I used to have a library of lyrics in my head, and would always be up to date with new songs, and share them with my friends. I wouldn’t leave my house without headphones. It was something I was dependent on to study, relax, while in my car… it was just a significant part of my life. And then I gave it up!
I used to hear stories about people giving up music. I never thought that would be me. “No way!” I thought to myself. However, after Ramadan 2015…everything changed.
Mind you, I didn’t give up music because I thought it was haram. In fact, I didn’t even look into the fiqhi ruling back then, and so it didn’t affect my decision.
I gave it up because I wanted to be closer to Allah , and I realised that music was preventing me from that.
Let me share with you how I gave it up, and what were the benefits I reaped from this decision.
How it all began: giving up music temporarily in Ramadan
It was Ramadan 2015, and everyone knows what Ramadan means. We try to refrain from wasteful activities and instead, immerse ourselves in worship as much as we can. For a lot of people, this could mean reducing -or completely refraining from- things like music, video games, TV (especially inappropriate shows and movies) and/or profanity in general.
Some of us seek to take advantage of this blessed month by establishing, or consolidating our relationship with Allah . So as I learnt more about Islam and deepened my connection with Allah The Exalted, this time felt a little bit different.
I discovered a soothing feeling of peace and tranquillity that I could only find through my efforts to strengthen my relationship with Allah . However, as Ramadan eventually drew closer to an end, I had a genuine feeling of sadness and worry.
I worried about whether I’d immediately slip back to my old habits: excessive music, TV, profanity, wasting time, etc. So, I made dua to Allah to keep me steadfast on that decision I made in Ramadan.
Maintaining the work initiated in Ramadan
It was eid…also known as “welcome back shaytan party” for some people because they celebrate eid with what they avoided in Ramadan.
For me, I didn’t want that to happen, I wanted to continue practicing what I had been doing in Ramadan, as though nothing had changed.
I was touched by a reflection made by Shaykh Omar Suleiman who mentioned the saying: “Whoever used to worship Muhammad know that Muhammad has died, but whoever used to worship Allah , know that Allah is alive and does not die” – Abu Bakr .
The message was clear. Whoever used to worship during Ramadan, Ramadan has passed, but whoever used to worship Allah , He is Alive and Eternal.
I continued to refrain from my bad habits, especially music. All I knew is that when I came out of Ramadan I realised what a distraction music was to my deen. So here are the benefits I got from giving up music.
Quality of prayer significantly improving
A friend of mine said that salah is a barometer for a persons life. It accurately indicates your relationship with Allah , and everything that affects it because if your salah is good, then everything else is good. Even if you are going through obstacles, as long as you have your salah that you are performing with sincerity and humility, your iman will be your strength. However when I listened to music, I found that it became stored in my heart and mind like data, only to be played out when I was talking to my Lord.
You know those times when you’re praying and everything is silent, and in the back of your mind, a song is replaying over and over which makes it hard to concentrate… You get onto your third raka’ah and you’re like “wait is this the third or fourth raka’ah?” It made my salah feel like basic physical yoga rather than a conversation with my Lord. A little something like this:
For me that stopped after giving up music.
I was no longer feeding my soul what could be considered audio pornography, instead I was feeding it Qur’an and beneficial knowledge. If you want to remember Allah in your prayer, remember Him more outside of your prayer, and letting go of music really helps- I discovered.
Getting closer to Allah like never before
This was probably the biggest benefit to my giving up music because developing a stronger relationship with the Qur’an helped me be more connected with Allah than ever before.
Rather than replacing the music with silence, I replaced it with the Qur’an and Islamic lectures so that I would be learning more about my deen.
Even if you are someone who doesn’t have strong iman, seeking to learn more about deen pushes you closer to our Creator. It’s really strange but the more connected with Allah I’ve become, the less appealing dunya appears to me.
It literally affected all aspects of my life, from the betterment of my hijab, to my character and even my studying!
I was drawn to whatever would bring me closer to Allah and anything that I knew would take me away from Him no longer appealed to me.
You know when dunya is a struggle, because you’re fighting against your desires? Well once I got closer to Allah , I didn’t feel like I was fighting so much, because my desires were no longer towards something that would displease Allah . When that happened, listening to the latest hit no longer seemed ‘cool’ or even necessary.
Where to begin if you want to change
If you want to experience the beneficial spiritual impact of giving up music like I did, here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Change what you put in your headphones
Rather than listening to music whilst commuting, if you have a smartphone, download the “Podcast” App. There’s a category called “Muslim central” and it has every lecture by every shaykh/teacher you can think of. It’s awesome since you can learn on the go and gain hasanat because the Prophet said
“If your state of mind remains the same as it is in my presence and you are always busy in remembrance of Allah , the Angels will shake hands with you in your beds and in your paths..” [Sahih Muslim].
I absolutely recommend for everyone to listen to Kamel El Mekki’s “The End of Music” lecture.
Alternatively, you can listen to the radio and keep up with current affairs, for example. If that doesn’t work, just leave your headphones at home, and fill your morning with remembrance of Allah .
People underestimate how beneficial and easy dhikr is.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “(There are) two words which are dear to the Beneficent (Allah) and very light (easy) for the tongue (to say), but very heavy in weight in the balance. They are: ”Subhan Allah wa-bi hamdihi” and ”Subhan Allah Al-`Azim.” Glory be to Allah and praise Him, Glory be to Allah The Supreme. [Bukhari]
So why not spend our commute time loading our scales with hasanat instead of listening to something that has no benefit?
2. Spend more time in ibadah
For me, I felt somewhat ashamed to listen to any profanity after Ramadan. I felt a new sense of haya (modesty). It just felt awkward to stand before Allah, five times a day and pray for forgiveness and guidance, then immediately resume listening to music. We know well that a lot of the music today contain shamelessness and the lyrics could really be equivalent to audio pornography.
That is why one ayah in the Qu’ran that really rings true to me says is in Surat Al-‘Ankabut “Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater. And Allah knows that which you do.” [Qur’an: Chapter 29, Verse 45]. The more time I spent in salah, the more embarrassed I became to listen to music.
3. Remember that you don’t ‘need‘ music to study
Let us read that again, because this is a very common misconception. Do you think that you really ‘need’ music to study? Are you mentally and physically incapable of studying without it?
People will argue in favour of some studies that support the idea that music helps you study, but the bottom line is, you don’t need it. I did some research and there isn’t any conclusive evidence that music does or doesn’t help someone study. There are conflicting results and it depends on what type of study has been done, and each individual is different.
What I want you to ask yourself is by making music a requirement for you to improve study, do you genuinely believe that Allah’s barakah is so insufficient that you have to supplement it with something else that essentially draws you away from His remembrance?
If the music is what will give you the barakah in studying, I urge you to look at some of the greatest scholars in Islam or even non-Muslims who have changed the world now and in the past? Did they ‘need’ or rely on music to work productively?
Final thought: Giving up music was one of the best things that I ever did. It helped me become closer to Allah and it has positively impacted me in every aspect of my life. If you are someone who wants to give up music but thinks it is too difficult, pray to Allah and remember what He says:
“I am near to the thought of My servant as he thinks about Me, and I am with him as he remembers Me. And if he remembers Me in his heart, I also remember him in My Heart, and if he remembers Me in assembly I remember him in assembly, better than his (remembrance), and if he draws near Me by the span of a palm, I draw near him by the cubit, and if he draws near Me by the cubit I draw near him by the space (covered by) two hands. And if he walks towards Me, I rush towards him.” [Sahih Muslim]
If you are someone who doesn’t listen to music, share your experience and tips below!