Entertainment and songs in Islam

27 Feb 2018 Ref-No#: 395

Assalamu alaikum

Respected Mufti,

Somewhere I read this Fatwa:

“What is the meaning of ‘entertainment’? If one sings a nasheed or it is sung to a crowd, then this will be haraam entertainment. Entertaining refers to singing for others – entertaining people with the song. This is not permissible.”

I want to ask:

1) What is the meaning of entertainment in Islaam?

2) What is the ruling of Nasheeds?

3) Don’t the people that put Nasheed on YouTube, do so to entertain the people? Would it be haram to do so?

4) why is it haram to sing a Nasheed to a crowd?

Jazakallahu khairan.


Allah Ta’ala has declared the beautiful religion of Islam to be a religion of moderation. While the emphasis of faith is Ibadah (worship) and the recognition of Almighty Allah, Islam permits casual entertainment and leisure, to a reasonable degree, provided that no laws of the Shariah are violated. In fact, we find that Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) himself had some light hearted moments. For example. in a narration of Abu Dawud (3/29), there is proof that Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) raced with his noble wife.

It is inherent for a human being to be inclined towards leisure and entertainment. Everyone looks forward towards some form of leave or break from the daily routine. However, as Muslims, we should be always mindful of our identity and our obligations to Allah Ta’ala. At all times, we should be conscious that Allah is aware of our every action and knows all that we do.

It is of utmost importance that we do not compromise our Islamic values under any circumstance, particularly when engaging in some form of pleasure and enjoyment. Exercising self restraint and upholding our Islamic values will draw the mercy and blessings of Allah not only whilst we are engaged in Ibadah, but even whilst engaging in entertainment and pleasure- provided that we adhere to the laws of Shariah.

The Fuqahaa (Muslim jurists) have directed that entertainment and leisure will only be permissible if the following conditions are adhered to:

a)The activity should not contain any Haraam elements. (eg; Music, Gambling, Exposing the private parts (satr) etc).

b)The entertainment/activity should not distract one from the Sunan Mu’akkadah Ibadah and obligatory duties. (eg; Salah, obedience to parents, attending to ones chores).

c)The activity/ (games or entertainment) should not cause one to become unmindful and inconsiderate to others. (eg; using abusive language, belittling others etc).

d)It should not have a negative impact on ones daily responsibilities.

e)The entertainment/game should not be of such a nature that one becomes obsessed with it nor should there be over indulgence.

f)There should be no extravagance or imitation of the salient features of the Kuffaar. (Like bursting fireworks etc).

g)The entertainment should not be of such a nature that belittles Islam directly or indirectly. (eg; comedy shows etc).

h)There should be no intermingling of sexes. Generally, in places of entertainment it is difficult to avoid this issue resulting in severe damage to our Imaan.

Similarly, there are conditions which apply to singing as well. The following will have to be adhered to:

1. There should be absolutely no musical instruments, nor should there be sound effects which resemble musical instruments. In fact, even a cappella is not permissible.

2. A woman should not sing any nadhm/nasheed in front of strange men,

3. The words of the nasheed/nadhm should be free from any impermissible and untrue words. Rather, they should contain words which will remind a person of Allah, Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam), the hereafter etc,

4. The intention should be to get inspiration from the meaning, rather than just listening to the voice,

5. A person should not neglect the Quraan because of nasheeds/nadhms,

6. The nadhm/nadheed should not resemble any impermissible song.

The above conditions are derived from the following texts of our illustrious scholars:

Allamah Ibn Abd al-Barr (may Allah be pleased with him), a leading authority in Hadith, states, “It is permissible to render a nasheed (without musical instruments) in the tune of the Ancient Arabs. However, it is abhorrent according to the majority of the Scholars to render them in the tune of non Arabs. (such as the tunes of rap artists!) To mention the views of all the scholars here is not possible. However, amongst the Scholars that have disliked nasheeds in Non Arab tunes are Saeed Ibn Musayyab (may Allah be pleased with him) and Muhammed Ibn Sireen and (may Allah be pleased with him) many others. (At-Tamheed 9/186).

The grand Mufti of India, Mufti Kifayatullah (may Allah be pleased with him) states, “It is not permissible to listen to such people that sing songs (albeit without musical instruments), with distinct musical tunes and in a method that conforms to the rules and rhythms of musicians”(such as for instance, rap artists). (Kifayah al-Mufti 9/179)

Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Shafee’ Saheb (may Allah be pleased with him) stated that all the scholars have agreed that singing in itself is only permissible when the following four conditions are fulfilled:

a.It must not be merely for enjoyment and pass-time,

b.It must not be sung with distinct musical tunes that conform to the rhythms of musicians (such as “rap artists” for instance).

c.It must not contain any unlawful or undesirable speech such as backbiting, mocking at others, or the vivid description of any woman, etc.

d.Such singing should not lead to the discarding of a compulsory act (such as Salaah or any other command of Allah) or to the commission of any other evil/sin. (Ahkaam al-Quraan 3/235).

Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood Hasan Gangohi (may Allah be pleased with him) was once asked whether children should be taught how to sing naats (i.e. poems containing the praises of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam). He replied in the following manner:
“To send salutations upon Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam is in itself an act of reward and virtue. It is permissible for everyone to do so, old and young. But respect and etiquette demand that each one should sit and do so individually. It should not be read in such chorus (i.e. in unison) wherein the tunes of songs and Qawwaali are adopted. The same ruling goes for singing naats (and Nasheeds). If it is sung with (such obnoxious) tunes, it takes the form of ‘Lahwa La’ib’ (mere amusement-which is not permissible in Islam). Therefore, total precaution should be taken in this aspect.” (Fataawa Mahmoodiyah 17/234)

Hadhrat Mawlana Noor Muhammed Jahnjanvi (may Allah be pleased with him) was once told that there is a certain person who has a beautiful voice and sings beautifully. Upon this Hadhrat Mawlana replied, “I do not wish to listen to any such nadhams, though they may be without music, as there is a difference of opinion within the scholars in the permissibility of listening to these nadhams, even though they may not have musical accompaniment (i.e. instruments) [Arwah-e-Thalatha, Pg. 168]. One can well imagine what the learned Mawlana would have said if he had heard about the modern so called nadhams sung in rap style and other western orientated beats!

In conclusion, Islam does give permission for entertainment and songs, provided all the above conditions are maintained. The fatwaa which you have cited could be understood in this light: If the nasheed is sung by a male, it has a good meaning and is put on you tube to inspire others, no musical instruments are used, and there is no photography, then it will be permissible. Likewise, it will be permissible to sing before crowds, as long as it adheres to the above mentioned, and that it is done before the same gender.

If the above-mentioned conditions are not met, it will not be permissible.

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