A Cure for Music
By MI. Muhammad Karolia
Rasulullah (s.a.w.) said: “He who does not read the Qur’aan in a melodious voice is not from us.” (Bukhari Vol. 2 Pg 1123. Abu Da’ud Vol. 1 Pg 207)
To recite the Qu’raan in a melodious voice is mustahab and has been encouraged in many ahaadith. Thus Rasulullah (s.a.w.) said: “Adorn the Qur’aan with your voices.” (Bukhari Vol. 2 Pg 1126)
The narration of Haakim’s Mustadrak and Daarimi’s Sunan have the following addition: “… because a beautiful voice increases the beauty of the Qur’aan.”
Rasulullah (s.a.w.) said: “Allah does not listen as attentively to anything as He listens to a Nabi reciting the Qur’aan in a melodious voice.” (Bukhari Vol. 2 Pg 1115)
Hadhrat Abu Moosa Ash’ari (r.a.) a famous Sahabi, used to recite the Qur’aan in a very beautiful tone. Rasulullah (s.a.w.) praised him saying that he had been blessed with “a flute from the flutes of Dawood.” (Bukhari Vol. 2 Pg 755)
Note: The word ‘mizmar’ (flute) has not been used in its literal meaning. Hadhrat Dawood (a.s.) used to recite the Zabur in an extremely beautiful voice. Thus his voice has been described as a flute in the Hadith.
The question however is that the word used in the Hadith for ‘reading in a melodious voice’ is that of ‘taghanni’. The literal translation of this word is ‘to sing’. On the contrary we have been prohibited in the Hadith to sing and read the Qur’aan. Although it is understandable that the word ‘taghanni’ has been used figuratively, why has a simpler or more clearer word not been used?
A similar question was posed to the famous Muhaddith, Ibn al-Arabi (r.a.) to which he replied: “The Arabs used to sing when they mounted their camels, when they sat in their assemblies and in most of their conditions. Thus when the Qur’aan was revealed, Rasulullah (s.a.w.) desired that the Qur’aan should be their habit rather than singing.” (Sharh-us-Sunnah Vol. 4 Pg 486)
In other words, the Arabs were so infatuated with singing that singing and music was found in basically every aspect of their lives. Thus when the Qur’aan was revealed, Rasulullah (s.a.w.) desired that their habit of singing be substituted by the recitation of the Qur’aan. This explanation may be substantiated by the following Hadith narrated by Hadhrat Zaid Ibn Arqam (r.a.): “While Nabi (s.a.w.) was walking through an alley in Medina, he passed a youth that was singing. Nabi (s.a.w.) said to him: ‘Woe to you, O youth. Why do you not recite the Qur’aan in a melodious voice?” (Ahkaam-ul-Qur’aan of Mufti Muhammad Shafe).
Note: The word ‘taghanni’ has been used in this Hadith as well. Hafiz Ibn Hajr (r.a.) quotes from Ibn-Ambari that it means to take pleasure and delight just as the singers take pleasure in music. Thus the word music (taghanni) has been used because the same pleasure is experienced (i.e. when reciting the Qur’aan) as is experienced when listening to music. (Fath-ul-Bari Vol. 9 Pg 62)
It is for this reason that Hafiz Ibn Qayyim (r.a.) and Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmir (r.a.) have regarded excessive recitation of the Qur’aan as an excellent cure for music.
Hadhrat Shah Saheb explains: “When a man forms a habit of music it overpowers him until he is unable to refrain from it. That is why you will see the singer always humming to himself. Thus Nabi (s.a.w.) has taught him that the means for refraining from music is that he make the Qur’aan his hum and music until the Qur’aan overpowers him just as music had overpowered him.” (Faiz-ul-Bari Vol. 4 Pg 269)
Let alone Muslims, even non-Muslims often marvel at the sweetness and beauty of the Qur’aan, its rhythm, choice of words etc. This sweetness is further enhanced by reciting the Qur’aan in a sweet voice as mentioned in the Hadith. In the light of the above, it may be concluded that excessive reading and listening to the Qur’aan is an excellent cure for the ailment of music.