Al-Hujwiri on Music

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The Principles of Audition

(quotations from al-Hujwiri's Kashf al-Mahjub)

The principles of audition vary with the variety of temperaments, just as there are different desires in various hearts, and it will be unjustified to lay down one law for all. The lovers of audition may be divided into two classes:

  • those who hear the spiritual meaning,
  • those who hear the material sound.

Both contain their good and evil effects. Listening to melodious sounds produces an effervescence of the substance molded in man. If his inward is true, the melodious sounds will produce true spiritual feelings and if it is false it will act in the same fashion.


“Audition is a Divine influence which stirs the heart to seek Allah. One who listens to it spiritually he attains the way to the Truth, and who listens to it sensually he falls into error.” (Dhu al-Nun al-Misri)


"“Audition is outwardly an evil and inwardly an admonition. He who is aware of the mystical signs may lawfully hear the admonition otherwise he has invited evil and calamity,” i.e. one whose heart is fully committed to the voice of the Truth, for him audition is a calamity and trial" (Shibli)


Sheikh Abu Muslim Faris b. Ghalib al-Farisi said that one dervish during audition used to display extreme agitation and anxiety. One day during an audition when the dervish was passing through state of agitation, some one put his hand over him and asked him to sit down. He sat down and died at the spot.