Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "A bedouin came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and spoke some eloquent words. Thereupon, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Some poetry contains wisdom and some eloquence is like magic." (1)
Explanation of vocabularies (2)
(wisdom) i.e., A truthful saying that is harmony with the truth. Others said: The origin of wisdom is debarment, so the meaning is: Some poetry may contain useful words that prevents abusiveness. It was said: Wisdom is examples which are useful.
(eloquence) Al Khattaby said: eloquence is of two types:
1- The expression of meanings by any means.
2- The expression of meanings in a way that attracts the hearers and takes away their hearts. The second type is like magic if it possesses the heart until it changes the reality of something to the opposite. If this kind is used in delivering the truth, it will be praised, but if it is used in expressing falsehood, it is dispraised.
Lessons gained from the Hadith: (3)
1- Ibn Battal said: The poetry and prose which contain the mention of Allah, glorifying Him, showing monotheism to Him, preferring His Obedience, and submitting to him, are good and desirable, and that is meant in this Hadith as a kind of wisdom, but if it is falsehood and lying, it will be dispraised.
2- At-Tabary said: This Hadith is a reply to those who dislike poetry as a whole. He used some narrations from the Predecessors as a proof to that like the narrations of Ibn Mas`ud and Masruq, but they are weak as Al Hafizh ibn Hajar said. However, if these narrations are powerful, frequent using of poetry without need is dispraised. The proof to the permissibility of chanting poetry are numerous and were reported in many Hadiths and narrations such as the Hadith which Al Bukhari reported in Al Adab Al Mufrad on the authority of `Umar ibn Ash-Sharid from his father who said: "The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked me to recite the poetry of Umayyah ibn Abu As-Salt and I recited it until I chanted one hundred verses."
The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to give a room for Hassan to chant poetry to satirize the polytheists. He said: O Allah, support him with the Holy Spirit (Gabriel). The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The Holy Spirit is with you as long as you defend His Prophet. Ibn Abu Shaybah reported with a good chain of narration on the authority of Hasan from Abu Salamah ibn `Abdur-Rahman who said: "The Companions of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) were not aberrant or rigid, but they used to chant poetry in their sessions and recall the Pre-Islamic Period, but when someone wanted to touch their religion with harm, their eyes turned to red."
3- It was reported from the Pious Predecessors (may Allah show mercy to them all) exhortation to memorize poetry, particularly the poetry which urges to good manners and morals. It was reported from `Umar ibn Al Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) his saying: Memorize poetry and read the news of previous people because poetry calls for good manners, teaches righteous actions, urges for good actions, sharpen the insight, exhorts to good characteristics, prohibits bad manners, makes us avoid doubts, and exhorts to the organized speech. (4)
(1) Reported by Ahmad No. 2813, and Abu Dawud No. 5013, and its origin is reported in Sahih Al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim: Al Bukhari No. 5146 and Muslim No. 2046.
(2) Fathul-Bary of Ibn Hajar (17 / 338).
(3) See: The previous reference.
(4) See: Zahr Al Adab Wathamar Al Albab (1 / 9).