The Traditional Qasīdah and Kitāb al-Zahrah by Ibn Dāwūd al-Isfahānī

Iyas Nasser*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the structural affinity between the traditional Qasīdah and Kitāb al-Zahrah, an anthology of poetry compiled by Muammad Ibn Dāwūd al-Isfahānī (d. 297/910) that consists of one hundred chapters. While the first half is devoted to love poetry, the second half presents a number of different genres, beginning notably with panegyric religious poetry. Here I explore a significant passage in which Ibn Dāwūd justifies his arrangement: love poetry followed by religious poetry. Since this passage presents some ambiguity in Nykl's edition - which is based on the Cairo manuscript containing only the first half of Kitāb al-Zahrah - I have consulted the Turin manuscript, where the anthology appears in full, to propose important emendations for a satisfactory understanding of the anthologist's justification. I show that Ibn Dāwūd arranges his anthology in two halves corresponding to the two sections of the Abbasid panegyrical Qasīdah: amatory opening and panegyric. This potentially makes Kitāb al-Zahrah the only anthology to be based on the traditional structure of Qasīdah.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)132-153
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Arabic Literature
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.


  • Abbasid panegyric
  • Ibn Dāwūd al-Isfahānī
  • Kitāb al-Zahrah
  • batrā
  • khaī
  • love poetry
  • poetry anthologies
  • traditional qasīdah


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