|Well-known As||Abu Firas al-Hamdani|
|Religious Affiliation||Twelver Shi'a|
|Well-known Relatives||Sayf al-Dawla al-Hamdani|
|Places of Residence||Aleppo, Manbij|
|Known for||Commander of Al Hamdan|
|Notable roles||Ruler of Manbij and Homs|
Al-Ḥārith b. Saʿīd b. Ḥamdān (Arabic: الحارِث بن سَعید بن حَمدان) (b. 320/932- d. 357/967-8), known as Abū Firās al-Ḥamdānī (Arabic: أبوفِراس الحَمدانی), was a Shi'a poet, Sayf al-Dawla al-Hamdani's nephew, and a commander of Al Hamdan. His poems are epic and romantic. He also composed poems in the praise of the Imams (a). Abu Firas is the founder of "Habsiyyat" (prison poems) in the Arabic literature.
He counts as a poet of Ahl al-Bayt (a). Although he composed few poems in their praise, those poems turned out as influential on the Islamic world. His most important poem regarding Ahl al-Bayt (a) was his reply to an Abbasid prince called Ibn al-Mu'tazz, and another one was the Qasida of Ibn Sukra al-Hashimi known as al-Shafiya. In this Qasida, he attacks the Umayyad and Abbasid rulers and emphasizes the greatness of Musa b. Ja'far (a) and 'Ali b. Musa al-Rida (a), and the whole progeny of the Prophet (s).
Some people believe that Abu Firas's well-known Qasida al-Ra'iyya, beginning with "I see you defiant of tears, and your temper is patience …", is the best romantic poem in the history of Arabic literature.
Birth and Lineage
Abu Firas was born in 320/932. His father was the ruler of Mosul in 318/930-1. When he was 3 years old, his father engaged in family political rivalries and was killed by his nephew, Nasir al-Dawla. Since then, he lived in different cities in the Hamdani territories together with his mother who apparently was a Roman bondwoman. However, after the establishment of Sayf al-Dawla's government in Aleppo, he went there and was raised by him. After a while, Sayf al-Dawla married his sister.
Military and Literary Educations
With the supports of Sayf al-Dawla, Abu Firas enjoyed a great educational environment. He learned military techniques from commanders very well, and then he learned poems and literature from scholars of the palace. He soon became a poet and literary scholar in the government. One of his teachers in this period was his constant company and friend, Ibn Khalawayh, who later commented on his Diwan (collection of poems). Thus, he was side by side with Ibn Khalawayh in literary competitions in Sayf al-Dawla's government, and turned into an opponent of al-Mutanabbi.
In his poems and character, Abu Firas was a traditionalist and was much influenced by poems of the Jahiliyya period. His poems are concerned with praises, prides, epics, romance, youth, and a little of biography. His poems are mostly concerned with praises of the prominent figures of Al Hamdan, the praise of Sayf al-Dawla, and a narration of his own valor in wars. In a Qasida consisting of 225 verses, he presented a biography of his own family.
He began his Qasidas mostly with romance. After his death, his Diwan was collected by Ibn Khalawayh and his contemporary poet, al-Baygha'. Today, only Ibn Khalaway's collection is available to us, and its best publication was made in 3 volumes in 1944 in Beirut under the supervision of Sami Dahan. Some footnotes were also added to the book.
Abu Firas was a Shi'a poet. He counts as a poet of Ahl al-Bayt (a). Although he composed few poems in the praise of Ahl al-Bayt (a), those poems turned out to be influential on the Islamic world. His best-known poem regarding Ahl al-Bayt was his reply to an Abbasid prince called Ibn al-Mu'tazz. Another one was the Qasida of Ibn Sukra al-Hashimi known as al-Shafiya. In this Qasida, he attacks Umayyad and Abbasid rulers and emphasizes the greatness of Imam al-Kazim (a) and Imam al-Rida (a) and the progeny of the Prophet (s). The Qasida consists of 60 verses which have always been respected by Shi'as and there were expositions written for the poem, for example, by Ibn Amir al-Hajj, Muhammad b. 'Abd al-Malik, and Ibrahim Yahya al-'Amili. He also composed a Qasida for the elegy of Imam al-Husayn (a).
One reason for his fame were poems he composed while he was in prison. They express subjective sufferings of a captive nobleman. They led to similar poems in Arabic which came to be known as "Habsiyyat" (prison poems).
Commander of the Army and Emir
Abu Firas was very honored by Sayf al-Dawla. In wars, he was a pioneer of the army, and during peace, he was the head of his secretaries. When he was 17 years old, he was appointed as the commander of Manbij, and during battles between Sayf al-Dawla and Romans as well as his domestic opponents, he always stayed loyal to him. Although he moved within the whole territory of Sayf al-Dawla, he mainly stayed in Manbij where he had combined poetry, hunting, war, and romance.
Captivation by Romans
During a hunting in his territory, Abu Firas was captivated by Romans. He stayed a captive for a while. His poems during this period are rife with remorse and suffering. Finally, in 355/965-6, he was released in a prisoner exchange in the banks of Euphrates. He was probably appointed as the ruler or Emir of Homs after that.
Sayf al-Dawla died in 356/966-7, and soon after that, Abu Firas was killed. There are different accounts of how he was killed.
Abu Firas's Shiism
Although some people take Abu Firas to be an Isma'ili, he should undoubtedly be considered as a Twelver Shi'a since he mentioned Imam al-Kazim (a) and Imam al-Rida (a) in his Qasida, and in another piece, he mentioned 12 Shiite Imams (a). Moreover, he also composed a Qasida for the elegy of Imam al-Husayn (a). In this Qasida, he attacked the Imam's (a) killers, enumerates the virtues of Imam 'Ali (a), and reproaches those who ignored the Prophet's (s) will about his family.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from حارث بن سعید بن حمدان in Farsi Wikishia.