17. THE AMAZING QUR’ᾹN (3) Allah revealed to the Prophet s.a.w. the following verse: َ َغافِر.ّللا ْال َعزيز ْال َعلِيم ب ِ ب َو َق ِاب ِل ال َت ْو ِ الذ ْن ِ َت ْن ِزيل ْال ِك َتا.حم ِ ِ ِ ِ َ ب م َِن ِ َ ب ذِي )3-1:الط ْو ِل َل إِلَ َه إِ َل ه َو إِلَ ْي ِه ْال َمصِ ير (غافر ِ َشدِي ِد ْال ِع َقا Hā.Mīn [These letters are one of the miracles of the Qur’an and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings]. The revelation of the Book (this Qur’an) is from Allah, the Almighty, the All Knower. The forgiver of sin, the Acceptor of repentance, the Severe in punishment, the Bestower (of favours). None has the right to be worshipped but He, to Him is the final return (Q. 40:1-3) This verse contains good news for sinners among Muslims as Allah is Forgiver of sin. But this verse is also a threat for sinners who do not repent, for Allah is the Severe in punishment. In addition, the revelation of the Qur’an is to urge people to believe in the tawḥīd (Oneness of Allah), the Judgment day, and sincerity in their action, and to devote themselves to Him. There is here balance between expecting Allah’s mercy and fearing His punishment which is found in many Qur’anic verses, such as follows: )05-94: (الحجر. َوأَنَ َع َذ ِابي ه َو ْال َع َذاب ْاْلَلِيم.َنبِّئْ عِ َبادِي أَ ِّني أَ َنا ْال َغفور الرَ حِيم Declare (O Muhammad) My slaves, that truly I am the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful. And that My torment is indeed the most painful torment. (Q. 15:49-50) When ‘Umar r.a. missed a man from Syria he was told that he was a heavy drinker. ‘Umar r.a. told to his secretary to write a letter to him, containing the verse mentioned above. He asked the courier not to hand him his letter until he became sober, and asked people with him to pray for him. When the man received the letter he wept and kept saying, “Allah has promised me to forgive me, and has warned me against His punishment.” He repented and stopped drinking. When ‘Umar heard the news he said, “This is what you should do if you see anyone one of you is committing sin, try to stop him and pray for him, and do not become the devils’ helpers against him.”
While the Prophet s.a.w. was citing the above verse in his prayer in the Mosque, al-Walīd ibn al-Mughīrah, one of the leaders of the Quraysh tribe, was near him listening to his recitation. When the Prophet noticed that he was listening to him he repeated the verses to him. Then al-Walīd came to the court of his people Banī Makhzῡm, saying: I have heard from Muhammad a while ago a speech which is neither of human beings nor of the jinn. Verily, there is beauty and elegance in it; its upward is very fruitful, and is downward is abundant. And verily, it is very elevated ,and nothing excels it. The Quraysh people said that al-Walīd had become a Sabean, namely, he had abandoned their religion, and that they would follow him to become Sabeans. Abῡ Jahl told them that he would deal with him. Then he came to al-Walīd, sitting beside him sadly. “You look sad, my nephew!,” said al-Walīd. “What makes me sad is that the Quraysh people want to help you for your basic necessity of your life and for your old age, and yet they think that you have appreciated the speech of Muhammad and have visited Abū Kabshah [al-Ḥārith ibn al-‘Uzzā, the husband of Ḥalīmah al-Sa‘diyyah, who breastfed the Prophet breastfed in his babyhood] and Abῡ Quḥāfah [Abu Bakr’s father], to be fed by them,” said Abῡ Jahl. Al-Walīd became angry and said, “Do not the Quraysh people know that I have the most wealth and children, more than what they have?” Then he went to the court of his people with Abῡ Jahl. He asked them: “You think Muhammad is mad, then have you seen him throttle?” When they said “No,” he asked: “You think Muhammad is a fortune-teller, then have you seen him telling fortune?” When they said, “No,” he asked them, “You think Muhammad is a poet, then have you seen him citing poetry?” When they said, “No,” he asked
them: “You think Muhammad is a liar, then have you seen him lying?” When they said, “No,” they asked him, “Then what is he?” Then al-Walīd thought to himself, then frowned and said, “He is no more than a magician; don’t you see him separating man from his family, his servants and children? He is then a magician.” To this, Allah informed the Prophet s.a.w. with the following verses: ث َم أَ ْد َب َر.س َو َب َس َر َ ث َم َع َب. ث َم َن َظ َر.ْف َق َد َر َ ث َم ق ِت َل َكي.ْف َق َد َر َ َفق ِت َل َكي.إِ َنه َف َك َر َو َق َد َر )50-11" إِنْ َه َذا إِ َل َق ْول ْال َب َش ِر (المدثر. َف َقا َل إِنْ َه َذا إِ َل سِ حْ ر ي ْؤ َثر. َواسْ َت ْك َب َر Verily, he thought and plotted [meaning: he thought about the Prophet and the Qur’an, and plotted what he could say about him and the Qur’an]. So let him be cursed, how he plotted! Then he hought. Then he frowned and he looked in a bad tempered way. Then he turned back, and was proud. Then he said: “This is nothing but the word of a human being!” (Q. 74:18-25) In another tradition from ‘Ikrimah, he said that al-Walīd came to the Prophet s.a.w. who cited to him some verses of the Qur’an which softened his heart. When Abῡ Jahl heard about it, he asked him to tell his people that he rejected and hated what the Prophet had cited. He did and said that nobody knew poetry, its rajaz meter, its qaṣīdah [ancient poems], not even the poems of jinn more than himself, and yet, he admired what he heard from the Prophet. The Arabs before Islam were proud of the beauty of their language. Every year poets cited their poetry in the ‘Ukāz market, and the best of which was hung on the wall of the Ka‘bah. Among the best poets at that time were: ‘Antarah ibn Shaddād (d. 22bH/6010), the fierce warrior, al-Nābighah al-Dhubiyānī (d. ca. 18 bH/605), the eulogist who spent most of his time at the courts of Ḥirah and Ghassān, and whose poems consist largely of eulogies and satires, and ’Imru’ al-Qays, who died as an exile in Ancyra (modern Ankara, d. ca. 550). The philologists of the Basrah school regarded him the greatest of the poets of the Muʿallaqāt as well as the inventor of the form of the classical ode, or qaṣīdah.
Like any other poetry, Arabic poetry has also meters, which are ordinarily reckoned to be sixteen in number. Khalīl ibn Aḥmad (d. 170/786) in the 8th century codified the normally used metres, and since then have little change. Some examples of the commonly used metres of the classical and modern poetry with some verses of the Qur’an are as follows: 1. In the “long meter” ال َبحْ ر ْال َط ِو ْيل, namely, َفع ْولنْ َم َفاعِ يْلن َفع ْولنْ َم َفاعِ لن [the “.” is short, and the “-” is stressed and long] (.-- .--- .-- .-..) in the poetry of ’Imru’ al-Qays, as follows: ٍ ِق َفا َن ْبكِ مِنْ ِذ ْك َرى َح ِب ْي ب َو َم ْن ِز ٍل Halt, you two companions, and let us weep for the memory of a beloved and an abode… This poetry was one of the seven Mu‘allaqāt. The example from the Qur’an is as follows: َ س الَتِي َحرَ َم )33: اإلسراء،101 :ّللا (اْلنعام َ َو َل َت ْقتلوا ال َن ْف And do not kill the soul which has been prohibited by Allah (Q. 6:151 and 17:33) 2. In the “complete meter, ْال َبحْ ر ْال َكامِل, namely, ْم َت َفاعِ لنْ م َت َفاعِ لنْ م َت َفاعِ لن (..-.- ..-.- ..-.-) in the poetry of ‘Antarah ibn Shaddād as follows: َه ْل َغاد ََر ال ُّش َع َراء مِنْ م َت َر َد ٍم Have the poets left in the garment a place for a patch to be patched by me This poetry was also one of the seven Mu‘allaqāt. The example in the Qur’an is as follows: )05:صلُّوا َعلَ ْي ِه َو َسلِّموا َتسْ لِيمًا (اْلحزاب َ Ask Allah’s blessing on him and greet him with salutation (Q. 33:56) ْ namely, ( مسْ َت ْفعِلن مسْ َت ْفعِلن مسْ َت ْفعِلن--.3. In the rajaz meter ال َبحْ ر الرَ َجز, --.- --.-) in poetry of the Egyptian poet Aḥmad Shawqī (d. 1932) who was nicknamed “( أَ ِميْر ال ُّش َع َراءthe Prince of the Poets”) َ in Lebanon as the neighbour of praising the town of Zahle )(الزحْ لَة the valley, as follows: ِاج َرة ْال َوادِي َط ِربْت َو َعا َدنِي * َما ي ْش ِبه اْلَحْ الَ َم مِنْ ذ ِْك َراك َ َي
O neighbour of the valley, I am deliriously happy and what has come to me is portrayed like a dream of your memories The example from the Qur’an is as follows: )555: (آل عمران... ِين آ َمنوا اصْ ِبروا َ َيا أَ ُّي َها الَذ O you who believe! Endure… (Q. 3:200) ْ namely, ( مسْ َت ْفعِلن مسْ َت ْفعِلن َفاعِ لن--.- --.4. In the “fast meter” ال َبحْ ر الس َِريْع, -.-) in the poetry of the Persian poet Omar Khayyam (d. 1131) as follows: ص ْو ًتا َها ِت ًفا فِي الس ََحر َ َسمِعْ ت I heard a voice calling at dawn The example in the Qur’an is as follows: )45( يز ْال َعل ِِيم َ َِذل ِ ك َت ْقدِير ْال َع ِز Such is the measuring of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing (Q. 6:96) 5. In the “abundant meter” ْال َبحْ ر ْال َوافِر, namely, ْاعلَتنْ َفع ْولن َ م َفا َعلَتنْ م َف (.-..- .-..- .--) as in the poem of an unidentified poet as follows: احة َو ْا َلو َفاء َ ك ال َس َم َ ال َج ْل ًدا ** َوشِ ْي َمت َ َوكنْ َرج ًال َع ِ لى ْاْلَهْ َو Be a steadfast man in facing terror, and make tolerance and loyalty your innate quality The example in the Qur’an is as follows: )55:أَ َل بعْ ًدا لِ َعا ٍد َق ْو ِم هو ٍد (هود So away with ‘Ᾱd, the people of Hῡd (Q. 11:60) This verse is about the people of ‘Ᾱd who disbelieved in Allah and disobeyed their Prophet Hῡd a.s. They lived in Southern Arabia, the area al-Aḥqāf in the present Ḥaḍramawt. ْ namely, ( َم َفاعِ يْلن َم َفاعِ يْلن.--- .---) 6. In the “song meter” ال َبحْ ر ْال َه َزج, as in the following poetry: و َمنْ َي ْدعـو إلـى َرب ** َكـزهَـا ٍد وعـبَــا ِد … and who prays to a Lord, like ascetic and a pious people The example in the Qur’an is the following verse: َ )59:ْس (يونس ِ َكأَنْ لَ ْم َت ْغ َن ِب ْاْلم … as if it had not flourished yesterday!
This verse is about the crops that have just flourished, but were destroyed by Allah for the growers’ arrogance ignoring His power over everything, including their crops. It is a moral lesson for us that everything is belongs to Him. 7. In the “consecutive meter” ارب ِ ْال َبحْ ر ْالم َت َق, namely, َْفع ْولنْ َفع ْولنْ َفع ْولن ْ( َفع ْولن.-- .-- .-- .--), as in the poem س ْال َه َوى َو ْال َم َعاصِ ـي ** َفأ َ ْي َن ال َن َجـاة َوأَ ْي َن ْال ِف َرار َ َت َظ ُّل َح ِب ْي You persists to be controlled by passion and disobedience, where is, then, salvation and escape? The example in the Qur’an is the following verse: َ أَقِيموا الص ََال َة َوآتوا )55: المزمل.05: النور.77: النساء.115 ،13:الز َكا َة (البقرة … perform prayer and give zakat (Q. 2:83,110; 4:77; 24:56; 73:20) ُّ ْال َبحْ ر ْالمجْ َت, namely, ْ( مسْ َت ْفعِلن َفاعِ الَتن--.8. In the “uprooted meter” ث -.--) as in the poem of the “poet of the Nile river,” Ḥafiẓ Ibrāhīm (d. 1932) as follows: الي َما أ َنا َحي *** يرْ َجى َولَ أ َنا َميْت َ َل ْي O my Layla, I am not alive with hope, nor am I dead The poet expressed his frustration in life, but he was still alive. He had not done his duty to his country for being helpless. This reminds us of the Indonesian expression Hidup segan mati tak mau (“He is reluctant to live, but he does not want to die either”) The example in the Qur’an is the following verse: َ َو... )73:ّللا َخيْر َوأَ ْب َقى (طه … and Allah is better and more lasting (Q. 20:73) This was the statement of the magicians who believed in Allah and Prophet Moses a.s. after their magic had been defeated by Prophet Moses’s staff which turned into a real snake and swallowed their ropes which looked like snakes. They said, “Allah is better [as regards reward in comparison to your (Fir‘awn – Pharaoh) reward], and more lasting (as regards punishment in comparison to your punishment.” 9. In the ramal meter ْال َبحْ ر الرَ َمل, namely, ْ( َفاعِ آلتنْ فاَعِ آلتنْ َفاعِ لن-.-- -.-- -.-), as in the poem of “the emir of poets” Aḥmad Shawqī, as follows
