Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Hassān ibn Thābit, a true Mukhadram: A study of the Ghassānid odes of Hassān ibn Thābit
by Boutz, Jennifer Hill, Ph.D., Georgetown University, 2009, 283; 3371616
Abstract (Summary)

The seventh-century Madinan poet H˙assān ibn Thabit is best known for his role as poet laureate of the Prophet Muhammad. His poetry composed in defense of Muhammad and the nascent religion of Islam has been widely studied, and it is in this context that H˙assān appears in Arabic literary history. This dissertation argues that in addition to his role as an exemplar of poetry in the service of Islam, H˙assān can be viewed as a true mukhadramūn. The mukhadramūn (singular: mukhadramūn ) were a class of poets whose lives spanned both the pre-Islamic and the Islamic periods. To appreciate H˙assān’s identity as a transitional figure, the poet’s pre-Islamic compositions must be examined in greater depth. Prior to the rise of Islam, H˙assān served as the primary court poet to the Ghassānids, a sedentary, Christian kingdom located in modern-day Syria and Jordan. This study analyzes H˙assān’s twenty-six Ghassānid poems and fragments. Although many of the selected poems date from the pre-Islamic period, several were composed near the end of H˙assān’s life when he nostalgically recalled his youth in the company of the Ghassānids. The method of analysis utilized in this dissertation relies on close reading and in-depth textual analysis of selected verses and poems.

This study reveals H˙assān to be a pioneer in the urbanization of Arabic poetry and a precursor to the poets of the later ‘Abbāsid caliphate who replaced the desert imagery and motifs prevalent in pre-Islamic poetry with themes more appropriate to their urban iv environments. H˙assān’s compositions demonstrate not only a familiarity with the urban landscape of the Ghassānids but also a clear disdain for the pastoral lifestyle of the Arab nomads. H˙assān’s urbanism is one illustration of his status as a mukhadramūn. This study also examines the wine lyric in H˙assān’s Ghassānid poetry. The poet’s verses in praise of wine date from both the pre-Islamic and the Islamic periods and are further evidence of H˙assān’s embodiment of the mukhadramūn predicament.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Shahid, Irfan
Commitee: Bonnah, Amin, Stowasser, Barbara
School: Georgetown University
Department: Arabic & Islamic Studies
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 70/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Middle Eastern literature, Islamic Studies
Keywords: Arabic, Arabic poetry, Early Islamic poetry, Ghassanids, Hassan ibn Thabit, Mukhadramun, Pre-Islamic poetry, Seventh century
Publication Number: 3371616
ISBN: 978-1-109-32920-9
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