Friday, 23 December 2011

The Eminence Islam Attaches To Women

by Harun Yahya
The position of women in Islam has recently been an issue of debate. Some misconceptions arise, either from traditional practices which are thought to be "Islamic," but are not, or else from prejudices. However, the real issue is how women are regarded in the Islamic faith, and when we look at this, we see that Islam gives women great social value, freedom and comfort.
Women in the Qur'an
God's commandments about the status of women and the relations between men and women, which have been revealed to us through the Qur'an, consist of full justice. In this regard, Islam suggests equality of rights, responsibilities and duties between the two genders. Islam is based on sympathy, tolerance and respect for human beings, and does not discriminate against women in this matter.
The examples of good morals communicated to us in the Qur'an are universally compatible with human nature, and are valid for all stages of history.
Respect for women and women's rights fall within this. In the Qur'an God insists that the tasks and responsibilities of women are the same as those of men. Furthermore, while performing these tasks and responsibilities men and women must help and support each other:
The men and women of the believers are friends of one another. They command what is right and forbid what is wrong, and establish prayer and pay alms, and obey Allah and His Messenger. They are the people on whom Allah will have mercy. Allah is Almighty, All Wise. (Qur'an, 9:71)
God emphasizes that believers will be rewarded in the same manner according to their deeds, regardless of their gender.
Their Lord responds to them: 'I will not let the deeds of any doer among you go to waste, male or female - you are both the same in that respect... (Qur'an, 3:195)
Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and We will recompense them according to the best of what they did. (Qur'an, 16:97)
In another verse, Muslim men and women are considered together, and it is stressed that both have the same responsibility and status in God's sight:
Men and women who are Muslims, men and women who are believers, men and women who are obedient, men and women who are truthful, men and women who are steadfast, men and women who are humble, men and women who give alms, men and women who fast, men and women who guard their private parts, men and women who remember Allah much: Allah has prepared forgiveness for them and an immense reward. (Qur'an, 33:35)
In the Qur'an there are many more verses stating that men and women are exactly equal in terms of their tasks and responsibilities and their rewards or punishments in return. There are a few differences in social issues, but these are for the comfort and protection of women. The commands of the Qur'an regard the congenital differences between the two genders resulting from their creation, and suggest a system maintaining equal justice for men and women in this light.
Islam does not see women as objects. Therefore, it is not seen appropriate that a woman of good morals should marry a man of bad morals. In the same way, it is not permitted for a woman of bad morals to marry a man of good morals:
Corrupt women are for corrupt men and corrupt men are for corrupt women, Good women are for good men and good men are for good women. The latter are innocent of what they say. They will have forgiveness and generous provision. (Qur'an, 24:26)
Also as regards marriage, the duties and responsibilities of couples towards each other require equality. God demands that both spouses be protective of and supervise each other. This duty is expressed in the Qur'an in the following words.
They are covers for you and you for them... (Qur'an, 2:187)
Many rules and commandments exist in the Qur'an regarding the protection of women's rights on marriage. Marriage is based on the free will of both parties; the husband has to provide economic support for his wife (4:4); the husband has to look after his ex-wife after divorce (65:6).
The Islamic Emancipation of Women
As the verses make clear, Islam brings justice to male-female relations and puts an end to harmful practices resulting from customs and traditions of pre-Islamic societies. One example is the situation of women in pre-Islamic Arab society. The pagan Arabs regarded women as inferior, and having a daughter was something to be ashamed of. Fathers of daughters sometimes preferred to bury them alive rather than announce their birth. By means of the Qur'an, Allah prohibited this evil tradition and warned that on the Judgment Day such people will definitely have to account for their actions.  
In fact, Islam brought with it a great emancipation for women, who were severely persecuted in the pagan era. Prof. Bernard Lewis, known as one of the greatest Western experts on the history of Islam and the Middle East, makes the following comment:
In general, the advent of Islam brought an enormous improvement in the position of women in ancient Arabia, endowing them with property and some other rights, and giving them a measure of protection against ill treatment by their husbands or owners. The killing of female infants, sanctioned by custom in Pagan Arabia, was outlawed by Islam. But the position of women remained poor, and worsened when, in this as in so many other respects, the original message of Islam lost its impetus and was modified under the influence of pre-existing attitudes and customs. 1
Karen Armstrong, another Western expert on Islam, makes the following comment:
We must remember what life had been like for women in the pre-Islamic period when female infanticide was the norm and when women had no rights at all. Like slaves, women were treated as an inferior species, who had no legal existence. In such a primitive world, what Muhammad achieved for women was extraordinary. The very idea that a woman could be witness or could inherit anything at all in her own right was astonishing. 2
In fact, during the many centuries that followed Prophet Muhammad, women of the Islamic societies had a much higher social position than the women of Christendom. Karen Armstrong emphasizes that, during the Middle Ages;
... the Muslims were horrified to see the way Western Christians treated their women in the Crusader states, and Christian scholars denounced Islam for giving too much power to menials like slaves and women. 3
Anna King, a modern Muslim woman and a convert - or, better to say, a revert - to Islam, explains the Islamic emancipation of women as follows:
Islam first gave women their rights in a time when women were nothing but the property of men. Islam gave women the right to buy and sell on their own, own businesses and express her views politically. These were all basic rights which the American woman was not granted until relatively recently! It also encouraged women to study and learn Islamic knowledge, breaking a ban which several religions had stipulated, which forbid women to acquire any religious knowledge or touch religious texts... It also abolished the practice of marrying a woman without her consent. Thus, one would have to be very stubborn indeed to refuse such obvious facts and proofs that Islam was women's first liberator.
The tendencies to see women as "an inferior species" who has no right for education and that must be totally secluded from the society arose much later in the Islamic world, as a result of deviations from the right Qur'anic path.
Thus we can say that the mentality that despises women, excludes them from society and regards them as second class citizens is a wicked pagan attitude which has no place in Islam.
In fact, devout women are depicted as good examples for mankind in the Qur'an. One is Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. Another is the wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh who, despite her husband's wickedness, is also described as an ideal Muslim. (see, 66:11-12) The Qur'an also describes very gentle conversations between the Prophet Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (27:42-44), and between Moses and two young ladies (28:23-26), which symbolize the civilized social relationship between the two genders.
Therefore, it is impossible for a Muslim to have a bigoted approach to women. In a society where true Islamic morals are practiced, immense respect and sympathy will be shown to women, and it will be ensured that they can live in freedom and comfort.
The fundamental rule in Qur'anic exegesis is ensuring that the derived meaning is in conformity with the integrity of the Qur'an. When this is considered, it is seen that all the rules mentioned to us by Allah regarding women form a social structure allowing them to live in the most comfortable and happiest way. In a society where all the moral values mentioned by Islam are practiced comprehensively, the social position of women becomes even more exalted than in societies that we today regard as modern.


