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Meaning of the word mazamir

Question

What is the meaning of the word ‘mizmar/mazamir’? Does it refer to wind instruments only or musical instruments in general?

 

Answer

The word ‘mazamir’ primarily refers to wind instruments.

However, it has come in several different usages in the Hadith.

1) Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) told Sayyiduna Abu Musa Al ‘Ash’ari (radiyallahu ‘anhu):

يا أبا موسى لقد أوتيت مزمارا من مزامير آل داود

(Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 5048 and Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 793)

 

The commentators explain that ‘mizmar’ in this Hadith means ‘A good voice’. ‘Allamah Nawawi (rahimahullah) further states, the root letters of this word i.e. زمر, means music. [وأصل الزمر: الغناء]. Hafiz Ibn Hajar Al ‘Asqalani (rahimahullah) writes, that ‘mizmar’ here refers to a ‘beautiful voice’ and originally it refers to an instrument. [i.e. any musical instrument] (والمراد بالمزمار: الصوت الحسن وأصله الآلة)

(Sahih Muslim with Al Minhaj, Hadith: 1849, Fathul Bari, Hadith: 5048)

 

2) Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (radiyallahu ‘anhu) became upset when two girls were singing in the home of Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) on the day of ‘Eid. Abu Bakr (radiyallahu ‘anhu) rebuked Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radiyallahu ‘anha) and said:

مزمارة الشيطان عند النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم

Hafiz Ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) writes, mizmar here means music or the tambourine…

مزمارة الشيطان بكسر الميم يعني الغناء أو الدف لأن المزمارة أو المزمار مشتق من الزمير وهو الصوت الذي له الصفير ويطلق على الصوت الحسن وعلى الغناء وسميت به الآلة المعروفة التي يزمر بها

(Fathul Bari, Hadith: 949, vol. 2 pg. 442)

 

The commentators have offered various other meanings of this word as well as its derivatives. Among them are: Wind instruments, wind instruments constructed from wood, instruments that are played on/blown into (آلة يزمر بها), music and the tambourine.

(Refer: An Nihayah Fi Gharibil Hadith, vol. 1 pg. 730/731, Majma’u Biharil Anwar, vol. 2 pg. 438,

 

Therefore, the word ‘mizmar’ is usually translated as ‘musical instruments’ as it includes all of the above, especially since the root word refers to music itself or [any musical] instrument as alluded to by Hafiz ibn Hajar (rahimahullah).

 

And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.

 

Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala

 

Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar