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31:6 Hobbies and Pastimes approved by the Prophet (S)

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But there are, among men, those who purchase idle tales, without knowledge (or meaning), to mislead (men) from the Path of Allah and throw ridicule (on the Path): for such there will be a Humiliating Penalty.

Some conservative scholars have used this verse to rule that all music and singing is forbidden.  This extreme position, however, is not supported by the wider hadith literature, which contains several references to incidents of singing that were approved of by the Prophet.  In addition, this verse and the background describes to what the useless tales refer, in that they are for the purpose of making a mockery of knowledge by using music to compete with intelligent conversation when it is being offered.   The Prophet specifically allowed women and girls to sing and play drums during times of celebration, such as at weddings and other events. See reports in Tirmidhi, Tabarani and Bukhari. He also sang with his companions when they were digging the trench around Medina.  When the Muslims used to travel long distances, drums would be played to lessen the monotony of the road, and songs would be sung, as well.  (Drums or small tambourines seem to be the only instruments specifically allowed in the traditions.)  The Prophet also composed a suggested wedding song of celebration for girls to sing as they clapped their hands and played tambourines.  That song is recorded in Tabarani and goes as follows: “To you we have come!  To you we have come!  So welcome us, as we welcome you!”  (Also recorded in Ibn Majah.)  Some commentators have attempted to extrapolate even further and have forbidden hobbies and pastimes, in general, on the spurious notion that they distract one from religion.  This is an untenable position, for as the hadith literature shows, the Prophet engaged in or approved of many different types of sports and pastimes from wrestling and archery to foot races, swimming, horseback riding, target practice, poetry and storytelling.  (There are obscure traditions that forbid the playing of backgammon and chess, but these are obviously spurious reports, as those two games were not invented yet in the Prophet’s time.)  The Prophet said, “Let your heart rest sometimes,” and many scholars take this as the permission to engage in recreational activity. (Ma’ariful Qur’an)

References:

Emerick, Yahiya. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an in Today’s English (p. 829). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

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