Is Music Haram in Islam?

Music notes
Photo Courtesy: Jesse Kruger

Islamic scholars have different viewpoints regarding whether music is haram or not. Some consider listening to music haram in general; others consider only instrumental music haram. Moreover, some Islam authorities believe music and playing instruments to be halal in general.

There are various, contradicting viewpoints about music in Islam. So, we thoroughly investigated the subject and have compiled the different scholarly opinions in this article.

Table of Contents:

1. Why Is Music Haram? (According to Some Scholars)
2. Mentions In the Quran About Listening To Music
3. Did Prophet Muhammed Say Music Is Haram
4. Reasons Why listening to Music is Considered Haram
5. Hadith About Listening To Music Being Halal or Haram
6. Is Playing Musical Instruments Haram In Islam?
7. What Kind Of Music Is Haram In Islam
8. What is The Punishment for Listening to Music in Islam?

1. Why Is Music Haram? (According to Some Scholars)

Some scholars refer to a hadith mentioned in Sahih Bukhari as evidence for musical instruments being haram.

Additionally, some scholars argue that much of modern music encourages impure thoughts and bad behavior. Thus, they believe that music leads to haram, and should be avoided.

Mufti Menk, a renowned Islamic authority figure, was asked about music being haram in a Q&A session (source). In his response, the Mufti clarified that listening to music is haram as per his understanding.

Moreover, he mentioned that scholars who consider music halal still believe “today’s beat” to be haram. Mufti Menk elaborated by stating that modern music is “filthy.”

You can watch the clip of his complete response here:

Dr. Zakir Naik, a renowned Islamic scholar and President of the Islamic Research Foundation, also shared his views on the subject in an interview (source). The key points that the scholar discussed are:

  • “There is no verse in the Quran directly prohibiting music but there are indications.” – Dr. Zakir Naik
  • According to Dr. Naik, playing musical instruments is explicitly forbidden in the Ahadith.
  • The scholar further explained that some musical instruments have been specifically permitted in Ahadith; especially the tambourine.

Regarding the last point, Dr. Naik cited the following hadith (source):

The Prophet (ﷺ) came to me the night my marriage was consummated and sat down on my bed as you (the sub-narrator) are sitting now, and small girls were beating the tambourine and singing in lamentation of my father who had been killed on the day of the battle of Badr.

Then one of the girls said, “There is a Prophet amongst us who knows what will happen tomorrow.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said (to her),” Do not say this, but go on saying what you have spoken before.”

Sahih al-Bukhari 4001
Book 64, Hadith 52

Check out our recent post to learn more about listening to music during Ramadan and whether it breaks your fast or not.

2. Mentions In the Quran About Listening To Music

The following verse is from Surah Luqman:

“Among them, there are those people who purchase idle tales without knowledge and without meaning and they mislead the people away from the path of Allah and they ridicule the path of Allah these are the people who receive a humiliating punishment”

Surah Luqman (31:6)

According to Dr. Zakir Naik, many Tafseer of this verse interpret “idle tales without knowledge and without meaning” to mean musical instruments or un-Islamic songs (source).

The scholar also clarified that there are not any quranic verses that explicitly forbid music.

We investigated the Tafseer, and found interpretations similar to what Dr. Naik mentioned. Here are some evidences that Islam Q&A shared (source):

“Al-Hasan al-Basri (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: this aayah was revealed concerning singing and musical instruments (lit. woodwind instruments). “

(Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 3/451).

Thus, according to this Tafseer, the verse is indeed warning Muslims against music and musical instruments.

However, the interpretation does not specify if all music (and instruments) are forbidden. As we discussed previously, Dr. Naik specified that playing certain instruments was permitted by the Prophet (SAW).

Here is another Tafseer regarding the Quranic verse:

“Al-Sa’di (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: this includes all manner of haraam speech, all idle talk and falsehood, and all nonsense that encourages kufr and disobedience; the words of those who say things to refute the truth and argue in support of falsehood to defeat the truth; and backbiting, slander, lies, insults, and curses; the singing and musical instruments of the Shaytaan; and musical instruments which are of no spiritual or worldly benefit.”

(Tafseer al-Sa’di, 6/150)

This interpretation specifies that the verse refers to musical instruments “which are of no spiritual or worldy” benefit.

3. Did Prophet Muhammed (SAW) Say Music Is Haram?

In our research, we could not find any ahadith nor mentions of ahadith where the Prophet (SAW) explicitly said music is haram. However, many scholars interpret certain ahadith as indicative of music being haram.

Here is one hadith that scholars often refer to (source):

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Among my ummah there will certainly be people who permit zinaa, silk, alcohol and musical instruments…”

(Narrated by al-Bukhaari ta’leeqan, no. 5590; narrated as mawsool by al-Tabaraani and al-Bayhaqi. See al-Silsilah al-Saheehah by al-Albaani, 91).

According to Islam Q&A, the hadith indicates that listening to music and playing musical instruments are haram (source). The Islamic authority site stated that this is shown in two ways:

  1. First, the site commented that “who permit” indicates that they are allowing something which is forbidden.
  2. Second, they mentioned that musical instruments are discussed alongside actions and substances that are forbidden, i.e. zina, silk, and alcohol.

However, we came across a contrasting view in our research. Ikram Hawrami, a US-based Islamic researcher, shared his understanding regarding this hadith; he claims that the hadith has no supporting chain (source).

The Islamic researcher further argued that, since authentic hadith displayed the Prophet’s tolerance for music, this hadith does not override them.

Moreover, renowned scholars like Imam Ghazzali Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi, Ibn al-Qaisarani, Rumi, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, and Ibn Hazm considered listening to music halal (source). Imam Ghazzali stated:

“All these Ahadith are reported by al-Bukhari, and singing and playing are not haram.” 

Imam Ghazzali (source)

4. Reasons Why Listening to Music is Considered Haram

In this section, we have summarized the reasons that Islamic authority figures have listed for music being haram.

These opinions include those of Mufti Menk (source), Dr. Zakir Naik (source), and the opinions of other renowned Islamic scholars (source). Their reasoning is as follows:

  • The scholars refer to certain hadith which they interpret as indicative of musical instruments being haram.
  • They interpret the Quranic verse from Surah Luqman (31:6) as referring to music, where the verse declares “idle tales” and discusses an accompanying, humilitating punishment.
  • Some scholars argue that modern music is unrefutedly haram, stating that it is “filthy” and may lead to haram.

5. Hadith About Listening To Music Being Halal or Haram

In the third section, we shared a hadith from Sahih Bukhari that scholars interpret as indicative of musical instruments being haram.

While many scholars consider listening to music haram, some scholars consider it haram with exceptions.

They consider listening to music halal on certain occasions, during festivals and celebrations (source). They formed this understanding from the following hadith (source):

Narrated By’ Aisha : That once Abu Bakr came to her on the day of ‘Id-ul-Fitr or ‘Id ul Adha while the Prophet was with her and there were two girl singers with her, singing songs of the Ansar about the day of Buath. Abu Bakr said twice. “Musical instrument of Satan!” But the Prophet said, “Leave them Abu Bakr, for every nation has an ‘Id (i.e. festival) and this day is our ‘Id.”

Sahih Bukhari Volume 005, Book 058, Hadith Number 268.

6. Is Playing Musical Instruments Haram In Islam?

Some Islamic scholars consider both listening to music and playing musical instruments haram. Others believe listening to music is halal, but playing instruments is haram.

A minority opinion is that both are halal (source).

The President of the Islamic Research Foundation, Dr. Zakir Naik, stated that while musical instruments are generally forbidden, there are some exceptions (source). These are:

  • The Daf (a traditional drum with one side)
  • The tambourine

Dr. Naik formed this understanding from his interpretation of ahadith, especially Sahih al-Bukhari 4001 (which we’ve shared in the first section).

7. What Kind Of Music Is Haram In Islam?

While many scholars consider all music haram, some scholars consider only specific kinds of music haram.

Some muslims, particularly Sufi and Shia muslims, consider playing musical instruments halal so long as the music is acceptable (i.e., not dirty or promoting un-Islamic acts) or for halal worship (source).

In his book, The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, stated that singing and listening to music is generally halal (source).

However, the Egyptian scholar further stated that listening to music is haram if any one of some listed conditions applies. We have summarized these conditions:

  • The songs promote anti-Islamic teachings, e.g. encouraging drinking alcohol
  • The singing “manner” is haram – for example, if singing is “accompanied by suggestive sexual movement”
  • If it causes arousal or leads to haram
  • If the listener is engaged in haram activites simultaneously – like listening to music at a drinking party
  • If it leads to “excessive involement in entertainment” – for example, if you become immersed to the point where you miss your prayers or neglect acts of worship

Mufti Menk discussed the opinions of scholars that consider music halal in general. The renowned Islamic authority figure mentioned that those scholars believe “modern” music, which he declared “filthy,” to be haram.

The Mufti clarified that modern music is suggestive and leads to haram (source).

8. What is The Punishment for Listening to Music in Islam?

We could not find any explicit mentions of the punishment for listening to music in Islam. The Quranic verse of Surah Luqman (31:6) that some scholars interpret as evidence for music being haram mentions “humiliating punishments,” but it does not specify what these punishments are.

Islam Helpline responded to a question asking about the punishment. Their response is (source):

“There is no specific Aayah in the Quran or an authentic narration of the Messenger of Allah (saws) which specifically prescribes the punishment for listening to illegal music. 

To listen to illegal music, or watch indecent films, or vulgar dances or mujrahs is considered fahisha or indecent in Shariah and a path that leads one to greater evils. Allah and His Messenger (saws) have guided the believers, who sincerely fear Allah and the Last Day, to abstain from any sort of fahisha or indecency and vulgarity.”

Islam Helpline

Although we consulted many sources and researched many scholarly opinions, we found no evidence explicitly stating the punishment for listening to music.

Final Word

Whether listening to music is haram or halal is a heavily debated subject in the muslim community. Many renowned scholars and Islamic authority figures have strongly opposing viewpoints on the subject.

However, we found that scholars who consider music halal caution muslims against listening to vulgar music and songs that promote un-Islamic behavior and actions. This includes sexual and suggestive songs.

Since the subject of music is so controversial, we encourage you to do your own research and thoroughly understand the respective evidences before coming to a conclusion. May Allah (SWT) keep us on the right path and protect us from sin.


Asya is a writer, academic coordinator, teacher, and mother of five. Being born a Muslim in Europe, Asya grew up learning about what foods and practices are halal, and which to avoid. When she's not working, Asya spends her free time reading, spending time with her family, and eating chocolate.

Recent Posts