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Nasheeds and Nazams in the Light of the Sharee‘ah

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(Highlights of Mufti Ebrahim Salejee’s majlis - Saturday 1st March)

The human ear naturally goes to good voices and sweet words. So the sharee'ah has laid down certain guidelines regarding this. In this time and age there is an explosion of knowledge. But for every piece of information to be understood you have to understand it in context, otherwise it will be harmful. When looking for direction in shar'ee laws we will look at the fuqahaa, those with a deep understanding of deen. We will not look at a sufi and we will not look at a muhaddith. Each one has his own field and we will acknowledge each one’s role. Even among the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) you will get one who narrates the hadeeth and you will get another who knows the proper application of the hadeeth. Hadhrat Umar (radhiyallahu 'anhu) was of this calibre. The position of the faqeeh is the highest.

The understanding of deen will not come overnight. It takes many years. It’s not only through books. The fuqahaa thus say that one should not listen to naats and nazams. Moulana Thanwi (rahmatullahi 'alaih) explains the reason that when these naats are sung in a good voice, then the listener’s emotions increase and get stronger. And not every person has the ability of controlling his emotions when they increase and it could then lead to evil.

Hadhrat Nizaamuddeen Awliyaa (rahmatullahi 'alaih) also listened to these naats, though they called it samaa'. However, he says that for it to be acceptable there are 4 conditions: (1) The content matter has to be correct (2) The one singing should not be a young handsome lad. It should be someone with a beard. (3) It should not be accompanied with musical instruments. (4) The audience should also be Allah fearing. They should not be all kinds of people.

There may be certain people who have the license and permission to do something, but this does not become a general rule and permission for all. For example, a paramedic has got permission in the case of an emergency to pass through the red traffic lights and to travel at a high speed. But this is not open permission for others to follow. So Hadhrat Nizaamuddeen (rahmatullahi 'alaih) was of that level. He required the listening of samaa'. It did not lead him to anything wrong. Once he was in a dire need to listen to samaa' and on enquiry there was nobody to sing for him. So he asked someone to bring the correspondence of one of his mureeds and asked for it to be read out as it contained some lines of poetry. With just one line of poetry he went into a trance which lasted for three days, but the karaamat (miracle) is that in this entire duration not a single namaaz became qadhaa.

There was another peer who had a female mureed and she would sing for him. Once while she was singing, the peer was overcome by emotions, caught hold of her hands and took her to one corner and did what he was not supposed to do. On one occasion Moulana Gangohi (rahmatullahi 'alaih) was asked whether Hadhrat Nizaamuddeen was a great 'aalim. Moulana answered in the affirmative. The person then asked whether he was from the auliyaa and Moulana again replied in the affirmative. This person then asked about the permissibility of samaa' to which Moulana replied that it was incorrect. So this person said that didn’t Hadhrat Nizaamuddeen also listened to samaa'. Moulana’s balanced reply was that the proof for permissibility may have reached him but it has not reached me. Look at our buzurgaane deen. They upheld the laws of sharee'ah and at the same time maintained the highest levels of respect for each another.

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