Art & Music: Modernity v. Islamic Tradition - Live Dialogue

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Session Details
Guest Name Sheikh Muhammad Al-Mukhtar  Al-Shinqiti
Profession Director of the Islamic Center of South Plains, Lubbock, Texas
Subject Art & Music: Modernity v. Islamic Tradition
Date Tuesday,May 23 ,2006
Time Makkah
From
... 13:30...To... 16:30
GMT
From
... 10:30...To...13:30
 
Name
Host    - 
Profession
Question .
Answer
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Name
ahmed    - 
Profession
Question What is the main conflict between artistic expression and Islam? If there's no conflict, to what factors do you attribute the creation of the perception that there is a conflict?
Answer
This conflict arises mainly from people’s practices rather than theories. For example, idol worship, in the pre-Islamic Arabia, made Islam take negative attitude towards statues and sculptures. The connection between singing and indecency in the Abbasid era made so many scholars take negative attitude towards music and singing. Therefore, if the wrong practices disappear, we will then witness a change in reactions and attitudes.
 
Name
ahmed    - 
Profession
Question Could you please give us your opinion regarding the recent criticism of Sami Yousef's music by some scholars claiming his use of "un-Islamic" instruments in some of his songs.
Answer
There is nothing called Islamic and un-Islamic instruments; instruments are tools whose rulings is based on the way they are used for. This is a juristic rule that tools are judged according to the purpose they are used for. The negative attitude towards musical instruments in the old classical Islamic jurisprudence was mainly a reaction for deviant practices of people rather than a reflection of juristic texts.

Though the view of the majority of scholars is to forbid all musical instruments except duff, this view is based on weak arguments that do not stand solid in the juristic perspective.

1. Scholars tried to derive the ruling of prohibition from some verses of the Qur’an but while doing so they interpreted the verses in a way that is far from the direct and obvious meaning.

2. Ahadiths quoted in this regard are either unauthentic, not decisive to the effect prohibition, or opposed by stronger and more solid evidences from the Sunnah.

3. Some scholars, past and present, have verified the subject and pointed out the weakness of the argument stating that all musical instruments are forbidden. Some of these scholars are Ibn Hazm and Ash-Shawkani in the past, and Sheikh Al-Qaradawi and Al-Ghazali in the present.

As for Sami Yusuf, he followed a legitimate school of thought that stand on solid foundation. He used musical instruments to serve the cause of Islam and in my view and others he has done a good job in this filed. Attacking Sami Yusuf is, therefore, wrong from both the jurisprudential way as the juristic rule states that “a controversial matter is not to be condemned as wrong”. Any work that a person achieves based on a fatwa with solid evidences and issued by reliable scholars is not to be opposed even though we tend to subscribe to a different school of thought. We need to understand this juristic rule very well so as to allow diversity of opinions and pluralism in the madhahabs.

Those who attack Sami Yusuf are unfortunately ignoring the huge impact that un-Islamic deviant arts on especially on youth and the pressing need for alternatives. We live in a time that art has become more effective than the sword and the use of force. You can just imagine the huge impact that the recently published novel Da Vinci Code is leaving on the Christian faith and culture.

The good efforts done by Sami Yusuf in creating an alternative and using the musical instruments and video clips that were ever dedicated for indecency, must be appreciated and looked at positively.
 
Name
Selma    - 
Profession
Question Some Muslims say that there is nothing called Islamic songs or Anasheed, and they attack those known in the field such as Sami Yusuf. Those people stand totally against this form of art. Please furnish me with a logic reply through which I can refute their claims.
Answer
We have answered a similar question to yours in this session, so please refer to it.

If the problem is linguistic, whether to call this as Anasheed or songs, then it is irrelevant and does not need all that fuss. And if the problem lies in the substantiation for the content, then refer to the previous question for more details.
 
Name
Naseema    - 
Profession
Question Salamu `alaikum

I would like to know if 'Nasheed' specifically refers to Islamic songs. What is the difference between 'Nasheed' and song?
Jazakallah Khairan
Answer
The main difference is that “nasheed” is an Arabic word whereas “song” is an English one. Muslims now prefer to use nasheeds instead of songs in order to distinguish their art from the mainstream indecent and immoral arts that others are presenting.
 
Name
Manfield    - Iceland
Profession
Question Viewing the Da vinici Code, are there certain guidelines that should be followed by film-makers in terms of considering historical and religious facts?
Answer
Art is based on creative imagination and should not be judged by the rigidity of law and science. Based on this nature, arts should receive more flexibility and tolerance. That is why the Prophet, peace be upon him, used to listen to some poetry even though it contained romantic expressions and imaginations. When Caliph ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, tried to stop Hassan Ibn Thabit from reading his poetry at the Prophet’s mosque, the later told him, “I used to read before someone who is better than you (i.e. the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him).

However, from the Islamic point of view, the “art for art” theory is rejected. Freedom is always restricted and all aspects of life, including arts, are subject to divine guidance of morality, decency, public interest and dignity.
 
Name
Laila    - Sweden
Profession
Question I wonder whether or not a woman may sing in front of non-mahrams. Is it halal for her to sing Anasheed in a group or by herself in front of non-mahrams? My other question is about poetry. Is it okay to write poems about the one you love or does that count as wasting time? Should all the poems be about Allah Almighty?
Answer
It is stated in a hadith that a group of girls played the duff and sang before the Prophet, peace be upon him, expressing their joy of the victory of Muslims in one of the battles. In another hadith, some other girls were singing in `Aishah’s house and before the Prophet, peace be upon him, at the day of `Eid. It is generally known that Prophet, peace be upon him, do not approve of anything wrong.