By Ron Abdul Latif Coleman

The Almighty has created man with the best physical and intellectual abilities. Desires for beauty and stateliness of thought and practice are found in his nature. He is well-disposed to choose good to the exclusion of evil, and prefer piety to sinfulness. He professes virtues of love, fidelity, truth, purity, justice and equality, and shuns hatred, falsehood, injustice and inequity. He yearns for enlightenment and shuns ignorance; he goes for fragrance and evades fetidness; he craves for beauty and dislikes ugliness. All cultural advancement and progress in civilization, in fact, owes itself to this very natural desire in man for beauty and grandeur. Every small step he has taken for advancement testifies to his inclination towards the best. He needed nutrition for his growth for which he could have done with brambles and potherbs, but he innovated a variety of delicious foods as an essential part of his meals. His sense of modesty required that he cover his private parts, for which he could have wrapped himself up in sackcloth, but he went for silk, brocade and satin. He needed shelter. Caves, tents or huts scattering through forests and deserts could have satisfied this need, and yet he chose to build cities and bejeweled them with magnificent palaces. In social life, he needed an effective means of communication. But he did not feel content with simple signs and symbols or even a plain discourse; instead he coined such eloquent styles of expression that language developed into poetry and literature. The history of mankind - in the realm of social and cultural progress - sufficiently evidences the fact that in his very nature, man longs for beauty and grandeur in all activities that emanate from him. His physical and psychological senses, and their necessary characteristics, mirror his interest in beauty. Therefore, we see that his appreciation for the ambience of life and its vivid images drives him to decorate his surroundings. His command on expressing himself leads him to take ordinary words, and develop their rhyme and meanings into poetry. This is because of his appreciation for a beautiful voice that he infuses passion in his utterances and uses the high and low pitches in composing enchanting musical tones. His yearning to hear pleasing sounds draws him towards the captivating resonance in his environment and forces him to invent musical instruments to master and reproduce these sounds.
Music is nothing but the manifestation of his beauty of utterance and taste for pleasing sounds. Therefore, music satisfies his want of beauty and affords him an opportunity to delight his innerself. It is commonly believed that the Islamic Shari`ah prohibits music and musical instruments altogether. However, we understand that this view cannot be substantiated from the basic sources of religious knowledge in Islam. Only the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah have the sole authority to render something allowed or forbidden. Nothing can be added or deducted from the list of the allowed and forbidden articles of the Shari`ah. In order to identify the Shari`ah directives regarding a certain matter, Muslim scholarship has generally sought the two authentic sources: the Qur'an and Sunnah. An inquiry into the Hadith literature ascribed to the Holy Prophet (sws) follows this. If the issue is addressed in these narratives, they are also to be benefited from in the light of the established principles of sense and reason, and religious knowledge. The previous Divine scriptures are also resorted to when necessary. Opinions ascribed to the companions, exegetical works, Hadith and Fiqh are also consulted in such analytical study. Strictly following these acknowledged principles of research, we have attempted to conduct a thorough inquiry to find out the Islamic stance on music. Our study led us to believe that the Holy Qur'an does not have any direct or indirect, explicit or implicit directive that can evidence the prohibition of music. Likewise, the list of Sunan (i.e. practices established by the Holy Prophet (sws) as part of the religion) also does not offer any basis for the assumed prohibition of music in Islam. The Hadith literature contains many Sahih 1 and Hasan 2 narratives ascribed to the Holy Prophet (sws), which allude to the allowance of music. However, some narratives depict it as a prohibited activity, but scholars of the science of Hadith have declared most such narratives Da`if 3. Furthermore, a close examination of the narratives that are presented as basis for the prohibition of music show that it is only the involvement of drinking, nudity, and other moral depravity that renders the entire event forbidden. As for the previous scriptures, the Holy Bible explicitly refers to the fact that the Prophet David (sws) was gifted with a very pleasing voice. He would glorify God in his psalms, which he sang accompanied with enchanting music. The Zabur (i.e. Psalms), the book revealed to him, is a collection of such songs that he sang on a harp. Different views of the Companions on the issue have been recorded in the Hadith and the exegetical literature. As for the works of the researchers and scholars of the past, many of the commentators of the Qur'an understood some Qur'anic words to be referring to music. Based on their interpretation of the Qur'anic references, they maintained that it is prohibited in Islam. As we have already mentioned, scholars of the science of Hadith consider that most of the narratives which are often presented to establish the prohibition of music are Da`if and unreliable. Some of these scholars declare that there is no Sahih Hadith in the entire corpus of the Hadith literature that proves the prohibition of music. However, the majority of the jurists have declared that music is an activity forbidden in Islam. They base their argument on narratives discarded as Da`if by the scholars of the science of Hadith. We have studied all these sources of religious knowledge and have tried to determine the status of music in Islam. Our thorough research has led us to the conclusion that music is one of the permissible natural gifts of God. The Islamic Shari`ah does not forbid it. One can use the musical tones in hymns, encomia, odes or tragedy, epic and comedic poems. However, if any of these literary poetical compositions contain any polytheistic or atheistic subject matters or is prone to promote impiety and sinfulness, then of course, it must be condemned and rendered unallowable. But it must be understood, this is only the content of the poetry recited that is being condemned in this case not the art of music itself. If the content of the poems and all literature is endorsed by the Shari`ah and does not offend man's moral values, then music can be used in poetry, prose, oratory, writings and recitals. If the message conveyed through the rendered contents does not conform to religious and moral principles, then all such indulgences shall necessarily be forbidden. For example, if a poem written in praise of a messenger of God is contaminated by verses expressive of polytheistic ideas then that very poem is to be forbidden, not the art of poetry. Similarly, songs that contain immoral utterances should be condemned. However, once again, this is done merely because the contents of these literary genres contain debauchery and the literary activity itself cannot be prohibited based on this. Still, if any such permissible thing has become associated with an evil thing, it can be temporarily banned in order to block the way for that inseparable evil. 1. Music and the Holy Qur'an The Holy Qur'an is the last episode of the religious guidance divulged by God to man. Initially implanted in human nature in the form of intuitive knowledge of certain basic facts, this religious guidance culminates in the Holy Qur'an. Over the course of history, different Prophets (sws) of God added different rites, rituals and practices to the treasure of Divine guidance. The Prophet Abraham (sws) gave these practices (known to all as Sunat-i-Ibrahimi) a well-defined and concrete shape. On the other hand, Divine books like the Torah, Psalms and the Gospels further explained various aspects of the Shari`ah directives and the wisdom behind them. Then, finally, came the Prophet Muhammad (sws) and the Holy Qur'an. Thus, the Holy Qur'an is the last version of the religious guidance and not the first. It would mean that besides the Holy Qur'an, the sources of religious guidance include dictates of nature, Abrahamic practices and previous scriptures. All religious precepts are termed as Ma`ruf and Munkar in the Holy Qur'an. The word Ma`ruf signifies all such acts as are inscribed in the human nature as praiseworthy, and the word Munkar is applied to the ones considered evil. Man's ability to tell the nature of the deeds enables him to distinguish good from evil. This is the very yardstick by which he can identify the moral and immoral aspects of certain acts. Therefore, relying on this human knowledge, the Holy Qur'an does not provide an exhaustive list of good and bad deeds. Generally, it only provides principal guidance. Detailed guidance is only considered necessary where humans tend to err in a specific matter and clarifications are rendered inevitable. In the light of the above explanation, we can conclude that the Holy Qur'an does not pass a verdict on all human thoughts and actions. Rather, it leaves the matter to men to decide for themselves in the light of primary sources of religious knowledge, referred to above as innate guidance and established religious practices. In some matters, it gives only principal guidance and/or slight hints. In others, it provides necessary details. As for music, the matter has not been directly addressed in the Holy Qur'an. No single Qur'anic verse clarifies its religious status. i. Rhyme and Rhythm in Qur'anic Verses The Holy Qur'an contains unparalleled aural beauty and the best stylistic expression. Though a literary masterpiece, it cannot be identified with the well-known literary genres like poetry, prose or oration. Yet, the element of rhyme in its verses exhibit that the Author has given special attention to it in order to give it a tint of rhythm. The rhyme element in the Qur'an creates an enchanting effect on the listeners - commoners or scholars, Muslims or non- Muslims alike. It was only this aspect of the Qur'anic discourse because of which the Quraysh were able to say that the Holy Prophet (sws) was a poet and the Qur'an, a poetic composition. Since the Almighty has beautified the Qur'an with rhyme and rhythm, we can conclude that He loves rhyme and rhythm in words, and beauty in their sounds. Music no doubt is a form of this assonance created by a certain order of words and their sounds. For that account, the Holy Prophet (sws) encouraged the believers to recite the Qur'an with a beautiful and pleasing sound. He is reported to have said: He who does not recite the Qur'anic verses in a beautiful tone does not belong to us. (Bukhari, No: 7089) Beautify your recitation of the Qur'an with your beautiful recitation. (Ibn Khuzaymah, No: 1556) ii. The Prophet David (sws) and his Psalms When the Prophet David (sws) would sing God's praises, the birds and mountains would join him. This has been referred to in Surahs Anbiya, Saba and Suad of the Holy Qur'an. …and We caused the mountains and the birds to join with David. They would praise God with him. (21:79) In the verse, the verb `sakhr' has been employed, which means to subject something, subdue it, and bring it in conformity with something else. Though it is not clear from different usages of the word in the Qur'an that the Prophet David (sws) would sing his hymns, yet if seen in the light of the Biblical texts, it becomes clear that he certainly did. The Bible clearly mentions that the Prophet David (sws) would beautifully sing his psalms on a harp. Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise to Him with psalms. (Psalms 95:1-2) Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; show forth His salvation from day to day. (Psalms 96:1-2) I will sing a new song to You, O God; on a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You. (Psalms 144:9) The famous Muslims scholar, Abu'l Kalam Azad has taken the referred to Qur'anic verse to mean that David (sws) would sing his psalms in praise of God. He writes: The Prophet David (sws) had a very sweet sound. He is the first to compile Hebrew music and he developed the Egyptian and Babylonian harps into more sophisticated musical instruments. A study of the Torah and Jewish tradition reveals that when he would climb the mountain tops and sing the praise of his Lord on his harp, the trees and stones would join him enraptured. Exegetical narratives also corroborate this fact. `Subjecting the birds to David (sws)' can signify either that all kinds of birds would flock to his palace or his songs would enrapture them. The book of Psalms comprises a wonderful collection of songs that David (sws) composed with Divine inspiration 4. Renowned Qur'anic exegete, Amin Ahsan Islahi too has explained the verse of Surah Anbiya in the light of the Biblical narrative. He writes: David (sws) cherished a deep communion with God. At nights, He would set out for the mountains and sing the praises of God. The pleasing sound of his songs would echo through the mountains and the birds would join him. It is noteworthy that the Torah clearly mentions that David (sws) not only had a very sweet voice but his voice revealed strong passion. Furthermore, all these hymns are in the form of songs and poems inspired by God. These inspired hymns cast such deep effect on the listeners that even successive translations have left only little poetical element in them, they still fully captivate the audience. The heart leaps for joy upon hearing them. Imagine a person with so sweet a sound as David (sws) singing the praises of God amid the serene mountains in the stillness of early dawn. You would no longer doubt that the mountains would echo and the birds would respond to his utterances. One should not entertain the thought that it is only a poetical reverie. Nay, it stands an irrevocable fact. The Holy Qur'an makes it clear that everything in this universe exalts the Lord. It is our lack of understanding, due to which, we cannot comprehend these thanksgivings. Their yearning to praise God is inflamed when someone else starts singing their heart's voice. They feel enraptured by such a song in the surroundings and join the singer in his utterances. Our inability to comprehend the thanksgiving offered by each and every creation should not lead us to conclude that none else could understand it. All such people as have molten hearts can. Mawlana Rum has beautifully expressed the thought in the following verses: The philosopher belies the incident of Hananah. He is not familiar with the (extraordinary) senses of the Prophets. The famous Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib says: At your end is the problem that you do not know the secrets being unveiled to you. Something that seems a curtain before you is in fact the pardah from which the music flows 5. Islahi's commentary of the relevant verses of Surah Suad reflects the fact that David (sws) alone was able to comprehend the praises of the mountains and birds because it was a special favour of God on him. He writes: Each and everything in this universe sings the praises of God. It is only the humans who cannot understand their utterances. Our failure to understand their praises does not necessitate that none could understand them. The Almighty had bestowed upon David (sws) not only the sound sweet enough to enrapture the birds and the mountains, but also the perceptive ears which could enable him to understand the hymns of the mountains and birds 6. 2. Music in the Bible The Bible is a collection of the Torah, Psalms, Gospels and other Divine scriptures. Basically, it contains God's Shari`ah and His wisdom. Although different followers of the Book have lost many parts of this Divine book and altered some others because of their mutual differences, yet it treasures invaluable assets of Divine guidance. If seen in the light of the final revelation - the Holy Qur'an - the contents of the Bible afford us very precious guidance. We find numerous references to music and musical instruments in the Bible. This means that in the religion brought by the Prophets of God, music and musical instrument have never been disallowed. In the Bible, one finds many places where music accompanies the praises of God. Besides, at many other places, the Bible positively mentions the use of music in expressing delight, sorrow, as well as in the context of war. i. Worship Rituals and Music When the Pharaoh and his people were destroyed in the sea by the command of God, as mentioned in Exodus, and Moses (sws) successfully delivered his people from the Egyptian captivity, all the Israelites embraced the faith and believed in God and His Messenger. On that occasion, Moses (sws) and the believers accompanying him praised their Lord: Then the sons of Moses and Israel sang this song to the Lord, and spoke, saying, `I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider, He has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation'. (Exodus 15:1-2) Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? (Exodus 15:11) What follows this is the reason that occasioned the singing. Maryam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, it has been told, played a tambourine. For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them. But the sons of Israel went on dry land in the middle of the sea. And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel (a musical instrument similar to tambourine) in her hand. And all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them, Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea. (Exodus 15: 19-21) According to Chronicles, when the Prophet Solomon (sws) got back the Ark of Covenant, the whole Israel stood before it and offered sacrifices to express their delight and sang praises to their Lord. And they were as one to the trumpeters and to the singers, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and as they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying, For He is good, for His mercy endures forever, the house was filled with a cloud, the house of the Lord. (2 Chronicles 5:13) As for the book of Psalms, it comprises a wonderful variety of inspired pieces of music and songs. There are numerous internal testimonies to the fact that the Prophet David (sws) sang these songs with the help of musical instruments. Inscriptions to many chapters of the book read, `To the Chief Musician, for stringed instruments. A Psalm of David (sws).' The contents of the Psalms also evidence this fact. Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise to Him with psalms. (Psalms 95:1-2) Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; show forth His salvation from day to day. (Psalms 96:1-2) I will sing a new song to You, O God; on a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You. (Psalms 144:9) ii. Music as Expression of Gladness on the Most Joyous Occasion We learn from the Bible that the Israelites used music to celebrate joyous occasions. According to the book of Kings, Solomon's kingship was proclaimed with joyful music and songs. And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth was torn with their sound. (1 Kings 1:40) iii. Music in the Context of Wars According to the book of Numbers, the Almighty commanded Moses (sws) to make two silver trumpets to call the assembly, and to signal instructions in regulating movements of the troops in times of war. And the Lord spoke to Moses saying, `make two trumpets of silver for yourself. You shall make them of beaten work. And they shall be used for the calling of the assembly and for causing the camps to go forward.' (Numbers 10:1-2) 1. A Sahih Hadith is transmitted through an unbroken chain of narrators all of which are of sound character and memory. Any Hadith should not clash with a more reliable report and must not suffer from any other hidden defect. 2. A Hasan Hadith is transmitted through an unbroken chain of narrators, all of whom are of sound character but weak memory. This Hadith should not clash with a more reliable report and must not suffer from any other hidden defect. 3. A Da`if Hadith is that which cannot gain the status of Hasan because it lacks any one or more elements of a Hasan Hadith. (e.g. if the narrator is not of sound memory and sound character, or if there is a hidden fault in the narrative or if the chain of narrators is broken). 4. Abu'l-Kalam Azad, Tarjuman Al-Qur'an, Vol. 2, (Lahore: Islamic Academy, 1976), p. 480 5. Islahi, Amin Ahsan, Tadabbur-i-Qur' an, 2nd ed., vol. 5, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), pp. 173-4 6. Ibid., p. 552 Prophetic Sayings on Music Music was one of the favourite cultural traditions of the Arabs in the days of the Prophet Muhammad (sws). Music and musical instruments were frequently used in worship rituals. It was also employed in the expression of delight and sorrow. Music accompanied wars and festivals too. A study of the traditions ascribed to the Holy Prophet (sws) reveals that not only did he express his likeness for Music but he also encouraged others to play it on festive occasions. Some reliable narratives in this regard make it clear that the mother of the believers, `A'ishah (rta) listened to songs in the very presence of the Holy Prophet (sws). The Holy Prophet (sws) himself is reported to have encouraged people to use music on wedding ceremonies. On his migration from Makkah to Madinah, the women sang welcome songs on the Daff and the Holy Prophet (sws) expressed his approbation of this. At another occasion, a professional female singer and musician approached him and requested him to listen to her song. The Holy Prophet (sws) not only himself listened to her song but also took `A'ishah (rta) to listen to her. The mother of the believers leaned on the Holy Prophet's (sws) shoulders and enjoyed the performance for a considerable time. During journeys, the Messenger of God showed his likeness for the Hida, a kind of desert song. He is also reported to have appointed a Hadi for his camels who was endowed with a very sweet sound. He also emphasized beating the Daff in order to announce Nikah. Various traditions have been recorded in the books of Hadith on these issues. A study of some of these traditions follows. i. Music on the `Id Festivals Narrates `A'ishah (rta): The Messenger (sws) of God came to my residence while two female singers were singing the songs of Bu`ath...1 The Holy Prophet (sws) lay down and turned his face to the other side. Meanwhile Abu Bakr (rta) entered and [seeing the singers] rebuked me thus: `Satanic musical instruments in the presence of the Holy Prophet (sws)?' On hearing this God's Messenger (sws) turned towards him and said: `Let them [sing and rejoice]'. When Abu Bakr was engaged in some other business, I signalled to the girls [to go out] and they left. It was on the `Id day.2 (Bukhari, No: 907) We can conclude from this narrative the following points: · The Mother of the believers, `A'ishah (rta), was listening to songs on `Id day. · The songs were being sung in the residence of the Holy Prophet (sws). · A professional singer was performing.3 · The song was not a hymn to God; rather a relic of a war fought before the advent of Islam. · The mother of the believers did not stop listening to the song even after the Holy Prophet had arrived. · The Holy Prophet (sws) did not forbid her from listening to the song. · He did not stop the female singers either. · He himself was not attracted to the performance but he must have heard the song as he could hear Abu Bakr's comments. · Abu Bakr (rta) condemned the practice at first sight and declared that these were satanic instruments. · When he tried to stop the singers and censure the listeners, the Holy Prophet (sws) stopped him from doing so. The report evidently proves that the Holy Prophet (sws) allowed singing music during religious festivals. This is evidenced by the fact that Holy Prophet's (sws) wife enjoyed singing and music. Although Abu Bakr (rta) tried to stop the function, the Holy Prophet (sws) did not interfere with it, and let the performers and the audience enjoy themselves. Therefore, in light of this evidence we can conclude that music can justifiably be considered allowable in Islam. The following narrative also deals with the issue: Umm-i-Salamah narrates: A slave girl belonging to Hassan Ibn Thabit (rta) came to us on `Id al Fitr. Her hair was unkempt and she carried a tambourine and was singing [some song]. Umm-i-Salamah rebuked her. But the Holy Prophet (sws) said to her: `Ummi-i- Salamah, let her [sing and rejoice]. Certainly every nation has an `Id and this day is our `Id'. (Mu`jam Al-Kabir, No: 558) ii. Music on Wedding Ceremonies Narrates Ibn `Abbas: `A'ishah (rta) arranged the marriage of a close Ansari girl. The Holy Prophet (sws) also came to attend the ceremony. He inquired from the people: `Have you sent forth the bride?' `Yes', they replied. `Did you send any singer with her?' He asked. `A'ishah (rta) replied in the negative. The Holy Prophet (sws) then remarked: `The Ansar cherish singing. It would be better that you sent along with her a singer who would sing' 4 `We have come to you; we have joined you. Peace be upon us. Peace be upon you.' 5 (Ibn Majah, No: 1900) The narrative delineates the following points: · The way the Holy Prophet (sws) inquired about singing and playing music on this occasion reveals that it was customary for the Arabs to send a singer with the bride when sent to join the bridegroom. · The Holy Prophet (sws) was not pleased to hear that the custom was abandoned on that occasion. · He encouraged people to adhere to the custom. · He suggested some couplets to be recited on such occasions though he did not sing them. · He referred to the characteristics of the Ansar and did not express his disapproval of the same. The narrative proves that the Holy Prophet (sws) approved of singing and playing music on marriage ceremonies. Some other versions of the narrative reveal that the Prophet (sws) noticed that there was no singing or music being played in the house where the marriage ceremony was being conducted. He felt strange and inquired about the reason. Consider the following text of the narrative: `A'ishah (rta) reports: An Ansari girl lived under my guardianship and I arranged her marriage. The Holy Prophet (sws) came to my house on the day she was married and did not hear any songs or any other joyful activities. [Observing this] he asked of me: `Did you people sing to her or not?' `This is the tribe of the Ansar who like singing,' he added. (Ibn Hibban, No: 5875) iii. Use of Music on Joyous Occasions Ibn `A'ishah narrates: When the Holy Prophet (sws) came to Madinah, the women and the children started singing: `The Moon has risen upon us from the hillocks of Wida`. We owe gratitude [to God] as long as those who call God continue doing so. O Prophet (sws) you have brought a religion that is worthy to be followed'. 6 Narrates Anas Ibn Malik: [Having entered the city], the Holy Prophet (sws) passed through a certain part of the town. Suddenly some slave girls appeared singing on the Daff the following ditty: `We are the slave girls of Bani Najjar. 