Category Archives: PERSEPOLIS

فرامرز پایورMaster Farāmarz Pāyvar -SANTUR

Luigi Pesce, Mosque of Qom, Iran, c

“ I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.” – Hafez


(Born in  Tehran, 1932). Persian  santur player and composer. He comes from a musical family and for six years, from the age of 17, studied the santur with Abolhasan Sabā, followed by further training with other masters of Persian traditional music. Pāyvar has combined a career as a virtuoso performer and composer with scholarship which has yielded a number of significant publications. They include original compositions as well as arrangements and books on the technique of santur. His recordings, published both in Persia and abroad, are numerous. They encompass recordings of some of the dastgāhs with the inclusion of all known guڑes, also shorter renditions of dastgāhs, original compositions and ensemble pieces written or arranged by him. He has travelled widely and is known internationally for his many concerts and recordings.

Pāyvar has a thorough knowledge of the radif of Persian traditional music. He has advanced the technique of santur playing to levels not attained by any other santur player. His performances of any given dastgān generally display exceptional agility and smoothness of hammer action on the santur, use of a wide range of sound, and the interpolation of difficult and lengthy composed èahārmesrābs. On the other hand, his performance style is peppered with features of western virtuoso displays such as rapid scale movements, arpeggio patterns and passages in parallel thirds, all of which are essentially alien to Persian music.



Master Faramarz Payvar

Dastgah Shur
Dastgah Homayoun
Dastgah Segah
Zarb solo
Dastgah Chahargah


Payvar [Faramarz] (1932) Composer, santour player, born in Tehran. He knew Radif. His father was Ali Payvar [he was Painter and he was play Setar and Santour]. Payvar studied Music in Darolfonoun School. However, he studied English languagein Cambridge University at 1341 (1962).

His teachers were Abol Hassan Saba [6’th years], Abdollah Davami and Nour Ali Broumand [Sing Radif], Hussein Dehlavi and Melik Aslanian [Harmony and Counter Point] and Hussein Tehrani. He published
many book for Santour. He conducted Farhang-Honar Ensemble at 1345 (1966). He published Davami’s Radif and Roknoddin’ssongs.

He recorded many Cassettes, Disc, and CD with Hussein Tehrani, Ali Asghar Bahari, MohammadEsmaeili, Houshang Zarif, Hassan Nahid and … He has many students, including Saeid Sabet, Pejman Azarmina and …
« Faramarz Payvar is a well-known name in Iran for he is the most prominent santur virtuoso and his touch has created the most beautiful sounds of the cascade-like glissandi on the instrument, all of them products of a highly cultivated mind. He was born in 1932 in Tehran. His father was a professor of French language and also a keen and productive painter. His grandfather,
Mosavvar-od-Doleh was the court painter in Qajar period; Some of his paintings are kept in royal palaces of Iran. Both could play violin and santur and was in close relationship with some masters of the day. Faramarz Payvar began his musical studies at the age of 17 with Abolhasan Saba and completed radif in 6 years. So prominent was his development, that he accompanied his
master in several occasions. Their collaboration has been recorded and is made available for music-lovers. He completed his primary and high schools in Asjodi School and in Dar-ol-Fonun. In 1952 he began his military service and after that was employed by the Ministry of Finance and Economy. After Saba’s death, Payvar continued his studies with Ostad Davami, Ostad Ma’rufi and Ostad Borumand by surveying and learning radifs of Darvish Khan, Aqa Hoseyn-Qoli and Mirza Abdollah and
perfected and completed his musical knowledge. In this period he compiled and transcribed the great legacy of Persian music,thus preserved it for the ages to come.

The most important works that he collected are: Volcal Radif of Persian Music accordingto the version of Abdollah Davami Anthology of old Tasnifs; Works of Sheyda, Aref, Sama’ Hozur… Works of Darvish Khan andRokneddin Mokhtari. Payvar also studied composition with Ostad Dehlavi and Emanuel Melik-Aslanian. He began his career as aperforming artist – playing santur – in 1955, and arranged solo recitals as well as duos with Abolhasan Saba and Hoseyn Tehrani
for radio broadcasting.

