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Introduction

For the Arabs before Muhammad, poetry assumed the front-seat in whatever they faced or suffered in life. Pagan Arabs used poetry in keeping records of their genealogy, their exploits, history of their wars, and their personal history. Poetry was a mirror that reflected their lives with all of its ups and downs. Also the Arabs used poetry to convey their wisdom and knowledge.

They divided their poetry in two styles, ''al manthur" and “al manzum”:

  1. al manthur: poetry that rhymes but has an unstructured style.
  2. al manzom : classical poetry with a rhymed structure. Arabs had great respect for and valued dearly classical poetry. Classical poetry had a great influence on people and their lives.

“al manthur” style of poetry had lesser value in their eyes due to its everyday use. It was more common. Their classical poetry was valued more because it was more structured and not everyone was able to master it.

Pagan Arab tribes used to take pride in talented poets that they produced. Other tribes praised that tribe for having such a talented person in their midst. When a child was born in the tribe, or a stallion was born, its poets acted as an armor for the tribe by keeping its pride and honor in record by composing great poetry. Other tribes would have to think twice before making the tribe of a great poet angry. This is due to their fear that that poet might say and write poetry against, or make fun of, them. This was no ordinary matter. The reputation of a tribe, whose name was muddied due to such poetry, needed years of mending. For the Arabs, rhythmic word was powerful. A great poet had a great status in his own tribe as well as the ones around them.

Well-known Arab Poets used to gather in seasonal town halls where they used to show off their new creations in poetry during certain gatherings. Poetry even helped separate warring sides and make peace amongst combatants.

Slaves, who composed great poetry, had no lesser status than a great poet. They gained freedom for their poetry. They gained respect through the “word”. Antara Al-Absi, a well-known knight in Arab historical tradition, is just one example of a fine poet, who was a slave. Arabs nowadays can remember Antara due to his poetry. No one remembers his master.

From the reading of beautiful Arabic poetry of the talented pagan poets, one can evidently see the clear similarities and downright copying techniques employed to compose the verses of the Quran, relying on what was said earlier in Poetry. It is sad to see the ignorance that plagues the mind of Muslims. This applies to most Muslims regardless of their levels of education. We even see educated Muslims on TV trying to show Qur'anic miracles. Newspapers fare no better.

Muhammad grew up loving poetry just like all of his Pagan peers. And after declaring himself the prophet of Islam, he surrounded himself with poets, who sang praises of him, his actions, and his beliefs. He appointed a Medinan poet, Hasan bin Thabit حسان بن ثابت , to praise him and Islam, and to brag about his actions regardless of how brutal they were. Other poets were also present to tour with Muhammad and sing praises for Muhammad and his actions, and denounce his opponents. Here are some of the opponents’ names:

  1. Abd al-Azeez bin Za'bary [ عبد الله ‏بن الزبعرى ]
  2. Darrar bin Alkhatab 'al-Gahry '' [ وضرار بن الخطاب الفهري
  3. Hind bint Ataba [ وهند بنت عتبة ] (Female)
  4. al harith bin Hisham bin al-Mugirah [ والحارث ‏بن هشام ‏بن المغيرة ]
  5. abi Sufyan bin Harb وأبي سفيان‏ بن حرب ]
  6. Ka'b bin Ashraf [ وكعب ‏بن الأشرف ]

So, many of the Pagan poets rejected Muhammad’s call to Islam. Instead, they tried to prove that Muhammad was dishonest. One poet, whose name was Hasan, used to praise the tribes of “Al-Ghsasina” and “Al-Manazira” in his poetry before Islam. Muhammad wanted to enlist him to his side in order for Hasan to praise him. So, once he asked Hasan to join him, and Hasan did. Hasan unleashed some of the most cursing words ever put into poetry against Muhammad’s foes. Muhammad had the habit of saying, “May Allah never empty your mouth'' لا فض الله فوك", meaning that Muhammad hoped Hasan's praise of him will never stop.

