Elegy and nasīb in the ancient Arabic Qasīda: The unique structure of an elegy by ibn muqbil

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This article analyses the functions of the uniquely non-traditional structure of an elegy composed by the mukhadram poet, Ibn Muqbil, following the assassination of the third Muslim caliph, 'Uthmān b. 'Affān. The poem begins with the elegiac verses, then ends with a description of several, to some degree, erotic love affairs. Classical Arab scholars condemned this structure, in which the song of love follows the weeping over a killed religious authority. In the present article, the poem is analysed then two interpretations of the function of this structure are given: firstly, it provides the poem with an allegorical expression for Ibn Muqbil's yearning for the lost pre-Islamic life which was destroyed after the birth of Islam; secondly, it is a means of catharsis directed to a specific audience which was less passionate about the death of the caliph.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-533
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Semitic Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The author. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the University of Manchester. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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