By S. Arshad, New Age Islam
27 June 2022
Kaab Bin Zuhair Composed the First Naat in Praise of the Prophet of Islam
1. Kaab Bin Zuhair was a famous poet of Arab.
2. Before converting to Islam, he would compose satirical poems,against the prophet.
3. After converting to Islam he composed Naat titled Baanat Suad and won the prophet's mantle as reward.
4. His Naat is also called Qaseeda Burda.
5. Later Naat became the most loved poetic genre across the Muslim world.
This is an outstanding paradox of the pre-Islam Arab world that despite its moral degradation, it gave poetry a very special place in its society. Arab people loved poetry and an annual poetry fair or poetry festival was held in Okkaz where poets from the entire Arab world would participate and the winning poetic peace would be hanged on the wall of the Kaaba, a freat honour in those days. Such winning poetic masterpieces would be called Muallaqat.
In the pre-Islam Arab society, two poetic genres were very popular. One was Hijw (satirical poetry) and the other was Qaseedah. Hijw was written against enemies and opponents, individual or tribal and most of the time the family members including women of the opponents were denigrated in filthy language. This would often cause bloodshed between tribes or individuals. The famous Arab poet Al Mutanabbi was very adept at writing Hijw and was killed by a man against whom he had written a Hijw.
On the other hand Qaseedah was written to defend the honour of individuals or tribes or in praise of respected people or kings in the hope of receiving favours. Qaseedah later became an important poetic genre in Persian and Urdu as well. Poets wrote Qaseedah in praise of kings and powerful figures to get rewards from them.
Kaab Bin Zuhair was one of the famous poets of Arab during the life of the prophet of Islam. He was a non-believer and so wrote satirical poetry against the prophet of Islam pbuh. The obnoxious language of the satires would hurt the prophet pbuh and his companions. Kaab's brother had converted to Islam and he would forbid Kaab from composing blasphemous poetry against the prophet pbuh but he continued with his satirical tirade against him. When the language got filthier and Kaab did not show any signs of relenting, the holy prophet pbuh ordered death punishment for him and authorised Muslims to execute him wherever he is found. This news reached Kaab and he realised his mistake. He wanted to meet the holy prophet pbuh and apologise to him but he feared that if any Muslim saw him on the way, he would be killed. So he wrapped his face with a cloth and met Hadhrat Abu Bakr, the senior most companion of the holy prophet pbuh and expressed his desire to apologise to the holy prophet pbuh and accept Islam.
Hadhrat Abu Bakr escorted Kaab to the holy prophet pbuh where he apologised to him and accepted Islam. The holy prophet pbuh forgave him. Then Kaab recited a Qaseedah titled Baanat Suad in praise of the holy prophet pbuh. The prophet was so pleased that he rewarded Kaab with his mantle. The Qaseedah is known in Islamic history as Qaseedah Burdah. The poem is said to be the first Naat in Islamic literature. Earlier Naat meant any poem composed in praise of any one but in Islamic literature, Naat means poetry in praise of the holy prophet pbuh alone. Later the holy companion Hassan bin Thabit R.A. became famous for composing Naat and was honoured with the title the poet of the prophet pbuh. Whenever, enemies of Islam and detractors of the holy prophet pbuh made poetic attacks on the prophet pbuh, poets of Islam would defend him with Naat and Qaseedah praising the virtues of the prophet pbuh and singing and celebrating his greatness as a prophet.
Thanks to the belief that writing and reciting Naat earns the blessings of the prophet pbuh and of God, poets around the Muslim world started writing and reciting Naat. Millions of Naats have been composed in almost all the languages of the world and it has become the most loved and the most popular poetic genre among the Muslims. Millions of collections of Naat have been published worldwide.
One of the famous poets of Naat is Hadhrat Al Buseeri of the 13th century. He also composed a Naat which is also called Qaseedah Burdah. Hadhrat Al Buseeri was a great sufi. He was paralysed and so he lay in the bed all the time. Once he composed a Naat while in bed. One night he dreamt that he was sitting in the company of the holy prophet pbuh and was reciting the Naat he had recently composed. The holy prophet pbuh was pleased with Hadhrat Al Buseeri and gave his mantle to him as a reward. When Hadhrat Al Buseeri woke up he found the mantle lying on his body and he also found that his paralysis had been cured.
A few days later, an ordinary looking man came to him and requested to him to recite the Naat he had recently composed. Hadhrat Al Buseeri was surprised because he had not recited the Naat before any one. He asked the visitor how he knew that he had composed a new Naat. The man replied that he was also present in the company of the prophet pbuh when he was reciting the Naat.
Therefore, Naat and Qaseedah became the tools of the Muslims to peacefully defend the honour of the prophet pbuh without causing violence and bloodshed.
Today Naats are more a sectarian tool to attack the opposing sects of the Muslims than a poetic tool to convey the greatness of the prophet pbuh to the world. More often they are used to make scathing attacks on those who do not subscribe to a particular ideology or belief.
However, the majority of the Muslims who understand the true spirit of Islam and know about the true purpose of poetry, compose Naats that aim to express the love of the holy prophet pbuh and tell about his greatness. Amir Khusrau and other sufi poets have composed numerous marvellous Naats and poetry in praise of the holy prophet pbuh which are considered poetic masterpieces and are part of universal Islamic literature.
S. Arshad is a columnist with NewAgeIslam.com.
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