The Development of the Qaṣīda in al-Andalus

The Development of the Qaīda in al-Andalus

David harrison, School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science, University of Leeds

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The qaīda, or ode, has a long history within the Arabic poetic tradition reaching back to the jāhiliyya.  It is a poetic form which has been continually repurposed to suit the poet’s aims, often political in nature, and it is perhaps in this notion of the poem having an ‘aim’ that we find the early etymological origins of the qaīda.  Al-Jāḥiẓ (d. 255/868), an early Arab polymath, describes the qaīda as being created because the composer ‘has an aim for it (qaada lahu qadan) and strives to improve it.’[1]  The qaīda is arguably the poetic form which takes precedence in the Arab tradition – Arab grammarians and linguists began to comment on its structure and metrical system from the seventh century, and it is still in use among bedouins in the Najd.[2]  The traditional applications of the qaīda are madī (praise, usually of a ruler or patron), and hijā’ (invective), with other genres such as the khamriyya (wine song) appearing later.[3]

A narrow definition of a qaīda is unreasonable given the polythematic content and the many shifts between thematic movements, which gave rise to the Orientalist conception of Arabic poetry as lacking in unity.[4]  Although scholars have debated the internal integrity of the qaīda, it is clear that the early Arab writers had little trouble in identifying what constituted this poetic form, and thus this article understands the qaīda to be a unified whole, while acknowledging the various sub-movements within the poem.  It is also important to note that this poetic form arose from a culture in which not only poetry, but also tribal ancestry, heroic deeds, and other events of importance were transmitted orally.  The strong oral traditions of these early Arab communities were so much so that poetry and oral recollection were inseparable, to the extent that Adonis notes that ‘recitation and memory did the work of a book in the dissemination and preservation of pre-Islamic poetry’.[5]  Naturally, with the spread of literacy the qaīda has reached us in its present written forms, but Kurpershoek effectively describes the primacy of the spoken word even today in certain parts of Saudi Arabia: ‘In Arabia, the power of the spoken word, used subversively or in a counter-revolutionary way, is infinitely greater than the written word.  We have the clumsy term “oral poetry” for this phenomenon.’[6]

This paper will examine two qaīdas written in al-Andalus, or Islamic Iberia, with a focus on tracing the development of the qaīda’s role in legitimizing, criticizing or describing the socio-political forces of the time.  Al-Andalus should not be understood as a monolithic Arab-Muslim state, but rather the result of the Arab-Berber conquest in 92/711 which prospered for almost eight centuries, ending with its demise in 898/1492.  Throughout this period, high culture had come to be that of the ruling elite: the Arabs.  But this high culture was itself shaped and influenced by Eastern trends as well as the socio-political contingencies of al-Andalus.  In this manner, the qaīda reflects the complex multi-cultural situation of its time, and despite the often radically differing content of the Andalusi qaīda, it nonetheless remained in its underlying form a poem with origins in the deserts of the East.  The two poets under examination are Ibn Darrāj al-Qasṭallī (d. 422/1030) and al-Ruṣāfī of Valencia (d. 573/1177) representing two very different periods of al-Andalus.[7]  Ibn Darrāj lived during the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba; a period of relative prosperity and peace during which al-Andalus was beginning to establish itself as an independent identity on the Western fringes of Islamdom.  Al-Ruṣāfī, however, lived during the more turbulent rule of the Almohads, characterized by their harsh implementation of legalistic Islam in comparison to the previous laissez-faire attitudes of Andalusi society.

A qaīda is traditionally classified by the final consonant-vowel rhyme of each bayt, and so the nūniyya (or the poem in the letter nūn) of Ibn Darrāj and the rā’iyya (or poem in the letter rā’) of al-Ruṣāfī will form the basis of this paper.  Andalusi poets are often overlooked in favour of the more accomplished Eastern poets such as Abū Nuwās and al-Mutanabbī, demonstrated by the numerous studies in English and Arabic on these poets.  The Andalusi Arab poets have often been relegated to the realms of ‘Hispano-Arabic’ poetry without consideration of the wider Arab body of Arabic poetry: this can be seen in the several anthologies which focus solely on Hispano-Arabic poetry.[8]  This study views these poems as integrally Arabic, representing a society dominated by an Arabic-speaking elite: a social reality often overlooked in Andalusi studies, as Stearns notes that al-Andalus is often portrayed as ‘a golden age of tolerance, which in some ill-defined fashion offered – often through literature – a forerunner for a multicultural interfaith humanism’.[9]  Many earlier studies presented al-Andalus as a harmonious, multi-cultural world while failing to acknowledge the largely Eastern Arab elements, and perhaps more importantly, the failure to acknowledge the inherent inequality of this society.[10]

The poetry of Ibn Darrāj typically employs a style known as badīʿ, a highly ornate neo-classical style which arose in the East during the ninth century.  This style contrasts with the previous less-adorned poetry of the bedouins, and emerged as a response to the rapidly increasing urban centres of Muslim life.  Ibn Darrāj opens the poem with madī (praise) of a Berber ruler, strongly asserting the ‘unbelief’ of his enemy in the second bayt, and the religiously-sanctioned rule of Sulaymān in the third:

2:          fa-inna qaʿīda l-shirki qad thulla ʿarshuhu | wa-inna amīra l-muminīna      sulaymān

فإن قعيد الشرك قد ثل عرشه | وإن أمير المؤمنين سليمان

For the throne of the comrade of unbelief has been destroyed since the Prince of the Faithful, Sulaymān,

3:          samiyyu lladhī nqāda l-anāmu li-amrihi | fa-lam yaʿṣihi fī l-ari insun wa-lā jānnu

            ُ الذي انقاد الأنام لأمره | فلم يعصه في الأرض إنس ولا جانسميُّ

Is the namesake of him whose command was obeyed by [all] creatures, for on earth neither man nor jinn rebelled against him.[11]

From this opening, it becomes clear that the qaīda is panegyric in function: Ibn Darrāj offers madī (praise) to the mamdū (the praised).  The praise offered, which may appear over-wrought and stiff due to the excessive badīʿ rhetoric style, finds its precedent in the ʿAbbāsid East where the power struggles of the failing Caliphate attracted poets to compose panegyrics in praise of the many warlords and rulers of smaller Emirates.

Stetkevych has noted the ritualized nature of the qaīdat al-mad whereby in an ideal patron-poet relationship ‘the truth of the poetry and its (monetary) value are commensurate.’  Of course, the relationship between an individual patron and poet varies hugely but the notion of a qaīda, as a state-sanctioned form of portraying and promoting the legitimacy of a certain ruler, remains.[12]  The ‘namesake’ referred to here (Sulaymān) reveals a common form of legitimization whereby the poet makes allusions to a religious figure; in this case it is the Biblical Solomon (or Sulaymān), in order to establish a firm connection between the mamdū and religious-political authority.  Ibn Darrāj here shows similarities with the renowned poet al-Mutanabbī (d. 354/965), who frequently composed odes in praise of the Ḥamdānid Amīr Sayf al-Dawla.  Madī poetry appears to have gained popularity during this time in al-Andalus as other poets, such as Ibn Hāni’ (d. 362/973), was experimenting with the badīʿ style in his poems praising the competing Fāṭimid Caliphate.  Al-Mallah notes that if seen through the lens of speech-act theory, the madī poem is itself performed as a ritualization of the giving-receiving-repayment interaction between poet and patron.[13]  The poet asserts his loyalty to the patron or ruler as seen in the first bayt and elsewhere in the poem: hanī’an li-hādhā l-mulki rūun wa-rayanu (May [God’s] mercy and power be bestowed plentifully upon this kingship)[14], the patron then receives the poem and rewards the poet as is appropriate.  This ritual reinforces the legitimacy of the patron as al-Mallah describes: ‘The community expects the poem to be worthy and the ritual of gift exchange to be fulfilled by both the poet and the patron.  Since the poet fulfils his obligations by presenting the poem, the burden lies on the patron to reward the poet, thereby symbolically fulfilling the patron’s communal responsibilities.’[15]

The rā’iyya of al-Ruṣāfī opens with a rather different imagery, but to largely the same effect:

1:          law ji’ta nāra l-hudā min jānibi l-ūri | qabasat mā shi’ta min ʿilmin wa-min nūri

لو جئت نار الهدى من جانب الطور | قبست ما شئت من علم ومن نور

Were you to go to the fire of the Guidance on the side of Mount Sinai, you could take all the knowledge and light you wish

