The Female Voice and Singing

The Female Voice and Singing

Question:

Is it permissible for women to sing Na’at and Anasheed in front of non-Mahram men? Is it o.k. for them to release albums?

Answer:

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

Allah Almighty has created this natural attraction and charm in the voice of a female that it plays a vital role in provoking and inducing the sexual appetite, desire and passion of a man.

This is a reality which can not be denied. Even the psychologists are in agreement with this fact. Many Psychologists have stressed 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 the blessed Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) especially, and all Muslim women in general, to abstain from conversing with non-Mahram men in a soft and sweat tone.

Allah Most High says:

“O wives of the Prophet! You are not like other women, if you are God-fearing. So do not be soft in speech. Lest in whose heart is disease should be moved with desire.” (Surah al-Ahzab, 32)

This verse indicates that men and women should not talk unnecessarily and when they do so, both the content and manner of conversation must be appropriate, and free of anything inciting.

Imam Abu Abd Allah al-Qurtubi (Allah have mercy on him) writes in his famous exegesis of the Qur’an, al-Jami li Ahkam al-Qur’’an:

“It was a custom of Arab women in the days of ignorance (Jahiliyya) to speak to men in a soft and inciting way. This was prohibited by this verse of the Qur’an.”

It has been narrated from some of the wives of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) that, after the revelation of the above mentioned verse, when the need arose for them to converse with a non-Mahram male, they would do so by placing their hands over their mouths. This was to prevent any softness or incitement in their voices. (Hadith recorded by al-Darqutni in his Sunan with an authentic chain of narrators)

The great Hanafi scholar Imam Abu Bakr al-Jassas says in his Ahkam al-Qur’an (his excellent work on the verses of the Qur’an relating to law):

“This verse (above-mentioned) indicates the impermissibility of women raising their voices in the presence of non-Mahram males, as this may lead to Fitna. This is why our (Hanafi) scholars have declared the reciting of Adhan for women as Makruh, as she will need to raise her voice, which is not permissible.” (Ahkam al-Qur’an, 5/229)

He further says:

“Allah has prohibited women from striking their feet when He says: “And they (women) shall not strike their feet so that there be known what they hide from their adornment.”(24:31). So if they are prohibited from letting non-Mahram hear the sound of their footwear, then the prohibition of raising the voice in an inciting way will be prohibited from a greater extent.” (ibid)

Allama Murtadha al-Zabidi, the great Hanafi faqih, Sufi and linguistic says in his commentary of the ‘Ihya’ of Imam al-Ghazali, ‘Ithaf al-Sadat al-Muttaqin’:

“A group of Scholars have distinguished between the singing of males and females. Listening to the singing of non-Mahram women has been declared by them as Haram, and the listening to the singing of Mahram women is deferred upon. Qadi Abu Tayyib al-Tabari said: If the singer is a non-Mahram female, then it will not be permissible for men to listen to her. This ruling will apply, regardless of whether the woman is with or without Hijab.” (Vol: 6, P: 501)

The above-mentioned is clear in determining that, one should avoid listening to the voice of a female unnecessarily. If there is a need to converse with them then, it should be done in the manner stated previously.

Is the voice of a female part of her Awra?

As far as the female voice is concerned, according to the preferred opinion in the Hanafi School, it is not considered to be part of her nakedness (awra). However, if there is a fear of Fitna then, the female should not raise it and the male should avoid listening to it.

One of the great Hanafi scholars Ibn Humam (Allah have mercy on him) says in his ‘Fath al-Qadir’, quoting from ‘al-Nawazil’:

“The melodious voice of a female and her singing will be considered as Awra. This is the reason why it is better for her to learn the Qur’an from a female teacher rather than a male who is blind, as her recitation in tune is Awra. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “The reciting of Tasbih is for men and clapping is for women.” (m, Meaning if the Imam makes a mistake in Salat , the males will invite his attention by reciting Subhan Allah and women, by clapping their hands). (Fath al-Qadir, 1/260)

Imam Ibn Abidin, after quoting the same from al-Nawazil writes in Radd al-Muhtar:

“It is permissible for women to converse with non-Mahram men at the time of need (and visa versa, m). However, what is not permissible is that they stretch, soften and raise their voice in a melodious way.” (Radd al-Muhtar, 1/406)

From the contemporary scholars, Dr. Wahaba al-Zuhayli from Damascus writes in his famous al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu:

“It is unlawful (haram) to listen to the voice of a female, which is in a melodious and musical tone, even if it is by reciting Qur’an.” (1/755)

The above quotations indicate that a woman’s voice is not part of her Awra. However, it will not be permissible for her to raise her voice in a melodious way, and men will not be allowed to listen to the singing female voice. When a woman sings or raises her voice in a melodious way, it then becomes part of her Awra.

Thus, in conclusion, it is evident that a male should avoid listening to the Nasheed and Na’at of non-Mahram females. Similarly it is necessary that females do not sing in front of non-Mahram men, whether in their presence or by recording their voices and releasing albums.

And Allah Knows Best

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK

Question #: 4679
Published: 28/03/2004