After National Television was founded, Payvar managed to perform live programs which turned out to be of high importance in making people get familiar to Persian music. In 1963 he went to England to study English in Cambridge University. During the 3 years of language studies, he could also give santur recitals and lectures on Persian music in Cambridge and London Colleges. After returning from England, he performed remarkably in Shiraz Art Festival with numerous musicians
and other masters of Persian music. In 1967 Rudaki Hall was founded and the peak of his career began. He performed many pieces by past masters and accompanied great vocalists of the day in concerts held in newly founded place. In
1968 he was transferred to the Ministry of Education and retired in 1976.” (Source :


Faramarz_Payvar_Hossein Therani

Zarbe Osoul
Chaharmezrab Shour az Saba
Mahouro Delkash & Chaharmezrab
Ghet`e Ferdows
Renge Tork az Darvishkhan


[sadouri, santûr, sant’ur, santuri, sintir, tsintsila].

Dulcimer of the Middle East, south-eastern Europe and South and East Asia. It is used in Iran, Iraq, India, Kashmir, Turkey, Greece, Armenia, China and Tibet.

The prototype of the instrument may be seen in a harp, carried horizontally and struck with two sticks, found in iconographical documents of the ancient Babylonian (1600–911 bce) and neo-Assyrian (911–612 bce) eras. In the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), the santir appears among the instruments in the orchestra of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Chaldea (604–562 bce). Certain Arab sources mention its use during the Sassanian era (226–641 ce). In the 11th century the instrument was known to Spanish Muslims and, in the 14th, Ibn Khaldûn mentioned its use by Arabs in North Africa. In the 16th century the Egyptians made a distinction between the qânûn and the santûr; Villoteau (Description de l’Egypte, Paris, 1809–28) referred to the santûr as marginal in Egypt itself, though the instrument was most definitely used at that time in Iraq.

In Iran the santur consists of a trapeziform case made of walnut wood, approximately 90 cm wide at the broad end, 35 cm wide at the narrow end and 6 cm deep. The sides form an angle of 45° to the wider end. The strings are fixed to hitch-pins along the left-hand side and wound round metal wrest-pins on the right by means of which they are tuned with a tuning-key. Each quadruple set of strings rests on a movable bridge of hardwood (kharak). These bridges are aligned almost parallel with the sides of the case. The right-hand rank corresponds to the bass strings and that on the left to the treble strings. In the centre of the santur the low-pitched strings on the right cross the high-pitched strings on the left.

The left-hand strings can be played on either side of the bridges. In this way three different courses of strings are available: the lowest-sounding on the right, a second series, sounding an octave higher, left of centre, and the highest-sounding series, giving the third octave, on the left. There are nine (or sometimes 11) quadruple strings on either side so that, with 18 groups of strings, 27 different notes can be played. The bass strings are of brass and the trebles of steel. The first series of strings has a range of e’–f”, the second e”–f”’ and the third e”’–f””. The tuning can be readily modified by adjusting the position of the bridges.

The santur is played by striking the strings with two light hammers (mezrâb) held in three fingers of each hand. The hammers do not rebound and the tremolo is controlled solely by a rapid alternating movement of the right and left wrists. Tradition calls for a delicate and precise tone-quality which is obtained only with light hammers of hardwood, and some players stick felt to the ends of the hammers to soften the impact; others have obtained the same result by laying a piece of cloth on the strings. During the second half of the 20th century the Iranian santur virtuoso Farâmarz Pâyvar wrote several books on performance techniques.

The contemporary Iraqi santûr consists of a trapeziform soundbox made from two boards of wood joined together by splints of varying height; hardwoods such as walnut, bitter orange, white beech or apricot may be used. It is approximately 80 to 90 cm wide at the broad end, 31 to 41 cm wide at the narrow end and 7 to 12 cm deep, though when an instrument is made to accompany a specific singer, the size of the soundbox may be changed to accommodate the register of the singer’s voice.

The Iraqi santûr generally has 23 (recently 25) courses of strings (triple, quadruple and rarely quintuple) tuned in unison. There is no damping mechanism, so the sound of the struck melody notes is accompanied by the sympathetic vibrations of the other strings. Strings were traditionally metallic and varied in thickness, treble ones being of steel and those for the lower octaves of bronze. Bronze has now been replaced by nylon, either used by itself or alternating with brass or steel wire. Each group of strings rests on a movable hardwood bridge with a circular base in the shape of a bobbin. The bridges are placed so that the strings are divided into three sections, giving the fundamental note and two higher octaves. The santûr is played with two light sticks held in three fingers of each hand (see illustration); the ends of the sticks are usually covered with cloth to soften their impact on the strings.

