Slippery Stone: An Inquiry into Islam's Stance on Music (New)

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Author:Khalid Baig
Dimensions:15.2 x 22.9 cm (6 x 9 in)
Publisher:Open Mind Press, California
Year of Publication:1432 AH / 2011 CE

What does Islam say about poetry, singing, musical instruments, musicians, and the business of music? What is the truth about the much-publicized “music controversy” in Islam? This book demystifies the issue of music in Islam. More than six hundred references and more than a hundred twenty biographical notes on the authorities quoted add to the value of a discussion that is comprehensive without being boring, and detailed without being confusing. New reprint contains foreword by late Dr.Mahmud Ahmad Ghazi.

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What does Islam say about poetry, singing, musical instruments, musicians, and the business of music? How have Muslim societies historically looked at these questions and how have their attitudes changed in the media age? Why have mosques remained music-free while churches have not? What is the truth about the much-publicized “music controversy” in Islam? Why did Sufis call sama as the slippery stone? These are some of the questions explored in-depth in Slippery Stone: An Inquiry into Islam's Stance on Music.

Of late, increasing attempts are being made to promote “Islamic music,” and the distinction between what is allowed and what is not has become hazy and unclear for many. This book demystifies the issue of music in Islam by going to original source books in Arabic, many of them brought to light for the first time in the English language. It traces the attitudes of the Muslim society about music and the musician throughout its history and quotes extensively from the deliberations of the Qur’an and Hadith scholars and jurists from all schools of Islamic Law, both Sunni and Shi'ah. Separate chapters are devoted to a discussion of the views of Sufi masters as well as the arguments of Ibn Hazm.

It examines in considerable depth the impact of colonialism and the media revolution (beginning with the gramophone) on the attitudes of Muslim societies regarding music. It also subjects the works of Orientalists to a scrutiny that was overdue.

By referring to it as a slippery stone, Sufis vividly pointed out the dangers associated with this enterprise and emphasized the need for caution. History is filled with the corpses of those who fell off the slippery stone by ignoring this advice. Combining historic, cultural, and jurisprudential perspectives this book brings the truth of that metaphor into sharp relief.

More than six hundred references and more than a hundred twenty biographical notes on the authorities quoted add to the value of a discussion that is comprehensive without being boring, and detailed without being confusing. This book has left no stone unturned in its examination of the slippery stone.


“... a wonderful book. May Allah accept it and may He make it a source of guidance to those who wish to be guided.

Its historical sweep, its comprehensiveness, its details, its overall plan, presentation of material, a thoroughly worked out schema and anchorage in solid scholarship is simply outstanding.

Its respectful handling of tricky areas, and reliance on primary sources has combined to produce a kind of book that is seldom available on a contemporary issue.

Its lucidity is indicative of a light from the Divine guidance that produces in the human mind and heart a clarity of such nature.

The author’s choice of using the Arabic text and the beautiful production also adds to the usefulness of the book. “ - Dr. Muzaffar Iqbal, President, Center for the Study of Islam and Science, Canada

"Khalid Baig, in his Slippery Stone, has written an impressive academic tome on the issue of music, poetry and singing in Islam. He discusses the historical development of these genres in the Muslim context, and documents various theological and legal responses that followed.

This work is sure to become a standard reference in its field for many years to come." - Shaykh Yasir Qadhi, Dean of Academic Affairs, Almaghrib Institute, USA

"Khalid Baig has discussed relevant issues surrounding the issue of music, singing, use of musical instruments, and popular music etc., and has explained clearly what is permissible and what is prohibited by Islam . . . The extensive list of original and secondary sources used indicate the author’s grasp of the subject." - Syed Salman Nadvi, Formerly Professor and Chairman, Department of Islamic Studies, University of Durban-Westville

"Appropriately titled, Slippery Stone deals with the topic of music in Islam in substantial detail clarifying all the issues on music in a lucid manner. Contemporary, convincing, comprehensive . . . this book is a must read for all who wish to learn about this subject." - Mufti Zubair Bayat, Darul Ihsan Research and Education Center

"For centuries, the fiqhi rulings on music have been quite evident. In this day and age of information and temptation, the minds of Muslims have become convoluted in this regards. Khalid Baig has done a marvelous job of bringing together every traditional, shar’ee, and historic evidence regarding the status of music in Islam. A must read for every Muslim who is in doubt in regards to this topic." - Imam Tahir Anwar, Imam and Director, South Bay Islamic Association

Table of Contents

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Click to see pdf file:.

