Qasidah Burdah | Poem of the Mantle | Most Recited Poem Ever

1.
early 7th century, Medina,
Prophet’s Mosque

It was the dawn prayer congregation at the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina where a poet by the name Ka’b joined that morning. Ka’b ibn Zuhayr was considered one of the most outstanding poet of his time and continued his poetic talent after his father, who was also one of the chief poet of his generation.

After much soul searching Ka’b has decided to take hand with Prophet Muhammad and submit to Divine submission (Islam). This is a man who earlier vociferously rejected the Messenger and the new message of unity and wrote satirical verses against the Prophet. In recent past he was a relentless and vocal offender of the Prophet.

Upon ending prayer Ka’b approached the Prophet and as he made his identity known Prophet Muhammad forgave him instantly. At that point Ka’b recited an ode that he had composed earlier to praise the qualities of Muhammad, the Messenger. It was in the traditional Bedouin style, splendid in diction and highly melodious, with many vivid descriptions of nature; but the gist of it was to ask forgiveness. When he finished, the Prophet drew off his famous stripped Yemeni cloak or mantle and threw it over the shoulders of the poet in recognition of his beautiful eloquence.

It’s not surprising that Prophet Muhammad appreciated beauty in the eloquence of poetic expression. One of the famous saying of his is, “Divine is Beautiful and Loves what is Beautiful.” Prophet Muhammad’s elevated maqams (stations) include the maqam of ceaseless witnessing and affirming of the Jamal (Beauty) of God in all manifestations. May profound divine peace and blessings be upon his perfumed soul.

2.
About 650 years later Prophet Muhammad will bless another poet in the same manner by wrapping his mantle over the poet for his sincere and beautiful words; but this time it will happen in a magnificent dream and the baraka (blessing) of the Prophet will make the very poem the single most celebrated and known poem in any language in human history.

3.
12th century, Maghrib, Misr (Egypt)

Poet Busiri’s name is well known not only in his own land but well beyond the continent for his elegance and unparalleled poetic talents. Due to his merit, in earlier part of his life he became a very successful poet patronized by royal courts and secretary of states of the land. Now coming towards more mature age his life took an unexpected turn. By a sudden stoke half of his body became completely paralyzed and the conditions only worsened by every day. Through his serious physical affliction coupled with a deeper spiritual aspiration Busiri turned inward whole-heartedly.

Invoking the help of Prophet Muhammad and his intercession, he fervently prayed to God the Almighty, with tears, repentance and sincerity of purpose, to grant him a speedy relief from the paralysis. With inspiration and love for the Prophet the poetic instinct of Busiri composed a tribute to the Prophet as a hymn (qasidah). He continued reciting the poem with ardent zeal again and again till he fell asleep. In his sleep state Busiri had the most amazing dream unlike any he had ever before.

In that magnificently lucid dream Prophet Muhammad appeared to him and asked Busiri to read the ode the poet wrote for him. When he said, “O Messenger! I wrote many eulogies for you; which one do you wish?” the Prophet indicated the last by reciting the first verse. While Busiri recited the ode, the Prophet listened with pleasure, swaying from side to side. Then as a sign of his approval and reward, the Prophet wrapped his famous mantle around the poet.

The dream came to an end.

Busiri woke up with profound joy. While pleasurably trying to gather the dream together, he realized that his paralysis had vanished, and he was astounded with happiness. Read from the account of the poet himself: “I was suddenly paralyzed down one side of my body by a stroke. I decided to compose this ode, the Burdah. I hoped that it would be a means unto Allah, by which He would cure me. So I recited it again and again, weeping, praying, and petitioning God. I fell asleep, and in a dream, I saw the Blessed Prophet. He moved his noble hand across my face, and placed his cloak upon me. When I awoke, I found that I had recovered my health.”

The historical record of the incident continues and as Busiri woke up from the dream near the dawn, the time of morning prayer were approaching. He took ablution (muslim way of baptism before prayer) and started towards the mosque where he saw a sufi dervish. With much surprise to Busiri the dervish wanted to receive the ode he recited in the presence of the Prophet the night before.

Reciting the first line exactly, the dervish informed that he also witnessed it in a dream recited before the Prophet, who continued moving to and fro like a tender plant, as a mark of his approbation, and then invested the reciter with a ‘Mantle’. Hearing the exact description of the dream Busiri gave him the poem. The report of this incident spread out and soon enough the poem would famously be called “Qasidah al-Burdah” or “The Poem of the Mantle”.
4.

