Monday, August 31, 2009

Why The Taliban Hate Music?

Islamic Culture
08 Aug 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com

Why The Taliban Hate Music?

Music has had its detractors in plenty and the MMA government, foisted on the NWFP by Musharraf, had declared music to be a vice in 2002. Since then music has been treated as an enemy. It has been targeted regularly. The campaign first began in the form of attacks on shops and music centres. Then musicians, those gentle artists who soothe the soul, were threatened and they either fled or gave up their art. Some had to pay with their life. The website notes, "Imagine the world without music. Or imagine a world where we are told what to play, what to sing and even what we may listen to in the privacy of our homes. That world already exists in more countries than you might imagine."Why the need for censorship? The link between music and politics is now widely recognised. -- Zubeida Mustafa

---

Firstly, music is a useless activity which in fact, is a state of passiveness. As we will explain in another article about gambling, the fact that such an inactivity, which is inherent in those so called professions, did not escape the attention of our religion.

Secondly, the benefit and pleasure taken from music involves a meaning of deep slavery in passion. Since Islam is the only enemy of passiveness and slavery in passion, an important duty of Islam is to search their traces in unexpected hide-outs. -- Mustafa Sabri

Photo: Zubeida Mustafa

URL 0f this page: http://www.newageislam.org/NewAgeIslamArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=1618

---------

 

The Taliban and music

By Zubeida Mustafa

05 Aug, 2009

IN her latest book, The Case for God, Karen Armstrong describes music as 'the limit of reason'. She finds it inseparable from religious expression when religion is at 'its best'.

We do not get the best demonstration of this connection in the Taliban brand of Islam. The faith practised by the Sufis, however, shows an intrinsic link between the two.

No count has been kept of the video shops destroyed by the Taliban in the course of their offensive against Pakistani culture. Music has had its detractors in plenty and the MMA government, foisted on the NWFP by Musharraf, had declared music to be a vice in 2002.

Since then music has been treated as an enemy. It has been targeted regularly. The campaign first began in the form of attacks on shops and music centres. Then musicians, those gentle artists who soothe the soul, were threatened and they either fled or gave up their art. Some had to pay with their life.

It all seems bizarre, given the clear connection between the rhyme and rhythm of music and the harmony in the working of nature. It begins with the unborn child's first exposure to the rhythm of his mother's heartbeat.

Even the Taliban probably know that music casts a spell on the listeners. It was amusing to read on the Freemuse website (www.freemuse.org) — an independent Copenhagen-based organisation called the World Forum on Music and Censorship — that the Taliban who claim to be averse to all forms of musical expression were at one stage promoting 'jihadi' hymns to lure young men to their cause.

After having robbed the people in the north of the much-celebrated Pakhtun folk culture, which was enriched with song and dance, the Taliban reportedly reverted to what comes naturally to the natives of that region — music. According to a Freemuse report, every Taliban group had its own production house with staff to hire youth with melodious voices to render the jihadi songs that were duly recorded on cassettes and sold in large numbers.

Every religion has its share of poetry and music that keep its adherents spellbound. On a recent visit to Bhitshah, the resting place of Shah Abdul Latif, the Sufi saint of Sindh of the Shah jo Risalo fame, what fascinated me most were the fakirs who played the tanboro and chanted the great poet's verses in the courtyard of the shrine throughout the night. They have been doing that without a break for over two centuries, I was told. The music was overpowering.

Isn't that the case with qawwalis too? Or for that matter qirat rendered by a good qari? Palestinian activist Ghada Karmi who has spent a lifetime in London and could not be more secular in her outlook was full of praise for the gentleman at the Karachi University who recited Quranic verses before her lecture when she visited Pakistan in 2003.

There has always been a link between man and music. S.M. Shahid, who learnt classical music for 20 years at the feet of his ustad, the late Wilayat Ali Khan, discovered this connection when his handicapped grandchild began to respond to music in a remarkable way. Thanks to his musical intellect he can recognise the beats — he claps at ever summ (starting point of a taal — a rhythmic and cyclic arrangement of beats). Music enchants him and he concentrates on the beats.

This does not surprise those who have studied music and are involved with children. Afshan Ahmad now a Montessori directress quotes Maria Montessori, the Italian educationist and anthropologist, when she points out that "rhythmic movements" which song and dance involve have a positive neurological effect on a child.

Afshan made her debut in the world of music as a child when she appeared on PTV's Saaray Dost Humaray to entertain children with her melodies and teach them their lessons by singing nursery rhymes that were unforgettable. Afshan uses music cleverly in her school to soothe and calm a rowdy child.

