BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014

BBC Homepage

Local BBC Sites

Neighbouring Sites

Related BBC Sites

Contact Us

Community Life

You are in: London > London Local > Redbridge > Community Life > Is there room for music in Islam?

Is there room for music in Islam?

Some Muslims believe music is "haram," forbidden in Shariah Law, but one East London Sheikh believes Sufi music can be a passage to God.

Sheikh Aleey

Sheikh Aleey

The use of music in Islam is not as obvious as it appears in most other religions. Buoyant choirs, classical instruments and ceremonial processions do not accompany prayers as they do in many eastern faiths for example.

This could be due to the fact many Muslims interpret the use of melody and musical instruments as "haram" or forbidden in Islam.  Some believe the Hadeeth scripture (words of the Prophet) states that the sounds of bells, in particular, have the devil behind them.

Other reservations include the belief that there is only one possible way to reach God, and that would be on judgement day. However, Sufis believe it is possible to reach God during ones life and that’s through musical meditation.

Sheikh Alley, a Malaysian priest based in East London says there is room for music in Islam and that you just need to have an understanding of its relevance. He says: -

""Music is behind life and rules of life, from music springs all life. The whole of creation exists in rhythm.""

Hazrat Inayet Khan, Renown Sufi Musician

“We are living in an age of confusion, a very complicated age where people have diverted from their own tradition. They may understand the tradition that they have, but not at its core. People tend to focus on the literal and not beyond literal. They have a shallow understanding of that aspect.”

On Thursday evenings in Leyton, many devout Muslims get together for “Dhikr.” A session whereby the group chant recitations from the Qu’ran and also sing "Naseeds" or praises of the Prophet. Nazia Abbasi attends the Sheikh's sermons and Dhikr regularly, she says the sessions help her to pray. Nazia Abbasi says:

“The recitation of the Dhikr has helped me to focus more internally. It has allowed me to meditate and think about the state of my heart and mind."

A Daf

The Daf a Sufi instrument

The Sheikh's followers believe his lineage stems back to the Prophet himself. So his appreciation for Sufi Musicians is permeating as a result.

Sufi Musicians

Historically, Hazrat Inayet Khan and poet Jalaluddin Rumi first drew attention to this mystic tradition. The late Ustad Nusret Fateh Ali Khan was and still is considered a highly accomplished Qawalli artist. His passionate renditions were known to engage people of all faiths.

The Sufi Daf

The ‘daf,’ is a deep sounding bass drum, traditionally used by Sufis in the Middle East. Many artists believe the sound of the daf simulates the sound of a heart beat.

To hear the sounds of a Sufi musician wowing crowds in Eygpt and a full interview with Sheikh Alley. Click on the audio link below.

Your views are welcome, email

last updated: 20/12/2007 at 18:10
created: 07/08/2007

You are in: London > London Local > Redbridge > Community Life > Is there room for music in Islam?

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy