19: Spiritual Music – Renewing Religion: An Overview of Ghazali’s Ihya – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

In this lesson, Shaykh Faraz, gives an overview of the chapter on spiritual music from Imam Ghazali’s Ihya. In this chapter, the Imam’s reference to music is constrained only to spiritual music and should be understood as such for the remainder of the lesson. This is music that inspires to seek Allah and His messenger. WIthin the Islamic tradition there is a broad permissibility of singing.

There are numerous examples of the companions singing spiritual poems as they dug trenches or during weddings. That is also the reason why the Prophet had his own poets. Thus there was a general understanding of the permissibility of spiritual singing. The Prophet also encourage beating the ‘duff’ at weddings. Conversely, however, many scholars believe that other musical instruments are not allowed within Islam. There are a minority of scholars that allowed music as long as the environment in which the music is, is not associated with other sinful acts such as dancing.

Shaykh Faraz outlines in the lesson the etiquettes of listening to music:
[1] Music is powerful so be cautions of what you listen to. Thus listen to music that inspires you to yearn for the Divine.
[2] Actions are by their intentions, so you need to be clear as to why you are listening to something and what you hope to gain from it
[3] There is a rich tradition in Islam of appreciating beauty and beautiful things.
[4] The sunna of music is listening to that which praises Allah and Messenger or that which inspires one to turn to Allah and his messenger; or that which allows one to relax.

Shaykh Faraz concludes by reminding us to uphold caution and stick to what is permitted to music and continue to listen to it with purpose and intention. Lastly, remember that the greatest of what you can listen to is the Quran.

In this brief overview of Imam Ghazali’s opus magnum, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences), this series will serve as blueprint for how the believer can bring to life their religion. It will aim to help the believer to not just practice the form of the religion properly, but to also practice it with excellence.