7 How lucky! This day the Holy Prophet (sws) has come to be our neighbor'. At this the Holy Prophet (sws) remarked: `God knows that I love you people' 8 (Ibn Majah, No: 1899) These narratives deal with the Holy Prophet's arrival in Madinah after his migration from Makkah. Their content can be summarized in the following points: · The Holy Prophet's arrival in Madinah was an extremely joyous occasion. · People expressed their joy by singing joyous songs. · Slave girls were also from among the singers. · They had musical instruments to play with their songs. · The Holy Prophet (sws) and the Companions (rta) heard these songs but they did not express their disapproval. · The Holy Prophet (sws) expressed his love and kindness for singing women. These and other similar narratives sufficiently prove that when the Holy Prophet (sws) reached Madinah after his migration from Makkah, he received a warm welcome. The city had a festive appearance. Every one was filled with joy on the Holy Prophet's arrival. Women, slave girls, singing women and children expressed their joy by singing welcome songs and playing the Daff. The Holy Prophet (sws) appreciated this. Therefore, one cannot deny the fact that the Holy Prophet (sws) sanctioned celebrating joyous occasion by singing melodies using musical instruments. iv. Use of Music during Travels: Narrates Salama Ibn Al-Akwa`: `We set off for Khaybar in the company of the Holy Prophet (sws) at night. A man from the group said to `Amir: `O `Amir, would not you let us hear your poetry?' `Amir who was a Hida poet got down and started reciting for the people [the following verses]: `O God, were not it for your guidance, we could not have been able to offer the Salah and pay the Zakah. So please forgive our sins that [we have committed] and the ones we may commit in future. We are ready to offer our lives for your cause. Grant us perseverance when faced [with the enemy] and pour down your mercy upon us. [We are the people] who refuse to surrender when the enemy challenges us to fight. And [we leave them] to cry for help against us'. The Holy Prophet asked: `Who is that signer?' They replied: ``Amir bin Al-Akwa`'. `God bless him', prayed the Holy Prophet (sws) 9. (Bukhari, No: 3960) We learn from the narrative that: · The Companions were along with the Holy Prophet (sws) on his way to Khaybar. · Some of the Companions requested `Amir (rta) to sing from his Hida (i.e. song sung primarily to drive camels, which correspond to their walk). He complied with the request and began his recitation with such a loud voice that the Holy Prophet (sws) could hear him. · The Holy Prophet (sws) inquired about the singer approvingly. · Since he had recited good verses the Holy Prophet (sws) prayed for him. Hida is a form of the desert poetry. The verses in this kind of poetry are rhymed corresponding to the pace of the footsteps of the camels. Ancient Arab camel drivers would sing this kind of poetry while travelling through the desert. Though the primary purpose of this singing was to encourage the camels to walk speedily yet the camel drivers themselves enjoyed it a lot. Many Hadith narratives refer to this practice of the time and evidently prove that the Holy Prophet (sws) and his Companions would enjoy this kind of poetry. According to other narratives on the same subject, the Holy Prophet (sws) had appointed Anjashah, who had a very pleasing voice, to serve as a Hadi (i.e. camel driver) during his travels in the desert. During one of the travels, the camels started to pace very quickly affected by the sweetness of his sound. The Holy Prophet (sws) stopped him lovingly from singing Hida. He asked the singer not to force the beasts to walk at a faster pace so that female riders do not fall down. `Anas Ibn Malik reports: The Holy Prophet had a Had, Anjashah. He had a very sweet sound. [During one of his journeys] the Holy Prophet (sws) said to him: `Slow down, Anjashah, lest you should break the delicate goblets. Qatadah explained that the Prophet (sws) was referring to delicate women. (Bukhari, No: 5857) According to the scholars Hida' definitely is a type of singing. Dr. Jawwad Ali writes: Hida is of the oldest type of singing in Arabia that was specifically used during travels and is still used in contemporary Bedouin society. Besides, since the Hida songs suit sorrowful situation, this type of singing was used in mourning etc. as well. The Holy Prophet (sws) got a Hida singer appointed for him called Al- Barra' Ibn Malik Ibn Nadar Al-Ansari who would drive camels for male riders. Another Had of his was Anjashah who had a very melodious tone. He was a black slave of the Holy Prophet (sws) who was employed to serve as a Had for the camels of the wives of the Holy Prophet (sws). 10 He further writes: Al-Hida' actually is the singing used among the desert dwellers … this kind of singing corresponds with the tones cherished by the desert dwellers and also with their simple and natural mourning songs that please the nomadic tastes of these Bedouins. 11 Ibn Khaldun writes in his book, Muqaddamah, that the basic purpose of Hida was not only to please the caravan members but also to urge the camels to proceed faster. This feeling of joy is even found in speechless animals not to mention humans. Therefore we see that the camels respond to the Hida of the riders, and the horses are affected by the whistles and shrill sounds. We already know that animals receive effects of the songs if they are rhythmical, and correspond to the rules governing the art of music. 12 v. Musical Instruments Narrates Rabi`, daughter of Mu`wwadh: On the occasion of my transfer to my husband's home after marriage, the Holy Prophet (sws) came to visit us and sat down on my bed just as you [the next narrator] are sitting before me now. Some slave girls were beating the Daff and singing in lamentation of their forefathers who had been killed during the battle of Badr. Then one of the girls sang: `Among us is the Prophet (sws) who knows even what will happen in coming days'. At this, the Holy Prophet (sws) said: `Do not say this, but go on singing. 13 (Bukhari, No: 3779) We learn from the narrative that: · The Holy Prophet (sws) attended a marriage ceremony where some slave girls were singing. · Singing was not stopped on his arrival. · The singers used the Daff with their singing. · The Holy Prophet (sws) heard them [this is evident from the fact that he stopped them from uttering certain words.] · He however ordered them to continue with what they were singing before. This effectively proves that the Holy Prophet (sws) did not impose any restriction on using the Daff, a common musical instrument used in that society. Keeping in view the information we received through the above mentioned narratives we can conclude that Arabs of the times of the Holy Prophet (sws) would use musical instrument to accompany their singing on joyous occasions. This has been done in the presence of the Holy Prophet (sws) to which he did not object. Some other narratives even tell us that the Holy Prophet (sws) even ordered the people to use musical instruments at the occasion of marriage. The Holy Prophet (sws) said: `the only thing that distinguishes the allowable act (i.e. Nikah) from the forbidden one (fornication) is the beat of the tambourine and open declaration of the Nikah. 14 (Ibn Majah, No: 1896) The Daff no doubt is an old musical instrument to be played by hand, which remained in use from ancient times. In this regard, Dr. Jawwad `Ali writes: The Daff is one of the most well known primitive musical instruments. .. It is used to express joy and high spirit. Women also play it. The Arabs would commonly use it on their most joyous occasions. When the Holy Prophet (sws) reached Madinah he was welcomed with the singing of songs and playing of the Daff. Usually, the Arabs would use it on joyful ceremonies like weddings, and would sing songs along with it. 15 The Bible also contains references to the Daff as a musical instrument at various occasions. One of the Urdu Bible dictionaries, Qamus Al-Kitab, defines the instrument thus: It was a kind of narrow hoop musical instrument which was held in [one] hand and played [by striking it with the other.] It was used to create rhythm while singing and dancing. It would offer much cheerfulness in celebrations and processions. 16 vi. Art of Music Narrates Sa'ib Ibn Yazid: A woman came to the Holy Prophet (sws). He asked `A'ishah (rta): `Do you know her?' `No, O Prophet (sws) of God' she replied. `This is the female professional singer of such and such tribe. Do you want her to sing to you?' So the woman sang for her. 17 (Bayhaqi, No: 8940) We learn from the narrative: · A woman connected with the art of music 18 came to the Holy Prophet (sws). · She expressed her desire to sing to `A'ishah (rta) · The Holy Prophet (sws) did not express dislike for this nor did he rebuke her. · He introduced her to `A'ishah (rta). · With the permission from the Holy Prophet (sws), the singer sang to `A'ishah (rta). The narrative evidences that the Holy Prophet (sws) did not consider singing evil in its nature. Had it been the case he would have hindered the woman from doing so or at least he would not have allow `A'ishah (rta) to listen to her song. Some other narratives tell us that such professional singers and dancers, both men and women, were common among the Arabs of that time, and the Holy Prophet (sws) did not deem it undesirable to enjoy their performance. Consider the following narratives: Narrates `A'ishah (rta): The Holy Prophet (sws) was present among us when suddenly we heard children creating noise. The Holy Prophet (sws) stood up. [We found out] that a black slave woman was dancing encircled by children. The Holy Prophet (sws) [called me] saying: ``A'ishah (rta), come and watch'. I came [to him] placed my chin over the Prophet's shoulders and watched through the space between his shoulders and head... The Holy Prophet (sws) asked many times: `Have you not got enough of it?' In order to know how he cares for me I continued replying in the negative. Meanwhile `Umar (rta) came and the gathering disbursed [seeing him]. At this the Holy Prophet commented: `I see that the devils from among the Jinn and the humans have fled at `Umar arrival.' 19 (Tirmidhi, No: 3691) Abdullah Ibn Buridah narrates on the authority of his father: The Holy Prophet (sws) returned from some of his military expeditions. A black slave girl approached him and said: `I had vowed to beat the Daff before you if God brought you back unhurt'. The Holy Prophet replied: `If you have, then proceed'. She started beating the Daff. Meanwhile Abu Bakr (rta) came and she continued beating it. Later when `Umar (rta) came she covered her instrument under herself as soon as she saw him. At this the Holy Prophet (sws) commented: ``Umar, even Satan fears you'. (Bayhaqi, No: 19888) The overall situation depicted in the above narratives makes it clear that the word `Habshiyyah' and `Jariyyah Sawda'u' connote professional singer slave-girl. For it would not be possible for a common lady to perform before the general public. The word `Qaynah' in the above mentioned narrative from Sunan Al- Bayhaqi connotes a professional female singer. The context does not permit any other explanation. Besides, it is a known fact that in the Arabic language the word has been used as a term for a professional female singer. The author of Lisan Al-`Arab writes, `and the word `Qaynah' means female slave singer.' 20 Black male and female slaves excelled in the art of dancing and music. Many narratives provide sufficient evidence that they exhibited their skill in the presence of the Holy Prophet (sws) at numerous occasions and he did not condemn it. vii. Dance Anas (rta) narrates: Black slaves were dancing in front of the Messenger (sws) of God and sang the following words: `Muhammad (sws) is a pious person'. The Holy Prophet (sws) [did not understand their utterances] and asked what they were saying. The people replied: `they say that Muhammad (sws) is a pious person'. (Ahmad, No: 12562) We learn from the narrative that: · Some black slaves were dancing in the presence of the Holy Prophet (sws). · They were singing the praise of the Holy Prophet (sws). · The Holy Prophet (sws) did not stop them from doing so. · He was interested in their performance. This is revealed by his question about their utterances. The Hadith literature contains enough evidence to the fact that professional dancers from among the Abyssinian slaves used to perform before the Arabs. The nobles of Arabia would not consider enjoying such performances as undesirable. Therefore they would invite such artists to perform on their festive occasions. Dr Jawwad `Ali writes: The Abyssinians were famous for their love of dancing. The people of Makkah and of other territories of Hijaz would call upon them to perform their special dances and sing songs whenever they would hold joyous ceremonies like marriage, circumcision and other similar festive occasions. 