Hind bint al-Nuʿmān (Arabic: هند بنت النعمان), also known as al-Ḥurqah, was a pre-Islamic Arab poet. There is some historiographical debate, going back to the Middle Ages, over precisely what her names were, with corresponding debates over whether some of the bearers of these names were different people or not.[1] An example of a poet-princess, she has been read as a key figure in pre-Islamic poetry.[2]

Hind bint al-Nuʿmān
هند بنت النعمان


Hind was the daughter of al-Nu'man III ibn al-Mundhir, the last Lakhmid king of al-Hirah (r. 582 – c. 602) and a Eastern Christian Arab mother.[3] According to the Ḥarb Banī Shaybān maʻa Kisrà Ānūshirwān (whose historical reliability is questionable), Khosrow II, emperor of the Sasanian Empire (r. 590–628) and her father's overlord, demanded Hind in marriage. Thinking better of the arrangement, al-Nuʿmān sent Hind to seek refuge among the Arabs, and was subsequently attacked and imprisoned by Khosrow. After failing to find sanctuary with the Ghassanids and other Arab tribes, Hind was granted sanctuary among the Banu Shayban through the intercession of their princess al-Ḥujayjah. It was supposedly for this reason that the Banu Shayban had to fight the Battle of Dhi Qar in c. 609. She was then sent to marry al-Nu'man ibn al-Rayyan, "her only cousin to survive the Persian attack on the Kingdom of al-Ḥirah", after which Khosrow granted him the throne of al-Hirah.[4]

Another source of dubious reliability, Ali ibn Nasr al-Katib's Encyclopedia of Pleasure, tells that Hind loved a woman named Hind bint al-Khuss al-Zarqāʾ. When al-Zarqāʾ died, her faithful lover "cropped her hair, wore black clothes, rejected worldly pleasures, vowed to God that she would lead an ascetic life until she passed away". Hind bint al-Nuʿmān even built a monastery to commemorate her love for al-Zarqāʾ. This source figures the two characters as the first lesbians in Arab culture.[5]


Some poetry is attributed to Hind, making her (if the attributions are correct) a relatively rare example of a pre-Islamic female poet whose work survives.[6]


  1. ^ Bosworth, C. E., ed. (1999). The History of al-Ṭabarī, Volume V: The Sāsānids, the Byzantines, the Lakhmids, and Yemen. SUNY Series in Near Eastern Studies. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. pp. 372-373 (note 914). ISBN 978-0-7914-4355-2.
  2. ^ Samer M. Ali, 'Medieval Court Poetry', in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Women, ed. by Natana J. Delong-Bas, 2 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), I 651-54 (at p. 653). https://www.academia.edu/5023780.
  3. ^ Brock, Sebastian P. (1996). "The 'Nestorian' Church: A Lamentable Misnomer" (PDF). Bulletin of the John Rylands Library. 78 (3): 23–35. doi:10.7227/BJRL.78.3.3.
  4. ^ Hamad Alajmi, 'Pre-Islamic Poetry and Speech Act Theory: Al-A'sha, Bishr ibn Abi Khazim, and al-Ḥujayjah' (unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University, 2012), pp. 165-66, 195.
  5. ^ Sahar Amer (2 May 2009). "Medieval Arab Lesbians and Lesbian-Like Women". Journal of the History of Sexuality. 18 (2): 215–236. doi:10.1353/sex.0.0052. PMID 19768852. S2CID 26652886. Retrieved 4 April 2011..
  6. ^ Hamad Alajmi, 'Pre-Islamic Poetry and Speech Act Theory: Al-A'sha, Bishr ibn Abi Khazim, and al-Ḥujayjah' (unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University, 2012), pp. 165-66.