Music, in general, is a complex topic in Islam, with some scholars proclaiming all music haram while others take a more nuanced view. As electronic music continues to dominate popular culture, this debate has extended into new genres.
You’re torn between your faith and your Spotify playlist. Before you delete all your Martin Garrix, Nina Kraviz, or Carl Cox tracks, take a deep breath. The issue isn’t so black and white. By exploring the guidance of the Qur’an and Hadith and the opinions of esteemed scholars, you can determine for yourself if techno and electronic music cross the line. The answer may surprise you.
Defining Electronic Music And Techno
Techno and electronic music are broad terms that cover a wide range of musical styles. At their core, they refer to music that is produced using electronic equipment and digital technology.
Techno music emerged in Detroit, Michigan, during the mid-1980s. It has a fast tempo, repetitive rhythmic beats, and synthesized sounds. Some well-known techno artists include Daft Punk (my all-time fav), deadmau5, and Tiesto.
Electronic music encompasses everything from synth-pop and electronica to dubstep and EDM (electronic dance music). Rather than using traditional instruments, electronic musicians utilize digital equipment like synthesizers, drum machines, and laptops to create and arrange sounds.
- Synth-pop features pop songs composed on synthesizers, like “Blue Monday” by New Order.
- Electronica is an umbrella term for synthesized electronic music intended for home listening rather than dancing. Artists include Moby, The Chemical Brothers, and Massive Attack.
- Dubstep and EDM are bass-heavy, high-energy genres designed for dancing at nightclubs and music festivals. Popular EDM and dubstep producers include Skrillex, Calvin Harris, and Zedd.
Arguments For And Against
The debate around whether electronic music and techno are haram largely comes down to differing interpretations of Islamic law. On the one hand, some argue that any music with a beat or instruments is haram based on certain hadith. Others disagree, pointing out that not all music is explicitly forbidden in the Quran.
Those against electronic music claim:
- The heavy beats and loud sounds can alter one’s state of mind and distract from religious worship or remembrance of Allah.
- The music is predominantly used for partying, dancing, and other activities that may involve alcohol, drugs or illicit relationships — all of which are clearly haram.
However, others argue that in moderation, electronic music is halal:
- The music itself is simply a collection of sounds and beats, so it depends on how it’s used and the intention behind listening to it. If used for relaxation or enjoyment without sinful acts, it should be permitted.
- The Quran does not explicitly forbid music but rather warns against excess and vain talk. Listening to electronic music in moderation does not necessarily lead to these.
- Many artists produce purely instrumental electronic music without lyrics. As long as the content does not promote haram messages, this music should be halal.
There are good arguments on both sides. For devout Muslims, it may come down to individual conscience and moderation. Electronic music is such a broad genre that it’s difficult to make a blanket judgment. But used constructively and avoiding sin, it should not be considered haram.
Is Electronic Music And Techno Haram?
When it comes to electronic music and techno, the general consensus is that it depends on the specific content and intention. If the lyrics promote un-Islamic values like promiscuity, drug use, or violence, then listening to such music would be considered haram.
However, electronic music itself is not haram. The musical instruments and sounds used in electronic and techno music are produced electronically, so they are not like traditional instruments. As long as the content and lyrics are halal and do not conflict with Islamic values, then purely instrumental electronic music and remixes should be permissible to listen to.
Some scholars argue that music that arouses desire or promotes sinful behavior should be avoided. But if the music has a good purpose, for example, to relax your mind or energize your workout, and the content is halal, then it may be allowed in moderation. As with many things, intention and moderation are key.
It ultimately comes down to your personal interpretation and the guidance of your local imam or scholar. Many young Muslims do listen to electronic and techno music at events like music festivals or nightclubs.
Some traditional scholars still forbid music altogether, but more progressive scholars argue that if the music is halal and promotes positive feelings, it should be allowed and seen as a modern art form.
If you have doubts, it is best to avoid it altogether. But using your best judgment, if the music relaxes or inspires you and contains no haram elements, then electronic music and techno can absolutely be compatible with an Islamic lifestyle.
The most important thing is that it does not distract you from your faith or promote sinful behavior. If you start to become obsessed with the music or let it negatively influence you, then it’s time to turn it off.
As with many things, moderation and intent are key. If you go into the experience with a pure heart, open mind, and desire for creative expression, then there’s a good chance you’ll come out the other side unscathed. However, if you use the music as an excuse to engage in actual haram behaviors, that’s another story.
At the end of the day, you have to search within, follow your moral compass, and make the choice that allows you to strengthen your faith while also embracing new cultural experiences.