Islamic Ruling on THe Flute: Halal Music or Forbidden Pastime?

Syed Bukhari

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Is It Permissible to Learn and Play the Flute in Islam?

Music has always been a contentious topic in the Islamic tradition, with differing opinions among scholars. Some forms of music are considered unlawful by consensus, while others have been the subject of debate. When there are differences of opinion among the leading scholars of Islam, it’s important to respect these divergent views and allow for flexibility within the framework of Sacred Law.

Considering the diversity of opinions, one may adopt a more precautionary approach by either avoiding matters of disagreement or practicing them with caution, ensuring not to transgress the prescribed limits.

It is crucial to maintain respect and tolerance for alternative viewpoints, whichever approach one chooses, as Allah knows best.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) imparted valuable wisdom in this regard, as narrated by Sayyidina Hasan Ibn ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him): “I memorized from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace): “Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt, for the truth leads to reassurance and lies lead to uncertainty.”” [Tirmidhi; Ahmad; Ibn Hibban]

Is Flute Haram In Islam?

Yes, according to Islamic teachings, the flute is considered haram (forbidden). This ruling is based on the hadith, which states that music is a source of distraction and attraction from Allah’s guidance, going against the notion of piety, which is a core teaching of Islam.

A separate hadith narrates the story of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) walking together when they heard the sound of a flute being played. Abu Bakr said, “Flutes of the Shaytaan,” upon which the Prophet replied, “O Abu Bakr! Let them be as today is an Eid day.”

Based on this hadith, scholars of Islam have concluded that the flute is haram and prohibited in Islam, as it is similar in nature to other musical instruments, for which the same ruling applies. In Islam, only the Duff Drum is allowed, and even then, it should be used only for special occasions such as weddings and religious events.

Is It Permissible to Learn and Play the Flute in Islam?

Why Is Flute Haram?

The main reason the flute is considered haram in Islam is that it is believed to distract one from Allah’s guidance and remembrance. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not give any permission to use the flute or music, making it clear that it is not allowed in Islam.

In several hadiths, the Prophet (peace be upon him) disallowed the use of musical instruments. For instance, he once said, “From among my followers, there will be some people who will consider an illegal relationship, the wearing of silk, the drinking of haram drinks, and the use of musical instruments, as lawful.”

Moreover, music is an activity that can lead to addiction, and one may commit immoral and unethical activities as a result. The flute is an instrument that can be used to encourage immoral behavior and inspire people to engage in haram activities. Thus, it is better to avoid such actions that can lead one astray from the teachings of Allah and the Prophet (peace be upon him).

While some may consider the flute a source of pleasure and relaxation, in reality, it is seen as a source of deviation from the teachings of Allah and the Prophet (peace be upon him). Therefore, abstaining from instruments such as the flute and music is considered important to maintain piety and practice good character.

Tips to Avoid Listening or Playing the Flute

If you’re struggling with an addiction to playing or listening to the flute, here are some tips to help you avoid it:

• Remember Allah and His blessings often: Acknowledge that Allah knows best, and His rules are for our own good.

• Spend time in dhikr (remembrance of Allah): Recite the Quran, make du’a (supplications), and say salawat (invoke blessings upon the Prophet PBUH), as these are all ways of remembering Allah.

• Avoid places that play music: Instead of music, listen to Islamic lectures or podcasts, and attend gatherings where people are encouraged to remember Allah, such as halaqah (religious gatherings).

• Redirect your energies: Most people are drawn to music because they are bored. Hence, find something productive to do with your time, such as reading books or learning a new skill.

• Create an Islamic environment: Surround yourself with reminders of Allah, such as the Quran or a dhikr board (poster with Islamic verses). This will help you stay focused on what matters most.

The Shafi’i School’s Perspective on Music

Imam al-Nawawi, a renowned Shafi’i scholar, provides insights into the permissibility of music in his work, Minhaj al‐Talibin. He states that singing without musical accompaniment is disliked (makruh), and listening to it is also makruh. However, he considers the use of instruments characteristic of those who consume intoxicants, such as the tunbur (an instrument resembling the mandolin), the ‘ud (lute), the sanj (cymbal), and the ‘Iraqi mizmar (a type of flute), to be haram (forbidden).

Regarding the yura’ (flute), Imam al-Nawawi initially mentions Imam al‐Rafi’i’s view, which permits its use. However, Imam al-Nawawi disagrees with this opinion, stating: “I say: It (the yura’) is also unlawful (haram) according to the more correct opinion.”

Nevertheless, Imam al-Nawawi acknowledges that, according to the more correct view, music is permitted for weddings, circumcision ceremonies, and other similar occasions, even if it involves tiny cymbals. However, he declares the use of the kubah, a tall drum with a narrow middle, as unlawful.

Individual Scholars Who Permitted Music (Within Limits)

Several individual scholars, such as al-Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn al- ‘Arabi, Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, Ibn An-Nahwi, Ibn Tahir, Ibn Hazm, and Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, have contended that the evidence for the prohibition of music is either weak, ambiguous, or both. While these scholars permitted music, they established strict rules, such as permitting only lawful lyrics and rhythms that do not “intoxicate.” Many contemporary scholars hold this view, which may be more practical in light of current circumstances, and Allah knows best.

Music Beyond Our Control

Concerning music beyond our control, such as computer sounds and incidental music heard in public spaces, one is not accountable for the actions of others, as Allah says: “And every soul earns not (blame) except against itself, and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another.” [Quran 6:164]

The Music We Can Control

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Whosoever of you sees (or hears) an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then (let him change it) with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]

Contemporary Music

Most contemporary popular music is considered unlawful to listen to because it predominantly contains unlawful lyrics and keeps one away from the remembrance of Allah. [Baig, Slippery Stone]

Therefore, even when relying on the view that allows some forms of music, it is advisable to practice caution, and Allah knows best.

Did Dawood (peace be upon him) play the flute?

The notion that the Prophet Dawood (peace be upon him) used to seek forgiveness by playing the flute is a belief without any substantial basis. Rather, the words of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari, “You have been given a beautiful voice (mizmaar, lit. flute) like the beautiful voices of the family of Dawood,” refer to Abu Moosa’s melodious voice.

Scholars such as Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) and Al-‘Iraaqi have explained that the term “mizmaar” in this hadith is a metaphor for a beautiful voice, likening Abu Moosa’s voice to the pleasing sound of a flute. Similarly, when Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) described singing as the “flutes or musical instruments of the Shaytaan,” he was using a metaphor to express his dislike for the practice.

How Flute Listening Takes You Away From Allah

The main argument against playing and listening to the flute is that it can lead one away from remembering and worshipping Allah. This concern applies to all musical instruments, but flutes have been specifically mentioned because of their melodious and enchanting sound.

Here are some ways in which flutes can take a person away from Allah:

• Distraction: The soothing sound of the flute can be a source of distraction from remembering Allah and focusing on prayers. It’s easy to get lost in the music and forget about one’s religious obligations.

• Temptation: Flutes have been known to evoke feelings of desire and sensuality, leading one towards impure thoughts and actions. This goes against the principles of Islam, which promote modesty and chastity.

• Wasting time: Playing or listening to music, including flute music, can be a waste of precious time that could have been spent in the remembrance of Allah. In Islam, time is considered a valuable resource and should be utilized for good deeds.

• Lucid dreaming: Some believe that the sound of the flute can induce a state of relaxation and trance, leading to lucid dreaming. This goes against the concept of being in control of one’s thoughts and actions at all times, as taught in Islam.

Alternate Options for Entertainment in Islam

While music and playing the flute may not be permissible in Islam, there are many other forms of entertainment that are encouraged and allowed. Some examples include:

• Reciting or listening to the Quran: In Islam, recitation and listening to the Quran is considered a form of worship and can bring one closer to Allah.

