Mothers in the Arabic Literature Posted by Fisal on Mar 22, 2015 in Arabic Language, Culture, Vocabulary
Ahlan Arabic lovers! I would like to start this post with a special thank you to my mother and all mothers; Happy Mother’s Day! The Arab world celebrated Mother’s Day yesterday. The idea of officially celebrating mothers on a special day that coincides with the coming of spring dates back to Mustafa Amin. To know more about the social occasion, you can read this article about Mother’s Day in the Arab World. Lots and lots of poems and songs were written and sung to commemorate mothers and their exceptional love and sacrifice. In this post, I will try to shed some light on the status of mothers in the Arabic literature.
In the Pre-Islamic era, women had a very important role in the society as they participated in the most important events. Women were a direct cause of many wars and disputes like Al-Basous War that lasted for many years. As the tribal Arab system knew slavery, women were divided into two ranks; those slaves and those free women. Men used to boast of having free mothers while calling someone as the son of a mother-slave was an insult. An example of famous pre-Islamic poets who were son of a slave woman was Antarah Bin Shaddad whose father was ashamed of him and didn’t recognize him as son for a long time because his mother was a slave black woman.
Many Pre-Islamic poets used to praise their beloved’s mothers and fathers in their poems rather than praising the beloved. There is no single famous poet at the time that was not reported to have said some poetry in which he mentioned a mother.
The idea of motherhood is originally a poetic idea. It is the idea of soul that divides into two bodies. Those two bodies were linked by some special link and some many beautiful poems. That is why all volumes of poetry have some beautiful poems about mothers; secrets of life.
A mother is the first country of a person, a first and last love. Paradise is under her feet. She is the cure, the doctor, the question and the answer. A long history, she (the mother الأم) was given so many names and descriptions.
Modern Arabic literature is full of exceptional poems about mothers. Abu-Al-Qassim Al-Shabi; the Tunisian famous poet tries hard in one of his poems to explain that hidden divine feeling between a mother and her son when he says:
الأم تـــلــثــم طــفــلــهــا و تــضــمــه
The mother kisses and embraces her baby
حــرم ســمــاوي الــجــمــال مــقــدس
That is a sacred beautiful and divine sanctuary
And here is the Egyptian modern poet considers mother as a school in his well-known poem saying:
الأمّ مــدرســةٌ إذا أعــددتــهــا
Mother is a school that if well-prepared,
أعــددتَ شــعــبــاً طــيــب الأعــراق
Then you have prepared a well-bred nation.
Poets have reached old age but they still young in her hands. The poet and ex Saudi minister Abdel-Aziz Khoujah addresses his mother saying:
أمـاه إنـي قـد أتـيت و فـي يـديّ طـفـولـتـي
Mother, I have come with my childhood in my hand
و تـركـتُ خـلـفـي كـلّ أحـلام الـشـبـاب
Leaving behind all the dreams of my young age
و بـحـثـتُ عـن يـدكِ الـنـحـيـلـة كـي تـعـانـقَ أوْبـتـي
I have searched for your thin hand so as to embrace my return
و رأيـتـهـا مـمــدودةً عـبـر الـسـحـاب
I have seen it stretching through the clouds
و كـأنـهـا طـوقُ الـنـجـاة لـحـيـرتـي
As if it was a lifeboat for my embarrassment
و قـفـزتُ ألـثـمـهـا ، أعـانـقـهـا .. فـعـانـقـنـي الـسـراب
So, I jumped, kissing it, hugging it .. but mirage embraced me.
A mother is the refuge for poets when they feel down. The Iraqi poet calls for his mother in one of his poems saying:
إنَّ لـِـلأحـــْـــزانِ ســيـفـاً
There is a sword for all sorrows
كــيـف سـيـفُ الـحــزنِ يـُــكــســرْ
How this sorrow sword can be broken
فـأنــا أســكــنـتُ قـلـبـي راحـتـيــكِ
I have dwelled my heart into your hands
كــيــفَ حــُـــزنُ الـقــلــبِ يـُــبــتـــرْ
How the heart sorrow can be ended
Who of us can ever forget Mahmoud Darwish; the Palestinian poet who says longing to the food and days of his mother:
أحـِـنُّ إلـى خـبـز أمـي
I long for my mother’s bread,
و قـهـوة أمـي
My mother’s coffee,
و لـمـسـة أمـي
My mother’s touch
و تـكـبـر فـي الـطـفـولـة
My childhood grows within me,
يـومـاً عـلـى صـدر يـوم
Day after day
و أعـشـق عـمـري لأنـي
And I love my life because
if I died,
أخـجـلُ مـن دمـع أمـي
I would be ashamed of my mother’s tears
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Peace ســَــلام /Salam/
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