The Importance of Ka’b ibn Zuhayr’s Burdah to Classical and Modern Islamic Poetry
KeywordsKa’b ibn Zuhayr’s Burdah
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AbstractKa’b’s ibn Zuhayr’s Su’ad Has Departed ode is one of the most notable examples of odes praising the Prophet Muhammad. Called one of the most eloquent of classic Arabic poems, it also serves as a historical document of the early Islamic period. As a poet, Ka’b became a famous figure after he recited his burdah ode for the Prophet. This thesis studies Ka’b’s burdah ode and the influence of his poem after his death. The first chapter presents a brief biography of Ka’b’s life, including his family of poets, his poems, his diwan, and his death. The second chapter looks at the story of Ka’b’s conversion to Islam as the context for the burdah ode. In analyzing the structure of Ka’b’s praising ode, it reviews the debate about how many verses of Ka’b’s ode exist. The third chapter views Ka’b’s Banat Su’ad qasidah in the classical and medieval contexts. It identifies one indication of the importance of Ka’b’s ode as an archetype of Islamic literature and the prevalence of its influence across multiple formats, including hadith books, Sufi, Islamic history, and literary sources. The fourth and final chapter summarizes commentaries and translations of Ka’b’s poem and examines the posthumous influence of Su’ad Has Departed. The chapter ends with a comparison of the most prominent praising odes of the Prophet Muhammad from three Arabic/Islamic literary traditions – the classical, medieval Arabic, and Modern periods. The conclusion notes the importance of Ka’b ibn Zuhayr’s burdah ode to classical and modern Islamic poetry and suggests more studies on Ka’b’s ode mu’aradat will further advance this important academic topic.
Brandeis University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences