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Are women’s voices harām?

Question: Some people say that it is halāl [permitted] for women to talk to nā-mahram men [not one of the eighteen men whom Islam has prescribed as a woman’s close relatives]. Is it not harām [prohibited]?
It took 23 years for the rules of Islam to be introduced. It is a mistake to deal with those events that took place before the āyat commanding (women) to cover themselves was revealed and thus to consider it mubāh [permissible] for them to talk to nā-mahram men. Similarly, drinking alcohol had not been a sin before it was forbidden. By instancing the past events that took place, can we say, “Drinking alcohol is mubāh because it was drunk during our Prophet’s time, which was termed the Asr-i-Sa’ādat [Era of Happiness]”? In the same way, by giving the cases in former prophets’ religions as examples, is it said, “See, it is permissible (for men) to talk to women”? In the religion of Hadrat Ādam (‘alaihissalām), it was permissible to marry some people who are now harām to marry. Afterwards, that permission was lifted. Is it proper to give then rules as examples for present events?

Jāriyas’ [non-Muslim female slaves captured in war] singing songs cannot be put forth as an example for free women. When Hadrat ‘Umar (radīy-Allahu ‘anh) recommended decreasing the amount of mahr, an old woman behind the curtain, in an act of objection, recited the 20th āyat of Sūrat-un-Nisā’, which reads: “Don't take anything back from the wife you have divorced, even if you gave her loads (of gold as mahr)Hadrat ‘Umar did not object to that woman.

[mahr: according to Islam, the mahr comprises things like gold, silver, banknotes, or any kind of property or any kind of benefit that is given by a man to the woman he is to marry.]

Some heretics claim, “This event shows that a woman’s voice is not harām.” But they do not explain that the woman behind the curtain was old; an old woman’s voice is not harām. Some rules which are permissible for old women may not be permissible for the young ones.

Heretics also utter the following:
Hadrat Āisha (radīy-Allahu ‘anhā) narrates:
On the Day of 'Iyd [Eid], two jāriyas were singing gallantry poems by playing the tambourine. Rasūlullah (sall-Allahu alaihi wa sallam) lay down on his bed and turned his face to the other direction. Later, my father (Hadrat Abū Bakr) came in. When he scolded me by saying, “How on earth are the Devil’s whistle and sound in the presence of Rasūlullah?” Rasūllulah stated, “Do not interfere with them! Every nation has its own eid, and this is our eid.” When my father was busy with something else, I motioned the jāriyas away, and they left the house.

Adducing the mentioned event to support their claim, heretics say that it is permitted for women to sit together with men, to play musical instruments, to sing songs, and to let their voices be heard by men.

Now let us analyze the statements above:
1. Those who were singing gallantry poems were jāriyas, not free women. It is not a sin for jāriyas not to cover their hair, arms, and to let their voices be heard by nā-mahram men. It does not befit a Muslim to say that these, by assuming jāriyas as role models, are also permissible for free women.

2. Gallantry poems and songs and mahtar marches (Ottoman military marches) are permissible. This does not mean that other kinds of songs are permissible as well. Songs and ballads can be sung by playing the tambourine, but ilāhīs [nasheeds] cannot be sung with instruments because singing ilāhīs is an act of worship. It is not permitted to mix musical instruments into acts of worship. The term “the music of Tasawwuf” has nothing to do with Islam. In a house where Rasūlullah (sall-Allahu alaihi wa sallam) entered, small Black girls (jāriyas) were playing tambourines and were singing. They stopped singing and started lauding Rasūlullah. “Do not mention my name! Eulogizing me [reciting ilāhī] is an ’ibādat. It is not permissible to perform ’ibādat while making merry and playing,” he declared. (Kimyā-i Sa’ādat)

3. Hadrat Abū Bakr's saying Satan’s whistle for the tambourine shows that musical instruments are not permissible. Islamic savants state that what is permissible is only women’s playing tambourines at wedding parties and on ‘Iyds. That is, permissibility of women’s playing the tambourine includes wedding parties and ‘Iyds. It is not permissible at other times.

Some of the documents proving that women’s voices are harām are as follows:

Because Rasūlullah’s blessed wives are the Mothers of Muslims, marrying them, that is, marrying our Mothers, is harām. It is purported in three verses:
(O you who believe! It is not permissible for you to marry Rasūlullah’s wives.) [Sūrat-ul-Ahzāb, 53]

(Rasūlullah's wives are Mumins’ Mothers.) [Sūrat-ul-Ahzāb, 6]

(O wives of the Prophet! You are not like other women. Guard yourselves against violating Allah’s commandments! Do not be soft and charming in your speech lest he in whose heart is a disease yearns. Always speak in a serious manner.) [Sūrat-ul-Ahzāb, 32]

In that āyat, while it is not permissible for the wives of Rasūlullah (sall-Allahu alaihi wa sallam,) to speak softly, how can it be permissible for other women? Seeing that there may even be people who have a desire for our blessed Mothers, may there not be people with such a desire for other women?

