What Is Riya (Ostentation)?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum

I would like to know the authenticity of this hadith stated by some Hanafis: ” Listening to music is sin (fisq) and enjoying it is kufr”. Is this hadith authentic?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

I didn’t come across the specific wording of the tradition (hadith) in question as being established from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), despite its presence in numerous works of law (fiqh).

Having said that, Ibn Qutlubugha commented in his explication of the traditions found in Imam Mawsili’s Ikhtiyar that its basis is the expedient (mursal) tradition related by Makhul who said, “Listening to instruments is a sin…” Hafiz al-‘Iraqi came to the same conclusion in his Takhrij Ahadith al-Ihya’.

At any rate, the scholars have explained that the denial (kufr) in this context is understood as an exaggerative statement (tashdid/taghliz), as found in many other traditions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), and it is not supposed to be taken literally. Similarly, others have explained that the denial being referred to is one of blessing (kufran al-ni‘ma) because directing limbs to other than what they were created for is a manifestation of rejecting blessings as it goes against the dictates of true gratitude (shukr).

Otherwise, generally traditions should be taken from books dedicated to transmitting them, just as law is to be taken from books of law, exegesis from the exegetical literature and so on. Perhaps the reason for the presence of the aforementioned report is due to the fact that jurists (fuqaha) occasionally omit part of a tradition by way of seeking brevity, or they may decide to use a more obscure wording, or even change the wording altogether by way of transmitting the mere meaning of the text in question.

Given the above, it is usually proper to abstain from negating the existence or basis of such traditions and suffice with, “I believe in what is true according to Allah Most High and His messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace),” and then take the reliable means to seek a satisfactory answer.

I hope this answers your query.

[Ibn Qutlubugha, al-Ta‘rif wa ‘l-Ikhbar bi Tahkhrif Ahadith al-Ikhtiyar (3.413); Mawsili, al-Ikhtiyar li Ta‘lil al-Mukhtar (4.147); Khadimi, al-Bariqa al-Mahmudiyya Sharh al-Tariqa; Haskafi, al-Durr al-Mukhtar, with Ibn ‘Abidin’s Marginalia (5.223)]

Please also see: Listening to Islamic Songs with Musical Instruments and: Spiritual Music – Renewing Religion: An Overview of Ghazali’s Ihya – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

wassalam,

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.

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