Bashar ibn Burd

Bashār ibn Burd (Arabic: بشار بن برد‎; 714–783), nicknamed al-Mura'ath, meaning "the wattled", was a poet of the late Umayyad and early Abbasid periods. Bashar was of Persian origin;[1] his grandfather was taken as a captive to Iraq, but his father was a freedman (mawla) of the Uqayl tribe. Some Arab scholars considered Bashar the first "modern" poet,[2] and one of the pioneers of badi' in Arabic literature. It is believed that the poet exerted a great influence on the subsequent generation of poets.

Bashar ibn Burd
Native name
بشار بن برد
Basra, Umayyad Caliphate
Died783 (aged 68–69)
Baghdad, Abbasid Caliphate
Resting placeBaghdad, Iraq
Literary movementBadi'


Bashar was blind from birth and said to have been ugly, in part a result of smallpox scarring on his face.[3] He grew up in the rich cultural environment of Basra and showed his poetic talents at an early age. Bashar fell foul of some religious figures, such as Malik ibn Dinar and al-Hasan al-Basri, who condemned his poetry for its licentiousness. He exchanged Hija with several poets. Being anti-Mu'tazili, he criticized Wasil ibn Ata, who by some accounts is considered the founder of the Mutazilite school of Islamic thought.

After the Abbasids built Baghdad, Bashar moved there from Basra in 762. Bashar became associated with the caliph al-Mahdi. Due to his libertinism, al-Mahdi ordered him not to write further love poetry. Bashar quickly violated the ban.[2]


Multiple stories of Bashar's end exist. Ammiel Alcalay in 1993 argued that Bashar was condemned as a heretic and executed by al-Mahdi in 783.[4] Hugh Kennedy, on the other hand, relates al-Tabari's account that Ya'qub ibn Dawud had Bashar murdered in the marshes between Basra and Baghdad.[5]


Most of his Hija' (satires) are in traditional style, while his fakhr expresses his Shu'ubi sentiments, vaunting the achievements of his Persian ancestors and denigrating the "uncivilized Arabs". The following couplet from Bashar demonstrates his admiration for Zoroastrianism (the religion of his Persian ancestors) over Islam by preferring prostration (sajdah) towards fire (Shaitan like other jinn was created from smokeless fire) in lieu of soil (Adam's origin).

الارض مظلمة و النار مشرقة
والنار معبودة مذكانت النار

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Lewis, ed. by P. M. Holt,... Ann K. S. Lambton,... Bernard (1986). Islamic society and civilization, Volume 2B ([First paperback ed.] ed.). Cambridge [u.a.]: Cambridge Univ. Press. p. 664. ISBN 978-0-521-21949-5. Bashshar, (d. 167/783) a Persian, heralded the advent of 'Abbasid poetry, just as it was another Persian, Ibn al-Muqaffa', who opened the history of 'Abbasid prose.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b Meisami, Julie Scott; Starkey, Paul, eds. (1998). Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature. London: Routledge. ISBN 9780415185714.
  3. ^ Kennedy, Hugh (2005). When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. p. 118. ISBN 0306814358.
  4. ^ Alcalay, Ammiel (1993). After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. p. 94. ISBN 0-8166-2155-1.
  5. ^ Kennedy, Hugh (2005). When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. p. 120. ISBN 0306814358.