ف َيجْ فو َف َج َفا *** َظالِم َل ِق ْيت ِم ْنه َما َك َفي َ َعلَم ْوه َك ْي They taught him how to turn away, so he turned away I have found enough mistreatment from him The example in the Qur’an is the following verse: )15: (الشعراء... َوالَذِي أَ ْط َمع أَنْ َي ْغف َِر لِي And Who I hope will forgive me (Q. 26:82) This was the statement of Prophet Ibrāhīm (Abraham) a.s. to his father and his people who worshiped idols in calling them to worship Allah, the Creator, and the Guide to the right path. 10. The last example of the 16 poetical meters in Arabic poetry is ْ namely, مسْ َت ْف ِعلن َفاعِ لن مسْ َت ْفعِلن َفعِلن the “simple meter” ال َبحْ ر ْالبَسِ يْط, (--.- -.- --.- ..-), as in the Qaṣīdat al-Burdah. The burdah is the mantle of the Prophet. This poetry was composed by al-Imām Sharaf al-Dīn Muḥammad al-Bῡṣīrī in praising the Prophet. He was born in Egypt in 608/1212 and died in 695/1296 at the age of 84. He composed this qaṣīdah after suffering from a stroke caused him partially paralysed. He prayed to Allah to cure him. He dreamed that he cited the qaṣīdah to the Prophet. The Prophet touched the paralysed part of his body and threw his mantle (burdah) over him. Upon awakening he found out that he h ad been cured of his paralysis. The qaṣīdah was originally entitled ْال َك َواكِب ال ُّدرِّ يَة فِيْ َم ْد ِح َخي ِْر ْال َب ِر َية (“The Resplendent Stars in the Praise of the Best of Creation”), later called Qaṣīdat al-Burdah in ten parts consisting of more than 160 verses, all ending with letter mīm ()م. They are read, memorized, and cited in many Islamic schools all over the Muslim world. The qaṣīdah has been translated into many languages, such as Persian, Urdu, Punjabi, French, and German. Here are some verses of the qaṣīdah: َ ْن َو ٍ ْْن مِنْ عر ب َو مِنْ َع َج ِم *** الث َقلَــيــــ ِ ـــن َو ْال َف ِر ْي َقي ِ ِ م َحمَد َسيِّد ْال َك ْو َني. 39 34. Muhammad – Master of the Two Worlds, and the Two Dense Kinds [human and jinn], and of the Two Groups, Arabs and non-Arabs. ْ َيا َربِّ ِب ْالمصْ َط َفى َبلِّ ْغ َم َقاصِ َد َنا * َو.153 ضى َيا َواسِ َع ْال َك َر ِم َ اغفِرْ لَ َنا َما َم
163. O my Lord! With the Elect One (namely, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.] make us attain our goals, and forgive us for what has passed, O Most Munificent One! The example of this “simple” meter in the Qur’an is as follows: )50:َفأَصْ َبحوا َل ي َرى إِ َل َم َساكِنه ْم (اْلحقاف …so, they became such that nothing could be seen except their dwellings (Q. 46:25) This verse was about Allah’s punishment on the ‘Ᾱd people who did not want to listen to their Prophet Hῡd to worship Allah. Then strong wind destroyed everything except their houses. Dr. Ṭāhā Ḥusayn (d. 1973) of Egypt nicknamed “the foremost representative of Arabic literature” )ب ْال َع َر ِبي ِ ( َع ِميْد اْل َدwas reported to have said that Arabic literature is divided into three kinds: prose, poetry, and the Qur’ān. As the Qur’ān is not poetry, but the very words of Allah, we treat it with full respect, and read it with its own rules, called “( عِ لم ال َتجْ ِويْدThe art of reciting the Qur’ān”), i.e., the Qur’ān reciting according to the established rules on pronunciation and intonation. (CIVIC, 04.04.14) :المصادر المكتبة الشاملة تفسير الطبري تفسير القرطبي http://ejabat.google.com/ejabat/thread?tid=4e9c1cedd15ca3e8 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/401277/al-Nabighahal-Dhubyani http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/284295/Imru-al-Qays http://pulpit.alwatanvoice.com/articles/2009/12/29/184413.html http://islamport.com/w/lqh/Web/2621/1.htm ar.wikipedia.org/wiki/ع www.awzan.com/bu7oor/bu7oor1.htm
A Friday khutbah/sermon delivered at CIVIC, Canberra, on 04 April 2014