Poetry is the voice, wording, and expression of the truth and essence of humankind, their love, excitement, trouble, grief, and joys, the expression of their sensing and evaluation of existence and the beyond, through the tongue of feelings and emotions in an open or hidden way. From another point of view, we can see it as the heart’s feeling of things and events in its own way, feelings’ making their own interpretation; a specific evaluation of humankind and the universe with respect to the outward realm and what is behind it by means of the conscience; and the interpreting and sounding out by consciousness and cognition—in spite of their essential functions—of these senses, feelings, and considerations sometimes more or less in conformity with reality, and sometimes in the tow of dreams and imaginings.– M. Fethullah Gulen
History and origins
Beginning with the migration of Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina (A.D. 622), also known as the Hijrah, the qasida or ode was a sharp contrast to the sacred Quran. Writers at the time of pre-Islamic poetry were considered to be lacking the knowledge and authority necessary to be writing such poetry, thus leading this period of time to be called the “Age of Ignorance” (Jahiliyyah). This time period caused tension amongst the early Islamic world, since the ode style of writing was seen as profane to the sacred text of the Quran. Islamic poetry is very important and it is heritage passed generation to generation. These poems and features examine Muslim faith and Islamic culture and address important events, holidays, and occasions such as Ramadan. These poets explore a range of spiritual, literary, and political concerns from the 6th century to the present day. Also, Islamic poetry is found centuries ago. Islamic poetry is different in many ways like cultural, Traditions, Literature, etc. Hashem stated, “Islamic religious poetry has been composed in a wide variety of languages”. (Deen) poetry is a very important thing in the Islamic religion because poetry has equality of beauty to the Islamic religion. Also, poetry use in many different languages around the world. Most importantly, poetry, which had once been shunned for representing the ideals of paganism, was brought into the service of Islam. Islamic art has always retained its intrinsic quality and unique identity. Just as the religion of Islam embodies a way of life and serves as a cohesive force among ethnically and culturally diverse peoples, the art produced by and for Muslim societies has basic identifying and unifying characteristics. Hashem stated, “Islamic art is a modern concept created by art historians in the 19th century to facilitate categorization and study of the material first produced under the Islamic peoples that emerged from Arabia in the seventh century” (Deen).
Islamic poetry in different languages
- In Arabic poetry, the qasida (ode) is considered by scholars to be one of its most distinguishing aspects. originating around 500 bc, it is also considered to be fundamental to the development of pre-Islamic poetry. It is composed in monorhyme having between fifteen and eighty lines. The qasida contains three subtopics or recurring themes; the nasib or the story of a destroyed relationship and home, the fakhr which portrays self-praise for a tribe or oneself, and the rahil which is a journey into the desert involving camels. The qasida also involves biographical anecdotes called akhbar, which shows stories of revenge-taking and blood-sacrifice necessary to go through a rite of passage. The major components of the akhbar are the recurring themes of blood-revenge, initiated by the death of a father or loved one, and the “arrested development” of a person during their youth.
- Example of a nasib poem by Labid ibn Rabiah:
Effaced are the abodes,
brief encampments and long-settled ones;
At Mina the wilderness has claimed
Mount Ghawl and Mount Rijam.
The torrent channels of Mount Rayyan,
Their teachings are laid bare,
Preserved as surely as inscriptions are
preserved in rock,
Dung-darkened patches over which,
since they were peopled, years elapsed,
Their profane mouths and sacred ones
have passed away.
They were watered by the rain
the spring stars bring,
And on them fell the rain of thunderclouds,
downpour and drizzle…
- The common theme of pre-Islamic Arabic poetry is the description of Bedouin life, the stories of rites of passage and sacrifice, depicted through imagery and the use of metaphors. This was mostly oral in composition until the third century.
- Bengali poetry, originating in the 15th century, depicts the themes of internal conflict with the nafs, Islamic cosmology, historical battles, love and existential ideas concerning one’s relationship with society. This search for meaning that is present in most Bengali poems leads to the frustration depicted by poets through their dark and melancholy tones. Frustration is not pessimism, which according to scholars, some readers can misinterpret from the negative tones throughout Bengali poetry. The recurring theme of ideological values rather than societal ones is also present. The historical works of Shah Muhammad Sagir, Alaol, Abdul Hakim, Syed Sultan and Daulat Qazi mixed Bengali folk poetry with Perso-Arabian stories and themes, and are considered an important part of the Muslim culture of Bengal. Modern Bengali poetry is considered to be not rhetorical and romantic in composition.
- Persian poetry originates in the modern-day countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Tajikistan, and Pakistan, along with some areas in India during the tenth century. Genres present in classical Persian poetry vary and are determined by rhyme, which consists of a vowel followed by a single-rhyming letter. The most common form of Persian poetry comes in the ghazal, a love-themed short poem made of seven to twelve verses and composed in the monorhyme scheme.
- The qasida is another genre of Persian poetry that depicts the themes of spiritual or worldly praise, satire, or the description of a patron. In regard to Islamic poetry, the most common form of a qasida is in the form of praise of Muhammad, along with people related to him. These religious qasidas emphasize the power and beauty of Allah from different points of views. Qasidas end in a series of anaphoras.
- The use of visual poetry throughout Persian history helps readers visually understand the emotions portrayed by the poets through arranging letters and phrases in various shapes related to the message or central theme of the poem.
- In Punjabi poetry, the central theme is the internal conflict caused by worldly problems, along with existential ideas presented by the poet. Another theme present throughout Punjabi poetry is the paradoxical idea of life and how although wealth and knowledge is presented to a person, it is that wealth and knowledge that can distance them from the real meaning and truth of life.
- Punjabi poetry is written in a Perso-Urdu style with some Arabic and Persian vocabulary. The topics of Punjabi poetry range from romances to satires, because they are mostly written by villagers and those influenced by the village lifestyle.
- Turkish poetry
- Urdu poetry
- In English, Islamic poetry now tends to be free-form (unrhymed). Current Muslim poets in English include Rafey Habib, Joel Hayward, Dawud Wharnsby, and the late Daniel Moore.
Genres of Islamic poetry
- Shi’r musal (free of rhyme, no adherence to rhyme or composed of different rhyme)
- Spoken Word
- Sufi poetry
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia