Islam's position on poetry
Fatwa No: 91021

Question

The question is about Islam and poetry. From Quranic verses and some Hadeeth it seems that the general attitude of Islam was to discourage poetry, which was at its peak when Quran was being revealed, although the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, might have encouraged some particular poet (like Hassan Ibn Thaabit) at some point of time. However some people claim that the Prophet in fact encouraged poets and he was a champion of poetry (in general) and these people narrate some reports in the favour of their claim.
The question is which view is the correct one? In other words what stance in general does Islam take towards poetry?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. We ask Allaah to exalt his mention as well as that of his family and all his companions.

Poetry is a type of speech, what is good in it is good and what is bad in it is bad, so poetry is not blamed for it essence, but it is its content that matters. Ibn Qudaamah may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: 'There is no difference of opinion that poetry is permissible, this is the view of the companions and scholars  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them. Poetry is needed in order to know the Arabic language and use it as evidence when interpreting the Quran, and in order to know the Words of Allaah and the sayings of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ).'

Many companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them recited poetry before the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) this is indeed mentioned in many narrations reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them and mentioned by other reporters of Prophetic narrations. It is confirmed that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) ordered Hassaan  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him to recite poetry for him.

The texts in the Quran did not dispraise poets and the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) did not defame the poets. It is only the poets who lied and exaggerated who were dispraised. Usually, the poets tell lies, slander chaste women and defame innocents, so that is why they are dispraised in their totality, but those who did not do so, were not dispraised. Allaah Says (which means): {And the poets - [only] the deviators follow them. Do you not see that in every valley they roam? And that they say what they do not do? Except those [poets] who believe and do righteous deeds and remember Allaah often and defend [the Muslims] after they were wronged.}[Quran 26:222-227]. Moreover, the Sunnah did not dispraise poetry as a whole but it only dispraised reciting too much of it to an extent that it prevents someone from reading the Quran, following the Sunnah and seeking religious knowledge, or when it is erotic poetry that include courting women and so forth. For more benefits, please refer to Fatwa 86790

Allaah Knows best.

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