|| Al-Kawakib Al-Durriyya Fi Madh Khayr Al-Bariyya
(The Brilliant Stars in Praising the Best of Mankind), which became
known as the “al-Burda” poem, by Sharaf al-Din Muhammad Al-Busiri is
one of the literary treasures of the Arabic language. It highlights the Prophet's (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa
Sallam) perfections and exalted status in the
of The Lord. It contains some of the rarest pearls on the etiquette of
humility and respect for Sayyidina Rasulullah (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa
It reached unsurpassed fame, where it was taught, copied, distributed, recited, transcribed on mosque walls, memorized, commented on, studied, and considered required reading by countless scholars. The Burda was engraved on the Prophet's mosque in Medina, where it adorned the walls for centuries before being erased by people who could not comprehend it. There is still one line left that has not been removed: “He is the beloved, whose intercession is hoped for....to overrun every terrible horror” (on the day of resurrection)
Al-Busiri was bon in the village of Dalass in Bani-Swaif in southern Egypt in 608h (1213 ad). He memorized the Quran as a child, and moved to Cairo where he was educated in Arabic language and literature, and studied the prophet’s history and the details of his life (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa Sallam). He worked for some years as a “manuscript copier” and civil employee before dedicating all his time to religion and religious education. He was a companion to AbulHasan Al-Shaduli and his successor AbulAbbas Al-Morsy.
He started writing poetry at a very young age, and his poems are full of eloquence, sensitivity, and passion. He is famed for poems praising the prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa Sallam) in which he excelled beyond all who attempted prophet praise literature and Sufi poetry. The name “Burda” means 'mantle' or 'cloak', and has its origin in the following story:
Imam Al-Busiri wrote the Burda during a grave illness. He woke to find half his body paralyzed. His suffering stirred him to write the poem, and he says of his ordeal:Al-Busiri said that when he reached the verse: “The extent of knowledge about him, is that he is human” he had a writer’s block for a long time and could not complete the verse. Then the prophet came to him in a vision or dream and told him: “Mohammed, finish your poem and say: “and that he is the best of all mankind”.”
...I began to contemplate writing a poem in the qasida form, and soon after, I did so as a way of interceding by it with the Messenger of God to God, The Exalted, hoping that he might heal me.
I was repeating it often, singing it, calling upon God through it, and seeking intercession with it. During that time, while sleeping, I saw the Prophet, Sallallahu 'alaihi wa Sallam. He wiped over my face with his blessed hand and thrust upon me his cloak (burda). I immediately got up cured and left my house. No one had heard of my poem nor of my dream.
On the road, I met a poor dervish who approached me and said, "I want you to give me a copy of the poem you wrote in praise of the Prophet, Sallallahu 'alaihi wa Sallam." I responded, "which one?" He said, "The one you wrote during your illness." He recited to me its opening lines and said, "By God, I heard it in a vision last night recited in the presence of God's messenger, Sallallahu 'alaihi wa Sallam. It greatly pleased the prophet, and I saw him thrust his cloak on the one who wrote it!"
I provided him with a copy, and he began telling others of his vision. Thus its news spread far and wide.
Imam Al-Busiri died in Alexandria on 695 h (1295 ad) at age 87. His grave is well known and is connected to a large mosque where The Burda decorates the walls.
The verse that says: “And the person who is supported by Rasulullah’s aid...will scare lions if they find him in their den” was inscribed on the banner of Prince AbdulQader AlJazairy (1808-1883), the Algerian national hero who fought the French occupation in the 19th century.
The burda is often recited in group readings and chanted and read aloud. It is customary to recite the verse: “O Lord, please send prayers, peace and greetings always forever....upon Your loved one, the best of all mankind” after every verse in the poem.
The pooem is divided into 10 sections of 12-30 verses each. As customary with old Arabic poetry, the introduction must include verses of love and lament. The following sections are dedicated to Warning against desires, praising the prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa Sallam), his birth, his miracles, the Glory of the Quran, the prophet's night Journey, his Jihad, begging The Lord using the prophet, and appealing to The Lord and displaying needs.
The poem is also sometimes called the “meemiyya” or Al-Busiri’s “M” poem, because each verse ends with an “m”. His poems are named, as was the custom of the time, by the ending letter of the verses.
The Burda has several versions in different texts and issues, and the verses in the translation that are not numbered are not present in all versions and/or in the accompanying audio.
Explanation of the Arabic text was referredd to in the book by Hasan Mahmoud (editor) Al-Bagoury: "Al Burda lil Imam Al-Busiri" 2nd edition, Al Adab Bookshop, Cairo, 1993