Full name of Imam Busiri was Abu Abdallah Sharafuddin Muhammad ibn Sa’id ul-Busiri (1211–1296). He was born and lived in Egypt. He himself was a sufi shaykh in the lineage of Shadhiliyya school of sufism. He was a disciple of Imam Abul ‘Abbas al-Mursi who was a Khalifa of Imam Abul Hasan ash-Shadhdhuli, the epitome founder of Shadhdhuli sufi order. Busiri and Ibn Atallah as-Iskandari were contemporary and both were student of Abul ‘Abbas. May God be pleased with them all.

Originally titled as al-Kawākib ad-Durrīya fī Madh Khayr al-Barīya (“Celestial Lights in Praise of the Best of Creation”), the ode of praise for Prophet Muhammad is more famously known throughout the world as Qasidah al-Burdah (also written as Qasida Burda) or “Poem of the Mantle” because of the blessed dream of the Prophet and his mantle incident associated with the poem. In sufi tradition the symbology of giving someone or blessing someone with personal cloak / mantle is very deep. Often time its associated with highest transmission of wisdom, permission, appraisal and approval.

5.
the single most popular poem in any language

“Historians look at the Burdah, we very soon realize that what we are dealing with is very probably the most influential and the most popular single poem in the history of any language. there simply is no other text from ancient or recent times that has been done in so many languages, not just for some rarefied literary elite but for the people…” – Timothy J. Winter (Abdal Hakim Murad), Cambridge University, UK

Qasida Burdah as a poem has had a unique history. Even in the poet’s lifetime it was already regarded as sacred. Over 90 commentaries have been written on this poem by many of the foremost scholars and imams of Islam, including Ibn Hajar, Mulla Ali al-Qari, Ibn Allan, Bajuri, and others. It has been translated into Persian, Urdu, Turkish, Berber, Punjabi, English, French, German, Sindhi, Dutch and other languages. It is recited across the world in sacred ceremonies, mosques, on blessed days even in social gatherings such as marriage etc. The poem is memorized and recited in congregations, and its verses decorate the walls of public buildings and mosques.

From coasts of Senegal to the Philippines, from Russia to South Africa, everywhere Qasida Burdah is recited as a token of love for the Prophet and to ask for blessings. In some circles it is a major and regular practice to recite the Burdah. In Indonesia for example, its a normal routine for the students of religious training to read Burdah on the Friday morning after sunrise or Saturday afternoon. Some having it thrice a week while others may have it the whole week in the early morning. In Java, Burdah is one of their Spiritual Culture.

6.
composition of the Burdah

The Burda is divided into 10 chapters and 160 verses. Each verse ends with the Arabic letter mīm, a style called mīmīya. The 10 chapters of the Burda comprise of Love Yearning for the Prophet, Warnings about the Caprices of the Self, the Praise of the Prophet, his Birth, his Miracles, the Exalted Stature and Miraculous Merits of the Qur’ān, the Ascension of the Prophet, the Chivalrous Struggle of God’s Messenger, Seeking Intercession through the Prophet and Intimate Discourse and the Petition of One’s State.

In its ten chapters, the Burda, in essence a madih (loving praise of the Prophet Muhammad) and mawlid (Prophet’s lifestory), expresses the core values, meanings, and sentiments of Islam. Most commonly performed as inshad (musical recitation), especially on the occasion of the Prophet’s birth (12 Rabia al-Awwal), in Sufi rituals, or other devotions, the Burda became the most widely-recited poem in the Muslim world.

7.
miraculous power of the Burdah

The Qasida Burda is revered to both orthodox traditional muslims as well as mystical path oriented sufis. Up to the present time its verses are used as amulets. The Burda is credited with extraordinary spiritual therapeutic and protective power (baraka) stemming from its author’s personal relation to the Prophet (recitation, and miraculous cure), and is believed capable of reproducing such a relation for others who recite it. To some sufi account it is narrated that if one recite the Burdah with pure intention and love for 10 days, one will meet the prophet in one’s dream by God’s permission. Many have their share of experiences of miracles after reading the Burdah or attending a gathering where Burdah is recited.

8.
the start and the end of the journey is Love

Qasidah Burdah, the ode was originally composed and recited out of deep love for the Prophet – the same tradition continues by those who preserve it. In spiritual tradition, the teacher of the time is the axis of attraction and Prophet Muhammad is the Last Messenger (till the end time before the arrival of second coming of Christ) and Seal of the sacred brotherhood of all messengers of God. He is the pinnacle and pole (Qutub) of all poles. On the rank of the Prophet Muhammad, Rumi wrote: ‘Now, you should know that Muhammad is the leader and guide. As long as you don’t come to Muhammad first, you won’t reach us (saints and friends of God). Jesus is the comrade of Moses and Jonah is the comrade of Joseph, but Muhammad sits alone, ‘distinct’. Love is the ocean of deep spiritual meaning, and everyone in the ocean is like a fish. And Muhammad is the pearl in the ocean. Look! I keep revealing this!’