Unlike its modern counterpart, the ancient Persian santûr has fixed bridges, which make it impossible to tune the notes during performance; only a number of basic modes may be played and transposed by three or more degrees on any one instrument. The ancient santûr is still played in Iraq. The santûr has a range of more than three octaves from g to a”’.

In South Asia, the santûr was restricted until recently to Kashmir, with its strong Persian culture. The construction of the Kashmiri santûr is similar to that of its Iranian counterpart (though smaller, deeper, and held on the player’s lap), but the tuning differs. Its 100 strings are tuned to nine scalar degrees to the octave (whole tones plus a flat 3rd and 7th) and the range is over one-and-a-half octaves. 12 degrees have two quadruple courses (one of steel, struck with the sticks, and one of brass, resonating sympathetically); the 13th has only a steel course.

In Iran the santur is an important instrument in the traditional orchestra, with the same repertory as the târ and setâr (lutes). It is also used in motrebi (music for entertainment), but never in folk music. In Iraq the santûr is part of the classicalshâlghî al baghdâdî (‘Baghdad ensemble’) along with the jûza (four-string spike fiddle), the daff zinjârî (frame drum with cymbalets), the tabl (single-headed drum) and the naqqâra (double kettledrum). The principal role of the shâlghî is to accompany classical singing (maqâm ‘irâqî) in teahouses, private homes and concerts. In the Caucasus, the sant’ur or santuri (which may have from 13 to 26 courses from triple to quintuple) is used mainly in the sazandar and ashugh (folk poet-singers) ensembles. In Greece its equivalent, the sadouri, is used in small folk ensembles.

The Kashmiri santûr is the leading instrument of the religious art-music ensemble sûfyâna kalâm (‘Sufic utterance’). Together with the setâr (long lute), dukrâ (drums) and (formerly) the sâz-î-kâshmîr (spike fiddle), it accompanies kalâm songs in a repertory of over 50 modes, some with Indian râga names, some Middle Eastern. It was introduced into Hindustani râga music by Shiv Kumar Sharma, who has become the instrument’s most famous exponent. Fixed-pitch chordophones were not formerly prominent in Indian court music because of the stylistic importance of voice-derived portamento (mir), but Sharma introduced a virtuoso stick-technique which re-creates the sound of vocal portamento through timing and tremolo. Since then the instrument has enjoyed growing popularity. It does not have a fixed tuning system but is re-tuned from piece to piece to a scale in the râga system, in three octave registers.

H.G. Farmer: ‘The Music of Ancient Mesopotamia’, ‘The Music of Islam’, NOHM, i (1957), 228–54, 421–77

M.H. al Ridjab: Al maqâmal-‘irâqî [The Iraqi maqâm] (Baghdad, 1961)

N. Caron and D. Safvate: Iran: traditions musicales (Paris, 1966)

S.A. Rashid: Târîkh al-âlât al-mûsîqîyya fî-l-‘irâq al-qadîm [History of musical instruments in ancient Iraq] (Beirut, 1970)

B.C. Deva: Musical Instruments of India (Calcutta, 1978)

S.Q. Hassan: Les instruments de musique en Irak et leur rôle dans la société traditionelle (Paris, 1980)

J. During: La musique iranienne: tradition et evolution (Paris, 1984)

N. Tremoulhac: ‘‘غd, santur, naqqara’, Journal of the Académie Musicologique du Forez, France, i (1984), 44–9

J. Pacholczyk: Sûfyâna mûsîqî: the Classical Music of Kashmir (Berlin, 1996)



Veteran Iranian composer and Santour player Faramarz Payvar has passed away at the age of 77 in the capital city of Tehran.

Payvar, one of the country’s prominent composers, died on Wednesday morning after struggling with brain damage for a long time.

Faramarz Payvar started learning music at the age of 17 under the tutorship of great Iranian master Abol-Hasan Saba.

His achievements in traditional Persian music and playing the Santour brought him great fame, leading to his co-operations with the Iranian Department of Art and Culture in 1954.

Payvar founded the ‘Art and Culture Orchestra’, which included such renowned figures as Hossein Tehrani, Khatere Parvaneh, Houshang Zarif, Mohammad-Reza Shajarian, Rahmatollah Badiee and Abdol-Vahab Shahidi.

