The Eloquence of Ali Ibn Al-Athir

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.

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Ibn Qalaqis On The Importance Of Travel

The poet Nasrallah Ibn Abdallah Al-Qalaqis (نصر اللّه بن عبد اللّه القاضي الأعزّ ابن قلاقس) was born near Alexandria, Egypt in 1137.  He was a master of language and a composer of many exquisite verses, and was also an intrepid traveler.  The name by which he is generally known (Ibn Qalaqis) is derived from the Arabic word for colocasia, a plant cultivated in his day for its medicinal qualities.  His biographer tells us (with a twinkle in his eye) that “He had so little beard that his face was quite bare and, for that reason, verses were composed against him, which I abstain from mentioning on account of their indelicacy.”  One wishes that these lampoons might have been preserved, if only to see how little insults have changed over the centuries.

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The Pride Of Mihyar Al Daylami

The poet Mihyar Al Daylami (?–1037) came from that region of Persia which bordered the southern shores of the Caspian Sea.  He wrote in Arabic, and his works were so copious that his biographer says they filled four volumes.  He was originally a Zoroastrian, but converted to Islam around the year 1003 under the influence of one of his professors.

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The Wise Sayings Of Al Muhallab

The Arab military commander Al Muhallab Ibn Abi Sufra (المهلّب بن أبي صفرة الأزدي) was born around A.D. 632, but not much is known of his early life beyond anecdotes.  His biographer Ibn Khallikan tells us on good authority that “His surnames al-Azdi, al-Ataki, [and] al-Basri indicate that he descended from al-Atik, member of the tribe of al-Azd, and that he was a native of Basra.”  We are also told that he was distinguished for his generosity and graciousness.  His military prowess was beyond question; he defended the city of Basra so effectively from its enemies that some took to calling the city “The Basra of Al Muhallab.”

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Legends Related To The Conquest Of Spain

Musa Ibn Nusair (موسى بن نصير) lived from 640 to 716 A.D. and served as the Umayyad governor-general of the province of Afriqiyya (North Africa).  It was he who planned and directed the Arab conquest of the Gothic kingdom of Spain.  The biographer Ibn Khallikan, writing in Baghdad in 1274, sketched the outline of his career and notable deeds.  Ibn Nusair’s full name was Abd al-Rahman Musa Ibn Nusair, and he was noted throughout his life, we are told, “for prudence, generosity, bravery, and piety.”  No army under his command was ever defeated.

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The Sorrow Of The Grammarian Of Basra, Iraq

Abu Faid Muwarrij al-Sadusi was a grammarian from the city of Basra, Iraq.  We do not know the precise date of his birth, but he is reliably said to have died in the year A.D. 810 (year 195 in the Islamic calendar).  His biographer Ibn Khallikan says that he studied at the school of Abu Zaid al-Ansari, and showed a particular talent for poetry and philology.  We are also told that he accompanied the Abbasid caliph al-Mamun to Khorasan, and eventually took up residence in Marw and Nishapur.

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