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Al-Sharīf al-Radī and the Poetics of 'Alid Legitimacy Elegy for al-Husayn ibn 'Alī on 'Āshūrā', 391 A.H.

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Al-Sharīf al-Radī's qasīdah rhymed in dāl that opens: "These are the abodes at al-Ghamīm, so call to them," (hādhī al-manāzilu bi-al-Ghamīmi fa-nādihā) is generally described as an elegy to al-Husayn ibn 'Alī and dated quite precisely to the Day of 'Āshūrā' 391 (10 Muharram) A.H. (10 Dec., 1000 C.E.) The fifty-eight line polythematic poem goes beyond the normal strictures of rithā' to exhibit a complex generic hybridity. It is my contention that the poem's composition is not haphazard or arbitrary, but rather the poet has masterfully manipulated classical Arabic qasīdah conventions, including form, genre, imagery and diction, to promote a politico-religious claim for ' Alid legitimacy—his own imminent Imāmate—and to create, at the same time, a meticulously crafted and perduring work of the poetic art.

Affiliations: 1: Indiana University, Bloomington


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