Concerning the Hadeeths ”Whoever Listens to a Female Singer” And ”Music Makes Hypocrisy Grow”

Question: I read in a Hadeeth that the Prophet (sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whoever listens to a female singer, then molten lead will he poured into his ears.” And another Hadeeth: “Music makes hypocrisy grow in the heart just as water makes grass grow. Are these Hadeeths authentic? And what is the ruling regarding someone who hears singing in a car or in a gathering, when he does not have the ability to turn it off?

Answer: Listening to a voice implies that one is listening carefully, concentrating on what he is listening to. So in the case of singing, listening to it implies that one is listening carefully and concentrating on it.

As for hearing, it could be on purpose, the same as listening carefully and concentrating, in which case it is also called listening, and the same judgements apply. On the other hand, hearing could occur without it happening on purpose, without concentrating on the voice, then it is not called listening and the judgements related to listening do not apply.

Accordingly, listening to what the questioner mentioned, different types of singing, is unlawful for anyone who concentrates on it. This is the case, be it a man, a woman, in the home, or not in the home, in the car, or in gatherings, large or small. It is the same, whenever one chooses to do so, and is inclined to participate in what is unlawful according to the Shari’ah.

Allaah Almighty said:

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا أُولَئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ

“And of mankind is he who purchases idle talk (Lahwul-Hadeeth) to mislead men from the path of Allaah without knowledge, and takes it by way of mockery. For such there will be a humiliating torment.” [Luqman 31:6]

The singing that the questioner mentioned is part of Lahwul-Hadeeth. It tempts heart, and it leads it to evil, taking it away from good, and causing people to waste their time. So because of this it falls under the general meaning of Lahwul-Hadeeth, it is the same for one singing and the one who listens to singing, all of them fall under the general category of purchasing Lahwul-Hadeeth and misleading others from the path of Allaah. So there is prohibition and a warning of a sever punishment for doing so.

Just as the prohibition of singing and listening to it is proven in the Qur’aan, so too has the Sunnah. The Prophet (sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam) said,

ليكونن من أمتي أقوام يستحلون الحر والحرير والخمر والمعازف ولينزلن أقوام إلى جنب علم يروح عليه بسارحة لهم يأتيهم يعني الفقير لحاجة فيقولوا ارجع إلينا غدا فيبيتهم الله ويضع العلم ويمسخ آخرين قردة وخنازير إلى يوم القيامة

“There will be from my Nation a people who will deem fornication, silk (for men), alcohol, and music to be permissible; and there will be a people who will camp beside a high mountain, when a poor man passes by them and asks for a need, they will say to him, ‘Return to us tomorrow.’ In the morning Allaah will make the mountain fall upon them and the others (who are saved) are transformed into apes and pigs, until the Day of Judgement.” (Al-Bukhari no. 5990)

Music is the use of instruments of Lahw, and part of this is singing and listening to it. So Allaah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam) condemned those who seek to legalize fornication, the use of silk for men, drinking alcohol, and such entertainment instruments and listening to them. Here he accompanied music with other major sins. In the end of the Hadeeth he threatened those who do that with a punishment.

This shows that listening to music is unlawful. But a person is not sinning when he accidentally listens to music, such as a person who is walking in the street and hears music being played in stores, or in a car, as long as he does not desire to listen to it. Such a person is not sinning because he has no choice; however, he must advise and warn those who are playing the music, he must do so with wisdom and good exhortation. And should avoid as much as possible going to places where music is played, and Allaah does not place a burden on a soul greater than it can bear.

A group of scholars use authentic proofs and then follow that with narrations that have some weakness in their chains of narration, or from the view of proving the objective. There is nothing wrong in this because they mention these narrations as secondary, narrations to be reflected upon, but they depend entirely on authentic Hadeeth for proof. An example of this regarding singing and listening to it, where scholars first mention the authentic narrations and then mention narrations that are weak. Here are some examples of the weak narrations:

1) Al-Hakim At-Tirmithi related from Abu Musa Al-‘Ashari that the Prophet (sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam) said,

من استمع إلى صوت غناء لم يؤذن له أن يسمع الروحانيين

(قراء أهل الجنة)

“Whoever listens to the sound of singing will not be permitted to listen to the spirits in Paradise.” (Kanzu ‘Ummal no. 40660, 400666 and Qurtubi no. 14/53-54)

2) Ibn ‘Asakir relates from Anas, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Prophet (sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam) said,

من استمع قينة صب في أذنيه الآنك يوم القيامة

“Whoever listens to a female singer, molten lead will be poured into his ears on the Day of Judgement.” (Dha’ifu-Jami’ As-Saghir Lil-Albani no. 5410 and Ad-Dha’ifah no. 4549)

3) In Thamm Al-Malahi Ibn Abi Ad-Dunya’ relates from Ibn Mas’ud a saying of the Prophet:

الغناء ينبت النفاق في القلب كما ينبت الماء البقل

“Singing makes hypocrisy to grow in the heart like water makes herbs grow.” (Al-Baihaqi 10/223 and Abu Dawud no. 4927)

4) Al-Bayhaqi related from Jabir, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Prophet (sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam) said,

الغناء ينبت النفاق في القلب كما ينبت الماء الزرع

“Singing makes hypocrisy to grow in the heart like water makes plants grow.” (Shua’bul-Iman no. 5100)

All of these Hadeeths are weak, but just because they are weak doesn’t affect the ruling on singing and on listening to singing; both are unlawful because of other authentic proofs from the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. And with Allaah is the facilitation to do what is right.

Permanent Committee for Research and Verdicts

Fatawa Islamiyah, Vol. 7, Pages 188-189, DARUSSALAM

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