Islamicinsights > An Interview with Elaph Newspaper, 22-6-2006


Ruling on Songs by M.H. Fadlallah part (1)

In an Interview with Elaph, a Saudi Electronic Newspaper, Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlullah, stated that the woman’s voice is not a “Awra” (something that should be veiled having the same ruling as the parts of the body) and singing is not prohibited.

The Religious Authority, Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlullah considers that “singing” is not a prohibited act in case it does not harm in its contents the profound intellectual and humane values and in case it is accompanied by a high-class music. His Eminence also considers that the songs that glorify the tyrants and the vicious regimes are prohibited like what is happening in many Arab countries where some singers praise their leaders because they are afraid of their tyranny or to flatter them. In a special general interview with Elaph newspaper, Sayyed Fadlullah gave the final word concerning the issue of the woman's voice declaring that he does not consider it a "Awra"(something that should be veiled having the same ruling as the parts of the body). Moreover, he deemed it permissible for a woman to sing in case the song's meanings are sublime, citing the experience of the Iranian government as evidence, where the media broadcasts songs. His Eminence draws a general line in prohibiting and permitting songs: but, he leaves the chance to the listener to classify the songs without mentioning names and details. However, he prohibits the jazz music that destroys the nerves and has negative effects on the listener.

It is prohibited to sing for the tyrants:

Q: Some may consider that discussing the issue of singing from a religious point of view is superficial issue since it does not even deserve to be raised in this context. Knowing that the songs surround us every where, what is your opinion concerning this issue?

A: In our opinion, the issue of singing depends on the vibration and undulation of the voice and the way of saying the words of the song, and this differs according to the voice’s pitch. The melodious voice gives the word a profound effect on the listener that may in its turn affect his sentiments. So, if the words of the song are just, normally, its melody will make the listener affected deeply by the meanings and thus he may react positively with them. On the contrary, if the words of the songs are of negative meanings, they may drive man to do evil or prohibited acts, to devastate or to be malicious. These meanings affect the listener negatively because he is able to understand them. Thus, through the effects of the song a person may be driven to do all the matters latent in his mind.

Q: Generally speaking, in the Arab World there are no songs that call for spreading the evil in frank expressions like what is happening in the West...?!

A: In the Arab World, singing is directed towards arousing the instincts. This kind of singing is prohibited because it makes the person live sexual obsessions due to the nature of the melody or the words of the song that arouse the instincts. Besides, the songs in which the singers glorify the tyrants and the vicious regimes or the evil states are also prohibited.

Q: Some songs are classified in the category of the patriotic songs although they glorify dictator leaders like what is happening in some Arab countries. Are these songs deemed permissible?

A: The patriotic songs that connect man with the positive meaning of one’s country like defending the country, keeping the freedom and independence and the like are absolutely not prohibited. Hence, we consider that the songs that praise the beauty of nature, the nostalgia towards one’s country or family …etc, in addition to the songs that upraise the soul and open the human horizons to Allah (The Exalted) and to all the spiritual songs are not prohibited.

The platonic love songs are not prohibited

Q: Why it is not prohibited to sing the nature and the sublime meanings, while, it is prohibited to sing love, knowing that even love has sublime meanings?

A: There is a difference between love that has a humane value and love in which man addresses the woman or the woman addresses the man. The second kind of love arouses the instincts, while, Islam does not want man’s instinct to be aroused because this arousal would lead into negative and immoral acts. On the other hand, the songs of love that have spiritual significations are not prohibited. An important point that we have to know in this context is that singing may steal the person’s will since he might be deeply stirred up by the song. Allah wants man to live his will according to his choice because it is up to him to direct his will either positively or negatively. But when he is dominated by the emotional conditions, through the exciting music that arouses his instincts unconsciously and drives him to behave in an unacceptable manner, he will be deprived of his right to choose.

Q: Is this also applied on the revolutionary songs that sometimes create violent reactions?

A: There is a point that should be clarified. If these songs represent the good deed for man, then, there is no problem in listening to them because when man is encouraged the results would be positive. But, the other aspects that make man behave in a negative manner when he is exited are absolutely rejected.

Q: So, is it a relative issue?

A: Yes, it is a relative issue even we prohibit listening to Jazz music that destroys the nerves and makes man live in a negative state that makes him behave involuntarily.

Q: Do you classify the songs according to their effects on the individual?

A: We classify songs according to the kind of their effect in general and not according to their effects on each person. For example, wine may not intoxicate some people, whereas, it is prohibited. Allah says: {and avoid false words} (22:3o). There is an interpretation that considers the false words as words that is not righteous. Allah also says: {And those who do not bear witness to what is valid} (25:72) that is interpreted by singing. We also have another verse that is: {But there are, among man, those who purchase idle tales, without knowledge (or meaning), to mislead (men) from the Path of Allah throw ridicule (on the Path)} (31:6). (Lahwa Alhadith) or “the idle tales” are the words that deviate man mentally, doctrinally, legitimately, etc... Hence, every thing that is defined as Batil or misleading from Allah’s path is deemed prohibited.

Singing in Iran is not prohibited

Q: There is a consensus among some critics and some psychologists on some songs such as Fayrouz’s songs that talk about love without arousing the instincts. Such songs affect the listener positively and absolutely relax the nerves, what is the ruling regarding these songs from a religious point of view?

A: I have just answered this question and I did not say that all songs that express love are prohibited. I said that the prohibited songs are that which arouse the instincts. For example, we accept the paternal and maternal expressions as well as the platonic love of man towards a woman that elevates the soul and represent a spiritual and human value and not an instinctive value. Now, when we study the experience that the adolescents live when listening to the common songs, we find that this experience creates a kind of an unconscious and instinctive attraction towards the singer.