Sunday, September 18, 2016

Islam prohibits music?

My wife has been visiting her sister outside Bradford, Ontario this past week.  They often gathered around the TV to watch the news.  But at home we don’t even have a TV, we get most of our news by reading three or more newspapers online.

I kidded her that every minute she watches TV news her IQ goes down one point.  It would take her three minutes of reading a newspaper to gain it back.  We went back and forth with text messages about what she found interesting and I countered with stories she probably wouldn’t see on TV.

To prove my point, I visited the Toronto Globe and Mail website to get a sample of news she probably wouldn’t see on TV.  One story that jumped out at me was “Mandatory music classes hit a bad note with some Muslim parents” by Colin Freeze and Mahnoor Yawar.  Strange, I didn’t know that Islam forbade music to its followers.  After all there is “Ey Iran”, a patriotic Iranian song.  And don’t most Islamic countries have military bands?


I emailed a Muslim friend about this article.  His response included that “music is not forbidden in Islam if the additional message (oral or video) in the music is not against any other principle of Islam.”

I looked up military bands and found that even the Saudis have one.  The Saudis promote a very rigid form of Islam called Wahhabism.  You would think if anybody would prohibit music, it would be the Saudis.  The Saudi military band played the “Star Spangled Banner” for President Obama as well as playing the Saudi national anthem.  I found a picture of Iranian military trombonists marching past then President Ahmadinejab.  If Islam prohibited music, you would think the Ayatollahs would prohibit a military band.

I searched Talal Itary’s translation of the Qu’ran and found no mention of music.

Ah ha! it must be in the Hadith: a collection of commentaries that followed the writing of the Qu’ran.  A Google search for “hadith" and “music” turned up some very strong admonitions about any music.  For example,  This article gives a very strong prohibition against music of any kind.

Other articles give a more generous interpretation of hadith:  Supposedly other hadith have Muhammad suggesting sending a singer to a wedding: “The Ansar are a people who love poetry. You should have sent along someone who would sing, ‘here we come, to you we come, greet us as we greet you.’”

To think that all hadith apply to all Muslims is like thinking that all the Pope’s encyclicals or all the doctrines of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod apply to all Christians.

What should apply to all believers, Muslim or otherwise, is the equivalent of “...and you should forgive and overlook: Do you not like God to forgive you? And Allah is The Merciful Forgiving.” _ Qur’an (Surah 24, “The Light”, v. 22)