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Encyclopedia > Muslim music

Islamic music is Muslim religious music, as sung or played in public services or private devotions. The classic heartland of Islam is Arabia and the Middle East, North Africa and Egypt, Iran, Central Asia, and northern India and Pakistan. Because Islam is a multicultural religion, the musical expression of its adherents is diverse. The indigenous musical styles of these areas have shaped the devotional music enjoyed by contemporary Muslims: Music is an art, entertainment, or other human activity which involves organized and audible sound, though definitions vary. ... Islam (Arabic: ; ( ▶ (help· info)), the submission to God) is a monotheistic faith, one of the Abrahamic religions and the worlds second-largest religion. ... The Arabian Peninsula The Arabian Peninsula is a mainly desert peninsula in Southwest Asia at the junction of Africa and Asia and an important part of the greater Middle East. ... A map showing countries commonly considered to be part of the Middle East The Middle East is a region comprising the lands around the southern and eastern parts of the Mediterranean Sea, a territory that extends from the eastern Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. ... North Africa is a region generally considered to include: Algeria Egypt Libya Mauritania Morocco Sudan Tunisia Western Sahara The Azores, Canary Islands, and Madeira are sometimes considered to be a part of North Africa. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Islam (Arabic: ; ( ▶ (help· info)), the submission to God) is a monotheistic faith, one of the Abrahamic religions and the worlds second-largest religion. ...

The Seljuk Turks, a nomadic tribe that converted to Islam, conquered Anatolia (now Turkey), and held the Caliphate as the Ottoman Empire, also had a strong influence on Islamic music. See: Arab music is the music of Arabic-speaking people or countries, especially those centered around the Arabian Peninsula. ... Figurines playing stringed instruments, excavated at Susa, 3rd millenia BC. Iran National Museum. ... Hindustani (हिन्‍दुस्‍थानी) Classical Music is an Indian classical music tradition originating in the North of the Indian subcontinent circa the 13th and 14th centuries CE. Developing a strong and diverse tradition over several centuries, it has contemporary... The Seljuk Turks (also Seldjuk, Seldjuq, Seljuq; in Turkish Selçuklu; in Arabic سلجوق SaljÅ«q, or السلاجقة al-Salājiqa; in Persian سلجوقيان SaljÅ«qiyān) were a major branch of the Oghuz Turks... Asia Minor lies east of the Bosporus, between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. ... An Anglicized/Latinized version of the Arabic word خليفة or Khalīfah, Caliph (  listen?) is the term or title for the Islamic leader of the Ummah, or community of Islam. ... Imperial motto (Ottoman Turkish) Devlet-i Ebed-müddet (the Eternal State) The Ottoman Empire at the height of its power Official language Ottoman Turkish Capital Bursa (1335 - 1365), Edirne (1365-1453), Ä°stanbul (1453-1922) Imperial anthem Ottoman imperial anthem Sovereigns Padishah of the Osmanli Dynasty Population ca 40 million...

Sub-Saharan Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the southern Philippines also have large Muslim populations, but these areas have had less influence than the heartland on the various traditions of Islamic music. Turkey is a country on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and is a crossroads of cultures from across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus and South and Central Asia. ... Africa is the worlds second-largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. ...

All these regions were connected by trade long before the Islamic conquests of the 600s and later, and it is likely that musical styles traveled the same routes as trade goods. However, lacking recordings, we can only speculate as to the pre-Islamic music of these areas. Islam must have had a great influence on music, as it united vast areas under the first caliphs, and facilitated trade between distant lands. Certainly the Sufis, brotherhoods of Muslim mystics, spread their music far and wide.

Sufism (Arabic تصوف taṣawwuf) is a system of esoteric philosophy commonly associated with Islam. ... Mysticism (ancient Greek mysticon = secret) is meditation, prayer, or theology focused on the direct experience of union with divinity, God, or Ultimate Reality, or the belief that such experience is a genuine and important source of knowledge. ...


