A nasheed (Arabic: singular نشيد nashīd, plural أناشيد anāshīd, also nashwad (pl.), meaning: "chants"; also nasyid in Malaysia and Indonesia) is a work of vocal music that is either sung a cappella or accompanied by percussion instruments such as the daf. In general, Islamic anasheed do not contain lamellaphone instruments, string instruments, or wind and brass instruments, although digital remastering – either to mimic percussion instruments or create overtones – is permitted. This is because many Muslim scholars state that Islam prohibits the use of musical instruments except for some basic percussion.

Anasheed are popular throughout the Islamic world. The material and lyrics of a nasheed usually make reference to Islamic beliefs, history, and religion, as well as current events.[1]

Some Ulama argue that the use of musical instruments is implicitly prohibited in the Ahadith. The founders of all four of the major maslags – schools of thought in Islam – as well as many other prominent scholars, have debated the legitimacy and use of musical instruments. One such example of the scholars' opinions is of the famous Muslim scholar, Abu Hanifa, according to whose maslag, the Hanafi maslag, if a person is known to listen to such forbidden musical instruments, their testimony is not to be accepted. Another Islamic scholar, Ibn Taymiyyah, once said that music is like alcohol to the soul.[2] A majority of Muslim scholars traditionally have held that at least some music with some of its instruments are Haraam: sinful by the hadith, as well as by tradition. There are, of course, those who reject such claims, citing revealed scriptures, earlier prophets, and the example of Mohammed in the appreciation of the musical arts.[3]

Prohibition in the Hadith

According to the authentic collection of Sunni Islam, Muhammad said that musical instruments are sinful:

“Narrated Abu 'Amir or Abu Malik Al-Ash'ari (a companion of Muhammad) that he heard the Prophet saying, "From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful”.[4]

However, the isnad of this hadith includes Hisham ibn Ammar, who is not considered trustworthy.[5]

Prohibition in Islamic tradition

Apart from the evidence that Sunni scholars draw out from the Qur'an and Hadith, many Islamic Sunni scholars throughout Muslim history have agreed that every type of music and musical instrument is haraam. These scholars include the five Sunni imams, namely Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi'i Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Dawud al-Zahiri.[6]

Modern interpretations

A new generation of nasheed artists use a wide variety of musical instruments in their art. Many new nasheed artists are non-Arabs and sing in different languages, like English or Turkish. Some nasheed bands are Native Deen, Outlandish and Raihan. Other well-known artists are Yusuf Islam – formerly known as Cat StevensAhmed Bukhatir, Ahmed Mac, Sami Yusuf, Junaid Jamshed, Maher Zain, Mesut Kurtis, Dawud Wharnsby, Zain Bhikha and Kamal Uddin.

Arabic nasheed artists – or Munshids – include Abu Mazen, Abu Rateb, Abu Al joud, Abu Dujanah and Abdulfattah Owainat. Some of the well known Arabic nasheed bands are Al Rawabi, Al I'atisam, Al Baraa' and Al Wa'ad

Appealing to a significant Muslim audience and also leading to performance of such artists at Islamic oriented festivals (such as Milad), conferences, concerts and shows, including ISNA, Celebrate Eid, and Young Muslims Other artists and organisations such as Nasheed Bay promote an instrument-free stance with anasheed, differing from the current trends of the increasing usage of instruments in anasheed.

See also


  1. Sufism Today: Heritage and Tradition in the Global Community – Catharina Raudvere, Leif Stenberg - Google Books. Retrieved 2014-01-06.
  2. Archived version
  4. Shahih al-Bukhari Volume 7, Book 69, Number 494v: English translation of this hadith here .
  5. "Islamic Revival: Q&A: Shari' rule on songs, music, singing & instruments?". 2012-04-23. Retrieved 2014-01-06.
  6. Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid. "Ruling on so-called “Islamic” songs with musical instruments. Islam Question & Answer. Retrieved on 2008-09-25.

Further reading

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