al-Kumayt ibn Zayd al-Asadi

al-Kumayt ibn Zayd al-Asadi (Arabic: الكميت بن زيد الأسدي) (679/680 – 743 AD) was an Arabian poet from Kufa that used the language of the Bedouins to write poems in praise of the Umayyads, as well as 'Ali and his family.[citation needed] His Hashimiyyat, was in praise of Ahl al-Bayt and considered as one of ancient evidence of doctrine of Imamat.[1] He was a schoolteacher at a local mosque until he was encouraged to write poetry instead. He wrote several series of poems including: his Mudhahhaba, his Malhama, and, arguably his most famous series, the Hāshimīyyāt. al-Kumayt was imprisoned by the caliph for his writings and escaped through the help of his wife.[2] He later received a pardon from the caliph and was allowed to return to Kufa. While going to recite a poem, al-Kumayt was attacked by his Yemeni guards and killed. It is believed that the Hāshimīyyāt and it's supposedly pro-'Alid poetry led to his assassination.[citation needed] While much of his poetry is controversial, it is generally not disputed that he wrote well of both the 'Alids and the Umayyads.[citation needed]

His poems, the Hāshimīyyāt, have been edited by J. Horovitz (Leiden, 1904). An account of him is contained in the Kitab ul-Aghani, xv.113-130.[2]


al-Kumayt's poetry has been the subject of critical analysis by his contemporaries and modern scholars. Below are some of things that have been said of his poetry:

  • Abu 'Ikrima has said: "But for the poetry of al-Kumayt [Ibn Zayd] Language would have no interpreter, nor Eloquence a tongue".[3]
  • Al-Farazdaq said: "Al-Kumayt was the poet of the first and the last" ("The Great Revolutionary…”)
  • An article by van Gelder suggests that al-Kumayt's poetry lacks "concreteness" and "vivid description".[4]
  • al-Mufaddal, said: "Recite to me any of his motifs that you find extraordinary, and I shall give you the same from [real] Arab [i.e. bedouin] poems!”.[4]
  • al-Hari-ri said: "al- Kumayt was one of those who made artificial poetry and to whom it does not come naturally".[5]


There is controversy surrounding al-Kumayt and if his sympathies lay with 'Ali and his family or the Umayyads. An article by W. F. Madelung suggests that al-Kumayt was not praising the family of the Prophet specifically, but rather the Banu Hashim as a whole. He believes that al-Kumayt wanted the caliphate to be given to the Banu Hashim, but not necessarily the family of the Prophet. He says that, "The Hashimite imam for whose advent [al-Kumayt] was praying need not be a descendant of 'Ali” (Madelung 9).

On the other hand, Horovitz in the Encyclopedia of Islam suggests that al-Kumayt is clearly praising 'Ali and his family. He says, "he came under the influence of the S̲h̲īʿi tendencies of his native town and these had a decisive effect on the direction that his career was to take, inspiring him with violently pro-ʿAlid opinions".

Later, Horovitz sums up his belief that al-Kumayt had conflicting poetry by saying, "[al-Kumayt] was capable of composing eulogies simultaneously to the 'Alids and the Umayyads.”


  1. ^ Lalani 2000, p. 110-111
  2. ^ a b Thatcher, Griffithes Wheeler (1911). "Kumait Ibn Zaid" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 15 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 945.
  3. ^ Van Gelder 98
  4. ^ a b Van Gelder 99
  5. ^ Van Gelder 100
  • W. F. Madelung (1989). "The "Hāshimiyyāt" of al-Kumayt and Hāshimī Shi'ism". Studia Islamica. Maisonneuve & Larose. 70: 5–26. JSTOR 1595676.
  • Horovitz, J. "al- Kumayt b. Zayd al- Asadī , Abu 'l- Mustahill." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2010. Brill Online. Augustana. 13 April 2010
  • Jan Van Gelder, Geert. "'The Most Natural Poem of the Arabs': An Addition to the "Diwan" of Al-Kumayt Ibn Zayd." Journal of Arabic Literature 19.2 (1988): 95–107. JSTOR. Web. 25 March 2010.
  • Kumayt Al-Asadi: the Great Revolutionary Shi'ite Poet, Imam Reza (A.S.) Network. Web. 13 April 2010.
  • Madelung, W. F. "The "Hashimayyat" of Al-Kumayt and Hashimi Shi'ism." Studia Islamica 70 (1989): 5–26. JSTOR. Web. 25 March 2010.
  • "Victory News Magazine | Poetry | Al-Kumayt's Longing for Seeing Imam Baqir (as)." | Victory News Magazine | Front Page |. Web. 13 April 2010. <
  • Lalani, Arzina R. (2000). Early Shi'i Thought: The Teachings of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir. I. B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1860644344.