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Siddiq Osman Noormuhammad

Good Poetry Encouraged But Frivolous Poetry Condemned

Sahih al-Muslim, Vol. 4, devotes a whole book on the subject of poetry (Kitab al-Shi'r) from which we learn that frivolous poetry is prohibited while good, wholesome poetry is commended as the following three Ahaadith show.

(5609) Abu Hurairah reported Allah's Messenger (Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam) as saying: It is better for a man's belly to be stuffed with pus which corrodes it than to (stuff) one's mind with frivolous poetry. Sayyidina AbuBakr has reported it with a slight variation of wording. (Muslim) (p. 1221)

(5602) 'Amr bin Shareed reported his father as saying: One day when I rode behind Allah's Messenger (Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam), he said (to me): Do you remember any poetry of Umayya bin Abu as-Salt? I said: Yes. He said: Then go on. I recited a couplet and he said: Go on. Then I again recited a couplet and he said: Go on. I recited one hundred couplets (of his poetry). This Hadith has been reported on the authority of Sharid through another chain of transmitters but with a slight variation of wording. (Muslim) (p. 1220)

(5603) 'Amr bin Sharid reported on the authority of his father that Allah's Messenger (Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam) asked him to recite poetry, the rest of the Hadith is the same but with this addition: "He (that is Umayya bin Abu Salt) was about to become a Muslim", and in the Hadith transmitted on the authority of Ibn Mahdi (the words are): "He was almost a Muslim in his poetry" (Muslim) (p. 1220)

When there is such overwhelming evidence from the life history of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam in support of good, wholesome, sound and beneficial poetry, it is easy to understand that verses 224 to 227 in Surah ash-Shu'ara of the Holy Qur'an deprecate only those poets who do not believe in Allah Sub'hanahu wa Ta'ala but commend those poets "who believe and do good deeds".

And as for the poets, the misguided ones follow them. Have you not seen how they wander about in every valley, And how they say what they do not practice? Except those who believe and do good deeds and remember Allah much, and vindicate themselves after they have been wronged; and those who act unjustly, will come to know to which (final) place of turning they shall return (after death). (26:224-227)

Imam al-Ghazali explains these verses in the Ihya' as follows:

"Allah says: And as for the poets, the misguided ones follow them. By this verse, only the infidel poets have been mentioned. It is not understood from this that good poetry has been banned". (Vol. 2, p. 214)

And according to Tafsir Jalaalain, that is the Commentary on the Qur'an by al-'Allamah Jalaaluddin Muhammad bin Ahmad al-Mahalli and Imam Jalaaluddin 'Abd-ir-Rahman bin AbiBakr as-Suyuti, the words "Except those who believe and do good deeds", refers to Muslim poets.

This should also convince us more and more that the blessed Hadith Shareef of the beloved Prophet Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam is a commentary on the Holy Qur'an Kareem and that without the Hadith, it is difficult if not impossible to understand the Word of Allah, the Glorified and the Exalted.

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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