Regarding Permissibility of Music
Q: I would like to know if music is really haraam in Islam. Someone told me that all four madhabs say it is illegal to listen to music. Is that really true? If music is permissible according to Islam is there any way I can prove it quickly according to the four madhabs?
Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem, was-salaat was-salaam `ala sayyidina Muhammadin wa `ala aalihi wa saahbihi ajma`een
Here is a relatively strict interpretation of what is and is not permitted from music/sama . We will provide you other more lenient views later if you desire:
Qadi Abu Tayyib said:
To hear sama from such a woman who can be married is not lawful according to the disciples of Imam Shafi`i who said that it is makruh (disliked) to ring musical instruments by means of a stick and that it was used in order to divert the attention of the people (from remembrance of Allah). Imam Malik prohibited songs. This is in accordance with the hadith of the Prophet (saw) mentioning girls known as Qainaat who would sing among the drunkards. Imam Abu Hanifah said that sama is makruh (disliked) and to hear songs is sinful. Hazrat Sufiyan Thawri, Hammad, Ibrahim Shu`bi and other learned men of Kufa from among the Salaf (first three generations after the Prophet (s)) gave similar opinions.
Abu Talib Makki after quoting the opinion of many learned men said that sama is lawful. He said that Hazrat Abdullah Muawiyah and other Companions of the Prophet (s) used to hear sama . He said that on fixed days of blessing, the Meccans used to hear sama . The Medinites also used to hear them. Insha-Allah the following is a clarification of the use of sama .
Imam Ghazzali's Conditions for Sama Being Commendable
We will cite five from the conditions which Imam Ghazzali cited for sama being commendable:
1. Songs of pilgrims. They roam from one country to another with songs and flutes. These songs are lawful, and they describe poetry relating to Ka’bah, the Black Stone, Zamzam and other signs of Allah. These arouse (desired) sentiments for visiting the Ka'bah and other holy places.
2. Songs of mourning. It is of two kinds, commendable and not commendable. It is not commendable to recite songs which increase sorrow for past mishaps and calamities. The Quran says: - "lest you do not grieve for what missed you," to express sorrow for the dead falls within this class of songs, as it expresses dissatisfaction at the order of God.
Mourning-songs are commendable when men express sorrow for past sins for this sin, Adam wept for forgiveness and Prophet David's songs were for forgiveness. Owing to his melodious songs, many people expired. This action is praiseworthy and to give encouragement for this is also praiseworthy.
3. Songs at the time of festivals. It increases joy and happiness at the time of festivals and other days of expressing happiness, for this happens at the time of two I'ds, marriage festivals, birth ceremony when a child is born and at the time of circumcision.
4. Songs of lovers. These increase love towards God and give satisfaction and pleasure to mind. It is also lawful. If the union with a strange girl or woman is unlawful, songs for her love is also unlawful.
5. Songs on the part of one who seeks the love and pleasure of God and to meet with Him, is lawful.
sama is Unlawful in Five Cases:
1. To hear sama from a woman whose look excites sexual desire. Beardless young men may also be included in this category if sexual desire is aroused at their sight. This illegality is not for songs but for women and beardless young men.
2. Instruments used for the songs of drunkards are unlawful as they remind of unlawful things and incite unlawful action of wine-drinking and intoxicants. These are majamir, awtar and kubah but not daf (drum), flute and other musical instruments.
3. Obscene talk in sama is unlawful. If there are any obscene talks in poetry, useless talk and inferences against God, His Prophet, upon whom be peace, and the companions, may Allah be pleased with them, they are unlawful. If there are descriptions of a particular woman and not of women in general, and narrations of the beauties of a particular woman before the people, they are unlawful.
4. If any evil or immoral desire arises in mind or by hearing songs, it will be unlawful.
5. If habits are formed for hearing sama , it is unlawful. Excess of any thing is bad. If too much food is taken it is bad for health. If too much oil is besmeared on the face, it looks ugly, similarly if too many sama songs are heard, it forms into a harmful habit. After strenuous effort and hard labor sama songs and innocent enjoyments are not harmful.
As can be seen there is a wide range of opinions, and as in everything related to the faith, "actions are by intentions."