Islamic scholar rejects religious prohibition on music
“There is no ban on music in the Qur’an, and those talking about which music is haram (forbidden/bad) and which music is halal (allowed) have very weak evidence,” says a renowned Islamic scholar from The Beirut Studies and Documentation Center
By Ole Reitov, Freemuse
While authorities in Iran are ready to imprison those defending the right of women to sing in public, a renowned Islamic scholar, Shaykh Ibrahim Ramadan Al-Mardini from the Beirut Studies and Documentation Center in Lebanon, is ready to defend the viewpoint that the Qur’an gives no basis for banning music nor distinguish between male and female music.
Al-Mardini questions the sources invoked to ban music in Islam: “There is no Qur’anic text banning music”, he insists:
“On balance censorship,” Mardini notes critically, “exists to preserve regimes.”
Mardini says that he completely rejects censorship, arguing that it is not the mission of the faqih [jurist] to condemn things; his job is merely to guide the faithful. Mardini points out that Islamic fundamentalism does not have a religion. A fatwa is no good unless it develops. It must not be static. The faqih has to be flexible. The faqih must be with the times and understand them.
He stated this at a recent Freemuse conference on ‘Freedom of Expression in Music’, held in Beirut in October 2005. During a session dealing with “Conservative interpretations of music in Islam – the theoretical perspective” the Shaykh said that “a music culture is necessary for people to develop themselves”.
“The individual has to rule his/here own life through their own judgement”, the Shaykh Ibrahim Ramadan Al-Mardini said, and noted that Islamic scholars in the former century often had a very good knowledge of culture and art, and that “culture is something owned by everyone, and not something that a few persons should decide upon.”
Mardini argued that “culture is something owned by everyone, and not something that a few persons should decide upon” and pointed out that Islamic scholars in the last century often had a very good knowledge of culture and art. In Islam tradition reading was traditionally accompanied by music.The ‘ulama interpret the rules and correct people when they go astray. When justifying music Mardini quoted the Prophet saying to one of his Companions, “You came with a very good ear”. The mufti [Shari’a judge] is entrusted with disclosing the judgements of God, basing his views on the Qur’an, the Hadith and the Sunna. Music is not banned in Islam; strong counter evidence exists showing that it is allowed.
Shaikh Ibrahim Ramadan Al-Mardini works at the Beirut Studies and Documentation Centre in Lebanon and as a religious scholar he gave his perspective on Music an Islam at the Beirut conference.
Read more about the conference:
Beirut Conference on Freedom of expression and music in the Middle East
Context: The socalled ‘Islamic Ruling on Music’
In 1986, Abu Bilal Mustafa Al-Kanadi wrote a book entitled ‘The Islamic Ruling on Music and Singing’, which was published by Abul-Qasim Bookstore in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The book is online on at least half a dozen different web sites. According to Al-Kanadi’s research
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All this violence and sex is so popular, that you have to look like Paris Hilton to be down or whatever. It’s the whole issue about the industry taking over and the bottom line is that that’s not what Islam is about. Islam puts the person first and money is not the issue, but in the society we live today, money is definitely the first thing that you talk about.”
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Shaykh Ibrahim Ramadan Al-Mardini, Beirut Studies and Documentation Center
Photo: Marie Korpe