Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Some learned scholars say that there is “blatant shirk” in many parts of the Qasida Burda-that it goes against Allah’s Oneness of Lordship, His Oneness in Names & Attributes, and also His Oneness in Divinity…
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon His Beloved Messenger Muhammad, his noble folk, righteous companions, and all followers
No, the Qasida Burda doesn’t contain “shirk” (associating partners with Allah) or other deviations from sound Islamic belief. Rather, it is a pure expression of deep and passionate love for the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), whose love is a condition of faith.
The Qasida Burda has been accepted by the mainstream of Islamic scholarship as one of the greatest statements of love for the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). It is recited across the Muslim world, from East to West, as it has been for centuries. There are dozens of commentaries on it, by many of the greatest scholars of Islam, none of whom saw any “blatant shirk” in its beautiful praise of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). However, given its eloquence and depth, certain verses-such as those criticized by our respected critic-need to be understood as the author meant them. It is unfair to interpret others’ words in ways they did not mean.
 The critic cites the opening of the verse as an example of “shirk” in the Oneness of Allah’s Lordship (tawhid al-rububiyya):
“From our generosity is the world and its partner [the Hereafter]…”
Our respected critic claims that this refers to the creation of the world and there hereafter-as if Busiri is claiming that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his generosity created them! The Arabic text if this verse doesn’t mention “creation” in it.
As Imam Ibrahim al-Bajuri makes clear in his commentary on the Burda, what this means is that the best of this world and the next is from the gift the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) gave-by Allah’s granting-to humanity.
The best of this world is the guidance of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), by which alone this worldly has any meaning; and the best gift of any human to humanity in the Hereafter is the intercession the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) makes-as established in rigorously authentic hadiths, as we will see below.
There is a basic principle in knowledge that, “Ruling on a matter comes after sound understanding of it.” To criticize someone’s words, one must first soundly understand them as the author intended them-not as one’s own understanding determines.
 The critic then cites the following verses as example of shirk in Allah’s Names & Attributes,
“And from your knowledge is knowledge of the Pen and Tablet”
It is established that Allah commanded the Pen to write the details of all matters until the Last Day-namely, before the Resurrection and Hereafter-as related in authentic hadiths in Ahmad and Tirmidhi. These hadiths were considered mass-transmitted by al-Amir al-Kabir in his commentary on Laqani’s Jawharat al-Tawhid, as Kattani relates in Nadhm al-Mutanathir.
In this hadith, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The first of Allah’s creation was the pen.” Then he mentioned that Allah commanded it to, “Write everything that will occur, until the Last Hour.” [Ahmad 21649, from Ubada ibn Samit (Allah be pleased with him)]
It is authentically established that Allah granted His Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) knowledge of the events of this worldly life.
There is no “shirk” in this: (1) it is authentically established in the sunna; (2) it is by Allah’s granting, so there is no point of comparison between the Absolute, Infinite, and unacquired Knowledge of Allah and the acquired, and limited (though inimaginably vast) knowledge of the Best of Creation (Allah bless him and give him peace).
The knowledge of the Pen and Tablet-being this knowledge of worldly events until the Last Day-is “from” the knowledge of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) because he was also granted tremendous knowledge of matters of the hereafter, and of Allah and His Attributes-the greatest of all knowledge.
What we need to understand is that Allah granted His Beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) tremendous knowledge of the Unseen, including details of matters of this life and the next; and He granted His Beloved (Allah bless him and give him peace) greater knowledge of Himself than any of His creation.
Thus, there is no element of shirk in this verse. It simply affirms what the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) himself affirmed, not more and not less.
 Our respected critic then cites the following verse as an example of “shirk” in Allah’s Oneness in Divinity (tawhid al-uluhiyya):
” And who else there, besides you, who I can call out, at times of distress and problems?”
This is our critic’s suggested translation. A sounder translation is:
“O Most Honored of Creation! Whom can I turn to
But you when the Encompassing Event befalls?”
The “Encompassing Event” (wrongly translated us “times of distress and problems”) refers specifically to the distress that befalls all creation on the Day of Resurrection. As authentic hadiths in Bukhari , Muslim , and elsewhere affirm, all of creation will go from one prophet to another, each of whom is busy with themselves-out of absolute awe of Allah-and tells them to go to another prophet. Finally, all of creation goes to our Beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), seeking respite from the tremendous tribulation and distress of that Day. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) answers their call, affirming that this is from what Allah granted him, and turns to Allah seeking respite for creation, and this is granted to him by Allah.
There is no suggestion in this verse that a believer shouldn’t turn to Allah Himself when distress and problems occur. Rather, it is simply affirming something the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) affirmed: that Allah has granted His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) general intercession for all creation from the intensity of the tribulations of the Day of Judgment, and that on that Day all creation will find none in creation to turn to for assistance but Allah’s Beloved (Allah bless him and give him peace).
This also shows that seeking the assistance of creation-whether in material or spiritual matters-does in no way negate one’s understanding that Allah alone is the ultimate granter. But our Giving Lord has shown us that there are both material and spiritual means one seeks, while fully aware that the Giver and Granter is none but Allah.
This is the aqida of the mainstream of Muslims: we affirm the taking of material and spiritual means, and affirm that the granter is only Allah Himself. This is the understanding of the great Companion of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), Rabi`ah ibn Ka`b al-Aslami (Allah be pleased with him), who said, “O Messenger of Allah! I ask you for your company in Paradise!” The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “Assist me concerning yourself with much prostration.” [Muslim (754)]
[ref: The commentaries on Busiri’s Burda by Bajuri, Hamzawi, Ibn Hajar, and Shaykh Zada]
And Allah alone gives success.