Healing Through Sacred Sound and Music

By Hwaa Irfan


When the recitation of the Qur'an is purely inspired, it acts like a button awakening one from within. The art and science of tajwid recitation inspires, heals and educates, as do many - but not all - forms of music.

While there is much debate regarding the status of music in Islam, Imam ibn Hazm referred to ahadith that forbade music as fabricated (Beliefnet p.2).

The Tariqat Gul Nur Jihaniyya (Sufi) informs us that the ulema (scholars) of early Islam accepted musical recitation in Islamic poetry - as it emphasized the expressive and artistic manner of rhythmic speech - e.g. chants, song, sacred music and rhetoric. 

What Prophet Muhammad (saw) did not approve of was:

a) The clapping of hands in public performances of either a religious or secular nature; but he allowed artistic clapping. 

b) Sensual singing and dancing by both male and females in public taverns (Tariqat, p.2). 

Music or rhythmic chanting can have a healing affect on the body.

The word 'music' from the Greek 'mousike' - by way of the Latin 'musica' - is formed from the Greek root 'mousa', the ancient Egyptian root 'muse' and Celtic suffix 'ike'. 

The Egyptian word 'mas' or 'mous' signifies generation, production, and development outside a principle. It is composed of the root 'ash' which characterizes the universal, primordial principle, and the root 'ma', which expresses all that generates, or manifests itself, taking an exterior form. 

Music is seen by many as a spiritual phenomenon that can help awaken the mind and body. Theosophist, linguist, doctor, musician and musical theorist Fabre d'Olivet paid homage to music by saying that, "There has never been a man on earth capable of inventing a science, and there never will be. No science is invented. It is a gift that the human spirit makes to humanity by means of its inspirational faculties" (Music Explained, p.85, 90). 

Famous Islamic scholar and teacher, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali - in his Ihya Ulum al-Din (The Revival of Religious Sciences) - wrote that music and singing are spiritual, evoking the truth in one's heart and soul, which reveal themselves and their contents to only Allah (swt). 

Born into a musical family versed in the northwestern Indian tradition, musician Hazrat Inayat Khan wrote, "The physical effect of sound has also a great influence upon the human body. The whole mechanism, the muscles, the blood circulation, the nerves, are all moved by the power of vibration, as there is resonance for every sound, so the human body is a living resonator" (Music, Mysticism and Magic, p.261, 263). 

Indeed the human bone structure is highly responsive to vibration (Gurudas, p.52). In Field Theory each particle (atom) "sings its song" - thus producing rhythmic patterns of energy in dense and subtle forms (Capra, p.269). 

The laws of physics state that when sound vibrations are projected on an object of the same natural frequency as the projected sound, the object will begin to vibrate in sympathy with that sound. At this point, object and sound are in resonance (Williams, p.65, 66). 

The human voice affects the molecular structure of the body. Whining voices attract negative conditions. A hostile condemning voice incites violence and can cause accidents, strokes and heart attacks. By releasing tension and stimulating circulation and nerve energy in the body, the act of toning can help provide healing through one's voice, much in the same way as chanting and verbal prayer. 

There are several guidelines to be followed in order for effective toning to take place. They are as follows:

Stand erect. Place the feet several inches apart (parallel to the shoulders).

Stretch the arms high and let them drop back. 

To counter the tendency to cave in and bend forward, the torso must ride on the pelvis with the hipbones protruding a little. 

Make sure you are relaxed and that your shoulders swing on the spine in perfect balance. Focus and sense the emotion within yourself. 

Relax the jaws so the teeth are slightly parted. Then let sound come up from within.

Let the body groan. Encourage it to be vocal and always start with low groans.

Let the body groan for as long as it feels like it. The groan may burst into protests, or the voice may soar off into birdlike singing or spontaneous outbursts of worship or prayer. 

No matter what happens, do not let the mind influence the sounds the body seeks to emit.

When the body feels cleansed it will let you know that it is satisfied. Then, make a dua'a (supplication) and sit down for a few moments and read something that inspires you. 


Beliefnet. "Messages." 08/22/01. 1-3. Community: Discussions. Beliefnet.com 08/26/01.

Capra, Fritjof. "The Tao of Physics." Britain: Flamingo (Fontana Paperbacks) 1989. 

Godwin, Jocelyn. "Music Explained as Science and Art" Canada: Inner Traditions International Ltd. 1987. 

Godwin, Joscelyn. "Music, Mystcism and Magic." Britain: Arkana Paperbacks.1987. 

Gurudas. "Gem Elixirs and Vibrational Healing. Vol.1." USA: Cassandra Press 1989. 

Tariqat Gul Nur Jihaniyya. "Music Art Science." 1-7. Angel.fire.com. 09/27/01.

Williams, David. "The Harmonics of Sound, Color & Vibration." USA: Devorss & Company Publishers 1988.


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