Celebrations In Islaam
Recommended Acts On Eid Days

Beating the Duff1
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Singing accompanied by the beating of duff is an approved type of lahw (vanity) for women during the Eed. `Aa'ishah (radiAllahu `anha) said:
"Allaah's Messenger saws entered (my house) when I had two little girls singing the songs of Bu`aath2 and beating on a duff; so he lay down on the bed and turned his face away. Then Abu Bakr came in and scolded me saying, 'The flutes of Shaytaan (the Devil) played in the presence of Allaah's Messenger?' So Allaah's Messenger saws turned toward him and said, Leave them alone, O Abu Bakr! Every people have a `Eed, and this is our `Eed."3

     Al-Baghawee commented on this hadeeth by saying:

"Bu`aath is a famous battle of the Arabs, in which there was a great victory for the Aws over the Khazraj. The war between the two tribes went on for one hundred and twenty years - until Islaam came. The two girls were singing poetry that described fighting and courage, the mention of which is supportive to the Deen.
      But as for songs that involve mentioning sins, announcing prohibited matters, and displaying evil deeds - it is all prohibited. And it is impossible that anything like that would ever take place in the Prophet's saws presence without him objecting adamantly to it.
      And as for his saying this is our `Eed, it provides the reason for displaying joy in the two `Eeds as being a symbol of the Deen, because they are different from other days."4

     From this hadeeth, and other subsequent evidence, it is important to note the following:
  1. The Prophet saws did not object to Abu Bakr's statement that the duff, being a musical instrument, is a flute of Shaytaan. This is taken as an approval from him saws of this general rule, which conforms with other authentic evidence prohibiting the use of musical instruments.
     
  2. He saws modified Abu Bakr's (radiAllahu `anhu) understanding by indicating that there is an exception to this general rule on specific occasions.
     
  3. The occasions in which Islaam permits women to beat on the duff are the following:
    1. The two `Eeds,
    2. weddings, and
    3. to celebrate the arrival from travel of a respected individual.
    The evidence for the third kind is the hadeeth about the woman who came to Allaah's Messenger saws and said, "O Allaah's Messenger, I have made a vow, if Allaah brought you back safe, to beat the duff over your head." Allaah's Messenger saws sat down and said, Fulfill your vow!5
     
  4. On these occasions, hearing the beating of duff is permitted for men, for Allaah's Messenger saws did so and approved of it, as is seen in the above hadeeth. However, it is not permissible for men to listen to women's singing, because this is a unjustifiable source of great fitnah. The Prophet's saws listening to two little girls does not constitute an evidence in this regard.
     
  5. Because of the general texts prohibiting the use of musical instruments in general, the only musical instrument that the women are permitted to use is the duff; deriving any analogy from this to other instruments is wrong, and is in clear violation of simple principles of fiqh and reason.
     
  6. This privilege of using the duff is not granted to men on any occasion - as will be discussed below.
     
  7. The permission given to sing during the `Eeds applies only to acceptable poetry that encourages good deeds and behavior. It cannot be extended to the songs calling to sins and disobedience, as is common in many cultures (see the earlier citation from al-Baghawee).
     

     As indicated above, there are no reports that the male companions beat on the duff. Thus, beating on the duff is allowed for women because it is typical of them, and Allaah's Messenger permitted them to do it, but he saws forbade men's imitation of women and vice-versa. This view is upheld by the majority of the scholars; for instance, Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (r) said:
"The Prophet saws permitted some types of rejoicing on the occasion of weddings and their like. He permitted the women, as well, to beat the duff during weddings and festivities. As for the men, during his time, not one of them would beat the duff nor clap their hands. Rather it is confirmed in the Two Saheehs that He saws said:
Clapping the hands is for women; and raising the voice with tasbeeh6 is for men.
And:
Allaah (SWT) curses those men who imitate women, and those woman who imitate men.
And singing and beating the duff are of the acts typical of women. Because of this, the righteous Salaf labeled the man who did that, effeminate."7

     And Ibn Qud_mah (radiAllahu `anhu) said:
"As for beating it (the duff) for men, it is makruh8 in all situations. It was only done by women; and if men do it, they would be imitating the women; and the Prophet saws has cursed those men who imitate the women."9

     Ibn Hajar al-Haythamee, commenting on Ibn Qudaamah's words, said:
"It is obvious that his words mean its prohibition (for men)."10

     And Ibn ajar al-`Asqalaanee said:
"The hadeeth that says, 'Announce (masculine plural command) the weddings and beat (masculine plural command) the duff for it,' is used by some people as an evidence that beating the duff is not specific to women. However, this hadeeth is unauthentic; and the authentic hadeeths (in this regard) give that permission to do that for women. Men cannot be included in that because of the general prohibition for men to imitate them."11

     Al-Mubarakpuree (r) agreed with this statement from Ibn Hajar, and he added:
"The fuqahaa' (scholars) have said that the duff is that which has no bells, as Ibn al-Hammaam mentioned... Likewise, the permissible singing during weddings is specific to women; it is not allowed for men."12

     And Ibn Katheer (r) said:
"... Nothing is excluded from that prohibition of musical instruments, except beating the duff for the young girls - during `Eed days, at the arrival of a respected individual from travel, and during weddings - as has been indicated in the hadeeths, and as has been established in various places. And permitting that in some situations does not lead to permitting it in all situations."13

     Common in our times are the ugly scenes prophesied by Allaah's Messenger saws in which men and women gather to entertain themselves with musical instruments and other prohibited acts.14 May Allaah (SWT) guide the Muslims to what is good for them in both lives.
  1. A musical instrument similar to a tambourine, though it has no bells or cymbals. - Back to text 
     
  2. Pre-Islaamic war lore.  - Back to text 
     
  3. Al-Bukhaaree, Muslim, Amad, and Ibn Maajah. - Back to text 
     
  4. Sharh us-Sunnah 4:322. - Back to text 
     
  5. Recorded by Abu Daawood from the way of `Abdullaah Bin `Amr (radiAllahu `anhu); authenticated by al-Albaanee in Irwaa' ul-Ghaleel. It was also narrated, with more details, by Buraydah (radiAllahu `anhu) and recorded by at-Tirmithee. - Back to text 
     
  6. Saying subhaanallaah (may Allaah (SWT) be exalted). - Back to text 
     
  7. Majmoo` ul-Fataawee 11:565. - Back to text 
     
  8. A hateful act. - Back to text 
     
  9. Al-Mughnee 9:174. - Back to text 
     
  10. Kaff ur-Ru`aa` 35. - Back to text 
     
  11. Fat ul-Baaree 9:226. - Back to text 
     
  12. Tuhfat ul-Awathee 4:210. - Back to text 
     
  13. Commentary on Ibn ul-Qayyim's book, "Al-Kalaamu fee Mas'alat is-Samaa`". - Back to text 
     
  14. Al-Bukhaaree, Abu Daawood, al-Bayhaqee and others. - Back to text 
     
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