He also played the Setar and published a book on Tar and Setar in 1996.

After getting a scholarship from Iran’s National Music Conservatory, Payvar majored in English Language at Cambridge University and was graduated in 1965.

Payvar, who was also studying Western music at the Royal Academy of Music in London, ended his life as a master composer of Persian music.

The veteran artist amazed music lovers by his performances in every corner of the world. His world tours took him to countries like the US, Germany, the UK, Sweden, France, Japan, Italy, Malaysia, and Russia.


Farâmarz Pâyvar and his place in Iranian music

LAP Lambert Academic Publishing ( 2010-05-21 )

This book describes the contribution of an eminent Iranian musician and composer, Ostâd Farâmarz Pâyvar, to the performance practice of contemporary Iranian classical music. It argues that Pâyvar was responsible for the rehabilitation of the Iranian hammered dulcimer or santûr within the Iranian classical repertoire, developing and refining its playing techniques and repertoire and transmitting his innovative and sophisticated ideas about the performance of Iranian classical music through his pedagogical practice and publications. A brief biography of Pâyvar, emphasising his musical lineage and heritage and his influence on subsequent generations of musicians, is also included. The thesis is in part a personal tribute to Pâyvar, who was the teacher and musical mentor of the writer.

Book Details:




Book language:English
By (author) :Qmars Piraglu

Number of pages:160
Published on:2010-05-21

see also :                81yvar_and_His_Place_in_Irani.html?id=3gOxNQAACAAJ&redir_esc=y




Kharanaq old city, Iran

Introducing the Persian Santur

A Persian Qajar Pottery Tile with Star, Tehran, 19th C


Persian santur (san-tour) is a fixed string musical instrument which is played with a couple of light wooden hammers. Santur has an isosceles trapezoidal shape. Its overall shape, tuning design, and playing methods are similar to the American hammered dulcimer and East Indian santoor. Santur’s origin traces back to other instruments “played by striking cords with hammer like implements,” back to ancient Persians in the Middle East, India, and perhaps ancient China. Contemporary santur design, however, is most likely no more than two centuries old. This santur is prevalent mostly in Middle East, but is also used in Greece and Turkey. There are many variations of santur design depending on the region of origin, the musical notes it produces, and preferences of instrument maker and musicians. In fact the santur images in this article vary somewhat from the stated design specifications. In this article, we focus on a santur design that is most popular in contemporary Iran or Persia. Persian pronunciations (e.g. santour) are included (in italics) as a courtesy to the culture that has fostered the evolution of this instrument over centuries. A glossary at the end provides the words in Persian script.

Santur provides over three octaves of musical notes (E3 – F6 or mi3-fa6). Each musical note is delivered by a course of four strings (seem) tuned exactly to the same pitch. The strings of same course share the same chessman style bridge (kharak). In this design, there are two columns of nine courses each, with bass courses on the right, and treble courses on the left. Accordingly, this type of santur is named Nine-bridge (noh-kharak). Treble bridges are positioned so that the resulting two (left and right) treble courses provide two consecutive musical octaves (higher and mid-range) with one additional overlap note. Bridges are positioned on the soundboard. Santur soundboard rests on the frame (kalaaf) which consists of top rail, bottom rail, and hitch pin block on the left and tuning pin block on the right side. Santur frame is attached to the back board opposite to the soundboard. The space encased by the frame rails, soundboard and back comprise the santur soundbox. Every string originates via a loop from a hitch pin (seem geer) over the left side bridge (sheytaanak / zehvaareh) and saddle rod (maftool), sharing a bridge with three other strings in the course. The string then travels to the right side saddle and side bridge and is eventually wound around its own tuning pin (gooshi). There are 72 strings, hitch pins and tuning pins in a “Nine-bridge” santur. Bass bridges are arranged with the top bridge positioned at 50MM, and bottom bridge at 130MM from the right saddle The musical notes on the right side of bass bridges are not used.

The nine phosphorous bronze alloy (bass) string courses provide (E3 – F4 or mi3-fa4). The middle and higher octaves are played on the steel (treble) courses in the middle and left side which are tuned to (E4 – F5 or mi4-fa5) and (E5 – F6 or mi5-fa6) respectively. The two most popular Nine-bridge santur types are distinguished by the tuning of the third (from the bottom) bass course. The most prevalent version has this course tuned to (G3 or sol3), and is traditionally known as G-tuned (sol kouk) santur. The other less popular version is tuned to (A3 or La3) as third bass note, and is traditionally known as A-tuned (La kouk) santur. The latter type provides (F3  –  G6  or  fa3-sol6) musical note range. This article will focus only on the “Nine-bridge” G-tuned (sol kouk) santur.

