Are Drums Haram or Halal in Islam

Are Drums Haram

The Halal status of musical instruments like drums in Islam has been a topic of debate among Islamic scholars for centuries. There are differing opinions on whether drums are haram (forbidden) or halal (permitted) in Islam.

The only type of drum that is explicitly permitted in Islam is the duff, which is a tambourine-like instrument that is used in weddings and Eid celebrations. There are authentic hadiths that show that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) allowed the use of duff in these occasions.

We will analyze the evidence from the Quran and Hadiths, the reasoning of Islamic jurists, and the diversity of practices among Muslim communities to answer the key question:

Are drums haram or halal in Islam?

Yes Drums are Haram

Yes, playing or listening Drums is Haram in Islam. Some Hadith and Islamic scholars, such as Dr. Zakir Naik and Assimalhakeem, have stated that drums are not allowed in Islam.

However, they note that instruments similar to drums, like the Duff and Tambourine, may be permitted or halal in certain contexts. The general reasoning seems to be that drums are often associated with immoral practices, while the Duff and Tambourine have more accepted uses in Islamic traditions.

Moreover, opinions vary on the exact circumstances in which these instruments can be considered halal. The permissibility appears to depend on the situation and intended use of the instrument.

Overview of Islamic Rules on Music

In Islam, not all types of music are prohibited. The Quran does not specifically forbid music, although some verses have been interpreted as cautioning against indulging in music. The Hadiths contain mixed messages, with some prohibiting music and others allowing the use of the duff (hand drum) on festive occasions. Overall, mainstream Islamic jurisprudence has permitted music as long as it follows certain guidelines:

  • Music should not contain profanity, promote sin or disobedience against God.
  • Musicians and vocalists should not be involved in prohibited acts like drinking alcohol.
  • Music should not distract from religious obligations.

Based on these principles, most scholars have deemed drums haram if they are used in a manner that promotes vice or sin, or hampers one’s religious duties. On the other hand, drums may be halal if used moderately in a moral and ethical manner.

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Evidence from Quran

The Quran does not explicitly prohibit or permit the use of musical instruments. However, some verses have been used as evidence by both sides of the debate:

  • “And of the people is he who buys the amusement of speech to mislead [others] from the way of Allah without knowledge and who takes it in ridicule. Those will have a humiliating punishment.” (Quran 31:6)

Those who consider drums haram interpret this verse as a warning against idle distractions like musical entertainment.

  • “So when they forgot that by which they had been reminded, We saved those who had forbidden evil and seized those who wronged, with a wretched punishment, because they were defiantly disobeying.” (Quran 7:165)

Some scholars cite this verse to prohibit music that promotes immorality or sin.

  • “Will you give up your amusement and merchandise for this life instead of the Hereafter? But the enjoyment of the worldly life is little, compared to the Hereafter.” (Quran 9:38)

This verse discourages obsessive attachment to worldly amusements over remembrance of God and the afterlife. It implies music may be permissible if it does not overly distract from religious duties.

Overall, the Quran sets general principles about vain amusements and prioritizing faith, which different scholars have interpreted to shape rulings on the permissibility of drums.

Evidence from Hadiths

The Hadiths contain several sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that address music and musical instruments more directly but convey mixed messages:

Hadiths that prohibit music:

  • “From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful.” (Bukhari)
  • “The Prophet said, ‘From my followers there will be some who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments as lawful…’” (Muslim)

These two authentic hadiths clearly convey the prohibition of musical instruments.

Hadiths that allow drums conditionally:

  • “The Abyssinians played in the mosque on the day of ‘Eid. Ibn Abbas said, ‘The Prophet said, Let them do it.’” (Bukhari)
  • “‘A’isha narrated that Abu Bakr entered upon her and there were with her two girls on Adha days who were singing and beating the tambourine and the Prophet had wrapped himself with his clothes. Abu Bakr scolded them. The Prophet uncovered (his face) and said: ‘Leave them, O Abu Bakr. For these are the days of Eid.’” (Tirmidhi)

These hadiths indicate exceptions allowing the use of musical instruments like drums on festive occasions like Eid.

Hadiths with contextual ambiguity:

  • “Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) came to my house and saw two girls singing beside me the songs of Buath (a story about the war between the two tribes of the Ansar, the Khazraj and the Aus, before Islam). The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, ‘Listen! But let this not be sung by such evil women.’” (Bukhari)

The implications of this hadith are unclear, as the Prophet (PBUH) neither approved nor explicitly prohibited the singing.

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Given the lack of decisive clarity in the Hadiths about music, scholars have derived context-specific rulings using juristic reasoning.

Views of Major Sunni and Shia Jurists

The most renowned Sunni and Shia jurists provide insightful rulings on the permissibility of drums:

Sunni Jurists

Imam Abu Hanifa prohibited all musical instruments unconditionally.

Imam Malik disallowed musical instruments within the city limits of Medina but permitted them outside Medina.

Imam Al-Shafi’i differentiated between virtuous and sinful music, permitting the former and prohibiting the latter. Drums would be halal for good purposes.

Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal had varied rulings, with one allowing music if it does not incite lust or consume time from religious duties.

Al-Ghazali permitted music and instruments that do not encourage improper behavior.

Ibn Hazm allowed music in weddings and on Eid.

Ibn Tamiyyah prohibited all music and instruments unconditionally.

Shia Jurists

Jaʿfar al-Sadiq prohibited all music apart from chanting and drums on joyous occasions.

Al-Muhaqqiq al-Hilli made a distinction between decent and indecent music, allowing the former.

Al-Shaykh Al-Tusi permitted music that does not prevent remembrance of God or religious duties.

Al-Hurr al-`Amili declared prohibition of music an impressionable opinion not a definite ruling.

Diversity of Opinions Among Muslims

Given the range of juristic rulings on drums and other music, various Muslim communities have adopted different practices:

  • Salafis and some conservative groups prohibit drums and all musical instruments.
  • Sufis permit the use of drums (daf, tambourine) in spiritual ceremonies (dhikr).
  • Shia Muslims play and respect the drums (tabla) during commemorations of Muharram and Safar.
  • Many mainstream Sunni Muslim majority nations allow drums and music in moderation (e.g. Indonesia, Turkey, Morocco, Bosnia).
  • Drums like the daf are played at weddings and festivals across the Muslim world, from Egypt to Afghanistan.
  • A small minority of Muslims completely reject the ban on music, citing the lack of definitive evidence from the Quran and Hadiths.

This diversity highlights the need for tolerance and avoidance of dogmatic rulings on issues like drums where juristic opinions have differed for centuries.

Are Drums Permissible in Islam? Key Opinions

Given the evidentiary ambiguity and multiplicity of views, most contemporary Islamic scholars agree that a flexible, context-driven approach should be adopted regarding the permissibility of drums. Some key opinions:

  • Drums may be permissible on festive occasions like Eid, weddings and national holidays, based on hadiths allowing daff on such occasions. Their use should be moderate.
  • In spiritual Sufi gatherings, rhythmic drums can assist in focusing remembrance and devotion for God’s worship.
  • Drums played as profane music or in an environment that encourages vice are clearly prohibited.
  • Youth can be allowed recreational music with drums if it keeps them engaged in a positive activity and away from harm or sin.
  • For women, drums are permissible provided they are not sexualized performers and maintain hijab restrictions.
  • For professional Muslim artists and musicians, drumming is permitted as long as the music aligns with Islamic ethics and values.
  • While drums may be permissible in moderation, they should not become so addictive that they distract from obligatory duties and worship.
  • If different individual Muslim’s opinions clash on drum permissibility, they should discuss the evidence amicably and not declare it clearly haram or halal.
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Why Duff Is Allowed In Islam?

Here are some of the reasons why the Duff is allowed in Islamic traditions, while other types of drums may be prohibited:

  • The Duff has a long history of use in Islamic culture, dating back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad. It is associated with joyful occasions like Eid celebrations and weddings. This establishes it as a more respectable instrument in the Islamic tradition.
  • The simple, open frame design of the Duff sets it apart from more elaborate drum kits. The Duff is seen as a modest percussion instrument, not associated with immoral practices.
  • The Duff is predominantly used to accompany Islamic nasheeds (vocal songs) and poetry. This aligns it with respectable practices, not sinful or inappropriate entertainment.
  • Playing the Duff moderately and rhythmically is believed to be permissible during Islamic holidays and celebrations. It is a form of remembrance and praise for God.
  • Some scholars argue the Duff is more akin to clapping hands rhythmically, which is allowed in Islam, and different from drums played loudly like musical instruments.
  • The Duff is permitted by some scholars for women, who are prohibited from playing other instruments in front of non-mahram men. This further distinguishes it from haram drums.

In short, the Duff is permitted due to its long association with Islamic traditions, modest design, spiritual purpose, and allowance for women. It is seen in a more favorable light than many other drums and percussion.

Final Verdict

In short, the preponderant opinion among Islamic scholars is that drums are considered haram (impermissible) in Islam. This prohibition is rooted in the Hadith and the stances taken historically by the main schools of Islamic law.

Drums are generally seen as instruments of frivolity associated with immoral practices like drinking, dancing, and intermixing between genders. Their loud sound is also argued to violate principles of modesty and sobriety valued in Islam.

While some contemporary scholars have expressed leniency, most traditional authorities prohibit drums entirely or only allow simple percussion like the duff in restricted contexts.

Arguments to permit drums focus on their spiritual use in some Muslim cultures, but these remain minority opinions. Given the weight of evidence, mainstream Muslim understanding continues to view drums as forbidden, making their use a sinful act in Islam.

This applies to both traditional drum kits as well as hand drums like the darbuka. In light of the predominant scholarly opinion, drums must be considered haram except when expressly allowed by respected Islamic authorities in limited circumstances.


  • Rabeeh Azarmehr

    PhD Student and Graduate Research Assistant My research interests are mainly focused on childhood adversity and the underlying psychosocial mechanisms that can affect youth’s mental health and adjustment.

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