Music is a big part of our lives. It is a social trend, ever growing and popular worldwide. No doubt, you get constantly bombarded by music of all types – at shopping malls, high streets and open markets; jingles playing back-to-back on the radio, TV channels and the internet.
Nowadays, music also plays an explicit role in many educational settings and workplaces. If you are faced with such circumstantial contact with music, it could be a source of never-ending worry and stress. For many, however, especially the youth it could be a deliberate choice – living with music as nourishment and balm for the mind, body and soul.
It may be perceived as a harmless activity and a source of inner peace, relaxation, creativity and inspiration. After all if it doesn’t stop you from praying, fasting and performing good deeds, what is the big deal… right?
A Case of Parallels
I look back to a learning session a few years back. Our teacher explained that Qur’an and music can never thrive harmoniously in the heart of a believer. I struggled with this simple truth for many months afterwards. And it was such a big deal for me. Although I was learning to be a good Muslim, I continued feeding my desire albeit a negative one. This had grave consequences on my thoughts, acts of worship and lifestyle in general. I tried to think of a way to find a middle point with this seemingly parallel case. You could be faced with similar desires and inner battle right now.
‘Music or Qur’an?’
The Noble Qur’an needs no introduction. It is a mercy, guide and protection for mankind. It is also a powerful reminder, miracle and divine revelation. As the great scholar Ibn Qayyim said, “The Qur’an is all about tawheed”. And nothing should rank higher in terms of priority for the Muslim than upholding tawheed.
Music on the other hand is all about everything but tawheed. While you may still argue about the many benefits of music, I present you with 12 simple truths to ponder.
Qur’an: 100% beneficial at all times, whether its being recited, listened to or pondered upon.
Music: No Benefit
Qur’an: Related to success in this world and hereafter; also related to virtuous character, good deeds and worship.
Music: Related to acquiring success in this world only; also related to corrupt character, alcohol, drugs, carnal desires and suicide.
Qur’an: Invites to the sunnah, obedience, worship, guidance, good character, forgiveness, paradise.
Music: To a large extent, invites to sin and all things leading to possible sin (lowly desires, wealth, power, disbelief, nudity).
7. Production and Replication
Qur’an: Has never been and cannot be produced. Allah challenged mankind in various verses to do so.
Music: Anyone can re/produce music. There are many courses, schools and experts dedicated to learning the art.
8. General Effect
Qur’an: Gives soothing internal effects that are long lasting and soul nourishing; long term feel-good-effect.
Music: Gives an external effect that is temporary; short term feel-good-effect.
9. Effect on Soul
Qur’an: Pure nourishment for the soul through spiritual cleansing and purification.
Music: Junk food for the soul through lowering of spritual strength and draining the nafs.
10. Effect on Heart
Qur’an: Builds a sound heart, free of diseases.
Music: Increases diseases of the heart, from doubts to desires.
Qur’an: Message can blossom subliminally into a positive lifestyle and a stable personality.
Music: Message can transform lifestyle into a negative one producing an unstable, corrupt personality.
12. Connection with Allah
Qur’an: Makes one develop a high degree of consciousness of Allah , taking one closer to Him.
Music: Brings about ‘gaflah’ (heedlessness) of Allah , increasing attraction to musicians.
The believer has a purpose driven life, seeking worldly good as well as eternal good. You may take various means and processes while seeking this good, striving to overcome your desires and remaining firm upon the truth. There is no doubt the Qur’an is the greatest personal development tool for mankind; driving self and spiritual growth, reinforcing the truth of tawheed, directing towards the fitrah and promoting self reflection.
”This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah” (Al Baqarah, 2:2)4
The global music industry is worth billions of dollars and steadily increasing in revenue. Yet, they are busy innovating new ways to oppose the message of guidance by promoting music and musicians to such a high status, as a means of finding worldly success, happiness and inner peace. Don’t fall into heedlessness. Fight your nafs. And keep pondering these simple truths.
Dr. Gohar Mushtaq (2011). The Music Made Me Do It. An In-Depth Study of Music through Islam and Science. International Islamic Publishing House (IIPH). Riyadh, Saudi Arabia