As for poetry, if it is between couple, there is nothing wrong, rather it is praiseworthy. The books of Seerah narrate some poetry of Al-`Asi Ibn Ar-Rabee’ about his wife Zainab, may Allah be pleased with her, the daughter of the prophet, peace be upon him.

However, if it is a romantic poetry and not about someone specific, it is also permissible. It was the habit of Arabs at the prophet’s time to start their poems with romantic introductions, and among them were Hassan Ibn Thabit and Ka’b Ibn Zuhair.

But if the romantic poetry is composed of describing a specific person in an immoral and indecent way and this person is not a husband or a wife of the poet, then it is not acceptable in Islam.
 
Name
fatin Hawwa    - United States
Profession
Question How do you see the appearance of women in some video clips, i.e. I mean observing Hijab and proper Islamic dress?
Answer
There is nothing wrong with this if the context is Islamically acceptable as well. Images are not more important than the physical presence of the person himself/herself.

Men and women meet at schools, streets, universities and sometimes at work without any problem. So the bottom line is to observe proper Islamic manners and dress code.
 
Name
Deak    - United Kingdom
Profession
Question Do you think that Islamic Anasheed are filing the yawning artistic gap in this tumultuous atmosphere around us with many satellite channels promoting video clips that are void of morals?
Answer
Not yet, but it is worth trying. Islam encourages people to take positive stances and influence by creating alternatives to the unacceptable.
The traditional view of some scholars that promote taking negative attitudes towards arts has proved to be a failure throughout the 20th century, because it was based only on forbidding the evil without promoting the good. But the Islam teaches us that we have to forbid the evil and promote the good at the same time, as both of them are two faces of the same coin.
 
Name
rania    - Egypt
Profession
Question Do you think that the alternatives given by some Islamic channels are enough to satiate the ever-demanding audience? Do they really provide a real alternative or just faltering attempts?
Answer
Islamic Channels are still in the infancy stage. They are not expected to be competitive overnight, especially in the midst of these companies and media production institutions that have accumulative years of experience. However, as we stated earlier, we should try and keep trying and be assured that truth has its own attraction and that falsehood only shines in the absence of truth, but when truth and falsehood race, the victory will be ultimately for what is good and right. Allah Almighty says: “Nay, We hurl the Truth against falsehood, and it knocks out its brain, and behold, falsehood doth perish! Ah! woe be to you for the (false) things ye ascribe (to Us).” (Al-Anbiya’ 21: 18)
 
Name
Amy    - United Kingdom
Profession student
Question Before, I converted I was a keen musician, singing and playing various instruments. I was distressed to find out so many opinions about how instruments (esp. wind instruments) are not allowed, when I have gained so much pleasure (and brain development!) over the years. Is there really any Islamic basis for banning musical instruments? Many thanks.
Answer
The issue is controversial in classical schools of jurisprudence, but the view that is based on solid proofs after verification is that musical instruments are permissible as long as they are used in the good cause. People have used some instruments in front of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and he is reported to have recommended its use in weddings and festivals.
The scholars who restrict the permissibility to duff (hand-drum) were not accurate as duff was the only instruments available at that time. So the new instruments are to take the same ruling as long as they are used for good purpose.

Therefore, we always advise people with artistic talents to use their talents positively instead of suppressing them. For example, you can produce Islamic Anasheed and form groups from youth to help you in this regard.
 
Name
fardhani    - Jordan
Profession
Question How can we deal with those people who oppose Islamic songs?
Answer
The best way is to avoid abstract argumentation and to create alternatives until it becomes a part of our mainstream Islamic culture. When those people see the positive impact of the mainstream art they will finally change their stances because their views are mostly reaction to the negative impact of the mainstream immoral art.
 
Name
Amal    - 
Profession
Question I find this topic most interesting, could you please elaborate on the point you made concerning the Abbasid period and singing? I am not familiar with the historical influences.
Answer
Baghdad, the capital of the Islamic Caliphate, was the centre of civilization in the Abbasid era. It was the melting pot of all kinds of cultures: greek, Chinese, Kurdish, Arab, etc.

Muslims were greatly influenced by the pre-Islamic Persian art in general, and singing in specific. This pre-Islamic Persian singing was mainly coupled with wine drinking and indecent dancing. When these wrong practices prevailed in Baghdad, the Muslim scholars started to take a hostile stand against music. Before that time, singing was widely practiced in Madinah and other cities. This is the root for the prohibition of music in Islam: it is not based on principle, rather it is based on the wrong practice.
 
Name
Umur    - South Africa
Profession
Question Would it be allowed to go and watch the Da Vinci Code movie and read the novel. I heard a Sheikh said that it is allowed provided that one does not take it as an authority on history and regard it as fiction.
Answer
I am reading the novel now and I found it very interesting because it is a part of the efforts of the deconstructing Christian faith and belief. The Novel claimed that Jesus, peace be upon him, married Mary Magdalene and they had children who are the legitimate heirs of the message of Jesus, peace be upon him.

The novel is mainly devoted against the authority of the Catholic Church. It is not a simple novel, but it is a reconsideration of the entire Christian history and doctrine.

From the Islamic perspective, it brings Christianity closer to Islam as it preaches that Jesus was not God or son of God but a human being. However, it contained un-Islamic facts and anti-religious thoughts. However, I recommend it for people who are interested in the Christian culture and comparative religions.







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