Another poet, Al-nabigha Alga'di said: I chanted in poetry praising the prophet [صلعم] while being at his right side

*عن يعلى بن الأشدق عن النابغة الجعدي قال‏:‏ أنشدت النبي صلعم وأنا عن يمينه‏''

Here are a few verses of his:

ابلغنا السماء مجدنا وجدودنا       وإنا لنرجو فوق ذلك مظهرا

فقال‏:‏ أين المظهر يا أبا ليلى - وفي لفظ‏:‏ فقال‏:‏ إلى أين‏؟‏ لا أم

لك - قلت الجنة فقال‏:‏ أجل إن شاء الله فقلت‏:‏

ولا خير في علم إذا لم يكن له  ‏   بوادر تحمي صفوه أن يكدرا

ولا خير في جهل إذا لم يكن له    حليم إذا ما أورد الأمر أصدرا

This is a short translation of this poetry:

Tell the one in the sky about our greatness

and the greatness of our ancestors too and

we implore you to show us  [ heaven ].

There is no benefit in a knowledge

if there is no signs that protect peace,

and there is no benefit ignorance

if there was not a wise person who can deliver.

In short, Muhammad enjoyed listening to poetry that complimented and praised him and his countless claims. He, Muhammad, in turn, praised the poets back through Allah's will for them to never have their poetry stop flowing from their mouths.

(*) منتخب كنز العمال في سنن الأقوال والأفعال حرف الفاء حديث رقم37542-

Treasure Selections of the works and words, letter F number, 37542

Ibin Katheer said: Ka'b went out with his brother Bujeer, until they met ''Abraq Al azaf'' Aib and Bajeer are two sons of Zuhair [Zuheer bin Abi Salma, was one of the best pagans poets]. Buhair said to Ka'ab his brother: “I am going to stay in this place, waiting for that man [the prophet Muhammad] I have to see what he has to say to me.” Ka'b stayed and Bujeer left then the prophet came in and coerced and presented a dilemma to him so he became a Muslim. Ka'b heard this news, and got angry and said some poetry criticizing this event:

ألا أبلغا عني بجيراً رسالة   فهل لك فيما قلت ويحك هل لكا

فبين لنا إن كنت لست بفاعل على أي شيء غير ذلك دلكا

على خلق لم ألف يوماً أبا له    عليه وما تلفى عليه أبا لكا

فإن أنت لم تفعل فلست بآسف ولا قائـل إما عثـرت لعا لكا

سقاك بها المأمون كأسا روية    فأنهلك المأمـون منهـا وعلكا

لعا لكا (كلمة تقال لمن عثر أن يفيق من عثرته)المأمون (محمد)

[Translation]

''When I sent Buhairan with a letter,

how dare you say what you said

Show us if you were not the committer.

To what else could you base the message on.

creation like you who never had a father figure to replace his

and no father would want to be your father

I am not going to feel sorry whether you're a man of doing, or not,

and I am not going to say I hope he will wake up from his total paralysis

Here comes a Ma'mono [the prophet Muhammad] and gave glass of drink

to quench your thirst instead.

When this satire poetry reached the prophet, he ordered the spilling of his blood (Ka'b's) and said to his followers ''whoever sees Ka'b, KILL HIM”.

 

On the ruthlessness of Muhammad

The ruthlessness of Muhammad was apparent in many narrations about him. In one instance, Ka'b bin Zuhar received the letter from Muhammad inviting him to Islam to covert. Ka'b grew disillusioned and was upset that his brother became a Muslim. As poets usually react to life’s events, he wrote a long poem to admonish his brother for becoming a Muslim. The news of Ka'b's poetry reached far and wide. Muhammad feared Ka'b's influence in changing the minds of society against him. So he ordered Ka’b’s assassination. Muhammad said to his Sahaba “whoever find him, kill him”.

