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Is Poetry, Literature a good subject?

Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,

As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.  (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)

 

One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:

AssalamAlaikum. Dear and Respected Burhan Bhai. I hope you are doing fine.
May Allah Subhanah reward you appropriately for your great efforts . Ameen.
Brother, i have done Masters in English Literature and i am very much fond of reading poetry ,prose and other literary works by eminent poets and writers of the Classical and Modern era. It has always been a pleasure for me to go through different literary masterpieces. Infact i also intend to take the lecturership exam and start teaching it . BUT for sometime ,i have a feeling that reading or teaching English Literature is not something that Allah Subhanah would like or approve. I mean Allah Subhanah has sent us on this earth for a noble Cause ,right ?? so do you think it behoves a Believer to read or teach something else other than the Holy Quran? There is an authentic Hadith that the Best amongst you is the one who learns Quran and then teaches it . It means that reading or teaching english literature is NOT the BEST thing to do in the sight of Allah Subhanah.??? I am in a dilemma about what to do in future. I am interested in reading Quran ,going through the translation and meanings but i don`t want to leave literature as well. I have also heard that our Prophet Muhammad PBUH did not like poets and poetry so it means that it will be a sin if i read the works of Shakespeare,Keats,Shelley ???? I think through literature one can learn a lot of wisdom since it is all about Life and it clears our perspective over a lot of things . I am very much upset and disturbed. Please tell me is it permissible according to Quran and Sunnah if i take up teaching Literature as my career in future???
Waiting impatiently for your detailed reply.
Allah Hafiz. Jazak Allah. 

 

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Answer:

 

Is Poetry, Literature a good subject?

In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol, no person, no grave, no prophet, no imam, no dai, nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad(saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.

 

May Allah Subhanah reward you with the best of this world and the Hereafter for your kind comments of encouragement for our humble efforts in the propagation of the Truth. We humbly hope, beg, and pray the Merciful Lord accepts our humble and weak efforts, forgives us our shortcomings, and saves you, us, and all the believers from the torment of the Hell Fire. Ameen.

 

Your Question: BUT for sometime ,i have a feeling that reading or teaching English Literature is not something that Allah Subhanah would like or approve. I mean Allah Subhanah has sent us on this earth for a noble Cause ,right ?? so do you think it behoves a Believer to read or teach something else other than the Holy Quran? There is an authentic Hadith that the Best amongst you is the one who learns Quran and then teaches it . It means that reading or teaching english literature is NOT the BEST thing to do in the sight of Allah Subhanah.???

There is indeed an authentic hadith regarding the most superior amongst the believers:

 

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 6.546 Narrated by Uthman bin Affan

The Prophet (saws) said, "The most superior among you (Muslims) are those who learn the Qur'an, and teach it."

 

The Messenger of Allah (saws) also said:


 

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.759 Narrated by Abdullah bin Amr

The Prophet (saws) said: "The best amongst you are those who have the best manners and character."

 

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 3.575 (part) Narrated by Abu Huraira

The Messenger of Allah (saws) said: the best among you are those who repay their debts handsomely."

 

Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 49 Surah Hujurat verse 13: Indeed, the most honorable among you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most pious of you. Surely Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

Beloved sister in Islam, if one takes the poetry of the worldly poets as divine truths, or as a book of guidance, etc. then it would indeed be wrong. Or if one leaves the reciting, understanding and the learning of the Glorious Quran, and reads and learns only the poetry of the worldly poets; then it would indeed be wrong.

 

But if one recites, understands and learns the Quran, and acknowledges, follows and obeys this Glorious Book of Allah Subhanah as a Book of Guidance; and wishes to learn or teach English literature or poetry, there is absolutely no harm in learning or teaching it. Obviously, one cannot expect that one might earn a reward from Allah Subhanah for learning or teaching English poetry; but if one learns and teaches the Glorious Quran, there will indeed be a huge reward from Allah Subhanah for such a person.

 

Your Question: I have also heard that our Prophet Muhammad PBUH did not like poets and poetry so it means that it will be a sin if i read the works of Shakespeare,Keats,Shelley ????