21 Many Hadith narratives show that `A'ishah (rta) enjoyed the dancing feast of the Abyssinian slaves along with the Holy Prophet (sws)... Narrates `A'ishah (rta): Once on an `Id day the Abyssinian slaves came and started dancing in the mosque. The Holy Prophet (sws) called me. I placed my head on the Holy Prophet's shoulder and started watching their performance. [The Holy Prophet did not stop me] until I myself got tired of watching them and turned away. (Muslim, No: 892) viii. The Prophet's Praise for a Melodious Voice Narrates Abu Musa: The Holy Prophet (sws) [heard him recite the Holy Qur'an] and commented: `O Abu Musa, you have been given one of the musical wind-instruments of the nation of David'. The narrative tells us: · The Holy Prophet (sws) liked reciting the Qur'an in sweet sound. · He rendered it analogous to using musical instruments. · He appreciated the musical instruments used by people of David (sws). This markedly shows that the Holy Prophet (sws) liked melodious utterances. The words of the narrative shows that the reason the Holy Prophet (sws) praised Abu Musa's recitation was the sweetness of his voice. Obviously, this sweetness of sound should always be considered a desirable thing; not only this sweetness will be enjoyed while reciting the Holy Qur'an but also other poetry, for example, poetical compositions in praise of God and exalting Him and in expressing other good subjects or poetry. In all these things, a beautiful voice should be equally considered a virtue. The art of music and singing is nothing but rhythmical melodious themes. There is no doubt that the principles of reciting the Qur'an beautifully are different from the ones used in common musical notes. However, this is equally true that the treble and bass and beauty and delicacy of utterance are elements common in the Qur'anic recitation and other types of singing. Seen in this perspective, both arts have a common trait of some sort. Furthermore, the narrative approves of the musical instruments of David (sws). Thus the Holy Prophet (sws) recognized Biblical accounts regarding David (sws) and his followers about their use of music and musical instruments in singing the praises of God. That is the reason the great exegetes of the Qur'an have recorded this Hadith narrative in connection with the Qur'anic verses dealing with David's praises of God. While commenting on verse 79 of Surah Anbiya, the celebrated commentator of the Qur'an, Ibn Kathir writes: And this was because of his reciting the Psalms in a melodious voice. When he would sing it the birds would stop in the air and sang in response to David; so did the mountains. It is for this reason that when the Holy Prophet (sws) passed Abu Musa Ash`ari (rta), when he was offering his night prayer, he stopped and listened to his recitation for he had a very beautiful voice. The Holy Prophet (sws) said: `Indeed he (Abu Musa) has been bestowed one of the musical instruments of the people of David (sws)'. Hearing this, Abu Musa said: `Had I known that he [the Holy Prophet] was listening, I would have pleased him more'. Abu `Uthman Nahdi says that he did not find any drum, flute or a reed sound more pleasing than the voice of Abu Musa. 22 Therefore it may safely be concluded that the Holy Prophet (sws) believed in the fact that David (sws) had a melodious voice. ____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ ______ REFERENCES: 1. War fought between the two tribes of the Ansar, namely Aws and Khazraj, before the advent of Islam. 2. This Hadith is Sahih (authentic). 3. The word `Jariyah' used in the narrative is usually taken to mean young girls. Although the word connotes young girls in certain contexts but there is little room to accept it as such. In this context, the word connotes a slave woman who is a professional singer and well known for her profession. This is evidently proved by the context in which the word is used here, and by the fact that another version of the same narrative has the word `Qaynah' ( i.e. a professional female singer) has been used instead of Jariyah. The text of the narrative follows: `A'ishah (rta) narrates that once Abu Bakr (rta) came to her on the day of `Id Al-Fitr or `Id Al-Adha in the presence of the Prophet (sws). There were two female singers with her, singing the songs which the Ansar had sung on the day of Bu`ath. Abu Bakr remarked twice: the `Why these satanic instruments?' The Prophet heard him and said to him: `Let them sing. Every nation has an `Id and this day is our `Id'. (Bukhari, No: 3716) 4. In Bukhari, the narrative has been worded thus: `A'ishah (rta) reported that once she married a woman to an Ansari man. The Prophet (sws) said: `O `A'ishah, what is it that there is no singing and playing whereas the Ansar take delight in this'. (No: 4867) 5. This Hadith is Hasan. 6. `Ali Ibn Burhan al-Din Halbi, Al-Sirah Al-Halbiyyah fi Sirah Al- Amin, 1st ed., vol. 2, (Beruit: Dar Al-Marifah, 1400 AH), pp. 234-5 7. It would not be correct to translate the word `Jawari' as young girls. Some other version of the narrative has the word `Qaynat' (a woman who is a professional singer) instead of `Jawari'. Anas Ibn Malik narrates that when the Prophet (sws) passed by a clan of Bani Najjar, he noticed some slave girls were singing on Daff: `We are the singers of Bani Najjar. We are lucky enough to have the Prophet (sws) as our neighbour today'. Then the Prophet (sws) said: `God knows that my heart feels affection for you people'. (Al-Mu`jam Al-Saghir, No: 78) 8. This Hadith is Sahih (i.e. authentic). 9. This Hadith is Sahih (i.e. authentic) 10. Dr Jawwad `Ali, Al-Mufassal fi Tarikh Al-`Arab Qabl Al-Islam, 2nd ed., vol. 5, (Baghdad: Maktabah Al-Nahdah, 1978), p. 116 11. Dr Jawwad `Ali, Al-Mufassal fi Tarikh Al-`Arab Qabl Al-Islam, 2nd ed., vol. 5, (Baghdad: Maktabah Al-Nahdah, 1978), p. 117 12. Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddamah, 1st ed., (Beirut: Mu'assasah Al-`Alami li Al-Matbu`at), pp. 258 13. This Hadith is Sahih (i.e... authentic). 14. Secret marriage contract is not considered valid in the Islamic Shari`ah. Thus open declaration of the marriage is one of the basic requirements for the validity of a Nikah. That is why the Prophet (sws) rendered it desirable to beat the Daff on this occasion during his time. Consider the following narrative: `Ali (rta) narrates: `Once the Holy Prophet (sws) and his Companions passed the tribe of Bani Zariq. He heard singing sounds and music. `What is this?' he inquired. People replied: `Messenger of God, the Nikah of such and such [person is being conducted]'. `His religiosity now reaches the zenith' said the Prophet (sws). `This is the prescribed way of Nikah. Neither adultery nor secret marriage is allowed until one hears the sound of the Daff or watches the smoke rising. Husayn said: `I was also informed by `Amr Ibn Yahya Al- Mazani that the Prophet would disapprove of secret marriage [and would not accept it] until the Daff was played'. (Bayhaqi, No: 14477) The Prophet (sws) held it necessary for the Arabs of his time to use the Daff to announce the wedding considering the prevailing custom and cultural traditions of the Arabs of that time. In current times, the purpose can be met through any other available means. 15. Dr Jawwad `Ali, Al-Mufassal fi Tarikh Al-`Arab Qabl Al-Islam, 2nd ed., vol. 5, (Baghdad: Maktabah Al-Nahdah, 1978), p. 108 16. F.S. Khayrullah, Qamus Al-Kitab, 5th ed., (Lahore: Masihi Kutub Khanah, 1993), p. 978 17. This Hadith is Sahih (i.e... authentic). 18. Here the word Qaynah has been used which stands for a professional female singer. 19. Some people present this narrative to prove that the art of music is evil in nature. They base their argument on the prophetic saying, `I see that Satan from among the Jinn and the humans have fled when `Umar arrived'. They claim that the Prophet (sws) related music with Satan and thus expressed his dislike for it. We understand that the sentence is only expressive of sarcasm, which he used to express the harshness of `Umar's disposition. If the words are taken in their literal meaning then one wonders what explanation is to be given for the presence of the Prophet (sws), `A`ishah (rta) and Abu Bakr (rta). 20. This is the well acknowledged meaning of the word. The word has been used in this implication before and after the advent of Islam. Imra' Al-Qays says: (No worry if I have grown sorrowful. How many delicate singing slave girls did I employ on playing a Kiran. They had such musical instruments in their hands which on being stirred by the hands gave heavy sound that spread through the whole band of troops.) 21. Dr Jawwad `Ali, Al-Mufassal fi Tarikh Al-`Arab Qabl Al-Islam, 2nd ed., vol. 5, (Baghdad: Maktabah Al-Nahdah, 1978), p. 122 22. Ibn Kathir, Tafsir, vol. 3, (Lahore: Amjad Academy, 1982), p. 187 Article Refernce: Al-Mawrid, Institute of Islamic Sciences Further Discussion Regarding Music We understand that some of the Muslims scholars of the past understood some Qur'anic words to be referring to music. Based on their interpretation of the Qur'anic references they maintained that it is prohibited in Islam. They also present these narratives to support their view. If it were the Hadith only then we have many other more reliable narratives that prove the allowance of music. The scholars of the science of Hadith consider most of the narratives that are often presented to establish the prohibition of music as Da"if (i.e. weak) and unreliable. Some of these scholars declare that there is no Sahih Hadith in the entire corpus of the Hadith literature that proves the prohibition of music. Our approach to religious matters is a little different. We do not think it appropriate to draw conclusions from individual narratives. Rather, all the individual narratives should be studied in the light of the Qur'an. Our scholars have studied all the sources of religious knowledge and tried to determine the status of music in Islam. Their research has led them to the conclusion that music is not prohibited in itself. The Islamic Shari'ah (i.e. Law) does not forbid it. One can use the musical tones in hymns, encomia, odes or tragedy, epic and comedic poems. However, if any of these literary poetical compositions contain any polytheistic, atheistic or any such subject matter that promotes immorality and unethical behavior then of course they must be condemned and rendered unallowable. Thus, only the content of the literature recited is to be condemned not the art of music itself. If the content of the poems is endorsed by the Shari'ah and does not offend moral values then music can be used in all such communications such as poetry, prose, oratory, writings and recital. If the message conveyed through the rendered contents does not conform to the religious and moral principles of Islam then all such indulgences shall necessarily be forbidden... For example, if a poem written in praise of a messenger of God is contaminated by verses communicative of polytheistic ideas then that poem is to be forbidden, not the writing of poems itself. Similarly, songs that contain immoral utterances should be condemned. However this is merely because the contents of these literary genres contain debauchery and the literary activity itself cannot be prohibited based on this. Still however, if any such permissible thing is necessarily associated with a moral evil, it can be temporarily banned in order to block the way for that evil. Let us start with the Qur'anic verse you have quoted and which is often presented to prove the illegality of music. There are some who buy "frivolous talk" so that they, without knowledge, lead men away from the path of God and hold it (i.e. the verses of God) up to ridicule. For these there shall be shameful punishment. When our verses are read out to them they turn their backs in scorn as though they never heard them. As if their ears contained deafness. Proclaim a woeful punishment to them. But those that embrace faith and do good works shall have gardens of delight, where they shall dwell forever. This promise of the Almighty shall be fulfilled and He is the Mighty the Wise One. - Luqman 31:6-9 We will study the verse keeping it in its proper context and according to the classical Arabic language in which the Qur'an was revealed. No scholar has authority over Qur'anic assertions. The key words in this verse used to infer prohibition are "lahw al Hadith" (i.e. idle/frivolous talk). This is an accusative compound word composed of the words "lahw" and "al-Hadith." The word "lahw" connotes something that is used as a distraction (via amusement or entertainment) and which diverts you from meaningful activities. The author of Lisaan al `Arab writes: "Lahw" is something you indulge in and entertain with, and your occupation in desire and show of delight and the like. (15/258) Allamah Raghib Asfahaani the author of "Mufradaat" writes: "Lahw" is something which forces you ignore what is important to you and what (meaningful work) you intend to do. (al-Mufradaat al Qur'an p:455) The word Hadith means "something new" or a piece of news. Lisaan al Arab reads: The word Hadith connotes what is new among things and (also) a news." (4/133) Aqrab al Mawaarid reads: The word al-Hadith connotes the new or the news/narrative. (1/170) According to the lexicographers the phrase can be taken to connote the following things: A plaything Something that makes you forgetful of meaningful activity Evil thing Commentators have differed a lot on the meaning and implication of the phrase. Different people have suggested different things including singing, musical instruments, polytheism, evil talk, something that hinders you from the way of God and so on. A careful study of the exegetical literature in this regard reveals that Abdullah Bin Masuood and Abdullah Ibn Abbaas took these words to connote singing. Jabir, `Ikramah, Saeed Bin Jubair, Mujahid, Makhool, Amr Ibn Shoab, Ali Ibn Bazeemah also hold the same view. Hassan Basari is reported to have said that these words refer to musical instruments. Zahhaak said that these refer to polytheistic activity whereas Qataadah opined that these refer to evil talk. Ibn Jarir Tabari has recorded almost all these sayings and then gives his own interpretation in the following words: And the correct view in this regard is that these words imply every such activity that can hinder you from the way of God and listening to that which has been prohibited by God and His Messenger. This I say because God has not