About Persian Music

Santur is mainly used in playing traditional (sonnati) music of Persia. It is not conducive to playing Western style music. Persian and generally Middle Eastern music has much more complex nuances than could be discussed here. Most common practice in Persian traditional music is to use the chromatic scale. Tones similar to Quarter-tones (half semitone) notes are also used routinely. A quarter-tone is equal to 50 cents or 2 Pythagorean commas. The scale of Persian music is not fixed on the same twelve notes. Accidental notes are used routinely. Because of these complexities which add additional burden of re-tuning, violin, Persian oud, and other non-fretted instruments are much easier to tune for Middle Eastern music. Quarter-tone note tuning of santur is often accomplished by moving the bridges and not using the tuning pins. This practice, although convenient for the musician, diminishes somewhat the acoustic response of the santur if not its structural integrity.

Persian traditional music differs from its contemporary rhythmic counterpart in that it is melodic, mostly slow and very structured. Singing in the traditional Persian music, to the ears of Westerners, is an enchanting blend of yodeling and Western opera. Traditional Persians are passionate about poetry. The traditional music lyrics though lacking opera like story line, is poetry-based and somewhat similar in lyric tone to that of American blues music.

General Santur Structure

A typical santur structure is said to be under a tensile force equivalent to 900 + Kg (1,980 lb or one ton). It is generally made to be light and portable typically (3–4 Kg or 8 lb), and constructed of thinnest-size parts. From a structural viewpoint, it is relatively no less complex than a wide underground tunnel designed and built by civil engineers. Santur design has an additional requirement in that it must produce pleasant and uniform volume musical sounds.


The santur frame (top rail, bottom rail, tuning pin block, hitch pin block) resides between the soundboard and the back, and provide the bulk of support for santur’s structure. The frame also plays a role in the tonal quality of the santur. Top side of frame where it is in contact with soundboard is tapered down on the interior edge to minimize the contact area between the soundboard and frame rails.

Top and Bottom Rail

Top and bottom rail provide the main structural support to the pin blocks and somewhat contribute to the acoustic performance of the soundbox. Bottom rail has a sound hole at its center. This design differs from typical Persian santur in that the pin blocks are lapped over the ends of top and bottom rails. Top and bottom rails are thus not extended all the way to the corners or dado joined as practiced in Persia. The lapped-over joint is said to provide better support for the pin blocks.

Tuning and Hitch Pin Blocks

Some Persian santur makers glue three layers of hardwood with the middle later in a transverse grain orientation to prevent cracking of the tuning pin block.

Tuning Pins

Hammered dulcimer tuning pins will work just as well. Refer to the supplier’s specifications for pin sizes.

Shape: overall cylindrical, tapered thread at one end; square or rectangular cross-section at other end – pierced to accommodate string winding
Material: Nickel or chrome plated steel Overall length: 41MM
Tapered thread length: 23MM
Diameter: 5MM
Square end side: 4MM

Hitch Pins

Hammered dulcimer hitch pins will work just as well. Refer to the supplier’s specifications for pin and drill bit sizes.

Shape: cylindrical Material: Nickel or chrome plated steel
Length: 25.5MM
Diameter: 3.7MM

Pin Holes

There is one hole for each string in the tuning and hitch pin blocks. The holes are arranged in a single column, although some suggest staggering of the holes as well. There are eighteen columns and four holes per column. Drilling these 144 holes in the pin blocks is a tedious process, and requires accuracy as well as patience. Using jigs and prior practice is definitely recommended.


