Ka’b bin Zuhayr (r.a.)

Ka’b was a member of a family of poets. His father Zuhayr was a strong poet. He used to attend the meetings of Jews and Christians. Therefore, he knew that a prophet would emerge soon.

One night, Zuhayr saw in his dream that a rope was stretched out from the sky and that he could not hold it though he reached for it. He interpreted it as his not being able to see that prophet. He advised his children to believe in him if they saw him.  

Years passed. Zuhayr’s sons, Bujayr and Ka’b, were going to Madinah in 9 H. When they arrived at Araqul-Azzaf, Bujayr said to his brother, “You stay here and I will go and see the Messenger of Allah. After having a talk with the Messenger of Allah, he became a Muslim. He sent somebody to his brother to tell him that he became a Muslim. Ka’b got very angry. He criticized his brother in the poet that he sent to him.

His brother, Bujayr, who felt very sorry for his brother, wanted him to be a Muslim very much. He wrote a poem and sent it to his brother. When Ka’b received the letter, he thought for a long time about what to do and how to behave. Meanwhile, the light of guidance started to enlighten his heart. He went to Madinah. He entered the city secretly. He stayed in the house of a person he knew beforehand. In the morning, the Messenger of Allah entered into the presence of the Messenger of Allah. He put his hand on the blessed hand of the Prophet. Then, he said, “O Messenger of Allah! Ka’b bin Zuhayr has regretted what he has done and has come here to become a Muslim. If I bring him to you, will you forgive him and accept his being a Muslim? The Prophet said, “Yes.” He uttered kalima ash-shahada at once. The Prophet asked, “Who are you?” He said, “I am Ka’b bin Zuhayr.” Then, he recited a long ode expressing that he became a Muslim and repented, starting with the words “Banat Suad (The Beloved Moved Away)”. When the ode ended, the Prophet took off his burdah (cardigan) and clothed him. This ode became famous as “Qasidah al-Burdah” and he became famous as “The Owner of Qasidah al-Burdah”.

The cardigan the Messenger of Allah gave to Ka’b was with him until 26 H when he died. Muawiya said to him, “Sell the cardigan of the Messenger of Allah to us.” Ka’b said, “I do not prefer anybody to me related to wearing the cardigan of the Messenger of Allah.” However, after Ka’b’s death, his children sold it to Muawiya.

This blessed cardigan was transferred from one caliph to another. Finally, it was brought to Istanbul from Egypt with the other holy relics by Sultan Selim I. The cardigan is in Topkapı Palace Museum Hırka-i Saadet Department; it is visited by everybody as a holy relic reminding the Messenger of Allah.

Hz. Ka’b’s Qasidah al-Burdah was translated into French, Italian and some other languages. Ka’b’s other odes and poems were explained with the name “Sharhu Diwani Ka’b Ibn Zuhayr”. [1]


[1]Sirah, 4: 144-158; Mustadrak, 3: 578-586.

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