Types of Muslim devotional recitation and music

Recitation without instrumental accompaniment

  • Adhan -- the call to prayer, performed by a muezzin from a minaret, or (these days) blasted from a loudspeaker
  • Salat -- the prayers to be recited five times daily
  • Qur'an reading or recitation -- as performed by professional reciters of various traditions and styles

None of these forms of recitation, no matter how elaborately ornamented the vocals, are considered music by strict Muslims who shun music. Adhan ([]) is the Islamic call to prayer, recited by the muezzin. ... The müezzin (the word is pronounced this way Turkish, Urdu, etc. ... Minarets (Arabic manara منارة, but more usually مئذنة, and Urdu minra pl. ... Salah (other terms and spellings exist) (Arabic: صلاه , Old (Quran) Arabic: صلوة ) is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. ... Quran reading is the reading (tartil, tajwid, or taghbir) aloud, reciting, chanting, or singing of portions of the Quran. ...

Islamic nasheed

  • Nice Islamic nasheed 'Last Breath' in English
  • Lyrics to the nasheed Last Breath

Sufi music

Sufi worship services are often called dhikr or zikr. See that article for further elaboration. Arabic. ...

The dhikr of South Asian Muslims is "quietist". The Sufi services best known in the West are the chanting and rhythmic dancing of the whirling dervishes or Mevlevi Sufis of Turkey. Some Mevlana music can be heard on the Sufi Music CD recommended below. The Mevlevi Order or the Mevleviye are a Sufi order founded by the followers of the Persian Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi in 1273 in Konya present day Turkey; also known as The Whirling Dervishes, sometimes called the Howling Dervishes or the Dancing Dervishes due to their famous practice of... The Mevlevi Order or the Mevleviye are a Sufi order founded by the followers of the Persian Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi in 1273 in Konya present day Turkey; also known as the Whirling Dervishes due to their famous practice of whirling as a form of dhikr (remembrance of Allah). ...

However, Sufis may also perform devotional songs in public, for the enjoyment and edification of listeners. The mood is religious, but the gathering is not a worship service.

In Turkey, once the seat of the Ottoman Empire and the Caliphate, concerts of sacred song are called "Mehfil-e-Sama' " (or "gathering of Sama'"). Song forms include ilahi and nefe.

In northern India and Pakistan, these concerts, and the associated style of music, are called qawwali. A traditional qawwali programme would include: Qawwali () is the devotional music of the Sufis. ...

  • A hamd -- a song in praise of Allah
  • A naat -- a song in praise of the Prophet Muhammad
  • Manqabats -- songs in praise of the illustrious teachers of the Sufi brotherhood to which the musicians belong
  • Ghazals -- songs of intoxication and yearning, which use the language of romantic love to express the soul's longing for union with the divine.

Shi'a concerts follow the naat with a song in praise of Ali (also manqabat) and a marsiya, a lamentation over the death of much of Ali's family at the Battle of Karbala. A hamd (حمد) is a poem or song in praise of God. ... Naat or Naat-Shareef is poetry in praise of Prophet Muhammad (ALLAH HUMMA SALLA ALLAH MUHMADIN WA ALEY MOHMAD), The last Messenger of God (Allah-Azzoajal) and prophet of Islam. ... In poetry (and as the lyrics in songs), the ghazal (Arabic: غزل; Turkish gazel) is a poetic form consisting of couplets which share a rhyme and a refrain. ... Shia Islam ( Arabic شيعى follower; English has traditionally used Shiite or Shiite) is the second largest Islamic denomination; some 20-25% of all Muslims are said to follow a Shia tradition. ... Marsiya is a form of Urdu poetry consisting of six lines per passagem organized according to the rhyming scheme Veronica Travers. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...

See Poetry in Islam for a discussion of the lyrics.

