Misbah ud Din Utmani
A wedding ceremony in the Mamoond (Chengai) tehsil of Bajaur abruptly came to a halt when an unexpected incident unfolded. The brother of the bride took it upon himself to disrupt the festivities, bringing the joyous occasion to a screeching halt.
In an act driven by his interpretation of Islamic teachings, he abruptly ceased the music and proceeded to demolish all the musical instruments used by the local artists. Among the affected musicians was “Rabab Nawaz” Imran Ustad, a highly skilled artist and a devoted father of six residing in Tehsil Khar, Bajaur.
A Family’s Sole Dependence Shattered in an instant
Imran Ustad, who had spent three decades enchanting audiences with his captivating performances at wedding ceremonies, recounted the distressing incident to TNN. He expressed his deep disappointment, explaining that he and his fellow musicians were invited to provide musical entertainment, but were met with aggression instead. Without any dialogue or warning, the man approached them and began violently kicking and destroying their instruments.
These instruments held immense significance for Imran Ustad and his entire family, as their livelihood depended on them. Losing over sixty thousand rupees worth of equipment, they were not only financially affected but also emotionally distraught.
Imran Ustad lamented the ordeal, stating, “We arrived with the sole intention of spreading happiness and could never fathom causing harm, yet we were subjected to such mistreatment.”
An anonymous local resident disclosed that the individual responsible for breaking the musical instruments belonged to a religious group: “He had requested his brother to end the music program, but the brother continued the concert for over an hour and a half, which infuriated him. Consequently, he resorted to breaking the instruments.”
In the aftermath of the incident, the local community rallied together, collected donations, and presented them to the affected artists as a gesture of apology. It was recognized that the act of breaking artists’ instruments constituted an act of extremism.
In a related development, the Tehsil Salarzai Jirga had taken a decision last year to prohibit music in the area. The decree stated that anyone organizing a musical event or inviting talented singers from outside the village would face a complete social boycott. Moreover, the residents would abstain from participating in their joyous and sorrowful occasions, and the scholars would refuse to officiate their weddings.
Rashid Ahmad Khan, the president of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Singers Association and the first singer to obtain a Ph.D. in music, condemned the incident that occurred in Tehsil Mamoond, Bajaur. He described it as a grave injustice and expressed that no amount of condemnation could suffice.
He firmly asserted that music is a symbol of peace and that no one has the right to forcefully destroy artists’ instruments. Such acts, he emphasized, amounted to extremism.
Rashid Khan called upon the district administration and the District Police Officer of Bajaur to take decisive legal action against the individuals responsible for the incident and to ensure that the affected local artists are duly compensated for their losses.
Music: Is it Forbidden?
The question of whether music is permissible or forbidden became a subject of discussion. Maulana Khanzeb stated that Pashtuns have their own cultural practices intertwined with Islamic teachings.
He highlighted several areas where Pashto customs and Islamic principles align, such as purdah (veiling), modesty, halal and haram (permissible and forbidden), hospitality, rights of neighbors, and the Jirga system.
Maulana Khanzeb explained that music is not a matter of disbelief or faithfulness. Within Islam, there are two different perspectives on music: one holds that it is entirely forbidden and has no place within the religion, while the other tradition, represented by Imam Farabi and other scholars, permits conditional music.
According to this viewpoint, Maulana argued, as long as the music is accompanied by righteous poetry and does not encourage sinful or immoral behavior, it can be justified. Qawwali, a form of devotional music, finds validation within the realm of Sufism, he added.