So why does music have so many enemies? Freemuse was in fact set up to advocate freedom of expression for musicians and composers worldwide. It was born in the first world conference on music and censorship in 1998 in Copenhagen and has about 200 members today, mostly professionals from diverse fields and countries and including musicians, journalists, researchers, record industry professionals and human rights activists. They examine and document a wide variety of abuses to create awareness and fight censorship.

 

The website notes, "Imagine the world without music. Or imagine a world where we are told what to play, what to sing and even what we may listen to in the privacy of our homes. That world already exists in more countries than you might imagine."Why the need for censorship? The link between music and politics is now widely recognised. In the US, jazz, a creation of the Creoles of New Orleans, came to reflect the aspirations of the African Americans and in the 1960s was the battle cry of the civil rights movement. That explains why pro-status quo forces fear music. It can turn into a form of social protest.

But one thing reassuring is that music cannot be suppressed as Salman Ahmad, the founder of the rock music band Junoon, and now UN's goodwill ambassador, points out. "For years Gen Ziaul Haq tried to suppress music but it bounced back no sooner than he had gone."

Now Salman wants to use his talent to promote peace by bonding people culturally. He went to the Kashmir Valley last year and attracted a massive crowd to his concert in spite of death threats from the militants. He is working on a musical event at the UN Assembly in September to raise funds for the IDPs. Their trauma can be eased by reviving the vibrant Pakhtun music that the Taliban virtually destroyed. Email: zubeidam@gmail.com

Source: The Dawn, Pakistan

URL 0f this page: http://www.newageislam.org/NewAgeIslamArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=1608

------------

 

A Topic of Dispute in Islam: Music

Mustafa Sabri

Translated from Turkish by Muaz Özyigit

 

    If the head of the family is fond of tambourine,

    It is no wonder why the whole family dances! [1]

Whether it is through natural/physiological means or instruments, or tunes, depending on the kind or the different ways, music may be forbidden or disliked or even allowed according to some Islamic religious edicts. However, it is also known that Islam avoids absolutely accepting or remaining indifferent to the issue of music. It is this latter fact, i.e., a sort of position by Islam, of cautioning by not allowing music, or encouraging it without reservation. It is this position whose reason or essence we will be discussing.

 

It would not do justice at all to compare this position of reservation by Islam with heartsick people who are unable to appreciate the joyful effect of music which is considered by those who are fond of pleasures, as of great spiritual value. Perhaps Islam does not see right to remain indifferent to music because it knows how delightful music is to our nature and how strong it is on our feelings. Our religion has an exceptionally good view in any case, in discovering the hidden dangers which might be inherent in the sweetest and most pleasurable things. Indeed, a heavenly religion should lead to the truths which are unattainable by man himself, as this is expected in the guiding nature of the religion.

 

Firstly, music is a useless activity which in fact, is a state of passiveness. As we will explain in another article about gambling, the fact that such an inactivity, which is inherent in those so called professions, did not escape the attention of our religion.

Secondly, the benefit and pleasure taken from music involves a meaning of deep slavery in passion. Since Islam is the only enemy of passiveness and slavery in passion, an important duty of Islam is to search their traces in unexpected hide-outs.

 

Although it might be difficult for some to realize the fact that music has a sense of passiveness, those with a subtle mind would not hesitate to accept it, as it is not possible to imagine another worldly benefit of music. As for this world, it is useless as in the idiom of "no good for stomach"[2]. One should not ask hastily: how could this be claimed while there are many singers, instrument players in the West, for example, making a living or even a fortune? To make a living would not be proper unless it is done in a way which does not harm human dignity since it would not be at ease with conscience otherwise.

 

(One may think) that we are roaming from one bizarre opinion to another: Where on earth is the harm to human dignity in this? Again, one should not be hasty. The acts of pure entertainment are considered low-level professions in the eyes of unpolluted human nature. You should not take seriously the applause and respect and perhaps requests given to the famous of these kinds of artists. Those who pay respects and make requests do not mind doing so, since they do it, in a way, taking away a crumb of honour from the artist, by hiding this loss from him. Likewise, a lot of respect is usually paid to some ladies in order to take sexual advantage of them.

 

From such an entertainment point of view, it shows a quite bizarre mentality of some parents who are proud of having taught their daughters how to play an instrument. It is also bizarre to see some people wishing to marry a girl with musical training, in an attempt to imitate Western civilization which, they think, gives the utmost importance to the respect of woman. It might be said that being able to play an instrument is not a shame for a woman as it is her natural duty to make her husband happy with her company. However, such an objection is not valid because happiness and enjoying each other's company in a marriage is a mutual benefit. Then, one can imagine how bizarre and ridiculous it would be for a man to say he is lacking the qualities for marriage just because he does not know how to play an instrument!

