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Even the Shaafis who regard it mubah (permissible, not Sunnat) on marriage occasions, advocate abstention as the best course. Hence, Shaikh Suharwardi (rahmatullah alayh), who was a very senior Shaafi authority as well as the Founder of the Suharwardiyyah Sufi Order, says in Awaariful Na-aarif:

“Although there is scope (permissibility) in the Shaafi Math-hab (on marriage occasions) for the duff and the shabaabah (primitive reed flute), shunning these two is aula
(best and preferable). It is best to adhere to what is more cautious and to emerge from khilaaf (difference of opinion).”

The difference referred to here is the explicit prohibition stated by the Hanafi Math-hab and other Fuqaha. Even among the Shaafi Fuqaha there are many who claim that the duff is haraam in functions other than marriage and circumcision. In Kaffur Ruaa’, Allamah Ibn Hajar Makki states: “A group of our As-haab (Ulama) say that the duff) is haraam on occasions other than marriage and circumcision.”

The Shaafi permissibility of the duff (not of musical instruments in general), is also shackled by several conditions which Allaamah Ibn Hajr Makki (rahmatullah alayh) explains in his Kaffur Ruaa’. These conditions are:

(1) Only females are permitted to strike the duff on marriage occasions. It is not permissible for men to beat the duff. Since beating the duff is exclusively a female act, men who imitate them are mal-oon (accursed) according to the Hadith. All the Ahaadith which mention the duff explicitly state that it was beaten by females, mostly little girls. No where is it recorded by the Salf-e-Saaliheen that males were also involved in beating the duff.

(2) There should not be a musical tone in the beating. The rules of music should not be employed. It should be struck with the flat of the palm in the style of the Arabs, not with the finger. In otherwords, it should not be struck to create music in the way the bid’ati qawwaals and faasiq singers strike their tablahs and other musical drums.

(3) The duff may be beaten for a short while in a marriage function. In view of the fact that all these conditions have evaporated, the duff in our time is not permissible even according to the Shaafi’ Math-hab. Stating this verdict, Haafiz Ibn Hajar Makki (a Shaafi authority) citing Maawardi, avers: “However, in our age it (the duff) is Makrooh (i.e. forbidden and sinful) because it leads to ignorance and villainy.”

Allaamah Ibn Hajar moreover adds that five centuries have lapsed since Maawardi had declared this prohibition. There is now (i.e. in Ibn Hajar’s time) greater evil prevalent, hence the prohibition is emphasised to a greater degree.

After Ibn Hajar, another five hundred years have lapsed. Is there any difference of opinion on the evil, vice, immorality and moral depravity which are rife on earth in this 21st century? If even the primitive duff was declared prohibited by the Shaafi Faqeeh, Maawardi, a thousand years ago despite the initial permissibility of his Math-hab, what ruling should be formulated for the wide range of shaitaani musical instruments of the east and west in today’s libertine world?

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