Living Islam Today
A Magazine for Muslim Americans
Vol. 1 Issue 1              Spring 1420/ 2000

Poetry

IFNA

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate Source of All Mercy

          The Blessed Prophet once said, "In poetry there is some wisdom" (Bukhari) With this maxim we present for you examples of poetry gleaned from the pages of Muslim history. Some of the finest poetry in the classical world was written by Muslims, especially between the eighth and fifteenth centuries. The two following poets wrote in this era.

Abu Nuwas:

On Allah’s Forgiveness

Stunned by the great amount
of my sins,
I saw hope, Lord,
and laid it side by side
With that great mercy
that is only Yours,
And measured both with a ruler
up and down.
My sin is great,
but now I know,
O Lord,
That Your forgiveness
is even greater!

 

     We see that the speaker is "stunned" with the amount of sin that he has accumulated. Even though he saw his sin, he also saw "hope."  This may seem strange considering the sin that he sees.  Because of Islam, however, the speaker also sees a chance in the mercy of Allah.  
     The idea of equation is used when the sin is "laid (down) side by side with that great mercy..."  This is interesting because it shows that Muslims are aware of Allah's mercy.  Where there is sin, there is Allah's mercy waiting for you.
     The forgiveness of Allah is great.  This does not justify the sins, for the speaker states, "but now I know."  In other words, awareness has been achieved thereby bringing about a sense of regret.

     The use of questions at the beginning draws the reader in quickly.  "The song of the bird" brings to mind a typical answer, a bird's song connotes nature, ergo, this is poetry.  However, the last word of the line is mind.  This brings to thought a sense of logic, ergo, something that's anti-poetic.
     The next answer is almost paradoxical, for we know that our world won't be "eternal."  The author then gives us a clue: "The value of the bird becomes clear" the clarity is a dichotomy. 
     Reason and nature are connected; this world and the hereafter are also connected.  The discovery is realizing that both "parts" come from the "Divine rose"- the ultimate union of reason and beauty: Allah.

Abdel Rahman Jaami:

The Meaning of Poetry

What is poetry?
The song of the bird of the mind.
What is poetry?
The likeness of the world of
eternity.
The value of the bird
Becomes clear through it,
And one discovers whether it comes from the oven
In a bath house or a rose garden.
It composes poetry from the Divine rose.

 

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