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Allowed or Forbidden? Music in Islam
For the majority of Muslims, music is halal, i.e. allowed. And yet: Muslim theologians and legal scholars have been debating the role of music in their religion for centuries.
By Magdalene Melchers
"Everything that is black and white is easier for everyone," notes the Turkish theologian Tuba Isik. "To say 'This is forbidden' is much easier than to say 'Look, there are different opinions'. That expects to be deepened again, that is exhausting. That is why it is difficult to find a simple thing in Islam for a certain thing To find the answer.
Tuba Isik was born in Mainz, is a research assistant at the Center for Comparative Theology and Cultural Studies and a post-doctoral candidate at the Seminar for Islamic Theology at the University of Paderborn. "What is clearly forbidden in the Koran, God also makes it very clear," says Tuba Isik. "It is forbidden to eat pork - that is clear. We do not need to discuss that. But if the Prophet did not comment on music and he took very different positions on it, then I have to think about it. Then I cannot say 'It is forbidden'. It doesn't work. "
No reference to a music ban in the Koran
The composer and musician Mehmet Cemal Yeşilçay sees it similarly. "The question of what music is like in Islam is very easy to answer. The prophet himself first thought about how he could call the believers to prayer so that everyone would know how to do it. And then he is you got the idea that you are singing or proclaiming it. "
Mehmet Cemal Yeşilçay was born in Turkey, but has lived in Munich since childhood. In addition to Western music theory, he also studied Arabic maqam, is a virtuoso on the Turkish oud lute, an expert on Sufi music and also has a degree in industrial engineering. Yeşilçay does not see a reference in the Koran to a music ban - on the contrary. One only needs to turn one's attention to one of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam: "Bilāl ibn Rabāh al-Habaschī, that was a black, former slave whom he had freed. He was commissioned because he was a mad man Had voice to shout the Adhan on the roof of a building. And that was sung. If there were a ban on music, the Prophet would not have instructed Bilāl to sing it with a beautiful voice. "
Sheikh Muhammed Abi Zaid prefers to hear nice words
The Lebanese Sheikh Muhammed Abi Zaid heads the Islamic Court of Justice in Sayda and is committed to the Christian-Islamic dialogue, especially in cooperation with the Jesuit University in Beirut. The judge and professor of theology wears a turban and a lush beard. He is sociable and likes to talk about his religion and his points of view. "Sometimes I think that the music hides the words and thus also covers up their meaning," says Sheikh Muhammed Abi Zaid. "The ear is more attracted to musical instruments and then you listen to the beautiful sound. But what do the words tell me? I prefer to listen to very quiet, soft music, if at all, and rather hear nice words - a melodious voice who speaks or sings words. "
Music must not go against the principle of the divine
Mehmet Cemal Yeşilçay explains that the Koran would of course view any type of music as problematic if its content was directed against the principle of the divine. "Racism, bad things, sexual debauchery. If the music reflects these things in terms of content, it is of course forbidden."
The composer and oud virtuoso writes film music, electronic as well as traditional Turkish music and jazz arrangements. "It is up to everyone what they do," says Yeşilçay. "There is no compulsion, not even religious compulsion, to convince others what to do or not to do. Everyone is responsible for themselves, according to the original idea of the Koran, that is basically not a problem. There is no ban on music. "
Singing and music are part of Islam
According to Tuba Isik, it is very difficult to make people fundamentally sensitive to culture. Especially for fundamentalists who would understand this cultural element as part of religion even with the prophet. The theologian often misses the clearly defined difference between culture and religion in intercultural or interreligious discourses. Religion as well as culture would ultimately be shaped by geographical and temporal characteristics in equal measure. "That is very important, just as it is in Jewish culture," emphasizes Tuba Isik. "Tradition provides a red line. On the red line we can see that there were always areas or cultural contexts where they said: No, we don't want music. But a very wide range of cultural contexts that said have: Music is part of Islam. "
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NDR culture | Friday Forum | 08/10/2018 | 3:20 pm
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