In Islamic path, the love for the Prophet is a pivotal station which every seeker of truth strive to arrive. Quran speaks of it (3:31): “Say (O Muhammad), if you do love God, follow me, God will love you (in return) and forgive.” A saying of the Prophet in paraphrase: None of you will enter the mystery of iman (conviction to reality) until I am more beloved to him than his own family, wealth and all the people.

Love is the path and road of our Prophet.
– Rumi

Loving the Prophet is a pathway to open the heart and a signpost towards the divine love. All praise and sending blessing to the Prophet is motivated out of only one cause, which is to be able to generate that pure love in the heart which purifies the being and elevate its human status.

“He (God) loves them and they love Him”
– The Quran 5:54

He who loves Me, knows Me,
and He who knows Me, finds Me.
– traditional sufi saying

There are many virtues and miracles of reading the Burdah but the ultimate aim for one who recites it out of love is to provide the heart with a compass to find the pure love (mahabba) with beloved Prophet Muhammad,who is the Seal and bearer of message of unity.

Grab the cloak of Muhammad, the Messenger,
and hear the call to prayer of Love
every moment from the soul of Bilal.
– Rumi

9.
Qasidah al-Burdah: Online resources

. Audio of the Burdah Shareef
. Qasida Burda by Fez Singers

. A video introducing Qasida al-Burdah of Imam Busiri
A documentary on Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s production of Imam al-Busiri’s “The Burda” or “The Poem of the Cloak”, an incredibly powerful poem that is famous across the world. Includes commentary by Shaykh Hamza, Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, and Daniel Abdal Hayy Moore.

[>] Youtube videos with translation: Urdu Qawwali styled, Qasida Burdah Nasheed, al-Burda a beautiful recitation

. Qasidat al-Burdah: An Analogy of Arabic and Urdu Poems by Syed Mohiuddin Qadri
. Full english translation and original arabic text

[>] Audio Samples of the Burdah recitation:
1. Imam Jilani
2. Qasida by Junaid Jamshed
3. Qasida Burdah by Fez Singers
4. Jalwa e Jana by Junaid Jamshed
5. Tunisian Burdah, Indonesian Burdah, Morrocan Burdah
6. More Audios of Qasida Burdah

# Reference:
1. Muhammad: His Life based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings
2. Qasidat al-Burdah: An Analogy of Arabic and Urdu Poems by Syed Mohiuddin Qadri
3. Qasida al-Burdah @ wikipedia

.. (picture) the chest that preserves the cloak of the Prophet, chamber of sacred relics, Topkapi Museum, Turkey

# Further: . Complete Burdah in Arabic Script (pdf) . Translation of the Burdah and other resources
. Recitations of Qasida Burdah
. Qasida Burda Hadra @ Osmanli Naksibendi Dergah
. Qasida al-Burdah explanations
. Burdah Night @ Zaytuna
. Qasida Burdah in Arabic

# Related:
. Prophet Muhammad and Poetry appreciation
. Habib Allah: The Mystery of beloved one of Allah
. dreaming the Prophet

source blog

Selections from Dr Muhammad Iqbal, the philosopher of the east

 

Allama Iqbal’s Poems (English)
 
 
A Mother’s Dream
 

One night while sleeping
I dreamt
Seeing which I began
To get impatient

I saw that
To a place I am going
Where everywhere was dark
And paths are not reaching

As I proceeded
With the confidence I gathered
A queue I saw
Where boys had assembled

Emerald-like garment
They were wearing
In every hand
A little lamp was burning

Without making any noise
To and fro they were moving
Lord alone knows
Where exactly were they going?

While in this thought
My son did I find
Standing in this set
And left behind.

He was at the back
‘coz he was not quick.
The lamp in his hand
Was not getting burnt.

I said ‘Dear One!
Remember me.
Leaving me behind,
Where have you come?

Restless I am
In your separation
Enjoining I am
A necklace of tears

To us you have showed
No concern at all
The wound once healed
Loyal you are not at all

When saw the children
My fret and fume
Turning his face
The reply came

If you are sad
When from you I separate
Neither for your lad
Is there any profit (in separation)!

Saying this, the child
For sometime remained quiet.
Then lamp in his hand held
He spoke thus:

Are you wondering,
What to this is happening?
Your tears flowing
Has barred it from burning.

