05 July 2010

Islam -- Music and Singing, Forbidden?

On first thought, my immediate response is, "No". Having lived in Indonesia for many years I have seen many Muslims playing musical instruments, making music, and singing. In fact, each Ramadan there is a group called 'Debu' who do the rounds of the TV channels playing music and declaring their faith to the masses. Even more compelling is that Yusuf Islam, the former Cat Stevens, has realised that music is a powerful tool in getting out the message and has of more recent times returned to the gift that made him famous.

Nevertheless, it would seem that not all Muslims are on the same page when it comes to whether the faith (or Allah) condones the learning and playing of musical instruments and the making of music.

The Daily Telegraph in the UK has an article that claims Muslim students are being withdrawn from music classes in the UK because learning and making music is un-Islamic. The article claims that it is primarily Somalian  Muslims that are withdrawing their children from classes. Yet, 'primarily' suggests that this is not universally only a Somalian Muslim issue.

Music is a compulsory part of the curriculum. So, there are some issues as to whether students can withdraw from compulsory curriculum subjects on religious grounds. There has to be a mechanism for dealing with this in a mutually acceptable fashion that is respected by all involved.

Personally, I cannot see what the drama is with music. Perhaps any Muslim readers who understand about these things can enlighten me as to what the problem is with music that some Muslims are of the belief that it is forbidden.

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