Q601 :I intend to study medicine in a European or American university, but I also have a strong desire to become a heavy metal singer or a pop singer. As I am a Muslim, I will not sing in clubs or discotheques. Nor will I drink or get involved in any of the practices which are clearly forbidden in Islam. I will continue to observe my Islamic duties, and will make much of my singing for charitable purposes. Some people suggest that I will still be making a sin if I do so. Please comment.

A601 : Scholars differ with regard to how singing is viewed in Islam. Many say that it is permissible while others say that it is undesirable or discouraged, and still others view it as forbidden. People who have a very strictive view of singing, repeat some sayings which speak of certain punishments to those who listen to singing. Such sayings, or those of them which are attributed to the Prophet, lack in authenticity. It is perhaps the weightier opinion that singing is permissible. It is the view of many scholars in the Hanbali school of thought. To start with, singing is a natural tendency of human beings. People like a melodious voice and a pleasant tune. When the words which are sung have a beautiful and decent meaning, it is enchanting to listen to them. When we add this to the fact there is no clear statement by the Prophet which can be construed to forbid singing, we are bound to conclude that the view which permits singing is weightier. Having said that, I must add that Islam does not encourage that singing becomes institutionalized in the sense that there are places which people may frequent in order to listen to songs, as happens in clubs and discotheques. Frequenting such places is strongly discouraged. I commend your attitude in seeking to know the Islamic view of what you have in mind before actually doing it. This is the proper attitude of a Muslim, especially when he is embarking on something on which the Islamic view may not be immediately clear to him. I also recommend your resolution to abide by Islamic teachings and not to commit any of such practices which Islam forbids. But I still have a number of points to make in connection with what you intend to do. I should perhaps start with explaining a principal Islamic legislation which has a far-reaching effect. This concerns lawful matters, where the verdict is changed, when the practice of such lawful matter leads to something unlawful. When there is a strong likelihood that a person gets involved in something which is in itself permissible, then we tell him that the permissible matter is no longer permitted to him because it leads to doing what is forbidden. This principle may work at individual or community levels. The permissible practice may not generally lead to anything forbidden, except in individual cases. In such a situation we say that it is forbidden to those whom it leads to do what is sinful. I have pointed this principle out in order to ask you to consider your position after you have become a famous singer. Will not there be a strong temptation for you to sing in parties or clubs or dancing places? Will you be able to resist the inevitably numerous attempts by agents, friends, and admirers who will try to get you to change your resolution, offering in return large amounts of money, or prestige, or both? You have also to consider the effects of your singing on your audience. If you become a pop star and produce records that have a strong appeal to teenagers in a permissive Western society, do you not think that you also bear some responsibility of what may take place in their clubs and discotheques when they dance to your music? You may not be there singing to them, but your records will be played. Moreover, can you escape them when they hunt you at your house, in your hotels and wherever you go? You may say that it is your firm intention not to have anything to do with all that. It may be so, but we have an important principle in Islam,which tells that it is always better to avoid any gray tea which may lead to something forbidden. The Prophet says that "What is permissible is clear and what is forbidden is also clear. In between, there are some matters which are rather doubtful. He who avoids what is doubtful makes sure of staying within the bounds of his faith. He who falls in them will fall in sin. He is just like a shepherd who takes his sheep for grazing close to a restricted area: he is very likely to overstep its boundaries. Every king has a protected area of his own. Allah's protected area is that made up by what He has forbidden." This Hadith gives you very clear guidance Do not go near what is forbidden lest you may fall in it. If I have a son of your age and he expresses to me the same desire as you have expressed, I am clear in my mind what advice I will give him. I will say to him that he may take up singing as a hobby which he practices himself, at home, or with his closest friends. But I will strongly discourage from taking up singing as a career. The risks are too evident to be ignored.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )