Arab media is reporting on the controversy surrounding a new ruling by Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi permitting women to sing under certain circumstances. According to a report by Alarabiya:
A religious ruling by the president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, Dr. Yousef al-Qardhawi, permitting the singing of females stirred debate within Islamic religious circles where playing music and singing were perceived for long as forbidden by the Shariah law, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported. Some Muslim scholars criticized Dr. Qaradhawi’s fatwa saying that singing is forbidden and not only for women but for men as well, citing the music’s effect on emotions and its potential to lead to what is perceived as sin….Others have supported al-Qardhawi’s fatwa particularly with regards to singing for religious purposes such as promoting Islamic values and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammed. But in both camps women are advised to observe certain Islamic legal conditions and to restrain “lustful desires.” Al-Qaradawi, while a prominent International Islamic scholar, is widely known for his moderate view of Islam. He was quoted as saying: “there is no hindrance against women to sing, except that singing should be within an acceptable Islamic legal frame that insures singing is not accompanied by prohibited practices such as dancing or drinking alcohol.” He also advised that singing by women should be that of value and should not be “indecent,” pointing to how a Abu Nuwas, a well-known Arab poet whose poetry often reflected his love for wine and sexual desire for men, continues to misguide the youth long after his death. Qaradawi also mentioned one of Ahmed Shawqi’s famous poems that celebrates the ending of Ramadan by a sip of alcohol. Shawqi died in 1932, and is another Arabic poet who pioneered the modern Egyptian literary movement and introduced the genre of poetic epics to the Arabic literary tradition. In what he considered as a good example of singing by women Qaradawi quoted Egyptian female singer Fayiza Ahmed who dedicated a song to mothers.
Youssef Qaradawi is often referred to here as the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, an acknowledgement of his role as the de facto spiritual leader of the movement. In 2004, Qaradawi turned down the offer to lead the Egyptian Brotherhood after the death of the Supreme Guide. Based in Qatar, Sheikh Qaradawi has reportedly amassed substantial wealth through his role as Shari’ah adviser to many important Islamic banks and funds. He is also considered to be the “spiritual guide” for Hamas and his fatwas in support of suicide bombings against Israeli citizens were instrumental in the development of the phenomenon. A recent post has discussed a video compilation of Qaradawi’s extremist statements.
For a comprehensive fatwa (religious ruling) on singing in general, go here.