What Is the Islamic Perspective on Glossolalia?

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question

What is the Islamic perspective of glossolalia, or “speaking in tongues”?
Also, Christians or Jews have things that refer to Allah generally, for example, the Christian song “Kumbayah.” The lyrics are just about asking for God’s help. Is this blasphemous?

Answer

I pray you are well.

Given that glossolalia is either an unknown language or one that is supposedly ascribed to the Divine, it would be impermissible to use it or engage in any activity that involves it. We have been told to shun the practices of other religions.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever imitates a people he is one of them.” [Abu Dawud]. This refers to the imitation of their religious practices, as scholars have pointed out. [‘Itr, I’lam al-Anam]

Given this, one should also avoid singing Kumbaya, even if the lyrics are not ostensibly problematic. We have a rich tradition of song and poetry in Islam and many beautiful compositions to the same effect, such as Imam Haddad’s famous poem “My Loving Lord’s knowledge has sufficed me. “

It is better to engage in these poems and songs. Better for your faith and better for your soul. May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 where, for 18 months, he studied with many erudite scholars. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (Usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic. He was also given licenses of mastery in the science of Quranic recital and he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Quranic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.