I understand that many believe Music is Haram. I know there are certain texts forbidding certain things in certain ways with certain conditions. I do know this in my heart. But applying most of them has been one of the hardest jihads I've had to make as a Muslim.
Music has been such a big part of my life and I'd like to share that experience with all of you. Grab a cup and a comfortable cushion.
It is an amazing feeling; sound. You can feel the vibrations of it through your body. It accelerates your pulse and drifts your mind into a new realm of thought.
As a young child I never knew songs. They were forbidden. My biological mother is Jehovah's Witness. It was only when placed in Foster Care that I learned about this fascinating subject. One home in particular really broadened my exposure. They had the radio pumping almost 24/7. I had never heard music or a radio before so I asked them about it. I was 4 then.
"What is that sound? Why do you dance to it? What are you doing? What is it saying?"
The teenagers gawked at me.
"It's Music. Haven't you heard music before? We are singing and dancing with it for fun. The songs say special things to make people think hard. Come listen! Try to sing with us!"
::When the night, has come, and the land is dark, and the moon, is the only, light we'll see, no I wont, be afraid, no I wont, shed a tear, just as long, as you stand, stand by me, stand by me. If the sky, that we look upon, should tumble and fall, or the mountains should crumble tot eh sea, no I wont, be afraid, no I wont be afraid, just as long as you stand, stand by me.:::into instrumental chorus:::
So I sang and sang! OH HOW I SANG this over and over. Soon I was learning more and more songs as I absorbed the radio. This was the year 1988. Then they introduced me to heavy metal. They'd get together with their guitars and loudly turn up Guns N Roses' "Paradise City". They'd belt out the lyrics until I too had memorized them and they cheered me on as I sang :::take me down to the paradise city where the grass is green and the girls are pretty, oh wont you please take me home!:::
The next foster home listened to a different kind of music I'd never heard before called Oldies. They had the car and house radios firmly fixed to the Oldies Station and I learned all about the Beatles, Elvis, and other classics.
Another foster home later about 1991 for a Christmas present I got a personal hand held battery stereo which I carried around all-day everyday and even fell asleep listening to the new age of music "The 90s" Salt N Peppa told me I don't want no short short man, Kriss Cross will make me Jump Jump, Sir Mix A Lot assured me that if my butt ever got really fat that's ok cause men like it like that. Mariah Carey stole my breath away, Paula Abdul taught me to watch out for cold-hearted playboys, and to look into his eyes, he's been telling lies. Oh and who can forget I'm too Sexy for my shirt!?!?! I used to strut down the empty neighborhood street radio to my ear Jamming "I'm too sexy for my shirt too sexy it hurts! And I do my little turn on the catwalk!"
Vanilla Ice was the coolest ever and THEN i went to the neighbors house and she had someone called Madonna posters everywhere. I fell in love! She was my new favorite for Soooo long.
After this I moved in with my parents and got used to their brand of music, Oldies, Soft Rock, and Easy Listening. Also my dad had a love for cowboy themed music. So I learned a whole bunch of new singers while remaining true to my 90's new stuff.
I managed to find a free music video channel and watched so many of the songs I had known and loved. A few times I heard something called rap but back then it was just the scratching of records more than lyrics for me and I wasn't into it. I also heard something called Country around this time while station hopping and it was always so sad and slow and I preferred to jam it. Until I met my childhood best friend Nicolette. Her family (which I practically grew up with) was heavily into country. Soon it entered my heart too. We would giggle and dance the night away to "Who's bed have your boots been under". Her brother though favored Rap. While listening to him blast it every weekend I started liking it too and as it re-entered mainstream radio I got to like it more and more.
My paternal grandparents though had a large influence on my music tastes. They loved classical and really old stuff from the 40's. I watched old Musical Movies and fell head of heels with Opera and Musicals. My grandparents have a large piano Organ with a set of Pipes too in the living room. They also had an upright piano they let me bang on. I was so fascinated. They told stories of glory days when they had organ Clubs and my Grandma sung in a choir as a beautiful Soprano. They showed me pictures of when I was just 1 or 2 years old visiting them and playing on the same Organ in their house. Under one picture of my biting my lip in concentration it reads the caption "Future Musician?" My family has a long history of Musical Talent. Which delighted me because with my low-self-esteem I needed SOMETHING to be good at!
in 4th grade we had the option to take Orchestra or Band Class at school. The shiny Trombones and beautiful high pitched flutes appealed to me but my mom kinda put a cork in those dreams. "Ohhh No, do you know what those sound like played badly? Please spare our ears!" So we went next to the Orchestra presentation. I again liked the high violin but Mom warned me again it's squeaky when played wrong but she liked it's size and that it was the cheapest instrument. I, being above pricing my love of items at the time, disdained it cheaper price. The viola was close in size and sound but it didn't attach my heart. Next came something amazing!
He (the teacher) SAT down to play the Cello. As soon as he ran the bow across those mello strings I again was in love. He played the Jaws theme song and I though that was cool the violins couldn't do it Justice only the Cello. After that came the double bass. It was so awesome but the teacher said he didn't have any available for student use (it's a poor public school) and someone would have to rent one which could be expensive. By my parent's exchanged looks i could tell they were about to convince me not to take that one. So I chose the Cello to play and was one of three girls to learn it and the Bass Clef needed to play music for it. It was my outlet for creativity and I was always excelling in this class. I had found something I was good at and I practiced as much as I could. Every year (except 6th which didn't have an orchestra) I played Cello and practiced on it until 12th grade. That was 8 years I played it and I won a few awards and was allowed to play in a Honor Orchestra.
But as I got older the competition grew as more cellists invaded my territory. I managed to beat for half a year the best player in 8th grade to keep my position as "1st Chair" the leader. But when we hit high school with MORE players and some of them MUCH better than me I became discouraged. If i wanted to do something I wanted to be the best at it I could be. After some orchestra drama between me and some of the fellow cellists who i fiercely hated because they were idiot boys who liked to make fun of me I decided to try something new that was offered.
"We only have one bass player and we really need more to round out the sound so if any cellist would like to take up Bass this year I will keep you in this advanced class since you can already read the bass clef." I took my chance and raised my hand to switch. I was the only one to do so. I met my music stand partner Anthony (Tony). He and I were to be casual friends over the next four years that I played bass. he was a chilled out part italian guy who didn't care who was first chair and although he was really good he preferred to stand in the second chair spot. So I got the glory at the concerts but we both knew when he beat me for first chair off and on it was fair though sometimes I did win. I was able to join the Symphonic after school orchestra and then my favorite part was playing in the Orchestra Pit (as the only Bass!) for the school Musical Oklahoma. At one point it was me, the piano, and the lead male vocal going together in harmony on his solo. It was one of the most special moments of my life. I was sooo proud that I was good at something MUSIC.
Meanwhile in 9th grade we moved into my grandparents home and I played almost daily on their piano learning to read the higher treble clef and singing along. In high school my friends and I also joined the choir and would spend our days wandering the halls with songs in our heads. I was known as the "locker-room singer" (by a few girls) because I had PE right after choir class and I could never stop singing and I'd get some other girls to go in too. It was fun.
At this time in 9th grade also I loved Rock on the radio and did my punk rebel thing with the black lipstick and spiky hair lol.
Besides drawing in Art, Music let me express my emotions in a way i wasn't able to with just words. The feel of dragging the thick rosined bow across the heavy deep resonating bass strings and having the purring waves run through the back of the instrument to my side and stomach and flying my fingers across the fingerboard was so fulfilling. It was peaceful. You felt in touch with the world. At concerts it was awesome putting all those sounds together to make something amazing that moved the audience. I loved concert nights. My friends and I getting dolled up and playing with all our hearts. There was something elegant about orchestra that band never had. They were awesome too but i was at home in the strings.
Until my last year of high school when I became Muslim.
I read online that strings were haram and music was Haram but I was in denial and unable to give up my passions. I continued in Orchestra. But religion and politics and high school drama don't mix! One of my close friends turned half the orchestra against me and Amanda. It was drudgery going to class. I still loved to play but my heart was slowly loosing interest. I had to wear these silly dresses at concerts and i had to hijabify them and everyone though I looked like a freak being the only arm and head covered girl on the stage and again I was standing next to a tall bright loud instrument... very visible. Soon as my Senioritis got worse I started ditching even Orchestra and got my first C in years in that class. I didn't go to the end of the year concert. Tony got the glory that night. Tony didn't even sign my year book though because of the orchestra Drama. Oh well. I had bigger plans in the mix, i was meeting my future Husband then.
After Highschool there was just the radio to consolidate my not being able to play anymore since I couldn't afford a stringed instrument. I did buy a wooden bamboo flute from the Renaissance fair which i tried to master over the years but my heart was glued to strings.
In Lebanon they only had a not well received radio station so I didn't even manage to get that much music for a while. I had my tapes and CDs but it wasn't the same. i was out of the "up to date" music loop. Most of me didn't care. The other part of me was hurting. i was a talented Musician and my talents were going to waste. i couldn't do vocal exercises anymore without my piano and though I still sing It's not with the awesome 4 octave range I used to have. I think somewhere an octave got misplaced.... Friends when they learned I play music would encourage me to learn more about Nasheeds. I heard a few beautiful ones with their awesome harmonies. Don't get me wrong they ARE awesome. Especially all the different kind of drum beats. But some groups frown on Islamic Women Singers so I wasn't going to start into that hornets nest. And women drummers in Lebanon were few and far between. i heard from the group I was learning from that synthesized sounds were Halal like those on an electric keyboard. So I stuck to this and once in a while when i visited my grandparents house I'd madly play the keyboard. Also I sometimes go over my old cello and bass music practicing the fingerings and bowings in the air.
My husband's co-worker Who is not a practicing Muslim and though Syrian doesn't know a thing about real ISLAM, brought over his guitar one day and started playing in the garden then he came into eat dinner bringing in his guitar. For the first time in 6 years there was a stringed instrument in my house. It was torture. He played it weekly on visits to my husband and they both know I gave up strings for the sake of Allah but one day in the garden I picked it up and strummed it a bit. it felt deliciously good. No bow which sucks but whatever a string is a string.
But he's gone back to Syria now saving me from further temptation alhamdulillah. Although I do have lots of my favorite composer Beethoven's CDs I rarely listen to them anymore. I rarely listen to anything anymore. But when someone downloads something and sends it to me I check it out and most likely love it but I'm not current in the latest music at all and that's ok with me. Sometimes when I catch a new video like stupid Britney Spears' Womanizer's song on YouTube I am glad to be away from such Haram. Other times I'm pulled to using Music to help me like with doing chores. I have to have a custom dance and rock Cd on to get energized to clean with my ADD.
Sometimes when I pray I get the feeling to just purge it all. Just delete it all from the PC and break my Cds in half and toss them in the bin... I feel so strongly to do this and it feels right. Then a song will turn on and I loose my resolve and start Jamming and jumping off the couches having fun expressing my inner self. I've asked different people about hadiths or Qur'an related to music but so far I haven't come across any that are really clear that LISTENING to string instruments is Haram (not makrouh) not just PLAYING THEM. I don't play them anymore, but I'm so weak in listening still. And it hurts me SO SO SO SO SO badly when I see Muslims playing Stringed Instruments like Sami Yusuf's second CD. I could probably get a decent paying job playing bass or cello part time to put some money in my pocket but I fear Allah. So I don't and I don't think they should be doing it either but I'm not sure about listening.
Anyone got links to awesome Nasheeds I can switch to that are Halal. Or texts concerning Music? Or links to peeps with texts. I'm all ears.