Ali Ibn Al-Athir (علي عز الدین بن الاثیر الجزري) was an Arabic historian, poet, and scholar who served for a time under Saladin. Born in 1160 in the city of Jazeera Ibn Omar (the modern Turkish town of Cizre), he received his education there and in Mosul, Iraq. From an early age, he showed an uncanny aptitude for literary work, composing verses and prose with fluent ease; he was soon able to master the essentials of grammar, philology, rhetoric, and law.
The name Muhammad al-Salami (محمد السلامي) (A.D. 948–1003) is nearly unknown in the West, but occupies a prominent position in medieval Arabic poetry. The genius of his metaphors, the richness of his turns of phrase, and the elegance of his diction can be felt even through the fog of translation; and we will do our best to pay him homage here. The anthologist Abu Mansur al-Tha’alibi called him: