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Subject: Arabic Literature during the Abbasid Era By: A student of Preston International College Arabic Literature during the Abbasid Era Arabic prose and poetry reached its greatest heights in the Abbasid period, especially before the loss of central authority and the rise of the Persianate dynasties. Arabic Prose The Qur’an set the model for prose writing during the seventh century. In the eighth century, the writings were on religious topics with the Prophet, saws, as the central figure. Some of the prominent writers during this time were Al Auhri, Asad ibn Musa, and Ibn Ishaq. During the ninth century, the field of prose writing considerably expanded, and covered topics not attempted before. For example, Jahiz wrote the book of animals, Ibn Qutaybah wrote the book of poetry and poets and Al Baladhuri wrote the book of conquests. During the tenth century, Arabic prose developed further both in the matter of variety of topics and the style of expression. Ibn Abdhi Rabihi produced a book on general knowledge, Al Nasai produced a book on traditions, Masudi wrote on travels and history, Tabari produced a book on universal history, Ibn Durayd produced an Arabic Lexicon and a treatise on Arab genealogies. Books on Sufism were also produced during this century. The eleventh century produced important works on religion. Al Hasifi compiled a treatise on the Qur’an and Abdul Malik al Juwayni wrote a book on Theology. At this time, some books on Sufism were also written. Al Mansur al Tha’albi wrote Anthology of Poets, Al Mawardi wrote a book on the principles of the government, Imam Ghazali produced his classical work ‘Ihya Uloom ul Deen’, Al Hariri prodiced a masterpiece on stories and anecdotes, Ibn Jubair wrote an account of his travels, and Ibn Dahqab produced Juridical Tables. Arabic Poetry The prominent Arab poets of the seventh century were Labid, Hasan ibn Thabit and Ka’b ibn Zuhair, and Khansa. During the eighth century, there was a revival of love poetry, and poets also began to sing in praises of the Ka’bah, the Pilgrimage and the beauties of Islam. Jamil ul Udhri, Al Akhtal, Umar ibn Abi Rabiah and Al Farazdaq, Layla Akhtalaya and Maysuna (the wife of the Umayyad caliph) were the poets and poetesses of this period. In the ninth century, Abu Nawas revived erotic poetry. Abul Atahiya wrote love songs in praise of his beloved. Abu Tammam came to be known for the over intellectualization of his poetry. Muti’b Ilyas and Ibn al Rumi both wrote love songs. Al Bahtiri wrote poems which came to be distinguished for their imagery. He came to be known as a verbal chemist. Al Mutannabi was the most prominent poet of the tenth century. He is regarded as one of the greatest poets of the Arabic language. During this century, Spain produced three eminent poets, namely Ibn Abdi Rabbihi, Ibn Hani and Ibn Abi Qatiyya. They wrote fine lyric poetry. The eleventh century produced poets like Abul A’ala Al Ma’arri, who wrote in imitation of the Qur’anic style, and Ibn Zaydun, the greatest poet of Muslim Spain. During the twelfth century, the poets took to the description of nature. Two eminent poets at this time were Ibn Hamid (who is known as Arabic Wordsworth) and Ibn Khafaja. The thirteenth century witnessed mystic poetry. Ibn al Farid, Ibn al Arabi wrote excellent mystical poetry in fluent style. We can thus see how Arabic literature flourished greatly during the Abbasid era.
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