saying it was "the devil's muezzin, calling men to worship him."

His objections were soon ignored. Military bands accompanied armies and shared in the celebration of victories. They had drums, kettle-drums, pipes of many sorts, cymbals, and tambourines. Making musical instruments became a fine art.

The lute was the earliest stringed instrument; it was of many shapes and sizes. Then came the guitar-qitara, the harp, and the rabab, an instrument played with a bow. Skilled players could drive away fears and depression, as the young shepherd Prophet David (Dawood-peace be upon him) for King Saul. More modest fiddlers played at weddings, raveling from village, to village, as they do today using the same instruments.

Makkah and Madinah became centers of music. Musicians in gala attire accompanied the pilgrimage processions to Makkah, rivaling in interest even the festivities of the Hajj itself, for the people believed that rejoicing with music and companionship was preparation for he ecstasy of the sacred celebration. (REF: Allah-the God of Islam, Muslim Life and Worship by Florence Mary Fitch, published by Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Co., Inc. New York, 1950 p.90)

Are Music and Singing Haram?

The following excerpts are taken from: Sharif Khan, " Music and Singing in Islam (Submission) The true Islam," in the Web pages of Submitters (www.submission.org/music.html).

One of the most outrageous statements by some of the Muslims who refuse to accept the law of God in the Quran is that music and singing are haram (Prohibited). The sincere Muslim who is following the Quran will not find in the Quran ANY PROHIBITION OF MUSIC OR SINGING. Quran is the book that God calls COMPLETE, PERFECT and FULLY DETAILED. God, the Most Merciful, NEVER prohibited music or singing in the Quran, but some scholars and their followers did, despite their knowledge with the Quran. The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), lived by, ruled by, preached and followed the Quran. God is the ONLY source of law (Qur'an, 6:114). No one can prohibit what God did not (Qur'an, 66:1). When the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) once did, God admonished him in public to remind the believers that ONLY GOD can prohibit. (See Qur'an, 66:1 and 33:37).

The prohibition of Music and singing cannot be found in the Quran because God did not prohibit them. The list of prohibitions in the Quran does not include Music or singing.

"Say, "Who prohibited the nice things God has created for His creatures, and the good provisions?" Say,"such provisions are to be enjoyed in THIS life by those who BELIEVE. Moreover, the good provisions will be exclusively theirs on the Day of resurrection." We thus explain the revelations for people who know." (QUR'AN, 7:32).

Now and before responding to those Muslims who claim that Music and singing are Haram, let us ponder for few seconds at our universe and the way God created this world. While we might remember that Galileo once said, "Mathematics is the language in which God wrote the universe." it may be fair enough to say that Music is the basic sound of that universe.

Any keen observer of the universe will realize that the whole universe was created with music in every corner of it. Our heart beats, bowel sounds, breath sounds, the sound of our blood flow or even our brain waves are but music. The birds, the dolphins, the animals, the trees, the rain, the oceans, the wind and the clouds are all created with their own music. Those who are blind in the heart and deaf to the truth do not and cannot understand that music is in every corner of their universe. With music in every thing around us, it is naive to think that the One God who created all this music prohibited it. One of the most valuable gifts given to man is the voice box or the larynx, which is in reality a music box. It is one important instrument that allows us to communicate with each other and with other creatures around us. The arrival of the newborn to this life is announced by his/her scream, the best music to the mother's ear.

(1) First, it is interesting to see the inverted logic of these people. After finding no proof in the Quran to prohibit music, by their own admission, they resort to the weaker sources one after the other to prove what they could not find in the Quran. This is almost like failing to have the approval of the president of the country on a matter, so they get the approval of his house keeper. If they fail, then they get the approval of his servant who cleans his room then claim that the approval they have is the approval of the president. Those who refuse to accept the Quran as a complete book for this religion, are led by Satan into inventing all kinds of laws from sources outside the Quran.

(2) In every verse they used in an attempt to prove that music is Haram, they ended by concluding that the verse does not really prohibit Music. Despite that, they never got the message that God DID NOT PROHIBIT MUSIC OR SINGING. They also failed to understand that prohibition laws ONLY COME from God. When the prophet Muhammed (pbuh) gave any prohibitions it was FROM THE QURAN ONLY, and was not from his own. Here are the verses that they claim to prohibit music and singing:

a) Allah addresses the disbelievers of the Quraysh as follows, "Do you marvel at this statement, and laugh and do not weep, while you amuse yourselves (proudly) in vanities? Rather, prostrate before Allah and worship Him." (Qur'an, 53:59-62)

Because of the statement "amuse yourselves" these Muslims twisted the words and the logic to make a conclusion that music and singing is what is meant here. The word is general and indicates that any kind of amusement that keeps you from paying your duties to God is leading you to commit a sin. It does not make it haram or prohibited. If you amuse yourself by watching Baseball while forgetting to do your Salat-prayers on time then you are committing a sin but this does not make Baseball haram. If you amuse yourself by playing games with your children while forgetting to pray on time you are committing a sin but playing with your children will not be haram. If you listen to music or singing and forget to do your prayers then you commit a sin but music does not become haram. Remember that music is like air and water, it is not haram per se, but the way it is used in certain circumstances will control its status then. These group of Muslims find in human beings like sahaba, tabi'in, and later scholars of tafseer to prohibit for them what God did not. Al-Qurtubi, At-Tabari, Ibn Abbas, Al-Hasan, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak, Ibn Jareer... etc. are more important to these people than Allah (SWT).

a) Allah (SWT) addresses Satan thus; "And excite any of them whom you can with your voice. Assault them with your cavalry and infantry, be a partner with them in their wealth and children, and make them promises. But Satan promises nothing but deceit" (Qur'an, 17:64)

Using this verse as a proof of prohibition of music and singing shows only how naive and misguided are these people. No intelligent human being can accept the voice here as pointing to music and singing. It is clear from this verse that there is no prohibition here. They quote here Ibn Abbas, as saying "the voice mentioned in the verse refers to any form of invitation which calls to disobedience to Allah." If this form of invitation is "talking nicely" to someone to make him/her disobey Allah, this does not make "talking nicely" haram. If the invitation here is accompanied by music or singing, this does not make the music or singing haram but rather it is the invitation to disobey God in any form that is haram. They do not like what God says in the Quran, but find nothing wrong in listening to Ibn Abbas even if they do not know who Ibn Abbas is.

b) The third verse, and the one most often referred to as evidence of the prohibition of music and singing (according to them) is found is Sura Luqman.
"And there are among men those who purchase idle talk in order to mislead others from Allah's path without knowledge, and those who throw ridicule upon it. For such there will be a humiliating punishment." (31:6)

Again, like the previous verse, using the statement "idle-talk" (lahwal hadeeth) to condemn music and singing is clearly corrupt. Idle-talk or idle-tales, can be any form of talk and not necessarily singing and music. Even a tale or story can be constructive and enlightening or idle, false and mischievous. The Arabic word for music is "musiqah". Musiqah means music. Hadeeth means tales. Are the learned Ulama suggesting that Allah (SWT) would use one word when he meant another? Allama Yusuf Ali in his commentary on the words "lahwal hadeeth" in the Qur'an 31:6, in his note 3584 says, " Life is taken seriously by men who realize the issues that hang upon it. But there are men of a frivolous turn of mind who prefer idle tales to true Realities and they are justly rebuked here. In the time of the holy Prophet there was a pagan, Nadhr ibn al-Haarith who preferred Persian romances to the Message of God, and turned away ignorant men from the preaching of God's Word". The Qur'an never mentions anywhere that music is haram.

NOW THAT QURAN DOES NOT PROHIBIT MUSIC OR SINGING, these people looked for other sources to do this for them. A look at what they claimed as hadith of the prophet (pbuh) will show their misguidance and confusion. Here is an example of what these people quote and claimed it to the prophet which is a clear lie. The prophet (pbuh) cannot deviate from the Quran.
"The Prophet (SAWS) said, "There will be (at some future time) people from my ummah (community of Muslims) who will seek to make lawful: fornication, the wearing of silk (by men), wine-drinking, and the use of musical instruments (ma'azif). Some people will stay at the side of a mountain and when their shepherd comes in the evening to ask them for his needs, they will say, 'return to us tomorrow.' Then Allah will destroy them during the night by causing the mountain to fall on them, while he changes others into apes and swine. They will remain in such a state until the Day of Resurrection. (related by Imam Al-Bukhari in Fat-hul Baari, graded sahih) .
First, Allah (SWT) teaches us in the Qur'an that the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) did not know the future. This will immediately expose the falsehood of this hadith and similar ones and expose the hypocrisy of those who claim to be Muslims but refuse to believe Allah (SWT) in the Qur'an. Allah (SWT) told them Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) did not know the future.

The Jewish Rabbis of Yathrib had instructed the idolaters to ask Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) " of some youth who were of old, what was their fate? " of a much-traveled man who reached the sunrise regions of the earth and the sunset regions thereof, what was his history?" And " of Spirit, what it is" as a test of his Prophethood. Verses 60-82 of Surah Al-Kahf (The Cave) and verse 85 of Surah Bani Israel or Al-Isra were revealed to Prophet Muhammad to answer these questions. Furthermore nobody knows when Aakhira (the Last Day) will occur.

"Say (O Muhammed), "I have no power to benefit myself, or harm myself. Only what God wills happen to me. If I KNEW THE FUTURE, I would have increased my wealth, and no harm would have afflicted me. I am no more than a warner, and a bearer of good news for those who believe."(Qur'an, 7:188).

"Say (O Muhammed), "I am not different from other messengers, I have NO IDEA what will happen to ME OR TO YOU. I ONLY follow what is revealed to me. I am NO MORE than a profound warner." (Qur'an, 46:9)

Second, for the past 1400 years there have been millions who listened to music and songs without mountains falling on top of them or turning into apes and pigs. What will happen to millions of people, who are turning to their computers now, will they turn into pigs and monkeys because their computers have all kinds of music built into them?

Those who really appreciate music and the beautiful voices that God created, are more appreciative of God's creations and closer to God than those who prohibit what God did not and see evil in every beautiful creation of God.

"Say, "Who prohibited the nice things God has created for His creatures, and the good provisions?" Say,"such provisions are to be enjoyed in THIS life by those who BELIEVE. Moreover, the good provisions will be exclusively theirs on the Day of resurrection." We thus explain the revelations for people who know." (QURAN, 7:32).

It is these Muslims who prohibit which is not unlawful, who will be surprised on the Last Day that the prophet Muhammed (pbuh) will complain to God form them because they deserted the Qur'an (Qur'an, 25:30).

MUSIC AND SINGING WERE NEVER PROHIBTED BY GOD. They are part of the most beautiful creations of God. As long as they do not call on the people or encourage them to commit sins, they are for the TRUE BELIEVERS TO ENJOY while remembering God with every beautiful note or rhythm.

La Elaha Ella Allah, There is no god besides God. Is it time yet to wake up and follow the QUR'AN, instead of following the man-made laws? (REF: Sharif Khan, Music and Singing in Islam (Submission) The true Islam, in the Web pages of Submitters (www.submission.org/music.html)

Shaikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi in his well-known book, "The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam", (American Trust Publications, Indianapolis, 1980, pp.300-304) says, " Among the entertainments which may comfort the soul, please the heart, and refresh the ear is singing. Islam permits singing under the condition that it not be in anyway obscene or harmful to Islamic morals. There is no harm in its being accompanied by music, which is not exciting. In order to create an atmosphere of joy and happiness, singing is recommended on festive occasions such as the days of "Eid, weddings and wedding feasts, births, 'aqiqat (the celebration of the birth of a baby by the slaughter of sheep), and on the return of the traveler." He continues "It is reported that many Companions of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them) as well as second generation Muslim scholars used to listen to singing and did not see anything wrong with it. As for the ahadith which have been reported against singing, they are all weak and have been shown by researchers to be unsound. The jurist Abu Bakr al-'Arabi says, "No sound hadith is available concerning the prohibition of singing," while Ibn Hazm says, "All that is reported on this subject is false and fabricated."

