Living The Quran
From Issue: 952 [Read full issue]
Revelation and Poetry
Ya Sin (Ya Sin) Sura 39: Verse 69
God in all His limitless glory denies that He taught His Messenger the art of poetry. Since God did not teach him this, he will not learn it. No one will ever get to know anything other than what God teaches them. The verse also makes it clear that poetry is not suitable for God's Messenger.
Poetry takes a different line from that of prophethood. Poetry is an interaction which may change from time to time. Prophethood, on the other hand, means revelations bestowed from on high, outlining a firm system and a clear code that should be implemented as it conforms to God's law, which operates throughout the universe. Unlike poetry, it does not change to suit moods and desires.
Moreover, prophethood means constant contact with God, learning directly from what God reveals and an untiring attempt to mould human life in a way that pleases God. In its highest standards, poetry expresses a human longing for what is perfect and beautiful, but it remains a human effort confined within man's capabilities and limitations. At lesser levels, poetry is an expression of reactions and desires that may be strongly carnal. Indeed, prophethood and poetry are far apart: one is at best a longing that issues from the earth while the other is true guidance from on high. The role of revelation is to be a reminder as it works on the mind keeping it alert, and the Quran is to be recited.
"In the Shade of the Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, pp. 224, 225