The Shari’ah’s Stance on Samaa’ (Religious singing sessions) and Raqs (Full bodily rhythmic movements)

Mujaddid Alf-e-Thaani states that the object of Tasawwuf (the Sufi path) is nothing but to produce conviction in the beliefs of the Shari’ah and to facilitate the observance of its rules, and that the unlawful means such as Samaa’ and Raqs, are a kind of temptation with which Allah tests men.

The Mujaddid’s strictness on the Shariah, and his intolerance of opinions that he deems to be contrary to the Shariah, is also quite evident here:

Vol 1, Letter 266

“After one has acquired right beliefs and subjected oneself to the rules of the Shari’ah, one should, if Allah so wills, enter the path of the Sufis. But one should not pursue it in order to get something over and above the beliefs and the practices of the Shar’, or acquire something new. The purpose of following the Sufi way is to gain a conviction in the objects of faith that cannot be weakened by the doubts of a sceptic or shaken by the remarks of an objector. The conviction which is founded on arguments is not firm, and one who pursues reasoning does not attain certitude.

‘Know that it is through the remembrance of Allah that one acquires the peace and satisfaction of the heart.’ This is the object of the Sufi tariqah regarding belief. Regarding the practices of the Shar’, the object is to make their performance easy and spontaneous, to remove sluggishness, and to subdue the carnal self. Likewise, the purpose of the Sufi Suluk is not to see the forms and images of transcendental realities, or behold colours and lights; they are nothing more than play or fun. Material forms and physical lights are not less interesting if one wants to have fun; why should one leave them and run after spiritual forms and lights, and take up austere and difficult practices for that purpose? Forms, these or others, and lights, physical or spiritual, are all created by Allah. He transcends them altogether; they are nothing but His signs and proofs.

What should I say about Samaa (hearing recitals), or performing Raqs (full bodily rhythmical movements), or entering into a trance, or inducing Wajd (ecstasy)! All the states and experiences which are produced by unlawful means are, in my view, a kind of temptation with which Allah tests men. People whom Allah gives latitude in this way, undergo these states, experience union, and have revelations and visions in terms of the forms of this world. The mystics of Greece and the Brahmin saints of India had all these experiences. The sign of the validity of an experience is, first, that it agrees with the doctrines of the Shari’ah and second, that in order to have it one does not commit anything which is forbidden or which is doubtful. Know that Samaa’ and Raqs are but frivolous games…

One day I was in the presence of my Shaykh in a meal gathering. Shaykh Kamal, who was one of the sincere ones of my Shaykh, uttered “Allah” loudly at the beginning of the meal in His Eminence’s presence. This severely displeased His Eminence to the degree that he reproached him harshly and said that he should be asked not to come to the meal gathering. And I have heard our Shaykh saying that Hazrat Khwajah Naqshband went to the Khanqah of Hazrat Amir Kulal with a group of the ulama of Bukhara in order to prevent him from doing the loud zikr. The ulama told him that loud zikr is a bid’ah and that he should shun it. He answered that he would not do it any more.

When the great ones of this path make so much exagerration in preventing the loud zikr, then what can be said regarding the Samaa (hearing religious singing), Raqs (full bodily rhythmic movements), wajd (ecstasy) and tawajud (raptures). The states and ecstasies that stem from means contrary to the Shariah, to the Faqir, fall under the category of Istidraj (divine deception) that lead step-by-step to ruin. States and longings (ahwal va adhwaq) come in the hands even for the people of istidraj or people who practice occult that lead them step-by-step to ruin. They see the unveilings of tawhid (kashf-i tawhid). And they see [God] unveiled in the mirror that is the forms of the world and they also identify Him with those forms.

The philosophers of Greece and the Yogis and Brahmans of India share these experiences. The criterion of the authenticity of the states is conformity with the knowledge of the Shariah along with abstaining from the perpetration of unlawful and doubtful matters. Know that Samaa and Raqs fall in reality under amusements and fun. The verse: “And among men is such a one who buys frivolous tales.” [31:6] has been revealed in order to forbid singing (Ghinaa). Hence, Mujahid, the student of Ibn Abbas, and one of the great Tabi’ees said that what is intended by ‘frivolous tales’ is singing. And it comes in Madarik that ‘frivolous tales’ means nightly talks and singing. Ibn Abbas and Ibn Mas’ud would swear that these mean singing, and Mujahid said that the words “And those who bear not false testimony,” [Qur’an 25:72] of Him Azza Wa Jal, refers to those who do not attend singing sessions.

And it has been related by the Imam of guidance Abu Mansur al-Maturudi that whoever says “well recited” to a Muqri (professional reciter of the Qur’an) of our age, has committed Kufr, his wife becomes separated from him, and Allah nullifies all his good deeds. It is related by Abu Nasir al-Dabusi on the authority of Qadhi Zahiruddin al-Kharzami that whoever hears a song from a professional singer, or someone other than him, or watches an unlawful act, while considering it good, with or without conviction, becomes apostate immediately due to invalidating a dictate of the Shari’ah – and he who nullifies a dictate of the Shari’ah does not remain a believer according to all the Mujtahids, and Allah does not accept his good deeds and renders naught all his good deeds. We seek refuge in Allah from that.

The verses of the Qur’an, Ahadeeth, and rulings of the jurists regarding the unlawfulness of singing and hearing songs are too many, to such an extent that counting them is burdensome. If a person brings forth an abrogated tradition or an anomalous narration regarding the permissibility of singing, then he should not be relied upon – since no jurist has in any time and age given the ruling of permissibility of singing, or has regarded Raqs (full bodily movements) and foot-pounding as lawful, as has been mentioned in the treatise Multaqat by al-Imam al-Hammam Dhiya Uddin Shaami.

No practice of any Sufi is an argument to decide that which is lawful or unlawful. Will it not be sufficient that instead of reproaching them we pass over their actions and leave them to the judgement of Allah Ta’ala? This is a matter in which the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Abu Yousuf or Imam Muhammed should be considered authoritative rather than the practice of Abu Bakr Shibli or Abul Hasan Nuri. The half-baked Sufis of our day have taken Samaa and Raqs as an accepted religious rite and raised it to the level of divine service. These are persons who have taken their religion for sport and pastime”

From the foregoing reports it becomes apparent that he who considers an unlawful deed commendable, exits the Muslim community and becomes apostate. Then it should be realised what an enormity it is to show respect towards a gathering of Samaa or Raqs, rather even considering them acts of virtue and worship. Praise and thanks be to Allah, that our seniors were not afflicted by such things and kept us followers free from the following of such matters.”

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