Thursday, January 17, 2008

Out goes music

I rarely see Islamic texts on the Net, because I don’t go looking for them, but it happened that while looking for something completely unrelated, namely Gitzo tripods, I came across a site which had the complete text of the Islamic prohibitions against music. I hadn’t ever heard of any such prohibitions before, and frankly, was quite amazed.
A few things are allowed: tapping on a particular drum is one. Some singing and chanting is allowed (if I’ve read it right), but beyond that music is pretty much out. Women can dance, but men never should. Women can clap (rhythmically, I presume) but not men. It’s not a sin to overhear music, but sitting listening to it is.
All the prohibitions are argued in the usual Islamic way from texts that quite frankly could be interpreted in a number of ways (and obviously have been). Some commentators claim that certain texts affirm the use of music and dancing; other commentators are sure that they prohibit them.
There are times when I’m glad that my book is the Bible; certainly it has its moments of obscurity, but in general it’s in plain language, certainly when it comes to allowing or prohibiting things.
This of course has nothing to do with Gitzo tripods, which don’t in any way relate to music, or the arts generally. I don’t suppose there’s any prohibition against the use of tripods, though in the light of what I’ve been reading it wouldn’t surprise me if there was!
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