By Sattam Al-Megren
07 August 2018
MUSIC is a controversial topic that has
triggered a big debate among religious scholars and other members of society.
Some of them argue that music being an instrument of devil is part of
temptations that prevent people from remembering God and the five-time
obligatory prayers. For them it promotes hypocrisy and arouses base feelings to
Some scholars have allowed singing songs
without the support of musical instruments at weddings and Eid festivities.
However, entertainers in such events are permitted to use drums. There is
another group who considers music as permissible like other good things on the
earth allowed by God.
The negative approach toward music has led
to fighting all forms of art. The prohibition was not limited to singing and
music, but transcended to all forms of art including cinema and theatre. I will
discuss the reason why some of the religious advocates rejected art and
The ban on painting and sculpture had a
negative impact on creativity and it contributed to a decline of fine arts in
Saudi society where theatrical dramas and musical concerts have disappeared as
a result of a decline in material support for different forms of art.
Music was banned at restaurants and markets
and was replaced by voices of birds and sounds of waves while sound effects
were considered an alternative to music. Individuals feel guilty while
listening to music while music lovers are being insulted by those who hate it.
We have seen some artists including actors
and singers leaving the field with repentance while some others practice the
profession secretly away from people's eyes. People have been warned against
sending video clips with music content through social networking sites. Some
extremists keep their cell phones in mute mode to avoid accidentally listening
to such content.
In light of the above, it is obvious that
art in all its forms is a matter of constant contention within the Islamic
community and many people look at artists with suspicion. An artist in their
eyes is a lecherous and indecent person who has disobeyed God and must repent
to get His pardon.
As a result of this attitude, they
suppressed the creativity of artists and this caused chaos and confusion among
people. As a result, society opposed singing, painting and acting, considering
them as professions that brought disgrace and humiliation.
In order to understand the reason for the
hostile attitude of some religious clerics toward art, music in particular, I
would like to review a few of the statements made by them.
For example, a preacher said in response to
a question on the permissibility of music: "Did you ever hear that a song
encouraged people to perform Salah, Zakat or Haj? All their songs are related
to love and passion.”
Another cleric says songs are centred on
love between a young man and woman. This often leads to forgetting God and
engaging in lust.
It is clear that some preachers have
prohibited singing based on obsolete principles of jurisprudence, which links
art to lust and intoxication. Thus prohibition of music is an imitation of the
past. Opponents present exclusion of music as an essential part of the Islamic
This prohibition kills beauty and life in
the hearts of people although one of the most important goals of the Islamic
faith is to rejuvenate human hearts. Art is beauty that regenerates and moves
the feelings of humanity. The religion calls for movement, renewal and revival
of self, and this means art is valid for all time and place.
Some preachers believe that art contradicts
morality and it refutes humanity and reason. Art is imagination, which helps
creativity. Singing and poetry represent creative imagination. When a poet or
artist talks about love, he/she imagines and evokes emotions and goodness and
beauty in the soul. Same is the case of an artist who paints beautiful drawings
reflecting his perception of life. But imagination in the eyes of religious
clerics is less important than prudence; therefore they will not consider a
singer or actor as a prudent person.
Some clerics promote illusion at the
expense of imagination, which is the secret of creativity and beauty. For
example, they support the concepts of black magic and genie while at the same
time they speak against fine arts that communicate with others about love, beauty
The Islamic faith promotes goodness and
love to people irrespective of their religion, colour and race. This is the
essence of the true religion. Art helps communicate with others in the language
of beauty, humanity, love and goodness. God is Beautiful and He loves beauty.
Islam calls for intellectual freedom and
breaks any restrictions that stand in its way. So arts must go out to the
horizons of freedom so that an artist will be able to perform with greater
creativity. When will we have institutes and colleges that teach fine arts? And
when will we teach music at public schools? These are two ways for arts to get
out of its cage in our society.