The Islamic Ruling on Music and Singing: Part 3. [Especially Directed towards the Youth]

QURAANIC VERSES ALLEGED TO INDICATE PROHIBITION OF MUSIC 

In his tafseer, Imam Al-Qurtubi mentions that there are three verses which have been used by the ulaama as proof of the contempt for and the prohibition of singing. 

THE FIRST VERSE:

The first of these verses appears in Soorah An-Najm(*23) as follows:

Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, addresses the disbelievers from the tribe of Quraysh,  
{Do you marvel at this statement, and laugh and do not weep, while you amuse yourselves [proudly] in vanities? Rather, prostrate before Allah and worship Him.}

The important phrase is Allah's saying,
{Wa antum saamidoon} ("while you amuse yourselves [proudly] in vanities).
Due to the root 'samada' having various interpretations in the Arabic language, the scholars differ about this phrase's meaning. As a result, different interpretations are given by the commentators of the Quraan, such as the companions, taabi'een and later scholars of tafseer. 

Al-Qurtubi refers to the various derived meanings mentioned by the linguists (*24). Among the meanings understood from the root' samada' is the raising of one's head up proudly or in disdain. When conjugated, the noun form 'sumood' means leisure or idle play, while 'saamid' (the doer of the action) means one who plays idly with musical instruments or other objects of play. It is said to the singing girl, "Asmideena!"("Amuse us with your singing!") However, 'saamid' can also designate one who lifts his head in pride and haughtiness, as mentioned in the ancient dictionary, As-Sihah.(*25) A further meaning derived from the root 'samada' is the notion of standing motion less or idle. This was mentioned by Al-Mathdawi,(*26) one of the famous grammarians, but he added that the common, established meaning in the language points to the idea of turning away by making fun and amusement. Finally, Al-Mubarrid mentions the meaning of 'saamidoon' saying, "Saamidoon means khaamidoon [silent, motionless]."(*27) 

At-Tabari mentions in detail the various narrations traced to the sahaabah and taabi'een.(*28) According to Ibn Abbaas, the word 'saamidoon' in this verse refers to the mushrikeen's habit of singing and playing noisily whenever they heard the Quraan being recited, in order to drown out the reciter's voice so that others wouldn't hear it.(*29) This meaning is used by the people of Yemen. Ibn Abbas also indicated a second, more general meaning for the word 'saamidoon'; namely, that they were playing and amusing themselves and making light of the affair. The same opinion was held by some taabi'een such as Ikrimah and Ad-Dahhaak. A third meaning given by Ibn Abbaas is that they held their heads up in pride. Other tabi'een have indicated certain meanings similar to the preceding linguists' views. Thus, Qataadah reports Al-Hasan as saying that 'samidoon' is the mushrikeen's being inattentive and negligent. Mujaahid says it indicates their being in a state of extreme anger or rage. 

Clearly, the term 'saamidoon' has various possible meanings, e.g that those referred to were singing noisily and amusing themselves with music and idle play, that they were holding their heads in pride, or that they were exhibiting extreme anger and hatred for what they heard of the Quraan and the message of Islam. Furhermore, it could indicate that they were indifferent, negligent and rejectionist in their attitude. All of these meanings are possible, and are not - in essence - contradictory. Most likely, 'saamidoon' is a comprehensive description of their different reactions upon hearing the verses of the Quraan and the new message of tawheed. However, it must be said that when a Quranic term yields a number of different possible meanings and we have no clear, authentically-reported statement from the Prophet defining it in a strict sense, then such a verse containing the said term cannot be used as an unequivocal, decisive proof (daleelun qat'ee) of any particular meaning. Thus, this verse cannot stand alone as an uncontestable proof of the prohibition of singing, music, etc. Rather, other evidence, either from the Quraan itself or from the authentic sunnah, must prove such a position.(*30)

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