THE SAYINGS OF SAYYIDINA RASOOLULLAH SALLALLAHU ALAIHE WASALLAM ON POETRY
It has been reported in ahaadith that Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam
heard and recited poetry. Those sayings are classed as poetry that have deliberately been
rhymed and composed according to the laws of poetry. It is certain that Sayyidina
Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam was not a poet. This is clearly stated in the
Quraan, in reply to the surprising accusations of the kuffaar (non-believers) that
he was a magician, or a mad person, naudhu billah. Regarding his being a poet the
Quraan clearly states, And We have not taught him (Muhammad sallallahu
alaihe wasallam) poetry, nor is it meet for him . . . . .
(Surah Yaseen, 69)
In a few instances where the sayings of Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam are found to be rhymed, this was not said deliberately and hence could not be called poetry. According to this humble servant in reality it is a miracle of Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam that he was not a poet. If a persons sayings rhyme naturally, and further he deliberately tries to improve it.
Then imagine how wonderful he can make it? But Allah Taala has granted Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam a much higher status, therefore his thought never wandered towards that. Many narrations have been reported on the praises and faults of poetry. In some it is stated that it is a good thing. In some it is prohibited and despised. A judgement between the two is also in a narration, that there is no good or bad in poetry itself. If the subject matter is good and beneficial, then poetry is a good thing. And if its effects are bad and detrimental and based on falsehood, then in the manner that the subject is prohibited or haraam or makruh, poetry will also be regarded as such. Even in the case where it is permissible, it is undesirable to indulge deeply in it. The author has mentioned nine ahaadith in this chapter.
Someone enquired from Aisha radiyallahu anha: Did Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam recite poetry?
She replied, He sometimes as an example recited the poetry of Abdullah ibn Rawahah (and sometimes of other poets). He sometimes recited this couplet of Tarfah:
Sometimes that person brings news to you whom you have not compensated.
(That means if one wants to know anything about a place, one will have to pay a person for obtaining information. A person has to be given money etc., for the journey in order to obtain information.
At times it may so happen that the news is received without having to spend anything. Someone comes and gives full news. Some of the ulama have written that this example given by Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam, that without any remuneration, he has given (humanity) the news of Jannah, Jahannum, Qiyaamah, particulars and information regarding the Ambiyaa alaihis salaam, the signs of the future etc.
Yet the kuffar (non-believers) do not appreciate this. In this hadith two poets are mentioned, Sayyidina Abdullah ibn Rawahah radiyallahu anhu a famous Sahaabi who accepted Islam before the Hijrah of Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam in the Battle of Muata. The second poet is Tarfah, a famous poet of Arabia. In the famous book of Arabic literature Sabah Muallaqah, the second Muallaqah has been written by him. He lived before the advent of Islam.)
Hadith Number 2
Abu Hurayrah Radiyallahu anhu reports that Rasulullah sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: "The most truthful couplet recited by a poet is that of Labeed bin Rabi'ah: 'verirly be aware, besides the Almighty everything else is futile'.
And Ummayyah bin Abis-Sault was about to accept Islaam".
Sayyidina Labeed Radiyallahu Anhu was a a famous poet. After accepting Islaam, he stopped composing poetry. Heused to say Allah Ta'ala has given me something better than poetry, and the Quran is enough for me. He is among the famous Sahabah, and attained the age of one hundred and forty, or more. The other part of the couplet is every gift must at some times come to an end.'.
Umayyah bin abis-saut was a famous poet, who expressed the truth in his poetry. He believed in qiyaamah. However, the mercy of the Almighty was not with him, and he was unfortunate not to accept Islaam. Sayidina Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam said regarding him: "His poetry accepted Islaam but his heart did not". A little more detail is given of him in hadith number eight.
Hadith Number 3.
Jundub bin Sufyaan Radiyallahu 'Anhu relates: "Once a stone hit the Mubaarak fingers of Rasulullah Sallallahu'Alayhi Wasallam and injured them, they became covered in blood. Rasulullah Sallallahu'Alayhi Wasallam thereupon recited this couplet: 'You are but a finger, no damage has overcome you, besides covering you in blood. This is not fruitless, for reward has been obtained in the path of Allah'".
