Fadl al-Sha'irah

Fadl al-Qaysi or Faḍl al-Shāʻirah (Arabic: فضل الشاعرة "Faḍl the Poet"; d. 871) was one of "three early ʻAbbasid singing girls ... particularly famous for their poetry" and is one of the pre-eminent medieval Arabic female poets whose work survives.[1]

Fadl al-Shaʻirah
فضل الشاعرة
BornAl-Yamama, Abbasid Caliphate
Diedc. 870/871
Samarra, Abbasid Caliphate
Resting placeSamarra
Pen nameFadl
PeriodIslamic Golden Age
(Early Abbasid era)


Born in al-Yamama (now in Bahrain), Fadl was brought up in ʻAbbasid Basra, (now in Iraq). Her brothers sold her to a leading officer of the Caliphate, and he gave her to Caliph Al-Mutawakkil (r. 847–861). Fadl became a prominent figure in the court. According to ibn Annadim, a bibliographer (died 1047), Fadl's diwan extended to twenty pages.[2] Her pupils included the singer Farida.[3]

Fadl was the concubine of Al-Mutawakkil. She was a poet, born in Al-Yamamah. She was from the Abd al-Qays tribe. She was purchased by Muhammad ibn al-Faraj al-Rukhkhaji, who gave her to Al-Mutawakkil.[4]

She died in 870-71.[5]


An example of Fadl's work, in the translation of Abdullah al-Udhari, is:

The following poem was written in response to the poet Abu Dulaf (d. 840) who hinted in a poem that she was not a virgin and he preferred virgins, whom he compared to unpierced pearls.
Riding beasts are no joy to ride until they're bridled and mounted.
So pearls are useless unless they're pierced and threaded.[2]



  1. ^ Tahera Qutbuddin, 'Women Poets', in Medieval Islamic Civilisation: An Encyclopedia, ed. by Josef W. Meri, 2 vols (New York: Routledge, 2006), II 866, "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-07. Retrieved 2015-03-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).
  2. ^ a b Udhari 199, p. 132.
  3. ^ Farmer 1929, p. 162-3.
  4. ^ Ibn al-Sāʿī 2017, p. 38.
  5. ^ Ibn al-Sāʿī 2017, p. 43.