Qustaki al-Himsi

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Qustaki al-Himsi
Qestaki al-Homsi.jpg
Born (1858-02-04)February 4, 1858
Aleppo, Ottoman Syria
Died March 9, 1941(1941-03-09) (aged 83)
Aleppo, Syria (French Mandate)
Occupation Poet, writer, critic
Nationality Syrian
Ethnicity Christian Arab
Genre Poetry, novel, essay
Literary movement Nahda
Notable works The researcher's source in the science of criticism
The mirror of souls

Qustaki al-Himsi (Arabic: قسطاكي الحمصي / ALA-LC: Qusṭākī al-Ḥimṣī; 1858–1941) was a Syrian writer and poet of the Nahda movement (the Arabic renaissance), a prominent figure in the Arabic literature of the 19th and 20th centuries and one of the first reformers of the traditional Arabic poetry.[1] With his book The researcher's source in the science of criticism, al-Himsi is considered to be the founder of modern literary criticism among the Arab scholars.[2][3]


Qustaki al-Himsi was born on February 4, 1858 in Aleppo. Al-Himsi was a descendant of the al-Mashrouqi family of the Syrian city of Homs. Al-Himsi's ancestors migrated to Aleppo during the first half of the 16th century and embraced the al-Himsi surname. Al-Himsi lost his father when he was 15 years old. He was raised by his mother Sousan Dallal in a highly educated community. His uncle, the prominent writer Gebrail Dallal (Arabic: جبرائيل دلال‎‎) had a great influence on him, nurturing his love for Arabic literature and poetry. He received his preliminary education in the Roman Catholic school of Aleppo. Later, he studied Arabic and French literature in the "Terre-Sainte College" of the Franciscan order in al-Shibani Church of Aleppo.

Al-Himsi became a wealthy and successful tradesman, visiting Marseille, Paris, and other French cities for several occasions. He mastered the French language during his long stays in France. He left his commercial activities in 1905. After the 1908 revolution in the Ottoman Empire, he was elected as a member of the Aleppo city council many times and once as the assistant to the head council.[4]

Al-Himsi's cultural knowledge and wealth were gained through his vast collection of Arabic and European books and publications, as well as his great love for reading the works of elite European poets. He was known as the Voyager Poet due to his frequent visits to France, England, Italy, Egypt, Beirut and Constantinople.

In 1922, he was appointed member of the Arab Scientific Academy in Damascus.

Despite his great love for travel, al-Himsi lived and worked in Aleppo his whole life until his death in 1941.


  • The enchantment of ad-Dallal's poetry (Arabic: السحر الحلال في شعر الدلال‎‎ As-Sihr al-halal fi shi'r ad-Dallal), 1903, Cairo.
  • The researcher's source in the science of criticism (Arabic: منهل الورّاد في علم الانتقاد‎‎ Manhal al-warrad fi elm al-intiqad), vol. 1 and 2, 1907, Cairo, vol. 3, 1935, Aleppo.
  • Prominent scholars of Aleppo in the nineteenth century (Arabic: أدباء حلب ذوو الأثر في القرن التاسع عشر‎‎ Udabaa Halab zawu al-athar fi al-qarn at-tase' ashar), 1925, Aleppo.
  • The mirror of souls (Arabic: مرآة النفوس‎‎ Miraat an-nufus), 1935, Aleppo.

Al-Himsi left valuable pieces of poetry, some of them were published in 1907 in Alexandria, under the name "Songs from the Old Testament" (Arabic: أناشيد من العهد القديم‎‎ Anashid min al-Ahd al-Qadim). Another book; "Selection from the poems of Qustaki al-Himsi" (Arabic: مختارات من نظم قسطاكي الحمصي‎‎ Mukhtarat min nozom Qustaki al-Himsi) was published in 1939, in Aleppo.

Unfortunately, the full collection of his poems remain unpublished.

Al-Himsi translated many works of the French literature into Arabic.


The statue of Qustaki al-Himsi in Aleppo

Qustaki al-Himsi was honoured in his native city of Aleppo by renaming a street at the centre of the city after him. His statue was erected in 1971 at the centre of the Liberty Square of Aziziyah district in Aleppo.[5]

The home of Qustaki al-Himsi in Aleppo was turned into a house-museum by the efforts of his grandson.[6]

See also[edit]