A question may arise that how did Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam recite these couplets? An answer has already been given. Here a specific answer may also be given that this is called 'Rijz'-verses read on a battlefield-and not that of poetry. Some people have said that the compiling of one or two verses of poetry does not make one a poet, therefore this cannot be against the Qur-aanic aayah: .'And we have not taught him (Muhammad Sallallahu 'Alayhi wasallam) poetry, nor is it meet for him. . .' Surah 'Ya Seen, 68. Some have said that the last word of Damayti and Laqayti has a saakin and not a kasrah. In this case it will not be regarded as rhyming correctly. According to this humble servant, if this, explanation is given, that this was not the words of Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam but that of another poet, then no other explanation is necessary.
Waqidi says it is the words of Walid bin Walid. Ibn Abid Dunya has written in his
kitaab 'Muhasabatun Nafs' that these, were the words of Sayyidina Ibn Rawahah Radiyallahu
'Anhu. It is not impossible for two poets to compile the same verses, therefore it may be
possible that both may have said them. There is a difference of opinion as to when this
was said. The majority of the 'ulama say that it was at the time of the Battle Of Uhud.
Some are of the opinion that it was said before the hijrah.
Baraa ibn Aazib radiyallahu anhu was once asked, You all deserted Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam and ran away in the Battle of Hunayn? He replied, No, Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam did not turn away, except a few people in the army who were in a hurry (many of whom were from the tribe of Sulaym and a few newly converted youth of Makkah) turned away when the people of the tribe of Hawaazin began to shower arrows. Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam (with whom there naturally were the great Sahaabah radiyallahu anhum) was riding a mule Abu Sufyan ibn Al-Haarith ibn Abdul Muttalib radiyallahu anhu was leading it by its reins. Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam was reciting the following couplet:
Verily, without doubt I am a Prophet. I am from the children (grandsons) of Abdul Muttalib
Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu'Alayhi Wasallam mentioned his grand father ('Abdul Muttalib) instead of his father, because 'Abdul Muttalib had forecast to the kuffaar of Quraysh that they would be defeated. At this moment the forecast had been fulfilled. Some people say the reason of this is that the father of Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam passed away before his birth, therefore he was commonly known as Ibn 'Abdul Muttalib.
It is also said that because 'Abdul Muttalib was a famous leader, therefore Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu, 'Alayhi Wasallam mentioned his grandfathers name. Haafiz Ibn Hajar, has written this reason, that it was well known among the kuffar (non-believers) that a person would be born among the children of 'Abdul Muttalib, who would guide the people, and would be the Seal of all the Prophets. That is why Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam mentioned this relationship and reminded them of this well known fact The Ghazwah of Hunayn took place in the eigth year hijri. The tribes of 'Arabia were waiting for Makkah to be conquered before they accepted Islaam. If Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam conquered that city, he would overcome the non-believers and he would be obeyed without any fuss or question. If he could not conquer Makkah, he would not be able to overcome the non-believers. Finally when Makkah was conquered, the kuffaar of Hunayn and the outlying areas decided to test their fate.
A few tribes made a pact and decided to go to war at Hunayn, a place about ten miles
from Makkah in the direction of 'Arafah and Taa-if. A few experienced old people of these
tribes advised their people that war should not be waged against the Muslims. The
energetic young people did not heed their advice and said that, the Muslims had not yet
fought experienced soldiers, hence they were conquering many places. They may want to
attack us, therefore we should attack first. More than twenty thousand fighters were
assembled to wage war. When Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam received the
news of their preparations, he assembled an army of ten to twelve thousand fighters, in
which were included the Muhaajireen, Ansaars, and the newly converted Muslims of Makkah. A
group from among the kuffaar of Makkah who had not yet accepted Islaam were also included.
A few had joined the Muslims hoping they would receive booty and a few just to experience
how a battle is fought.
Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam left for Hunayn on the 9th of Shawwaal in the 8th year hijri. The Muslims had to pass a very narrow valley. The enemy had posted some contingents on the hills. When the Muslims passed there, they began showering arrows on them. This sudden attack shocked the Muslims and they began dispersing into different directions.