2:          min kulli zahrā’a lam turfaʿ dhu’ābatuhā | laylan li-sārin wa-lam tushbab li-maqrūri

من كل زهراء لم ترفع ذؤابتها | ليلا لسار ولم تشبب لمقرور

From every brightly glowing [fire] whose flame neither is visible from afar at night to a traveller, nor does it blaze [to warm] those suffering from cold.[16]

Al-Ruṣāfī, like Ibn Darrāj, opens with religious symbolism for the purpose of political legitimization.  Al-Ruṣāfī borrows a Qur’ānic verse in which Moses finds a guiding fire and here uses this to portray the Almohads as possessing spiritual guidance, lending an element of religious sanction to their rule.[17]  While Ibn Darrāj uses standard expressions to express religious legitimacy (e.g  amīru l-mu’minīna), al-Ruṣāfī’s verse is more in keeping with the mystical qualities of poetry written under Almohad rule.[18]  This mystical tendency has been ascribed to the Almohad re-popularization of the Eastern philosopher al-Ghazzālī (d. 505/1111) who had previously been banned under the ruling Almoravids, but al-Ruṣāfī’s verse should not be interpreted as Sufi; rather it represents a poetic trend among Andalusi poets to further extend the range of traditional themes and metaphors.  Sperl and Shackle note that Sufi qaīdas are rare, with most dedicated Sufi poetry occurring the form of a qiʿa, or segment.[19]  Monroe writes that ‘Ghazzālī’s books were publicly burned at the gates of the Mosque of Córdoba because of their attempt to infuse a new and more liberal Sufi spirit into orthodox theology’; but the development of mysticism in al-Andalus goes back much further as recent research has shown Ibn Masarra (d. 319/931) to be a forefather of Andalusi mysticism imported from the East.[20]  Although the opening verses of both qaīdas differ slightly, both represent a break from the jāhilī or early Islamic qaīdas of the desert. The traditional qaīda as described by the early grammarians was tripartite in structure, consisting of:

nasīb: The mourning of ones beloved or past. This section traditionally precedes the alāl, or imagery of a deserted campsite.

raīl: The journey and difficulties encountered.

madī: The praise-section. Alternatively, this could be hijā’, or invective.[21]

Neither of the two poems can be said to open with any identifiable topoi commonly employed in the alāl or nasīb of the traditional qaīda, as both begin immediately with the madī.  Whereas the pre-Islamic poets used conventional motifs to poeticize the physical reality of the harsh desert, tribal raiding and ghazw, the pride of the tribe, etc., the Andalusi and Eastern poets have repurposed certain motifs and imbued them with a religious significance.

After several more verses praising Sulaymān’s restoration of orthodox Islam to al-Andalus, Ibn Darrāj begins a depiction of the Amīr as a fearsome warrior and exalts his Prophetic lineage:

11:        fatan nakaat ʿanhu l-ʿuyūnu muhābatan | fa-laysa lahu illā l-raghā’ibu aqrānu

فتى نكصت عنه العيون مهابة | فليس له إلا الرغائب أقران

A young warrior from whom eyes turn away out of fear so that none but aspirations remain to face him


13:        qarību l-nabiyyi l-muṣṭafā wa-bnu ʿammihi | wa-wārithu mā shādat qurayshun wa-ʿadnānu

قريب النبي المصطفى وابن عمه | ووارث ما شادت قريش وعدنان

The relative of the Prophet, God’s elect, and his paternal cousin, as well as the heir to [the house] raised up by Quraish and ʿAdnān.[22]

In this section, Ibn Darrāj combines traditional motifs of the fearsome warrior and noble lineage for double effect as Sulaymān is portrayed as rightful ruler.  Jāhilī poetry abounds in depictions of warfare with its associated images of darkness, blood, swords, and spears which reflect the very real nature of tribal life.  Lyons writes regarding jāhilī poetry that ‘beneath the brightness the sights and sounds of the battlefield are not sanitised’, giving examples of poetry depicting gruesome wounds and injuries.[23]  Ibn Darrāj is eager to depict Sulaymān as a competent and fearsome warrior, but the impression given leans towards the metaphorical as this fearsome quality is then legitimized by mention of his noble ancestry.

