Maqāma (literally "assemblies") are an (originally) Arabic prosimetric literary genre of rhymed prose with intervals of poetry in which rhetorical extravagance is conspicuous. The 10th-century author Badī' al-Zaman al-Hamadhāni is said to have invented the form, which was extended by al-Hariri of Basra in the next century. Both authors' maqāmāt center on trickster figures whose wanderings and exploits in speaking to assemblies of the powerful are conveyed by a narrator. The protagonist is a silver-tongued hustler, a rogue drifter who survives by dazzling onlookers with virtuoso displays of rhetorical acrobatics, including mastery of classical Arabic poetry (or of biblical Hebrew poetry and prose in the case of the Hebrew maqāmāt), and classical philosophy. Typically, there are 50 unrelated episodes in which the rogue character, often in disguise, tricks the narrator out of his money and leads him into various straitened, embarrassing, and even violent circumstances. Despite this serial abuse, the narrator-dupe character continues to seek out the trickster, fascinated by his rhetorical flow.
Manuscripts of al-Harīrī's Maqāmāt, anecdotes of a roguish wanderer Abu Zayd from Saruj, were frequently illustrated with miniatures. al-Harīrī far exceeded the rhetorical stylistics of the genre’s innovator, al-Hamadhani, to such a degree that his maqāmāt were used as a textbook for rhetoric and lexicography (the cataloging of rare words from the Bedouin speech from the 7th and 8th centuries) and indeed as schoolbooks for until Early Modern times.
The maqāma genre was also cultivated in Hebrew in Spain between beginning with Yehūda al-Ḥarīzī’s translation of al-Harīrī’s maqāmāt into Hebrew (c. 1218), which he titled maḥberōt ’ītī’ēl (‘the maqāmāt of Ithiel’). Two years later, he composed his own maḥbārōt, titled Sēfer Taḥkemōnī (‘The Book of the Tachmonite’). With this work, al-Ḥarīzī sought to raise the literary prestige of Hebrew to exceed that of Classical Arabic, just as the bulk of Iberian Jewry was finding itself living in a Spanish-speaking, Latin- or Hebrew-literate environment and Arabic was becoming less commonly studied and read.
Later Hebrew maqāmāt made more significant departures, structurally and stylistically, from the classical Arabic maqāmāt of al-Hamadhānī and al-Harīrī. Joseph ibn Zabara (end of the 12th-beginning of 13th century), a resident of Barcelona and Catalan speaker, wrote the Sēfer sha‘ashū‘īm (‘The Book of Delights’), in which the author, the narrator, and the protagonist are all Ibn Zabara himself, and in which the episodes are arranged in linear, not cyclical fashion, in a way that anticipates the structure of Spanish picaresque novels such as the anonymous Lazarillo de Tormes (1535) and Guzmán de Alfarache (1599) by Mateo Alemán.
- Eckhardt, Caroline D. "The Medieval Prosimetrum Genre (from Boethius to Boece)" in Genre 16, 1983 p23
- Maqāmāt Al-Harīrī
- See: Luisa Arvide, Maqamas de Al-Hariri, GEU, Granada 2009 (in Arabic and Spanish).
- al-Hamadhani, Badi` al-Zaman. Maqamat. Ed. Muhammad `Abduh. Beirut: al-Maktaba al-kathulikiyya, s.a.
- ---. The Maqamat of Badi' al-zaman al-hamadhani: Translated from the Arabic with an Introduction and Notes. Trans. W.J. Prendergast. London: Curzon Press, 1915.
- al-Hariri, Abu Muhammad al-Qasim ibn `Ali. Maqamat al-Hariri. Ed. `Isa Saba. Beirut: Dar Sadr; Dar Beirut, 1970.
- ---. Sharh Maqamat al-Hariri. Beirut: Dar al-Turath, 1968.
- al-Saraqusti, Abu l-Tahir Muhammad ibn Yusuf. Al-Maqamat al-Luzumiya. Trans. James T. Monroe. Leiden: Brill, 2002.
- ---. Al-Maqamat al-luzumiyah li-l-Saraqusti. Ed. Ibrahim Badr Ahmad Dayf. Alexandria: al-Hay'at al-Misriyat al-'Ammah li-l-Kitab, 2001.
- ---. al-Maqamat al-Luzumiyya. Ed. Hasan al-Waragli. Tetuan: Manšurat `Ukaz, 1995.
- ---. al-Maqamat al-Luzumiyya li'l-Saraqusti. Ed. Ibrahim Badr Ahmad Dayf. Alexandria: al-Hay'a al-Misriyya al-`amma li'l-Kitab, 1982.
- ---. Las sesiones del Zaragocí: Relatos picarescos (maqamat). Trans. Ignacio Ferrando. Saragossa: U Zaragoza P, 1999.
- Arie, R. "Notes sur la maqama andalouse." Hesperis-Tamuda 9.2 (1968): 204-05.
- de la Granja, F. "La maqama de la fiesta de Ibn al-Murabi al-Azdi." Etudes d'Orientalisme Dedieés a la mémoire de Lévi-Provençal. Vol. 2. Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, 1962. 591-603.
- Drory, Rina. "The maqama." The Literature of Al-Andalus. Eds. María Rosa Menocal, Michael Sells and Raymond P. Scheindlin. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2000. 190-210.
- Habermann, Abraham Meir. "Maqama." EJ.
- Hämeen-Anttila, Jaakko. Maqama: A History of a Genre. Wiesbaden: Harrassovitz, 2002.
- Hamilton, Michelle M. "Poetry and Desire: Sexual and Cultural Temptation in the Hebrew Maqama Tradition." Wine, Women and Song: Hebrew and Arabic Literature of Medieval Iberia. Eds. Michelle M. Hamilton, Sarah J. Portnoy and David A. Wacks. Estudios de Literature Medieval Number: 2: Juan de la Cuesta, Newark, DE, 2004. 59-73.
- Ibn Shabbetai, Judah ben Isaac. 'Minhat Yehudah', '‘Ezrat ha-nashim' ve-'‘En mishpat'. Ed. Matti Huss. Vol. 1. 2 vols. Jerusalem: Hebrew University, 1991.
- Ibn Zabara, Joseph ben Meir. Llibre d'ensenyaments delectables: Sèfer Xaaixuïm. Trans. *Ignasi González-Llubera. Barcelona: Editorial Alpha, 1931.
- Ignasi González-Llubera. Sepher Shaashuim. Ed. Israel Davidson. New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1914.
- Katsumata, Naoya. "The Style of the Maqama: Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Syriac." Arabic and Middle Eastern Literatures 5.2 (2002): 117-37.
- Mirsky, Aharon. "al-Harizi, Judah ben Solomon." Encyclopaedia Judaica CD-ROM Edition Version 1.0. Ed. Geoffrey Wigoder. Jerusalem: Judaica Multimedia, 1997.
- Wacks, David. "Framing Iberia: Maqamat and Frametale Narratives in Medieval Spain." Leiden: Brill, 2007.
- ---. "The Performativity of Ibn al-Muqaffas Kalila wa-Dimna and Al-Maqamat al-Luzumiyya of al-Saraqusti." Journal of Arabic Literature 34.1-2 (2003): 178-89.
- ---. "Reading Jaume Roig's Spill and the Libro de buen amor in the Iberian maqâma tradition." Bulletin of Spanish Studies 83.5 (2006): 597-616.
- Young, Douglas C. Rogues and Genres: Generic Transformation in the Spanish Picaresque and Arabic Maqama. Newark, DE: Juan de la Cuesta, 2004.
- Young, Douglas C. "Wine and Genre: Khamriyya in the Andalusi Maqama." Wine, Women and Song: Hebrew and Arabic Poetry of Medieval Iberia. Eds. Michelle M. Hamilton, Sarah J. Portnoy and David A. Wacks. Newark, DE: Juan de la Cuesta Hispanic Monographs, 2004.