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(500 - 550 / Arabia)

Biography of Imru al Qays Ibn Hujr

Imru al Qays Ibn Hujr poet

Imru` al-Qais bin Hujr al-Kindi (Arabic: إمرؤ القيس ابن حجر الكندي / ALA-LC: Imrū’ al-Qays ibn Ḥujr al-Kindī) was an Arabian poet in the 6th century AD, and also the son of one of the last Kindite kings. He is sometimes considered the father of Arabic poetry. His qaseeda, or long poem, "Let us stop and weep" (Arabic: قفا نبك) is one of the seven Mu'allaqat, poems prized as the best examples of pre-Islamic Arabian verse. Imru' al-Qais was born in the Najd region of northern Arabia sometime in the early 6th century AD. His father was said to be Hujr bin al-Harith (حجر ابن الحارث / Ḥujr ibn al-Ḥārith), the Kindah monarchy's regent over the tribes of Asad and Ghatfan, and it is believed that Imru' al-Qais was born in the territory of Asad. His mother was said to be Fatimah bint Rabi'ah al-Taghlibi (فاطمة بنت ربيعة التغلبي / Fāṭimah bint Ranī‘ah al-Taghlibī).

Legend has it that Imru' al-Qais was the youngest of his father's sons, and began composing poetry while he was still a child. His father strongly disapproved of this habit in his son, believing poetry to be an unseemly pastime for the son of a king. His father also disapproved of Imru' al-Qais' scandalous lifestyle of drinking and chasing women, and eventually banished him from his kingdom, or so the legend goes. Later, when the tribe of Asad rebelled and assassinated his father, Imru' al-Qais was the only one of his brothers to take responsibility for avenging his death. Renouncing wine and women, he fought the tribe of Asad until he had exacted revenge in blood, and spent the remainder of his life trying to regain his father's kingdom.

Like many figures of early Arabia, which at that time lacked a formal writing system and relied on the oral transmission of stories, the details of the life of Imru' al-Qais are hard to determine with any certainty. Even so, historians have been able to compare the various stories written down by later biographers with clues from Imru' al-Qais' own poems and information about major historical events in the Persian and Byzantine empires to reconstruct a probable account of the life and ancestry of this most famous of the Jahili (pre-Islamic) poets.

According to one account, his full name and ancestry was Imru' al-Qais, son of Hujr, son of al-Harith, son of 'Amr, son of Hujr the eater of bitter herbs, son of Mu'awiyya, son of Thawr of the tribe of Kindah (Arabic: إمرؤ القيس ابن حجر ابن الحارث ابن عمرو ابن حجر اكل المرار ابن معاوية ابن ثور الكندي). He was also referred to as "The Lost King" (الملك الضليل / al-Malik aḍ-Ḍalīl), because he was never able to recover his father's throne.

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The Poem of Imru al Qays

Stop, oh my friends, let us pause to weep over the remembrance of my beloved.
Here was her abode on the edge of the sandy desert between Dakhool and Howmal.


The traces of her encampment are not wholly obliterated even now.
For when the South wind blows the sand over them the North wind sweeps it away.


The courtyards and enclosures of the old home have become desolate;

[Hata Bildir]