Badawi al-Jabal

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Badawi al-Jabal
بدوي الجبل
Muhammad Sulayman al-Ahmad (Badawi al-Jabal)
Born Muhammad Sulayman al-Ahmad
al-Haffah, Latakia, Syria
Died August 19, 1981
Pen name Badawi al-Jabal
Occupation Poet, writer
Nationality Syrian

Badawi al-Jabal (Arabic: بدوي الجبل‎) (1905–1981), is the pen name of Muhammad Sulayman al-Ahmad (Arabic: محمد سليمان الأحمد‎), a Syrian poet of high reputation in the Arab world.

Life and poetry[edit]

Badawi al-Jabal was born in the village of Difa in the district of al-Haffah, in Latakia Governorate, to Sulayman al-Ahmad, the head of a distinguished Alawite family. His pen name was given to him, according to the compiler of his poetry, Midhat Akkash, by the editor of the Damascus newspaper Alif Ba, apparently in 1920. The editor liked the poetry, but because the poet was not well known, the editor agreed to publish the poetry under the pseudonym of Badawi al-Jabal, a reference to the cloak (aba'a) and the headband (Agal) the poet wore at the time – like a badawi (bedouin) coming from al-Jabal (the Alawite mountain).

Badawi al-Jabal practiced politics and poetry at an early age. As a nationalist, he joined the National Bloc, and later on the National Party. He was imprisoned by the French mandatory authorities in Syria, and in 1939 he sought refuge in Baghdad. While there, he taught Arabic at the University of Baghdad and also supported the revolt of Rashid Ali al-Kaylani against the British in 1941. Upon returning to Syria, he was apprehended by the French authorities in 1942. Later on, he was twice elected to parliament, in 1943 and 1947. In the 1950s, he became minister of health. The defeat of the Arabs in the 1967 Arab-Israel War was a great shock to him; he wrote much poetry inspired by it. He adhered to the old school of Arabic literature and poetry, which upholds the classical mode. His poetry was also influenced by a mystical orientation. Selections from his poetry were published in Damascus in 1968 by Midhat Akkash. A full anthology appeared in Beirut in 1978 with an introduction by Akram Zuaytir.


  • Jayyusi, Salma Khadra, ed. Modern Arabic Poetry: An Anthology. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987.