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Abū Muhammad al-Qāsim ibn Alī ibn Muhammad ibn Uthmān al-Harīrī (Arabic: أبو محمد القاسم بن علي بن محمد بن عثمان الحريري‎), popularly known as al-Hariri of Basra (1054– 9 September 1122) was an Arab poet, scholar of the Arabic language and a high government official of the Seljuk Empire.[1]

الحریری البصری
BornAbū Muhammad al-Qāsim ibn Alī ibn Muhammad ibn Uthmān al-Harīrī
أبو محمد القاسم بن علي بن محمد بن عثمان الحريري
Al-Mashan Village, near Basra, Abbasid Caliphate, now Basra Governorate, Iraq
Died9 September 1122 (aged 68)
Basra, Abbasid Caliphate, now Basra Governorate, Iraq
OccupationArab Poet, Writer, Scholar of Arabic language, Official of Seljuk Empire
Notable worksMaqamat al-Hariri مقامات الحريري

He is known for his Maqamat al-Hariri, a collection of some 50 stories.



Born in Basra in modern-day Iraq into a wealthy family, he studied jurisprudence and became a government official, but is best known for writing Maqamat al-Hariri (مقامات الحريري, The Assemblies of al-Hariri), a virtuosic display of saj', consisting of 50 anecdotes written in stylized prose, which was once memorized by heart by scholars, and Mulhat al-i'rab fi al-nawh, an extensive poem on grammar.[2] The most famous translation of his maqamat was a German version by the poet and Orientalist Friedrich Rückert as Die Verwandlungen von Abu Serug and sought to emulate the rhymes and wordplay of the original.[3][4] The main English translation is the nineteenth-century one by Thomas Chenery and Francis Joseph Steingass.[5]

al-Harith helps Abu Zayd to retrieve his stolen camel. Illustration for the 27th maqamat, from a manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Oxford

Some of his other works include a book on errors of expression in Arabic, Durrat al-ghawwāṣ fī awhām al-khawaṣṣ. The Assemblies of al-Hariri recounts in the words of the narrator, al-Harith ibn Hammam and al-Hariri's several encounters with artist Abu Zayd al-Saruji.[2]

Editions and translationsEdit

    "Discussion Near a Village", a miniature illustrating the 43rd maqāmah of a 1237 edition of al-Hariri's Maqamat al-Hariri, painted by Yaḥyā ibn Maḥmūd al-Wāsiṭī. Painting in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. MS Arabe 5847 fol. 138v.
    Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia, pp. 143–201, (contains maqāmāt 1-12)
  • Shah, Amina (trans.), The Assemblies of Al-Hariri: Fifty Encounters with the Shaykh Abu Zayd of Serju (London: Octagon, 1980)
  • Preston, Theodore (trans.), Makamat or Rhetorical Anecdotes of Al Hariri of Basra, Translated from the Original Arabic with Annotations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1850)

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. ^ Assemblies of Al-Hariri Archived 2008-07-06 at the Wayback Machine Shah, Amina. Octagon Press, 78 York Street London
  2. ^ a b al-Hariri Encyclopædia Britannica 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. .2008-03-12
  3. ^ Die Verwandlungen von Abu Serug. Retrieved 2012-02-04.
  4. ^ See: Luisa Arvide, Maqamas de Al-Hariri, GEU, Granada 2009 (in Arabic and Spanish).
  5. ^ The Assemblies of Al-Ḥarîri. Translated from the Arabic with Notes Historical and Grammatical, trans. by Thomas Chenery and F. Steingass, Oriental Translation Fund, New Series, 3, 2 vols (London: Royal Asiatic Society, 1867-98), (vol. 2).