Poetic expression of the Holy Prophet and his companions

Athar Ahmad, Student Jamia Ahmadiyya UK
Ryan Pradipta Putra | Unsplash

A common criticism levelled against the Promised Messiahas is related to his writing of poetry, which some of his opponents argue disqualifies him from prophethood. However, this perspective overlooks the fact that even our beloved master, the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa expressed himself in poetic verse on certain occasions.

In the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, and indeed even before his advent, Arabian society demonstrated a deep affinity for poetry. It was a vital channel for expressing thoughts and emotions.

Hence, it has been narrated that the Holy Prophetsa said:

إنَّ مِنَ الشّعرِ حِكمَةً‏

“In some poetry, there is wisdom.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-adab, Hadith 6145)

Poetry has long been celebrated as a form of artistic expression that captures the beauty of language and emotions. Authentic narrations indicate that the Holy Prophetsa enjoyed certain forms of poetry, specifically those that praised Allah the Almighty or reminded people of the life of the afterlife.

Hence, ‘Amr ibn ash-Sharid reported that his father said:

“As I rode behind the Prophetsa, I recited to him a hundred poetic verses, composed by Umayya ibn Abi as-Salt. Whenever I recited a verse to him, the Prophetsa said to me: “Recite more” until I had recited a hundred to him.” The Prophetsa then said: ‘He was surely near to embracing Islam!’” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab ash-shi‘r)

Many of the companions of the Holy Prophetsa possessed a remarkable talent for poetry. They would recite eloquent verses that captured the essence of their faith and their deep admiration for the Holy Prophetsa. Their poetic expressions not only served as a form of artistic expression, but in reality, they were a means to convey their love, respect, and unwavering loyalty to the Holy Prophetsa and the teachings of Islam. Their poetry continues to inspire and uplift believers to this day, showing the love, loyalty and obedience of the early companions towards Islam and its Messengersa.

This article will explore a selection of these eloquent verses, delving into their profound beauty and significance.

Exemplifying sacrifice and unwavering commitment in the path of Allah

It is narrated by Jundab bin Sufyanra that in one of the battles, a finger of Allah’s Messengersa was wounded and began to bleed. Upon  this, he said:

‏هَلْ أَنْتِ إِلاَّ إِصْبَعٌ دَمِيت

وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ مَا لَقِيت‏

“You are just a finger that has been injured and suffered in the way of Allah.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-jihadi was siyar, Hadith 2802)

This couplet reflects the Holy Prophet’ssa understanding of the significance and purpose of his mission, which was to spread the message of Islam. The Prophetsa recognised that his personal sacrifices, including physical pain or injury, were part of the greater cause of propagating the message of Allah and upholding His guidance.

By referring to his bleeding finger as being “in Allah’s cause,” the Prophetsa emphasised the importance of remaining steadfast and resolute in the face of hardships and sacrifices for the sake of Allah. He demonstrated that personal suffering and injuries endured in the pursuit of righteousness and the fulfilment of one’s responsibilities should be borne with patience and perseverance.

Immense bravery of the Holy Prophetsa at the battle of Hunayn

Abu ‘Ishaq narrated that a man asked Al-Bara: “O Abu ‘Umara! Did you flee on the day (of the battle) of Hunayn?” Al-Bara replied, while I was listening, “As for Allah’s Messengersa, he did not flee on that day. Abu Sufyan bin Al- Harith was holding the reins of his mule and when the pagans attacked him, he dismounted and started saying,

أَنَا النَّبِيُّ لاَ كَذِب

أَنَا ابْنُ عَبْدِ الْمُطَّلِب

“I am a prophet. I am not a liar. I am the son of Abdul Muttalib.” On that day, nobody was seen as braver than the Prophet. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Maghazi, Hadith 3042)

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, writes about this couplet:

“The Holy Prophetsa said that

أَنَا النَّبِيُّ لاَ كَذِب

أَنَا ابْنُ عَبْدِ الْمُطَّلِب

“That is to say that I am the Promised Prophetsa whose protection is eternally promised. I am not a liar. That is why I do not care if you are three thousand archers or thirty thousand. And O polytheists! Seeing this boldness of mine, do not mistake me for God, I am a human being, and I am the grandson of your chief Abdul Muttalib.” (Tafsir-e-KabIr, Vol. 6, p. 409)

This couplet showcases the immense bravery and courage of the Holy Prophetsa. When on the occasion of the battle of Hunayn, the enemy unexpectedly attacked in the narrow valley of Hunayn. The Holy Prophetsa not only moved forward with great courage and bravery in the face of the enemy’s invasion and barrage of arrows, but also identified himself and announced his status to the enemy – most of whom did not even recognise him – by reciting the couplet mentioned above in the hadith.

