Is Acapella Haram or Halal in Islam

Is Acapella Haram

Acapella music, also known as vocal music or singing without instrumental accompaniment, has become increasingly popular in recent years. Various television shows like “The Sing-Off” and movies like “Pitch Perfect” have showcased phenomenal acapella groups wowing audiences with their impressive harmonies and vocal percussion.

However, some Muslims have questioned whether acapella music is permissible (halal) or prohibited (haram) in Islam.

This article will examine the Islamic rulings and opinions on acapella music in detail.

Is Acapella Music Halal or Haram?

Yes Acapella is Haram

Given the range of scholarly views on music, Yes, Acapella is Haram in Islam, its not halal. To dig it more deeper, we’ve researched in detail to find why and when its not allowed to listen or sing acapella.

What is Acapella Music?

Acapella music is vocal music performed without any instrumental accompaniment. The term “acapella” is an Italian phrase that means “in the manner of the church” or “in the style of the chapel.” Originally, acapella referred to Christian church music sung without instruments, especially Gregorian chants performed by choirs of monks and nuns.

Over time, acapella has come to signify singing groups who emulate instruments like the guitar, bass, and drums using only their voices. Modern acapella relies on vocal harmonies, imitation of instruments, and vocal percussion like beatboxing to create musical compositions. Well-known professional acapella groups include Pentatonix, Straight No Chaser, and Home Free. Amateur acapella is also popular in high schools, colleges, and communities around the world.

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Acapella in Islamic History

Singing without musical instruments has a long tradition in Islamic culture and history. The early Muslims considered the human voice to be the most beautiful instrument, and poetry and vocal performance were highly revered arts. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself loved poetry and praised those with beautiful voices reciting the Quran or nasheed (Islamic songs).

During the Golden Age of Islam under the Abbasid Caliphate, acapella singing flourished. Muslim poets would recite their works out loud, and professional songstresses called qiyan would perform acapella pieces in royal courts. Sufi mystics also composed and sang devotional acapella qawwali music. These rich acapella traditions continue today throughout the Muslim world.

Rulings on Music in Islam

There is a diversity of scholarly opinion on the permissibility of music in Islam. Music is not directly addressed in the Quran, so jurists have formulated rulings based on the hadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad PBUH), principles of Islamic jurisprudence, and the conduct of the early Muslim community.

Some conservative scholars prohibit all musical instruments, citing hadith that warn against idle diversions. Others allow duff (hand drums) used to chant poetry or nasheeds, differentiating between morally elevating and frivolous music. More lenient jurists permit all musical instruments if the content and performance circumstances do not involve anything haram (forbidden).

Vocal music without instruments tends to be more accepted than instrumental music across the spectrum of Muslim legal schools. As long as the lyrics are not profane, obscene or aimless entertainment, acapella singing of Islamic poetry and hymns is generally deemed permissible. However, conservative Salafis and Wahhabis still consider it doubtful or prohibited.

Is acapella Music Halal or Haram? Key Opinions

Given the range of scholarly views on music, is acapella halal or haram? Here are the key opinions:

Permissible (Halal)

  • Most mainstream scholars today approve of acapella nasheeds (Islamic songs) and recitation of Islamic poetry without musical accompaniment, considering the human voice itself halal.
  • They argue acapella is the most natural, purest form of music using only God-given vocal talents to praise Him and convey moral messages, distinguishing it from potentially questionable instrumental music.
  • Some also point out that even very conservative jurists like Ibn Taymiyyah permitted vocal-only performance of Islamic poetry, making acapella an acceptable alternative for those who avoid musical instruments.
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Doubtful/Problematic (Mashbooh/Makruh)

  • Conservative Salafi scholars view acapella as doubtful or disliked, arguing that it carries the same pitfalls as instrumental music like distracting from remembrance of God or inciting sin.
  • They believe acapella can still arouse passions and emotions even without instruments, leading to heedlessness. The human voice itself may be halal, but singing still qualifies as potentially immoral leisure (lahw).
  • Salafis avoid acapella nasheeds and poetry recitation out of precaution, restricting vocal music to necessary contexts like reciting the Quran, adhan (call to prayer), or educational children’s songs.

