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Islamic poetry

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Title: Islamic poetry  
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Subject: Islamic studies, Islamic art, McGill University Institute of Islamic Studies, Islamic music, History of Islamic economics
Collection: Poetry Movements
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Islamic poetry

Islamic poetry is poetry written by Muslims. Islamic poetry has been written in many languages.


  • History and Origins 1
  • Islamic poetry in different languages 2
  • Genres of Islamic poetry 3
  • References 4
  • See also 5

History and Origins

Beginning with the migration of Muhammad and his followers to mecca (A.D. 622), also known as the Hijrah, the quasidah or ode was a sharp contrast to the sacred Quran. Writers at the time of pre-Islamic poetry were considered to be lacking the knowledge and authority necessary to be writing such poetry, thus leading this period of time to be called the “Age of Ignorance”. This time period caused tension amongst the early Islamic world, since the ode style of writing was seen as profane to the sacred text of the Quran.[1]

Islamic poetry in different languages

The quasidah (ode) is considered by scholars to be one of the most distinguishing aspects of arabic poetry. originating around 500 bc, it is also considered to be fundamental to the development of pre-Islamic poetry. It is composed in monorhyme having between fifteen and eighty lines.[2] The quasidah contains three subtopics or recurring themes; the nasib or the story of a destroyed relationship and home, the fakhr which portrays self-praise for a tribe or oneself, and the rahil which is a journey into the desert involving camels. The quasidah also involves biographical anecdotes called akhbar, which shows stories of revenge-taking and blood-sacrifice necessary to go through a rite of passage.[3] The major components of the akhbar are the recurring themes of blood-revenge, initiated by the death of a father or loved one, and the “arrested development” of a person during their youth.[2]

example of a nasib poem by Labid ibn Rabiah[4]

“Effaced are the abodes, brief encampments and long-settled ones; At Mina the wilderness has claimed Mount Ghawl and Mount Rijam. The torrent channels of Mount Rayyan, Their teachings are laid bare, Preserved as surely as inscriptions are preserved in rock, Dung-darkened patches over which, since they were peopled, years elapsed, Their profane mouths and sacred ones have passed away. They were watered by the rain the spring stars bring, And on them fell the rain of thunderclouds, downpour and drizzle...” [4]

The common theme of pre-Islamic Arabic poetry is the description of Bedouin life, the stories of rites of passage and sacrifice, depicted through imagery and the use of metaphors.[5] This was mostly oral in composition until the third century.[2]--

Bengali Poetry depicts the themes of internal conflict and existential ideas concerning one’s relationship with the tribe. This search for meaning that is present in most Bengali poems leads to the frustration depicted by poets through their dark and melancholy tones. Frustration is not pessimism, which according to scholars, some readers can misinterpret from the negative tones throughout Bengali poetry. The recurring theme of ideological values rather than societal ones is also present. Modern Bengali poetry is considered to be not rhetorical and romantic in composition.[6]

Persian poetry originate in the modern-day countries of Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan, and Pakistan, along with some areas in India during the tenth century. Genres present in classical Persian poetry vary and are determined by rhyme, which consists of a vowel followed by a single-rhyming letter. The most common form of Persian poetry comes in the ghazal, a love-themed short poem made of seven to twelve verses and composed in the monorhyme scheme.[7]

The qasida is another genre of Persian poetry that depicts the themes of spiritual or worldly praise, satire, or the description of a patron. In regards to Islamic poetry, the most common form of a qasida is in the form of praise of Muhammad, along with people related to him. These religious qasidas emphasize the power and beauty of Allah from different point of views. Qasidas end in a series of anaphoras.[8]

The use of visual poetry throughout Persian history helps readers visually understand the emotions portrayed by the poets through arranging letters and phrases in various shapes related to the message or central theme of the poem.[9]

The central theme of Punjabi poetry is the internal conflict caused by worldly problems, along with existential ideas presented by the poet.[10] Another theme present throughout Punjabi poetry is the paradoxical idea of life and how although wealth and knowledge is presented to a person, it is that wealth and knowledge that can distance them from the real meaning and truth of life.[11] Punjabi poetry is written in a Perso-Urdu style with some Arabic and Persian vocabulary. The topics of Punjabi poetry range from romances to satires, because they are mostly written by villagers and those influenced by the village lifestyle.[12]

Islamic poetry is most commonly about Allah or love.

Genres of Islamic poetry


  1. ^ Pinckney Stetkevych, Suzanne (1993). The Mute Immortals Speak. Cornell University. pp. xi.  
  2. ^ a b c Pinckney Stetkevych, Suzanne (1993). The Mute Immortals Speak. Cornell University. p. 3.  
  3. ^ Pinckney Stetkevych, Suzanne (1993). The Mute Immortals Speak: Pre-Islamic Poetry and the Poetics of Ritual. Cornell University. pp. xii.  
  4. ^ a b Pinckney Stetkevych, Suzanne (1993). The Mute Immortals Speak. Cornell University. p. 8.  
  5. ^
  6. ^ Lal Ghosh, Sachindra. Bengali Literature. Sahitya Akademi. p. 68. 
  7. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie. A Two-Colored Brocade: The Imagery of Persian Poetry. UNC Press Books. 
  8. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie. A Two-Colored Brocade: The Imagery of Persian Poetry. UNC Press Books. p. 45. 
  9. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie. A Two-Colored Brocade: The Imagery of Persian Poetry. UNC Press Books. p. 50. 
  10. ^ Ballard, Roger. "Panth, Kismet, Dharm te Qaum: continuity and change in four dimensions of Punjabi religion". Punjabi Identity in a Global Context: 5. 
  11. ^ Ballard, Roger. "Panth, Kismet, Dharm te Qaum: continuity and change in four dimensions of Punjabi religion". Punjabi Identity in a Global Context: 13. 
  12. ^ Shackle, C. (1970). "Punjabi in Lahore". Modern Asian Studies 4 (3): 240. 

See also

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