Kitab al-Hamasah

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Ḥamāsah (from Arabic حماسة valour) is a well-known[1] ten-book anthology of Arabic poetry, compiled in the 9th century by Abu Tammam. Along with the Asma'iyyat, Mufaddaliyat and Mu'allaqat, Hamasah is considered one of the primary sources of early Arabic poetry;[2] the work is especially important for having been the first Arabic anthology compiled by a poet and not a philologist and is the first in the Hamasah literary genre. The first and largest section of the work, al-ḥamāsah (valour), provides the name for several other anthologies of this type.[3]

The anthology contains a total of 884 poems, most of which are short extracts of longer poems, grouped by subject matter;[4] the selections date back to pre-Islamic, Islamic and early 'Abbasid times.

The Ḥamāsah was probably compiled around AD 835, while Abū Tammām was staying at Hamadan in Iran, where he had access to a very good library, it quickly acquired the status of a classic work. Saladin is said to have known it by heart.


The ten headings are:

  1. Al-Ḥamāsah “Valour”
  2. Al-Marāthī, “Elegies”;
  3. Al-Adab, “Proper conduct”;
  4. An-Nasīb, “Love”;
  5. Al-Hijāʿ, “Invective”;
  6. Al-Adyāf wa al-madīḥ, “Hospitality and praise of the generous”;
  7. Aṣ-Ṣifāt, “Descriptive verses/pieces”;
  8. As-Sayr wa an-Nuʾas, “desert travel”;
  9. Al-Mulah, “Clever curiosities”;
  10. Madhammāt an-nisaʾ, “the censure of women”

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • "Abū Tammām and the Poetics of the ʿAbbāsid Age". - Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych (1991)


  1. ^ Ramzi Baalbaki, The Arabic Lexicographical Tradition: From the 2nd/8th to the 12th/18th Century, pg. 89. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2014. ISBN 9789004274013
  2. ^ Wen-chin Ouyang, Literary Criticism in Medieval Arabic-Islamic Culture: The Making of a Tradition, pg. 65. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997. ISBN 9780748608973
  3. ^ Orfali, Bilal (1 January 2012). "A Sketch Map of Arabic Poetry Anthologies up to the Fall of Baghdad". Journal of Arabic Literature. 43 (1): 29–59. doi:10.1163/157006412X629737.
  4. ^ Kirsten Eksell, "Genre in Early Arabic Poetry." Taken from Literary History: Towards a Global Perspective, vol. 2, pg. 158. Eds. Anders Pettersson, Gunilla Lindberg-Wada, Margareta Petersson and Stefan Helgesson. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2006. ISBN 9783110894110

External links[edit]