The Addiction

By Rola Kassem

Every educated person recognizes that an addiction is a bad thing. In a world flooded with smoke addicts, drug addicts, and alcoholics, we have developed an acute sense of awareness of this deadly disease; a disease of the body and the mind. What many people do not realize, however is that there are many different forms of addiction that are not so easily identifiable. Mental addictions, which cause for the affected to no longer have any self control regarding the object of their addiction, can be just as deadly. However, in this case it is deadly to the person’s mind, heart and soul, more so than it is to their body.

We live in a time where Muslims are much more aware of what is haram and what is permissible than their forefathers were. Those of us who strive to become better Muslims and become closer to Allah swt push ourselves to stay away from that which Allah swt has made impermissible. However, there are certain weaknesses that every fallible human being experiences. Some of these haram acts are temporary, and are regretted and stopped immediately, such as telling a lie or missing a prayer for example. Some others are not so temporary, and become a habit that is justified in the doers mind over and over again.

Unfortunately, the society that we live in (and most other societies in the world for that matter), has made one particular haram act as common as breathing. People listen to music during all times of the day. When they are walking, exercising, working, as well as when they are shopping and even during movies and video games. It has become such a norm that many people don’t even feel a tinge of guilt when doing it, because they do it so often. According to Ayatullah Khamenei’s “Leader.ir”:

Q1: Can we listen to music?
A: Mutrib and lahwī music and singing which are suitable for merrymaking gatherings are ḥarām.

Q2: Some singers use Gnostic poems – like that of Ḥāfiẓ – in their song. Is it permissible to listen to them?
A: If the singing is ruled as ghinā’ – i.e. a kind of singing accompanied by vocal undulation and rapture so that it is suitable for gatherings of lahw and sin – it is ḥarām and the content makes no difference.

Sayed Sistani has a very similar fatwa, as do the majority of other Scholars.

Those that know and recognize that it is haram commonly say the exact same thing, from my experience. When reminded of the fact that it is haram to listen to music, and told that it is an addiction and something they need to stop doing, they claim “I can stop whenever I want, but I don’t want to.”

Those are the same exact words I used to say myself back when I was addicted to music as well. You convince yourself that it is merely something you enjoy doing, something you can stop doing at any time when you are ready, but can you? Then why don’t you stop now? What is it about music that has such a strong hold on you, that you are willing to disobey Allah swt, do haram constantly, and stay in this state of disobedience? WHY don’t you want to stop listening? Is it because it is entertaining? There are many other forms of halal entertainment that you can engage in instead of listening to music. If you listen to music when you are sad, listen to a latmiyah** instead. When you are happy? Anasheed**. When you are bored? Read a book, play a game, watch a movie or show, read quran/dua, pray, and the list goes on and on.

The only thing preventing you from stopping is the addiction. The hardest part is to recognize that you are indeed addicted, and want to change. It is very difficult to actually stop listening, as I stated, I’ve been there. I stopped and returned to it 3 times before I permanently stopped listening many years ago. You may be stronger than me and able to overcome this addiction the first time you try, or it may take many bouts of self awareness and motivation, but you need to do it.

And if you truly don’t think you are addicted, prove it. Stop right now.

**Example of Latmiyah:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z63vQFfWi-4

**Example of Nasheed:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eISXUWXIiP8

1 thought on “The Addiction

  • Thank you for expressing your opinion about music addiction. There are a few people who are indeed actually addicted to it. Here’s the definition of addiction:
    someone who is physiologically dependent on a substance; abrupt deprivation of the substance produces withdrawal symptoms

    So, if that is the case with music then you are indeed screwed. If it isn’t, then like the majority of the human population, you are not addicted and there is really nothing to worry about.

    Anyways, since I hate bias. Here’s a different viewpoint ripped off from here: http://www.submission.org/music.html

    “Music is one of the purest and most beautiful creation of God Almighty who set the tone and rhythm of every sound in the universe. Music or singing like all the creations of God, that now constitute an important part of our daily life, can be lawfully used or maliciously abused. Both music and singing are created pure, and beautiful like our fresh air and fresh water and they can be corrupted or polluted by evil-doers of every nationality, color or gender. The corruption of some music shows or songs does not make all the music or songs haram (prohibited) just like the pollution of some water or fresh air by some people will not deem all the water and air haram (prohibited).”

    It seems to me that music has a lot of positive attributes to it. It is an ART form. However, it does not have to be recreational.

    Okay prepare to face some awesome lawyer skills:
    Music is therapeutic and it can be used as medicine. In which case, you’re listening to it for your health and well being. Music has long been used to help people deal with their emotions. According to the wikipedia article on Music therapy:
    Music therapy is an interpersonal process in which the therapist uses music and all of its facets—physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual—to help clients to improve or maintain their health. In some instances, the client’s needs are addressed directly through music; in others they are addressed through the relationships that develop between the client and therapist. Music therapy is used with individuals of all ages and with a variety of conditions, including: psychiatric disorders, medical problems, physical handicaps, sensory impairments, developmental disabilities, substance abuse, communication disorders, interpersonal problems, and aging. It is also used to: improve learning, build self-esteem, reduce stress, support physical exercise, and facilitate a host of other health-related activities.

    So, what if I am listening to music as a therapeutic thing? bam! Not really a bad thing is it? And since its a medicine its necessary for my health. Ergo, it is permissible in such a case. Loophole detected.

    btw, the ruling/fatwa on music that I saw on A. sistani’s website a decade ago was that Music that leads to sinful acts is haram–which is quite different from the fatwa i see above from A. Khamenei.

    I still find your argument about music developing into an addiction interesting however. I couldn’t much scientific evidence of it. Other than some research that suggests that the pleasurable feelings associated with emotional music are the result of dopamine release in the striatum–the same anatomical areas that underpin the anticipatory and rewarding aspects of drug addiction:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21217764

    But then again you can argue that almost everything pleasurable causes dopamine releases here and there. if you get addicted to the dopamine releases caused by chocolate, then chocolate is no better than music in such a case.

    I also came across the following website, which also provides some interesting counter perspectives: http://www.islamawareness.net/Music/prohibited.html

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