Reader's Reviews:

CoolnessofHind - Birmingham (Tuesday, November 18, 2008)

"I am going to cut to the chase with this book. The moment I picked it up, I simply could not put it back down. It is quite simply an amazingly well written book. It is not merely a reference book which would sit on the shelf and only accessed when required, but rather a piece which keeps the reader's interest levels high throughtout the entire book.

The book is structured well, with each section flowing into the next. Near the beginning of the book, the author examines the impact of music on the Islamic world during the coloniolist incursions and the hugely detrimental effect it had on the Muslims world. The title 'Slippery Stone' is a theme which one can relate to throughout the whole book, however, for the person who believes music to be part and parcel of Islam will be in for a shock, for the very arguments which are used by those justifying instrument use (ie. to bring people closer to Islam), is turned on its head by the fact that the people who wished to legitmise the music (i.e. the colonialists) also used the same argument, but it eventually declined into the moral corruption that the Muslim world has yet to recover from. A mere glimpse into the past and the examination of the moral degradation of Muslims around the world as a result of music will be sufficient to caste extreme doubt as to the legitimacy of 'Islamic' music . And that is before one critically examines the proofs supposedly for and against music.

The author proceeds to academically parse through the various proofs which prohibit music and then deals with the criticisms of these proofs by the proponents of music in clear and succint manner. Then the arguments for music are examined. The author in no uncertain terms blows away the arguments, exposing the evidentiary and logical fallacies of the advocates, streamlining the sources of the legitmisers to two largely rejected Zahiri scholars and clarifying the abuse of statements made by such luminaries as Imam Al-Gazali Rahmatullah Alayh. Again this is done in an academic manner supporting his claims and arguments with appropriate quotes by prominent classical authorities in Islam.

The erroneous suppositions and claims of the orientalists who have contributed to an escalation in the supposed 'controvesy in Islam about music' are also dealt with in a like manner. It is amazing to note some of the quotes in the book by music sympathetic post-modenist Muslims. One of these Muslims states the importance of music in conveying a message and hows it is needed. Such quotes highlighted two things, which the author very lightly touched upon. The first is the inferiority-complex-ridden Muslims who apologetically try to box Islam into a Western ideology of life. From this point connects the second point. The height of western ethnocentrism is evident in the quotes of these Muslims and the orientalists. I.e. only western concept of how things should work is correct and best and all other things should conform to its ideal. Most of the quotes made are based upon this premise. As result the arguments are inherently flawed it assumes everything 'Western' is 'good', however what is 'best' is based on perspective and is most definitely not always true of Western systems or ideologies (one may look to the current financial crisis of the Western 'Superpowers' for proof).

The author then moves onto the tricky question of 'where to next?'

This heavily referenced book needs to be distributed in the masses to the public who take this issue lightly. Especially those who organise 'concerts' and facilitate Islamically prohibited things at their events. The whole atmosphere of such events carry the marks of ignorance and is hardly what one would call 'Islamic'. Credit must go to the author for expounding this subject and in age where the erroneous minority opinions are exploited at the expense of well established and recognised principles and eventually, morality itself: the trait of the Slippery Stone.

Undoubtedly a must buy. I pray Allah rewards Khalid Baig abundantly, in this Dunya and the hereafter for this sterling service he has rendered."


Khalid Baig
  • English
15.2 x 22.9 cm (6 x 9 in)
Open Mind Press, California
Year of Publication:
1432 AH / 2011 CE

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Slippery Stone: An Inquiry into Islam's Stance on Music (New)

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