1,001 Sayings and Deeds of the Prophet

Dead Poets

Sayings and Deeds of the ProphetAllah said: “Kill them wherever you find them!” For no people was this truer than the unfortunate poets who lampooned Muhammad or whom people praised as better versifiers. In their murder, the personification of the perfect human being took a personal interest.

The first poet to be killed was al-Nadr. The Meccans had praised his verses as superior to those of Muhammad. When he spotted al-Nadr among the prisoners captured at Badr, he had him beheaded on the spot. The next to die was the oldest poet, if not the oldest man of Medina, centenarian Abu Afak

He waited for an opportunity until a hot night came, and Abu Afak slept in an open place. Salim b. ‘Umayr knew it, so he placed the sword on his liver and pressed it till it reached his bed. The enemy of Allah screamed and the peo-ple, who were his followers rushed him, took him to his house and interred him.

Ibn S’ad, a companion of the Prophet

The courageous poetess Asma bint Marwan condemned, in verse, the murder of the old wordsmith. In the tradition of every despot through the ages, she then became the target of the assassin’s blade. With an infant suckling at her breast, whom her killer pushed aside, she too was stabbed to death while sleeping. After every murder, the assassin would return to the mosque to inform Muhammad and be praised for what he had done at his insistence.

Umayr Ibn Adi came to her in the night and entered her house. Her children were sleeping around her. There was one whom she was suckling. He searched her with his hand because he was blind, and separated the child from her. He thrust his sword in her chest till it pierced up to her back. Then he offered the morning prayers with the Prophet at Medina.

The apostle of Allah said to him: "Have you slain the daughter of Marwan?"

When Umayr replied that the job had been carried out with success, Muhammad said, “You have helped God and His apostle, O Umayr!”

When Umayr asked if he would have to bear any evil consequences, the apostle said, “Two goats won’t butt their heads about her.”

Muhammad then praised Umayr in front of all gathered for prayer for his act of murder, and Umayr went back to his people.

Ibn S’ad

Muhammad dared the men of her tribe to seek revenge for her murder, as was the custom. Knowing that there was nothing this man was not capable of, they avoided their own destruction by becoming Muslims. The next unfortunate poet murdered per his instructions was Abu-Rafi. 

Narrated Al-Bara bin Azib:

Allah's Apostle sent a group of Ansari men to kill Abu-Rafi. One of them set out and entered their (i.e. the enemies) fort. That man said, "I hid myself in a stable for their animals. They closed the fort gate. Later they lost a donkey of theirs, so they went out in its search. I, too, went out along with them, pretending to look for it. They found the donkey and entered their fort. And I, too, entered along with them.

They closed the gate of the fort at night, and kept its keys in a small window where I could see them. When those people slept, I took the keys and opened the gate of the fort and came upon Abu Rafi and said, 'O Abu Rafi.'

When he replied me, I proceeded towards the voice and hit him. He shouted and I came out to come back, pretending to be a helper.

I said, 'O Abu Rafi, changing the tone of my voice.'

He asked me, 'What do you want; woe to your mother?'

I asked him, 'What has happened to you?'

He said, 'I don't know who came to me and hit me.' Then I drove my sword into his belly and pushed it forcibly till it touched the bone. Then I came out, filled with puzzlement and went towards a ladder of theirs in order to get down but I fell down and sprained my foot.

I came to my companions and said, 'I will not leave till I hear the wailing of the women.'

So, I did not leave till I heard the women bewailing Abu Rafi, the merchant of Hijaz. Then I got up, feeling no ailment, (and we proceeded) till we came upon the Prophet and informed him."

Bukhari 52.264

The murder of the poet Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf:

Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah:

Allah's Apostle said, "Who would kill Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf (Ka'b, a poet, who wrote poems lampooning of Allah's Messenger) as he has harmed Allah and His Apostle?"

Muhammad bin Maslama (got up and) said, "I will kill him."

So, Muhammad bin Maslama went to Ka'b and said, "I want a loan of one or two Wasqs of food grains."

Ka'b said, "Mortgage your women to me."

Muhammad bin Maslama said, "How can we mortgage our women, and you are the most handsome among the Arabs?"

He said, "Then mortgage your sons to me."

Muhammad said, "How can we mortgage our sons, as the people will abuse them for being mortgaged for one or two Wasqs of food grains? It is shameful for us. But we will mortgage our arms to you."

So, Muhammad bin Maslama promised him that he would come to him next time. They (Muhammad bin Maslama and his companions came to him as promised and murdered him. Then they went to the Prophet and told him about it.

Bukhari 45.687

The irony is that the man who wished to be known for his poetry would end up hating the genre and its practitioners.

Narrated Ubai bin Ka'b:

Allah's Apostle said, "Some poetry contains wisdom."

Bukhari 73.166

Narrated Ibn Umar:

The Prophet said, "It is better for a man to fill the inside of his body with pus than to fill it with poetry."

Bukhari 73.175

Perhaps it was because, even with the help of the God who taught Shakespeare, he could not be as eloquent as the poet who lamented the loss of kin with whom he ate, drank and enjoyed the performances of female singers. His kin died at the battle of Badr, or else were killed on orders of Muhammad after the battle and thrown down a well.

Narrate Aisha:

Abu Bakr married a woman from the tribe of Bani Kalb, called Um Bakr. When Abu Bakr migrated to Medina, he divorced her and she was married by her cousin, the poet who said the following poem lamenting the infidels of Quraish:

What is there kept in the well, The well of Badr, (The owners of) the trays of Roasted camel humps?

What is there kept in the well, The well of Badr, (The owners of) lady singers and friends of the honorable companions; who used to drink (wine) together.

Um Bakr greets us with the greeting of peace, But can I find peace after my people have gone?

The Apostle tells us that We shall live again, But what sort of life will owls and skulls live?

Bukhari 58.258