 

Compared to singers and instrument players, although composers look, to some extent, free of the hidden disgrace explained above, the art of composing could not get rid of the pros and cons of singing or playing as they depend on each other. Also, while the waves of pride and dignity rise in teaching knowledge, as opposed to an atmosphere of of frivolity spreading from the classes of composers. Of course, we all appreciate the meaning of "playing music after forty years of age" [3] that is why it would be quite offensive to ask a man of high rank in a government to sing a song no matter how good it is as it would be an affront to his dignity. As opposed to this, teaching knowledge regardless of rank is considered a means of increasing honour and pride.

 

An attempt to cover up the problem above, by claiming that a composer can concentrate on teaching music without having to put himself in a frivolous and disgraceful position by shouting or singing before students would, in fact, mean to admit our claim, let alone being an argument against it.

All these problems we have tried to expose above are about those who make a living through music. As for those who see it as a hobby, playing only for friends, the passiveness and the waste of time for both player and listeners are pretty obvious, not needing a special attempt to expose it.

 

During listening to music, people would not be doing anything for the good of humanity. They would cause, instead, a lot of money to change hands. And, in return for the money, what do these people get? Nothing! Consider this: Suppose a shoemaker sells you a shoe. And you wear it and walk to your shop. Let us say you sell books in your shop. You both make a profit and help knowledge and science spread in your country. This way you would serve in a chain of benefits in the society by making other people too to benefit, such as those who print or write books, and the manufacturers of paper or the cotton farmers and on the other hand, there are the craftsmen who process leather for shoes and the farmers who raise animals to provide leather. When it comes to music, although those who manufacture instruments and those who offer their skills for your hearing appreciation, by playing them certainly benefit, this chain of benefits ceases at you!

 

Paying for music is not the same as hiring a horse-and-cart to go out for a picnic, because this way you could contribute more to your work of being a complementary part of the chain of human needs by benefitting your health in addition to helping the cart driver make a living. Besides, those carts are used for transportation at other times than those of picnic. In short, picnic is one thing and music is another. Of course, nothing could be said against music when it is a medical necessity for a patient like clean air being one of the most important necessities in treating patients. Nevertheless, it is not known yet that music is prescribed by physicians despite the fact that treatment with music has recently become a familiar term.

 

Now, let us talk about another face of musical pleasures, the one involving a deep indulgence in passion: Under what kind of influence are the feelings of those who are in an atmosphere which is full of emotional temptations caused by music? The effect of music can have various ways: with music, a lonely person feels his loneliness more, an orphan feels more the loss of his parents, a patient feels more sorrowful of his situation, and an aged person feels sorrier that the most of his life has already gone. Yet again, with music, a lucky person with wealth and a high ranking position feels happy more than he usually is. In short, music paints the reality in darker colours by increasing the sorrow of the the sorrowful and the happiness of the happy. And this way, the effect of music resembles that of alcohol, causing people to perceive the reality in a more stretched way than it really is. Above all of these, music has a tremendous effect in agitating the feelings of romance and love. That is why a banquet with music is usually accompanied with pretty women and alcoholic beverages. Therefore, the most intimate secrets of love are exposed first by poems, then, under the disguise of music, in a similar manner to some women making themselves more attractive under the disguise of the hijab. Or, the words that cannot be normally said by lovers can be uttered by means of music and poetry. That is why it is not considered rude, if a person who is too shy to say "I'm dying for her, I'm crazy for her" shouts the same words before others by music and poetry. Furthermore, I wonder how parents who would like to raise their daughters in chastity and modesty with wisdom allow them to sing the most intimate words of love, considering this a good quality for a girl at the age of marriage despite the fact that it is shameful (in our society) for girls to utter even the word of marriage which is lawful in Islam. If the opinion of some thinkers of this century, who said "if women are not kept busy, they would think of some other things do to", is to be taken, then women who are fond of playing instruments would have found even an irresistible guide to those kind of thoughts.

 

However, is dreaming love and romance a bad thing? What else is like love that makes man feel angelic and gives compassionate and elevated feelings? Love is so strong that it is not possible to remain indifferent to the whining of the lovelorn and suffering hearts. Yes, this is quite true. However, there is no other issue, as delicate as this, vulnerable to abuse. Indeed, it was not an exaggeration when Hoja Nasruddin (Juha), when asked if he ever had a love affair, said: Yes, I was just getting involved once, but we were surprised! [4] Although love cannot be but mutual, it seems shameful for women in particular. And a man esteems a woman who only loves him. Besides, he would not excuse other women being in love with other men. And the woman he loves has no importance attached to her by others.