Tribal lineage appears often throughout jāhilī and early Islamic poetry, and Andalusi poets appear to have been especially eager to assert either their own ‘pure’ ancestry or that of their patrons.  It is important to emphasize the extent and importance of tribal genealogy in the jāhilī and early Islamic period as this process was culturally ingrained within the oral tradition and eventually codified in the ninth century into works such as Jamharat al-Nasab (the Compliation of Genealogies), containing over 35,000 names the likes of which were non-existent in Europe and elsewhere.[24]  Islam arose in full light of written history, therefore sources on early figures are plentiful and for the most part uncontested in their accurateness.  Although genealogy has played a significant role in Arab culture and appears regularly in poetry, it fulfils two overlapping yet separate functions.  On the one hand, there is the genealogy of family lines which can reasonably be assumed to present a faithful account, but there are also the mythicized larger ‘tribes’ which reach back into Biblical history.  It is clear that a reading of tribal lineages in the qaīda as semi-mythical becomes intended after society switches to a more urban lifestyle.  It is also notable that although lineage has always played a significant role in Arab society, the early expansion of Islam saw diverse groups of people beginning to convert to Islam, many of whom became Arabized, or mustaʿrib and so Arabs of pure Arab stock were keen to assert this.  The ability to trace one’s ancestry to that of Prophet Muḥammad functions as a source of unquestionable legitimization, as well as affirming that the poet himself is fully familiar with the Arab ansāb and abaqāt, or compilations of genealogy and divisions of ancestry. Ibn Darrāj continues:

14:        wa-mā sāqat al-shūrā wa-awjabat al-tuqā | wa-awratha dhū l-nūraynī ʿammuka ʿuthmānu     

وما ساقت الشورى وأوجبت التقى | وأورث ذو النورين عمك عثمان

And [to the affairs] conducted by the royal council, to what is required by piety, to what has been bequeathed by the possessor of the two lights, your paternal cousin ʿUthmān.[25]

During this period where both al-Andalus and the ʿAbbāsid East were facing increasing risk from other competing powers, it becomes common for poets to assert Caliphatic legitimacy through lineage: a form of legitimization which already had firm roots in early Islamic history.  Al-Andalus was facing the challenge of both the ʿAbbāsids in the East and the Fāṭimids in the South, both of which also laid claims to Prophetic validity for the basis of their rule.[26]  By linking Sulaymān to the house of Quraysh (the Prophet’s house) and ʿUthmān, Ibn Darrāj challenges the authority of the neighbouring powers.  Sulaymān may or may not be distantly related to the house of the Prophet but a literal reading of this appears to be the lesser important here: the crucial element of this rests on the audience’s accepting of the legitimacy which is vaguely supported by lineage claims, rather than a true presentation of Sulaymān’s family history.  Crone and Hinds write regarding Umayyad legitimacy:

Ultimately, they have inherited it from ʿUthman, a friend and helper of Muḥammad’s, who was chosen by a shūrā and raised up by God Himself, and who was thus a legitimate caliph wrongfully killed.  In raising up Umayyad caliphs, God gives His deputy something to which He has a hereditary right. [. . .] In short, the Umayyads are God’s chosen lineage.[27]

Ibn Darrāj is not subtle in his assertion of this hereditary right as he says in bayt 16 ‘These are the inherited possessions of kings and the confirmation of royal investiture.’  Despite the Umayyads disdain of the ʿAbbāsids and their eagerness to distance themselves from the heretical Caliphate, they nonetheless show a willingness to adopt cultural forms arising from the ʿAbbāsid East as is evident in poetry.  The nature of this relationship attests to the strong cultural pull which the Mashriq, or East, exerted on Arab-Andalusi society and acted as a centre for inspiration.  The stratified nature of Andalusi society is reflected in the desire of these poets to emulate Eastern forms, and particularly until the tenth century we see a society still largely creating and asserting its identity in reference to the Eastern homelands.

