La Tahzan Wa La Khauf

Don't Be Sad My Friends

Musical Instruments

Narrates Rabi‘, daughter of Mu‘wwadh: On the occasion of my transfer to my husband’s home after marriage, the Holy Prophet (sws) came to visit us and sat down on my bed just as you [the next narrator] are sitting before me now. Some slave girls were beating the Daff and singing in lamentation of their forefathers who had been killed during the battle of Badr. Then one of the girls sang: ‘Among us is the Prophet (sws) who knows even what will happen in coming days’. At this, the Holy Prophet (sws) said: ‘Do not say this, but go on singing.13 (Bukhari, No: 3779)

We learn from the narrative that:
• The Holy Prophet (sws) attended a marriage ceremony where some slave girls were singing.
• Singing was not stopped on his arrival.
• The singers used the Daff with their singing.
• The Holy Prophet (sws) heard them [this is evident from the fact that he stopped them from uttering certain words.]
• He however ordered them to continue with what they were singing before.

This effectively proves that the Holy Prophet (sws) did not impose any restriction on using the Daff, a common musical instrument used in that society. Keeping in view the information we received through the above mentioned narratives we can conclude that Arabs of the times of the Holy Prophet (sws) would use musical instrument to accompany their singing on joyous occasions. This has been done in the presence of the Holy Prophet (sws) to which he did not object. Some other narratives even tell us that the Holy Prophet (sws) even ordered the people to use musical instruments at the occasion of marriage.

The Holy Prophet (sws) said: ‘the only thing that distinguishes the allowable act (i.e. Nikah) from the forbidden one (fornication) is the beat of the tambourine and open declaration of the Nikah.14 (Ibn Majah, No: 1896)

The Daff no doubt is an old musical instrument to be played by hand, which remained in use from ancient times. In this regard, Dr. Jawwad ‘Ali writes:

The Daff is one of the most well known primitive musical instruments. It is used to express joy and high spirit. Women also play it. The Arabs would commonly use it on their most joyous occasions. When the Holy Prophet (sws) reached Madinah he was welcomed with the singing of songs and playing of the Daff. Usually, the Arabs would use it on joyful ceremonies like weddings, and would sing songs along with it.

The Bible also contains references to the Daff as a musical instrument at various occasions. One of the Urdu Bible dictionaries, Qamus Al-Kitab, defines the instrument thus:

It was a kind of narrow hoop musical instrument which was held in [one] hand and played [by striking it with the other.] It was used to create rhythm while singing and dancing. It would offer much cheerfulness in celebrations and processions.


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