Event Review: Reflections on the Burdah with Shaykh Ahmad Saad
What: The Mantle Adorned: Reflections on Burdah
Where: Simply Islam, Still Rd
Who: Shaykh Ahmad Saad
When: 22 November 2013, 8pm
Organised by SimplyIslam
When was the last time you wrote something out of love?
Yeah the once in a while birthday/mother’s/father’s day dedication on social media but that’s about the best I can remember. I used to write my family cards for their birthdays but in the era of everything digital, those heartfelt thoughts and wishes have turned into channels like instagram, facebook, twitter and blog pages.
But honestly, when it comes to dedications of love in the human world, ain’t nobody got anything on Imam Busiri. I mean, he had volumes and volumes of poems and beautiful words dedicated to the most perfect person in the universe; Sayyidina Muhammad (S).
How could anyone beat that?
The majlis started with the Singapore Haqqani Ensemble reciting a few Qasaids to get the crowd warmed up in anticipation for the arrival of Shaykh Ahmad Saad who arrived very soon after the Qasaid started. And before he treated us to a recitation of the Burdah, Shaykh Ahmad delivered a short and succinct speech about the things we can learn from it.
History of Qasidah Burdah
The Burdah is a love poem, praising the Prophet, peace be ever upon him, spanning volumes and volumes of chapters. It was written by Imam Al-Busiri who was a well known poet in history. He used to write poems praising kings and noblemen to earn a living. There came a time when merely being good with words was not enough anymore as the kings and noblemen had their own private poets and writers to sing praises hence needing less of Imam Busiri’s services.
He was at a point where it got difficult to feed his family and life was basically giving him a hard time. He fell ill and was paralyzed which was hard because he was the sole breadwinner of the family. Hence, Imam Busiri decided that instead of praising other people, hoping for rewards from them, he would dedicate his time and efforts to praise the man that deserves, to this day, the highest praise one can give; the blessed Messenger of the Almighty (S).
As Shaykh Ahmad advised us that sometimes we wish for something to happen and then it doesn’t flourish, that is because it is not what’s best for us. Place hope in Allah and pray for He will not disappoint us.
Nowadays the Burdah is a poem that is given as gifts to scholars and kings only. It is the most recited and celebrated Qaseedah in the world.
Burdah is something we can recite over and over again and still find new meanings to it. Our situations change but the Burdah doesn’t and hence, through it we find and discover gems and precious jewels of love inserted into and manifested in the heartfelt words that are strung together beautifully.
Love is the key to connect with Rasulullah (S). It is also the language we use to connect to the Almighty and His universe. Love is the softening of hearts. Without love, our hearts feel empty and hollow. It is merely a machine pumping blood in our body without a spiritual purpose. Allah warns His servants that have stiff hearts that lack love.
When a person is in love, he/she can see anything that reminds them of the object of their affection and they will feel the love emanating from within. Hence, if we love the All loving and His apostle, whatever you look at, the trees, mountains, animals and even witnessing heartfelt moments will remind you of Him and you will understand that the Creator of love has the best love one can have, for it is unconditional.
When Imam Busiri wrote the Burdah, our beloved Prophet (S), visited him in his dreams and put a mantle/blanket over his paralysed legs. (Side note: Burdah means Mantle or Blanket hence why it is named as such. ) Imam Busiri’s legs miraculously healed by the grace of Allah and he could walk again. It was out of love that Rasulullah (S) visited Imam Busiri and it was his love for the Messenger of Allah that the Almighty healed him. When one loves the prophet may peace be upon him, Rasulullah (S) returns that love and reciprocates with even more. And when you love Rasulullah (S), the Almighty loves you.
At this point, I kind of feel like a brat for ever complaining that I haven’t found love.
Love, as with all other emotions, is a gift from the All Loving. There is no buying of love and it can never be forced. Shaykh Ahmad says “If your love is sincere, then Allah gives us the love from Him.” And how exactly do we love Allah? We look at how Rasulullah (S) loves the Almighty.
True love occupies the whole body. That is how the sahabah managed to attain complete focus in their prayers. When our hearts are completely obsessed and intoxicated with the love for Allah, all the other body parts will be follow suit. That is how some of them could manage getting arrows taken out of their legs without feeling pain because prayer is the ultimate anesthetic.
If we have this kind of love, we would not need alarm clocks to wake up for Fajr as the love automatically wakes us up. As Shaykh Ahmad puts it ” The heat of love is drawn to what makes us closer to Allah.”
However, love and desire are not the same things. To paint a picture describing the relationship between the two, Shaykh Ahmad gives the example of a person standing with a bow and arrow. The person who is in love is like someone with a bow and arrow. The target is his/her desire. Everytime we love, we pull the bow and arrow and point it towards the target to attain our desires but it is up to us, to regulate the strength of the pull and withstand the attractiveness of our desires. To put it simply, true love regulates desire. And the more we control it, the weaker our nafs gets and the more we feed it, the stronger it gets.
Love that is eternal is only for the Almighty and it elevates one from being attached to things and drifting further from Allah.
Some of us become very possessive when we love and we freak when people/ things that we love change or do not go as how we want it to.
Sometimes, Shaykh Ahmad reminds us, we forget that we are going in the same direction as the universe. So we resist and we are adamant about the things that are out of our control and that becomes the root of all unhappiness. These words reminded me of a local Ustaz who said “Change does not have the ability to make us unhappy. It is the inability to accept change is what makes us unhappy.”
Yes, I see all of you nodding vigorously from the truth resonating from these words. Yup. I feel you.
Personally, I have heard about the Burdah countless times but never really understood the full meaning of it. Not in terms of the literal meaning but what this poem embodies. It is the most epic compilation of love notes not because it is volumes and volumes long but because of who it is meant for. In this day and age, where some people have a limit for loving Rasulullah (S), it brings new meaning to loving the prophet. One does not write page after page of praise and expressions of longing if not out of genuine love.
Imam Busiri’s efforts overshadow what I claim my love for the Messenger of Allah to be and I will forever not be able to love the Almighty and His Apostle as how they love me. Some people say that you only know your lover when you let them go. But with Allah ‘azza wa jall and Rasulullah salla llahu ‘alaihi wasallam,
Even when you let go, they don’t.
Radhiatul Mardhiyah Mustaffa
Mardhiyah graduated from Temasek Polytechnic with a Diploma in Applied Food Science and Nutrition. She’s an aspiring writer who blogs her mind at http://marmardee.wordpress.com/