Al-Ruṣāfī, again, follows a similar strategy in legitimizing the Almohad ruler by way of noble ancestry but couched in more mystical imagery:

7:          wa-āyatun ka-iyāti l-shamsi bayna yaday | ghazwin ʿalā l-maliki l-qaysiyyi   mandhūr

وآيةٌ كإِياةِ الشمسِ بين يديْ
غزوٍ على المَلكِ القيسيِّ مَنْذُورِ

As well as a miraculous sign [bright as] the light of the sun, before an expedition destined to be fulfilled by the Qaisite king.[28]

A Qaisite, or qaysī refers to those of north-Arabian provenance ultimately tracing their ancestry back to the mother tribe of ʿAdnān, providing a link between themselves and the Prophet’s ancestry.  Both poets use various devices finding their origins in jāhilī poetry for purposes of political legitimization.  We can see a clear continuity and development of the qaīda: the jāhilī poet describes his situation in real terms, Ibn Darrāj adopts the transformation of traditional topoi into ornate, yet stiff, metaphorical sentiments, while al-Ruṣāfī provides a subtler use of metaphor.  In this poem, the Almohad ruler ʿAbd al-Mu’min is described or compared to variously as ‘a light, endowed with two columns of power, his spear of religion, the Mahdi’ and thus reflects the extended and more fully realised use of metaphor and simile in al-Ruṣāfī’s poetry.  This extension of metaphor can be linked to the intellectual climate of Almohad rule.  While they were keen to ensure Islamic principles were being upheld after the laxity of the Almoravids, the development of art and literature was also significant and supported by the state.  Monroe writes that ‘Official Almohad art is endowed with a sense of proportion, grandeur, and harmonious simplicity’: qualities which are evident in the verse of al-Ruṣāfī.[29]  It should be noted that by the time of al-Ruṣāfī, Andalusi poetry was no longer limited to the qaīda; the muwashshh and zajal had become popular forms of poetry spoken in the vernacular Arabo-Andalusi dialect often incorporating verses in the local Hispano-Romance language.  This major break from the qaīda allowed poets, such as Ibn Quzmān, greater freedom in expression, and it continues to be a popular poetic form today in parts of North Africa.

A comparison of verses from an early Arab-Jewish poet al-Samaw’al (c. 6th century), Ibn Darrāj and al-Ruṣāfī will be useful here to illuminate the various stages of development that the battle-scene has undergone in the qaīda.  Al-Samaw’al  faithfully captures the strongly fatalistic worldview of the jāhiliyya and the heroic portrayal of muruwwa, which can be summarily described as ‘consisting of everything that was taken to be praiseworthy and which may be called the Arab summum bonum’,[30] but also enshrined by warfare and a noble death as seen in the eighth bayt: ‘We are indeed a folk who deem not being killed a disgrace…’.  Lyons aptly describes how the jāhilī poet’s social structure and worldview have shaped their poetry: ‘For a society of this type, communal poetry […] must be of less importance than immediate identification not with the poet as an individual but with what he represents, either immediately in his clan praises or censures, or in his portrayal of a way of life.’[31]  Al-Samaw’al then continues:

10:        wa-mā māta minnā sayyidun attā anfih | wa-lā ulla minnā aythu kāna qatīlu

وما مات منا سيد حتى أنفه | ولا طل منا حيث كان قتيل

Not one sayyid of ours ever died a natural death, nor was any slain of ours ever left where he lay unavenged.

11:        tasīlu ʿalā addi l-ubāti nufūsunā | wa-laysat ʿalā ghayri l-ubāti             tasīlu

تسيل على حد الظبات نفوسنا | وليست على غير الظبات تسيل

Our souls flow out along the edge of the swordblades, and do not flow out along other than swordblades.[32]

The qaīda for the jāhilī poet was a unifying experience to be related aloud in which familiar events and situations were contrasted and juxtaposed, but nonetheless it remains a form of poetry firmly rooted in the realities of a harsh landscape.  Metaphor is used to highlight individual people, horses, or weaponry; and to showcase linguistic adeptness, but it rarely extends into the imaginative or mystical-intellectual realm of the later poets.  In contrast to al-Samaw’al’s ambivalent attitude towards life and death, Ibn Darrāj has extended the battle metaphors for a purpose beyond the poeticisation of life:

24:        ka-anna l-samā’a badrahā wa-nujūmahā | surāka wa-qad affūka shaybun wa-shubbānu

كأن السماء بدرها ونجومها | سراك وقد حفوك شيب وشبان

It is as though the sky, both its full moon and its stars, were your brave warriors when hoary-headed elders and young men surrounded you

25:        wa-qad lamaʿta awlayka minhum asinnatun | tukhayyilu anna l-azna wa-l-sahla nīrānu

