Quoting From the Qur’an in Poetry: A Juristic Point of View

Muslim scholars have differed concerning this issue. There are some scholars who believe that quoting from the Qur’an in poetry is not permissible, because none of the Companions and the righteous predecessors (may Allah be pleased with them) was reported to have done something like that. Some other scholars are of the opinion that this is permissible on certain conditions: The poet finds it of great importance to quote from the Qur’an, the process of quoting never indicates contempt of Allah’s Book, and that quoting does not include whole verses, but only a few words.
A resolution issued by Al-Azhar Research Academy about this issue, states:
Quoting from the Qur’an is unlawful in the following cases:

  1. If the person attributed to himself the words Almighty Allah attributed to Himself.
  2.  If the quotation is used in a context of mockery and ridicule.
  3. If it is used in a context that goes against the aims and guidance of the Qur’an.

We can derive from this that quoting is lawful since it does not make people believe that the words quoted are from a source other than the Qur’an; if it does, quoting will then be unlawful.
In this regard, Dr. Ahmad Taha Rayan, Professor of fiqh at Al-Azhar University, states:
It is not permissible for a poet to use (one verse or more) from the Qur’an as an introduction to his poem. Mind what the Qur’an says about poets: “And as to the poets, those who go astray follow them. Do you not see that they wander about bewildered in every valley? And that they say that which they do not do” (Ash-Shu`araa’ 26: 224-226). But the Qur’an excludes those poets who are believers and who do good and are mindful of Almighty Allah. The Qur’an says in this regard: “Except those who believe and do good and remember Allah much, and defend themselves after they are oppressed.” (Ash-Shu`araa’ 26: 227)
Allah Almighty has also denied (in the Qur’an) the polytheist’s describing the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as a poet.
However, quoting from the Qur’an is possible but reference should be made to the verse, the ruling, or the story quoted. The poet may also quote a word or two if this is highly important to the composition of his poem, but he should do so in a context of ultimate regard to Almighty Allah’s Book.Moreover, Dr. Mustafah Ragab, the dean of the Faculty of Education at Suhaj University, Egypt, states:
There should be certain ethical criteria for quoting from the
Qur’an such as:

  1. Quoting should not come in a context that goes against the tenets of Islam. Doing so [on the part of a Muslim poet] is a kind of insolence that would not ever serve any aesthetic purpose.

2. Quoting is of paramount importance to the poet’s aesthetic purposes.

3. Quoting a Qur’anic text must not be directly included in the poem without reference to its source.

4. Quoting from the Qur’an can be of two kinds:

(a) quoting parables from the Qur’an that serve the poet’s theme.

(b)quoting only linguistic expressions

Dr. Mustafah Ash-Shak`ah, professor of Islamic literature and member of Al-Azhar Research Academy, further adds:
The Glorious Qur’an has a sublime special status that distinguishes it from all other kinds of speech such as poetry and even the Hadiths of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). In Islam, poetry is considered a kind of speech that is criticized for its inclination to lies and illusions, but there are some exceptions where poetry is not criticized. Since there are no rules for exceptions, it does not befit the Qur’an to be dealt with in a poetic context. There should be no quoting from the Qur’an (without acknowledging the source). Those who quote whole verses without making reference to their being quoted from the Qur’an, in fact, are guilty of distorting it.
Dr. Khalid Fahmi, Professor at the department of Arabic language, Monofia University, further states:
Abu Mansour Ath-Th`alibi’s book Al-Iqtibas min Al-Qur’an Al-Karim (Quoting from the Glorious Qur’an) is considered an important reference in this issue. Ath-Th`alibi, who died in 421 AH, divided the quotations from the Qur’an according to the way the Arab world did at that time. Throughout the centuries (since the advent of Islam until recently), no one dared to equate the Qur’an to people’s speech in a written form. It is only recently that some modernists have dared to quote from the Qur’an without acknowledging the source by adding quotation marks and referring to the source in a footnote.
There are certain rules for writing poetry and when it comes to quoting from the Qur’an there are two requirements: The first is to say in a parenthetical clause, for instance: (The Glorious Qur’an says: “…”) or (Allah’s Book says: “…”) or compensate for this by writing the Qur’anic words in bold or underlining them, or putting them in quotation marks. Computer technology provides a great deal of ways to do this. This is a condition for allowing poets to quote from the Qur’an. The meaning can also be reworded.