mentioned any specific things rather He used a comprehensive expression "lahw al Hadith." Therefore this is a general directive unless and until some other evidence proves specification. Singing and polytheism are also one of the implied meanings. (21/74) Allamah Zamakhshari and Imam Razi have also given almost the same meaning. "Lahw" includes every evil thing that makes you unmindful of the good and purposeful activities. And "Lahw al Hadith" would include things like spending nights in listening and narrating stories and baseless narratives, silly talks, joking and laughter, purposeless and nonsense conversation, singing and learning music and the like. (Al-Kashaaf 3:496-98) "Lahw al Hadith" means abandoning wisdom and indulging in some other evil talks. (Raazi, al-Tafseer al Kabir 25/140) Keeping in view the above explanation we can safely conclude that we cannot declare music haraam on the basis of the words "Lahw al Hadith" occurring in the Holy Qur'an. The usage in the Qur'an does not accept this interpretation of the word. The word Lahw has been used in many other places in the Qur'an. A study of the context of the verses where the word has been used reveals that nowhere in the Qur'an does the word specifically connote "singing or playing music." Consider the following Qur'anic usages: This life of the world is but a pastime and a game. Lo! The home of the Hereafter that is Life, if they but knew. - Al Ankaboot 29:64 And they say: True life is only our life of the world, and we shall not be raised again. If you could see when they will be set before their Lord! He will say: Is not this real? They will reply: of course, by our Lord! This is really happening to us. He will say: Taste now the retribution for that you used to reject. They indeed are losers who denied their meeting with Allah until, when the hour will come upon them suddenly, they will cry: Alas for us, that we neglected it! They will be bearing upon their back their burdens. Beware, evil is the burden that which they will bear! And this life of the world is but a pastime and a sport. Far better is the abode of the Hereafter for those who are God conscious. Would not you understand? - Al An'am 6:29-32 And leave those who take their religion for a pastime and a jest, and who are deceived by the life of the world. - Al An'am 6:70 And the dwellers of the Fire will call the dwellers of the Garden; bestow on us some water or some of that with which God has provided you. They will reply: He has forbidden both to disbelievers. The ones who took their religion for a sport and pastime, and who were utterly deceived by the life of the world. Therefore, this day we will ignore them even as they did disregard the meeting of this Day and as they used to deny Our revelations. - Al A'raf 7:50-51 Believers, when the call is made for the prayer of the day of Jumu'ah, haste towards remembrance of God and abandon your trading. That is better for you if you know. When the prayer is over, disperse in the land and seek of God's bounty, and remember God much, so that you may prosper. [On the contrary the attitude of these weak Muslims shows that] when they see some merchandise or interesting thing they break away to it and leave you standing. Tell them that what is with God is better than pastime and than merchandise, and God is the best of providers. - Al Jumu'ah 62:9-11 If we replace the word "Lahw al Hadith" with the word "singing or music" in all the above passages we will see that it does not fit in. Therefore, we cannot say that the word has been specifically used to connote music in verse 31:6. If properly studied in the light of the context in which the verse occurs, the common use of the word in the Qur'an and the principles of Arabic language the word obviously means all things that have the potential to misguide people, which the miscreants were spreading through the masses in order to divert people's attention from the Qur'anic message. Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: The compound words "Lahw al Hadith" are structured exactly the same way as the expression "zukhruf al Qaul". In this context the word has been used in contrast with Qur'anic verses. Thus the words connote all the activities that the miscreants would spread among the masses in order to divert their attention from the Qur'an. The Holy Qur'an aimed to bring the realities of life before the eyes of people but its opponents were out to keep them indulged in the nonsense they were engrossed in. The verse alludes to this state of affairs and the words express astonishment. The implication is that God has revealed a Book of wisdom for the guidance of the people but most of them would prefer nonsense that they have been engaged in. These indulgences only match their evil natures and confirm their deviations. The miscreants put their efforts in this way merely because they want to keep the people away from the path of God despite the fact that they have no foundation to verify the way they themselves are treading and are invite others to follow it leaving God out of their concern. They are daring enough to hold in ridicule the verses of God and fabricate tons of lies to establish their claims. They will be put through a very shameful punishment. [Tadabbur al Qur'an 6/123] The mischief-makers might have offered oration, games (like gambling), recitation of poetry and musical shows etc. to distract people from the Qur'anic message. These are the only favorite pastimes in that culture. Although all these forms of art are basically allowable, nonetheless, they can never be allowed in distracting people from the Qur'an. Every God conscious person is expected to personally avoid this abuse of the arts and to create the same awareness in others as well. Now I would like to mention some of the narratives where music has been allowed by the Prophet (sws): A'ishah (rta) narrates that once Abu Bakr (rta) came to her on the day of Id-al-Fitr or Id-al Adha while the Prophet (sws) was present. There were two female singers with her, singing the songs which Ansar had sung on the day of Buath. Abu Bakr remarked twice, "Why these satanic instruments?" The Prophet heard him and said to Abu Bakr, "Let them sing for every nation has an Id (i.e. festival) and this day is our Id." Narrated Umm-i-Salamah: A slave girl belonging to Hassan Bin Thabit (rta) came to us on the "Id day. Her hair was unkempt and she carried a tambourine and she was singing (some song). Umm-i-Salamah rebuked her. But the Holy Prophet (sws) said to her, "Ummi-i- Salamah, leave her (sing and rejoice). Certainly every nation has an "Id (i.e. festival) and this day is our "Id." (Mu'jam al-Kabir, No: 558) Narrated Al-Sa'ib Bin Yadheed: A woman came to the Holy Prophet (sws). He asked "A"ishah (rta), "Do you know her?" "No, oh Prophet (sws) of God" she replied. "This is the singer of such and such tribe. Do you want her to sing to you?" so the woman sang for her. [3] (Sunan al-Bahaqi al-Kubra, No: 8940) I do not find it hard to see that in the above narratives music is not employed to announce a Nikah ceremony, but rather, is purely for entertainment purposes. How to reconcile between the narratives that make us believe that music is forbidden and the ones where it is depicted as allowable? We understand that the Holy Prophet (sws) is reported to have rendered music an objectionable activity in a specific context. A study of the Prophetic sayings on the topic evidently proves that the Prophet (sws) commanded the believers refrain from such forms of music that involve immoral activities such as polytheism, drinking and nudity. Idolaters of pre Islamic Arabia would use music in their worship rituals. Dr. Jawwad Ali writes: Arabs of the days of ignorance would use singing in their worship rituals to express gladness they felt while worshipping their gods and to earn closeness of those of their gods who, they thought, could be pleased through these songs. Commentators of the Holy Qur'an claim that the polytheists of Arabia would circumambulate the House of God whistling and clapping. Relying on this we can say that the Arabs had introduced a form of singing in the ritual of circumambulation. ("Al-Mufassal Fi Tarikh-al-Arab" vol. 5, p. 111) We know that the basic mission of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) was to uproot all forms of polytheism. For that very reason he prohibited all such activities on the basis of the prohibition found in the Qur'an for the associated polytheistic activities or its manifestation through any medium. The most prominent thing in this regard was sculptures and paintings of the gods. Therefore, the Prophet (sws) forbade making sculptures and painting such pictures. Similarly he stopped all forms of music, which were used in idolatrous worship rituals. The Holy Prophet (sws) also prohibited music played in gatherings where people would gather together for drinking and merry making. Hadith literature, books on history and classical Arabic poetry offer sufficient evidence to the fact that at that time some forms of music were used in such gatherings.. . Therefore we hold that the view of the scholars who understand the narratives prohibiting music referring to that kind of music that involves polytheism, drinking and nudity etc. is correct. These are crimes of first degree in Islam and anything that happens to promote these should be considered unallowable. Vulgar songs and songs expressive of polytheistic ideas and the like must always be considered immoral activities and should not be allowed under banner of entertainment programs. However, music in itself is not to be considered haraam for the Shari'ah has never declared it to be. Authenticity of Ahadith About Music Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 69, Number 494v: Narrated Abu 'Amir or Abu Malik Al-Ash'ari that he heard the Prophet saying, "From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful. And there will be some people who will stay near the side of a mountain and in the evening their shepherd will come to them with their sheep and ask them for something, but they will say to him, 'Return to us tomorrow.' Allah will destroy them during the night and will let the mountain fall on them, and He will transform the rest of them into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Resurrection." The above Hadith as narrated by al Bukhari is not fulfilling the requirements of the Sahih in al Bukhari's collection. Al Bukhari in Hadith al Ma'azif himself narrated the Hadith to be of a broken chain of narrators in which there is a gap between al Bukhari and the second narrator, so he drops the first narrator in his chain. That is called Mu'allaq. Some scholars tried to connect the chain through other means like whan ibn Hajar did in his dissertation (connecting what is disconnected) in which he connected the Isnad of this Hadith. But still, one of the main narrators whose name is Hisham ibn Ammar as profiled in Tahthib at-Tahthib by ibn Hajar is not reliable enough for some scholars to be a source of a narration that depends on somebody like him. Regarding Hisham the narrator: . The following extracts have been taken from a very well known book on the subject. [Tahdheeb al Kamaal volume 30 page 242 and onward under the entry on Hisham bin Ammar] Abu Dawood said Abu Ayyub (i) is better than him (Hisham). He (Hishaam) has narrated four hundred Ahadith all of Musnad which have absolutely no basis (that is, hadith which are not true)" Saalih Bin Muhammad al Asadi said he (Hishaam) used to take money for narrating hadith". Abdullah Bin Mohammad Bin Sayyaar said that he Hisham used to - - and he used to take a dirham for reporting two pages of hadith". Abu Bakr al Maroozi said that Ahmad Bin Hanbal mentioned Hisham Bin Ammar and said he was reckless/impetuous and feeble-minded. Following One of the Four Imams & the Opinion regarding Music QUESTION As far as I know that all four Imams consider any type of singing and musical instrument as haraam. I also know that you have to follow at least one Imam, if possible, in totality. Does this mean that you do not agree with any one of them regarding singing? Or I am wrong about following of any of the four imams is necessary? Answer: There are a few points that require some clarification on the issue: Firstly, a Muslim is not bound by the Shari`ah to follow any other individual except for the Prophet (pbuh). A person may disagree with any one or all of the four more well known Muslim jurists. Secondly, besides the Prophet (pbuh) no one else - not even the most respected scholars of Islam - holds the position, which commands total or even partial submission from others. It is only the position of the prophets of God, as representatives of God to the humankind, which demands that others submit to their directives and teachings. Thirdly, all Muslim scholars have presented their understanding of the directives of Islam and in the light of their respective understandings, have placed the various actions in the categories of Halaal, Haraam, Makrooh etc. This placement and understanding is based on specific verses of the Qur'an and/or on teachings ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh). Obviously, if a person's understanding or interpretation of a Qur'anic verse or of a saying ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) differs from that of another person, then, as a corollary, there will exist a difference of opinion regarding the directives derived from such Qur'anic verse or saying ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh). Our difference of opinion with the four highly respected Muslim jurists should be seen in the light of the foregoing clarifications. ------------ --------- --------- --------- --

