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Abul al-Kassem al-Shabi By ARB3901 - Professor Dib
1 Abul al-Kassem al-Shabi: the Gem of Tunisian Poetry Literature and poetry; from the earliest days of literacy have been enjoyed and prized by people of all ages, civilizations, classes, genders, and races. However, in our modern-day Western societies, the value of literature and poetry are declining, and arguably, more than ever. On this note, the literature that our educational institutions and our governments promote and value are strictly Western, and by “Western,” I mean to say European. This is, in the opinion of many, quite a shame, as one of the richest sources and inspirations of the styles of literature and poetry actually come the Middle East — as long ago as pre-Islamic Arabia. From the beginnings of the age of literature and poetry, “[the] Jahiliyyah [...] period before the coming of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). It refers to two things that are combined in this period: jahl (ignorance) and jahaalah (foolishness)” (Use of the Word “Jahiliyyah”). Fast forward to today, the Arab world is still a leader, not in just literature and in poetry, but in film, music, and politics. One country, that is by many, considered the “underdog” of the “Arabian Hollywood,” considering its opponents: Egypt and Lebanon, as well as pre-Civil War Syria. This country is “Tunisia: the smallest country in Northwestern Africa” (Tunisia Facts for Kids). “Tunisia became a center of Arab culture and learning and was assimilated into the Turkish Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. It was a French protectorate from 1881 until independence in 1956, and retains close political, economic, and cultural ties with France” (A Brief History of the African Nation of Tunisia). “After achieving independence in 1956, Tunisia pursued a progressive social agenda..,” and began gaining ground, and began producing significant figures in the fields of the arts, and naturally, especially in literature and poetry. (Barbour, et al.)
2 One of these prominent Tunisian figures was a male poet that went by the name of Abul al-Kassem al-Shabi. The Tunisian poet “was born on 24 February 1909 in Tozeur in the south of Tunisia into a prominent family. His full name was Abu al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu al-Qasim ibn Ibrahim al-Shabbi” (Abul Kassem al-Shabi). In order for the reader of this essay, we will go more into depth regarding the life of Abul Kassem al-Shabi, so that we can fully comprehend the reasons as to why he is so famous, the true importance, as well as the deepest meanings of his most famous poems and their respective themes.