Site Map Header

Ottawa Citizen Atricles Tab

Ottawa Citizen Logo

July 10, 2013

Question:  Why is that in so many faiths, music plays an important role?

Divine revelation has been heard since antiquity primarily in two modes. The first is speech, as the spoken word of God; the second is music, which is often conveyed as an accompaniment to the prophetic voice.

Like divine revelation itself, music is a vital form of inspiration; scripture, music and worship lend themselves naturally to one another. Although in the West, scripture and prayers are usually read, Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches perform the Byzantine and Gregorian chants respectively. Hymn-singing is found in most Protestant denominations, except the most fundamental. In the Middle East and South Asia, prayers and religious texts are usually chanted.

Religious practitioners are usually selective in their preferred musical expression. The music must suit the dignity, reverence and spirituality of the sacred. Fundamentalists and discriminating listeners of all religious stripes are usually antithetical to certain types of western popular music as having a legitimate place in the worship service. This statement applies particularly to the “heavy metal,” “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll” musical brand, not indiscriminately to all forms of western music.

In the Baha’i faith, no prohibition exists on either listening to or performing music, be it of instrumental or voice expression. On the contrary, music is highly praised in our sacred writings. It is permitted during any part of feast days or holy days. In Baha’i temples, however, only a cappella music is permitted.

The Baha’i sacred writings recommend that musical instruction be an integral part of the elementary school curriculum. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921) (“Servant of Glory”), the son of the Prophet-Founder Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), suggests that music helps to develop the latent talents in children.

He said further: “Music is one of the important arts. It has great effect upon human spirit ... Musical melodies are, therefore, those peculiar effects produced by, or from, vibration. However, they have the keenest effect upon the spirit. In sooth, although music is a material affair, yet its tremendous effect is spiritual, and its greatest attachment is to the realm of the spirit.”  
-  Jack McLean

Printed in the The Ottawa Citizen July 10, 2013
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Home     Contact   Site Map    Web Support

© The Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Ottawa, Canada