Allah Says in the Holy Quran Chapter 26 Surah Shuaraa verses 221-227:

221 Shall I inform you (O people!) on whom it is that the Shayaateen descend?

222 They descend on every lying, wicked person

223 (Into whose ears) they pour hearsay, vanities; and most of them are liars.

224 And the Poets, it is those straying in Evil who follow them:

225 Seest thou not that they wander distracted in every valley?

226 And that they say what they practice not?

227 Except those who believe work righteousness, engage much in the remembrance of Allah and defend themselves only after they are unjustly attacked. And soon will the unjust assailants know what vicissitudes their affairs will take!

 

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 8.176 Narrated by Abu Huraira

Allah's Messenger said, "It is better for anyone of you that the inside of his body be filled with pus which may consume his body, than it be filled with poetry."

 

In is indeed true that the Messenger of Allah (saws) did not like poets and poetry, which sensationalized and encouraged the pursuit of the world and its alluring lusts. But he encouraged those poets whose poetry praised Allah Subhanah, and contained words of wisdom which related to the guidance of Allah.

 

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 8.166 Narrated by Ubai bin Kab

Allah's Messenger (saws) said, "Some poetry contains wisdom."

 

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 5.509 Narrated by Salama bin Al Akwa

We went out to Khaibar in the company of the Prophet (saws). While we were proceeding at night, a man from the group said to 'Amir, "O 'Amir! Won't you let us hear your poetry?" 'Amir was a poet, so he got down and started reciting for the people poetry that kept pace with the camels' footsteps, saying: "O Allah! Without You we Would not have been guided on the right path, neither would we have given in charity, nor would we have prayed. So please forgive us, what we have committed (i.e. our defects); let all of us be sacrificed for Your Cause and send Sakina (i.e. calmness) upon us to make our feet firm when we meet our enemy, and if they will call us towards an unjust thing, we will refuse. The infidels have made a hue and cry to ask others' help against us." The Prophet (saws) on that, asked, "Who is that (camel) driver (reciting poetry)?" The people said, "He is 'Amir bin Al-Akwa'." Then the Prophet (saws) said, "May Allah bestow His Mercy on him."

 

Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 4807 Narrated by Aisha

When the subject of poetry was mentioned to Allah's Messenger (saws) he said, "It is speech, and what is good in it is good, and what is bad is bad."

 

Thus it is not poetry per say which is disliked in Islam, but what is said in their verses. If the poetry encourages the believers to believe in Allah and follow His Commands, it would be considered good poetry and absolutely encouraged in Islam.

 

But the poetry which does not inspire faith in Allah, nor strengthen ones belief in Allahs Oneness, nor kindle ones heart to love Allah; but rather glamorises lust and the pursuit of the world, etc.; such poetry is disliked and discouraged in Islam.

 

If one just looks at the works of Shakespeare in his Romeo and Juliet, A midsummers night dream, or Julius Ceaser, etc. one would realize how lust and worldly power is glorified and enflamed. Reading such works once is one thing, but to learn it and propagate it is another!

 

Your Question: I think through literature one can learn a lot of wisdom since it is all about Life and it clears our perspective over a lot of things . I am very much upset and disturbed. Please tell me is it permissible according to Quran and Sunnah if i take up teaching Literature as my career in future???
Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 8.166 Narrated by Ubai bin Kab

Allah's Messenger (saws) said, "Some poetry contains wisdom."

 

Indeed some poetry may contain wisdom, but most poetry enlarges and enflames the lust for life and power. If one takes learning good literature and poetry as a career, there is absolutely no harm. One only has to read the works of the Islamic Poets like Allama Iqbaal, whose poetry was instrumental in the independence of the State of Pakistan from its British rulers, to understand what power good poetry has on its listeners.

 

Thus in conclusion, it is not poetry which is disliked or discouraged, but what will determine its permissibility is what message the poetry is portraying to its readers.

 

Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allahs Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.

 

Your Brother in Islam,

 

 

Burhan

 

 


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