Friday, May 25, 2007

Prophet Muhammad and Poetry appreciation

There has long been a great tradition of spiritual poetry in the world of Islam. From the time of the Blessed Prophet Muhammad, when his companions used to recite poetry with his approval, until our present day, Muslims have sought to discover the truth of the maxim, "In some poetry there is wisdom." - Prophet Muhammad.

And look what has been contributed in terms of spiritual wisdom and truth of the reality by the famous muslims poets such as Jalaluddin Rumi, Hafiz, Amir Khusroo, Allama Iqbal, Jami, Attar, Omar Khayyam, Iraqi, Ibn Arabi, Mahmud Shabistari, Al Hallaj, Yunus Emre, Saadi and so many! They have given birth to the finest forms of poetry in human history.

"God is beautiful and He loves beauty." proclaimed the holy Prophet Muhammad. Fine Poetry is the expression of beauty in beautiful manner.

In his article titled, Singing Rhymes and Poems by Adil Salahi published in Arab news mentions:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) appreciated poetry, and admired fine poetry that steered away from exaggeration and self- indulgence. It is only to be expected that someone like the Prophet, who had a fine style that fully expressed the intended meaning in a short statement, should appreciate poetry and be moved by fine expression.

Commenting on a contemporary poet of his time by the name Labeed, the Prophet said “The most truthful word said by a poet is Labeed’s: ‘Indeed everything other than God is false.’” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad and Al-Tirmidhi.)

Labeed was a fine poet who achieved wide fame in pre-Islamic days, with one of his better poems being posted inside the Kaabah. Only poems of the best order earned this honor. Indeed, only ten poems were so posted. That Labeed’s poem earned that privilege was testimony of his excellence. Labeed was still alive at the advent of Islam and he soon embraced the new faith and was a good Muslim. Indeed Umar ibn Al-Khattab sent him to Kufah in Iraq to educate people there about Islam.

But the Prophet did not allow poetry that indulged in superlatives to be recited in his presence, particularly if it conflicted with Islamic values. Al-Rubayyi’ bint Mu’awwidh reports: “The Prophet visited me on the night of my wedding, sitting not far from me. We had a number of maids playing the tambourine and singing poems in praise of my people who were killed in the Battle of Badr. One of them said in her singing: ‘Among us is a Prophet who knows what will happen in future.’ The Prophet said to her: ‘Do not repeat this, but continue with what you were saying earlier.’” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Ahmad and Abu Dawood.)

... because he did not like to be personally praised in front of an audience. The occasion was a wedding, when many people are present with girls singing and people enjoying themselves. He felt it inappropriate that he should be personally praised on such an occasion. He was very modest indeed. read the full article here.

// From another article by Adil Salahi, Appreciating Fine Poetry:

It is often suggested that Islam does not approve of poetry. This is due to two Qur’anic verses ... (details here) ... but this is no condemnation of poets or poetry.

But the Prophet also appreciated poetry that often expressed human wisdom, even when such poetry was by a non-Muslim poet. Amr ibn Al-Sharid mentions a report by his father who says: “I was riding behind the Prophet on the same mount when the Prophet asked me: ‘Do you memorize any poetry by Umayyah ibn Abi Al-Salt?’ When I answered in the affirmative, he asked me to recite. I quoted one line, and he asked for more. He kept asking for more until I had recited one hundred lines.” (Related by Muslim, Ahmad, Al-Tirmidhi and Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad.)

It should be mentioned that Umayyah ibn Abi Al-Salt was a pre-Islamic poet who included much wisdom in his poetry. Much of what he said is universally acceptable as he extolled moral values and enshrined ideals of justice, freedom, courage and truth.

When the Prophet’s companions were doing together something of importance, or facing danger, they might chant some poetry to express their unity of purpose. This is something common to all people, as we see the fans chanting support to their team during a match. One of the more difficult times the Prophet’s companions went through was when the Arab unbelievers colluded with the Jews and marched toward Madinah, pledged to annihilate Islam altogether.

The Prophet ordered a moat to be dug outside Madinah, to deny the attacking army easy entry. The Prophet shared in digging it like everyone else, because the digging had to be completed within a short period of time. As they were engaged in this great effort, the Prophet’s companions chanted a rhyme saying: “Had it not been for God’s grace, we would not have known His guidance, and we would have neither given charity nor prayed. Our Lord! Grant us serenity in this difficult time, and steady our footsteps should we engage our enemy in battle. It is the other party that is the aggressor; but we will never yield to their persecution.” As they repeated this rhyme, the Prophet would raise his voice twice repeating its last word, abayna, which means “we will never yield.”

But this was not the only rhyme the Prophet’s companions chanted as they were digging the moat. Another one repeated particularly by the Ansar may be translated as follows: “We are the ones who have given firm pledges to Muhammad that we will strive for God’s cause as long as we live.” The Prophet answered them with rhyming phrases, but not in prose, saying: “The only true life is that of the hereafter. My Lord, grant your bounty to the Ansar and the Muhajireen.” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and Ahmad.) credit
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