An Attempt to Legitimize “Poetry” in The Preface of Meşâ‘irü’ş-Şu‘arâ


There are certain Quranic verses and hadiths implying that Islam could have held negative attitudes toward poetry (shi’r). The existence of such verses and hadiths urged poets to seek for an answer to the question, “Does Islam really prohibit poetry?” Hence, right from the very outset of their works, many poets and poetry critics, in expressing their views on poetry, felt themselves obliged to create a ground for the legitimacy of poetry by providing an apologetic/defensive account of poetry and poets. Consequently, assigning for themselves the role of “apologists of poetry”, poets and poetry critics, in their attempt to underline the value and merits of poetry, first interpreted the seemingly anti-poetical Quranic verses and hadiths in favor of poetry. Subsequently, they went on to justify poets and poetry by drawing upon various personages, chiefly Prophet Muhammad, whom they believed to have taken interest in poetry. Largely based on the mukaddime (preface) part of the tezkire (biographical dictionary) by Âşık Çelebi, titled Meşâ‘irü’ş-Şu‘arâ, this study attempts to analyze the resources that the author drew upon to provide a ground of legitimacy for poetry. This analysis is complemented by data found in Tezkiretü’ş-Şu‘arâ by Latîfî, dîbâces (preamble) of Persian divans by MollaCâmî and Fuzûlî, as well as dîbâces of Turkish divans chiefly by Lâmiî, all of which are intended to justify poetry. In this context the resources referred to by Âşık Çelebi to legitimize poetry, chiefly Quranic verses and hadiths and those from the time of Prophets and Rightly-Guided Four Caliphs, will be discussed on a classified basis and compared with the data derived from the afore said tezkires and preambles of divans.


Legitimization of poetry Âşık Çelebi Meşâ‘irü’ş-Şu‘arâ poet poetrycritic preambles of divans