Suwar Series: Unveiling the Beauty that Lies Within – Part 2: Poetry
Those who love words and have a skill with them love the aroma of delicious poetry. They not only enjoy it, they consume it, devouring it hungrily as this is what they live on.
An expert on literature knows when he comes across a good piece of literature. It inspires him and grows his intellect. And when he comes across a type of literature which is unmatchable, his intellect is humbled. When you come across the beauty of Quraanic literature, then it is a totally different level of humility. You feel like submitting at the sheer awe of your Rabb’s beautiful selection of Words. Nothing seems as beautiful…
‘Umar RA, the second Khalifa, once asked the governor of Kufa, al Mugheerah ibn Sho’bah, to hear some poetry of the Islamic period. When Labeed (the famous pre-Islamic poet who had embraced Islam) was asked to recite, he inquired, ‘Of what he has been forgiven?’ – meaning from Jahiliyah. He was told, ‘No of what you have composed since the coming of Islam.’
Labeed departed then wrote down Surat’l Baqarah (and Ale ‘Imraan) on a sheet of parchment and brought it saying, ‘God has given me this in place of poetry.’ Upon hearing this, ‘Umar RA raised Labeed’s stipend by 500 dirhams.
(Ibn Qutaybah, Al Shi’r wa al Shu’ara, p.149)
In another narration, Qurtubi reports from Ibn Abdul Barr’s “Al-Isti’ab” that when ‘Umar RA asked Labeed to recite for him some of his poetry, Labeed began to recite al-Baqarah. “This is not what I asked you,” ‘Umar remonstrated. Labeed replied: “Well, I have given up saying poetry after Allah gave me al-Baqarah and Ale ‘lmran.” The reply pleased ‘Umar so much that he increased his state-allowance.
Let’s celebrate Surat’l Baqarah or Ale ‘Imraan next time we read it. If we truly understood it, we would be awestruck, humbled and so in love. SubhanAllah that is how they, may Allah swt be pleased with them, cherished His Words. May we be like them. Ameen.
And Allah swt knows best.