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IslamQA: Does Islam oppose poetry?

Salamalaikum, according to several hadiths, is all poetry that is not Islamic in subject matter not permitted or disliked? Esp regarding this hadith: "It is better for the belly of any one of you to be stuffed with pus rather than to stuff (one's mind) with poetry"?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The hadith you mentioned speaks against dedicating too much time and effort to poetry as was the habit of some Arabs (spending many hours on it daily). But I haven’t seen any hadith that declares a general prohibition on poetry. Ali b. Abi Talib RA, Imam al-Shafi`i and many other scholars composed poetry, and their themes weren’t always religious. The Quran speaks against poets for their boasting and false exaggeration. But it approves of poets “who believe, perform good deeds, remember God often, and do not humbly submit to oppression.” (paraphrasing 26:227). This does not mean that all poetry should be religious. It means that the type of poetry that God approves of comes from a person who has such a character. The poetry can be about anything, but the character of the poet determines whether it is wholesome poetry or otherwise.

And note that the Quran above is talking about the production of poetry, not its consumption. A person can read any type of poetry as long as they have a good reason to do so. But once they find that a particular poem or poet affects them negatively then it is better if they avoid it.

And God knows best.
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