The Mantle Odes
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More About This Title The Mantle Odes


Three of the most renowned praise poems to the Prophet, the mantle odes span the arc of Islamic history from Muhammad's lifetime, to the medieval Mamluk period, to the modern colonial era. Over the centuries, they have informed the poetic and religious life of the Arab and Islamic worlds. Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych places her original translations of the poems within the odes' broader cultural context. By highlighting their transformative power as speech acts and their ritual function as gift exchanges, this book not only demonstrates the relevance of these poems to contemporary scholarship but also reveals their power and beauty to the modern reader.


Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych is Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Literature at Indiana University, Bloomington. She is author of The Poetics of Islamic Legitimacy: Myth, Gender, and Ceremony in the Classical Arabic Ode (IUP, 2002).


Note on Translation and Transliteration
List of Abbreviations

1. Ka'b ibn Zuhayr and the Mantle of the Prophet
The Pre-Islamic Prototype
1. 'Alqamah's A Heart Turbulent with Passion: The Poem as Ransom Payment
2. Al-Nabighah's O Abode of Mayyah: Transgression and Redemption
3. Zuhayr ibn Abi Sulmá's The Tribe Set Out: The Tacit Panegyric Pact
The Pre-Islamic as Proto-Islamic
Ka'b ibn Zuhayr's Su'ad Has Departed
The Conversion Narrative
The Conversion Ode
Part 1: Lyric-Elegiac Prelude (Nasib)
Part 2: Desert Journey (Rahil)
Part 3: Praise (Madih)
Mythogenesis: The Donation of the Mantle
Hassan ibn Thabit's At Taybah Lies a Trace
2. Al-Busiri and the Dream of the Mantle
Poetic Genre
Poetic Style: Classical and Post-Classical Badi'
The Poet and His Times
The Miracle and the Poem
'Umar ibn al-Farid's Was That Laylá's Fire
The Mantle Ode
The Structure of al-Busiri's Burdah
The Beginning of the Supplicatory Pattern: Parts 1-3
Part 1: Prophetic Nasib
Part 2: Warning against the Desires of the Self
Part 3: Praise of the Noble Messenger
The Sirah-Derived Passages: Parts 4-8
Poeticization and Polemicization
Part 4: The Birth of the Prophet
Part 5: The Miracles of the Prophet
Part 6: The Noble Qur'an
Part 7: The Night Journey and Ascension
Part 8: The Messenger's Jihad and Campaigns
Completion of the Supplicatory Pattern: Parts 9-10
Part 9: Supplication and Plea for Intercession
Part 10: Fervent Prayer and Petition
3. Ahmad Shawqi and the Reweaving of the Mantle
Ahmad Shawqi and the Nahdah
Poetic Precedents
Authorizing the Text: The Khedive, the Shaykh, and the Adib
The Colonial Double Bind
Shawqi's Nahj al-Burdah: The Thematic Structure
Nahj al-Burdah Movement I: In the Path of al-Busiri--Parts 1-6
Part 1: Nasib: Complaint of Unrequited Love
Part 2: Chiding the Unruly Soul--Warning against Worldly Temptations
Part 3: Repentance, Submission, and Supplication
Part 4: Prophetic Praise
Part 5: Sirah Themes: The Birth of the Prophet; The Night Journey and Ascension; The Miracle of the Cave
Part 6: Metapoetic Recapitulation of Prophetic Praise
Nahj al-Burdah Movement II: The Ihya' Project: Parts 7-12
Part 7: Polemic against Christianity
Part 8: Defense/Praise of Jihad and the Prophet's Military Campaigns
Part 9: The Shari'ah
Part 10: The Glory of Baghdad
Part 11: The Orthodox Caliphs
Part 12: Benediction and Supplication
Umm Kulthum, al-Qaradawi, and Nahj al-Burdah

Appendix of Arabic Texts
Works Cited