If we spent as much time on core issues as we spend on the peripheral, perhaps we might progress. Why do we expend so much effort placing obstacles before those who believe — or who might believe — in defence of frivolous side issues? And, yes, I do say frivolous, regardless of the opinion of your esteemed teacher or school of thought.
Frivolous, because out there in the world, there are men strapping high explosives to their bodies, walking into girls’ schools and blowing themselves and innocent students to pieces because, well, why? Where are the passionate speeches about these enormities? Where the unyielding condemnation reserved for the one with headphones in his ears?
One is clearly haram, the other is debatable. Spoiler alert: yes, you guessed it, it’s that lawless murderous anarchy which stands utterly condemned by our tradition. As for the other thing: your Book is silent on the matter. Some scholars declared it blameworthy, some declared it forbidden and others considered it — as I do — frivolous and unimportant.
For the record: for the first decade as a Muslim, I shunned listening to music. A personal choice, partly influenced by the company I kept in the early years. Perhaps there was some good in that, enabling me to hear more clearly with my ears. Some of what I was listening to needed to be excised. As for the rest of it: I just needed to set it aside so that I could focus on the task at hand.
Today, as all are clearly aware, I embrace whatever touches my soul in a positive manner, with lyrics profound and meaningful. If a song can lift me from my dark blues, then like the Ottoman physicians before me, I will gladly use it to treat my soul and lift my spirits. Clearly, if a piece of music is vulgar, promoting indecency, then I would shun it. The same would be true of speech.
To me, it is all about priorities. For me, our priorities should be confronting domestic violence, forced marriages, sexual abuse, benefit fraud, gang membership, drug addiction, and so much more. But unfortunately, these topics don’t seem to exercise those who define our collective narrative. Too busy getting cross about the most frivolous of concerns.