Poetry. Abu Bakr’s caliphate lasted for some two years only. The period was occupied first by apostasy wars, and then by wars in Iraq and Syria. The Holy Quran dominated the intellectual scene, and there was accordingly not much of activity in the field of poetry. The Arabs had, however, an inherent taste for poetry, and the age did produce some eminent poets. Some of the events of the period were duly celebrated in poetry.
Abu Bakr. There is some controversy on the point whether Abu Bakr was or was not a poet. The Holy Quran did not talk of poets and poetry in favorable terms, and as such the early Muslims avoided poetry. Islam condemned frivolous poetry only; it allowed poetry of inspiring and ennobling character. A poem was written by Abu Bakr on the occasion of the expedition of Ubayda bin Al Harith. We have quoted these verses in an earlier part of this book in the Chapter entitled “Expedition of Ubayda bin Al Harith”.
Fatima Zahra. Fatima Zahra, the daughter of the Holy Prophet wrote an elegy on the death of the Holy Prophet. Some of the verses of the elegy are: “It is not wondrous that whoever smells the fragrance of Muhammad’s tomb will never smell another perfume. Destiny hurt me with a bereavement so sad and so dark that if it had fallen on the days, they would have been turned into eternal nights.”
Ali. After the death of Fatima, addressing her grave, Ali said: “O thou grave, to thee I resort for paying homage unto thee, O thou! The repository of my beloved; Ye answer me not, O thou beloved tomb! What ails you, you respond not to the supplications. Art thou out of humor, because of the love that I bore ye”.
Khansa. Among the Arabian women who excelled in poetry, the place of honor is held by Khansa. She wrote elegies mourning the death of her brother Bakr. The following lines are well known: Sunrise awakes in me the sad remembrance of Bakr and I recall him at every sunset.”
Mutamim bin Nuweira. Mutamim bin Nuweira mourned in elegiac verses the death of his brother Malik bin Nuweira. The death of Malik was also mourned by another poet Abu Namir Saadi. He wrote: O ye man, tell the people of your tribe that they should ride away from here forthwith; for with the murder of Malik the night has become endless. By his high handedness Khalid killed Malik and married his wife Laila.
Hassan bin Thabit. Hassan bin Thabit was the poet laureate of Islam. He wrote some verses in the praise of Abu Bakr. These verses are: When thou rememberest the affliction of a faithful brother then remember too thy brother Abu Bakr and what he hath done, the best of men, the most pious and just of them save the Prophet, and the most faithful in performing what he hath undertaken the second, the follower, the place of whose witnessing is extolled and the first among those who have borne witness to the Prophet. He also said: The second of the two in the glorious cave and verily, the enemy went round about it when they ascended the mountain, and verily they knew that he was the beloved of the Apostle of God Who hold no one his equal among the people.
Labid. Labid was another eminent poet of the age. Once he went to Abu Bakr and recited the verse. “Is not every thing but God unprofitable?” Abu Bakr said, “You have spoken truly”. Labid continued: “And every joy is surely fleeting”. Abu Bakr exclaimed, “Here you are wrong. “There is with God a joy that never passes away.” After Labid had left, Abu Bakr said, “Sometimes a poet speaks words of wisdom.”
Afif bin Mandhar. Afif bin Mandhar celebrated the victory of the Muslims in Bahrain in the following terms: “Did you not see that under the behest of God the river became subservient to the Muslims; we prayed to God and He in His bounty made the channel dry to make the way for the Muslims; and like the communities of old we saw the river split in two channels to make way for the Muslims.”
Qa’qa. Qa’qa’, a valiant commander of the army of Khalid composed the following verses with reference to the battle of Firaz In Iraq: “We grappled with the forces of Rome and Persia at Firaz, and the Muslim forces overpowered the enemy; so violent was our charge that the forces of the enemy could not withstand it and they were scattered like the leaves of trees. We captured them in large numbers, and drove them before us like cattle.” ‘Atika. On the death of Abdullah a son of Abu Bakr his wife ‘Atika composed an elegy in the course of which she said: “Abdullah, I have sworn that my eyes shall never cease grieving for thee; and my body shall ever remain covered with dust.”
Khufaf b Nudbah. Khufaf b Nudbah as Salami known as one of the poets of “Arab Chivalry” mourning the death of Abu Bakr said: “Tell every living thing that there is no permanence for it: And for the whole universe its decree is destruction. The goods of men are but as a trust, borrowed on the condition of repayment, and a man strives, but there is one who lies in wait for him, the eye mourneth for him with the severity of grief he groweth old, or is slain or subdued sickness that hath no remedy makes him to lament, verily, Abu Bakr was as the rain what time Orion causeth not the herbage to grow with moisture, neither the youth that wears the Mizar nor one that wears the Rida he who strives to attain unto the excellence of his days earnestly, is apart and solitary upon the earth.”
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