To listen to Qawwali is permissible if its conditions are met. This is for the Ahl (capable) as agreed upon by the expert Scholars and glorified Saints (Awliya’) of Allah (Allah is pleased with them all). In todays day and age, the concept of Qawwali has completely changed. Qawwali in the past was that which in today’s custom is known by the names, Hamd, Naat, Nasheed etc. Unfortunately, the name “Qawwali” is now only used if there is an addition of musical instruments and at times with the “add on” of dancing and whirling depending on the mood of those present. Musical instruments are forbidden. And so is dancing if it is with intent. This can be understood from the conditions for the permissibility of listening to Qawwali. Sayyiduna Muhammad Ibn Mubarak Karmani, the Mureed of Khwaja Fareed Al-Deen Ganj-e-Shakar and Khalifah of Mahboob-e-Ilaahi, Sultaan Al-Mashaa’ikh, writes in Siyar Al-Awliya that Hazrat Sultan Al-Mashaa’ikh (Hazrat Nizam Al-Deen, Nizam Al-Awliya) says,
“Sima’ (to listen to Qawwali) is permissible if a few conditions are met. The singer must be an adult and not a child or a female. The listener must only listen to everything in the remembrance of Allah. The words that are sung must be free from obscenity and indecency and they must not be void. Musical instruments must not be present in the gathering. If all these conditions are met, Sima’ is permissible.”
Listening to Qawwali with musical instruments and dancing is not newly attributed to the Chisti Mashaa’ikh but the false accusations had begun already in the time of the great ones from the Chisti Mashaa’ikh. In the same authentic book of the Chishti Mashaa’ikh, it says,
“Someone complained to the Sultan of the Mashaa’ikh that some of the dervishes danced in a gathering where there were musical instruments. He said, they did not do good as something impermissible cannot be condoned.”
In Fawaa’id Al-Fu’aad, Sultan Al-Mashaa’ikh Mahboob-e-Ilaahi himself writes,
“Musical instruments are Haram.”
One who listens to musical instruments must take heed from the aforementioned quotations and especially those who attribute themselves as followers of the great Chisti Mashaa’ikh and falsely accuse them of permitting such acts. They regard it Forbidden and unlawful and these regard it permissible and their tradition. How rude is this accusation! It is from principle that mere tales and stories have no stance against authentic statements and texts.
The Chisti Mashaa’ikh were followers of the Hadith of the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Sayyiduna Sultan Al-hind Khwaja Mu’een Al-Deen Hasan Ajmeri was so steadfast on following the Sunnah that at one point he took oath that he would never miss an act that is a Sunnah of the beloved Prophet (peace be upon him). Would he ever go against such clear prohibitions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) after such an oath? Imam Ahmad Raza in Masaa’il-e-Sima’ writes that the Hadith are Mutawatir in prohibition of musical instruments. Here is a very rigorously authentic narration he quotes which is enough for the seeker of the truth,
“Verily amongst my nation (ummah) will be those who will deem permissible the female’s private part (fornication), silk, khamr (alcohol) and musical instruments" (Bukhari, Musnad Imam Ahmad, Sunan Abi Dawood and Ibn Maajah)
Imam Ahmad Raza attended the holy shrine of the great khwaja Ghareeb Nawaz many times and so did his son Mufti A’zam-e-Hind. They have both expressed immense love for the great Sheikh (Allah is pleased with him) and his silsilah and are both adamant on the fact that he prohibited such Qawwali that is listened with the involvement of musical instruments. Allamah Hasan Raza Khan wrote an amazing manqabat in his praise and was adamant that Khwaja Ghareeb Nawaz forbade the use of musical instruments. There is no authentic piece of text to show the great Mashaa’ikh of the Chisti silsilah ever allowed musical instruments, yet people today accuse them of allowing it. On the contrary there is authentic text to establish they forbade such. It is a principle that the weak must not be acted upon when there is authentic and sound opposing it. May Allah open the eyes of the wrong doers and those who falsely accuse due to ignorance.
Some people say that if it was impermissible, the great Mashaa’ikh would not allow it outside their shrines. This is the utterance of their ignorance. It is not the duty of those who have left this world to stop acts that are impermissible from happening outside or on their shrines. This is not considered evidence in the law of Islam. Otherwise stealing would become permissible as it happens outside the Ka’bah; the house of Allah. Prostrating to other than Allah would become permissible as it happens on the graves of many saints of Allah. Females uncovering their beauty and filling their faces with make up and lip stick would become permissible as they attend the graves of many saints with such appearance. Smashing and destroying the shrines and building toilets on them would become permissible as has happened in Saudi on the graves of those who are much greater than all saints; the great Sahabah (Allah is pleased with them). Smashing and destroying the houses of Allah; The Masjids, and building temples for idol worshipping on that very earth would become permissible as has happened in various places in India and the list can continue to many disgusting and atrocious acts becoming permitted. May Allah protect us from such.
And Allah knows best,
Zahid Hussain Al-Qadri
(Beggar at the doorstep of Scholars and Saints)