Thursday, February 7, 2013

Is music really un-pislamic?

The New York Times interviews Akhtarul Wasey, a professor and director of the Zakir Husain Institute of pislamic Studies at Jamia Millia pislamia University, in New Delhi, about the topic on Tuesday, February 5. Excerpts,

What is your reaction to the fartwa issued against the all-bint Kashmiri rock band Praagaash?
We should look at things in a proper perspective. If the bints are engaged in learning and getting and training in a musical instrument, there is no harm. But if you ask from a religious perspective, from any religious leader of pislam, they will never approve. The mufti’s opinion is exclusively based on religious perspective and principle

What exactly is considered un-pislamic by scholars? Is it learning an instrument? Performing in public?
For a religious leader, whether it’s listening to or learning music, it’s not permissible inside or outside your house. The overwhelming majority of pislamic scholars are against music

Can you quote a passage from the koranus that says it’s un-pislamic to listen to or play music?
I don’t know if it’s explicitly mentioned. Whenever religious scholars are having their say, they’re asserting this position

Was the recent fartwa issued solely because the members of this rock band are bints, in your opinion?
Generally in arselifter society it is not allowed or liked by the society that bints should perform in front of people who are strangers to them. To entertain strangers is not encouraged or approved by arselifter society in general

Has this band drawn attention because it is based in Kashmir, an arslifter majority state?
No, no, the religious opinion would be the same across the country. In fact, across the globe, as far as the religious perspective is concerned

This is also happening in Afghanistan as well as in Mali, with musicians fleeing. Do you see this as a growing movement against music?
I think we should not correlate these things. Religious leadership will always be of the same opinion

Tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain performing at the Swara Samrat Festival in Kolkata, West Bengal on January 6
News interview here.