In the narration of lmaam Bukhaari RA., the Muslims began 'defeating the enemy at the beginning of the battle. The enemy scattered in all directions. The people began taking the booty. Sud- denly the enemy who were hiding in the mountains began attacking from all sides. The army then began dispersing in different directions in panic.
Besides the great Sahaabah, Sayyidina Abubakr Radiyallahu 'Anhu, Sayyidina 'Umar Radiyallahu 'Anhu, Sayyidina 'Ali Radiyallahu 'Anhu, Sayyidina 'Abbaas Radiyallahu 'Anhu, and some other Sahaabah Radiyallahu 'Anhum, none remained near Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam. In this tirm of difficulty, the islaam or faith of a few weak Muslims was at stake. Some began to shout, jeer and taunt. Some ran away and returned to Makkah and began relating the defeat of the Muslims to those people who had not accepted Islaam, or to those who had accepted Islaam hypocritically.
At this moment the Haa-shimi blood of Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam began to boil. He dismounted from his inule and began walking through this frightening scene and began saying: 'Annan Nabi laa kadhib', and began going towards the enemy. Sayyidina 'Abbaas Radiyallahu 'Anhu called the Muhaajireen, Ansaar, the companions of the tree (As-haabus Shajarah), by saying: 'Come here, where are you going?' As soon as they heard this call, this worried and distressed group returned with such love and enthusiasm, as a camel returns to its child.
As soon as the Muslims returned a fierce battle ensued between the two sides. Sayyidina
Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam took a handful of soil and stones etc. and threw it
in the direction of the enemy saying 'Shaa-hatil Wujuh' (The faces have become
distorted/disfigured). The scene of fierce battle remained for a few moments. The Muslims
who were distressed, now began defeating the enemy, who began running away from the
battlefield in such a manner that they did not care to look back, leaving their
possessions, wives and children etc. as booty for the Muslims. This event is written
briefly here. If one is interested, a detailed history book may be referred to.
It is very important that this factor be brought to notice. One should not create a doubt of perplexity after reading one or two hadith on an incident or subject. This is a sign of being lax in seeking facts. Complete details of an incident are many a time not fully covered in one or two hadith, nor is it the intention of the narrator to explain the complete incident. One should not draw ones own conclusion without fully obtaining all the details on the subject. Merely to express ones premature opinion is a sign of not knowing. In this same manner one should not come to an immature conclusion after reading a brief history on the Battle of Hunayn, or a few ahadith on this incident, and think that the whole group of the pious Sahaabah radiyallahu anhum, or all the soldiers from the force of about ten thousand ran away from the battlefield. Also besides a few Sahaabah radiyallahu anhum, no one remained with Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam.
This is contrary to the facts and against sound thinking. It would not have been difficult for the kuffar, who numbered more than twenty thousand to surround a few Muslims and kill them when some from their army had deserted. It is astonishing to hear from those who have experienced war, to make such derogatory statements, and become influenced and impressed by narrations where it is stated that Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam was left alone. An army is divided into five regiments. Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam positioned the army in their strategic positions. The front, right, left, middle (of which Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam was the commander) and the back.
All these regiments were in separate positions on the battlefield and each had its commander with its flag. The commander of the Muhajireen was Sayyidina Umar radiyallahu anhu, Sayyidina Ali radiyallahu anhu, Sayyidina Sad ibn abi Waqaas radiyallahu anhu, Sayyidina Usayd ibn Hudayr radiyallahu anhu, and Sayyidina Khabbab ibn Mundhir radiyallahu anhu, etc., were commanders of the other groups and were stationed at their strategic places. The front regiments consisted of the people of Banu Sulaym, whose commander was Sayyidina Khalid ibn Waleed radiyallahu anhu. This incident took place with this regiment. When they were passing through the valley, at the beginning the enemy began running away, as a result the Muslims thought they were victorious and began collecting the booty. Suddenly the enemy who were hiding in the mountains began showering arrows from all sides.
