KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 ― Islam allegedly forbids Muslims from playing musical instruments like guitar, piano or trumpets as they go against the hadiths, a religious scholar said today.
In his paper on Islam and entertainment presented at a national forum here, Abdul Raof Nurin said the Shafie stream of Islam only allows Muslims to listen to music that touches on love for the religion, and urged those who want to play musical instruments to preferably stick to the gong or kompang.
He added that the Shafie school, however, will make an exception for the "gabus", a stringed instrument similar to the guitar, only if they are played according to Islamic laws.
"To listen to music that has nothing to do with religion that includes instruments that is prohibited in Islam, coupled with concerts that allow mixed socialisation, this distracts you from praying.
"Majority of ulama forbid the use of musical instruments except for those drummed like the kompang, percussions even those with bells," he said.
The forum was organised by the Malaysian Muslim Consumer Group (PPIM) and the Human Development and Investigation Bureau.
Professor at the National Art and Heritage Academy (Aswara) Datuk Baharudin Ahmad, however, said the instruments alone are not “haram” or forbidden, but the sounds they make are, since they are often used to play music that encourages immoral activities like free mingling of the genders.
"Instruments like the trumpet, the trumpet is not a problem, the sound that comes out of it [is]," Baharudin told the forum.
Both the scholars in their presentations said entertainment in Malaysia is too influenced by the West, which often insert messages of total freedom and blind consumerism.
As example, Abdul Raof cited the many singing competitions, which he said provided for lucrative awards.
He said such events inculcate materialism among the young.
"Entertainment today is about ringgit and materialism. That is why today we see humans racing to elevate their economic status, add more materials and collect more money".
The Muslim religious scholar added the high suicide rates in the west proved the detriments of such lifestyle.
"We just look at the experiences of those who have gone through this. In the US and other rich countries many of those with wealth, stature, smart have committed suicide," he added.
Baharuddin on the other hand said materialistic entertainment was so ingrained in today's society that households spend a huge chunk of their salaries on entertainment like football jerseys and branded clothings.
"Such indulgence have made household spending imbalanced," he said.
Baharuddin said much of the blame goes to "low quality" urbanisation, and urged the government to help promote a more "traditional life".
Hardline Islamic groups have long called for Putrajaya to rein in its entertainment industry, claiming it was too western-centric.
However, other civil rights advocates said such demands underscored the creeping Islamisation in Malaysia and has tarnished its moderate image, affecting investments and driving the country's young away.