Kitab al-Hamasah

Ḥamāsah (from Arabic حماسة valour) is a well-known[1] ten-book anthology of Arabic poetry, compiled in the 9th century by Abu Tammam. Along with the Asma'iyyat, Mufaddaliyat, Jamharat Ash'ar al-Arab, and Mu'allaqat, Hamasah is considered one of the primary sources of early Arabic poetry.[2] The work is especially important for having been the first Arabic anthology compiled by a poet and not a philologist and is the first in the Hamasah literary genre. The first and largest section of the work, al-ḥamāsah (valour), provides the name for several other anthologies of this type.[3]

The anthology contains a total of 884 poems, most of which are short extracts of longer poems, grouped by subject matter.[4] The selections date back to pre-Islamic, Islamic and early 'Abbasid times.

The Ḥamāsah was probably compiled around AD 835, while Abū Tammām was staying at Hamadan in Iran, where he had access to a very good library. It quickly acquired the status of a classic work. Saladin is said to have known it by heart.


The ten headings are:

  1. Al-Ḥamāsah “Valour”
  2. Al-Marāthī, “Elegies”;
  3. Al-Adab, “Proper conduct”;
  4. An-Nasīb, “Love”;
  5. Al-Hijāʿ, “Invective”;
  6. Al-Adyāf wa al-madīḥ, “Hospitality and praise of the generous”;
  7. Aṣ-Ṣifāt, “Descriptive verses/pieces”;
  8. As-Sayr wa an-Nuʾas, “desert travel”;
  9. Al-Mulah, “Clever curiosities”;
  10. Madhammāt an-nisaʾ, “the censure of women”

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • "Abū Tammām and the Poetics of the ʿAbbāsid Age". - Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych (1991)


  1. ^ Ramzi Baalbaki, The Arabic Lexicographical Tradition: From the 2nd/8th to the 12th/18th Century, pg. 89. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2014. ISBN 9789004274013
  2. ^ Wen-chin Ouyang, Literary Criticism in Medieval Arabic-Islamic Culture: The Making of a Tradition, pg. 65. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997. ISBN 9780748608973
  3. ^ Orfali, Bilal (1 January 2012). "A Sketch Map of Arabic Poetry Anthologies up to the Fall of Baghdad". Journal of Arabic Literature. 43 (1): 29–59. doi:10.1163/157006412X629737.
  4. ^ Kirsten Eksell, "Genre in Early Arabic Poetry." Taken from Literary History: Towards a Global Perspective, vol. 2, pg. 158. Eds. Anders Pettersson, Gunilla Lindberg-Wada, Margareta Petersson and Stefan Helgesson. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2006. ISBN 9783110894110

External linksEdit