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Abū l-ʻAtāhiyya (أبو العتاهية), full name Abu Isħaq Ismā'īl ibn Qāsim al-ʻAnazī إسماعيل بن القاسم (العنزي، بن سويد العيني) Abu l-'Atahiyya (748–828) was an Arab poet born in Ayn al-Tamr in the Iraqi desert, near al-Anbar. His ancestors were of the tribe of ʻAnaza. His youth was spent in Kufa, where he was engaged for some time in selling pottery. Moving to Baghdad, he continued his business there, but became famous for his verses, especially for those addressed to ʻUtba, a concubine of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdi. His love was unrequited, although al-Mahdi, and after him Caliph ar-Rashīd, interceded for him. Having offended the caliph, he was imprisoned for a short time. He died in 828 in the reign of Caliph al-Ma'mūn.[1]

The poetry of Abū l-ʻAtāhiyya is notable for its avoidance of the artificiality almost universal in his days. The older poetry of the desert had been constantly imitated up to this time, although it was not natural to town life. Abū l-ʻAtāhiyya was one of the first to drop the old qasīda (elegy) form. He was very fluent and used many metres. He is also regarded as one of the earliest philosophical poets of the Arabs. Much of his poetry is concerned with the observation of common life and morality, and at times is pessimistic. Thus he was strongly suspected of heresy.[1]


  • Diwan (1887, Beirut: Jesuit Press; 2nd ed. 1888)
    • translated and published by Arthur Wormhoudt as Diwan Abu'l Atahiya (1981) ISBN 0-916358-05-4
  • Wilhelm Ahlwardt, Diwan des Abu Nowas (1861, Greifswald), pp 21 ff
  • Alfred von Kremer, Culturgeschichte des Orients (1877, Vienna) vol. II, pp 372 ff
  • Stefan Sperl, Mannerism in Arabic Poetry: A Structural Analysis of Selected Texts (3rd Century AH/9th Century AD–5th Century AH/11th Century AD) (2005, Cambridge University Press) ISBN 0-521-52292-7
  • Tzvetan Theophanov, "Abu-l-'Atahiya and the Philosophy". In: T. Theophanov. Philosophy and Arts in the Islamic World: Proceedings of the 18th Congress of the Union Europeenne des Arabisants et Islamisants (1998), p. 41-55. ISBN 978-90-6831-977-4


  1. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Abu-l-'Atahiya". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 79.