As it is not permissible for women to let their voices be heard by nā-mahram men without necessity, so it is not permissible for women to look at them.

It is purported in an āyat:
(Tell, also, the Believing women to guard their eyes [from looking at nā-mahram men].) [Sūrat-un-Nūr, 31]

The following are purported in pertinent hadīth-i sharīfs:
(It is harām for men to look at women and for women to look at men [with lust].) [Tabarānī]

(When you see a nā-mahram woman, turn your face away from her.) [Abū Dāwud]

(It is harām to listen to a singing woman and to look at her face.) [Tabarānī]

(It is the fornication of the eyes to look at nā-mahram women.) [Bukhārī]

Umm-i Salama (radiy-Allahu ‘anhā), our blessed Mother, narrates:
When we were with the Messenger of Allah, Ibn-i-Umm-i-Maktūm (radiy-Allahu ‘anh) asked for permission and came in. When the Messenger of Allah saw him, he said to us, “Withdraw behind the curtain!” When I said, “Is he not blind? He will not see us,” the Messenger of Allah answered, “Are you blind, too? Do you not see him?” That is, he meant, “He may be blind, but you are not.” (Tirmudhī, Abū Dāwud)

It is purported in an āyat:
(When you ask Rasūlullah’s wife for anything you want, ask them from behind a curtain.) [Sūrat-ul-Ahzāb, 53]

Just as it is sinful to look at nā-mahram, so it is sinful to talk them. It is purported in two hadīth-i sharīfs:
(O you women! Talk to only your mahrams; don’t talk to your nā-mahrams.) [Rāmūz, Ibni Sa’īd]

(He who talks to a nā-mahram woman lustfully will be tortured in Hell for each word.) [R.Nāsihīn]

Because it is not permissible for women to speak loudly or softly and to let their voices be heard by nā-mahrams, it is not permissible for them to say the adhān and the iqāmat. (Radd-ul-mukhtār)

A young woman must not greet nā-mahram men and must not say anything to a man who has sneezed. If she is said, she does not respond. (Hamawī’s Commentary to Ashbah)

It is harām for women to let their voices be heard by nā-mahram men. Some scholars state that when the necessity arises it is permissible for women to talk to nā-mahram men gravely and seriously as much as necessary, but it still is not permissible for women to talk to them more than necessary. (Tazkiya-i Ahl-i Bayt)

Sounds of musical instruments and voices of women are not simā’, but ghinā’, and they are harām. (Durr-ul-Ma’ārif)

[simā’: a voice without instrumental music is called simā’; ghinā’: a human voice accompanied with instrumental music is called ghinā’ (that is, music)]

Allahu ta'ālā prohibits women from talking to nā-mahram men softly. (Maktūbāt-i Rabbānī, vol. III, p. 41)

It is gravely sinful for women to go out with bare head, hair, arms, and legs, to let their voice be heard by nā-mahram men without necessity, to sing to them, to let them hear their voices by reading Qur’ān al-karīm or by reciting the mawlid or the adhān. Women are permitted to talk to nāmahram men seriously in a manner that will not cause fitna when there is necessity such as buying and selling. (Targhīb-us-salāt, Hadīqa, Endless Bliss)

Question: Is it permissible to look at the pictures of the women on TV with lust or without lust and to listen to their voices?
It is not harām to look without lust at the reflections on mirrors of those parts of women that are harām to look at, such as their hair and their arms. Looking at their pictures or visions on TVs is like looking their reflections on mirrors. It is permissible to look at them without lust, but harām to watch lustfully or to look at those visions of theirs and listen to those voices of theirs that will arouse lust. However, it is harām to look at those parts that are termed qaba [ghaliz] awrah parts, e.g., their breasts or their hips, even without lust.

Question: Is it harām for women to let their voices be heard by nā-mahram men by reading the Qur'ān al-karīm or by reciting the mawlid or ilāhīs?
Yes, it is harām. [But it is makrūh for them to let their voices be heard by men through loudspeakers, radios, and TVs.] (Targhīb-us-salāt, Hadīqa)

Date of Update
15 Nisan 2021 Peržembe
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