Qawwali is increasingly popular as a musical genre and performances may attract those who want to hear virtuoso singing rather than contemplate the divine. Some artists may skip the long sequence of praise songs and go straight from the introductory hamd to the popular romantic songs, or even dispense with the devotional content completely. This is cause for much consternation for traditional enthusiasts/devotees of the form.

Music for public religious celebrations

  • Mawlid music -- performed for the birthday of Muhammad, in various regional styles.
  • Ta'zieh music -- Ta'zieh is a passion play, part musical drama, part religious drama, rarely performed outside Iran. It depicts the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, venerated by Shia Muslims.
  • Ashurah music -- performed during the Moharram mourning period, commemorating the deaths of Imam Hussein and his followers.
  • Manzuma -- moral songs performed in Ethiopia.
  • Madih nabawi -- Arabic hymns praising the prophet Muhammad.

Mawlid, Mawlid an-Nabi or Milad al-Nabi (Arabic: ) is the celebration of the birthday of Muhammad, the final prophet of Islam; also known as the seal of the prophets. Sunni Muslims celebrate this day on the 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal in the Islamic calendar; whereas Shia Muslims... Imam (Arabic: إمام) is an Arabic word meaning Leader. The ruler of a country might be called the Imam, for example. ... Hussein (also spelled Husayn and Husain) is a common Middle Eastern name especially among shiite muslims, because of the popularity of Hussein bin Ali, the grandson of Muhammad and the Shiites third Imam. ... Shiʻa Islam (Arabic شيعى follower; English has traditionally used Shiite) makes up the second largest sect of believers in Islam, constituting about 30%–35% of all Muslim. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Festival of Muharram. ... Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. ... Madih nabawi, one of the principle religious genres of Arab music, a song form devoted to eulogizing or rather praising the Prophet Muhammad and his family. ...


In Arab music a maqam [sic] (plural maqamat) is, a technique of improvisation that defines the pitches, patterns, and development of a piece of music and which is unique to Arabian art music. ... The tradition of Persian art music embodies twelve modal systems, known as dastgahs. ... Raga (rāg /राग (Hindi), raga (Anglicised from rāgaḥ/रागः (Sanskrit)) or rāgam /ராகம் (Tamil)) are the melodic modes used in Indian classical music. ...

Vocal styles

Melismatic In music, melisma is the technique of changing the note (pitch) of a syllable of text while it is being sung. ...


Some Muslims believe that only vocal music is permissible (halal) and that instruments are forbidden (haram). Hence there is a strong tradition of a capella devotional singing. A cappella music is vocal music or singing without instrumental accompaniment, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. ...

Other Muslims will accept drums, but no other instruments. For other kinds of drums, see drum (disambiguation). ...

Yet other Muslims believe that any instrument is lawful as long as it is used for the permissible kinds of music. Hence there is a long tradition of instrumental accompaniment to devotional songs. A wide variety of instruments may be used, depending on local musical traditions.


Recent introductions: A Persian woman playing a frame drum, from a painting on the walls of Chehel-sotoon palace, Isfahan, 17th century, Iran. ... The Goblet drum is a goblet or hour-glass shaped hand drum used in Arab music, Persian music, Balkan music and Turkish music. ... Rebana is a name that is used for several types of drums that are used in Muslim devotional music such as zikir, dance music, and other types of traditional Malay music in Malaysia and neighboring countries such as Brunei and Singapore. ... Primitive drums are known as Tam Tams or slit drums. ... The rebab is a musical string instrument which was heavily used in old Arabic music its considered as part of the Lute familiy (Oud in Arabic). ... Front and rear views of an oud. ... The santur (سَنتور) is a hammered dulcimer of Persia. ... The qanún is a musical string instrument used in Middle-Eastern music. ... Woman playing the ney in a painting from the Hasht-Behesht Palace in Isfahan Iran, 1669 The ney (also nai, nye, nay) is an end-blown flute that figures prominently in Middle Eastern music--in some of these musical traditions, it is the only wind instrument used. ... The shehnai is an aerophonic instrument which is thought to bring good luck, and as a result, is widely used in North India for marriages and processions. ...

