Poetry in Islam (Hadith No. 953)
Narrated Abu Huraira:
That once Allah’s Apostle (p.b.u.h) said, “Your brother, i.e. ‘Abdullah bin Rawaha does not say obscene (referring to his verses): Amongst us is Allah’s Apostle, who recites His Book when it dawns. He showed us the guidance, after we were blind. We believe that whatever he says will come true. And he spends his nights in such a way as his sides do not touch his bed. While the pagans were deeply asleep.“
The text in maroon/brown is from a poem by Abdullah ibn Rawaha, which he wrote about the Prophet (SAW). The original verses in Arabic:
وَفِينَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ يَتْلُو كِتَابَهُ إِذَا انْشَقَّ مَعْرُوفٌ مِنَ الْفَجْرِ سَاطِعُ أَرَانَا الْهُدَى بَعْدَ الْعَمَى فَقُلُوبُنَا بِهِ مُوقِنَاتٌ أَنَّ مَا قَالَ وَاقِعُ يَبِيتُ يُجَافِي جَنْبَهُ عَنْ فِرَاشِهِ إِذَا اسْتَثْقَلَتْ بِالْمُشْرِكِينَ الْمَضَاجِعُ
They’re beautiful, no? Describing the Prophet (SAW) so perfectly. It also shows us the sort of observations Companions used to make, the things they would notice about him. Like:
And he spends his nights in such a way as his sides do not touch his bed,
While the pagans were deeply asleep.
Reminds me of the verses from Surah al-Furqan about the Slaves of the Compassionate (`Ibaad-ur-Rahman). From them:
وَالَّذِينَ يَبِيتُونَ لِرَبِّهِمْ سُجَّدًا وَقِيَامًا
And those who spend the night in worship of their Lord, prostrate and standing. [Al-Furqan: 64]
تَتَجَافَىٰ جُنُوبُهُمْ عَنِ الْمَضَاجِعِ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُمْ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا
Their sides forsake their beds, to invoke their Lord in fear and hope.. [As-Sajdah: 16]
Prophet (SAW) approved of this sort of poetry by saying “your brother does not say obscene”. Meaning, he’s not doing anything wrong, or being immoral by saying these poetic verses.
Ruling on Poetry:
The ruling on poetry is the same as the ruling on speech or words, of which it is a part. The well known, general principle is that which is narrated in Mursal ‘Urwah ibn al-Zubayr:
Poetry is like speech: what is good is good, and what is bad is bad.
If the poetry involves words of love to a specific woman who is not permissible for the poet, or encourages sin, then it is haraam poetry.
But if it includes remembrance of Allah, blessings upon the Messenger of Allah, encouraging good qualities and good conduct, then it is poetry that is mustahabb and recommended.
If it includes material that is neither makrooh nor mustahabb, rather it includes permissible matters, then it is permissible poetry, and this is the basic, original ruling concerning it, that it is permissible.
Ibn Qudaamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
There is no difference of opinion concerning the permissibility of poetry. This was stated by the Sahaabah and the scholars. End quote.