Generally speaking, we would like to stress that some people state that TV is haram to watch and others prohibit all types of music equating music which uphold virtue with that which call for vice and immorality. Such type of people has their own justification that is usually not based on sound evidences, and clear-cut proofs and hence their justifications can’t be accepted or deemed as a legal opinion to follow. As far as the two issues raised in the question are concerned, we are to follow the opinions of scholars who are really mujtahids and base their views on legal evidences while putting the reality of people into consideration.
Concerning watching TV, the eminent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states the following: “TV, radio, magazines and newspapers are used for many purposes. We cannot qualify them as good or evil, lawful or unlawful. It depends on the way they are used and on the quality of programs and information they present. For instance, a weapon used by a person in fighting in Allah’s Cause can be used by another person to commit crimes. Therefore, it appears that a single tool can be used for various purposes.
This is applied to the case at hand. TV, like radios and newspapers, greatly contributes to mental, spiritual, psychological, ethical and social enhancement but it can also be greatly corrupting. This goes back to the quality of the programs it presents.
In brief, I can say that TV as well as all means of media presents good and evil and what is lawful and unlawful. The Muslim in this case is to judge the situation by himself. He can watch TV when it presents good and Islamically interesting program and put it off when it presents the otherwise. He can watch it to have updated news and follow other cultural, religious educational, and other lawful programs. Kids also can watch cartoon and other benefiting programs.
What is not permissible is to watch corrupting films that are full of obscene scenes, or films that give full vent to the Western idea of boy-girl friendship and extramarital affairs, etc. These films only aim at teaching vices and they encourage drinking wine and licentious dancing.
That is why many religious people do not allow these devices to enter their homes for they cause greater harm than its benefits and so they are considered unlawful especially that they have great effects on souls, minds and feelings.
There is no doubt that a great caution should be demonstrated regarding these devices. Yet the problem is that these means of media have become indispensable, given the good effects they sometimes have in imparting knowledge. That is why, as I have said, one should be very cautious in using them, i.e., whenever there are good stuff being presented on TV, there is nothing wrong in watching it, but a good Muslim should put it off the moment it presents licentious materials. The same is true for magazines.
Besides, if a person sees that he cannot exercise restraint or apply methods of regulating when and how he makes use of these means of media, then it’s better for him not to have them at home, in a way of blocking channels of evil. That’s my opinion on this issue.
I would like to add that the greatest responsibility falls on the state authorities in general and on those who are in charge of mass media in particular. Allah Almighty would question them as regards all the messages they convey to people and all the programs presented via means of media.
May Allah guide us to the right path!”
As for Islam’s stance on music, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, has stated the following: “Music is an issue that has been hotly debated by scholars of the past and the present. While many of them have been generally inclined to condemn all forms of music, with the singular exception of ad-duff (tambourine) in weddings, quite a few of them have taken a more positive approach of considering only music containing sensual, pagan, or unethical themes or subliminal messages as being categorically forbidden.
The latter view seems to be more consistent with the general nature of Islam, which is undoubtedly a complete way of life that caters to all of the genuine human instincts and needs within permissible limits. Thus, to say that all music is forbidden in Islam does not seem to agree with the balanced approach of Islam to issues of human life and experience.
Traditions often cited by the first group scholars to justify condemnation of all musical instruments and music, according to some scholars, are considered as either spurious, or phrased in such way solely because of their associations with drinking, dancing, and sensuality.
While everyone agrees that all forms of music that contain pagan, sensual themes, or subliminal messages are clearly forbidden, the latter group of scholars considers all forms of music free of such themes and messages as permissible.
As a matter of fact, we know from the authentic traditions that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, not only allowed music in the weddings but also listened to girls singing: While listening to girls singing on such an occasion, he interrupted them only once when they sang the following verse, “In our midst is a prophet who knows what will happen tomorrow”; whence, the Prophet, peace be upon him, told them, “Cut this sentence out, and continue singing what you have been singing earlier.” There is nothing in the sources to indicate that the above permission is limited to the occasion of wedding, as some people tend to think.
In light of these, according to the last mentioned group of scholars, music that is deemed to be free of un-Islamic and unethical themes and messages, the same is true of musical instruments so long as they are not used for the above, have been considered as permissible.
But we have to stress that Islam clearly prohibits mixed dancing of males and females.”