Prohibited (Haram)

  • The strictest traditionalist scholars deem acapella music completely forbidden (haram), equating it to secular instrumental music.
  • They cite hadith prohibiting singing and musical amusement without differentiating between styles. All singing aimed at leisure and entertainment is classified as haram, even without instruments.
  • Those of this position prohibit attending acapella concerts or competitions, arguing the music is meant for forbidden diversion even if the content is clean.

Scholarly Guidelines on Permissible acapella

Scholars who permit acapella singing tend to recommend certain guidelines to ensure it meets moral Islamic standards:

  • Lyrics should praize Allah, convey positive messages or recount Islamic history – not aimless entertainment.
  • Performance should not involve mixing of genders or flirtatious behavior condemned in Islam.
  • Singing style should not mimic immoral secular music. Highly melodic tones that arouse passions should be avoided.
  • Venue should not involve alcohol or other sins. Concerts held at clubs, bars or inappropriate settings make the music haram.
  • Excessive time and money should not be wasted on musical pursuits or performances.

If these conditions are met, many scholars find acapella a lawful expression of talent and Islamic culture. Those uncomfortable with any singing can avoid listening while recognizing its permissibility for others.

Is acapella Music Permissible in Islam? Conclusions

There are good faith differences of opinion on the permissibility of acapella music in Islam. Conservative Salafi and Wahhabi scholars prohibit or discourage it, while mainstream jurists rule it permissible based on the naturalness of the human voice praising Allah.

Muslims comfortable with the idea of Islam having its own unique acapella heritage can engage in this artform while avoiding clearly immoral secular music. However, those who wish to avoid music altogether have a legitimate basis for doing so.

In the end, maintaining taqwa (God-consciousness) is essential. If an individual feels their faith is strengthened by listening to uplifting acapella nasheeds, it can be deemed halal for them. But if one fears any music may lead their heart astray, avoiding it becomes obligatory for them.

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God knows best, and He recognizes the sincerity of all who strive to worship Him in line with their understanding, even if scholarly opinions differ on this issue. There are many paths to Paradise, and Muslims of diverse views on acapella can respect each other while walking their own.

Common Questions about acapella Music in Islam

Is beatboxing or vocal percussion permissible in acapella?

Opinion varies on vocal percussion like beatboxing – some allow it since it uses no instruments, while others prohibit it for imitating drums or other haram music. Conservative Muslims avoid beatboxing to be cautious.

Can I perform or listen to acapella versions of secular songs?

Most scholars advise against performing acapella covers of songs with inappropriate content. Even without lyrics, mimicking the tune of immoral music normalizes it. Listening to clean covers of originally problematic songs is less prohibited but still doubtful.

What if an acapella group has both Muslim and non-Muslim singers?

Scholars prefer religious acapella music to be performed by only devout Muslims. Joint groups with non-Muslims raise concerns over potential free-mixing (ikhtilat) between genders and influencing Muslims negatively. Conservative Muslims avoid such mixed groups.

Is performing acapella music professionally permissible?

Some traditional scholars only permit acapella singing with Islamic lyrics for scholarly or devotional purposes, not professional performance and entertainment which distracts from religion. Others allow professional performance that meets moral guidelines and does not neglect Islamic duties.

Can women sing acapella professionally?

Many scholars prohibit women from singing professionally where non-mahram (marriageable) men can hear them due to the fitnah (temptation) of the female voice. They prefer women limit acapella singing to all-female or family settings. Modern scholars may permit women’s professional singing if it meets modesty standards.

In summary, Islam has a long tradition of beautiful acapella nasheeds and poetry recitation using the human voice to praise Allah and convey wisdom. Whether this venerable art form has a place in the lives of modern Muslims depends on their personal levels of conservatism and the scholarly interpretations they follow regarding music’s permissibility in Islam.

Author

  • 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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