Sunday, July 11, 2010

Shab-e-Mehraj : The night of Ascent

Many non Muslims wonder what Shab-e-Mehraj is. 'Shab' here means 'night' and 'Mehraj' was Prophet Mohammed SAS's ascent to the seven heavens on this particular night. This was a indeed a miracle of Allah. Though a lot of things happened there and Muhammed SAS met many too, the earthly time taken for the entire episode was merely a few minutes. It is reported that his bed was still warm when he returned back from his journey. The video details the entire episode very beautifully. Though the language is Arabic, the subtitles are English. With the subtitles, I need not add more descriptions about Shab-e-Mehraj in my post as it is self explanatory. I like this particular video because of the beautiful rhythm and tune.

For those who do not know, music is prohibited in Islam. The only permissible instrument is the 'Daf' (flat and round- similar to a drum, but with only one side). The entire rhythm is only on 'daf'' and the beautiful rendition of the words / lyrics. Though music is prohibited, beautiful recitation of Quran is part of Islamic culture. It is called the 'Qiraat'. When you hear a 'Qiraat' of some Hafiz (one who knows the entire Quran by heart)- the octaves, balancing of low and high pitch and controlling of breath, the best of best singers appear nothing. It is that amazing ! And when a Qiraat or Nasheed (religious song) is accompanied by a beautiful voice, then the entire effect is breath-taking ! And no music (not even a Daf) is required as the words flow with such musical perfection.... Subhanallah!


samurai said...

shagufta, ur post conveys the feeling that would be created as one listens to the chanting.

is the daf an arabic instrument?

and,why is music prohibited?
music surely makes one more attached to the earthly ups and downs,the joys and the sorrows are deepened by music.but,is there an explicit message present in the koran that music is prohibited?

Shagufta said...

Hi Samurai! Nice to hear from you... 'Daf' is akin to the 'Dafli' in India. The version used here has the twin metallic circular dics at the sides, adding a tingling sound to the heavy sound of the instrument. The version used in Gulf is flatter and bigger and mostly without the metallic dics.

The main purpose of prohibiting music is the effect it has- just like you described. You go into another make-believe world, oblivious to the surroundings around you. You might forget your duties and are likely to even forget to remember God. Similar to the effect an intoxicating thing has on a person! Haven't you seen people with plugs into their ears all the time? Such people play their music so loud and get so lost, they cannot hear or see anything sometimes. Some meet with accidents, esp in a crowded city like Mumbai where you hang and travel, cross railway lines to save time etc. Even seen some extra smart dudes driving with blaring music and going high on it, singing along.... then bullying others or knocking someone down, just like the effect 'drinking and driving' has!

Another answer lies in your point itself - more attached to earthly ups and down! The purpose in Islam is not to get too attached to worldly life as this is just a transitory place. We should strive towards betterment of our afterlive. And Islam doesn't believe in rebirth. You are born, you die and will be brought back to life on the Day of Judgement, when you will atone for your actions. And based on that, your afterlife will be decided.

Check out the link for references with Quran and Hadith -

samurai said...

shagufta,as music is ranked along side the wearing of silk and intoxicating drinks, it is clear that Abu 'Amir or Abu Malik Al-Ash'ari mentions that the prophet wanted people to avoid a degeneration into loving the material life.
also, the passage from the koran also would refer to the emptiness of the material world,in its idle talks.
but there does not seem to be a call for prohibition of music.
there is a warning about the idleness and the resulting descent into immorality.
i think that the idle talks could be referring to those who do not talk the truth,but those who want to enslave people by spreading myths.
there cannot be a total prohibition of music, as as song thanking nature or a song that instils a feeling of simple harmony with the created world, cannot be at odds with the disciplined life of islam.

Shagufta said...

Samurai, agree with you!
A simple song of life and good values and religion can do no harm and is acceptable. But without excessive music. Even the attached video on blog is supplemented by a 'daf' and a tingling sound. What I want to highlight is that with a good sound and 'sur' and tone and right octaves, music is not even essential. I've heard such kinda 'nasheeds'. Wish I could share them with you. U can hear them on the Net. Music should be basic and not too loud to take you into too much materialism. There are several schools of thought within Islam on this subject. You will find a lot of Islamic music on one hand, while some others totally prohibit.

In my opinion (and what a Muslim scholar would agree with) -A well educated person or an intelligent person knows the difference between moderation and excess. For the common man, if an excess or loud or large doses of something can destroy, the better to prohibit the smaller dose. Because he/she would not know the defining line. That is a deeper philosophy. Hence, in the first Chapter of Quran itself ((Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) )) , lot of stress is laid on education and it prohibits people from wishfully thinking or propagating religion in their own way! -''And there are among them unlettered people, who know not the Book, but they trust upon false desires and they but guess.'' (Al-Baqarah 2:78)
Hadeeth :
Narrated AbudDarda': "Kathir ibn Qays said: I was sitting with AbudDarda' in the mosque of Damascus. A man came to him and said: AbudDarda, I have come to you from the town of the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) for a tradition that I have heard you relate from the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him). I have come for no other purpose.

He said: I heard the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) say: If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, Allah will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise. The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge, the inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and the fish in the deep waters will ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned man over the devout is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars. The learned are the heirs of the Prophets, and the Prophets leave neither dinar nor dirham, leaving only knowledge, and he who takes it takes an abundant portion. (Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Knowledge (Kitab Al-Ilm), Book 25, Number 3634)"