Centuries of Arabic romantic poetry a timeline of love

Short Url
Updated 13 February 2020

Centuries of Arabic romantic poetry a timeline of love

JEDDAH: The language of love has been an integral theme of Arab poetry.

From before Islam, poets have inked expressions of love, affection and passion into their verses.

The word for poet in Arabic is sha’er, which means the feeler or the one who feels, and from the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula to the Andalusian aristocratic gardens, classical Arabic poetry is filled with ancient love tales.

Many remain popular today, inspiring contemporary poets, singers, artists, and musicians.

Antarah ibn Shaddad Al-Absi and Abla (sixth century), Qays ibn Al-Mulawwah and Leyla (seventh century), Kuthayyir ibn ‘Abd Al-Raḥman and ‘Azza (eighth century), and Ibn Zaydun and Princess Wallada (11th century) are examples of the numerous pairings from romantic Arabic verse.

Arabic poetry has steadily evolved through the centuries and developed new forms and themes under the influence of Western literature, partly as a result of colonialism and globalization. A sense of modernity appeared in the aftermath of World War II.

One Western cultural phenomenon that reached the Arab region was Valentine’s Day or as it is called in Arabic, Love Day.

Although the origins of Valentine’s Day date back to A.D. 269, it is only since the mid-1800s that it has been linked to romance, and was not celebrated as a holiday until the mid-19th century.

As a commercial and social event, Valentine’s Day is still in its relative infancy in the Arab world but is fast growing in popularity. The day is now often mentioned in Arabic poetry by scribes such as Lebanon’s Elia Abu Madi, Egypt’s Farouk Gouida, Saudi Prince Badr bin Abdul Mohsin, and Nizar Qabbani from Syria.


Love me even more, even more

Oh my most beautiful fit of madness, even more

Drown me even more, my lady, the sea is calling me

Kill me even more, maybe death would be my rebirth

Oh most beautiful woman in the universe, love me

Oh you whom I loved until love burned, love me

Oh you whom I loved until love burned, love me

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, I’d have you reside in the light of my eyes

Your love is my map, the map of the universe no longer matters to me

I am the oldest capital of sadness and my wound is a pharaonic inscription

My pain extends like a flock of birds from Baghdad to China

Love me even more, even more

Oh my most beautiful fit of madness, even more

My heart’s canary, my April

Oh you are the sands of the sea and the soul of my soul,

Forests of olives,

A taste of snow and a taste of fire,

(And) a flavor of my doubt and certainty

I feel scared of the unknown so shelter me

I feel scared of the dark so hold me tight

I feel scared of the cold so cover me and stay be my side, sing for me

Since the beginning of creation, I have been looking for a homeland for myself

I have been looking for the love of a woman which can take me to the edges of the sun and throw me off

Love me even more, even more, oh my most beautiful fit of madness, even more

Oh, light of my life, my fan, my lantern, the fragrance of my gardens

Stretch out for me a bridge made of the scent of lemons

And place me as an ivory comb in the darkness of your hair, and forget me

For you I have prepared my laments and left history behind

And I scratched out my birth certificate and cut all my veins

Love me even more, even more, oh my most beautiful fit of madness, even more


Qabbani is considered to be one of the most influential voices in the history of Arabic literature. His pioneering style has had a huge influence on contemporary Arabic poetry with many young poets and songwriters imitating his powerful writing technique.

His poems have been translated into various languages and sung by famous performers such as Mohammed Abdel Wahab, Abdel Halim Hafez, and Kadim Al-Sahir.

Qabbani’s romantic poetry has also found its way into English rap songs. Although Arabic poetry and English hip-hop music are strikingly different, the Syrian American hip-hop artist Omar Offendum was able to successfully use Qabbani’s poetry in his music.

Offendum converted Qabbani’s famous love poem sung by Hafez, “Qariat il-Finjan,” into the rap tune “Finjan,” mixing the original Arabic text and its translation. On another track, “More love,” Offendum uses Qabbani’s voice in the background.

Other young Arab artists are also discovering the beauty and complexity of classical and modern Arabic romantic poetry. 

