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Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa on Sura Luqman–On Listening to Spiritual Poetry

Sura Luqman emphasizes tarbiya, or spiritual growth, and is named after a great sage. In this series, Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa explores the meanings of this chapter.

In this segment, Shaykh Ibrahim discusses sama, or listening to spiritual poetry and songs. Continuing the discussion about entertaining discourse–music meant to distract from God–he mentions that even good things can fall into the category of being impermissible, if they distract from Allah.  Given that, spiritual poetry only becomes wrong if it is used for a purpose other than to help people in their path of knowledge.

Some people may be listening to spiritual poetry or remembrance, or even something like Qur’an recitation, in a way that distracts them from Allah, whereas others will be using it as a means to Allah. Similarly, if someone is praying, but is very proud of their prayer, then the prayer, although intrinsically a good thing, has now become a distraction.

Throughout history, many poets and scholars have written spiritual poems that seem to the layman as if they are speaking about the love of a woman, although they are actually speaking of Divine Love.

By way of explanation, an Andalusian poet once said,

“Not everyone who smells obtains the fragrance,

and human beings are of clear degrees,

some people who stop at the outer shell,

never getting to the inner essence.”

With gratitude to Greensville Trust.

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