Qasida al-Burda: A sublime expression of love for Prophet Muhamad (SAW)
There would hardly be a Muslim in the world who would have not heard the following lines from the most popular poem Qasida al-Burda.
Mawlāya şalli wa sallim dā-iman abadan ‘
Alā Ĥabībika Khayril khalqi kullihimi
(O) My Lord! Send salutations and greetings forever upon Your beloved (SAW) who is the best of all creations.
The poem ‘Qasida al-Burda’ was written by Sharaf al-Din al-Busiri. It is his heartfelt tribute to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). It is originally named as (الكواكب الدرية في مدح خير البرية, meaning “The Celestial Lights in Praise of the Best of Creation”. The poem is regarded as the most widely recited and memorized poem of the world.
The story behind the Qasida al-Burda
Sharaf al-Din al-Busiri, born in 1211 in Egypt. He was highly admired for his poetry which he wrote for the rulers to praise them. After his successful career, he went through great crisis and illness. He got paralyzed and he was on bed for many years. The doctors had no hopes of his recovery.
Finally, in that condition of complete helplessness, Al-Busiri decided to write a poem to praise Muhamad (SAW) the messenger of Allah. He wanted to use this poem as means of praying to Allah to cure him of his illness.
He completed writing Qasida al-Burda, wishing greater closeness to the Prophet (SAW). It is said, he regretted that some of his previous life had been spent as a court poet. Wasting his time in the flattery of emperors. He used to recite the poem day and night seeking the help of Allah through it while lying on the bed.
Dream of Al-Busiri
According to Al-Busiri, one night while reciting this poem,he went to sleep, and he saw Muhammad (SAW) in his dream. Muhamad (SAW) said,” Busiri, recite me the poem you have written,”. Al-Busiri recited the whole poem and Muhammad (SAW) got very happy. He (SAW)put his blessed hands on his paralyzed body and spread a cloak around him. Al-Busiri in his dream realized that his body has been cured of paralysis by Allah. He got up from his sleep. He wanted to check that as it was a dream so if he has been cured in reality too. Then he was surprised to see that his illness was gone and he could move around.
Al-Busiri went out into the street where he has not gone for many years. He had not told about the dream and the poem anyone till that time. Suddenly, he was called by a Dervish in the street, “Al-Busiri please recite to me that poem which you recited to Muhamad (SAW) last night,”.
Al-busiri was astonished to hear and said, ‘Which poem’? The dervish recited the opening lines which are as follows
Amin tadhakkuri jīrānin bi Dhī Salami
Mazajta dam’an jarā min muqlatin bi dami
Is it because of your remembrance of the neighbours of Dhi-salam.
that tears mixed with blood are flowing (from your eyes)?
Dervish said, ‘I saw in a dream that you were reciting the poem to Muhamad (SAW) and I was also listening to it. I saw the Prophet Muhamad(SAW) became very happy and gave you his cloak.’
The Dervish told everyone about that story and the poem became very much popular in the whole city of Alexandria, Egypt.
The composition and popularity of the ‘Qasida al-Burda’
Qasida Burda meaning” Poem of the Mantle or cloak” consists of ten chapters or sections and 166 verses. In the first section the poet articulates his deep love for the Prophet (SAW) while in the second chapter he expresses his remorse for his sins in the past.
In the subsequent chapters the poet says about the birth and miracles of the Prophet (SAW), the Holy Quran revealed upon him (SAW) and the Prophet’s night journey/ ascension and military efforts. The last two chapters of the poem are devoted to Sharaf al-Din al-Busiri’s appeal for the mediation of the prophet to seek the mercy of Allah.
This poem is one of the greatest poetical creations in the history of Islam. The poem is a unique example in terms of decency of expression, choice of words, delightful eloquence of language and natural development of the sequence of thoughts. Al-Busiri’s poem is also matchless in the subtlety of variation in subjects, with harmonious flow of the metre and its flowery diction. The poem is also full of clear diverse images, similes, metaphors and it is free from any kind of errors.
Adoption in different languages
The poem has been translated in all the major languages of the world like Chinese, English, French, German, Turkish, Persian, Norwegian, Urdu and over a hundred commentaries have been written upon Qasida Burda.
Religious Scholars also find many virtues and benefits of the poem for protection from different calamities by reciting it.
Imam al-Busiri died in 1294 CE and buried in Alexandria, Egypt. His grave is visited by many people around the world and some verses from al-Busiri’s much-loved al-Burda, are written on the wall of his shrine.
(Written by Ijaz Ali, a freelance journalist from Pakistan. He holds a Master’s Degree in European Studies from Germany and can be reached at [email protected])