Al-Sayyid Haydar al-Hilli

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Al-Sayyid Haydar al-Hilli
Full NameAl-Sayyid Ḥaydar b. Sulaymān al-Ḥillī
Religious AffiliationTwelver Shi'a
Well-known RelativesZayd b. 'Ali
Place of BirthHillah
Place of ResidenceHillah
Burial PlaceShrine of Imam 'Ali (a)
EraOttoman Empire
Known forPoet
StudentsSayyid Muhammad Mar'ashi
WorksDamiyya al-qasr fi shu'ara' al-'asr, Al-'Aqd al-mufassal fi na't qabila al-majd al-mu'thal, ...

Al-Sayyid Ḥaydar b. Sulaymān al-Ḥillī (Arabic:السَيِّد حَيدَر بن سُلَيمان الحِلِّي) (b.1246/1831 – d.1304/1887) was a Shi'a poet descended from the martyred Zayd. He and his family were among the most influential poets and men of literature in Hillah. It is reported that he was most inspired by al-Sharif al-Radi and Mahyar Daylami.

Birth and Lineage

The family of al-Sayyid Haydar, in the city of Hillah, were among the most celebrated and distinguished families of the city. His forefathers, thirty two generations back, reaches the martyred Zayd and Imam al-Sajjad (a). Al-Sayyid Sulayman Kabir b. Dawud b. al-Sayyid Haydar (b. 1141/1728-9 – d. 1211/1796-7), the third generation forefather of al-Sayyid Haydar, were known as Mazidi due to their attribution to the village of Mazidiyya which was related to Al Mazid Asadiyayn from the governors of Hillah. The father of al-Sayyid Haydar, Sulayman (b. 1222/1807-8 – d. 1247/1831-2), due to being distinguished from his grandfather, whose name was also Sulayman, was called Sulayman "Saghir" (meaning, Sulayman the junior).


Al-Sayyid Haydar lost his father when he was only one year old so he was raised by his mother. Ever since, his uncle, al-Sayyid Mahdi al-Hilli (b. 1222/1807-8 – d. 1289/1872-3) took on his education. Thanks to the efforts of his uncle, al-Sayyid Haydar reached scientific and literary accomplishments, and in Iraq especially in Hillah, gained a lot of respect among people and credit in literary communities.

Literary Policy

No specific information can be found about literary teachers of al-Sayyid Haydar in the books of Tarajim (biography). But what is certain, is that he began his education with his uncle and then migrated to Najaf and continued his education under great oratory teachers including al-Sayyid Ibrahim al-Tabataba'i. Al-Sayyid Haydar's constant interaction with great men of literature helped him rise in poetry to an altitude that some distinguished men of Arabic literature regarded him as the leader of the literary movement of Iraq.

In a short time, he had his place among the first line of poets and became the director of literary forums in Najaf and Hillah. Among great men of Arabic literature, he hfad his specific style and became famous for good order and sobriety of speech. Superiority of al-Sayyid in poetry over others made him and his poetry be mentioned everywhere with grandeur. His poems, eulogizing about the Ahl al-Bayt (a), made different classes in society become attracted to his speeches.


His poems were fashioned by al-Sayyid al-Radi and his contemporary poet Mahyar Daylami (the Iranian poet). He had read the poems of them. He had even organized and compiled an anthology of the poems of al-Sayyid al-Radi in a book. It is reported that he had re-written all the poems of Mahyar Daylami when he was 25 years old. In this collection, al-Sayyid Haydar wrote some of their poems. Then he composed poems in a similar form and wording which were much more powerful and moderate than the original poems. Al-Sayyid Haydar was also very powerful in improvisational poetry.


In the writings of the writers of Tarajim, his admirable merits such as dignity, generosity, piety, etc. are highlighted. It is reported that he worshiped day and night so much that, in addition to obligations, he committed himself to perform the mustahab acts wherever he was.

Social Position

Al-Sayyid Haydar al-Hilli was respected among men of knowledge and literature very much. He was honored by 'Allama Sayyid Mahdi Qazwini and Mirza-yi Shirazi showed extraordinary respect towards al-Sayyid Haydar, which are cases of such a respect expressed about him.

After speaking about the place of poetry and poets in Islam and the views of Imams (a) in his al-Ghadir , 'Allama Amini reports that people came to kiss the hand of Mirza-yi Shirazi, however with his great scientific and social positions, he would bend and kiss the hand of this poet of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) [referring to al-Sayyid Haydar].

During his lifetime, al-Sayyid Haydar elegized upon great scholars such as Shaykh Mahdi Kashif al-Ghita' (d. 1289/1872-3), Shaykh Mahdi b. Hasan Qazwini (d. 1300/1882-3) and Sayyid Isma'il Shirazi.


In the Books of Tarajim, there are parts regarding al-Sayyid Haydar al-Hilli's poetry and his elegy of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) in detail, but unfortunately there is no report of his teachers and students and only Sayyid Muhammad Mar'ashi is mentioned as his student in Arabic literature.


Al-Sayyid Haydar had three sons called Sulayman, Husayn (b. 1267/1850-1 – d. 1339/1920-1) and 'Ali (d. 1342/1923-4) each of whom gained high positions in literature.


Several works have been mentioned for him including:

  • Damiyya al-qasr fi shu'ara' al-'asr
  • Al-'Aqd al-mufassal fi na't qabila al-majd al-mu'thal
  • Al-Ashjan fi marathi khayr insan
  • Diwan shi'r


He passed away on the eve of Wednesday, Rabi' II 9, 1304/January 5,1887. His body was moved from Hillah to Najaf. At his funeral procession, different classes of society accompanied his body to be buried in the court of the Holy Shrine of Imam 'Ali (a), at the top of Sabat from the north between the grave of Sayyid Mirza Ja'far Qazwini and Shaykh Ja'far Shushtari.

Upon the demise of Sayyid Haydar, Mirza-yi Shirazi ordered to close seminary schools in Najaf and Samarra for three days. Mirza-yi Shirazi, Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Qazwini and his brother Sayyid Husayn held several mourning gatherings for the demise of Sayyid and as it is mentioned in the preface of his Diwan Shi'r , well-known poets of that time such as Sayyid Ibrahim Tabataba'i, Sayyid Habbubi, Shaykh Hamadi Nuh, Shaykh Hassun 'Abd Allah, Shaykh Muhammad Mulla, etc. composed poems to elegize him.