The Halaal-Haraam debate between common people is never ending and often, people’s judgement is based upon what they have been brought up with from their childhood; not necessarily what Islam has commanded. After being accustomed to certain beliefs, it becomes almost impossible to change our mentality and what happens next is that we start following fatwas that were never really issued by any of the Maraje’. (Very dangerous, guys!) 

We must always adhere closely to what the honorable and distinguished Maraje’ have taught and refrain from ignorantly dishing out our own verdicts. 

When it comes to music, the key to remember is: 

Music isn’t Haraam! Ghina is. 

First of all, let’s examine the definition of “music”. It is the synchronicity of instruments to produce a harmony of sound in order to aesthetically please the listener and/or evoke emotion. A pleasant sound. “Music to my ears!” We may even define music as ‘a beat accompanied by the elevation of the voice.’ 

Nohas and latmiyyas would fall under such a definition, as they essentially are an elevation of the voice. We beat our chests, too – thus creating a beat and the purpose is to stimulate emotions. Is that haraam? Absolutely not.

Nasheeds, they’re the same thing. Another one being ‘adhan’ which is found to be relieving human beings from stress. What about nursery rhymes, are they haraam? The Quran? Its recommended to recite it in rhythmic sounds as it affects the soul positively. None of these examples are haraam! But, to a lesser or greater extent, all of these come under the definition of music! Therefore, it’s important not to make blanket statements such as, “music is haraam!”

Music isn’t haram! What is absolutely haram is a specific type of music, which is called “Ghina”. 

Question: Is it permissible to listen to revolutionary songs accompanied by the sounds of piano, lute, drum, wind pipe and electric piano?

Ayatollah Sistani: If the music accompanying it is that which is suitable for entertainment and amusement gatherings, it is not permissible to listen to it.

Ayatollah Sistani’s official website (

What does “entertainment and amusement gathering” refer to? Well, concerts, bars, discos, pubs, dances, etc. (And yes, mixed-gathering weddings would also come under this!) 

The music which is specifically for haraam gatherings is haraam, period! It’s dance music, music which makes you think of the opposite gender in a pseudo-romantic way, for example. Music which drags you towards the dunya. Music which makes you want to become the love doctor… you get what I mean? That’s Ghina. 

Now, imagine if you suddenly switched that nasty, dirty Ghina off and started playing classical music at those gatherings where everyone is pumped up, full of energy and simply out of their mind… or like, imagine if you played a nasheed in that environment… it’d totally kill the mood! What ‘mood’? A mood of sin, lust and general indulgence in the dunya. Think about that.

Music and the Brain: How Music Affects & Elevates Your Mood

Imam Khamenei has said:

“Any sort of music or singing which keeps human beings away from Allah and away from moral merits and spirituality […] causes human beings to stray from the path of Allah, is considered as Lahw and haram.” 

Ayatollah Khamenei’s official website (

Now, what if halaal music is being played at an entertainment and gathering? You know, nasheeds being played at a mixed wedding, for example. The simple answer is, halaal music is halaal, whether you’re on your own or at a gathering. 

One might say though, that “oh I can listen to all types of songs and still remember God, the music doesn’t affect me in any way! It just doesn’t take me to sin.” This is where you take into account the fact that the Maraje’ didn’t generalize it individually but mentioned “human beings”. So simply, if you can play it at a haraam amusement gathering, then its haraam, whether you get affected by it or not. (Our Maraje’ know what they’re talking about!)

Imam Sadiq (as) has said:

“[Haraam] music (i.e. Ghina) engenders hypocrisy…”

Bihar Al-Anwar, V. 79, P. 241

You may not realize it, but Ghina will have negative effects on your soul whether you realize it or not. If you listen to music and just feel a sudden urge to do something haraam or you just get “addicted” to it, take that as a big fat sign!

Now, some may argue saying that certain songs have “clean lyrics” and they actually make you feel good. They say that it has helped them come out of depression and anxiety and when you ask them what song was that, they give the example of something like One Direction… I mean, really? If you actually examine the lyrics and what they promote, you’ll definitely change your mind. 

Music and the Brain: How Music Affects & Elevates Your Mood
Music affects your brain and mood in stimulating ways | Image via Sam Chirnside

There are certain kinds of music which give you goosebumps, and chills or make you euphoric but in reality, you’re actually just undergoing a chemical high. The feeling that you get while listening to “soothing” ghina, is just temporary. In fact, it does more harm than good subconsciously. 

Halaal music, in conclusion, is something which reminds you of Allah, of your purpose, and not this dunya while haraam music promotes immorality and reminds you of things other than Allah.

Featured image via Freepik. All articles with information regarding jurisprudential matters are strictly written based on lectures by qualified scholars. This one is based on a lecture by Shaykh Muzaffar Abbas Haydar by the title “Music’s still an issue in 2020?” and other supporting material provided by scholars.

About the Author

Zaynab Ali

A servant of God who hopes to aspire those who are struggling with either their faith, their voice, or their identity through her writing. Her passion and thirst for knowledge has led her to delve into everything Ayatollah Murtadha Mutahhari and she's definitely not complaining!

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