Martyrdom of Hazrat Khubaibra bin ‘Adiyyra

Hazrat Abu Hurairara narrated:

Allah’s Messengersa sent ten people to bring the enemy’s secrets, and Khubaib Al-Ansari was one of them. Ubaidullah bin Iyad told me that the daughter of Al-Harith told him that when they gathered (to kill Khubaib Al-Ansari) […], he said in verse:

وَلَسْتُ أُبَالِي حِينَ أُقْتَلُ مُسْلِمًا * عَلَى أَيّ شِقّ كَانَ لِلَّهِ مَصْرَعِي

وَذَلِكَ فِي ذَاتِ الإِلَهِ وَإِنْ يَشَأْ * يُبَارِكْ عَلَى أَوْصَالِ شِلْوٍ مُمَزَّع

“When I am being martyred in the cause of Islam as a Muslim, I care not as to which flank I fall upon after being martyred; all of this is for the sake of God; And if my God so wills, He shall bless my every severed limb.”

Then Ibn Al-Harith killed him, and The Messengersa of Allah informed his companions of the deaths of those (ten men) on the very day they were killed. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab at-tawhid, Hadith 7402)

When Hazrat Khubaib bin ‘Adiyyra got captured in the incident of Raji‘, the chieftains of Quraish, out of sheer enmity, couldn’t resist but execute to Hazrat Khubaibra. The people of Banu Al-Harith took him to an open field to execute him. The standards of love and devotion of Hazrat Khubaibra were of such magnitude, that prior to his martyrdom, he articulated his sole wish as the opportunity to engage in voluntary prayers before his Creator. Hazrat Khubaibra offered two rak‘at of salat, with the permission of Quraish, in front of them, and then fearlessly leaned forward, reciting the couplets mentioned above in the hadith.

The martyrdom of Hazrat Khubaibra is a powerful reminder of the resilience and unwavering commitment of believers in the face of adversity. His example continues to inspire and motivate Muslims to stand firm in their faith, even in the most challenging of circumstances.

The demise of the Holy Prophetsa

One of the greatest Arab poets was Hazrat Hassan bin Sabitra, a companion of the Holy Prophetsa who used poetry as a powerful medium to praise the Holy Prophetsa and defend Islam. With his poetic skills and unwavering devotion, Hazrat Hassan bin Sabitra left a lasting legacy as one of the most prominent poets of Islam.

The status of Hazrat Hassan bin Sabitra can be understood from the following narration. It was narrated by Hazrat Aishara that:

“Allah’s Messengersa used to set up a pulpit in the mosque for Hassan. He would stand upright upon it, paying tribute to Allah’s Messengersa” – or she said – “to defend Allah’s Messengersa. And Allah’s Messengersa said: ‘Indeed Allah has aided Hassan with the Spirit of Holiness when he defends or pays tribute to Allah’s Messenger.” (Jami‘ at-Tirmidhi, Kitab al-adab ‘an rasulullahsa, 2846)

Hazrat Hassanra said many famous and magnificent couplets. But the couplets he said at the demise of the Holy Prophetsa are full of admiration, affection and devotion, which wonderfully depict his and the companions’ feelings for the Holy Prophetsa.

The Promised Messiahas also greatly loved these couplets of Hazrat Hassanra. As it is mentioned:

“Once, the Promised Messiahas was walking alone in the mosque in the neighbourhood of his house, known as Masjid Mubarak, and was humming something. Tears flowed from his eyes. A sincere friend came from outside and heard that he was reciting the couplet of Hazrat Hassan bin Thabitra, which he had written on the demise of the Holy Prophetsa:

کُنتَ السَّوادَ لِنَاظِرِي فَعَمِيَ عَلَيَّ النَّاظِر

مَنْ شَآءَ بَعْدکَ فَلْيَمُتْ فَعَلَيْکَ کُنْتُ اُحَاذِر

“O my Prophetsa! You were the pupil of my eye. So, my eyes are now blind after your death; now, whoever dies after you may die. For I only feared your death.”

The narrator states that when I saw the Promised Messiahas weeping like this and walking alone in the mosque, I got worried and asked what the matter was and what shock Huzooras had received. The Promised Messiahas said, “I was reciting this couplet of Hassan bin Thabitra at that time, and I wished that I had been the one who [originally] recited this couplet.” (Seerat-e-Tayyibah, by Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra, pp. 27-28)

In conclusion, the faith-inspiring couplets of the Holy Prophetsa and his companionsra stand as timeless reminders of their unwavering commitment to Islam and their profound connection with Allah.

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