Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Advice to Young Muslim- On Music

You can argue with a philosopher, but you can’t argue with a good song.” - Yusuf Islam

An interesting BBC documentary about Yusuf Islam – formerly Cat Stevens- featuring Bob Geldof and Dolly Parton amongst others.

I think one important takeaway on the debate about music in Islam is that scholars tend to think it is always better to ere on the side of conservativeness on such issues. Jeffrey Lang also makes a similar case- in a more general context;

“Yet if the Quran’s prescripts epitomize certain basic aims and principles of law, then it would seem that they are also meant to be extended and adapted to time-bound changes that are certain to occur. After I became a Muslim, I discovered that many Islamic legal scholars agree with this view in principle but are exceeding conservative in applying it. When they do extend or adapt a command, it is almost always in the direction of greater severity. The general thinking among Muslims is that it is better to ere on the side of strictness. I cannot say that I share the same feeling.” (Losing My Religion: A Call For Help, p.60)

Music: A Question of Faith or Da'wah? by Yusuf Islam
Different opinions about music indicate that it is not to be taken as a question of faith (Aqidah), but is simply a matter of understanding (fiqh). And after having studied this subject for more than twenty five years, I can say that it is certainly not as black and white as some have tried to make us believe. I used to be doubtful about the issue but now realise that many of the Hadith used to support its banning are either weak, unclear, or they do not balance with other specifi c Hadith showing its allowability. The actual word ‘music’ was never recorded in the original sayings of the Prophet and can not be found in the preserved ‘Arabic language of the Qur’an - and Allah surely knows best.

Interview with Yusuf Islam- NYT
I hear you returned to pop music after your son, Muhammad, brought a guitar into the house several years ago, hoping to have his own career as a pop singer.

I re-evaluated my position and realized I couldn’t object. Later, I forced him to get a better guitar.

You were asked by Tony Blair to serve on an educational task force after the bombings.

One of the main recommendations of the task force was that we introduce a picture of history where there wouldn’t be this blackout of a thousand years, what we call the Dark Ages. That was the time of the flourishing of Islamic civilization.

How do you support yourself these days — off your old hits?

I think we sell about 1.5 million albums a year.

Which is how much in royalties? About a dollar an album?

Probably more.


Dog said...

This man, "Yusuf" is the same one who publicly supported, and did not retract support for, the murder of Salman Rushdie. Yusuf is worthy only of contempt.

Marshall Jevons said...

Dear Dog,

I suppose you haven't seen the documentary-- we all know how media twists and turns what people say out of context.