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Europe holds some deep Islamic secrets embedded in its history, theology, culture and literature. But none is more amazing than the relationship between a famous 20th century German poet and Islam. Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) is considered one of the German language’s greatest poets. His haunting images focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude and profound anxiety – themes that tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditions and the modernist posts.
Throughout his life Rilke showed a high opinion of Islam and especially the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, peace be upon him. This is obvious in his letters and some of his key poems. Yet not much of this exciting relationship between a European poet and the Blessed Prophet ﷺ is known or appreciated by the masses.
To understand the relationship one has to grasp the relationship between poetry and poets in traditional societies and especially within the Islamic tradition.