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Islamic Literature

Provides an overview of Arabic literature, primarily books, poetry and folktales. The literary works by Arabic speaking Turks, Persians, Syrians, Egyptians, Indians, Jews, and other Africans and Asians, as well as the Arabs themselves.

Buley Library Poetry Books


Arabic poetry expresses a full range of emotions that describes sorrow and happiness, defeat and victory , death and birth. Poetry is identified as either classical or modern poetry. Classical poetry was writen before the Arab renaissance (al-Nahdah) while modern poetry has its own unique style, structure, and rhyme. The  poet expresses "the power of the word" and is held in high esteem by the Arab people.

Book cover art


Illustration from Kitab al-Aghan, A Collection of Songs by Famous Musicians & Arab Poets



  • Hija: Lampoon or insult poem
  • Ritha:  Elegy
  • Wasfa: Descriptive poem
  • Ghazel: Love poem, sometimes expressing love of home
  • Khamriyyah: Wine poetry
  • Tardiyyah: Hunt poetry
  • Khawal: Homiletic poetry
  • Fakhr: Boasting
  • Hamasa: War poetry

Arab Women Poetry

I Reveal Myself

by Fatena Al-Gharra

Descendant of raiders who landed on the beaches,
heir to the woman who unmanned Samson,
I am the daughter of waves and of memory,
a fresh shoot from ancient stock.

When I open my arms, the universe sets forth.
When I smile, honey wells from my virgin lips.
I take a step and the earth loses its balance.
In my laugh, earthquakes resound,
and volcanoes spurt from seven tectonic plates.

The child of frivolity and modesty,
I am the daughter of depravity and purity,
the progeny of black and white.

The tip of my finger taps the stars off track.
If I close my eyes,
darkness eclipses the world, until my eyelids lift
bathing it in gold.
And when I toss back my hair
the universe shivers in recognition.

I am today and I am tomorrow.
Crowned queen on the throne of space.
A blink, and fields foam green with wheat.
I am wheat itself. I am green.
The first harvest.
The last.


A Star

by Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi

Awoken by light, I scratch the glass
of dreams, and find myself
stepping free of shadows and silence.

In the distance a star was absorbing
my tiredness, and itself heading like a pilgrim
towards you, leaving blank its place in the heavens.

In the green pits of our being our inner
threads yearn; this radiance, that makes me feel I own
herds of horses, am as inspired as any knight –

what is its source? Shocked
into words, I defied the book-burners, the suffocators
of thought and feeling, all who’d censor and shroud knowledge.

And a violet blossomed fiercely in the bosom of the sky.