The 8th academic pre-conference of the “International Conference of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.), the supporter of the Great Prophet (p.b.u.h)” on the subject of “Study of the Book of Poems Attributed to Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.)” was held online and face-to-face on Wednesday, December 30, 2020 in AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly headquarter in Qom.
In the session, the chairman of the “Abu Talib (a.s.) Research Institute”, Hujat al-Islam Mohammad Mahdi Sabahi Kashani, and one of the researchers of the Islamic seminary in Qom, Hujat al-Islam Mohsen Ahmadi Tehrani presented their views on the issue.
The place of poetry in history and its social impact
At the beginning of the meeting, emphasizing that “The life of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) has different dimensions,” Hojat al-Islam Sabahi said, “But since this session dedicated to his poems and poetry books attributed to him or books collected of his poems, I will deal with the issue of the poetry of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.). However, a complete study of the poems of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) requires a lot of time.”
“At that time, great political, social and spiritual figures used the form of poetry to succeed their goals or had poets with them. Later, there were many poets in the caliphate of the Umayyads and the Abbasids; Because the result of the poets’ work was important and had a decisive role in achieving their goals”, he said on the place of the poetry in Arab history and its social impact.
“At that time, along with rhetoric and prose, poetry had a special place and its impact was greater than prose. It can be said that poetry in that era was like today's media. For example, it was very effective to provoke the military during the battle, and the warriors sang and recited poems that were expressive, useful, and short, followed by a large crowd moving for battle. Even in the present era, in the Iran-Iraq war, they created epics with poetry and songs”, added the chairman of the “Abu Talib (a.s.) Research Institute”.
Literary support for the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h)
Regarding the role of the poems of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) in supporting the Mission of the Prophet (p.b.u.h), he said, “Before the Hijra, the followers of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) were in the minority and under pressure. All of the Mushrekin (polytheists) were against him and he did not have much support and only a few believed in him. In this situation and atmosphere, Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) supported the Prophet (p.b.u.h) and shielded him in disputes so that the Prophet (p.b.u.h) would have no problem in advancing his goals. However, the Prophet (p.b.u.h) was always supported by God and the support of Abu Talib (a.s.) was also considered as God’s support. This support - sometimes in the form of poems - played a decisive role in early days of Islam.”
Pointing out that the use of poetry from ancient times to advance thoughts was very high, Sabahi added, “The Prophet (p.b.u.h) did not want to write poetry but he knew the use and influence of poetry and the first poet of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) was Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.). Even to support the Prophet (p.b.u.h) and Islam, Abu Talib (a.s.) used to send an “ambassador” with a “poetry”. Like the story of Abyssinia in which Abu Talib (a.s.) wrote a poem and sent an ambassador to the king of Abyssinia, Najashi, and in his poem he wanted him, “Support Ja'far and the other Muslims who migrated to Abyssinia.” After Jafar's success, he also appreciated Najashi by writing a poem.”
“The prose of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) is each related to an event that in order to understand that prose, that event and special situation must also be examined. This literary support has been so effective that due to the complexity of advancing the work of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) with the help of Abu Talib, even the enemies have been forced in their books to mention the name of Abu Talib and admit that a prose belongs to him”, he also added.
How has the Divan (Book of Poems) of the Great Poets been collected throughout history?
Then, in explaining the method of collecting the Divan of Poets throughout history, the director of the research institute of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) said, “In the past, poets’ divans (Books of Poems) were not collected by the poets themselves, but by the narrators. Therefore, poets did not have a direct role in compiling their divan. For example, the Divan attributed to Imam Ali (a.s.) has been collected in five or six ways from the time of the Imams (a.s.) until today, and there are several versions of it. The same thing has happened to other great poets. Therefore, about the poems of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.), some people have collected his famous poems and it was not the case that collecting the poems of Abu Talib (a.s.) had a special routine.”
Noting, “It is important to examine the personalities of the writers who wrote or collected poems about Abu Talib (a.s.)”, added, “The authors or people who collected the poems of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) or the figures who wrote an article or poem about him should be professionally recognized.”
History of collecting Divans (books of poems) of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.)
Regarding the history of writing poetry divans attributed to Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.), Sabahi said, “The first collection of poems of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) called “Diwan of Abi Taleb ibn Abd Al-Muttalib” by “Abu Haffan Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Harb Al-Mahzami Al-Basri” belongs to the 3rd century AH, which has been narrated by “Ibn Jenni”, a famous writer and lexicographer. The author was born at the end of the 2nd century AH and was a Shiite and trusted by scholars and scientists as well as poets. He came from a poet family and two of his uncles were his teachers. “Abu Hafan’s family is Shiite and originally from Basra,” says Najashi (a historian). He went to Baghdad from Basra and was a poet who specialized in various dimensions and was considered accepted by the greats of literature and vocabulary.”