The Decimal and Islamic Mathematics

By: J. L. Berggren
12/17/2006 - -

The Decimal System
Muslim mathematicians were the first people to write numbers the way we do, and, although we are the heirs of the Greeks in geometry, part of our legacy from the Muslim world is our arithmetic. This is true even if it was Hindu mathematicians in India, probably a few centuries before the rise of Islamic civilization, who began using a numeration system with these two characteristics:
The numbers from one to nine are represented by nine digits, all easily made by one or two strokes.
The right-most digit of a numeral counts the number of units, and a unit in any place is ten of that to its right. Thus the digit in the second place counts the number of tens, that in the third place the number of hundreds (which is ten tens), and so on. A special mark, the zero, is used to indicate that a given place is empty.
These two properties describe our present system of writing whole numbers, and we may summarize the above by saying the Hindus were the first people to use a cipherized, decimal, positional system, "Cipherized" means that the first nine numbers are represented by nine ciphers, or digits, instead of accumulating strokes as the Egyptians and Babylonians did, and "decimal" means that it is base 10. However, the Hindus did not extend this system to represent parts of the unit by decimal fractions, and since it was the Muslims who first did so, they were the first people to represent numbers as we do. Quite properly, therefore, we call the system "Hindu-Arabic".

As to when the Hindus first began writing whole numbers according to this system, the available evidence shows that the system was not used by the great Indian astronomer Aryabhata (born in A.D. 476), but it was in use by the time of his pupil, Bhaskara I, around the year A.D. 520. (See Van der Waerden and Folkerts for more details.)

News of the discovery spread, for, about 150 years later, Severus Sebokht, a bishop of the Nestorian Church ( one of the several Christian faiths existing in the East at the time), wrote from his residence in Keneshra on the upper Euphrates river as follows:

I will not say anything now of the science of the Hindus, who are not even Syrians, of their subtle discoveries in this science of astronomy, which are even more ingenious then those of the Greeks and Babylonians, and of the fluent method of their calculation, which surpasses words. I want to say only that it is done with nine signs. If those who believe that they have arrived at the limit of science because they speak Greek ad known these things they would perhaps be convinced, even if a bit late, that there are others who know something, not only Greeks but also men of a different language.
The problem of parallel lines, posed by Euclid's parallels postulate, received much attention from Islamic mathematicians throughout the history of medieval Arabic science. Nasir ad-Din at-Tusi's was probably the most mature treatment of the problem in Arabic, making sure use of Euclid's definition of parallel lines as non-secant lines and drawing on the results of his predecessors.
It seems, then, that Christian scholars in the Middle East, writing only a few years after the great series of Arab conquests had begun, knew of Hindu numerals through their study of Hindu astronomy. The interest of Christian scholars in astronomy and calculation was, in the main, due to their need to be able to calculate the date of Easter, a problem that stimulated much of the Christian interest in the exact sciences during the early Middle Ages. It is not a trivial problem, because it requires the calculation of the date of the first new moon following the spring equinox. Even the great nineteenth-century mathematician and astronomer C.F. Gauss was not able to solve the problem completely, so it is no wonder that Severus Sebokht was delighted to find in Hindu sources a method of arithmetic that would make calculation easier.
We can perhaps explain the reference to the "nine signs" rather then the ten as follows: the zero (represented by a small circle) was not regarded as one of the digits of the system but simply a mark put in a place when it is empty, i.e. when no digit goes there. The idea that zero represents a number, just as any other digit does, is a modern notion, foreign to medieval though.
With this evidence that the Hindu system of numeration had spread so far by the year A.D. 662, it may be surprising to learn that the earliest Arabic work we know of explaining the Hindu system is one written early in the ninth century whose title may be translated as The Book of Addition and Subtraction According to the Hindu Calculation. The author was Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi who, since the was born around the year A.D. 780, probably wrote his book after A.D. 800.
We mentioned in Chapter 1 that al-Khwarizmi, who was one of the earliest important Islamic scientists, came from Central Asia and was not an Arab. This was not unusual, for, by and large, in Islamic civilization it was not a man's place (or people) of origin, his native language, or (within limits) his religion that mattered, but his learning and his achievements in his chosen profession.

