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Rābi'a bint Ka'b al-Quzdārī (Persian: رابعه بنت کعب), popularly known as Rābi'a Balkhī (رابعه بلخی) and Zayn al-'Arab (زین العرب), was a Persian writer and poet from the city of Balkh, and possibly the first woman poet in the history of New Persian poetry.
|Born||Balkh, Samanid Empire|
|Died||Balkh, Samanid Empire|
|Major shrine||Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan|
Tradition or genre
|Classic Prose, Rubais|
References to her can be found in the poetry of Rūdakī and 'Attār. Her biography has been primarily recorded by Zāhir ud-Dīn 'Awfī and renarrated by Nūr ad-Dīn Djāmī. The exact dates of her birth and death are unknown, but it is reported that she was a native of Balkh in Khorāsān (present-day Afghanistan). Some evidences indicate that she lived during the same period as Rūdakī, the court poet to the Samanid Emir Naṣr II (914-943).
Her name and biography appear in 'Awfī's lubābu 'l-albāb, 'Attār's maṭnawīyat, and Djāmī's nafahātu 'l-uns. She is said to have been descended from a royal family, her father Ka'b al-Quzdārī, a chieftain at the Samanid court, reportedly descended from Arab immigrants who had settled in eastern Persia during the time of Abu Muslim.
She was one of the first poets who wrote in modern Persian, and she is, along with Mahsatī Dabīra Ganja'ī, among a very few female writers of medieval Persia to be recorded in history by name. She is the earliest known female Persian poet, called the "first documented Persian woman poet" by the Library of Congress.
Nearly twelve centuries after her birth, Quzdari is still very much alive in Afghanistan. Her poems are recited in schools and she is referenced in academia, ceremonies, award shows and television programs. Her grave in Balkh is adorned annually with pilgrims who pay their respects to the most famous woman in the Persian tradition. Through the years, Quzdari has ranked only second to Zoroaster, but ahead of Balkhi, in terms of her fame and popularity in the Greater Iran region.
- H. Rowley/P. Weis, Journal of Semitic studies, Vol. 23-24, Oxford University Press, 1978, p. 139
- Indo-Iranica, Vol. 2, Iran Society India, Calcutta, 1947, p. 39
- "Women Writers - A Thousand Years of the Persian Book". Library of Congress. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
- G. Lindberg-Wada, Literary History: Towards a Global Perspective, Gruyter; 1st ed., 2006, p. 204: "This does not mean that no women composed poetry [...] but the system kept obviously such efforts out of sight. The very few whom we know by name are more legendary than real, for example Rabi'a bint Ka'b Quzdari ..."
- E.G. Browne: Literary History of Persia. (Four volumes, 2,256 pages, and twenty-five years in the writing). 1998. ISBN 0-7007-0406-X
- Jan Rypka: History of Iranian Literature. Reidel Publishing Company. 1968 OCLC 460598. ISBN 90-277-0143-1
- Chopra, R.M., "Eminent Poetesses of Persian", 2010, Iran Society, Kolkata.