About this Shiite poet, he said, “In this book, Abu Haffan has quoted 414 verses of the poems of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.), mentioning the source and the historian, and brief explanations about the vocabulary of the poems. He also explained about the people mentioned by Abu Talib (a.s.) in those poems. The best research on the “Diwan of Abi Taleb ibn Abd Al-Muttalib” is by Sheikh Muhammad Hassan al-Yasin. He also mentioned other sources and documents and gave them in a footnote, with brief explanations.”
The chairman of the Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) Research Institute, continued, “The second collection of poems of Abu Talib (a.s.) is from “Ali ibn Hamza Al-Basri Al-Tamimi”. He collected poems independently and had not seen Abu Haffan’s book. Therefore, he has independently quoted the poems of Abu Talib (a.s.) in a more comprehensive way and with separate documents and sources. In his book, Ali ibn Hamzah quoted about 180 more verses - that is, 597 verses - from the poems of Abu Talib.”
Regarding the characteristics of the divan compiled by Ali ibn Hamza Tamimi, Sabahi Kashani said, “This book is reliable and the historians are well-known people in Shiite and Sunni Rijal (the historians who narrates Hadith). Another characteristic of his collected divan is that Allameh “Majlisi” trusted it and is considered as one of the sources of “Bihar Al-Anwar” (by Allameh Majlisi). Also, some Sunni scholars such as “ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani” in “Al-Isaba” (book) and “Baghdadi” in “The Treasury of Literature” (book) have quoted from this divan.”
Shiites’ negligence and 1000 years of strange gap!
“After these two comprehensive divans, which were compiled more than a thousand years ago and convey the way of thinking of Abu Talib (a.s.) about the Prophet (p.b.u.h), we have nothing new about the poems of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) for about 1000 years! That is, after these two books, until the year 1369 AH. (1950 AC) we do not have any writing about Abu Talib’s Divan; Even by Shiite scholars. This shows the negligence of our researchers and elders.” He reminded.
Saying “At the beginning of the Bi’tha (Prophet’s mission), no one supported the Prophet (p.b.u.h) except Abu Talib (a.s.),” Sabahi said on the number of the verses by Abu Talib, “According to “ibn Shahr Ashub” in the book “Mutashabih al-Quran”, Abu Talib (a.s.) had three thousand verses in praise and support of the Prophet (p.b.u.h); But today, with the difference between the versions, we can collect a little more than 700 verses from that 3000 verses!”
Contemporary Divans About the Poems of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.)
“Sunni scholars compiled and published two divans for Abu Talib in 1950 and 1993. The first divan called “Ghayat al-Talib fi Sharh Diwan Abi Talib” (The Goal of the Student the Explanation of the Diwan of Abu Taleb) is by the “Sheikh Muhammad Khalil Khatib”. This author was a professor of literature in Egypt and a thinker. He, who wrote his Divan based on the Divan of Abu Haffan, has additions to it and has increased the poems of Hazrat Abu Talib to 500 verses. The author has also used the book “Talaba al-Talib fi Sharh Lamiya Abi Talib Alayeh as-Salam” by “Ali Fahmi” in the section of Lamia ode.” He added on contemporary divans on Abu Talib’s poems (a.s.).
The chairman of the Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) Research Institute added, “Sheikh Mohammad Khalil Khatib wrote “Ghayat al-Talib fi Sharh Diwan Abi Talib” more than seventy years ago and published it in 1950. We at the institute plan to republish it with additions and in a more favorable layout.”
“The second divan of Sunni scholars about Abu Talib’s poems is “Diwan Abi Talib Amm al-Nabi (S)” (The Divan of Abi Talib, the Uncle of the Prophet (p.b.u.h)) by Dr. Muhammad al-Tunji, a professor at the University of Aleppo in Syria. The author is over 90 years old and we want to contact him. In his research, in addition to Sunni sources, Mr. Al-Tunji has referred to Shiite sources such as “A’yan al-Shia” (Shiite nobles) by Allama Seyed Mohsen Amin and “Tawhid” by Sheikh Saduq, and the author’s use of Shiite sources in compiling the divan of Abu Talib (a.s.) is important to us.” He continued.
“Sheikh Mohammed Khalil Khatib from Egypt and Dr. Mohammed Al-Tunji from Syria worked hard to the best of their ability and pointed out some details, and although we have critiques of some of the topics in these two books, especially in their two introductions, they are commendable for their work for Abu Talib.” Said Hojat al-Islam Sabahi, appreciating the efforts of these two Sunni scholars in compiling the Divan of Abu Talib.
