culture of song in Islamic civilization


Arab society knew singing, and the Arabs sang

their poems, rhymes, chants, and songs, and they inclined the speech to lengthen in a songful manner., and called him “mawala,” and they sang of human beauty, so they called him “singing,” to fit in with the feelings of the souls, joy and sadness, rapture and solace. 
The Arabs took their music from the East and the west and from the heritage of peoples and nations, and formulated it to suit their desires and the images of auditory beauty in their souls, a pleasure that their souls adored, and a happieness that relaxed their bodies, so souls wandered in the sky among the planets and stars, and souls rested in the gardens and orchards of reality.

Arab musical instruments

Every people has a type of music that takes its characteristics from the sounds and feelings of this people. 

The Arabs also knew musical instruments: string, wind, and percussion, these instruments accompanied their singing, so they sang on the strings of the tanbur and the rababa, the tanbour is an instrument that preceded the oud and is played with two or sometimes three strings, while the rababah is played with one string. It is the first beginnings of the violin or jello instrument. 

As for the wind instruments, they only knew the flute and the trumpet, so the drums and tambourines came as rhythms accompanying the singing and the anthem. 

After the Arabs came into contact with neighboring civilizations, they were greatly influenced by Persian singing, and they learned complex melodies after their own melodies were simple, and from the Romans and Abyssinians they adopted fast rhythms after their rhythms were characterized by monotony and slow. 


Singing was not limited to a city or a desert, nor to one class or another, it was well-known it is widespread among everyone, with it the shepherd becomes acquainted in the desert with his camels and runs, and with it the mother pampers her newborn before his sleep, and with it the resolve of war is awakened, and with it the mourner mourns his loss.

When the call to Islam began, the early Muslims hated singing because of its conditional association with the bars spread throughout the Hijaz region At that time, those bars that sell alcohol and entice their customers to stay longer, prepare the slave girls to dance to the tunes of the music, and singers singing, there, singing was associated with promiscuity and bad morals. 

Historical sources provide us with the fact that the first Muslims used to sing poetry as a sign of joy on special occasions and holidays, or in raising one's resolve during wars and calamities. 

Singing in Medina

There is no doubt that Medina, the first capital of the Islamic state, was included in the first hundred years of the Islamic calendar, there is a group of great singers, most of whom were male or female slaves, and a few of whom were slaves, for example Nashit Al-Farsi, Sa'ib Khathir, Jamila, Ma'bad bin Wahb, Al-Gharaid, and Salama Al-Qass. 

While Mecca included both Ubaid bin Surayj and Ibn Mahrez, in the book “Al-Aghani”, Abu Al-Faraj Al-Isfahani narrates to us various news about these singers, where he refers credit goes to Sa'ib Khathir and Nashet Al-Farsi for introducing the oud instrument, with its three strings, to Arabic singing, as for Jamila, the mistress of Banu Sulaym, who learned to play the oud on De Sa’ib Khathir, she considered her home and her council was the first school to teach playing and singing, and the elite people used to send their female slaves to learn singing from Jamila, so it was permitted, whoever you deem appropriate and prevents those who are not good at singing.

It has been rumored that Arabs buy female slaves for various reasons, including service: such as cooking, taking care of the house and children, or plowing, planting, and caring for the animals, or “breeding animals,” that the master buys in order to breed slaves, either to sell them for the purpose of trade, or to buy the “reciter” who has memorized the Holy Qur’an or parts of it. For the purpose of educating the women and daughters of the household, or the “concubine” whose owner takes her for his pleasure, or the “concubine”, “she was good at singing, playing, and dancing, and the latter was the most expensive and closest in status to her master. 

The Arabs established laws for dealing with slaves, some of which were established after the advent of Islam, such as prohibiting intercourse the son is his father's concubine and vice versa. 

Islam has forbidden legislation followed in pre-Islamic times, such as the infanticide of the female slave’s daughter by her master, which was common in Pre-Islamic times, and Islamic legislation recognized that the birth of a male from a female slave is an acknowledgment of her freedom, so that she will then be free. ''Umm Walad''. 

Singing was spread throughout the lands of Islam by the Qaynaat, the most famous of whom were Salama al-Qass, Hababa, and Azzat. 

Singing in the Abbasid era

The first Abbasid era witnessed the real transformation of Arabic singing, and it was at the hands of Ishaq bin Ibrahim Al-Mawsili, who a contemporary of Harun al-Rashid. 

At the hands of Al-Mawsili, Arabic singing developed clearly, as he drew up the rules of singing and established its laws and classification musical maqamat with a clear practical style and an accurate scientific approach, until the singers of the Abbasid era learned from his musical knowledge.

 The most famous of them all was Ali bin Nafi, who had a sweet voice and dark skin, so his teacher Ishaq Al-Mawsili called him “Zaryab”, whose was nicknamed that singing black bird. 

Ziryab was able to master the arts of music, singing and playing, until he added a fifth string to the oud instrument, to achieve this on new melodious tunes that delighted listeners and connoisseurs of singing and music, perhaps what his teacher told him that Baghdad could not hear neither of them made him travel from Iraq to Egypt, then to Morocco, after which he settled in Andalusia. 

During that long journey, he would draw from the arts of peoples, like a bee that draws the nectar from flowers and then gives honey, in Andalusia, Ziryab became a nice singer and founder of a new school in Arabic singing, where he invented the method of percussion, singing to match the poetic rhythm, and combining Spanish singing with Arabic singing with new maqams that were not known before.

Muslim philosophers and singing

In that period, the Arab-Islamic civilization reached a level where it became the undisputed first civilization of the world, and so on If civilizations rise to this status until the forms of arts in all fields of science emerge, as arts Architecture in engineering, the arts of poetry and prose in language, and the arts of singing in psychology and philosophy. 

Thus we see the opinion of philosophers regarding music and singing as “food for the soul,” even a philosopher like Al-Farabi, we see him interested in music to invent the zither, or we read a letter by Ibn Sina about the virtue of music, as for the Ikhwan al-Safa, in their treatise on music, they considered it a cure for the ailing soul, and said that it is the paradise of souls and a pleasure, spirits rejoice and seek happiness and goodness. 

here are some culture of song in Islamic civilization:


A vocal religious song or chant, often accompanied by percussion instruments. Nasheeds are often used for devotional purposes, to praise God or to commemorate religious events.


A system of melodic modes used in Arabic music. Maqams are characterized by their distinctive scales, melodic patterns, and emotional expressions.


A form of strophic poetry and music that originated in Andalusia and spread throughout the Islamic world. Muwashahat are known for their elegant and sophisticated melodies and lyrics.


















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