Biography

Zuhayr, also Zuhair, (Arabic زهير بن أبي سلمى), full name Zuhayr ibn Abî Sûlmâ, b. c. 520-d. c. 609, was a pre-Islamic Arabian poet who lived in the 6th century AD. He is considered one of the greatest writer of Arabic poetry in pre-Islamic times. Zuhayr belonged to the Muzaynah tribe. His father was a poet. His elder son, Ka'b bin Zuhayr, was also a poet and read poems to Muhammad.

His poems can be found in Hammad Ar-Rawiya's anthology, the Mu'allaqat ("the Suspended"), a collection of pre-Islamic poetry. He was one of the Seven Hanged Poets who were reputed to have been honoured by hanging copies of their work in the Kaaba at Mecca. He was Umar ibn Khattab's favourite poet.

Zuhayr's poetry was written when two Bedouin tribes ended a longstanding hostility. His poems deal with raids and other subjects of nomadic desert life. He also wrote satirical poems and poems about the glory of his tribe, but in his verses he was less satiric than most of his brother poets. He strove to express deep thoughts in simple words, to be clear and by his clear phrases to teach his people high and noble ideas. He was a man of rank and wealth, the foremost of a family noted for their poetic skill and religious earnestness. In brief, Zuhayr is the gentleman-philosopher among Arab poets.

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