The 18th session of the Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation was inaugurated with its first session focusing on the poet Ibn Maleek Al-Hamawi: His Life, Poetry, and Poetic Style.
March 20, 2023
Ghalis: Ibn Maleek was meticulous in constructing his poems, adept in ensuring their coherence and unity.
Al-Heib: Al-Hamawi was a skillful poet with a natural talent, in addition to his extensive knowledge.
The 18th edition of the Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation's Session commenced with a series of discussions, two of which were dedicated to exploring the legacies of two distinguished Arab poets, namely Ibn Sanaa Al-Mulk and Ibn Maleek Al-Hamawi. The first session focused on shedding light on the poetry of Ibn Maleek Al-Hamawi and his poetic style. This session was moderated by Dr. Abdullah Ghlais, who delved into the aesthetic composition of Ibn Maleek Al-Hamawi's poetry. Additionally, Dr. Israa Ahmed Fawzi Al-Heib discussed "Ibn Maleek Al-Hamawi: His Life and Poetry." The session was skillfully moderated by Dr. Tahir Al-Hajjar.
To begin, Dr. Abdullah Mani Ghlais discussed the aesthetic composition of Ibn Maleek Al-Hamawi's poetry. He initiated his discourse by pointing out that Ibn Maleek Al-Hamawi's poetry is worthy of study due to the fact that he lived in an era marked by linguistic deterioration and weakness. The study of his poetry could contribute to revealing how poets of that era approached poetry, their linguistic engagement, their interaction with their poetic heritage, their stance on innovation, and the extent to which the linguistic and political circumstances of their time influenced their verses.
Dr. Ghlais added that even though Ibn Maleek Al-Hamawi lived in an era characterized by linguistic decline and in a state ruled by foreign powers, he was deeply immersed in the sciences of language and highly skilled in them. He acquired literary knowledge from "Al-Fakhr Uthman bin Al-Abd Al-Tannukhi" and others, and he learned grammar and prosody from "Sheikh Bahaa Al-Din bin Salem." He had a profound understanding of the Arabic language, enabling him to meticulously select words for his poetry and diligently ensure their compatibility with the meanings they conveyed. His poetic language, for the most part, exhibited clarity of expression, eloquent wording, straightforward structures, and meanings that were readily apparent. He was adept at choosing words precisely and skilfully to suit the context, crafting meanings in a proficient manner. He also employed terminology from various fields of knowledge in his poetry, skilfully integrating them to serve the intended meanings.
Ghlais also mentioned that the artistic image is the backbone and essence of poetry, constituting one of the most crucial means through which a poet conveys ideas and emotions. It serves as a gauge of poets' abilities, and in this realm, Ibn Maleek Al-Hamawi excelled, adeptly employing all five senses to depict these images. He harnessed visual imagery, encompassing sight, color, and movement, which prominently featured in his poetry. He also utilized olfactory, gustatory, and auditory imagery, employing these senses to elucidate his poetic experiences. Through these sensory elements, he engaged the audience in constructing the artistic image, transferring it with both enjoyment and clarity.
He indicated that Ibn Maleek had a particular concern for the rhythm of poetry, especially with regards to meter. His poems predominantly adhered to the various forms of al-Khaleel meter, without the present and concise meters being absent. These two meters are uncommon in Arabic poetry in general and are even disapproved of by some scholars of prosody. Furthermore, Ibn Maleek displayed an inclination toward innovation and experimentation. He employed diverse forms like "al-Muwashshah," "al-Mawaliya," "al-Qouma," and "al-Dubeit," albeit sparingly. This diversity serves as evidence of his intention to exhibit variety and showcase his skill. His attention to external rhythm in his poetry is apparent in his meticulous care for rhyming, skilfully matching the ending sound of each verse with the appropriate exit of that sound's letter, ensuring both alignment and meaning.
He concluded by discussing the artistic construction in the poetry of Al-Hamawi, noting that Ibn Maleek was meticulous in structuring his poems and adept in maintaining their coherence and the seamless integration of their components. He displayed skill in crafting introductions that align with his poetic intentions, effectively disposing of introductions and transitioning smoothly to the themes he sought to address. Moreover, he demonstrated proficiency in crafting the closures of his poems and bringing them to a fitting conclusion.
He then added that Ibn Maleek Al-Hamawi, in the introductions of his poems, followed the path of the ancients, emulating their approach in constructing the external structure of the poem in general. In the extended introductions of his poems, he would often begin with genealogy and provide context before transitioning to the purpose of the poem.
Afterwards, Dr. Israa Al-Heib from Syria proceeded to discuss Ibn Maleek al-Hamawi, his life, and his poetry. She pointed out the consensus among scholars and historians regarding his name, lineage, and honorific, agreeing that he is Sheikh Ala al-Din Ali bin Muhammad bin Ali bin Abdullah al-Dimashqi al-Faqai al-Hanafi, a poet from the Mamluk era. He was born in Hama in the year 840. He acquired literary knowledge from al-Fakhr 'Uthman bin al-Abd al-Tanukhi and others, and he learned grammar and prosody from Sheikh Bahaa al-Din bin Salim. He moved to Damascus and engaged in the trade of faqaa' (a kind of fabric) near the Al-Awani Canal outside Bab al-Faradis. Later, he attended the lectures of Sheikh Burhan al-Din bin Awn and learned Hanafi jurisprudence from him, becoming proficient in it. He also excelled in language, grammar, and morphology, and he possessed a deep understanding of Arab linguistic intricacies. His mastery in poetry was unparalleled in its various forms and styles.
Al-Heib mentioned that Ibn Maleek was born in Hama and had familial connections there, where he received education in literature and grammar. There is no record of him holding a high official position in the state. However, he attempted to establish connections with individuals in high positions and utilized poetry as a profession to meet his life's needs. He praised, eulogized, and congratulated the prominent figures of his society, dedicating substantial portions of his poetry to them.
She added that Ibn Maleek had a deep loyalty to Damascus, a city he cherished, and he made it his place of residence, finding security and stability within it. Furthermore, he was a brilliant poet with natural talent, especially when compared to the poets of his era. Alongside his wide-ranging knowledge and familiarity with the intellectual currents of his time, he often challenged the classical poets in both their poetic themes and vocabulary. It is noteworthy that he followed in the footsteps of Abu Tammam in his enthusiasm for the art of poetry. He has left us with poetic selections that reflect his refined taste and his deep understanding of poetry, in addition to his role as a poet.
Dr. Israa Al-Heib recounted some of the anecdotes about Al-Hamawi. She mentioned that Ibn Maleek passed by Al-Marjah (a public square in Damascus) and noticed a group of people whom he knew, and they were drinking. They invited him to share their meal, so he approached them and sat with them (offering them advice and admonition). While this was happening, the police arrived and apprehended all of them, including him. When they arrived before the judge, the judge recognized him and blamed him for his association with those individuals. Al-Hamawi then stated:
"By Allah, I was not their companion,
Nor did I respond to any call for amusement.
Rather, it was through poetry that I argued them,
And because of this, rhyme has entangled me."
Dr. Israa Al-Heib concluded by stating that Ibn Malek lived his life using poetry as a way of praise and means of livelihood. His circumstances often forced him to exaggerate his requests for financial support. She indicated that it is likely he never married, as there is neither mention of it in his accounts nor any evidence of it in his poetry. This solitude that Ibn Maleek experienced gave birth to a palpable sadness within him, evident in much of his poetry. Almost every poem of his contains a tear he shed openly or concealed, reflecting his inner emotions.