The honorable Death of Al Mutanabbi

Culture Jun 07, 2020 2 min read

Al-Mutanabbi (915 - 965 CE) was born in Al Kufa, Iraq. He started writing poetry at the age of 9 and his talent gave him the privilege of studying in Damascus. In 924 he joined an uprising in his city Kufa against the Abbasid Empire, and in 932 he led a similar rebellion in Damascus. Because of the uprising, he was imprisoned for two years. Upon his release, he decided to only devote himself to writing poetry. At the end of his life, Al-Mutanabbi worked as a court poet. Until he insulted a certain man called Daba al Asadi in one of his poems, who decided to take revenge.. Al-Mutanabbi was just outside Baghdad when Al Assadi hit him. He and his friends immediately left to flee from him, fearing his violence. At that moment, one of his friends quoted a poem from Al-Mutanabbi:

I am the one whose literature can be seen (even) by the blind

And whose words are heard (even) by the deaf.

The desert knows me well,

The night and the mounted men.

The battle and the sword,

The paper and the pen.

This sparked Al-Mutanabbi's pride. Immediately he turned around and decided to look the attacker in his eyes, as he suffered a violent death for the sake of his personal honor.

Now this court will learn that I am the greatest in wit and courage. I am he whose writing the blind see and whose words grant hearing to the deaf. Content with complete verses, I sleep, while others strain for simple rhymes. I laughed at the frauds and their ignorance until, with discerning hand and mouth, I destroy them. If you see the lion bare his teeth, do not assume he is smiling! … I am known to night and horses and the desert, to sword and lance, to parchment and pen. I have roamed the barren deserts with the wild beast until the mountains demanded my admiration.

- Al Mutanabbi

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