This article is on the musical instrument; for information on other kinds of harmonia, see harmonium (disambiguation). ...


When lyrics are not simply repeated and elaborated invocations (Yah Nabi and the like) they are usually poems in forms and meters common in the local literature. For further information, see Poetry in Islam.

Is music haram (forbidden) for Muslims?

Many Muslim leaders, notably those of Salafi, Wahabi, and Deobandi tendencies, believe that music is forbidden both by the Qur'an and by the hadith, as well as by tradition. For extended argument to this effect, see these sites: [1]. and [2]. The neutrality of this article is disputed. ... Wahhabism (sometimes spelled Wahabbism or Wahabism) is a movement of Islam named after Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab (1703–1792). ... The Deobandi are Muslims of South Asia and Afghanistan who follow the fiqh (tradition of jurisprudence) of Imam Abu Hanifa. ... Hadith (Arabic: , Arabic pl. ...

Other Muslims retort that music is forbidden only if it leads the believer into sins like drinking alcohol and carousing with courtesans. Music can be a harmless accompaniment to family or community celebrations or to public devotions. The caliphs, the leaders of the Islamic empire, entertained noted musicians. Respected philosophers such as Al-Kīndī, Al-Farābi, Avicenna, and Safi al-Din encouraged the practice of music through their study of music theory. For extended argument, see these sites: [3] and [4] Anglicized/Latinized version of the Arabic word خليفة or Khalifah, is the term or title for the Islamic leader of the Ummah, or community of Islam. ... Avicenna was the greatest of the medieval Islamic physicians, whose work had a direct impact on the Renaissance. ... The ethnic Persian Safi Al-Din Ardebili (of Ardebil) (1252-1334), eponym of the Safavid Dynasty, was the spiritual heir and son in law of the great Sufi Murshid (Grand Master) Sheikh Zahed Gilani, of Lahijan in Gilan Province in northern Iran. ... Music theory is a field of study that describes the elements of music and includes the development and application of methods for analyzing and composing music, and the interrelationship between the notation of music and performance practice. ...

Contemporary Muslim music

There is a growing number of contemporary Muslim musicians. One of the most notable movements has been in Muslim hip hop, or Muslim rap.

Muslim music or Nasheed record labels include:

Some contemporary Muslim musicians include: There are two links for Awakening 1. ... Remarkable Current is an independent record label based in Oakland, California. ...

Noted Sufi singers: Yusuf Islam Yusuf Islam (born July 21, 1948) was a British singer-songwriter. ... Dawud (David) Wharnsby Ali (born June 27th, 1972) is a Canadian singer/songwriter, poet, performer and television personality. ... seven 8 six Shahaab, Zafar, Saad, Omar and Saeed all hail from Detroit, USA. As 786, in the couple of years that theyve been around, they have had tremendous success in North America and the UK with their slick harmonies and R&B inspired melodies. ... Raihan is a Malaysian Nasyid group with four members and released their debut album Puji-Pujian in 1996. ... zain bikha is a south african artist on songs. ... Sami Yusuf was born in the month of July 1980. ... Native Deen consists of three young men who were born and raised in America with Islam as their faith. ... Islamic Force (also spelled I$lamic Force and $lamic Force) is a rap group from Berlin-Kreuzberg, Germany, composed mostly of people whose ancestors or parents come from Turkey. ... Soldiers of Allah is an islamic rap group from Los Angeles founded by Ali Ardekani. ...

