The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Friday, December 23, 2005

I'm in trouble.... 

....about music. According to one of the commentors on an earlier post

Alhamedi, you got to be kidding. I, being a Muslim am surprised why you fail to understand the opinions of scholars. Lemme ask you a question: Who is more knowledgable about religion, the scholars who had lived during or after the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) or you?

Well, I have a great respect for learning, especially achieved over long years and at great personal sacrifice, and I would never claim to know what others know, when they have been thru intensive education or training. You won't find me turning up at the local hospital to help out with some brain surgery, or the local airport control tower to direct some air traffic. When you ring up because you've got a burst pipe, you won't find me standing at the door.

However, when it comes to the question of religion and music, I don't believe that we are totally dependent on "scholars". God gave us ears and a brain, and He expects us to use them. He expects us to think for ourselves, and not rely on someone else to do it for us. And I don't believe that there's any human being out there who doesn't use their ears and is not moved by some music in some way. Your taste may not be my taste, and vice versa, but I'm sure we'd all agree that music talks to the emotions. And a most fundamental of emotion can be our sense of the spiritual, the infinite. So for those who believe in God, I'm sure that they find that God talks to them thru music, unless they are unfortunate enough to be physically deaf, or unfortunate enough to be Islamic scholars.

Personally, I am moved by the music of total silence. It's a rare commodity, but we Saudis are fortunate enough to be able to find it in the middle of the desert, perhaps on a camping trip. And I don't believe that any Muslim can fail to be moved by the music of the prayer calls echoing round the towns and cities, especially at sunset. So music doesn't necessarily need instruments, it can be all around us, it just needs us to listen and open our souls to it.

And talking of music, although I'm not a Christian, one musical event that I always try to hear at this time of the year is the service of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge. The singing is perfection, the readings are absolute poetry, the whole experience is completely sublime, even for a Muslim like me. The BBC broadcast it at 1500 on the 24th December, UK time; in the US it's 1000 Eastern, 1800 in Saudi, etc., and you can listen live via the internet, highly recommended. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was reported to enjoy the sound of singing, so it's quite possible that he listens every year as well. But I don't suppose our "scholars" would agree about that.


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