What is the ruling on Islamic nasheeds that are free of music?
Praise be to Allaah.
The clear saheeh texts indicate in a number of ways that it is permissible to recite poetry and listen to it. It was narrated in saheeh reports that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his noble Companions (may Allaah be pleased with them) listened to verse, recited it (as nasheed) and asked others to recite it, both when they were travelling and when they stayed at home, in their gatherings and whilst they were working, individually, as in the case of Hassaan ibn Thaabit, ‘Aamir ibn al-Akwa’ and Anjashah (may Allaah be pleased with them), and in unison, as in the hadeeth of Anas (may Allaah be pleased with him) which describes the digging of the ditch (al-khandaq). Anas said:
When the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) saw how exhausted and hungry we were, he said (in verse):
“O Allaah, there is no life except the life of the Hereafter, so forgive the Ansaar and the Muhaajireen.”
And they said in response:
“We are the ones who have pledged allegiance to Muhammad, to make jihaad for as long as we live.”
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3/1043)
And in gatherings too: Ibn Abi Shaybah narrated with a hasan isnaad that Abu Salamah ibn ‘Abd al-Rahmaan said: “The Companions of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not speak in devious tones or in a soft manner. They used to recite verses in their gatherings, denouncing the affairs of their jaahiliyyah, but if it was the matter of their religion, they would become very serious and cautious (8/711).
This evidence indicates that nasheeds are permissible, whether recited individually or in unison. The word nasheed in Arabic means raising the voice when reciting verse and making the voice sound beautiful and gentle.
There are conditions to which attention must be paid with regard to this matter:
Not using forbidden musical instruments in nasheed.
Not doing it too much or making it the focus of the Muslim’s mind, occupying all his time, or neglecting obligatory duties because of it.
Nasheed should not be recited by women, or include haraam or obscene speech.
They should not resemble the tunes of the people of immorality and promiscuity.
They should be free of vocal effects that produce sounds like those of musical instruments.
They should not have moving tunes which make the listener feel “high” as happens to those who listen to songs. This is the case with many of the nasheeds which appear nowadays, so that the listeners no longer pay any attention to the good meaning of the words, because they are so entranced by the tunes. And Allaah is the Source of strength.
Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 8/711