Thursday, September 23, 2004

Women's Voice-Is it Awrah?

The following is an answer to a question I was asked on Sunnipath ( regarding women’s voice. Sidi Faraz (akramahullah) has referred to this article but it is not on sunnipath. However, here is the answer. See link, too.

Wa alaiykum assalam wa Rahmatullahi wa maghfiratuh

Your question is related to whether the voice of a female is part of her Awra.

Here is a brief insight to what the schools have to say:

The correct opinion of the Hanafi madhab is that a woman’s voice is not part of her Awrah. That is, if her voice is not in a musical tone, soft and of incitement during speech.

The great later Hanafi jurist, Ibn al-Humam (May Allah have mercy on him) says in his 'Fath al-Qadir', quoting from 'al-Nawazil':

‘The melodious voice of a female and her singing is considered as Awra. This is the reason why it is better for her to learn the Qur'an from a female teacher rather than from a male who is blind, as her recitation in tune is Awra’. (Fat'h al-Qadir,1:260).

Allamah Ibn Abidin (May Allah have mercy on him), after quoting the same from ‘al-Nawazil’ comments in his 'Hashiya':

‘It is permissible for women to converse with non-Mahram men at the time of need (and visa versa). However, what is not permissible is that they stretch, soften and raise their voice in a melodious way’. (Radd al-Muhtar, Ibn Abidin)

Dr. Wahba al-Zuhayli, a contemporary faqih from Damascus, writes in his renowned 'al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu’:

‘It is unlawful (Haram) to listen to the voice of a female, which is in a melodious and musical tone, even if she is reciting Qur'an’(al-Fiqh al-Islami, 1:755)

As for the Shafi’i School, I have read that Imam Ghazali’s opinion in his Ihya is that listening to a woman’s melodious voice has the same ruling as looking at a young man’s face. If it leads to sexual appetite, it is prohibited, otherwise, permitted. On the contrary, complete segregation ‘khlawah’ with a woman, and looking at her figure is prohibited, whether that arouses one or not. (Ihya Ulum al-din 2:399)

Imam Qurtubi (May Allah have mercy on him) reports from Abu Tayyib al-Tabari, in his Tafseer, who said: ‘to listen to a singing woman is not permissible ‘la yajuwz’ in the Shafi’i Madhab’. (Tafseer Qurtabi 14:56)

Moreover, Allamah Ramli based this impermissibility on the effective cause ‘illah’ of fitna, but clearly remarked that it is Disliked (‘yukrah’ which partakes the Prohibitive type of dislikedness ‘makruh tahreeman’) even if the fear of fitna is absent. (Nihayat al-Muhtaj 8:280,281, al-Sama wa al-Ghina, Mulla Ali Qari, p50,51)

Allama Murtadha al-Zabeedi, a great Hanafi scholar, states in his commentary on the 'Ihya’:
‘Qadi Abu Tayyib al-Tabari said: If the singer is a non-Mahram female, then it will be unlawful for men to listen to her. This ruling will apply, regardless of whether the woman is with or without Hijab.’ (Ithaf al-Sadat al-Muttaqin,6:501).

In conclusion, a male should avoid listening to the melodious voice whether it is a Nasheed or Qira’ah of a non-Mahram female. Similarly, it is necessary that the females do not sing in front of non-Mahram men, whether in their presence or by recording their voice or picture i.e. radio, cassette (albums) and TV.

Munawwar Ateeq Rizvi
ps. Related answers can be found on Sunnipath, walhamdulillah.