Is not Qur’an Poetic?

Why does the Qur’an reject itself to be called as “poetry” and reject the Prophet Muhammad called “poet”? This refusal must be examined, understood, and studied carefully. Poetry is an “ontology of the Arabs” or it can be said to be the only knowledge possessed by Arab society (Zaid, 2002, p. 169).

Although Qur’anic texts have similarities with poetry in terms of their essence as communication, in many ways they are different from poetry. According to Nasr Hamid Abu-Zaid, the difference is evident in the process and communication relations, whoever is involved.

The difference between the Qur’an and poetry is not only in the process of communication and its relationships, but also in the structure of the text itself. Qur’an is a text that cannot be included in the category of poetry or prose category known to the Arabs before Islam, whether it is the text of the speech, the poetry of the prophets or the text of the parable.

Taha Husein said, the Qur’an is not poetry and not prose, but it is Qur’an. So in its development, Muslims tried to distinguish between terms that refer to the Qur’anic text with terms that refer to poetry. The term Qafiyah in poetry changes to Fashilah in the Qur’an, stanza becomes verse, and Qashidah becomes surah (chapter).

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Then what is the reason for the Qur’an to reject Prophet Muhammad as a poet? Because the function of the poet in Arabic society is different from the function given to the Prophet Muhammad. Poets became the pioneers of the tribe, while the Prophet Muhammad was the messenger of the treatise. Poetry is a text that voices the interests of the group in praising leaders, chiefs, friends; and blaspheme the enemy. While the Qur’an aims to reconstruct reality and transform it into a better direction.

From here comes the affirmation that the Prophet Muhammad is not a poet, and the Qur’an is not poetry. But it all does not mean to demean the poetry of the Qur’an. In other words, Islam’s attitude towards poetry is ideological which must be released from the concept of halal-haram.

So is Islam with the Qur’an and Muhammad, prohibiting poetry and poets? Certainly not. What is prohibited is its essence. If the essence of poetry is hatred, hardship, and tends to usher in evil, then it is what is prohibited. If its essence leads to goodness and draws closer to God, then poetry is like life advice.

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Wallahu Allam.

This article is available in Indonesian

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