Ibn Hamdis the Sicilian

Pages: 176
Subject: Religion: Islam, History, Middle East
Series: Makers of the Muslim World
Imprint: Oneworld Academic

Ibn Hamdis the Sicilian

Eulogist for a Falling Homeland

William Granara

The poet of the medieval Muslim world who is the best-known figure from four centuries of Arab-Islamic civilisation on the island of Sicily
9781786078469 (1 Jul 2021)
RRP £25.00 / US$30.00

The Book

‘Abd al-Jabbar ibn Hamdis (1055-1133) was a poet of the medieval Muslim Mediterranean world who survives as the best-known figure from four centuries of Arab-Islamic civilisation on the island of Sicily. Though he achieved fame and success in his time, he was forced to bear witness to sectarian strife among the Muslims of both Sicily and Spain, and the gradual success of the Christian reconquest.

Today, his poetry provides us with a window on to the tumultuous times in which he lived, from his youth in Sicily to his professional formation in Seville, and finally to his return to north Africa where he witnessed and recorded the gradual decline of his beloved homeland under the Normans.

Additional Information

Subject Religion: Islam, History, Middle East
Series Makers of the Muslim World
Pages 176
Imprint Oneworld Academic


About the Author

William Granara is Professor of the Practice of Arabic on the Gordon Gray Endowment and Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at Harvard University. He was awarded a Walter Channing Cabot Fellowship for his monograph Narrating Muslim Sicily: War and Peace in the Medieval Mediterranean World.

Table of Contents

Notes to the Reader



Map of Ibn Hamdis's World


1  Born Under a Bad Sign

The Kalbids of Sicily

Muslim Sicily Unraveling

Born in Syracuse, Becoming a Poet

Education in an Early Jihadi Frontier

The Rise of an Indigenous Muslim-Sicilian Culture

Poetry in Muslim Sicily, From Philology to Art to Politics

Crafting a Poetics of ‘Homeland'


2  Dilemma: To Remain or Depart

Sojourn in Sfax: Maintaining the Ifriqiya-Sicily Connection

Asad ibn al-Furat: Muslim Sicily's Founding Father

Ibn Hawqal's Sicilian Chapter

In the Shadow of the Norman Conquest


3  The First Desert Crossing

Ifriqiya: A Divided and Turbulent Motherland

The Zirid Dynasty of Ifriqiya

The ‘Arabs' of Eleventh-Century Ifriqiya

On the Desert Highway: Traveling with Arab Companions


La Dolce Vita in Seville

The ‘Abbadid Kingdom of Seville

Muslim Spain and Muslim Sicily: A Comparative View

Elegy to a Father

Serving the Patron: The Political Panegyric

Court Poet as Court Functionary

The Looming Threat of the Christian Reconquest

Poetic Sparring: Poet as Client, Poet as Competitor


5  From the Dark Clouds of al-Zallaqa to a Second Exile

Confrontation at Badajoz: Enter the Almoravids

The Battle of al-Zallaqa

The Fall of the ‘Abbadids of Seville


6  1091: Annus Horribilis and the Second Desert Crossing

Intermission at Qal‘at Bani Hammad

Return to Mahdia

Connecting to the Zirids: Praise and Blame for Tamim

Vigilant Eye on the Norman Conquest

Ode to a Falling Homeland

Back to the Family in Sfax: Mourning the Loss of an Aunt and a Wife


7  The Poetics of Jihad: At the Zirid Court in Mahdia

At the Court of Yahya ibn Tamim

Revolt and Murder at the Zirid Palace

Breaking Ranks in Gabes

From Seville to Nicotera and Mahdia: The Almoravids Move East

Victory at al-Dimas

The Almohads on the Horizon


8  Time of Reflection: Aesthetic Verses and Arabs at the Norman Court

Retreat into Devotional Verse

Arabs and Muslim Culture at the Norman Court in Palermo


9  Twilight: Blindness, Loss, and Defeat

Losing Sight

Sicily Forever on the Mind

Elegy to a Nephew and Family History

Mourning a Daughter, Mourning a Homeland

Death and Burial

Ibn Hamdis's Legacy in History and Literature