It was natural in this case for the Muslim army to be taken by surprise and scatter in different directions. This also made the other regiments frightened and caused a momentary chaos. This does not mean that the whole army began to run away. A person by the name of Abdur Rahman who was not a Muslim at the time says, When we attacked the Muslims at Hunayn, we began to push them back. They could not withstand our attacks and retreated even further. We carried on in this manner till we reached a person who was riding a white mule, and had a very handsome face. Many people were around him.
He saw us and said, Shaa-hatil Wujuh, Irjiu. After he said this we began to retreat and they overcame us. For this reason Sayyidina Baraa radiyallahu anhu says in the hadith mentioned previously in the Shamaail that Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam did not turn back, but a few impatient people who could not withstand the arrows, began fleeing. It is also stated that when this happened, Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam continued on a path on the right side. It should be pondered upon that at such a time when there is chaos, the people will not know where Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam is, and it was not possible for them to know which direction Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam had taken. At such a time a hundred people were left with Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam as mentioned in a narration.
At another time eighty people were left with Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam as stated in another narration. When he began to ride fast on the mule people gave way till only twelve men were left. After that only those four were left who were steering and holding the reins of the mule. When the mule could not move at the desired pace, Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam dismounted and took a handful of pebbles and went forward. This is the same that is mentioned in a narration of Sahib Bukhari that Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam was alone and no one was with him.
With this, if one predetermines that in this battle the people ran away, and also decides that besides Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam all the Sahaabah were defected, it is surely a sign that one does not know the full incident. Since there was chaos and verily many people were running away and a few people were happy about this (temporary) defeat as has been mentioned in detail in the events of this battle. One did not know where the other was, as it often happens at such times. For this reason Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam asked Sayyidina Abbas radiyallahu anhu, who had a loud voice to call the Muhajireen, Ansar, the people of the (tree), separately, so that on hearing the call, all would return to Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam.
In the second attack, the battlefield was in the hands of the Muslims. Anyhow on this
subject, that how many people were with Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam
at that time? There are many narrations and each one relates to a different activity. Even
the narration of Bukhari, where it is metioned that no one was with Sayyidina Rasoolullah
sallallahu alaihe wasallam is correct. When Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe
wasallam descended from his mule and went forward and threw at the enemy a handful of
pebbles or sand, all remained behind whilst Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe
wasallam stepped forward alone. It is not mentioned in any narration that, those who were
at any time near Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam defected.
Anas radiyallahu anhu reports that Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam went to Makkah for Umratul Qada. Abdullah ibne Rawahah radiyallahu anhu (throwing his sword over his shoulder and holding the reins of the camel of Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam) was walking ahead of him reciting these couplets: O non-believers clear his path (and leave today. Do not prohibit Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam from entering Makkah as you had done last year) for today we shall smite you. We will take such action against you that we will separate the brain from its body. And will make a friend forget a friend.
Umar radiyallahu anhu stopped him and said, O Ibne Rawahah, in the presence of Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam and the Haram of Allah you are reciting poetry?
Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam said, Leave him O Umar, these couplets are more forceful than showering arrows onto them.
In the sixth year after Hijri Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam intended to perform the Umrah and went to Makkah, but the kuffar stopped him and his companions at Hudaybiyyah. Among the clauses of the agreement between the two parties, it was agreed that Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam would perform the Umrah in the following year. According to the agreement Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam performed the Umrah in the month of Zul Qadah, in the seventh year after hijri.
The Hanafis say, this umrah is the first one to be made qadhaa. The name of this umrah
being Umratul Qadhaa also supports the view of the Hanafis. The Shafiees
and other Imaams hold a different view. This has been discussed in the first hadith. On
this journey Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam married Sayyiditina Maymunah
radiyallahu anha, performed Umrah with dignity and according to the agreement left Makkah
Mukarramah after three days and returned to Madinah Munawwarah.
Sayyidina Umar radiyallahu anhu taking into consideration the honour and respect for Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam and the sanctity of the Haram, prohibited Sayyidina Ibn Rawahah radiyallahu anhu from reciting couplets of poetry. Due to it being a local and temporary measure, and also a means of Jihad of the tongue, Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam did not prohibit it. It is related in a hadith that Sayyidina Kab radiyallahu anhu inquired from Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam that Allah Taala has despised poetry in the Quran. Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam replied, A Mumin makes Jihad with a sword and also with the tongue. This Jihad of the tongue is also like showering arrows. It is concluded from these ahadith that poetry is also a form of Jihad. In the manner that there are laws and conditions that govern Jihad, there are laws that apply to poetry too.
