On Samaa – I

What is the ruling concerning the issue that: Samāá or recitation/singing is permitted for an eligible [ahl] person and impermissible for an ineligible [nā ahl] person. Just as Shaykh Sáadī raĥimahullāh has said:

na goyem samāá ay birādar key chīst
magar mustamiý rā ba-dānam key kīst

I cannot say anything, O brother, about the status of samāá
Until I see the status of the person who listens to it.

So, why should the samāá that is prevalent among mashāyikh [sufi shaykhs] in our time which is accompanied by music be impermissible for them, when they are qualified and eligible? it should be forbidden for those who are not qualified to listen to it. [The shaykhs who listen to it do so] because it is nourishment for the soul and they consider it as a form of worship.

O Allāh, give us guidance towards the truth and the right.

The differentiation of eligible – ineligible, qualified-unqualified is when the samāá in question is exclusively vocal. [samāá e mujarrad; only voice of the reciter and nothing else]. The couplet of Shaykh Sáadī quddisa sirruh is also about such vocal samāá.

Concerning music [mazāmīr or musical instruments], there is no question of eligibility or qualification; nor is it allowed for anybody to listen to music. Except for the mesmerised, the enthralled [majdhūb, khud raftah]: those who have lost their mental faculties and are hence not held liable by the Divine Law. And for these [latter] folk, it is not just music – they are not liable for anything:

sulţāN na-gīrad kharāj az kharāb
The king does not demand tribute from a wasteland

In this matter concerning [all] sane people – creating a difference of qualified and unqualified is inciting and emboldening commonfolk to commit sin; and opening the door to the devices of the accursed devil.

Any fāsiq [transgressor, impious man] will then claim that he is among the eligible and qualified folk and it is permissible for him to listen to music, commit a sin openly, assert that a thing forbidden by Allāh is actually permissible and misguide common and ignorant people like himself.

Does the Divine Law of Muĥammad şallAllāhu álayhi wa sallam enjoin this kind of a ruling? Allāh forbid.

The pure sharīáh closes the door to mischief and this categorization [of qualified/unqualified] breaks open a small crevice into a gaping hole.

Do you not see, these days, how many utterly uncultured and uncivilized, uneducated – those who do not even know the basic islamic rulings concerning the toilet, on what is necessary, mandatory and forbidden – such a boor wears saffron robes and lets down long hair like women, engrossed in such satanic noises [that is music]?

People forego mandatory prayer [farđ] but they don’t miss the banging of drums; and these people are considered ‘divines’ or ‘guides’ [pīr o murshid] and people fall into prostration at their feet! And these people openly claim: ‘It is permissible for US. It is pure food for our souls.’

And all of this is a result of the ignoramuses’ classification of ‘qualified’ and ‘unqualified’. [by making this kind of classification when it does not exist, it is emboldening wayward sinners to commit their sins wantonly with the excuse that they are ‘qualified’].

This blatant lie is laid bare when we ponder that, even in such recitations [samāá] without music in which [the ruling differs for] qualified and unqualified, the ruling of permissibility is ONLY on the condition that unqualified people should not be present in the gathering.

Fatawa Ridawiyyah: 24/127
Fatwā #20