• Spending time with family and friends: Islam places a strong emphasis on family and community, so spending quality time with loved ones is highly encouraged.

• Engaging in physical activities: Sports and other physical activities are not only good for one’s health but also provide an opportunity to relieve stress and have fun.

• Pursuing creative hobbies: Islam encourages the pursuit of knowledge and skills, which can include various forms of art and crafts such as calligraphy, painting, and pottery.

• Traveling: Exploring new places and cultures is also encouraged in Islam, as it broadens one’s perspective and can be a source of learning and enjoyment.

FAQs

Q. Is flute haram?

A. Yes, the flute is considered haram (forbidden) in Islam. It is also a musical instrument, and according to the Hadith, it is prohibited in Islam.

Q. Can I play the flute on Eid?

A. No, you cannot play the flute on Eid as well. Even though the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not forbid it on that occasion, he remained silent because he did not want to spoil the joy of Eid. However, it is best to avoid playing the flute altogether.

Q. Is playing the flute haram in Islam?

A. Yes, playing the flute is considered haram (forbidden) in Islam. The Hadith and certain other religious texts clearly state that it is not permissible to play or listen to the flute.

Q. Is the flute halal in Islam?

A. No, the flute is not considered halal (permissible) in Islam. It is regarded as haram and forbidden according to religious texts.

Q. Is the flute allowed in Islam?

A. No, the flute is not allowed in Islam. The Hadith and other religious texts have made it very clear that playing or listening to the flute is considered haram (forbidden) in Islam.

Q. Which prophet played the flute?

A. Many believe that Prophet Dawood (peace be upon him) used to play the flute to seek forgiveness from Allah. However, this belief is not supported by any substantial evidence.

Q. What is the Arabic flute?

A. The ney (Persian: Ney/نی, Arabic: Al-Nāy/الناي) is an end-blown flute that plays a prominent role in Persian music, Turkish music, Jewish music, and Arabic music.

Q. Which instruments are haram in Islam?

A. While some Muslims believe that drums are permissible, others maintain that no musical instruments are allowed except for two – the daf (a traditional one-sided drum) and the tambourine, which are mentioned in Hadith.

Q. Is it bad to play the flute at night?

A. You can play any instrument at any time of the day. Particularly if you play the flute at night or in the evening, it may help you feel relaxed. There are various ragas (Indian classical music compositions) that are traditionally played in the evening and at night.

Q. Is singing haram in Islam?

A. The Muslim scholar al-Qaradawi states that singing and music, in themselves, are permissible and pleasurable. However, he places several restrictions on them. The content of the song should not go against the morals and teachings of Islam or be accompanied by other things forbidden in Islam, such as alcohol.

Q. What type of music is haram?

A. In Islam, illegitimate audio arts are considered those that take people away from the commandments of the faith. Music that leads to drinking or licentious behavior is considered illegitimate. Depending on the community’s interpretation, devotional music may be considered legitimate, controversial, or illegitimate.

Q. What is the name of the flute in Pakistan?

A. The Bansuri bamboo flute is found in many parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. The Bansuri can vary in length, inner diameter, and the relative size and placement of the holes, which determines the key in which it is made.

Q. Can the flute damage ears?

A. Yes, it is a common occurrence for classical flute players to experience hearing loss over time. Some people suffer from hearing loss, while others do not. It primarily depends on two factors: the loudness of the instrument and genetics.

Q. Who is a famous flute player?

A. Sir James Galway is considered by many seasoned and newbie flute players as one of the greatest and most famous flute players in the world.

Q. Is the flute a spiritual instrument?

A. In many ancient stories, legends, and traditions, the flute has been associated with magic, mysticism, and the ability to transform.

Q. What is the Korean flute?

A. The daegeum (also spelled taegum, daegum, or taegŭm) is a large bamboo flute, a transverse flute used in traditional Korean music. It has a buzzing membrane that gives it a special timbre and is used in court, aristocratic, folk music, contemporary classical music, popular music, and film scores.