 

Benevolence
 

On the bough of a tree was seated
A nightingale that was saddened

Saying that-
Over me the night is past
And in pecking day is lost!

Towards their nest
How will they (birds) reach
When the shadow of dark
Has fastened its glitch

When heard this yell and wail
Of the nightingale
Said the glowworm
In a voice so calm

With my heart and soul
To you I am of avail
So what if I am
An insect so little?

The night is dark
Why worry then?
All through your route
I will enlighten!

A torch has Allah given me
A radiant lamp has He made me

Noble are those ones indeed
Whom others find while in need!

 

Communism and Imperialism
 

The soul of both of them is impatient and restless,

Both of them know not God, and deceive mankind.

One lives by production, the other by taxation,

And man is a glass caught between two stones.

The one puts to rout science, religion, art,

The other robs the body of soul, the hand of bread.

I have perceived both drowned in water and clay,

Both bodily burnished, but utterly dark of heart.

Life means a passionate burning, an urge to make,

To cast in the dead clay the seed of heart.

Note: Iqbal says that communism is the enemy of faith, while Capitalism is the enemy of Humanity. Materialism is the belief of both of them. Life in Communism is production and that of Capitalism is Taxation.

 

Flattery
 

One day a Spider was telling a Fly
‘Everyday on this route you are passing by’

But not for once did my fortune trigger
That, towards my home you never got nearer

It matters not if from strangers you abstain
But away from friends you shouldn’t remain

My home if you come
That shall be my honor!
That ladder in the front
Will reach you to your friend

When heard the fly the talk of the Spider-friend
(It said) O Sire! Play this game on the ignorant

This fly is not among the foolish ones
Who goes up your ladder and never returns

Hearing this the Spider said,

“Ah! You think a traitor I am?
A fool like you will nowhere be found.

Lord knows from where you came flying?
If you remain at my home what is wrong?

Many are the things for you to see
Although a small hut it is when from outside you see

On the doors are hanging curtains very fine
On the walls are mirrors that is full of shine

Said the fly: Fine! What you say is true but,
Your home I will come not.

O Lord! Save me from such subtle discourse
Once laid on them, then I will never arise!

When listened the Spider the talk of the Fly
It thought of a plan to bring the little one nigh

A hundred things with flattery is got done
Everyone in this world is a slave when put this crown

These things did the Spider think
And said,
‘Lord has given u a high rank.’

In love I am with your face
That began when I saw you at once

Your eyes are shining like diamond
Your head with a crest has Allah adorned

This beauty, this attire, this splendor, this honor
And a resurrection it is your flight in the air

Pity arose in the fly when heard this flattery
It said ‘I wish not to cause you any agony’

The habit of refusing I believe is bad
To break one’s heart is in fact bad!

Saying this, it flew from its place
When it came near, the Spider jumped to lay the seize

Hungry was the Spider for many days
But now sitting at home,
The fly was flown to its place!

Khalil Gibran some quotes

A collection of quotes from Khalil Gibran, the third most well read poet in the world.

Every man loves two women;the one is the creation of his imagination and the other is not yet born.

Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.

God made Truth with many doors to welcome every believer who knocks on them.

I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.

If indeed you must be candid, be candid beautifully.

If you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work.
 

If you reveal your secrets to the wind you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.

In the sweetness of friendship; let there be laughter and the sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding.

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.

Say not, ‘I have found the truth,’ but rather, ‘I have found a truth.’

The deeper sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain.

 
The lights of stars that were extinguished ages ago still reaches us. So it is with great men who died centuries ago, but still reach us with the radiations of their personalities.
 
The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious of the rose.

To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to do.

Yesterday is but today’s memory, tomorrow is today’s dream.

In battling evil, excess is good; for he who is moderate in announcing the truth is presenting half-truth. He conceals the other half out of fear of the people’s wrath.

It is well to give when asked but it is better to give unasked, through understanding.

Yes, there is a Nirvanah; it is leading your sheep to a green pasture, and in putting your child to sleep, and in writing the last line of your poem.

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and the sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

Perplexity is the beginning of knowledge.

Khalil Gibran poem for newly weds

Verses below from Khalil Gibran recited at informal wedding ceremonies in Lebanon and Syria. It speaks of love and individuality as the necessary ingredients for happy family life.

Let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts,

And stand together yet not too near together;

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

 

Inner Peace

Take care of the heart rest of the body will be fine

Bit more than recitation stuck your throat

Open your hearts’ eyes with doors flung wide open

the Noor, the message of the Holy Quran, let it rest inside for a while.

 

Allow the cool breeze of the verses

criss cross the recesses of your heart

Let inner peace alight

Bringing upon it light upon light….