Love is an integral theme of Arabic poetry
From pre-Islamic times, scholars and poets would express of love, affection, and passion in written or spoken verse.
The Arab nation is world-renowned for its enthusiastic admiration for literary expression and for its connection with words, spoken and written.
In Arabic, the word for poet is sha’er, which means the feeler or the one who feels, and from the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula to the Andalusian aristocratic gardens. Classical Arabic poetry is predominantly filled with ancient tales of love.
Many remain popular today and continue to inspiring contemporary poets, singers, artists, and musicians.
Antarah ibn Shaddad Al-Absi and Abla (sixth century), Qays ibn Al-Mulawwah and Leyla (seventh century), Kuthayyir ibn ‘Abd Al-Raḥman and ‘Azza (eighth century), and Ibn Zaydun and Princess Wallada (11th century) are examples of the numerous pairings from romantic Arabic verse.
Under the influence of Western literature, Arabic poetry has steadily evolved through the centuries and developed new forms and themes, partly as a result of colonialism and globalisation. A sense of modernity appeared in the aftermath of World War II.
One Western cultural phenomenon that has reached the Arab region is Valentine’s Day or as it is called in Arabic, Love Day.
Valentine’s Day is still in its relative infancy in the Arab world its popularity is growing fast as it is a well-promoted commercial and social event.
The day is now often mentioned in Arabic poetry by scribes such as Lebanon’s Elia Abu Madi, Egypt’s Farouk Gouida, Saudi Prince Badr bin Abdul Mohsin, and Nizar Qabbani from Syria.
Qabbani is considered to be one of the most popular Arabic-language poets of the twentieth century in the history of Arabic literature, well-known for his focus on love.
His pioneering style has had a huge influence on contemporary Arabic poetry with many young poets and songwriters imitating his powerful writing technique.
His poems have been translated into various languages and sung by famous performers such as Mohammed Abdel Wahab, Abdel Halim Hafez, and Kadim Al-Sahir.
The Syrian American hip-hop artist Omar Offendum was able to successfully use Qabbani’s romantic poetry in his music.
Offendum converted Qabbani’s famous love poem sung by Hafez, “Qariatil-Finjan,” into the rap tune “Finjan,” mixing the original Arabic text and its translation. On another track, “More love,” Offendum uses Qabbani’s voice in the background.
Other young Arab artists are also discovering the beauty and complexity of classical and modern Arabic romantic poetry.
Saudi artists Abdulrahman Mohammed and Mohab Omer have become known throughout the region for their songs based on poetry. Young Arabs have been able to find a link between their culture and classical literature through this music and, most importantly, their hearts.
Love is always a vital part of life in Arab people which is why it continues to inspire poetry, music and art. From the ancient tale of Layla and Majnun to the modern verse of Nizar Qabbani, poetry of love has always held a special place in the hearts of the Arabs.