Jabir ibn Samurah radiyallahu anhu says, I attended the assemblies of Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam more than a hundred times, wherein the Sahaabah radiyallahu anhum recited poetry and related stories of the Jaahiliyyah (pre-Islamic era). Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam silently listened to them (and did not forbid them). At times he smiled with them.
If a humorous incident was mentioned then Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam also smiled, from which we find that the silence was not due to displeasure, but because of Baatini Tawajjuh (internal spiritual attention). Sayyidina Zaid ibn Thaabit radiyallahu anhu, a scribe of the Wahi (revelation) says, I was a neighbour of Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam. When the Wahi was revealed, he sent for me to write it down. When we discussed the world, Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam also discussed the world.
When we discussed the hereafter, Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam also discussed the hereafter. When we talked about food, he also talked about it. Whatever subject the Sahaabah discussed, Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam because of his kindness and tenderness towards people, joined them and showed his affections to them. In all his assemblies Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam did not only speak of religion, but spoke of other matters too. Discussing different topics was a means of increasing the love for Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam. It only one subject is discussed all the time, then many a time one becomes frustrated, especially for a stranger, who mostly comes for ones material needs. These discussions were a means to make strangers feel at ease.
Abu Hurairah radiyallahu anhu relates from Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam that the best words from among the poets of Arabia is that of Labeed, Verily be aware, that everything besides the Almighty Allah will perish.
Amr ibn Shareed radiyallahu anhu reports that his father said, I once accompanied Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam and sat behind him on a conveyance. I recited a hundred couplets of Umayyah ibn Sault to Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam. After reciting a couplet Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam said continue till I recited a hundred couplets. In the end Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam said, He (Umayyah) was close to accepting Islam.
The reason for this has already been mentioned. In his poetry Umayyah mostly mentioned the tauheed (the oneness of Allah), the hereafter, advice and the truth. For this reason Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam listened to his poetry and said that he was near to accepting Islam. Some of the Ulama have said that Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam said this on the couplet, O our Lord, all praises, affluence and superiority is only for You. None is more worthy of praises, nor greatness besides You.
Aisha radiyallahu anha says, Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam would place a mimbar (pulpit) in the Masjid for Hassaan ibn Thaabit, so that he stands upon it and recites poetry on the praises of, and on behalf of Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam, or said that he used to defend Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam (in reply to the accusation of the kuffar). Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam would say, May Allah assist Hassaan with Ruhul Qudus till he defends, or praises, on behalf of Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam.
Jihaad is observed at all times in different ways according to the time and circumstance. In the time of Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam one type of Jihaad was the tongue, by reciting poetry, etc. Replies were given and debates were held. Events of praise were composed. It was something like present day debates. Once a delegate from the Banu Tamim came with his poet Aqra.
They requested a debate in composing poetry and reciting praises. Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam replied that I was not sent to compose poetry nor recite praises, but nevertheless, let the debate take place. First their speaker stood up. Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam requested Sayyidina Thaabit ibn Qays radiyallahu anhu to reply to their speaker. Thereafter their poet stood up. Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam asked Sayyidina Hassaan radiyallahu anhu to reply to him. In both debates the Muslims were victorious. Their poet was the first to accept Islam. Reciting poetry was common in those days and it was widely written. It also had a great effect on the people.
This has been mentioned in the fifth hadith of this chapter. It is also stated in the
Sahih Muslim from Sayyiditina Aisha radiyallahu anha that Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu
alaihe wasallam said, Satire is more effective on the Quraish than showering arrows
on them. It has been narrated in Mishkaat with Istiaab that Sayyidina
Kab radiyallahu anhu enquired from Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam
regarding poetry. Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam replied, A
Mumin makes Jihaad with his sword, and also with his tongue. In another
narration on this incident it is reported, that, I swear by Allah, this poetry hits
them like an arrow.