Mutanabbi, al-

Mutanabbi, al-,

915–65, Arab poet, considered the greatest classical Arabic poet, b. Iraq. His early involvement with a religious cult earned him the sobriquet "the would-be prophet." He was part of the brilliant court of the Hamdanid ruler Sayf al-Dawlah in Aleppo, where he wrote many of his elaborate panegyrics.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mutanabbi, Al-


(full name, Abu al-Tayyib Ahmad ibn Hu-sayn alMutanabbi). Born 915, in Al Kufah; died Sept. 23, 965, near Numaniyah. Arabian poet.

A descendant of a southern Arabian tribe, al-Mutanabbi learned bedouin ethical and aesthetic traditions. He grew up and lived amid the social instability and ethnopolitical dissension of the feudally divided caliphate. Gifted and ambitious, al-Mutanabbi became a professional wandering poet at the age of 12. He dedicated odes to important personages, gradually gaining recognition and establishing himself at the courts of the emirs of Syria, Egypt, and Iraq. He achieved his greatest success and glory at Aleppo (Halab; 948–957) during the rule of Sayf al-Dawlah. He was murdered in revenge for some satirical verses.

Al-Mutanabbi’s legacy comprises more than 100 odes (qasidas) and up to 200 short poems and fragments. Among the factors that made al-Mutanabbi a popular poet in the Arab world were the restless and freedom-loving spirit of his lyrical hero, with his excessive pride and self-abasement; the contrasting alternation of moods and feelings and of philosophical and lyrical reflections expressed in laconic maxims and aphorisms; the secular orientation of his poetry; his Arab-bedouin patriotism; his rich language and energetic rhythm; and his innovations in the qasida verse form and in epithets and metaphors. Al-Mutanabbi also influenced Persian poetry.


Diwan al-Mutanabbi, vols. 1–4. Cairo, 1936.


Krachkovskii, I. Iu. “Al’-Mutanabbi i Abu-l-Ala.” Izbr. soch., vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1956.
Blachère, R. Un Poete arabe du IV siècle de l’Hègire: Abou-Tayyib al-Motanabbi. Paris, 1935.
Brockelmann, C. Geschichte der arabischen Literatur, 1st supplement. Leiden, 1943.
Husayn Ali Mahfuz. Al-Mutanabbi wa Sa’di. Tehran, 1957.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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