Is Music Prohibited in Islam?

Discussing the issue of music in Islam sounds a bit controversial. If we suppose that music is food for the soul, we cannot easily say if it is allowed (Halal) or not. Unlike the issue of meat in Islam that is precisely explained in the Holy Quran, the issue of music has never been mentioned in the Quran. However, we cannot say that because God has not directly spoken about music, therefore it is allowed (Halal) or forbidden (Haram). Because music is something that does exist in this world and God has not left us without guidance in such matters.



Since there is no explicit information about music in the Quran, people keep questioning if the music is allowed in Islam or not.



Therefore, the goal of this article is to explain the characteristics of lawful (Halal) and forbidden (Haram) music in Islam, based on the rulings from jurists.


music in islam


What is Music in Islam?


In the description of music, it is said that “Music is the technique of mixing sounds and voices in a pleasant way that makes the listener enjoy as well as making an internal revolution for his/her soul” [1].


To distinguish between lawful (Halal) and forbidden (Haram) music, it is easier to find out what forbidden (Haram) music is. Then any kind of music that does not include the characteristics of forbidden (Haram) music is lawful (Halal).



What is Forbidden (Haram) Music in Islam?


Before explaining forbidden (Haram) music, it is useful to get familiar with a few related phrases:



  • Mutrib music: a sort of music that causes impulsive movement for the listener.
  • Lahwi music: a sort of music that is common or suitable for frivolous gatherings and carouses.


Apart from these descriptions, and to provide a better conceptual understanding for the phrases above, we could say that mutrib or lahwi music is that which due to its characteristics keeps human beings away from Allah, and away from moral merits and drives them towards sinful acts and carelessness.



The forbidden (Haram) type of music is suitable for dissolute gatherings of sin. Any music which is lahwi and mutrib in the common view is forbidden (Haram). Distinguishing the subject of this ruling depends on the view of each religiously responsible individual (mukallaf ), and there is no objection to listening to a song if it is distinguished as Halal; keeping in mind that the personality of the musician, the vocalized words accompanying the music, the venue, and all other circumstances may contribute to placing it in the category of forbidden (Haram), lahwi, mutrib music, or another forbidden (Haram) category; e.g., if the music, due to the mentioned things, leads to certain corruptions [2].



We Should Recognize Which Music Is Forbidden (Haram) for Us


In the controversial case of music, it is up to the Muslim person to realize if the music he/ she is listening to is forbidden (Haram) or not.


When we want to listen to a song we should see:


  • If it is mutrib music (immaterial)
  • If it is lahwi music and suitable for carouses (Irrespective of whether it contains the element of excitement or engenders in the listener a state of melancholy and crying.)
  • If it contains ghina  in its singing
  • If it contains vain and useless concepts that create distance between God and us.



For example, the musician may disagree with the listener’s point of view. In this case, what the Muslim person regards as lahwi and suitable for gatherings of sin is forbidden (Haram) for him to listen to. As for the sounds which fall in a grey area, the ruling in their regard is that it is permissible to listen to them [3].



What is Lawful (Halal) Music in Islam?


Any music that does not include the above characteristics is lawful (Halal), and there is no objection to listening to such music in Islam.



Using Musical Instruments



There is no objection in using musical instruments to play non-lahwi tunes if it is for revolutionary or religious chanting or carrying out useful cultural and other programs aiming at rational and lawful (Halal) purposes, provided that it results in no bad consequences.



At the same time, using musical instruments to play lahwi and /or mutrib tunes is not permissible [4].


music in islam

Learning Music in Islam


Learning and teaching music for the above-mentioned causes are allowed (If it is for revolutionary or religious chanting or carrying out useful cultural and other programs aiming at rational and lawful (Halal) purposes).



Musical instruments which, according to the common view, are of dual - lawful (Halal) and forbidden (Haram) - purposes can be used in a non-lahwi manner for lawful (Halal) purposes. Instruments, which the common view regards as special to the production of lahwi music, are not permissible to use [5].



Teaching music



Also, in itself, there is no problem in teaching and learning music for the purposes mentioned above [6].


Trading Musical Instruments


There is no problem in buying and selling musical instruments that serve dual purposes [i], intending to use them in playing non-lahwi tunes.



Accordingly, it is not permissible to buy, sell, or distribute CDs that contain mutrib and/ or lahwi music that is suitable for gatherings of carouse, regardless of the language it is composed in or the country of origin [7].



Working as a Musician


There is no harm in the use of musical instruments to play tunes for revolutionary chanting, national anthems, or any other lawful (Halal) and useful pursuit provided that it does not entail rapture and frivolity suitable for the gatherings of carouse and falsehood.



But with regards to singing with music, the musician should make sure that the music will not be accompanied by ghina [8].




Therefore, any type of music that is branded for gatherings of carouse is forbidden (Haram), even if it does not arouse sexual temptation. As a result, any kind of music that is not common for such gatherings is lawful (Halal), such as martial music.



Making these types of lawful (Halal) music for the use of Muslims and for the improvement of the community, or for spreading good values is lawful (Halal).



Overall, any kind of music that creates a distance between the soul and God is forbidden (Haram).



[i] Musical instruments are divided into two groups; 1- specific instruments, 2- dual-purpose instruments. The first group are those instruments that are known to be specifically used in carouse gatherings, while dual-purpose instruments are those which can be used for both lawful (Halal) and forbidden (Haram) purposes. Most jurists have named a few instruments as dual-purpose instruments such as a chime, drum, piano, dulcimer, etc. but in case of specific instruments they have not named any and have left the recognition to the Muslim person [9].



[1] Rouhollah Khaleghi, An overview on music, p.4


[3] ibid

[4] ibid

[5] ibid

[6] ibid

[7] ibid

[8] ibid