This eulogy is known as the Baanat Su’aad and is believed to be the Original Qaseedah Burdah. (Ode/Praise of the Mantle/Robe). Critics have agreed that this poem was one of the finest in all Arabic literature.
It was written by Ka‘b son of Zuhayr, son of Abu Sulma Rabiah- a man from Muzayna, a highly talented poet just like his father, Zuhayr.
Zuhayr ibn Abi Sulma was one of the poets of the Age of (Jahilliyah) Ignorance who had written one of the seven Mu’allaqat i.e. the masterpieces of poetry, which remained suspended on the walls of the Ka’bah for a long time before the revelation of the Qur’aan. They were a source of pride and glory in the literature of the Arab world. Zuhayr died before the nabuwwah (prophethood) of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam), leaving behind two sons (from his second wife) named Bujayr and Ka’b.
Bujayr was a faithful supporter of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) but Ka’b was considered to be one of his ruthless enemies. As he was endowed with a strong inherited talent (i.e. poetry) he abused his talent by composing satirical verses of the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) and instigated the people to rise against Islam.
After the Conquest of Makkah and battle of Taif, Ka`b became a fugitive, aware that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) had ordered him to be executed. Bujayr sent a message to his brother Ka’b informing him to come to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) and express regret for his activities and that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) would grant him pardon because the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) used to accept the repentance and regret of the wrongdoers and pardoned them.
When K’ab came to Madeenah he called upon Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) just after he (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) had finished the Salaatul Fajr (morning prayers) and placed his hands in his. Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) however did not know who he was. K’ab then said to the him:
“O Messenger of Allah, K’ab has come as a repentant Muslim and asks for security from you. Will you accept his repentance?” Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) replied in the affirmative. Thereupon, Ka’b declared: “I myself am Ka’b bin Zuhayr”.
One of the Ansaar leapt upon him saying: “O Prophet of God, (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) let me deal with this enemy of God. I will now cut off his head.”
But the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) asked him to leave K’ab alone since he had come repentant of his past deeds. Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) forgave him, accepted his allegiance, and gave him permission to recite the poem Ka`b had composed in his praise. It was then that K’ab recited the well-known ode beginning with the verses…
“… بانت سعاد فقلبي اليوم متبول”
“Su’ad is gone, and today my heart is love-lorn; Enthralled, put in chain…”
When he came to the verses “…يستضاء به – مهند من سيوف الله مسلول”
“Surely the Messenger is a light with which people get illuminated. A Indian sword, an unscathered sword of Allah…”
(Indian swords is used because they were the best type of swords in those days. The connection between the sword and light is that the Arabs signalled the way by standing on a rise and brandishing their swords in the sun so that they flashed like mirrors. Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) took his burda (robe/mantle) off his shoulders and put it on Ka‘b’s, signalling his approval.
The Baanat Su’aad (Qaseedah Burdah) is Ka’b’s masterpiece and his longest qaseedah with 58 verses all of which rhyme in the letter ل “laam”, hence it is a “laamiyyah”. Ka’b (radhiyallahu anhu) composed a “raaiyyah” in praise of the Ansaar with 33 verses all rhyming in the letter ر “raa”.
The great shuyookh state, among them Allaamahs Asqalani, Qastalani and Ibn Kathir (rahimahumullah) that this mantle/robe/shawl was passed down in the family of Ka’b ibn Zuhayr (radhiyallahu anhu) and it was eventually acquired by Amir Mu-aawiyyah (radhiyallahu anhu) and passed down to the various caliphs. Imam Shihabuddin as-Suhrawardi (passed away 632 A.H/1235 C.E) in his spiritual classic ‘Awaarif u’l Ma’aarif (The Illuminative Knowledge of the Spiritual Masters, p. 158) informs that it became the most valuable piece of clothing ever since. It had been used by the caliphs as a means of ‘blessing’ during battles, being carried in a casket. It is stated that the Muslims won every battle to which it was taken. And Allah knows best.
To this day it is preserved in a museum in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul in a golden casket.