Dr. Muzammil Siddiqui, President of ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) says, "Imam Shawkani in his famous Nail al-Awtar (vol.8 pp.260-271) has mentioned that some Sahabah, the Companions of the Prophet, used to listen to music. He even wrote a book with the title, "Ibtal Da'wa Al-Ijma' 'ala Tahrim Mutlaq al-Sama' " (The Refutation of the Alleged Claim of Consensus on the Absolute Prohibition of Music and Songs). While it is not right to say that all music is prohibited in Islam, it is important to use great discretion in the case of music. A lot of music that is available in the markets now days are very dangerous and harmful. Muslim youth should be extremely careful. There are, however, some Muslim groups in different countries who are developing songs that are very good, enjoyable, entertaining, and have good positive message."


The music industry in America today is a multibillion-dollar business. Popular musicians and their promoters are making a great deal of money. However, it is a fact that unhappiness, premature death, and suicide have marked the lives of some very successful musicians. Our own Yusuf Al-Islam can testify to this fact from his own life experience. And it has been adequately demonstrated that some music is morally, emotionally, and spiritually debasing and can lead to violent, antisocial behavior. Hence it is important to have a balanced view of music. Some music can enrich one's life and bring a measure of joy and contentment. It can uplift us emotionally and spiritually. The ancient Hebrews did not read the psalms in the Torah, they sang them. Often they did so with beautiful musical accompaniment- a powerful way to link the wisdom of their God, with the emotions that trained singers could impart to the listeners. Spiritual music (Samaa') is the strength of the soul. Spiritual music is a specific cure of all desires. He, who hears it faithfully, finds the way to God; he who hears it to satisfy his sensual appetite turns a heretic. For Muslims the melodious recitation of the Qur'an is embedding more deeply in the hearts of the listeners, the knowledge of Allah, and Taqwa which are needed to guide our lives. In this 21-century world, which emphasizes education in science, economics, and logic, the development of the emotional side of personality through the arts is often neglected. Listening to a piece of fine music can be a beneficial and pleasurable experience. Of course, as with other good things in life, there is a need for moderation, good judgement, and selectivity in this area of entertainment (music). This is true not only in the type of music chosen but also in the amount of time spent in listening to or playing music.

Music is one of the great provisions from God that we should be grateful for. We should use it and enjoy it, like we enjoy all the other provisions. Indulgence in eating favorite food or drinking favorite juice to the point that one does not have time to do the required duties towards Allah (SWT), then one is committing a sin. Hence food and drinks would not become haram (prohibited). If one indulges in any kind of music or singing that occupies one at the expense of remembering Allah (SWT), then one is committing a sin. However the music itself does not become haram (prohibited). If someone sings a song encouraging corruption or misbehavior then listening to that song intentionally may be a sin but this does not make all singing haram (prohibited). It is true that many of the songs and lyrics we hear these days are disturbing but this does not make music or singing haram, it makes these specific songs undesirable and should be avoided. (Sharif Khan, ibid).

If a certain type of music is beginning to have a negative effect on your emotions, actions, and relationships, then select another style. Protect your ears to protect your emotions to protect your heart and mind! If we should ever find that through the power of music, our emotions are beginning to becloud our critical judgement and reason and misdirect our actions, and then it is time to change our music-listening habits. The power of music can affect your heart and your mind-either for good or for bad! Without music, the world will be quiet, desolate, and lifeless, like a graveyard. On the issue of music, prominent Muslim jurists, such as Imam Ibn Hazm, Imam Ghazali, Imam Mufti Muhammad Abduhu and Shaikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi have held the opinion that good music is good and bad music is bad. If music promotes corruption and evil, it is not accepted. However, if it promotes sensitivity and a sense of beauty, then there is no harm.

[Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed is Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville. He is also President, Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Science Editor. He can be contacted at irfi@iname.com. His works can also be seen on his website http://www.irfi.org]

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