Also noteworthy: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (نصرت فتح علی خان (October 13, 1948 - August 16, 1997) was primarily a singer of Qawwali, the devotional music of the Sufis, a mystical offshoot of Islam. ... Abida Parveen, a Pakistani singer, is one of the foremost exponents of Sufi music. ... The Sabri Brothers were a musical group consisting of Haji Ghulam Fareed Sabri, Haji Maqbool Ahmed Sabri and Party. ... The Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali Group is known for their Satanistic death metal music. ... Shahram Nazeri (Born 1949 Kermanshah, Iran) is a contemporary Iranian Musician playing Persian and Kurdish. ...

  • Axiom of Choice, an Iranian New Age and Sufi group,
  • Rough Guide to Sufi Music, World Music Network, 2001.

New Age describes a broad movement characterized by alternative approaches to traditional Western culture. ...

External links

  • Islamic music, with links to many other websites, including one for Muslim hip-hop!
  • MuslimHipHop.com


  • Naats
  • Qawwali
  • Turkish Sufi music
  • Radio Islam
  • Nasheeds

Call to prayer, prayers, and Qur'an recitation

  • High Quality Complete Qur'an Recitation by Shaikh Sudais and Shaikh Shuraim
  • Complete Qur'an recitations by 271 different reciters
  • Four videos of recitation, commentary, or prayer
  • Calls to prayer, and Qur'an recitation, as well as naats and ghazals

Further reading

  • Jenkins, Jean and Olsen, Poul Rovsing (1976). Music and Musical Instruments in the World of Islam. World of Islam Festival. ISBN 0905035119.
  • Habib Hassan Touma (1996). The Music of the Arabs, trans. Laurie Schwartz. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press. ISBN 0931340888.
  • Shiloah, Amnon (1995). "Music in the World of Islam: A Socio-cultural study." Wayne State University Press. Detroit. ISBN 0-8143-2589-0

Series: Islam and the arts

Architecture · Pottery · Calligraphy · Music · Poetry Islamic tilework of the Shrine of Hadhrat Masoumah, first built in the late 8th century. ... Islamic architecture is the entire range of architecture that has evolved from Islam as a social, cultural, political and religious phenomenon. ... Islamic pottery era started around 622. ... The stylized signature of Sultan Abdul Hamid I of the Ottoman Empire was written in an expressive calligraphy. ... The term Arabic poetry usually refers to the poetry of the wider historic Arab empire from the 6th to the 14th Century, during which it attained great richness and versatility. ...

Arab and Muslim music

Algeria - Bahrain - Egypt - Iraq - Jordan - Kuwait - Lebanon - Libya - Morocco - Oman
Palestine - Qatar - Saudi Arabia - Syria - Tunisia - UAE - Yemen - Andalusian classical music Arab music is the music of Arabic-speaking people or countries, especially those centered around the Arabian Peninsula. ... In the areas now controlled by Israel and Palestinian National Authority, multiple ethnic groups, races and religions have long held on to a diverse culture. ... The United Arab Emirates are a part of the Persian Gulf khaleeji tradition, and is also known for Bedouin folk music. ... Andalusian classical music is a style of classical music found across North Africa, though it evolved out of the music of Andalusia between the 10th and 15th centuries. ...

External links

  • Yahoo discussion group dedicated to Qawwali music in general, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in particular (includes photographs, lyrics, translations, song lists)

  Results from FactBites:
Muslim music - definition of Muslim music in Encyclopedia (1392 words)
Islamic Music includes music of the Middle East and Islamic Africa and South-east Asia such as Arab classical music, Persian classical music, Turkish classical music, and North Indian classical music.
There is nothing in the Koran forbidding music, indeed music was played at the weddings of both Muhammad and his daughter (ibid), but there are later texts explaining issues not covered by the Koran.
In contrast, Sufi sects privilege music in their ceremonies, at one time the khalifs or religious leaders entertained noted musicians, and respected philosophers such as Al-Kīndī, Al-Farābi, Avicenna, and Safi al-Din encouraged the practice of music through their study of its theory (ibid, p.2).
  More results at FactBites »



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