Writers' Articles

Ka’b ibn Malik: The Poet Punished with Silence

He wanders with words in his quiver. He is a poet; he starts a fire with his arrows. He draws his bow when people say, "Tell!" He draws his bow in such a way that the arrow sets fire to the wings of the condors before it is shot. He seals his quiver when people say, "Hush!" He seals it in such a way that he sprinkles fire onto the oppressors and sprinkles water onto the oppressed ones. He is an only child. He is frank. He recognizes and submits to the One. He is from Medina. In his home, he hosts the people who submit to the One. Along with Hassan ibn Thabit and Abdullah ibn Rawaha, he becomes one of three poets who invite people to the One. These poets of Heaven carry hell in their quivers. Those who talk against those who invite people to the One open their eyes in flames. They are punished with whips comprised of forty verses.

Before he became Muslim, Ka'b ibn Malik was considered to be one of the five greatest poets in Medina. He created storms with his tongue in the battles between the Aws and Hazraj. He received a good education. He knew about accounting and knew how to read and write. However, his silver words turned into gold when he learned the Quran. He surrounded the Daws tribe with such words that they became Muslims. You have not misunderstood; for the first time in history, phantom armies destroyed a real castle - the truth begins to wave from the towers. The year is 622. Ka'b goes to Medina with Bara ibn Ma'rur to invite the Last Prophet to Medina. The eyes of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) flash when he learns that Ka'b is a poet. Then he put this light into words as joy or "allegiance."

At last, the moon shines upon them from the hills. It is time to render thanks and Ka'b joins the selected people known as Ahl al-Suffa. He learns there that there are "limits"; to declare war is a "duty" when the limits are surpassed and war is a "cheat." One day he and Prophet Muhammad exchange their armor in the Battle of Uhud. The swords, arrows and spears miss their target and wound the Guard. The poet bleeds from seventeen spots; what a sorrowful scene! He looks around to see who can use his sword. Abu Ducana, with his red turban on his head, walks as if he is tearing apart the ground, cutting down the condors one by one with the sword of Prophet Muhammad. The black wings flying over the battleground ease the wounds of Ka'b. But what has happened? Has Hamza fallen to the ground? Has the direction of the wind changed? Why are the bowmen seeking the spoils of war? Why are the condors shouting, "Muhammad is dead"? In this crowd, Ka'b sees the face of Prophet Muhammad for the first time. He is about to cry out with enthusiasm, "Fear not Muslim brothers! The Holy Prophet is alive!" But, the Prophet stops him from saying this. Prophet Muhammad says "Hush!" placing his index finger on his lips. This is war! We have a right to speak and a right to silence.

The Muslims have stopped speaking with Ka'b. This is another trial different from the trial of Uhud. This is what the Prophet has ordered. "No one will speak with him!" No one will speak with him nor with the two veterans of the Battle of Badr, Hilal ibn Umayya and Murara ibn Rabi al-Amiri, who also did not participate in the Battle of Tabuk. If they have an excuse, like those who were unwell, too old or handicapped, they should say so. "No one will speak with them until Allah states His order." All creatures will be silent towards them. The world will be silent for them.

Ka'b ibn Malik postponed his preparations for war in a season in which the fruit and shade invite people to languor. However, he had strength and he had two mounts. While he acted slowly preparing for the campaign, thinking, "I can catch them up!" the army arrived at Tabuk. Prophet Muhammad asked: "What has Ka'b ibn Malik done?" At that moment, the flames of regret engulfed him. At that time, the date trees felt cold. Ka'b was one of eighty people who were left behind. Among these eighty people, there were people who had an excuse, and there were the hypocrites (munafiks). Ka'b is grieved most by this fact. He has no excuse!

The army returns from Tabuk. The people who had their excuses give their excuses to Prophet Muhammad, and the hypocrites tell him their lies. When it was Ka'b ibn Malik's turn, Prophet Muhammad asked: "Why did you stay away from the battle? Had you not made a pledge?" Ka'b did not lie. He said, "I take refuge in Allah and tell the truth. I am awaiting His judgment. By Allah I was never stronger or wealthier than when I stayed back!" Prophet Muhammad said, "Wait until Allah states His judgment!" to Ka'b, and then to Hilal and Murara. The people stopped speaking; an immense silence covered Medina.

The people change their direction when they see Ka'b ibn Malik to avoid talking to him. When Ka'b goes to the masjid (mosque), he feels the eyes of Prophet Muhammad upon him and when he turns towards the Prophet, the Prophet turns his face away from Ka'b. With each day, this silence became deeper. One day Ka'b ibn Malik greets his beloved cousin Abu Katada, but Katada does not greet him back. Ka'b says: "Abu Katada! Speak for the sake of Allah! Do you not know that I love Allah and His Messenger?" Abu Katada keeps his silence. Ka'b repeats his words, uttering Allah's name. Katada continues to keep his silence. Then Ka'b burst into tears.

At the end of the fiftieth night of silence Ka'b climbs to the roof of his house to perform the morning prayer. The silence has become unbearable! At that moment, he hears somebody calling from Mount Sala: "Ka'b! I have good news for you!" He immediately prostrates. When the man calling his name approaches Ka'b gives him all his clothes as a gift. In tears, he starts to run to Prophet Muhammad in someone else's garments. People welcome him in groups. He runs incessantly among the people who are saying: "Allah has accepted your repentance. May Allah forgive you!" At last, he reaches the masjid and he stands before Prophet Muhammad. Then he hears a wonderful sentence: "Rejoice, for this is the best day in your life since you were born!" Ka'b shivers from head to toe and he asks, "O, Messenger of Allah. Is this good news from you or from Allah?" Prophet Muhammad says: "It is from Allah." Upon hearing this, Ka'b donates all his wealth to the path of Allah. However, the compassionate Prophet wants him to allocate some of his wealth to himself, saying: "This would be better for you."

Medina immediately becomes alive. The lost sounds have returned to the city. Tambourines begin to play. Birds fly in groups singing. All the creatures are trying to have Ka'b hear them. Even the date trees whisper. The people reciting the Quran try to sound their best when they read Surah Al-Tauba:

"And to the three also (did He turn in mercy) who were left behind, when the earth, vast as it is, was straitened for them, and their own souls were straitened for them till they bethought them that there is no refuge from Allah save toward Him. Then turned He unto them in mercy that they (too) might turn (repentant unto Him). Lo! Allah! He is the Relenting, the Merciful." (Al-Tauba, 118)

Poet and writer Ali Ural continues to write about the Companions of the Prophet that reflect his light and radiance.



Beautiful Story ! I have read it many times, i like it so much.
Thank Ali.Ural, u write beautifully.