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Why Did Lenin and Muhammad Hate Music?

Musical instruments, flutes, strings, and crucifixes! This command came with a warning: Muhammad is also supposed to have said that “on the Day of Resurrection, Allah will pour molten lead into the ears of whoever sits listening to a songstress,” for “song makes hypocrisy grow in the heart as water does herbage.” He warned that the Muslim community would one day experience times of tribulation, featuring “the swallowing up of some people by the earth, metamorphosis of some into animals, and being rained upon with stones.”

When his followers asked him when this would be, he answered: “When songstresses and musical instruments appear and wine is held to be lawful.” There would come a dark day, he said, when even some Muslims would “hold fornication, silk, wine, and musical instruments to be lawful.” (‘Umdat al-Salik r40.0)

It isn’t hard to see why the creators of martial polities and new, aggressively expansionistic political and societal systems such as Lenin and Muhammad would disdain music. For music is an expression of the human spirit – the very thing that these totalitarians were trying to master. And no music so fully expresses the anti-totalitarian impulse, and the dignity and value of every human person, than does jazz.