Question: There are some arguments claim that poetry from pre-Islamic era is found in the verses of Quran. Moreover, some people claim that Quran was shaped from this kind of poetry. What is the explanation that you can give to these arguments?
These kind of claims are nothing new. During the time of the Messenger of Allah, when Quran was revealing to him; many polytheists, unbelievers and sinners used these kinds of sayings in their propaganda which are also mentioned in Quran, in books about the life of Muhammad and in some historical documents.
Allah the Almighty indicates that Quran is not a poetry in the following verses:
“We did not teach him poetry, nor it was necessary for him. It is nothing but a reminder and a gathered book of evidences to warn whoever is alive, and to come true the word (command) on the concealers.” (Yasin 36:69-70)
Quran is not a poetry and there is no poetry inside of it. It is revealed that Umar ibn al-Khattāb told to people about how he believed in Islam and became Muslim as following sentences explain:
One night I got out to drink. When I could not find anywhere, I decided to go on Kaaba to tawaf it. When I arrive there, I saw the Messenger of Allah who was performing salah. I wanted to listen him while he was reciting so I got under the sheets of Kaaba and came right in front of him. In my mind I was thinking that it is like the poetry that people of Quraysh was saying, and at that moment he recited this verse:
“It is not a word of a poet. How few of you believe!” (Al-Haqqah / The Reality 69:41)
And when I was thinking that he is a clairvoyant and he is making up all of these words, he recited the following verses:
“And if Muhammad had fabricated some sayings regarding Us, We would have seized him strongly; then We would have cut from him the artery. And there is no one of you who could withhold [Us from] him.” (Al-Haqqah / The Reality 69:44-47)
He was answering every question that was passing through my mind, and then my heart softened and my eyes got glassy. That way Quran led me to accept Islam which is settled in my heart all the way. Lastly, he finished reading it and went towards his home. I went behind him as well. He sensed and recognized me while he was walking. He thought that I was going to oppress him so he called me ‘Umar! What is going on!’. I said ‘I came to obey the Allah and His Messenger and whatever He brought to us!’ He put his hand onto my heart and prayed. After that, He said “With the Wisdom of Allah” and he went to his home.
- Classical source: Ahmad b. Hanbal, 1/17; Ibn Hisham Sirah an-Nabawiyyah, c: 3, s. 166
- Alternative source: Mehmet Azimli says this story of Umar is more valid and accurate comparing to other rumors, Look for more info: Mehmet Azimli, Siyeri Farklı Okumak, Ankara Okulu Yayınları, Ankara, 2010, s. 115 vd.)