Saudi artists Abdulrahman Mohammed and Mohab Omer have become known throughout the region for their songs based on poetry.

Thanks to artists such as Mohammed and Omer, young Arabs have been able to find a link between their culture and classical literature through music and, most importantly, their hearts.

 

 


Turning a new leaf: Saudi Arabia’s Jazan region ditches qat crops for coffee trees

The growth of the educational landscape in the region, in addition to the success of the coffee industry, are some factors that help the authorities combat qat abuse. (SPA/Supplied)
Updated 24 February 2020

Turning a new leaf: Saudi Arabia’s Jazan region ditches qat crops for coffee trees

  • The Khawlani coffee bean is being offered to UNESCO for inclusion on a heritage list

JAZAN: Efforts to draw the younger generation in the Kingdom’s Jazan region away from the harmful and addictive substance qat are succeeding, with even the crop being replaced by coffee trees to support the booming coffee business.
Qat, a plant that is native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, is a stimulant that triggers excitement and alertness. But it can also cause anxiety, insomnia and aggravate pre-existing mental health conditions.
It grew in the Jazan region along with coffee trees. But the strength of the coffee industry, combined with an increased awareness about the harmful nature of qat, has led to its gradual disappearance.
The governor of Al-Dayer, Nayef bin Lebdah, said the people of Jazan were proud of the Khawlani coffee bean. He also said that coffee beans were much more economically beneficial than qat.
“All newly planted qat trees have been completely uprooted,” he told Arab News. “All the people have found that planting coffee beans is much more feasible and rewarding than qat. Attempts to smuggle qat have also dropped thanks to the security efforts along the border with Yemen. Add to that, young people themselves have concluded that their future will be in coffee beans.”
Teacher Yahiya Shareef Al-Maliki viewed qat as an “intruder’’ and said the coffee tree was the region’s indigenous product.
“In 1970, there were only four people who used to chew qat in the entire governorate,” he told Arab News. “It then started to become common among the people here in 1995 due to opening the borders that caused importing qat from abroad.”

FASTFACTS

• In 2014, people reconsidered coffee as an alternative crop and young people started to grow coffee beans with the help of unlimited support from the governorate.

• Some 50,000 seedlings were distributed and farmers began to restore the profession of their fathers.

• The governorate replanted more than 10,000 genuine Khawlani coffee seedlings and gave them to the farmers.

The increase in qat cultivation affected the planting of coffee beans, he added, but in 2014 people reconsidered coffee as an alternative crop and young people started to grow coffee beans with the help of unlimited support from the governorate. “Some 50,000 seedlings were distributed and farmers began to restore the profession of their fathers.”
People in Jazan used to waste their time and money on qat, he said. They would gather and chew qat for many hours, he added, hours that could have been spent working. But the growth of the educational landscape in the region, in addition to the success of the coffee industry, was a factor in combating qat abuse, as young people were able to access more opportunities and improve their prospects.
The Khawlani coffee bean is being offered to UNESCO for inclusion on a heritage list.
“The preparation of the file related to the skills and knowledge pertaining to the cultivation of Khawlani coffee in the Jazan region has been completed before presenting it to UNESCO,” the Kingdom’s Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah said. If listed, he added, it would be the Kingdom’s fourth intangible cultural heritage and eighth among the total heritage items included in the UNESCO heritage list.
Saudi columnist Hamood Abu Talib said the Jazan region was the only place the beans were grown. “This festival (Coffee Beans Festival), which is being held in collaboration with the governorate (of Jazan), the farmers themselves and Aramco, is an important national economic investment,” he told Arab News.
“Many countries’ economies, such as Brazil and Ethiopia depend mainly on this product — coffee. It needs professional marketing through the media to attract visitors from inside and outside the Kingdom. This is an essential strategic transformation.
“We know that the Faifa Mountains Development and Reconstruction Authority’s strategic goal was to uproot the harmful trees of qat and replace them with profitable crops that are beneficial to the farmers as well as the whole region. These were also intruding, invasive trees. We replanted more than 10,000 genuine Khawlani coffee seedlings and gave them to the farmers.”