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Al-Muhalhil in the historical akhbār and folkloric Sīrah

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Al-Muhalhil b. Rabī'ah was a Pre-Islamic poet who, according to classical sources, was the first to establish the Qasīdah form and who participated in the forty-year war of al-Basūs, between Bakr and Taghlib, to revenge the assassination of his brother Kulayb. On the other hand, al-Zīr Sālim Abū Laylā al-Muhalhil, is the protagonist of the folkloric sīrah, whose character is substantially different from his “historical” counterpart, nonetheless they do share the same “historical” setting, events, and characters surrounding them. This article will examine the development of al-Muhalhil as a character in both, the “historical” adab sources and the sīrah, while breaking up the narratives into separate motifs. I argue that the narrator(s) of the sīrah was/were well aware of the “historical” sources on al-Muhalhil, and that the changes that the sīrah protagonist underwent were intentional and deliberate.

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/content/journals/10.1163/008523709x12554960674494
2009-11-01
2015-01-26

Affiliations: 1: Yale University

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