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Alishah Gilani Ms Sarah Dietsche MUH 2020 12 December 2017 Music In Islam Music is a very controversial topic in Islam. Under the traditional Islamic perspective, all  cultural expression fits the common category of music and is considered illegitimate. Secular music is also considered spiritually suspect. Anything that does not relate to religion or guides your focus away from religion is not considered to be appropriate. For example, pop music of the western civilization is illegitimate because it does not focus on religion or getting closer to God. Acceptable music should contain passages or ideas from the Quran. The Quran is the holy book of Islam. The Quran is the book of God and the most precious thing to Muslims. Although the recitation of the Quran has melodic and rhythmic components to it, it is not considered to be music because its focal point is religion and faith.For Sufis, a sect of Islam, music is welcomed and incorporated into worship of Allah. With other groups of Islam, music is forbidden or “haram.” Sufis are the mystical denomination of Islam and are knows as the Whirling Dervishes. The Whirling Dervishes are followers of Rumi, a famous 13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic. Their nickname refers to their unique form of thikr, where the followers “whirl” in remembrance of God. The word Dervish, refers to their status as a follower of the Sufi tradition. The act of whirling is known as Sema, or spiritual concert, and its participants are known as semazens.  The ceremony is symbolic of the Sufi journey to enlightenment and fana, which is “oneness with God.” The ceremony represents Urs, which is when one dies and becomes one with the Divine.  Sufis are usually the most tolerant and peace-loving. Usually, they show their love to Allah through music and art.  In some forms of worship and ritual, they perform vicar, which is the remembrance of God. This ceremony is ceded by chanting, praying, and playing instrumental music. Their rememberance consists of saying Allah’s name repeatedly. It is said that the music is very calming and sooting, often leading the people to ecstasy, and the dancing that accompanies the ceremonies is trance-like. Music is very important to the Sufis, and plays a vital role in showing their love to the Divine. Compared to all the musical instruments used by Sufis, the flute is the most powerful. The flute symbolizes the breath of life. Sufis are one of the biggest followers of Islam that allow and accept music as a legitimate form of worship. Sufis are also known as the Whirling Dervishes. The traditional Islam religion does not typically accept music. Prophet Muhammad, the last prophet, taught the spiritual guidance that only the voice and the drum were acceptable forms of music. The call to prayer and the recitation of the Quran are the only acceptable art forms of the Muslim culture. Therefore, the recitation has been developed to be such an exclusive, unique sound such that it is different from any other. “In fact, Islamic tradition considers secular music spiritually suspect; hence, Quranic recitation, even if it sounds musical, is not conceived of as music” (Qureshi). Music is not accepted in Islam. It often carries the ideas of individualism, sexuality, and sin, especially popular music. The call to prayer and the recitation of the Quran sound musical, they fall under the category of chant, which separates the sound into a category with the sole purpose of religious prayer. However, musical recitations of the Quran and the call to prayer are accepted and plays a big role in Islam.  Musical recitations of the Quran has been recited since the time of Prophet Muhmmad, the last prophet.  Muslims sing the words in beautiful phrases of its original Arabic language. However, the recitation of the Quran is not thought to be music; instead, it is classified as chanting or call to prayer. When Prophet Muhammad was alive, he was visited by an angel who told him what he thought was the command “Recite.” From then on, he began to spread the word of God to everyone. “Muhammad had spread the message by sending out reciters, not texts.” The Quran was not scribed until later. Since then, the reading of the Qur’an has always been oral. “As a poetic text, the Quran abounds in a wealth of rhyme, assonance, rhythmic patterns, and recurring phrases, all of which enhance the meaning, and provide structure to the text as well as sonic impact” (Qureshi). Though the oration of the Quran sounds musical, most Muslims would be offended if one were to call it music, as music is not generally accepted in the religion. They prefer to classify it as chant or prayers, which proves that the sound is only for religious worship and teaching. Also the recitation of the Quran is different from the recitations of other sacred scriptures of Abrahamian faith but also holds some similarities. For example, The Torah is often sung in a cantillation during worship and such. Children go to Hebrew school to learn how to recite the Torah for their thirteenth birthday, where they will then sing parts of it in front of the congregation at Temple. Similarly, Muslim children are often tutored in the recitation of the Quran in its original Arabic form. Tajweed refers to the rules and regulations for the recitation of the Quran. There is a worldwide competition for children, where they are asked to recite random passages of the Quran with proper vowels and pronounciation of the words, accuracy, assonance, and rhythm, etc. “The ultimate achievement is to retain the entire message by memory with the aid of its sounded form; such reciters are honoured with the title of Hafiz al-Quran” (Qureshi). On the other hand, the Islamic recitation of their sacred scripture is different than the Christian reading of the Bible. Christians read the Bible as if they were speaking regularly, without a chant-like quality. Though certain passages have been converted into a song, the music is quite unlike that of the Islam faith. In addition, the songs of Bible verses, the hymns, are often accompanied by musical instruments, whereas the recitation of the Quran is not. Today as globalization increases, religions in general are thriving such as Islam, and has caused people to be tolerant with forms of expression. With advanced technology, sacred texts such as the Quran, are available for anyone to read. There are numerous videos of worship and even different forms of expression such as music to show their love for their religion. Globalization has allowed for the spread of different religions to all parts of the world. For example, Sufis are able to practice their religion in America instead of the Middle East. Globalization has been a beneficial change in society for religion. This has altered the music traditions of world religions in many ways. Though the changes in music might not be welcome to all, it has allowed music to evolve into a culture phenomenon. Thanks to the creation of modern technology, perhaps new music trends will occur in the future that mix religious sounds to create even more diverse sounds.


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