وقد لمعت حوليك منهم أسنة | تخيل أن الحزن والسهل نيران

And their spearheads flashed around you so that you would think that both the rugged and the even ground were on fire.[33]

Here the battle, presented vividly through the repetition of traditional motifs, such as flashing spears, is not understood as a collective memory, but rather as an imaginative event in which the Caliph takes centre stage allowing the audience to marvel at his military prowess.  This stands in opposition to the jāhilī presentation of the battle as a communal act in which members of the tribe participate.  Naturally, many Andalusis will have known the realities of battle but the fundamental conception and presentation differs in that the jāhilī scene represents an all-encompassing mode of life whereas the badīʿ poem of cosmopolitan al-Andalus portrays one glorified instance used to exalt a ruler.  Al-Ruṣāfī further develops the motifs:

13:        wa-ḥaythu qāmat qanātu l-dīni tarfulu fī | liwā’i naṣri ʿalā l-barrayni manshūri

وحيث قامت قناة الدين ترفل في | لواء نصر على البرين منشور

And wherever the spear of religion rose aloft it drags along behind it the banner of victory which is clearly displayed over the two continents.

14:        fī kaffi munshamiri l-burdayni dhī waraʿin | ʿalā l-tuqā wa-ṣafā’i l-            nafsi maf‏ṭūri

في كف منشمر الردين ذي ورع | على التقى وصفاء النفس مفطور

[It is held] in the hand of one tucking up his two mantles; possessed of godliness; one who has broken his fast on fear of God and purity of soul.[34]

Encouraged by the Almohad reforms, al-Ruṣāfī explicitly joins religion with battle in these verses with metaphors such as ‘tucking up his two mantles’ (i.e. waging war), thereby, linking the spiritual realm of religion with the legitimacy of a ruler.  The abstraction present in al-Ruṣāfī’s poetry marks a new period for the qaīda which in al-Andalus reaches its peak with Ibn Zamrak (d. 796/1394) in whose poetry art itself becomes the focal object.  Monroe describes the complexity of metaphor used in Ibn Zamrak’s qaīdas: ‘Lexicalization has attained a new stage of complexity where metaphors represent not one but several different realities, and are organized into strictly logical, though often obscure, patterns to convert different levels of meaning at the same time.’[35]  The old metaphors of the jāhilī poets used to describe a single physical object or event have now themselves become the object of the poem.

The flexibility of the qaīda and its melodic rhymes conducive to memory and oral performance have allowed it to slowly develop throughout the ages, existing even today, as the bedouins of the Najd maintain this strong poetic form.  In the case of al-Andalus, the qaīda was the perfect poetic vehicle by which Arab-Andalusis could assert their Eastern origins and praise or challenge the several competing Caliphates of the time.  Ibn Darrāj represents the first stages of Andalusi poetry – a stiff imitation of the badīʿ style employed with more refine by the renowned Eastern poets al-Mutanabbī and Abū Nuwās.  Al-Ruṣāfī shows a more particularly Andalusi style influenced by the dominant Almohad ideologies; this is not surprising given that by this period al-Andalus had proved itself to be a worthy contender, but by doing so it had also removed itself somewhat from the wider Islamic world and therefore we see more uniquely Andalusi developments occurring in the later centuries.  This study corroborates Bennison’s observation that:

Much of this discussion about eastern influence somehow assumes that the Arabo-Islamic elite in al-Andalus should have immediately had a separate cultural heritage to that of the east, despite their own rather recent arrival from that same east.[36]

This highlights the need for a nuanced understanding of the development of art forms and identities in al-Andalus as reacting to the surrounding, and often chaotic, socio-political situations.  As a more confident Arab-Andalusi identity began to emerge, we witness the likes of Ibn Zamrak who rely less upon the East for novel inspiration, but even so, the frame of reference for the qaīda remains Arab at its core.  Although upon first glance the later Andalusi poets appear to share little with their jāhilī predecessors, it has been shown that the qaīda as a uniquely Arab poetic form is flexible in its adaption to suit the needs of the time, but it can ultimately be traced back to its origins in the deserts of the jāhiliyya.




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Stetkevych, Suzanne Pinckney Poetics of Islamic Legitimacy: Myth, Gender, and Ceremony in the Classical Arabic Ode (Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2002).


