Medieval Arabic-Islamic sources record with utmost discomfort a bizarre Abbasid-Byzantine diplomatic exchange. The latter consists of a threatening, imperial Byzantine letter containing an Arabic qaṣīda (long poem) composed in eloquent (faṣīḥ) Arabic verse. Dubbed by some medieval Arab commentators as “al-qaṣīda al-arminiyya al-makhdhūla wa-l-malʿūna” (the doomed and accursed Arminian poem), this imperial letter-poem is said to have been sent around 966 C.E. by Byzantine emperor Nicephorus Phocas (r. 963-969) to the Abbasid caliph al-Muṭīʿ (r. 946-974). In short, the poem’s libelous assault on Islam earned unprecedented poetic notoriety. For instance, in his entry on Abu Bakr al-Qaffāl al-Shāshī (d. 976) of the voluminous Tabaqāt al-Shāfiʿiyya al-Kubrā, Damascene chronicler Tāj al-Subkī (d.) is quick to condemn Al-Qaṣīda al-Arminiyya as “a work of the devil” singling out its anti-Islamic rhetoric and propaganda...Written more than a century before the famous Alexiad, this largely forgotten Arabic “Nicephoria”’ is of paramount importance in the history of Abbasid-Byzantine encounters and represents a unique example of medieval Muslim-Christian poetic jousting.
12.07.2017 | 10:00 c.t. - 14:00