Poetry is the greatest expression of literary art that Arabs have mastered in Arabic poetry. This sophisticated, rhythmic literature is a form of preservation of history, traditions and social values. It is one of the most important aspects of arab culture, especially in Saudi Arabia and other gulf states.
Poetry in markets
In pre-islamic era, known as Al Jahiliah, market places were not for merchants only, they were also an intellectual forums for poets from all over Arabia to meet and exchange their poem. One of the most famous markets is Souq Okaz (سوق عكاظ) near Taif – Saudi Arabia, where an annual festival is held to celebrate the history of the market.
Al Mu´allaqat – المعلقات
The best example that shows the importance of poetry in arab culture is probably the “Muʿallaqat” during pre-islam era. The Muʿallaqat are some of the finest arabic odes that were written down in golden letters on scrolls and hung inside the Kaaba walls 🕋 in Mecca, the holiest place for arabs even before Islam. This selection of poems enjoys a unique position in Arabic literature, representing the greatest of early Arabic poetry. These poems are included in arabic literature book in schools in most parts of the Arab world.
Poetry in Najd
Najd region is the origin of some prominent Arab poets and its people are considered among the most eloquent in the whole Arab world. Numerous Mu‘allaqat poems in Mecca were created by poets from that region. Some believe that it‘s because of the nature around them since Najd is surrounded by vast deserts and mountains, which makes it a perfect environment to free the mind and express feelings.
Poetry in modern day Saudi Arabia
Even though the society has developed different interests throughout the years, the passion for Arabic poetry remains as it historically was.
Poetry is still celebrated at almost all festivals and national celebrations in Saudi Arabia as in the annual festival of Al Janadriah. There are even several poetry competition television Series such as “Shaer al Million” “شاعر المليون”
Ancient poetry in modern Music
Ancient Arabic poems are still well preserved and they became an inspiration for many arab musicians, especially when it is about amatoricaly poem. There are many modern songs that were created based on old arabic poems, which commemorates it and enables people to enjoy whispers of the ages of these melodic ancient poems.
Dozens of sung old poems are available on Youtube and below are some links to songs with lyrics of famous ancient poems from Najd region.
Poem by: Imru Al Qais
Era:Jahiliah (pre-islam – 500‘s AD)
Singer: Talal Maddah
Imru Al Qais was one of the greatest of the poets of the Mu’allaqat. His father was the last king of the kingdom of Kindah in najd in 500‘s AD when he was killed by rebbels. Imru Al Qais wanted to revenged for his father and he only focussed on that and forgot to think wisely about how to keep his ancestors rule of Kindah. Therefore, he was named “the Misguided King“
Imru Al Qais was also known for his shameless behavior of over drinking and some inappropriate poets.
Law kan Qalbi Maay
لو كان قلبي معي – (if my heart was with me)
Poet: Antara bin Shaddad
Era: Jahiliah (pre-islam – 500‘s AD)
This poem is about Ghazal” from the famous poet Antara bin Shadad for his beloved Aabla. “Ghazl“ is a special kind of poetry for serenading women, and he excelled in this kind of poem.
Antara, who was originally a slave, was particularly famous for his courage. He also was an author of one of the Mu’allaqat poems.
ولما تلاقينا – (when we met)
Poem by: Qays bin Al Mulawah – قيس بن الملوح
Era: early islam – 20‘ AH ~ 600‘s AD
Singer: Abdulrahman Mohammed
Qais is one of the most distinguished arab poets of All time. He became famous for his amatory poems as he was so obsessed about his beloved Laila. But her father didn’t allow them to get married and because of that Qais had kind of a lovesickness. He wrote extraordinary amatory poems about Laila and the time they were together in their home town, which is 200 km away from the city of Riyadh.
His people called him “Majnun Laila“-“مجنون ليلى” which literally means “crazy“ or “obsessed” about Laila.