Biography Imru al Qays Ibn Hujr

Imru al Qays Ibn Hujr

photo of Imru al Qays Ibn Hujr
  • Time Period500 - 550
  • Place
  • CountryArabia

Poet Biography

Imru al-Qays or (Amrulkais in Arabic ) was the youngest son of Hujr, the last king of Kindah, an ancient Arabian tribe that originated from the area west of Hadramaut region in Southern Arabia. They were the first to attempt to unite various tribes around a central authority in central Arabia. Imru al Qays was the most distinguished poet from the Arabia of pre Islamic times. He was foremost both in time and in poetic merit and a master of love poetry. His graceful and supple style and beautiful descriptions enchant and grip the attention, whatever the subject of his poetry. Of all classical Arabic poets he is probably the one who appeals most to modern taste.
His poetry though was very passionate and erotic in nature and thus enraged his father who banished him twice from his court. Imru al Qays took to composing poetry and wandering in the desert. While al Qays was thus wandering as a vagabond his tribe went to war with a rival tribe the Bani Asad. His father was murdered and his tribe was destroyed. Imru al Qays swore revenge and attacked the Bani Asad routing them, but he was not happy and wanted further help. He went to tribe after tribe asking them for help but had no success. King Harith of Ghassan in Northern Arabia though introduced him to the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, who agreed to supply him with troops which he needed to regain his kingdom.
Legend though has it that Emperor Justinian I sent him a poisoned cloak which caused his death at Ankara (now in Turkey). According to legend Imru had tried to woo a princess at Justinian's court, which had angered the Emperor.

Imru al Qays has been regarded by philologists as the inventor of the Qasida or classical ode. He is also considered the greatest poet of the Mu'allaqat which is collection of seven pre-Islamic Arabic qasida (odes), each considered to be its author's best piece.

There were at least three collections (divans) of his poetry made by medieval Arab scholars, numbering as many as 68 poems; the authenticity of the greater part of them, however, is doubtful.