Islam and Poetry

By Mufti Bilaal Cassim
Posted: 8 Rajab 1423, 15 September 2002


Q.) What does Islam say about poets and any type of poetry? Is poetry other than romance allowed in Islam? Please give me a detailed answer about the poetry and poets. [Ali]

A.) Ubayy Ibn Ka'ab, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports Rasulullah (s.a.w) as having said; "Poetry contains (much) wisdom." (Mishkaat with Mirqaat Vol. 9 Pg. 122 Ashrafiyyah).

Mullah Ali Qari (r.a), a renowned Muhaddith explains that poetry containing truth, wise words, advices, useful parables, etc. that are of benefit to mankind, as well as those containing praises of Allah and Nabi Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, promoting abstinence from worldly luxuries, exhortation towards the Aakhirah and other aspects of Deen are indeed praiseworthy. Poetry devoid of these things is malignant and disliked. (e.g. songs containing lewdness or depictive of sins etc.) The words of the Qur'an (viz. "(As for) the Poets, only the misguided follow them. Can you not see their (aimless) wandering in the valleys, their statements devoid of action?" As-Shu'araa: 224-226) and the Ahadith maligning poetry refer to these kinds of poetry.

Thereafter he mentions that poetry is a form of speech and must be judged by the same standard. i.e beneficial poetry is like beneficial speech and useless and evil poetry like useless and evil speech) (Mirqaat VOl.9 Pg. 122 Ashrafiyyah).

From this principle we can deduce that recital or composition of romantic poetry is permissible (and even rewarding) only if it is for one's spouse with the intention of promoting love and tenderness and providing it is free of lewdness or obscenity, much the same as a loving or kind word. When not for one's spouse, it is not permissible.

And Allah Ta'ala Knows Best