Excerpted from Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine, by Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, 1998

What is the position of Ahl al-Sunna regarding Qasida al-Burda, which is read in full by millions of people and Islamic scholars from the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, and North Africa?

Can we continue reading and reciting it as we have been taught by the scholars that we know?

What is the position of Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Wahhab regarding that poem?


Sharaf al-Din Muhammad al-Busiri's (608-696?) illustrious poem, al-Kawakib al-durriyya fi madh khayr al-bariyya (The resplendent stars in the praise of the Best of Creation), which became known as Qasidat al-Burda, is one of the literary treasures of the Arabic language. It is a model of true and excellent praise for the Prophet, which contains the rarest pearls and lessons on the etiquette of humility and respect before the Elect One of creation and the Beloved of the Lord of the worlds.

This poem was taught, copied, distributed, recited, transcribed on mosque walls, memorized, commented on, studied, and considered required reading by countless scholars, including the hadith masters Sakhawi and Suyuti, and their students. Hafiz Abu Shama wrote a commentary on it that is yet unpublished. Ibn Taymiyya, in the book attributed to him under the title al-Sarim al maslul `ala shatim al-rasul (The drawn sword against those who disrespect the Prophet), said:

The foundation of the religion of Islam is built on praising, glorifying, and treating with dignity the Leader of all the Prophets, may peace be upon them all. Such praise, glorification, and treating with dignity is praise for the entire Religion; and its removal is the end of the Religion. By not giving such respect to the Prophet, all religion comes to an end.

Below is a translation of some of the most beautiful verses of that poem, followed by a refutation of the false views cast against them by the "Salafis."


26. astaghfirullaha min qawlin bila `amalin / laqad nasabtu bihi naslan li dhi `uqumi

I ask Allah's forgiveness for talk without deeds, for I have thereby claimed an offspring for one who is seedless.

27. amartuka al-khayra lakin ma atmartu bihi / wa mastaqamtu fa ma qawli lakastaqimi

I ordered you to do good deeds, but I did not follow that order. I have not been upright. What value have my words to you: Be upright?

28. wa la tazawwadtu qabla al-mawti nafilatan / wa lam usalli siwa fardin wa lam asumi

I did not make provision of supererogatory deeds before death. I did not pray or fast beyond what is obligatory.

29. zalamtu sunnata man ahya al-zalama ila / an ishtakat qadamahu al-durra min warami

Verily, I have wronged the Way of him who kept awake in the dark night, praying until his feet complained of their swelling,

30. wa shadda min shaghabin ahsha'ahu wa tawa / tahta al-hijarati kishhan mutrafa al-adami

Who bound up his entrails due to hunger, and girded beneath stones his delicate flank,

31. wa rawadathu al-jibalu al-shummu min dhahabin / `an nafsihi fa araha ayyata shamami

Whom lofty mountains endeavored to turn from himself with offerings of gold, whereupon he showed them greater loftiness,

32. wa akkadat zuhdahu fiha daruratuhu / inna al-darurata la ta`du `ala al-`isami

And what confirmed that he renounced them was his necessity. Verily, necessity has no sway over those made immune by Allah;

33. wa kayfa tad`u ila al-dunya daruratu man / lawlahu lam tukhraji al-dunya min al-`adami

And how could necessity attract to the world the one were it not for whom the world would not have come out of inexistence?

34. muhammadun sayyidu al-kawnayni wa al-thaqalay / ni wa al-fariqayni min `urbin wa `ajami

Muhammad – Master of the Two Worlds, and of the Two Dense Kinds [human and jinn], and of the Two Branches, Arabs and non-Arabs,

35. nabiyyuna al-amiru al-nahi fa la ahadun / abarra fi qawli la minhu wa la na`ami

Our Prophet – who commands and forbids. None is more truthful in saying No or Yes.

36. huwa al-habibu al-ladhi turja shafa`atuhu / li kulli hawlin min al-ahwali muqtahimi

He is the Beloved whose intercession is dearly sought against every terror's onslaught.

37. da`a ilallahi fal-mustamsikuna bihi / mustamsikuna bi hablin ghayri munfasimi

He called unto Allah. Those who take hold of him have grasped a rope that shall never break.

38. faqa al-nabiyyina fi khalqin wa fi khuluqin / wa la yudanuhu fi `ilmin wa la karami

He surpasses all Prophets in form and character. None of them approaches his knowledge or generosity.

39. wa kulluhum min rasulillahi multamisun / gharfan min al-bahri wa rashfan min al-diyami

All of them come and take from Allah's Messenger a handful of his ocean or a sip of his continuous rains.

40. wa waqifuna ladayhi `inda haddihim / min nuqtati al-`ilmi aw min shaklat al-hikami

They stand before him – each at his limit – possessing but one dot of his science and a glimpse of his wisdom.

41. fa huwa al-ladhi tamma ma`nahu wa suratuhu / thumma istafahu habiban bari'u al-nasami

He is the one whose innermost and outward form were made perfect, after which the Creator of souls took him for His Beloved Friend.

42. munazzahun `an sharikin fi mahasinihi / fa jawharu al-husni fihi ghayru munqasimi

He is exalted above having a partner in his excellent qualities. The essence of his beauty was made indivisible.

43. da` ma idda`athu al-nasara fi nabiyyihim / wahkum bi ma shi'ta madhan fihi wa ihtakimi

Put aside what the Christians have claimed of their Prophet; then pronounce what you will in praise of him, and be wise;

44. fansub ila dhatihi ma shi'ta min sharafin / wansub ila qadrihi ma shi'ta min `izami

And attribute to his person whatever nobility you will, and ascribe to his worth whatever greatness you will,

45. fa inna fadla rasulillahi laysa lahu / haddun fa yu`riba `anhu natiqun bi fami

For the superiority of Allah's Messenger has no limit that a speaker can express with his mouth.

46. law nasabat qadruhu ayatuhu `izaman / ahya ismuhu hina yud`a darisa al-rimami

If his signs had matched his worth, the mere utterance of his name would have brought back to life the dust that once was bones;

47. lam yamtahinna bima ta`ya al-`uqulu bihi / hirsan `alayna fa lam nartab wa lam nahimi

But he did not test us with what makes impotent the minds, out of great concern for us, so that we should not doubt nor become perplexed.

48. a`ya al-wara fahmu ma`nahu fa laysa yura / li al-qurbi wa al-bu`di minhu ghayra munfahimi

Creation is, in truth, powerless to understand his secret. You will not see any near him or far, except it makes them bewildered,

49. ka al-shamsi tazharu li al-`aynayni min bu`din / saghiratan wa tukillu al-tarfa min amami

As the sun appears small to the eyes from a distance, and yet exhausts their sight upon a second look.

50. wa kayfa yudriku fi al-dunya haqiqatahu / qawmun niyamun tasallaw `anhu bi al-hulumi

And how could one perceive his reality in this world, who belongs to a sleeping race distracted from him with dreams?

51. fa mablaghu al-`ilmi fihi annahu basharun / wa annahu kharyu khalqillahi kullihimi

The sum of their knowledge concerning him is that he was a mortal, and that he was the best of all Allah's creation.

52. wa kullu ayin ata al-rusulu al-kiramu biha / fa innama ittasalat min nurihi bihimi

And every single sign brought by the noble Prophets was theirs only in connection to his light,

53. fa innahu shamsu fadlin hum kawakibuha / yuzhirna anwaraha li al-nasi fi al-zulami

For verily he is a sun of perfection of which they are the moons bringing its light to people in the midst of darkness.

54. akrim bi khalqi nabiyyin zanahu khuluqun / bi al-husni mushtamilin bi al-bishri muttasimi

How noble was the form of this Prophet adorned with a high character that encompassed beauty and was marked with cheerful countenance!

55. ka al-zahri fi tarafin wa al-badri fi sharafin / wa al-bahri fi karamin wa al-dahri fi himami

A form like the soft lilies and the full moon in splendor, a character like the ocean in generosity and Time in endeavors,

56. ka'annuhu wa huwa fardun fi jalalatihi / fi `askarin hina talqahu wa fi hashami

Seeming, due to his majesty, even when you met him alone, to head an army or a large company,

57. ka'annama al-lu'lu'u al-maknunu fi sadafin / min ma`dinay mantiqin minhu wa mubtasimi

As if the very pearl concealed inside the shell were formed in the two molds of his speech and his smile.

58. la tiba ya`dilu turban damma a`zumahu / tuba li muntashiqin minhu wa multathimi

There is no fragrance equal to the earth that encloses his bones. Blessed is he that breathes its scent and kisses it.

145. in ati dhanban fa ma `ahdi bi muntaqidin / min al-nabiyyi wa la habli bi munsarimi

If I commit a sin, my covenant is not broken away from the Prophet, nor is my connection to him cut,

146. fa inna li dhimmatan minhu bi tasmiyati / muhammadan wa huwa awfa al-khalqi bi al-dhimami

For I hold a bond from him in my being named Muhammad, and he is the most trustworthy one in creation in keeping his bonds,

147. in lam yakun fi ma`adi akhidhan bi yadi / fadlan wa illa fa qul ya zallata al-qadami

And if he were not, on the day of my return to Allah, to take my hand out of munificence, then you may say of me: the foot will slip!

148. hashahu an yuhrima al-raji makarimahu / aw yarji`a al-jaru minhu ghayra muhtarimi

Far be it from him to deprive the petitioner of his graces. Far be it from him that the seeker of refuge return from his presence discomfited.

149. wa mundhu alzamtu afkari mada'ihahu / wajadtuhu li khalasi khayra multazimi

Yea, since I devoted my thoughts to praising him, I have found him the best of contractors for my deliverance.

150. wa lan yafuta al-ghina minhu yadan taribat / inna al-haya yunbitu al-azhara fi al-akami

Wealth from him will never fail the hands that became destitute – verily, the rain makes flowers grow even on rugged hills –

151. wa lam urid zahrata al-dunya al-lati iqtatafat / yada zuhayrin bi ma athna `ala harimi

But I do not desire the splendor of this world, which the hands of Zuhayr seized when he praised Harim, the King.

152. ya akrama al-khalqi ma li man aludhu bihi / siwaka `inda hululi al-hadithi al-`amami

O noblest one in creation, I have none from whom to request protection other than you when the Universal Event befalls.

153. wa lan yadiqa rasulallahi jahuka bi / idha al-karimu tajalla bi ismi muntaqimi

Your great standing, O Messenger of Allah, will not diminish for advocating me, if the Generous One manifests Himself with His name of Avenger,

154. fa inna min judika al-dunya wa darrataha / wa min `ulumika `ilma al-lawhi wa al-qalami

For your generosity encompasses both this world and the one that comes next, and your sciences encompass the knowledge of the Tablet and the Pen.

155. ya nafsi la taqnati min zallatin `azumat / inna al-kaba'ira fi al-ghufrani ka al-lamami

O my soul! Do not despair because of a terrible footslip. Grave sins, under the covering of forgiveness, are as small ones.

156. la`alla rahmata rabbi hina yaqsimuha / ta'ti `ala hasabi al-`isyani fi al-qasami

It may be that my Lord's mercy, when He distributes it, shall match the transgressions in proportion.

157. ya rabbi wa ij`al raja'i ghayra mun`akisin / ladayka wa ij`al hisabi ghayra munkharimi

O my Lord! Do not let my hope be reversed in Your presence, and let not my account be deemed deficient,

158. waltuf bi `abdika fi al-darayni inna lahu / sabran mata tad`uhu al-ahwalu yanhazimi

And be kind to Your servant in the Two Abodes, for his is a kind of fortitude which calamities hail and overcome,

159. wa'dhan li suhbi salatin minka da'imatin / `ala al-nabiyyi bi munhalli wa munsajimi

And grant showerings of blessings from You upon the Prophet, copious and continuous!

160. thumma al-rida `an abi bakrin wa `an `umarin / wa `an `aliyyin wa `an `uthmana dhi al-karami

And may Allah's good pleasure be with Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Ali, and `Uthman the noble one,

161. wa al-ali wa al-sahbi thumma al-Tabi`ina lahum / ahli al-tuqa wa al-nuqa wa al-hilmi wa al-karami

And with the Family of the Prophet and his Companions, and their Successors the People of Godwariness and Purity and Kindness and Nobility

162. ma rannahat `adhabat al-bani rihu saban / wa atraba al-`isa hadi al-`isi bi al-naghami

As long as the gentle Eastern wind waves the stalks of the moringa-tree, and the camel-leader enlivens the camel with his songs.

163. ya rabbi bi al-mustafa balligh maqasidana / wa ighfir lana ma mada ya wasi`a al-karami

O my Lord! with the Elect One make us attain our goals, and forgive us for what has passed, O Most Munificent One!

164. wa ighfir ilahi li kulli al-muslimina bi ma / yatluhu fi al-masjidi al-aqsa wa fi al-harami

And forgive, O my God, all Muslims who recite this in the Farthest Mosque and the Holy Sanctuary,

165. bi jahi man baytuhu fi tibatin harami / wa ismihu qasamun min a`zami al-qasami

For the Honor and sake of the one whose house lies in the verdant sacrosanct land, and whose name is one of the greatest oaths.