The question arises, however, where al-Khwarizmi learned of the Hindu arithmetic, given that his home was in a region far from where Bishop Sebokht learned of Hindu numerals 150 years earlier. In the absence of printed books and modern methods of communication, the penetration of a discovery into a given region by no means implied its spread to adjacent regions. Thus al-Khwarizmi may have learned of Hindu numeration not in his native Kharizm but in Baghdad, where, around 780, the visit of a delegation of scholars from Sind to the court of the Caliph al-Mansur led to the translation of Sanskrit astronomical works. Extant writings of al-Khwarizmi on astronomy show he was much influenced by Hindu methods, and it may be that it was from his study of Hindu astronomy that he learned of Hindu numerals.

Whatever the line of transmission to al-Khwarizmi was, his work helped spread Hindu numeration both in the Islamic world and in the Latin West. Although this work has not survived in the Arabic original (doubtless because it was superseded by superior treatises later on), we possess a Latin translation, made in the twelfth century A.D. From the introduction to this we learn that the work treated all the arithmetic operations and not only addition and subtraction as the title might suggest. Evidently al-Khwarizmi's usage is parallel to ours when we speak of a child who is studying arithmetic as "learning his sums".

The crisis of thought and ijtihad

By Hina Anwar Ali
The Muslim mind experienced a crisis of thought when, during the early centuries of the Islamic era, ijtihad began to be viewed as limited to legal matters rather than as a methodology for dealing with all aspects of life. This limited understanding engendered a malaise that allowed taqlid to attain such prominence and respectability that its cancerous, constricting, and irrelevant fiqh spread throughout Muslim life. Had ijtihad retained more of its lexical meaning and creativity, and had fiqh been considered only one of its uses, perhaps Muslims would have overcome many of the problems that confronted them. However, this particularization of ijtihad confined the Muslim mind, and taqlid eventually led to the paralysis, of its creative abilities.

Had ijtihad remained a way of life for Muslims as Allah commanded, they would not have fallen behind in establishing the Islamic sciences necessary for their society and civilization. They also would not have had to watch the reins of leadership fall pass to the West, whose most important qualification was its ability to engage in creative and scientific reasoning. Although the intellectual tradition was tainted with pagan Greek influences, the West achieved world leadership. Had Muslims taken up these sciences and laid the foundations of society on the basis of tawhid (unity), the face of the earth would be different today and the state of civilization itself would be far more felicitous than it is at present.
Before ijtihad was confined to the purely legalistic framework of fiqh, the Muslim mind was enlightened, eager to deal with all manner of thought and able to meet challenges, generate solutions, and achieve its goals. Had it not been for taqlid and its subduing of the Muslim mind, that mind would have achieved great things. Certainly, a mind with its beginnings in the verse, “ Read! In the name of your Lord Who created…”, should be more than able to renew the ummah’s mentality, to continually adjust to changing circumstances, and to initiate the sciences of civilization at a time when the West was overrun by wild forest tribes.

What Do we mean by Ijtihad?

For the reasons indicated above, I shall be calling for a new type of ijtihad. Rather than the ijtihad specified by the scholars of usul, henceforth I shall be speaking of ijtihad that is more of a methodology for thought. Such an understanding would allow the Muslim mind to participate in an intellectual jihad, ijtihad launched with the aim of generating ideas and building a new Muslim identity, mentality and personality. This jihad would apply to all fields of knowledge and would seek to make the ummah qualified to shoulder its responsibilities as regards vicegerency (khilafah) and also to be median nation (wasatiyah). While such an ijtihad would apply to legalistic, juridical and jurisprudential fiqh, it would also apply to such new forms of fiqh as the fiqh of religiosity (fiqh al tadayyun) and dialogue (da’wah), as well as to all fields requiring the ummah’s attention and creative thinking.

Ijtihad: The Ally of Jihad

Both “ijtihad” and “jihad” are derived from the lexical root, “j-h-d,” and both seek the same goal: releasing all beings from devotion to the created so that they may be free to practice devotion to the Creator, to take them from the injustice for religions deviation and superstition to the justice of Islam, and from the restriction of the physical world and limited thinking to the wide horizons of Islam and the Quran. It is for this reason that ijtihad is counted among the pillars of Islam in the same way that jihad is. Without jihad there would be no ummah, and without ijtihad the ummah would have no vitality. Thus both may be considered as essential; and continual responsibilities.

Once taqlid in matters of fiqh established itself as a pervasive intellectual attitude, all that remained of ijtihad was its extremely rare use – maybe once in a century--- in individual Muslim thinkers and scholars. Their role was of inestimable importance and was, in some ways, as important as that of modern parliamentary and democratic institutions.

Ijtihad was the methodological means that allowed Muslims to confront ignorance, oppression, and deviation. But when it was abandoned by the Muslims themselves, all manner of trouble beset them. In closing the doors to ijtihad, Muslims believed that they were solving their legislative problems. In reality, however, all they succeeded in doing was crippling their own intellectual powers. Even so, there has never been a time when the call to revive ijtihad was entirely silenced. Such calls were never enough to extract the ummah from the intellectual crisis in which it had become mired and , as a result, ijtihad was left mainly to heretics and deceivers, and finally, to orientalists. If a true Muslim were to articulate ideas to which people were unaccustomed to announce his/her readiness to practice ijtihad, he/she would become an immediate target of ridicule and other abuse by the supporters of taqlid.

The ummah must understand that ijtihad provides it with the fundamental means to recover its identity and to reestablish its place in world civilization. Without ijtihad, the Muslim mind will never rise to the levels envisioned for it by Islam, and the ummah will not take its rightful place in the world. Unless the call to ijtihad becomes a widespread intellectual trend, there is little hope that the ummah will be able to make any useful contribution to world civilization or correct its direction, build its own culture, or reform its society. To liberate the Muslim mind, the ummah needs ijtihad in every aspect of its life. If it is to play its preordained role, it must undertake a new reading of the Quran and the Sunnah, study its past, analyze its present and, by means of these, ensure its future.

Right or Wrong, the Mujtahid is Rewarded

No mere call, announcement, or advertisement will result in ijtihad or produce a mujtahid such developments depend upon the preparation of needed intellectual and cultural atmospheres, for a mujtahid is one of the ummah’s most gifted and accomplished scholars. When the prophet spoke of ijtihad and how one who performed it correctly received a double reward, and how one who made a mistake received one reward, he was addressing an ummah that understood that only a we people cold undertake it. The resulting responsibility was so great that even those few individuals who dared to undertake it did not always announce their opinions if they seemed contrary of those of majority or the rulers.

It is obvious that any mention of ijtihad and its importance should be accompanied by serious efforts to bring about the right sort of intellectual and cultural atmosphere. The first step towards this goal is to create an environment of complete freedom of thought and expression. If people lack the courage to perform jihad, they find it even more difficult to perform ijtihad and accept the consequent responsibilities. How many intellectual positions are more difficult to defend than military positions?

In the present straightened circumstances, none who can generate sound ideas or perform even partial ijtihad should hesitate to announce the results of his/her ijtihad. No one who is aware of the fact that here is reward even for those whose ijtihad is incorrect has an excuse to refrain from playing a role or from giving the ummah the benefit of his/her ideas and creativity after all, it is possible that those ideas might become the foundations of a new cultural and intellectual order within the ummah. Nor should anyone continue to listen to those who warn of the dangers inherent in allowing ijtihad to be undertaken. The ummah has heard all of their arguments, and nothing they say has been of any help.

The Lexical and Technical Meanings of Ijtihad

In the Arabic dictionary, the root “j-h-d” is defined as the exertion of effort on a matter that requires it.  In all of its different applications, the term denotes the expenditure of mental and intellectual effort.  A mujtahid, therefore, is a serious scholar who researches and studies all of the sources, information, statistics, and available material about a subject until he/she is satisfied that he/she has done everything in his/her power to learn about the subject in question. After expensing all of the effort, it may reasonably be assumed that his/her opinion is reliable. This is why al Ghazali defined ijtihad as “the expensing , on the part of a mujtahid,, of all what she/she is capable of in order to seek knowledge of the Shari’ah’s injunctions.” In a further clarification of this definition, he then wrote: “Complete ijtihad happens when the mujtahid expends all of his/her energies in seeking, to appoint where he/she is satisfied that no more can be done.” This definition refers to ijtihad in the field of law and indicates that he effort expended must be exhaustive and emanate from those who are qualified. If an unqualified person undertakes these same efforts, one cannot say that ijtihad has been performed.

How can the Problems of Taqlid and Dependency Be Overcome?

In order to extract ourselves from the clutches of taqlid so that we can create the circumstances under which ijtihad can flourish, we must define carefully our intellectual premises. In doing so, however, we must be careful to avoid the modern western paradigm, which, for too many reasons to list, has become the center of every academic circle and the starting place for the majority of modern thinkers. One major reason for doing so is that the western paradigm is based on secular materialism, an outlook that rejects revelation outright. It views only that which can be measured or qualified as a suitable subject for serious study. Those who have come under the influence of the West define knowledge as information acquired wither through the sense or experimentation. All of the contemporary social sciences and humanities, as well as the natural sciences, are founded on this premise. It is for this reason that modern theories on politics, society, economics and ethics have their roots in the same definition. Secularism, therefore, has become the basis for all intellectual and academic research, analysis, and synthesis. Thinkers and scholars the world over have now accepted the secular paradigm of knowledge.
The acceptance of this western model has only served to increase the ummah’s intellectual dependency. At the same time, it has helped to eradicate whatever traits distinguished nonwestern cultures and civilizations from their counterparts in the West, and has perhaps had a role in the latter’s outright plundering of the former. Unless the mentality of dependency is overcome, there can be no ijtihad or intellectual ingenuity,