A Na`at (Arabic: نعت) is a poetry – sung with daff musical instruments – that specifically praises the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The practice is popular in South Asia (Pakistan and India), commonly in Urdu or Punjabi language. People who recite Naat are known as Naat Khawan or Sana-Khuaan in Bengali, Urdu, English, Turkish, Persian, Arabic, Punjabi and Sindhi Language.
It is difficult to trace the history of Na’at Khawani since no authenticated record of when it was initiated can be found. On a more regularized basis, Prophet Hazrat Muhammad’s (Peace Be Upon Him) companion Hassan bin Thabit (Sabit) R.A started this work. He was also known as Shair-e-Darbaar-e-Risalat. Even before accepting Islam he was a poet, but after embracing Islam he gave a new turn to his poetry and started writing Na’ats in honor of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). He was famous for his poetry that defended Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in response to rival poets that attacked him and his religion. Therefore Hassan R.A is known as the first Sana-Khawaan (Naat reciter) of that time. After that many a poet followed this trend and totally dedicated themselves to writing Naats.
Islamic poetry is rich in the praise of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). Rarely has there been any Muslim poet who has not written about him. This is mainly inspired from the Islamic Hadith that each act of veneration will result in ten blessings of God on the person who venerates.
Commonly the term Naat-Shareef (Exalted Poetry) is reserved and used for poetry in the praise of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) written in Bengali, Urdu, English, Turkish, Persian, Arabic, Punjabi and Sindhi Language.
In the Arabic language, Naat is usually referred as Madih (praise), or simply as Nasheed (poetry) or Anasheed (plural). The latter two terms can describe any type of religious poetry.
Anasheed or Naat usually is not accompanied by musical instruments. However some scholars have allowed the use of the daf (small drum). Usually poetry that is accompanied by musical instruments is called Ghinaa (music).