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Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam

Siddiq Osman Noormuhammad

The Burda of Hadrat Ka'b bin Zuhair Rady Allahu 'Anhu

The three most famous versifiers among the sahaba (companions) were Hadrat Hassaan bin Thabit, Hadrat Ka'b bin Malik and Hadrat 'Abdallah ibn Rawaha Rady Allahu 'Anhum. After Hadrat 'Abdullah ibn Rawaha Rady Allahu 'Anhu was martyred at Mu'ta, another poet, Ka'b bin Zuhair who previously used to satirize against the Muslims, now accepted Islam and recited an ode which he had especially composed for the occasion. It is know as Baanat Su'aad and has been included in the kitab (book) titled Baaqatun 'Atirah (The Perfumed Bouquet, p. 199-201) by Imam As-Sayyid Muhammad bin 'Alawi al-Maliki. It is his longest qasida with 58 verses all of which rhyme in the letter "laam", hence it is a "laamiyyah". Four of these verses have become so popular that they are quoted by many scholars in their books. Their transliteration and translation is:

Inna'r Rasula lasaifun yustadaau bihi

Muhannadun min Suyufillahi maslulu

Fee fityatin min Quraysh-in qaala qaailuhum
Bibatni Makkata lamma aslamu zulu

Zaalu fama zaala ankaasun walaa kushufun
'Indalliqaai walaa meelu ma'aazeelu

Shummul 'araaneeni abtaalun labusuhum
Min nasji Dawud-a fi'l hayjaa saraabeelu

The Messenger a light is, source of light,

An Indian blade, a drawn sword of God's swords,

Amid Quraysh companions. When they chose
Islam in Mecca's vale, men said, "Be gone!"

They went, not weaklings, not as men that flee,
Swaying upon their mounts and poorly armed,

But heroes proud and noble of mien, bright-clad
In mail of David's weave for the encounter.

(Translation by Martin Lings, p. 314).

When Hadrat Ka'b had finished reciting the poem, our beloved Prophet Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam drew off his burda (cloak) and put it over his shoulders in appreciation, and it became the most valuable piece of clothing ever since, informs Imam Shihabuddin as-Suhrawardi (passed away 632 A.H/1235 C.E) in his spiritual classic 'Awaarif u'l Ma'aarif (The Illuminative Knowledge of the Spiritual Masters, p. 158).

For this reason, the Baanat Su'aad is called the original "Burda", distinct from the famous Burda tu'l Madeeh of Imam Sharafuddin Muhammad al-Busiri (608-695 A.H/1212-1296 C.E), who also received a Burda from the noble Prophet Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam in a dream after he had composed a qasida in his praise.

After listening to the Baanat Su'aad in which the Muhajireen (Emigrants) had been praised by Hadrat Ka'b, the beloved Prophet Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam agreed with the Ansar (Helpers) that it was only fair that he should versify on them too. Hadrat Ka'b obliged by composing a "raaiyyah" in praise of the Ansar with 33 verses all rhyming in the letter "raa" whose opening verse is:

Man sarrahu karamu'l hayaati falaa yazal
Fee miqnabin min saalihi'l Ansari

Whoever loves a life of generosity, doesn't leave
The horsemen of the virtuous from the Ansar

Hadrat Ka'b bin Zuhair Rady Allahu 'Anhu composed many qasaaid, all of which have been presented alphabetically in his Diwan (Collected Poems), beginning with the qasaaid that rhyme in the letter "alif'". Imam Abu Sa'id al-Hasan al-Husayn al-Sukkari (212-275 A.H/827-888 C.E) has written a sharh (appreciation) of this Diwan, published by al-Maktabatul 'Arabiyyah in Cairo.

Another famous Diwan of a sahabi (companion) is the Diwan Ka'b ibn Malik al-Ansari Rady Allahu 'Anhu. The Diwans classify the qasaaid (poems) by sadru'l bayt (the first word of the opening verse), qaafiyah (rhyme) and bahr (poetical meter). The most popular poetical meters at that time were at-taweel, al-baseet, al-kaamil and ar-rajaz; while al-khafeef, al-waafir, and al-mutaqaarib were also used. When we go through these Diwans, we come to the inevitable conclusion that qasaaid (religious poetry) really and truly flourished in the time of our beloved Prophet Muhammad Mustafa Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam.

Mawlaaya Salli wa Sallim daaiman abadaa
'Alaa Habibika Khayril khalqi kullihimi

Allahumma Salli wa Sallim 'alayh

O Lord! Bestow blessings and peace for and evermore
On Your Beloved, the best in all creation.

O Allah! Bestow blessings and peace on him.

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