 

Having said these considerations about music, it has become easier to express an opinion about love odes which form the most elegant kind of poetry. As for the poetry of eulogy or satire they are not usually commendable as the former is a kind of flattery and the latter is fault-finding. As for the poetry to uphold the moral values we have no objection. Islam's position can be summarized as accepting the good poetry and rejecting its bad kind, anyway.

 

Although poetry is perhaps the best of the literal arts, Islam's uneasiness about poetry is because it does more harm than good. Even a student's obsession of poetry is considered a sign of going astray, leaning towards laziness even by scholars of the modern times. What consists of the capital of poetry is confessed by poets themselves:

    "The material of poets never runs out

    No end to lies even to an end this world is brought" [5]

In ancient times when poets never made such confessions (out of their pride), the nature of their poetry was exposed by the Holy Quran:

    As for poets, the erring follow them. Hast thou not seen how they stray in every valley, and how they say that which they do not? [6]

However, poetry is far more important than music as poetry sharpens the mind and can be informative.

 

Before we finish the topic of music, let us add that, if the effect of music on feelings must indeed be an important need for the soul, the recitation of the Quran serves that need in a much more dignified way. This is also shown by the fact that harmonious recitation of the Quran is recommended in Islam. However, it should also be noted that a musical tune accompanying the recitation is not proper. In other words, a harmonious recitation is recommended in some hadiths of the prophet (pbuh), yet the scholars are against the musical recitation of the Quran. The reason of these two seemingly conflicting opinions can be understood by making a distinction between the two concepts of music:

 

If music is to be applied with its rules and techniques to the recitation it would violate the rules of tajweed [7]. So, this kind of music with notes and rules, like composed pieces, is not allowed in the recitation. However, if a person recites the Quran, associated with the beauty of his natural tunes, this is commendable. This way is very reasonable considering the fact that an abuse of the Quran with music must be avoided. That is why a piece of music is listened to for appreciation of its musical value, without necessarily understanding its words, for the most part. Although the meaning of the words in some pieces of music can be realized to some extent, the composers usually have to fill the gaps with "la la"s to balance the piece of music. Obviously, such a practice in the Quranic recitation is out of the question.

 

Besides, nobody wants to listen to the music of a person with no talent for it. As for the talented, their natural tunes are more pleasant and impressive than their musical skills acquired through musical training. Our claim should not seem bizarre. We have witnessed the loss of purity and sweetness in the recitation of once famous Quran reciters, after being exposed to musical education. Therefore, natural music should be superior to the acquired musical skills, as the former is an extempore act while the latter consists of repeating composed and used tunes. At this point we have got one more claim: It is known that one nation may not enjoy the music of another. So it means that the effect of music is in proportion to its locality. Therefore, a person's natural music should be superior, as being his personal music, to his national music...

[1] In the original text, this was an Arabic poem.

[2] This is a Turkish idiom used for professions which are no good to make a living.

[3] This is a Turkish idiom implying that a person does not behave as mature as his age requires.

    The reader should bear in mind the Islamic and traditional values prevailing in his time among the Ottomans, while reading this article. With Western values about dignity and music, his opinions might become quite difficult to understand.

[4] This is a famous remark attributed to the well known folk figure, Hoja Nasreddin, indicating that love affairs can reach dangerous levels very quickly, no matter how innocently they begin.

[5] This is a Turkish poem in the original text. No reference for it is given.

[6] The Holy Quran 26:224-226

[7] Tajweed: The method of proper authentic recitation of the Quran.

©1995 anadolu

This article can be reproduced provided that full credit is given to anadolu

Bu yazi anadolu'ya atif yapilmak kaydiyla kopyalanabilir.

Beyan-ul-Haq, issue: 63, year: 2, vol: 3, 1910 (A journal which used to be issued by the Islamic Scholars Society)

Mustafa Sabri was one of the top Ottoman scholars in the 20th century. He served as a shaikhulislam (Highest religious authority) in the Ottoman State. He died in 1954 in Egypt.

This translation was prepared by Muaz Özyigit. This article appeared in our printed magazine in Turkish. 

Source: http://www.wakeup.org/anadolu/05/4/mustafa_sabri_en.html

URL 0f this page: http://www.newageislam.org/NewAgeIslamArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=1618

 

1 comment:

lilyjoin said...

very nice information for us i like this