what is music and the origin of music

What is Music?

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Music, according to the New National Dictionary, means "Art of combining sounds or sequences of notes into harmonious patterns pleasing to the ear and satisfying to the emotions; melody". According to the Great Encyclopaedic Dictionary, this combining of sounds is "for reproduction by the voice or various kinds of musical instruments in rhythmic, melodious and harmonious form so as to express thought or feeling and affect the emotion;" and the word is also used for the "sound so produced," and for ‘written or printed score of musical compositions." Not so technically, it is also used for "pleasant sound, e.g., song of a bird, murmur of a stream, cry of hounds."
In Islam music is called Ghina, and in Shia Sha’riah is counted as one of the ‘great sins’. At first, it may seem unrealistic to ban every "pleasant sound"; but there is no need to be alarmed. The Sha’riah has defined ‘Ghina’ in a different way. In Islam, vocal music means: "Prolongation and vibration of sound with variation of the pitch to such an extent that people may say that ‘he/she is singing’."
It is evident from the above definition that the Sha’riah does not forbid ‘pleasant sounds’; but if someone recites any thing with prolongation of sound and variation of pitch so much so that a common man thinks that he/she is singing, then and only then it will be ‘Ghina’ and sin.
And it makes no difference whether the thing recited was the Qur’an, religious poem or love song.

Origin of Music


No doubt music is one of the most ancient methods of merrymaking and enjoyment, of expressing feelings and emotions. It is called ‘international language’, because it encompasses the whole world and does not know any geographical or political boundary.
Let us find out what is the reason for its worldwide prevalence. We have it on the authority of Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (a.s) that when Hadhrat Adam (a.s) died, his infamous son Cain (Qabil) and Satan were very happy. Both gathered at a place and invented some musical instruments to celebrate the death of Hadhrat Adam (a.s). And in the words of Imam (a.s), all such musical things which people now use for merrymaking have originated from that1.
So, religion and anthropology both agree that music is a very ancient thing and therefore its no wonder that it has spread widely with the spread of the human race. But how dare a sensible ‘child of Adam’ especially if he is a Muslim "enjoy" music, which is an invention of Satan and Cain, the rebellious and disloyal son of Adam ?
Here one may ask: But what is the harm in music? Why has it been forbidden in Islam?
The answer is that music does have harmful effects on nervous system and is the cause of many ailments including ulcer, diabetes and madness. It creates imbalance in human faculties, retards spiritual development, and lowers the ethical values.
For further details, read the following chapters.

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