Boutheina Khaldi

Boutheina Khaldi is Associate professor of Arabic and comparative literature at the American University of Sharjah. She has published a monograph in English: Egypt Awakening in the Early Twentieth Century: Mayy Ziyādah’s Intellectual Circles (Palgrave, 2012), a book in Arabic: Al-Muḍmar fῑ al-Tarassul al-Niswῑ al-‘Arabῑ (2015) (The Implicit in Arab Women’s Epistolary Writing), and co-edited three textbooks: Al-Adab al-‘Arabī al-Ḥadīth: Mukhtārāt, Al-Wafī fī Turāth al-‘Arab al-Thaqāfī, and Turāth al-'Arab al-Ma'rifī.


Al- Urjῡzah as a Viable Adab Medium

Although it was regarded as the origin of all Arabic meters, the rajaz poem (urjūzah) has never gained a high position in al-adab al-‘Arabī, especially in the pre-Islamic and Umayyad periods. It was looked down upon as easy to compose and hence of low prestige: “the donkey of poets” (ḥimār al-shu‘arā’). Some went as far as to consider it saj‘. In the Abbasid period and onward scientists like Avicenna (d. 1037), Ibn ‘Abd Rabbih (d.  940), Ibn Ṭufayl (d. 1185), Ibn al-Yasamīn (d. 1204), Ibn Mālik (d. 1274), to mention but a few, chose the urjūzah to make their scientific discoveries accessible to everybody.

In this presentation I study three urjūzahs. The first is by Ibn al-A‘ṣam in medicine, the second, by Jibrān al-Abdalī in geography, and the third by lisān al-Dῑn ibn al-Khatīb in history. I argue how poetry in general, and al- urjūzah specifically, through its structure, played an important role in simplifying scientific concepts.