Al-Burda

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A verse from the Qaṣīdat al-Burda, displayed on the wall of al-Busiri's shrine in Alexandria

Qaṣīdat al-Burda (Arabic: قصيدة البردة‎, "Poem of the Mantle") is an ode of praise for the Islamic prophet Muhammad composed by the eminent Sufi, Imam al-Busiri of Egypt. The poem whose actual title is al-Kawākib ad-Durrīya fī Madḥ Khayr al-Barīya (الكواكب الدرية في مدح خير البرية, "The Celestial Lights in Praise of the Best of Creation"), is famous mainly in the Sunni Muslim world. It is entirely in praise of Muhammad, who is said to have cured the poet of paralysis by appearing to him in a dream and wrapping him in a mantle or cloak.[1][2]

Composition[edit]

Al-Busiri narrated the circumstances of his inspiration to write the Burdah:

I had composed a number of praise poems for the Prophet, Allah bless Him and salute Him with peace, including one that was suggested to me by my friend Zayn al-Dīn Yʿaqūb b. al-Zubayr. Some time after that, I was stricken by fālij (stroke), an illness that paralyzed half of my body. I thought that I would compose this poem, and so I made supplications to the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless Him and salute Him with peace, to intercede for me and (and ask God to) cure me. I repeatedly sang the poem, wept, prayed, and asked for intercession. Then I slept and in my dream, I saw the Prophet, Allah bless Him and salute Him with peace. He wiped my face with His blessed hands and covered me in His Mantle (Burdah). Then I woke up and found I was able to walk; so I got up and left my house. I had told no one about what had happened.

I encountered a Sufi (faqīr) on my way and he said to me: “I want you to give me the poem in which you praise the Prophet, Allah bless Him and salute Him with peace.”

I said: “Which one?”

So he said: ”The one that you composed during your sickness.”

Then he recited the first verse and said: “I swear by God that I heard it in a dream last night being sung in the presence of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless Him and salute Him with peace. I saw the Prophet, Allah bless Him and salute Him with peace, was pleased with it and covered the person who sang it with His Mantle.”

So I recited the poem to him and he memorized it and related his vision to others.
—Imam al-Busiri

The Burda is divided into 10 chapters and 160 verses all rhyming with each other. Interspersing the verses is the refrain, "My Patron Deity, confer blessings and peace continuously and eternally on Your Beloved, the Best of All Creation" (Arabic: مولاي صلي و سلم دائما أبدا على حبيبك خير الخلق كلهم). Each verse ends with the Arabic letter mīm, a style called mīmīya. The 10 chapters of the Burda comprise:

Popularity[edit]

Sufi Muslims have traditionally venerated the verses. The poem is memorized and recited in congregations, and its verses decorate the walls of public buildings and mosques. This poem decorated Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (the mosque of Muhammad) in Medina for centuries but was erased but for two lines under the Saudi dynasty. Over 90 commentaries have been written on this poem and it has been translated into Persian, Urdu, Turkish, Berber, Punjabi, English, French, German, Sindhi, Norwegian, Chinese(called Tianfangshijing), and other languages. It is known and recited by a large number of Sunni Muslims, ordinarily and on special occasions, such as Mawlid, making it one of the most recited poems in the world.

Translations[edit]

The poem has seen several different translations, into a variety of languages.[3] Arguably the most important translation of recent times is that by Timothy Winter into English. [4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Anthology of Arabic Poems about the Prophet and the Faith of Islam Containing the Famous Poem of Al-Busaree
  2. ^ The poem of the scarf by Shaikh Faizullah Bhai B. A. - University of Bombay - Published by Taj Company Ltd.
  3. ^ See section, "Popularity"
  4. ^ "Imam al-Busiri, The Mantle Adorned", Timothy Winter (Abdal Hakim Murad), (London: Quilliam Press, 2009)

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God (2 vols.), Edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A. Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014. ISBN 1610691776