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Published on 15th August, 2002

The Great Poets of the Ahlul Bayt ('a)

By S. Abidin

The Holy Ka'aba. Photo by S.Abidin

Throughout the history of Islam, poetry has been one of the greatest, most effective forms of truth telling, admonition of falsehood and the passionate defence of the descendents of the holy Prophet ('s) of Islam.

There have been many great Poets of the Ahlul Bayt ('a) who died as Martyrs in defence of the ultimate truth of Islam in the way of Allah, His Apostle ('s) and the Ahlul Bayt ('a). These Poets were the Shi'ah of Imam Ali ('a) who were courageous in the face of oppression and cruelty, were truthful in the face of falsehood and were faithful in the face of treachery. 

They campaigned against the oppressive regimes and defended truth without expectation of worldly gains in wealth, honour or position. Their aim was to support the holy 14 Masoomeen ('a), uproot injustice and the unjust sovereigns.

A poet during the time of Imam Ali Zayn Al-Abidin ('a), whose name was Farazdaq, was renowned for his poetry which was filled with love and admiration for the holy Ahlul Bayt ('a). It has been recorded that he was witness to the presence of Imam Ali Zayn Al-Abidin ('a) at the pilgrimage in Mecca when many people quietly asked who was the holy man in their presence and Farazdaq answered as follows:

'This is he whose ability the valley (of Mecca) recognises (as do) the sanctuary and the area outside the sanctuary (al-hill).

This is the son of the best of God's servants. This is the pure pious man, the pure eminent man.

When he comes to touch the corner of the wall of the Ka'ba, it almost grasps the palm of his hand.

He takes care to be modest and he is protected from his terror.

None of mankind has within their souls such primacy as he does nor such grace as he does.

Whoever knows God, knows his friend (wali). Religion is from the House of this man.

When Quraysh saw him, their spokesmen told of the outstanding qualities of this man which indicate (his) nobility.'

Farazdaq had a nephew who was also a Poet, named Kumayt bin Zayd Abasi. Kumayt approached his Uncle for approval on his first poetic verses that were filled with praise of the Almighty Allah (swt) and the holy Masoomeen ('a). It was said to Kumayt by his uncle:

"Make your verses public and disgrace the enemies of Islam, because by Allah, you are the greatest of the past and present poets."

Kumayt recited verses from his Qasida Maymiyyah before Imam Mohammad al-Baqir ('a), one of which was 

'One of Bani Hashim was killed unjustly in the Battle of Karbala amidst the uproar of the people and the ruffians.'

This caused the Imam ('a) to weep and say to Kumayt:

"If I had wealth I would have given it to you. However, I pray for you just as the holy Prophet prayed for the poet Hassan bin Thabit. May Allah help you so long as you support and defend us."

Kumayt frequently recited his verses to the people in open assemblies. 

'The descendents of Imam Ali (a) are the guides of faith and the path of deliverance. The welfare of the world is dependent upon obedience to them, and success on the Day of Judgement is meant for those who are their friends in this world and who seek assistance from them.'

The poetic revolution of the Shi'ah against the oppressive rule of the cruel despots is said to have been initiated by Kumayt. His poems have been collected and recorded in al-Hashmiyat which was first published in Europe and later in Egypt.

Other great poets have passionately spoken against falsehood and admonished the criminal behaviour of the unjust rulers. Abu Faras Hamdani was a poet who campaigned against Bani Abbas.

'Truth has been broken up and religion has been torn to pieces and the legacy of the holy Prophet has been tarnished.

O People of the world! Does Allah not help the people against the mischief of the oppressors and does the religion of Allah not have a revenger?

How much patent breach of trust you have committed with the religion and how much blood of the descendents of the holy Prophet have you shed?

The holy Qur'an is recited constantly in the house of the descendents of Imam Ali whereas in your houses there are musical instruments and songs.'

In another poetic works, Qasidah Jimiyah by Ibn Rumi, he has stated about Bani Abbas:

'It is possible that there be a revolutionary leader behind the curtain of occultation and at the end of the dark night there may be the bright day.

Is it proper that they should remain hungry at night whereas the bellies of your associates should be about to burst owing to too much eating?'

Of the great Shi'ah Poets, the bravest of them is said to have been Di'bil Khuza'i. In his works Qasida Ta'iya he depicts the dreadful killings by Bani Umayyah and expresses the sorrow and grief at the continuous murders of the descendents of Imam Ali (a). He was a Poet of the Ahlul Bayt (a) during the time of Imam Ali al-Riza (a), who for his continuous efforts to support the descendents of the holy Prophet ('s), bestowed on him a personal gift of a fur cloak, that was later stolen twice due to its significance. 

In his verses regarding the holy Ahlul Bayt ('a), Di'bil recited:

'They are my life, my hope, my ambition, my love and my youth.

I shall place my head on the dust of their street and shall not raise my head from their threshold.

For that is the abode of kindness and piety and that is the place of love, hope and ambition.

From there the sun of faith and morality throws its rays on the horizon.

From there blows the zephyr of justice and kindness which makes the garden of the soul beautiful and fresh.

O Lord! Increase my fervour and fill my heart with love for them.

The rights of the holy family were destroyed and they were subjected to much oppression.

So long as the sun rises and the moon appears my task is to weep for this grief.'

These faithful Shi'ah of the Ahlul Bayt ('a) chose their eternal life over the life of this world. They achieved martyrdom while fighting their own campaigns in the name of Allah (swt), His Apostle ('s) and the Ahlul Bayt ('a) against the evil wrongdoers and falsehood.

May Allah (swt) shower His blessings and generous rewards on all of the Great Poets of the Ahlul Bayt (a). 


  • Shaykh al-Mufid (1981) Kitab al-Irshad, Muhammadi Trust, London, England.

  • Shaykh Muhammad Jawad Mughniyyah [Lebanon] (1985) Ash Shi'ah Wal Hakimun (The Despotic Rulers) Islamic Seminary Publications, Pakistan

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