Are Muslims allowed to sing?


In answering questions about singing in Islam, we cannot say that singing is completely forbidden (Haram) in Islam. Like any other issue, we have to find out what kind of singing is allowed (Halal) and that if there is a prohibition, what is that makes it forbidden (Haram)?


What Makes Singing in Islam Forbidden (Haram)?


In deriving the ruling of singing from the Quran, jurists usually refer to two main verses:


“Among the people is he who buys diversionary talk that he may lead [people] astray from Allah’s way without any knowledge, and he takes it in derision. For such, there is a humiliating punishment” (31:6).


Some interpreters have taken the phrase “diversionary talk” (Lahw al-hadith) as any sort of speech that deviates people’s minds from the righteous way and attracts the concentration of people to an unjust saying. Jurists have expanded the unjust saying to any sort of expression of mind which may contain poetry or singing or music [2].


Also, it is said in another verse: “So avoid the abomination of idols, and avoid false speech …” (22:30).


In the interpretation of “false speech” (Qowl al-zur) in this verse, it is said that false statement is any word that deviates people from the righteous way and remembrance of God [3].


When jurists want to define the forbidden (Haram) singing in Islam, they use the term “ghina”.  In Islamic jurisprudence, singing is not forbidden (Haram) unless it is known to be ghina.


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What is Ghina?


Ghina is the voice of a human, which is produced in a rise and fall pattern to create the effect of rapture that is suitable for frivolous and carouse gatherings. It is forbidden (Haram) to engage in this type of singing; as well as listening to it, even if it does not lead to rapture in the listener [4].



Any kind of singing that deviates a person from a moderate mood (may it be happy or sad) is referred to as ghina. The most visible sign of this deviation from a moderate mood is when the person loses his self-control; like the feeling that occurs to man after drinking wine. Islam has always prevented Muslims from being stuck in such moods.



Gatherings of merrymaking and sin are those kinds of gatherings that are formed for singing, dancing, debauchery, and sensuality.



Also, there might be some songs that do not deviate one from his/her moderate mood but are common for gatherings of merrymaking and sin. Those are also known as ghina.



Have you ever seen in some concerts, how the audience lose their mind and apart from dancing or crying with the song, they shout or faint out of rapture? This kind of singing is ghina, and those sorts of gatherings are referred to as gatherings of merrymaking and sin. Any kind of singing that changes the normal and rational mood of a person is ghina [5].


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Some Hints to Recognize Ghina


  • Ghina is the type of song that is branded for amusement gatherings and parties.
  • Ghina is related to the type of song; meaning that if the lyrics of a song convey positive messages to the listener but the music of the song is jaunty, it makes that music forbidden (Haram) [6].
  • Ghina is when the lyrics of a song are about describing the beauties of a woman (whether physical or erotic description), or it has been written about wine, or dance or other prohibited (Haram) things in Islam [7].
  • Ghina is any song that changes the mood of the listener; makes him/her either happy or sad; any music or song that makes a gap between the present moods of the listener with his/her “real self” and weakens the control of the person over her speech or behavior.
  • Ghina is the sort of song that has such hopeless content, which destroys positive motivations of the listener.
  • Ghina is any kind of song that by content, lyrics, or the specific sound of the musical instrument can arouse sexual temptation.



What Sort of Singing Is Lawful (Halal) in Islam?


Having mentioned the criteria of forbidden (Haram) singing, we can say that those songs which do not contain the conditions mentioned above are lawful (Halah).


Overall, if the listener maintains that as per common view they are not enraptured, there is no problem in listening to the songs (with or without music). Thus, neither the intention of the singer nor the content have anything to do with this ruling [8].


Listening to Women or Children Singing


In the matter of listening to a woman reciting poetry and other material with rising and falling her voice to the accompaniment of music, if the vocalization does not amount to ghina, listening to it is not driven by lust, and does not lead to a bad consequence, there is no problem in listening to it for women. If a woman’s signing is sexually exciting or listening to it leads to vile consequences, it is not allowed to listen to it at all. [9]


Regarding women’s singing to be heard by men, if it is not ghina and is not intended for questionable purposes or does not lead to vile consequences, as long as it is not sexually erotic, it is not forbidden (Haram). But as it often happens that listening to the beautiful voice of women is joyful for men, it is better if women do not sing for men and for men not to listen to women singing.





[1] Ma’aref and Ma’arief, vol. 8, p. 283


[3] Rouhollah Khaleghi, An overview of music, p.4


[5] Sayyid Mujtaba Husseini, Questions and Answers by Students (Rules regarding Music), pg. 40-42

[6] Art from the point of view of the supreme leader, p. 32-4

[7] Tafsir –e Qartabi, vol. 7, p. 5136