Zane Steinmane (University of Latvia, Riga) “The Warring Tribes: Representations of Conflict in the Pre-Islamic Odes of Mu’allaqat”


As new forms of war continue to plague the world, it is both interesting and valuable to see how conflict was resolved between the Arab tribes before the rise of Islam in the context of a nomadic culture.

Mu’allaqat is one of the more influential secular literary works of the early Arab literature. The anthology gathers the best poems of seven highly praised pre-Islamic authors that represent the ancient Arab wisdom, values, and lifestyle, and offer insight into the foundations that have shaped the cultural environment and identity of the civilization built upon the desert-dweller communities.

Traditionally the poet was a lead figure in a tribe, voicing the opinions of his people as well as recording the historical events of his time. These records were thus transmitted orally to the younger generations until they were written down. From today’s perspective this ancient literature serves as a historical report of the pre-Islamic traditions.

The paper will examine intertribal rivalry, war and conflicts as they are depicted in the seven long odes of Mu’allaqat.