[1] Adonis, trans. by Cobham, C., An Introduction to Arab Poetics, (London: Saqi Books, 1985), p. 18. Note that the word qaīda is etymologically related to the Arabic verb qaada meaning ‘to aim for’ or ‘to direct towards’.

[2] Heikki Palva, ‘Metrical Problems of the Contemporary Bedouin ‘Qasīda’: A Linguistic Aproach’, Asian Folklore Studies, vol. 52 (1993), pp. 75-92, here p. 88.

[3] Richard Serrano, Qur’an and the Lyric Imperative (London: Lexington Books, 2016), p. 36.

[4] Geet Jan Van Gelder, Sound and Sense in Classical Arabic Poetry (Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz, 2012), pp. 160-161.

[5] Adonis, An Introduction to Arab Poetics, p. 14.

[6] Marcel Kupershoek, Arabia of the Bedouins, (London: Saqi Books,2001), p. 13.

[7] James T. Monroe, Hispano-Arabic Poetry, (London: University of California Press, 1974), pp. 146-153 and pp. 292-301. The poems and translations used here are all from this anthology unless otherwise stated.  The transliterations are my own.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Justin Stearns, ‘Representing and Remembering al-Andalus: Some Historical Considerations Regarding the End of Time and the Making of Nostalgia’, Medieval Encounters, vol. 15 (2009), pp. 355-374, here p. 203.

[10] Ibid., p. 200.

[11] Monroe, Hispano-Arabic Poetry, pp. 146-147.

[12] Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych, Poetics of Islamic Legitimacy: Myth, Gender, and Ceremony in the Classical Arabic Ode (Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2002), p. 182.

[13] Majd Y. Al-Mallah, ‘Doing Things with Odes: A Poet’s Pledges of Allegiance’, Journal of Arabic Literature, vol. 34 (2003), pp. 45-81, here pp. 47- 48.

[14] Monroe, Hispano-Arabic Poetry, pp. 146-147.

[15] Al-Mallah, ‘Doing Things with Odes’, p. 47.

[16] Monroe, Hispano-Arabic Poetry, pp. 292-293.

[17] Qur’ān, 20:9- 10.

[18] Monroe, Hispano-Arabic Poetry, p. 56.

[19] Stefan Sperl and Christopher Shackle, ‘Introduction’, in Qasida Poetry in Islamic Asia and Africa, Vol. II, ed. by Stefan Sperl and Christopher Shackle, (Leiden: Brill, 1996) pp. 1-63, here p. 38.

[20] Ebstein, Michael, Mysticism and Philosophy in al-Andalus (Leiden: Brill, 2014), p. 29.

[21] Al-Mallah, ‘Doing Things with Odes’, p. 52.

[22] Monroe, Hispano-Arabic Poetry, pp. 146-148.

[23] Malcom Cameron Lyons, Identification and Identity in Classical Arabic Poetry (Warminster: Gibb Memorial Trust, 1997) p. 28.

[24] Hugh Kennedy, ‘From Oral Tradition to Written Record in Arabic Genealogy’, Arabica, vol. 44 (1997), pp. 531-544, here p. 531.

[25] Monroe, Hispano-Arabic Poetry, pp.148-149. Note that shūra has been translated by Monroe as ‘royal council’ but this does not convey the specific religious connotations of the shūra as a council of religious scholars.

[26] Stetkevyvch, Poetics of Islamic Legitimacy, p. 248.

[27] Patricia Crone and Martin Hinds, God’s Caliph (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), pp. 31-32.

[28] Monroe, Hispano-Arabic Poetry, pp. 292-293.

[29] Ibid., p. 48.

[30] Majid Khadduri and Rouhollah K. Ramazani, The Islamic Conception of Justice (London: John Hopkins University Press, 1984), p. 9.

[31] Lyons, Identification and Identity in Classical Arabic Poetry, p. 38.

[32] Arthur J. Arberry, Arabic Poetry: A Primary for Students (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), pp. 30-32. Translation by Arberry.

[33] Monroe, Hispano-Arabic Poetry, pp. 148-149.

[34] Ibid., pp. 294-295.

[35] Ibid., p. 67.

[36] Amira K. Bennison, ‘The Necklace of al-Shifāʾ: ʿAbbasid Borrowings in the Islamic West’, Oriens, vol. 38 (2010), pp. 249-273, here p. 253.