Lot of things we do not know about other cultures. Each has its own taboos, restrictions and prohibitions. If you have some Muslim relative, or a friend, you may wonder if playing the guitar is allowed or restricted by Islamic law.
Honestly, I did not know the answer neither until I started to explore this issue in details.
Here’s what I’ve found.
Are guitars allowed by Islamic law? Yes, they are. Playing guitar is perfectly in accordance with Islam religion. Guitar itself does not impose any problem whatsoever to Islam religion. However, there are some restrictions regarding the way how the guitar should be played. Also, there are some Muslim groups that think guitar is not preferable. (We’ll cover that in a second).
What Does Haram Mean?
Haram is an Arabic term for something that’s forbidden or proscribed by Islamic law.
According to Wikipedia:
This may refer to: either something sacred to which access is forbidden to the people who are not in a state of purity or who are not initiated into the sacred knowledge; or to an evil thus “sinful action that is forbidden to be done”. The term also denotes something “set aside”, thus being the Arabic equivalent of the Hebrew concept קודשqadoš, and the concept of sacer (cf. sacred) in Roman law and religion. In Islamic jurisprudence, haram is used to refer to any act that is forbidden by Allah, and is one of five Islamic commandments (الأحكام الخمسة (al-ahkam al-khamsah)) that define the morality of human action.
So, when you hear that something is haram, it means nothing more than that something is forbidden for people of Islam faith.
Opposite to haram is halal. The term halal is often seen as a certificate on various food products. That means that products with halal certificate are allowed for consuming by Islamic law.
Guitar Is Not Haram
As it’s been stated at beginning of this article, guitar, as an instrument, is not haram, meaning that playing a guitar is not forbidden or proscribed by the tenets of Islamic law or faith.
Islam permits playing any instrument, as playing instrument is in the accordance with Islam. Islam religion recognizes human need for relaxation and having fun.
There’s no religion that forbids music as such. And music is produced by musical instruments (obviously). Every religion and every culture has its own musical style and expression.
Islam is not different. Islamic culture is abundant with music in forms of religious carols and hymns. Moreover, legendary singer songwriter Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) had (and has still) a guitar as his main instrument.
In fact, one may say that Muslims used to play the oud, a string instrument from which guitar evolved after the Middle Age. Precisely, those were the Moors, Muslims that inhabitants of Maghreb, Sicily and Malta during the Middle Ages.
If they didn’t have any problems with stringed instruments, why would they be critical of today’s guitars?
Of course, there are probably some Islamic groups that see the guitar as a decadent instrument of the West. Still, guitar itself, as a string instrument, is in perfect accordance with Islamic law.
Guitar Playing Restrictions
However, there are some restrictions regarding guitar playing. Again, it’s not the guitar itself that’s restricted. It’s more about how should you play it, at what occasions, and so on.
So, what are those restrictions? Let’s go through some of them.
- lust and immorality
Anything that stimulates lust and immorality is forbidden in Islamic culture. How can we apply that to guitar playing? Is guitar playing immoral, according to Muslims?
Of course not. It’s the possibility of promoting and stimulating lust and immorality through guitar playing that can be potentially problematic.
If you were to play a guitar at the streets of Islamic cities, it would be problematic for you to play it in a way that promotes lust and immorality. That means, playing songs that are immoral with your guitar – that is forbidden. But playing songs that cheers Allah is certainly not.
- playing guitar together with man and women
Islamic law does not permit playing any instrument if it’s played together (two sexes playing). Guitar is an instrument, therefore it is not allowed to play it that way.
Women can play guitar as long as there are no men around. Men can play guitar as long as there are not women around.
- any songs that leads you away from the path of Islam
Playing songs on a guitar that lead people away from the path of Allah are not allowed. Every song that has a potential to take away people from being faithful, industrious and well-behaved is also not allowed.
Guitar is an instrument that can play either right or wrong songs, or compositions, according to Islamic scholars.
As long as there are songs that praise Allah, and maintain the individual on the right path – guitar is acceptable.
Having all of that in mind, let’s break through some occasions in which guitar can be not only acceptable, but preferable also.
Weddings are occasions in which playing an instrument and singing is preferable. People tend to relax and enjoy life and Allah at their weddings. Therefore it’s perfectly OK to play a guitar at weddings, as long as the rules mention and described above are met.
At the website Questions On Islam, the similar issue was proposed, and here’s the part of the answer.
These instruments are permissible to be played on weddings or meetings. Likewise, it is recorded in various narrations that women used to gather around and play such instruments on festivals at the time of the Prophet (pbuh). Even one day, while some women gathered and were having fun playing tambourine in the house of Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), the Prophet entered the house without saying anything to them; he wanted have a rest in the house. Meanwhile, Abu-Bakr Siddiq entered the house and became sad hearing the voice of the instrument and scolded them; he warned them saying “Is it suitable to play instruments when the Prophet is present?” So, the Prophet removed the covering over his face and stated this was not excessiveness, saying to Abu-Bakr “O, Abu-Bakr! Everybody has their own festivals and they have fun right then. Give up, let them enjoy their festivals”.
While the Prophet entered Medina after emigrating from Mecca, he was greeted with a rapturous cheer and there were girls and women who were reciting poems aloud, among that crowd. The Prophet did not regard it odd for that day. Afterwards, he forbade women to sing songs among men.
Playing instrument and dancing excessively is considered to be makrooh. Imam Abu Yusuf thinks that way. (Al-Muhit – Radiyuddin Sarakhsi)
In the work titled Hizanatu’l Muftin, the following is stated: “It is not religiously wrong to play tambourine or similar instruments on festivals or similar days.
So, yes, there are many cultural stories and narrations from which is clear that guitar (or any stringed instrument in general) is in accordance with Islamic law.
There are probably many Muslims out there that claim playing guitar is not acceptable. They will talk about how guitar can took you away from the right path. In fact, today’s music is definitely not abundant with morality and values. Perhaps that’s the reason of suspicion by some Muslims.
Here, you can see the arguments being pointed out by Dr. Zakir Naik. Check it out, just to see the other perspective on this issue.
I hope this article gave you some insights and valuable information on this issue. If you enjoyed reading it, I’m more than happy about it.
Guitar is not haram (forbidden) by Islamic law. However, there are some restrictions about how should guitar be played, at what occasions, what type of songs are allowed to be played, and so on.
Anyway, check out some other articles from this page that answer other interesting questions about guitar and guitar playing in particular.
Have a nice day!