What is the Islamic ruling on broadcasting various Islamic shows via the Radio during Ramadhan? Many cities across the UK have Radio Ramadhan stations which run 24 hours a day. Programs such as recitation of the Qur’an, Islamic Nashids, religious advices and talks are broadcasted. They also have phone-in services where listeners are invited to call and recite Qur’an, Nashids and other things live on air. Some Radio stations also have female presenters.
My question is that is it Islamically acceptable to run such Radio stations and to listen to the programmes broadcasted by them. Should Muslims, in the blessed month of Ramadhan, be taking part in such an initiative?
Intrinsically, a Radio is a means of broadcasting and communication – not possessing any evil or blameworthiness in of itself. The Islamic ruling in regards to its usage depends on the manner in which it is employed. Thus, if the below-mentioned conditions are met, not only is it permissible to broadcast various Islamic programmes via the Radio, rather it is a very powerful and effective means of propagating the beautiful teachings of Allah and his Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace).
In an age where media machines of the West do not shy away from distorting the true teachings of Islam and spreading propaganda against Islam and Muslims, it is imperative for Muslims to use the various forms of media available in disseminating the true teachings of the Qur’an and Sunna. As such, having an Islamic Radio station, during Ramadhan or any other month of the year, is permitted and highly effective. However, the following conditions and guidelines must be kept in mind:
1) The various programmes/shows aired must be Islamically sound and free from any content that is immoral, sinful or inappropriate. As such, it is important to ascertain in advance from learned scholars whether a particular form of action is Islamically permitted or otherwise. Religious information must be accurate and reflective of the true teachings of Allah and his beloved (Allah bless him & give him peace). The presenters must avoid slanderous language, defamatory remarks and making mockery of specific individuals. They should avoid engaging in futile discussions in which there is no worldly or next-worldly benefit, especially in the month of Ramadhan when every minute is highly precious for a Muslim.
As for playing Islamic songs and Nashids accompanied by musical instruments, our position has already been explained in detail on this website that, in the light of the various evidences of the Qur’an, Sunna and classical texts, the relied upon and mainstream opinion of the scholars is that all musical instruments besides the tambourine (duff) are not permitted. This is what we find quite evidently in the works of the four Sunni Schools of Islamic law. (For more details, please refer to the article titled ‘Music and singing: A detailed Fatwa’) As such, Islamic Radio stations should avoid playing Islamic songs and Nashids with musical instruments. However, if merely the tambourine is used, it is permitted.
2) The transmission of Qur’anic recitation, lawful Islamic songs, religious lectures, Islamic guidance and moral advices is not only permitted but a means of attaining great reward, Insha Allah. There is great merit, reward, and benefit in even listening to the Qur’an. However, care must be taken to observe the proper etiquettes of Qur’anic recitation. Allah Most High states:
‘When the Qur’an is recited, listen to it attentively and be silent, so that you may be blessed.’ (Qur’an, 7/204)
In the above verse, Allah Most High commands us to be attentive when the Qur’an is being recited. As such, the listeners should avoid listening to the Qur’an when busy with other activities. Guidance should be occasionally given on the Radio in this regard.
3) Although it is permitted that some of the shows are presented by qualified females, it is imperative for female presenters to be extra careful in being formal and to abstain from being soft and sweet in their tone of conversation.
According to the preferred opinion within the Hanafi School of Islamic law, the voice of a female is not considered part of her nakedness (awra). As such, in general situations, it is permitted for a man to converse with a woman and listen to her voice. However, if there is a fear of falling into some unlawful activity or evil (fitna), then the male should avoid listening to the woman’s voice.
Allah Most High has created a natural attraction in a woman’s voice that is capable of sexually arousing a man. This is a reality which cannot be denied. Many psychologists also agree, stressing that the voice of an individual plays a great role in arousing sexual desires. This is the reason why Allah Most High commanded the wives of his beloved Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace) in particular, and all Muslim women in general, to abstain from conversing with non-Mahram (non-related) men in a soft and sweat tone. Allah Most High says:
‘So do not be too soft in your speech, lest someone having a disease in his heart should be moved with desire.’ (Qur’an 33/32)
This verse commands Muslim women not to speak too softly with non-Mahram men, and when talking to them, both the content and manner of conversation must be appropriate and free of anything inciting.
It has been narrated that some of the wives of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), after the revelation of the above verse, would converse with non-Mahram men by placing their hands over their mouths. This was to prevent any softness or incitement in their voices. (Hadith recorded by Imam Daraqutni in his Sunan with an authentic chain of narrators)
The renowned Hanafi jurist, Imam Ibn Abidin, States: ‘It is permissible for women to converse with non-Mahram men [and vice versa] at the time of need. However, what is not permissible is that they [women] stretch, soften and raise their voices in a melodious way.’ (Radd al-Muhtar, 1/406)
Likewise, it is extremely important that Qur’anic recitation, Islamic songs and Nashids recited by mature women are not broadcasted live on air. It is not permitted for a woman to raise her voice melodiously in the presence of non-Mahram men. When a woman sings or raises her voice melodiously, it then becomes part of her Awra, and thus, a non-Mahram man must avoid listening to the singing and Nashids sung by females. (See: Fath al-Qadir 1/260 and Al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuh 1/755)
In summary, since a woman’s voice in general situations is not part of her Awra, females may present shows on the Radio. However, this is subject to two conditions:
a) Female presenters must be vigilant of not conversing in a soft and sweet tone.
b) Melodious Qur’anic recitation and Islamic songs sung by females must not be broadcasted on the Radio.
4) All the shows should be broadcasted under the guidance and supervision of knowledgeable, pious and wise scholars (ulama). This will, Insha Allah, help avoid getting involved in any un-Islamic activity.
5) The listeners, especially in the blessed month of Ramadhan, should not become too engrossed in listening to the Radio that it interrupts their other Islamic duties and obligations. The Radio organizers and presenters should occasionally remind their listenership of not being neglectful of their other religious obligations such as offering Salat in congregation, reciting the Qur’an and other forms of worship. The Grand Mufti of Pakistan, Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Rafi’ Usmani (may Allah preserve him) suggests that it would be a good idea to pause broadcasting at certain times such as the time for Tarawih prayers.
If the above-mentioned guidelines are taken care of, then not only is it permissible to have such a Radio station, it is an act of great benefit and reward, Insha Allah.
Note: The above answer is primarily based on a Fatwa compiled by me in Urdu and Arabic in 1999. The Fatwa was approved by the Grand Mufti of Pakistan, Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Rafi’ Usmani, and my respected teacher, Shaykh Mufti Mahmud Ashraf Usmani (may Allah preserve them both).
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK