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Al-Farazdaq

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Al-Farazdaq
Poet
Full Name Hammam b. Ghalib
Teknonym Abu Firas
Well-known As Al-Farazdaq
Lineage Banu Tamim
Well-known Relatives Aqra' b. Habis al-Tamimi
Birth Between 19/640 to 23/643-44
Death 110/728-29
Burial Place Basra
Era 'Umayyad
Notable roles Composing in front of Hisham b. 'Abd al-Malik in praise of Imam al-Sajjad (a)

Hammām b. Ghālib (Arabic: همّام بن غالب) (d. 110/728-29) known as al-Farazdaq (Arabic: الفرزدق) was among famous Arab poets in the first/seventh and second/eighth centuries. The ode he composed spontaneously in front of Hisham b. 'Abd al-Malik in praise of Imam al-Sajjad (a) is famous.

Al-Farazdaq respected the Ahl al-Bayt (a), but he also composed poems in praise of Umayyad caliphs and thus he cannot be placed in the same rank as al-Kumayt and Di'bil who greatly loved the Ahl al-Bayt (a).

Lineage, Title, and Kunya

Hammam b. Ghalib b. Sa'sa'a b. 'Iqal[1] was considered among the great personalities of Banu Tamim.[2] His father, Ghalib was a generous and honorable person and was among the chiefs of his people.[3] His mother Layla bt. Habis was the sister of Aqra' b. Habis al-Tamimi who was a companion of the Prophet (s).[4] In historical sources, there is no mention of the exact year of his birth and with regards to the disagreement existing about the year of his death, his birth can be guessed between 19/640 to 23/643-44.

His teknonym (kunya) was Abu Firas[5] and his title was al-Farazdaq. He had five children named Labta, Sabta, Khabta, Rakda, and Zam'a; the latter was a poet.[6]

Literary Position

Al-Farazdaq was among the greatest poets of his time (Umayyad period).[7] Factors such as being Bedouin,[8] attendance in most eloquent Arab tribes[9] and his cleverness in answering[10] made an appropriate ground for his poetic talent to be flourished. They said that without al-Farazdaq, one-third of Arabic lexicon and a half of hadiths and reports would be lost.[11] Al-Farazdaq's poetic talent mostly matched satire[12] and most of his poems were either in the form of satire or tribal pride.[13]

Religion

In Sunni sources, al-Farazdaq is considered Shi'a.[14] Maybe, his meeting with Imam 'Ali (a), memorizing the Qur'an because of Imam's (a) advice, composing poems in criticism of Ibn Muljam,[15] going to Kufa[16] which was the center of Shi'a, his meeting with Imam al-Husayn (a) in his journey to Kufa,[17] composing elegies for him[18] and most important of all, composing poems in praise of Imam al-Sajjad (a) in the presence of Hisham b. 'Abd al-Malik[19] were among the top reasons for which he has been considered among Shi'a.

Relation with the Ahl al-Bayt (a)

Imam 'Ali (a)

Once al-Farazdaq and his father went to Imam 'Ali (a). Imam (a) asked, "who is it?" Ghalib answered, "it is my son who is a poet." Imam (a) said, "Teach him the Qur'an which is better than poetry."[20] It is reported that after this event, he tied his feet until he memorized the Qur'an.[21]

Imam al-Husayn (a)

In the events of 60/680, it is mentioned that al-Farazdaq went to Mecca for hajj and met Imam al-Husayn (a) in al-Sifah station. Imam (a) asked him about the state of the people of Kufa and he answered, "I left them while their hearts were with you and their swords were against you (or in another version 'with Umayyads')."[22] Al-Farazdaq himself mentioned this meeting in a poem.

Imam al-Sajjad (a)

During the rule of al-Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik, his crown prince and his brother Hisham b. 'Abd al-Malik went to Mecca for hajj. During tawaf (circumambulation around the Ka'ba), he went toward the Black Stone (al-Hajar al-Aswad) to touch it, but he could not approach it because of the crowd. Thus inevitably, he returned. They put up a seat for him in a high place and he began watching the crowd from there. Meanwhile, Imam al-Sajjad (a) arrived and after tawaf went to the Black Stone. With all the congestion existed, the crowd opened the way for Imam (a) so that Imam (a) could approach the Black Stone. Companions of Hisham became surprised. One of them asked him, "who is he?" Although Hisham knew Imam (a), answered, "I do not know him."

At that time, al-Farazdaq bravely said, "but I know him." He stood in a high position and composed his famous poem introducing Imam al-Sajjad (a). Hisham ordered to cut al-Farazdaq's allowance from the public treasure and imprisoned him in 'Asfan between Mecca and Medina.

Praising Imam (a) in the suffocating political atmosphere at that time, especially in the presence of Hisham, is not only an evidence for his courage and bravery deserving admiration but also proves his respect for this family. When Imam al-Sajjad (a) was informed about him being imprisoned, sent twelve thousand Dirhams for him. Al-Farazdaq sent back that money and said, "I praised you for the content of God, not for a gift." Imam (a) sent the money again and said, "we the Ahl al-Bayt (a) do not take back what we bestow someone".[23]

Relation with al-Kumayt

Al-Kumayt b. Zayd al-Asadi had a tribal bond with al-Farazdaq. When al-Kumayt composed "Qasa'id al-Hashimiyyat" in praise of the Ahl al-Bayt (a), recited them to al-Farazdaq to check their quality. After al-Farazdaq heard his poems, said, "well-done son, you have mentioned so well saying that 'you have given up hoodlums and outlaws and your shot would never be missed and your speech would not be rejected' …spread these poems and confront with the enemy for you are a better poet than everyone in the past and the present."[24]

With all the respect al-Farazdaq had for the Ahl al-Bayt (a), his attention toward Umayyad caliphs and attending in their system, considering the social role and position of a poet and the influence poems could make at that time, is questionable and thus he cannot be placed in the same rank as al-Kumayt or Di'bil who were lovers of the Ahl al-Bayt (a).

Relation with Umayyad Rulers

Al-Farazdaq attended the courts of Umayyad caliphs including al-Walid,[25] Sulayman[26] and others and composed poems in approval of their position. Those poems show al-Farazdaq's view about caliphate and at least draw him out of the realm of ideological Shi'a.

However, he cannot be considered a mere court poet. He also composed satires against the manner of some Arab rulers who behaved opposite to the principles of Islam. His satires about Ziyad b. Abih[27] and Mu'awiya[28] are examples of that.

Transmition of Hadiths

Al-Farazdaq transmitted hadiths from Imam 'Ali (a), Imam al-Husayn (a), Abu Hurayra, Abu Sa'id al-Khudri, 'Arfaja b. As'ad, Zurara b. Karb, and Tirimmah b. 'Adi; and Khalid al-Hadhdha', Marwan al-Asghar, al-Hajjaj b. al-Hajjaj and others transmitted hadiths from him.[29]

Demise

According to the famous report, al-Farazdaq passed away in 110/728-29,[30] at the age of 91 in Basra.[31]

Notes

  1. Bilādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 12, p. 65.
  2. Mustawfī, Tārīkh guzīda, p. 709.
  3. Amīn, Mustadrakāt aʿyān al-Shīʿa, vol. 10, p. 267.
  4. Mustawfī, Tārīkh guzīda, p. 709.
  5. Ibn Aʿtham, al-Futūḥ, p. 1049.
  6. Bilādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 12, p. 66.
  7. Dhahabī, Tārīkh al-Islām, vol. 7, p. 211.
  8. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 9, p. 265.
  9. Amīn, Mustadrakāt aʿyān al-Shīʿa, vol. 3, p. 291.
  10. Amīn, Mustadrakāt aʿyān al-Shīʿa, vol. 3, p. 291.
  11. Ibn Aʿtham, al-Futūḥ, p. 1049.
  12. Balʿamī, Tārīkhnāma-yi Ṭabarī, vol. 5, p. 1552.
  13. Bilādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 12, p. 94.
  14. Ibn Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 14, p. 358; Maqdisī, Aḥsan al-taqāsīm, vol. 2, p. 618.
  15. Irbilī, Kashf al-ghumma, vol. 1, p. 582.
  16. Ibn Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 10, p. 353.
  17. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 7, p. 2969.
  18. Farazdaq, Dīwān al-farazdaq, vol. 1, p. 7.
  19. Mustawfī, Tārīkh guzīda, p. 709.
  20. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 9, p. 265.
  21. Amīn, Mustadrakāt aʿyān al-Shīʿa, vol. 6, p. 451.
  22. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 7, p. 2969.
  23. Irbilī, Kashf al-ghumma, vol. 2, p. 80; Mustawfī, Tārīkh guzīda, p. 710.
  24. Masʿūdī, Murūj al-dhahab, vol. 2, p. 231.
  25. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 8, p. 96.
  26. Dhahabī, Tārīkh al-Islām, vol. 7, p. 212.
  27. Ibn Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 11, p. 37; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 7, p. 2853.
  28. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawīyya, vol. 2, p. 350.
  29. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 9, p. 265.
  30. Ibn Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 14, p. 54.
  31. Tihranī, al-Dharīʿa, vol. 1, p. 344.

References

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  • Āqā Buzurg Tihranī. Al-Dharīʿa ilā taṣānīf al-Shīʿa. Qom: Ismāʿīlīyān, [n.d].
  • Balʿamī, Muḥammad b. Muḥammad al-. Tārīkhnāma-yi Ṭabarī. Edited by Muḥammad Rushan. Third edition. Tehran: Alburz, 1373 Sh.
  • Bilādhurī, Aḥmad b. Yaḥyā al-. Ansāb al-ashrāf. Edited by Suhayl Zakār & Riyāḍ al-Ziriklī. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1417 AH.
  • Dhahabī, Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-. Tārīkh al-Islām. Second edition. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿArabī, 1409 AH.
  • Farazdaq. Dīwān al-farazdaq. Beirut: Dār al-Ṣādir, [n.d].
  • Ibn Aʿtham al-Kūfī. Al-Futūḥ. Translated to Farsi by Aḥmad Mustawfī Hirawī. Edited by Ṭabāṭabāyī Majd. Tehran: Intishārāt wa Āmūzish-i Inqilāb-i Islāmī, 1372 Sh.
  • Ibn Athīr, ʿAlī b. Muḥammad. Al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh. Translated to Farsi by Abū l-Qāsim Rāḥat & ʿAbbās Khalīlī. Tehran: Muʾassisa-yi Maṭbūʿātī ʿIlmī, 1371 Sh.
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  • Masʿūdī, ʿAlī b. al-Ḥusayn al-. Murūj al-dhahab. Edited by Asʿad Dāghir. Second edition. Qom: Dār al-Hijra, 1409 AH.
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  • Ṭabarī, Muḥammad b. Jarīr al-. Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 7, p. 2969.