Ka'b realized the danger he is in. To escape assassination by Muhammad, he made a 100 line poem of praises to Muhammad. His poem included multiplicity of verses on the beauty of women. “Su'ad” is a name for a female in the Arabic language. Muhammad loved poetry that admired women’s beauty. The plan worked like a charm, and Muhammad pardoned him. Here are few verses from this poem:

''Sua'ad''

قصيدة كعب بن زهير التي قالها حين قدم على رسول الله صلعم فهي طويلة

أجتزئ منها القليل ‏:‏

بانت سعـاد فقلبي اليـوم متبول    متيـم إثرهـا لـم يفـد مكبـول

وما سعاد غداة البين إذ رحلـوا     إلا أغن غضيض الطرف مكحول

هيفـاء مقبلـة عجزاء مـدبرة     لا يشتكي قصر منهـا ولا طـول

تجلو عوارض ذي ظلم إذا ابتسمت     كـأنـه منهـل بالـراح معلـول

أمست سعـاد بـأرض لا يبلغها     إلا العتـاق النجيبات المـراسيل

ضخـم مقلـدها فعـم مقيـدها     في خلقها عن بنات الفحل تفضيل

غلباء وجنـاء علكـوم مذكـرة     فـي دفهـا سعـة قـدامها ميل

(*) السيرة النبوية لأبن هشام باب كعب بن زهير وقصيدته الشهيرة بانت سعاد

Also, Muhammad memorized poetry he liked from Imro'u Al-Qais's poetry. Here are few verses Muhammad kept to heart and repeated often.

ما رد النبي عن من أشعر الناس فقال البيت الذي لأمرؤ القيس ويحفظه النبي

فهو من قصيدة لأمرؤ القيس فيها:

خليـلي مرا بي عـلى أم جندب   لنقضي حاجات الفؤاد المعذب

فإنكما إن تنظراني ليلة من الدهر   تنفعنـي، لـدي أم جنـدب

ألم تراني كلما جئت طارقا وجدت    بهـا طيبـا، وإن لـم تطيب

(*) تفسير مجمع البيان في تفسير القرآن للطبرسي (ق: 21-30)

Explanation volume albayan in tafseer the Quran from Al tarsi (Q 21-30(*)

Muslims claim Muhammad was an illiterate sheep herder, yet his love of poetry, and his reading, understanding and memorizing such poetry deals quite a blow to such claim. It shatters this illiteracy myth.

The above are only few examples of many segments of Muhammad's life that show him in his genuine colors: a true manipulator. He showed his ruthlessness in the way he elevated praising Poets, and ordered the killing of satirist poets who went against him.

Hadith and Sirah text show Muhammad's endless love- hate feelings toward poets and toward their poetry. He must have realized how sharp a two-edged tool like poetry can be. Many of the people around Muhammad thought of him as a poet with a new form of “loose language” poetry when he presented his Quran. The Qur’an was viewed by the Arabs of old as a lower level wording, much lower than great poetry. The fact that most Arab tribes rebelled against the rule of Mecca when Muhammad dies testifies to this fact. The “superiority of the Qur’an” was not something that the rebelling tribes thought for a second about. The Qur’an was just bad poetry.

Below are few hadiths that show Muhammad's conflicted feelings about poetry. Many hadiths show his respect for poetry:

It was narrated from Ibn Abbas that the Prophet said:

"In some poetry there is wisdom." [just for laughs: I guess it takes a genius to realize that some poetry has some wisdom in it!!]

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرٍ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو أُسَامَةَ، عَنْ زَائِدَةَ،

عَنِ سِمَاكٍ، عَنْ عِكْرِمَةَ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ ـ

صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ كَانَ يَقُولُ ‏ "‏ إِنَّ مِنَ الشِّعْرِ حِكَمًا

Reference: Sunan Ibn Majah 3756

In-book reference: Book 33, Hadith 101

Muhammad showed his hate toward poetry in the hadith

Abu Sa’id Khudri reported:

We were going with Allah's Messenger. As we reached the place (known as) Arj there met (us) a poet who had been reciting poetry. Thereupon Allah's Messenger said: Catch the Satan or detain the Satan, for filling the belly of a man with pus is betting than stuffing his brain with poetry.

حَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ بْنُ سَعِيدٍ الثَّقَفِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا لَيْثٌ،

عَنِ ابْنِ الْهَادِ، عَنْ يُحَنِّسَ، مَوْلَى مُصْعَبِ بْنِ الزُّبَيْرِ

عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيِّ، قَالَ بَيْنَا نَحْنُ نَسِيرُ مَعَ

رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم بِالْعَرْجِ إِذْ عَرَضَ شَاعِرٌ

يُنْشِدُ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ "‏ خُذُوا

الشَّيْطَانَ أَوْ أَمْسِكُوا الشَّيْطَانَ لأَنْ يَمْتَلِئَ جَوْفُ

رَجُلٍ قَيْحًا خَيْرٌ لَهُ مِنْ أَنْ يَمْتَلِئَ شِعْرًا ‏"‏ ‏.‏

Reference: Sahih Muslim 2259; In-book reference: Book 41, Hadith 10; USC-MSA web (English) reference: Book 28, Hadith 5611

There are many similar hadiths. It seems that Muhammad had an inner battle against his thought that every joy he felt in life including his love for poetry and sex were sins, but he fought it without success.

 

The Quran’s Plagiarism from the Arab Poetry

Ending of this article, I'd like to leave the reader with some of the Qur'anic verses that Muhammad and the early Muslims put together freely to “make” the Qur'an:

The Qur'an says:

'' وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا عَسْعَسَ, وَالصُّبْحِ إِذَا تَنَفَّسَ''

Al tqweer 17/18

''Wallil iza asasa     wa al subhi iza tanafasa''

This part was stolen from the work of the poet Alaqa bin Qart when he said in his poem:

مسروقة من علقمة بن قرط عندما أنشد:

'' حتى إذا الصبح لها تنفسا........... وإنجاب عنها ليلها وعسعسا''

'' Hata iza {al suphu} lha {tanafasa} ….. wa ingaba anha {laylaha} wa {asasa}

[the words in brackets clearly the same and the whole meaning is the same? Is it a coincident? Do I smell forgery by Muhammad from old poetry and into the Qur'an?]

Here is another example: The Qur'an says:

سورة الحشر 24

هُوَ اللَّهُ الْخَالِقُ الْبَارِئُ} الْمُصَوِّرُ {  لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ

الْحُسْنَى يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَهُوَ

الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

ال عمرام 6

هُوَ الَّذِي}  يُصَوِّرُكُمْ  فِي الأَرْحَامِ  { كَيْفَ يَشَاءُ لا إِلَهَ

إِلا هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

The concept as well as the words clearly stolen from the works of the great poet Alnabigha when he wrote:

مسروقتان من النابغة حينما أنشد:

{ الخـالق البـارئ المصـور} .……… .في الأرحام { ماء حتى يصير دما }

''Al khaliq albari'a {al musawir} …… fi al arhami ma'a hatta yaseer dama''

Translation: the creator, the innocent the imager who created water in uterus until it turns to blood

 

Conclusion

I hope that this article has shed some light on how Muhammad plagiarized some content of his Qur'an from the old Arabic poetry. Also, it has shed some light on how Muhammad despised some poets of the time, just because they did not agree with him, and instead composed powerful poetry to criticize him. Muhammad found their critical poetic compositions so dangerous to his prophetic mission that he made his best effort to assassinate them, and he succeeded in a few such attempts. Others could avoid his ire only by writing some poetry to praise him.

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* The author would like to thank Ibn Kammuna for reviewing and recommending improvements on an earlier version of this article. His suggestions were adopted in the final version of this work.