Centuries of Arabic romantic poetry a timeline of love

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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.

 

 


Kingdom’s embassies offer crucial lifeline for Saudis stranded abroad due to pandemic

Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Essam bin Abed Al-Thaqafi reassuring Saudis about their safe return to the Kingdom. Saudi missions around the world continue to provide advice and accommodation for stranded citizens. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 31 March 2020

Kingdom’s embassies offer crucial lifeline for Saudis stranded abroad due to pandemic

  • Saudis stranded abroad by coronavirus tell Arab News how they cope

RIYADH: Hundreds of Saudi citizens stranded abroad due to the coronavirus travel bans are living in the lap of luxury at the expense of the Kingdom.
Since the first case of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was reported in Saudi Arabia, the government has been taking all necessary measures to protect its people through the closure of schools and offices to the halting of international and domestic flights.
And Saudi embassies around the world have been working day and night to organize the safe return of citizens, posting flight deadlines and important contact numbers on Twitter.
However, not all Saudis studying, working or on vacation in other countries have been able to make it home.
As the world battles with the pandemic, the Saudi government has been trying to ensure the well-being and health of its citizens stranded abroad, urging Saudi nationals to abide by the rules and regulations of the countries of their residence.
The Kingdom has expanded a ban on international flights for two weeks to help authorities fight the virus effectively within the country.
A number of Saudi families, tourists, businesspeople and students have found themselves stuck in the US capital, Washington, DC with no idea of when the next evacuation flights will take place.
However, the Saudi Embassy has provided luxury hotel accommodation for stranded Saudi nations including full-board meals and free laundry services.
Ayman Nassief and his family were on a two-week holiday in Orlando, Florida when the travel ban came in.
“When they closed Disney World in Orlando, we sensed something, and decided to go back to Washington to take the first flight to Saudi Arabia,” said Nasseif, an architect from Jeddah who had traveled to the US with his wife Safinaz Salamah, a pediatrician, and their daughter Hatoon, a freelance graphic designer.
“I knew that the flight had been canceled before I arrived in DC, so I called the embassy on their dedicated hotline. The embassy immediately made arrangements for our stay at the Hilton McLean hotel.”
The Saudi Ministry of Health made it mandatory for people entering the Kingdom after March 11 to go into 14-day quarantine and Nasseif said his family’s places of work had been very cooperative and understanding over their situation.

 

 

Safinaz said she was keen to get back to Saudi as soon as possible to help in her role as a pediatrician. “I wish I was there to return some of the favor that the government has bestowed upon me.
“I sit here with my family at the expense of the embassy; it is taking care of our accommodation, food and even paying for our laundry here. Now I really know what it means to be Saudi,” she added.
Nasseif said: “We understand the burden on the government, and we want to go back as soon as possible, but we realize how big the pandemic is. It put us at ease that the government was taking extreme measures to fight the virus, and we stand along with them.”
Another Saudi citizen, Faten Ahmed, became stranded at the Hilton McLean after her flight home was canceled during a visit to Florida to see her brother.
“Although I am missing my family and home, the help I have received here has made it up for me. I have nothing to complain about. I only hope the world passes through this crisis with the minimum of lost lives.”
Ahmed had only been in Miami for 24 hours before she heard the travel ban rumors and drove immediately to Orlando to catch the first available flight to Washington, DC. However, when she got there all flights to Saudi Arabia had been grounded.

Ibtihaj Al-Hanaki who was in the US capital for a brief personal trip was also unable to return due to the pandemic. Her flight was one of the last to land in the city from the Kingdom before things were shut down.
“I didn’t think that things will escalate this fast, when I finished my business here I tried to go back, but unfortunately it was too late,” the mother of two boys, 2 and 5, told Arab News. “I miss them too much, I didn’t plan to leave them for a long period, and they weren’t prepared for that,” she said.
Nevertheless, Al-Hanaki praised the action of her country to take strict precautions during the coronavirus outbreak, which has brought most of the world to a halt.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Saudi embassies around the world have been working to organize the safe return of citizens, posting flight deadlines and important contact numbers on Twitter.

• Saudi Embassy in Washington has provided approximately 40,000 Saudi students in the US with clear guidance and advisories regarding how to ensure that their studies are not disrupted.

Fahad Nazer, spokesperson at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, told Arab News: “The well-being of Saudi citizens abroad is the top priority of all of the Kingdom’s diplomatic missions around the world.
“The Saudi Ambassador to the US Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan is personally overseeing the embassy’s effort to ensure that Saudis currently unable to return to the Kingdom due to the international travel restrictions, have adequate accommodation until the restrictions are lifted.
“The Kingdom’s embassy in Washington, in addition to its consulates in New York City, Los Angeles and Houston have spared no effort to make sure that the approximately 600 Saudi citizens who were visiting the US and are currently unable to return to the Kingdom have all their needs met,” said Nazer.

A group of Saudis gathered in the lobby of a hotel in Washington, DC.

“The accommodation, provided free of charge, includes transportation from airports to hotels and lodging at hotels, along with complimentary meals. In addition, the Kingdom’s cultural mission in Washington has provided approximately 40,000 Saudi students in the US with clear guidance and advisories regarding how to ensure that their studies are not disrupted, including guidance on distance learning.”
The embassy and consulates in the US have also advised all Saudis to strictly adhere to the public health and safety advisories issued by the states they reside in.
Saudi embassies and consulates around the world continue to closely monitor the spread of the coronavirus and provide advice and accommodation for stranded citizens.
In Indonesia, a video went viral of the Saudi ambassador to the country, Essam bin Abed Al-Thaqafi, reassuring a large crowd in an airport that they would all be cared for. “Our responsibility lies in overseeing that we care for you during this time,” he said.
The Saudi Embassy in Indonesia flew out 800 citizens and those that failed to make the flight have been provided free accommodation.
“There is no doubt that the authorities in the Kingdom are working hard for their return, but after taking all necessary precautions,” the envoy added.
The Saudi Embassy in Egypt helped to evacuate 5,900 Saudis in the space of 72 hours with the Kingdom’s ambassador, Osama Nugali, personally overseeing operations at the airport.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has always been at the forefront of caring for its citizens whether in the country or abroad. The instructions we received from the leadership were to help facilitate and to accommodate the needs of our citizens during this crucial time,” he told Arab News.