The importance of the poems of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) in defense of the Prophet (p.b.u.h)
Following Hojat al-Islam Sabahi in the meeting, regarding the “Importance of paying attention to the poems and divans of Abu Talib (a.s.)”, Hojat al-Islam “Ahmadi Tehrani” stated, “For understanding his Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) defense of the Prophet (p.b.u.h), collection of his poetry very important.”
Explaining the characteristics of Lamia ode of Abu Talib, he said, “I have seen five explanations about the Lamia ode.” He stated, “This ode has been praised by many Sunni elders. Rashid Reza, a Sunni scholar, said, “I wish every student of literature would memorize the Lamia ode of Abu Talib and use its rhetoric.” The content, form, type and composition of Abu Talib’s poems are very glorious and can inspire literature students.”
Stating that the writing, citation and content of Lamia ode is glorious, this seminary professor said about the time of composing the ode by Abu Talib, “The Quraysh (Prophet Mohammad’s tribe) decided to isolate the Muslims, so they were confined to the Abu Talib’s She’b (valley), and 3 very difficult years passed for the Prophet (p.b.u.h) and his companions; To the extent that it is narrated that the Mushrekin (polytheists) who passed around the valley heard the cries of the children from there. At the end of the three years of siege in the valley, Hazrat Abu Talib wrote the ode of Lamia and expresses his firm positions.”
The content of Lamia ode
“In this ode, Abu Talib reminded the Mushrekin that they had much in common. He took refuge in the holy issues that the Quraysh also considered sacred. Abu Talib has expressed and drawn the content so beautifully that it seems as if one is watching a movie.” Said Hojat al-Islam Ahmadi Tehrani, on the content of the Lamia ode.
“In Lamia ode Abu Talib told the Mushrekin, “When I saw that you were only hostile and had made an alliance with our enemies, I decided to dedicate myself to the Prophet (p.b.u.h). I made a vow next to the Kaaba to be with the Prophet (p.b.u.h) until my death. I seek refuge in God from anyone who taunts and emphasizes his falsehood.”” He added.
“In Lamia ode, Abu Talib expresses his feelings with a strong, beautiful and epic expression, as well as determination. On the other hand, he shows his relationship with the Prophet (p.b.u.h) and that he (p.b.u.h) revealed some hidden secrets to him and that the parchment holding the boycott declaration was found to be eaten by termites. Abu Talib (a.s.) further states, “I defend the Prophet (p.b.u.h) with all my being, even if it takes years. The Messenger of God (p.b.u.h) is truthful, he does not pay attention to the false words of those who condemn him. Know for sure that he will win!”” He also noted.
“The style of expression of the poem is the best type and many things have been said using emotional and epic expression. Therefore, the AhlulBayt have encouraged us to learn the poems of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.).” Said the professor at the high levels of Islamic seminary in Qom, Hojat al-Islam Ahmdi Tehrani, regarding the reason for the immortality of Lamia poem by Abu Talib (a.s.).
“If the poems of Abu Talib (a.s.) are known, he will be released from oppression.” Ahmdi Tehrani emphasized.
Taqya (ostensibly denial of religious belief) of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.)
In another part of his speech, he added, “Everywhere in Lamia ode there are many reasons for Abu Talib’s strong faith. But on the other hand, just as Taqiyya was the method of AhlulBayt, Abu Talib also used this method. In a part of Lamia ode, Abu Talib mentions the sacred things, that is, the paintings and sculptures that were Safa and Marwa. These verses convey his Taqya (ostensibly denial of religious belief). Because the statues were definitely not acceptable to him and he did not believe in them.”
“We have many reasons that Hazrat Abu Talib treated and interacted with the Mushrekin with Taqya, and the AhlulBayt (a.s.) have also testified that Abu Talib (a.s.) was a believer.” Ahmadi said.
It should be mentioned that by the initiation of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, and support and cooperation of the similar institutions, including, “Imam Hossein (a.s.) Holy Shrine”, “Hazrat Aboutaleb Research and Publishing Institute”, “The World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought”, “Islamic Sciences and Culture Academy of Islamic Propagation Office”, “Al-Mustafa International University”, “Hawza Language teaching center”, “International University of AhlulBayt (a.s.)”, “Mirath-e Nabowat Cultural Institute”, “Jamiat al-Zahra Seminary University”, “Zorria al-Nabawia Research Center”, “Qasem ibn al-Hassan (a.s.) Religious-Cultural Institute”, and “Abna al-Rasoul Cultural and Artistic Institute”; international conference “Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.), Supporter of the Great Prophet (p.b.u.h)” will be held.
The deadline for submitting academic works and articles to this conference has been extended until February 18, 2021.
To receive the academic call of the conference, click here.
The other program which will be held on the sideline of the conference is the “General Festival of Poetry about Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.)”.
To receive the academic call for the Poetry Festival, click here.