x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Rare thousand-year-old Arabic poetry collection published by Adac

ABU DHABI// The capital's cultural agency has published a new edition of one of the rarest known works of Arabic literature, Soul of the Soul, an encyclopedia of poetry from the fifth Hijri, or Islamic, century, dating back approximately 1,000 years. The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach) has published the first volume of the book, of which there are only two known surviving copies.

One is in the National Library in Paris and the other in the Assad National Library in Damascus. The 2,790 poems contained in the book are considered to be among the most important in the Arabic language. Ibrahim Saleh, a Syria-based scholar who researched and edited the new edition, said it was impossible to know who compiled the original Soul of the Soul, but it is believed it may have been one of the disciples of Al Thaalibi, a prominent literary figure in the eastern part of the Islamic world during the fourth Islamic and 10th Gregorian century.

Mr Saleh said this theory was based on the fact that Al Thaalibi's name is evoked with the utmost regard in the book, and the ancient text lists a compilation of his poetry, Yatimat Al Dahr (One of its Kind), as its primary source. An Adach spokesman paid tribute to the anonymous author of the original work, saying the poems were "rich" and "dear". The full edition will be divided into 360 sections and the poems will be divided by theme, including one section for prose, which makes up about two per cent of the predominately verse content.

The new publication is also intended to commemorate the centenary of the passing of Sheikh Zayed the First, which has been marked by Adach since last May. @Email:aseaman@thenational.ae