By Margaret Larkin
"Abu'l-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi (915-965) is usually considered as the best of the classical Arab poets, together with his paintings occupying a distinct place on the middle of Arab tradition. Born the son of a water-carrier in Kufah, Iraq, al-Mutanabbi lived a tumultuous lif.
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Extra info for Al-Mutanabbi : voice of the 'Abbasid poetic ideal
382). He emphasizes the supportive role Sayf al-Dawlah has played for the ‘Abbasid caliph, but then, distinguishing between his given name and this title bestowed on him by the caliph, makes bold to intimate that Sayf al-Dawlah is, in truth, his superior. This is a theme that he would take up even more forthrightly in a later poem: His sword suspender is on the shoulder of the noble caliph and the hilt of his sword is in the hand of the Almighty of the heavens ... The one who named [him] Ali was indeed just, while the one who called him Sayf did him an injustice.
Shortly after his encounter with Mu‘adh, after his fame had spread among the Bedouin, al-Mutanabbi led the tribes of the Samawah region of the Syrian desert in a series of raids. Later, the disruptions expanded to Salamiyyah, northeast of the Syrian city of Hums. Finally, the Ikhshidid-appointed governor of Hums, Lu’lu’ al-Ghuri, sent out an army against the tribes, and al-Mutanabbi was captured. qxd 9/14/2007 1:57 PM Page 25 GROWING PAINS 25 a jailer took pity on the now gravely ill man and transmitted a poetic appeal from him to the new governor, Ishaq Ibn Kayghulugh.
264) Al-Mutanabbi is here explicitly replacing the pre-Islamic emphasis on communal values and identity with a focus on individual distinction. Indeed this is the spirit of the entire poem. From the very first line, the pre-Islamic emphasis on fate is rejected, to be replaced by the individual’s assumption of existential responsibility. In this poem, the process is configured by the stages of grieving that are at the heart of the piece, but on a larger level this is also what is going on in much of al-Mutanabbi’s oeuvre.
Al-Mutanabbi : voice of the 'Abbasid poetic ideal by Margaret Larkin