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Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article "Analyzing Muhammad’s Love-Hate relationship with Poets"

(Note: Credit goes to http://www.islamhelpline.com/view_answers.asp?QAID=12496 for refuting this article)

Bassam Zawadi




This article is in response to http://..uk/Muhammad/Inconsistent/poetry.html 

Sam Shamoun said:

The Quran looks down upon those who follow poets:

And as to the poets, those who go astray follow them. S. 26:224 Shakir

Muhammad had some pretty harsh things to say about poetry:

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:
The Prophet said, "It is better for a man to fill the inside of his body with pus than to fill it with poetry." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 175)

Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah’s Apostle; said, "It is better for anyone of you that the inside of his body be filled with pus which may consume his body, than it be filled with poetry." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 176)

He even had certain poets killed who lampooned him through poetry.


Abu `Afak was one of B. (tribe) `Amr b. `Auf of the B. `Ubayda clan. He showed his disaffection when the apostle killed al-Harith b. Samit and said:

Long have I lived but never have I seen
An assembly or collection of people
More faithful to their undertaking
And their allies when called upon
Than the sons of Qayla when they assembled,
Men who overthrew mountains and never submitted.
A rider who came to them split them in two (saying)
"Permitted", "Forbidden" of all sorts of things.
Had you believed in glory or kingship
You would have followed Tubba`.

The apostle said, "Who will deal with this rascal for me?" Whereupon Salim b. `Umayr, brother of B. `Amr b. `Auf one of the "weepers", went forth and killed him. Umama b. Muzayriya said concerning that:

You gave the lie to God's religion and the man Ahmad!
By him who was your father, evil is the son he produced!
A hanif gave you a thrust in the night saying
"Take that Abu `Afak in spite of your age!"
Though I knew whether it was man or jinn
Who slew you in the dead of night (I would say naught)

(The Life of Muhammad, A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Karachi Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth Impression 1995), p. 675)


Muslims  (Isaiah 56:5: Muslim is the future believers' name.  Sons and daughters titles will be "no more") Kill Abu ‘Afk and Asma

Before the victory of Badr the Muslims  (Isaiah 56:5: Muslim is the future believers' name.  Sons and daughters titles will be "no more") used to fear the Madinese non-Muslims, for they were still too weak to return any aggression inflicted upon them. But when they returned victorious from Badr, Salim ibn ‘Umayr took upon himself the job of getting rid of Abu ‘Afk, a tribesman of Banu ‘Amr ibn ‘Awf. The latter was a poet who composed verses disparaging Muhammad and the Muslims  (Isaiah 56:5: Muslim is the future believers' name.  Sons and daughters titles will be "no more") and inciting his own tribe to rise against them. Even after Badr, Abu ‘Afk still composed and disseminated abusive verse. Salim attacked Abu ‘Afk in his sleep in his own yard and killed him. Likewise, ‘Asma’, daughter of Marwan, of the tribe of Banu Umayyah ibn Zayd, used to insult Islam and the Prophet by encouraging bad feeling against the Muslims  (Isaiah 56:5: Muslim is the future believers' name.  Sons and daughters titles will be "no more"). The Battle of Badr did not make her reconsider. One day, ‘Umayr ibn ‘Awf attacked her during the night while she was surrounded by her children, one of whom she was nursing. ‘Umayr was weak of sight and had to grope for her. After removing the child from his victim, he killed her; he then proceeded to the Prophet and informed him of what he had done. When her relatives returned from the funeral, they asked him whether he had killed her. "Indeed so," said ‘Umayr, "You may fight me if you wish. By Him Who dominates my soul, if you should deny that she composed her abusive poetry, I would fight you until either you or I fall." It was this courage of ‘Umayr that caused the Banu Khutmah, the tribe of ‘Asma’s husband, to turn to Islam. Having converted to Islam but fearing persecution at the hand of their fellow tribesmen, some of them had hidden their conversion. Henceforth, they no longer did so. (Muhammad Husayn Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, tran. Isma'il Raji al-Faruqi [American Trust Publications, USA 1976; Malaysian edition by Islamic Book Trust], p. 243; online edition; bold and underline emphasis ours)


Also among them was ‘Abdallah b. Khatal, a member of the Banu Taym b. Ghalib. The Messenger of God ordered that he should be killed only for the following reason: He was a Muslim, and the Messenger of God sent him to collect alms, sending with him one of the Ansar. With him went a mawla of his, also a Muslim, to serve him. He halted at a resting place and commanded the mawla to slaughter him a goat and make him a meal; then he went to sleep. When he woke up, the mawla had done nothing for him; so he attacked him and killed him. He had two singing girls, Fartana and another with her. The two used to sing satire about the Messenger of God; so the latter commanded that the two of them should be killed along with him

Also among them were ‘Ikrimah b. Abi Jahl and Sarah, a mawla of one of the sons of ‘Abd al-Muttalib. She was one of those who used to molest the Messenger of God in Mecca

‘Abdallah b. Khatal was killed by Sa‘id b. Hurayth al-Makhzumi and Abu Barzah al-Aslami: the two shared in his blood. Miqyas b. Subabah was killed by Numaylah b. ‘Abdallah, a man of his own clan…

As for Ibn Khatal’s two singing girls, one was killed and the other fled. The Messenger of God later was asked to grant her a promise of safety, and he did so. [As for Sarah, he was asked to grant her a promise of safety, and he did so.] She lived until someone in the time of ‘Umar b. al-Khattab caused his horse to trample her at al-Abtah and killed her. Al-Huwayrith b. Nuqaydh was killed by ‘Ali b. Abi Talib.

According to al-Waqidi: The Messenger of God commanded that six men and four women should be killed. Of the men, [al-Waqidi] mentioned those whom Ibn Ishaq named. The women he mentioned were Hind bt. ‘Utbah b. Rabi‘ah, who became a Muslim and swore allegiance; Sarah, the mawla of ‘Amr b. Hashim b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib b. ‘Abd Manaf, who was killed on that day; Quraybah, who was killed on that day; and Fartana, who lived until the caliphate of ‘Uthman. (The History of Al-Tabari, translated b Michael Fishbein [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany 1997] Volume VIII, pp. 179-181; bold and underline emphasis ours)


Yet Muhammad was very inconsistent at this point since he praised one specific poet named Hassan bin Thabit and encouraged him to lampoon the pagans. He even dared say that Gabriel assisted Hassan in composing these poems!

Narrated Al-Bara:
The Prophet said to Hassan, "Lampoon them (the pagans) in verse, and Gabriel is with you." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 174)

Narrated Al-Bara:
The Prophet said to Hassan, "Abuse them (with your poems), and Gabriel is with you (i.e., supports you)." (Through another group of sub narrators) Al-Bara bin Azib said, "On the day of Quraiza’s (besiege), Allah’s Apostle said to Hassan bin Thabit, ‘Abuse them (with your poems), and Gabriel is with you (i.e. supports you).’" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 449)

Thus, Hassan was inspired to recite mock poems against Muhammad’s enemies!

Narrated Masruq:
Hassan came to Aisha and said the following poetic Verse: "A chaste pious woman who arouses no suspicion. She never talks against chaste heedless women behind their backs." ‘Aisha said, "But you are not," I said (to ‘Aisha), "Why do you allow such a person to enter upon you after Allah has revealed: ‘…and as for him among them who had the greater share therein?’" (24.11)

She said, "What punishment is worse than blindness?" She added, "And he used to defend Allah’s Apostle against the pagans (in his poetry)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 280)

Narrated ‘Aisha:
Hassan bin Thabit asked the permission of Allah’s Apostle to lampoon the pagans (in verse). Allah’s Apostle said, "What about my fore-fathers (ancestry)?" Hassan said (to the Prophet) "I will take you out of them as a hair is taken out of dough."

Narrated Hisham bin ‘Urwa that his father said, "I called Hassan with bad names in front of ‘Aisha." She said, "Don't call him with bad names because he used to defend Allah’s Apostle (against the pagans)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 171)

Here Muhammad’s only concern is not with Hassan reciting poetry, a thing condemned in the Quran, but with Hassan mocking Muhammad’s ancestors!

Narrated Hasan:
Sa’id said: Umar passed by Hassan when he was reciting verses in the mosque. He looked at him. Thereupon he said: I used to recite verses when there was present in it the one who was better than you (i.e. the Prophet). (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 41, Number 4995)

Muhammad’s inconsistency is glaringly obvious.

My Response:

The stories of the killing of Abu Afak and Asma are not reliable as proven here. https://www.answering-christianity.com/karim/forgeries_about_killing.htm


Poetry in its essence is not what is forbidden in Islam. It is poetry that that does nothing but promotes and instigates indecency, illegal lusts and desires, and inspires one towards transgression of the boundaries of Islam. (Just like how Kab ibn Ashraf did, read this article http://www.bismikaallahuma.org/Muhammad/kaab.htm)

It is indeed true that the Messenger of Allah (saws) did not like poets and poetry, which sensationalized and encouraged the pursuit of the world and its alluring lusts. But he encouraged those poets whose poetry praised Allah, and contained words of wisdom which related to the guidance to Allah.


Sahih Muslim

Book 028, Hadith Number 5609.
Chapter : Not known.

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger(may peace be upon him)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. Abd Bakr has reported it with a slight variation Of wording.


But there is good poetry. 


Sahih Bukhari

Volumn 008, Book 073, Hadith Number 166.
Narated By Ubai bin Ka'b : Allah's Apostle said, "Some poetry contains wisdom."

Sahih Bukhari

Volumn 005, Book 059, Hadith Number 509.
Narated By Salama bin Al-Akwa : We went out to Khaibar in the company of the Prophet. While we were proceeding at night, a man from the group said to 'Amir, "O 'Amir! Won't you let us hear your poetry?" 'Amir was a poet, so he got down and started reciting for the people poetry that kept pace with the camels' footsteps, saying: "O Allah! Without You we Would not have been guided On the right path Neither would be have given In charity, nor would We have prayed. So please forgive us, what we have committed (i.e. our defects); let all of us Be sacrificed for Your Cause And send Sakina (i.e. calmness) Upon us to make our feet firm When we meet our enemy, and If they will call us towards An unjust thing, We will refuse. The infidels have made a hue and Cry to ask others' help Against us." The Prophet on that, asked, "Who is that (camel) driver (reciting poetry)?" The people said, "He is 'Amir bin Al-Akwa'."
Then the Prophet said, "May Allah bestow His Mercy on him." 


Chapter 036, Hadith Number 006 (236).

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.


Thus it is not poetry per say which is disliked in Islam, but what is said in those poetry.  If the poetry encourages the believers to believe in Allah and follow His Commands, it would be considered good poetry and absolutely encouraged in Islam. But the poetry which do not inspire faith in Allah, nor strengthen ones belief in Allah’s Oneness, nor kindle one’s heart to love Allah; but rather glamorize lust and the pursuit of the world, etc.;  such poetry is disliked and discouraged in Islam.

Thus in conclusion, it is not poetry which is disliked or discouraged, but what will determine its permissibility is what message the poetry is portraying to its readers.

Sam Shamoun responded back to this article and then I responded back to him here https://www.answering-christianity.com/bassam_zawadi/rebuttal_muhammad_poetry.htm 



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