Soundboard covers the upper part of frame rails. Be sure to drill / carve the sound holes at proper location on the soundboard before gluing. Soundboard is the most costly piece in santur in terms of the wood, cut and quality. Use a separate 10MM thick piece of scrap wood on top of the soundboard when and if drilling to prevent splintering. Practice drilling on scrap wood first. A good soundboard is made of dense and dry wood like walnut. It has uniform fine wood grain lines (2–3MM apart) in parallel with the strings with little or no anomaly in the wood pattern. Thinner soundboards provide best tonal quality in a santur. The vertical stress on the soundboard comes from the bridges (downward) and from the frame rail and soundposts (upward). The areas on a soundboard most vulnerable to cracking are the strips at the top and bottom edges of the soundboard, between the frame rails and the nearest bridge. Some santur makers vary the thickness (up to three different sizes) of the different regions of soundboard to accommodate this. You will find it easier if you measure the exterior dimensions of soundboard and back slightly larger (1–2MM) and trim it by sanding or routing after the construction is completed. Mark the precise location of sound holes on the soundboard.


Back board encases the lower part of frame rails completing the soundbox and supporting the soundboard via soundposts. It will help a lot to draw the diagram of santur on the back board and identify precise location of soundposts, frame rails, etc. You will find it easier if you measure the back panel slightly larger (1–2MM) and trim it after the construction is completed. Mark the precise location of frame and soundposts on the inside of the back board.


Santur has four support soundposts and one tuning soundpost inside the soundbox between the soundboard and the back. Support soundposts are glued to the back board only. Soundposts are not glued to the soundboard. Soundposts must not be positioned closer than 19MM to any bridge; must be installed in horizontal positions between adjacent bridges; and not in a column parallel with any bridge column. The santur design presented here, strives to accommodate occasional tuning-movement of bridges by adding additional clearance between the soundposts and the nominal bridges. General location of these soundposts is as follows;

• Between and to the left of C & D bass bridges
• Between and to the left of B & C treble bridges
• Between and to the right of C & D treble bridges
• Between and to the left of F & G treble bridges

There is also one “tuning” soundpost which is intended to balance or regulate the tonal balance of santur’s music box. The latter is installed only after the santur is completely assembled and a string is tuned. Tuning soundposts are not glued at all.


Bridges are customarily turned from hardwood; one bridge for each course in contemporary santurs. Taller bridge heights are used with harder wood like walnut. Taller bridges also increase the stress on the soundboard. Individual bridges in santur facilitate semi/quarter tone adjustment of string notes by moving its bridge instead of using tuning pins. This practice is counter to maintaining the structural integrity and tonal quality of a santur, and may shorten the useful life of a santur. Bridge bottom (khazineh) surfaces are carved (actually turned) in a concave manner with a rim of about 1–2MM wide, and depth of 1–1.2MM. Bass bridges are located with string length of 50MM and 130MM from the right saddle (top and bottom respectively – center to center). Treble bridges are located at approximately 1/3 distance (center to center) from the left saddle so that the left side of each course produces the pitch of the same note in the next higher octave. Bottom surface of bridges should be sanded and polished to a smooth surface. Bridge cap (saachmeh) should be made of tempered nickel plated steel rods. Do not use Delrin rods or bronze rods for santur.

Bridge caps:

Shape: cylindrical

Material: Nickel or chrome plated steel
Length: 16MM
Diameter: 2.5MM

Side Bridges

Make side bridges from hardwood like walnut. Tuning side bridge is installed with 2MM over-hang along the pin block. Saddles or side bridge caps should be made of tempered nickel plated steel rods with same material and diameter as hitch pins. Do not use Delrin rods or bronze rods for santur.


Selection – More dense varieties of walnut and birch are the primary wood used for making fine santurs in Persia. Other hardwood such as Siberian Elm (Choob-eAazaad), betel palm (foofel), and mulberry wood have also been used. Autumn lumbered, fine fiber dense wood from warm and dry climates is more suitable for making santur. The narrower and closely aligned grain lines, the more suitable the wood. Forest grown trees tend to grow more straight and thus produce more uniform wood than the urban variety. Climate change and other factors influence the closeness and width of the rings in cross section of trees which produce the grain lines. There should be no knots or other anomalies in the wood grain of the soundboard. Use of soft or unseasoned wood should be avoided. There is no requirement that you use different types of wood in santur. The same type of wood can pretty much be used for all the pieces.

Seasoning – The wood for musical instruments must be prepared dry and free of tree sap and oil. Steaming is sometimes used to dissolve and extract the tree sap within the wood fibers for thinner pieces. Heating of the wood in a large kiln or pizza oven is another method to “boil the sap” out of the wood. This process requires experience and care must be taken so that the wood remains hard yet flexible. Fully seasoned wood should have between 12-15% (never over 19%) moisture and this could take a long time if it is done naturally. The wood that is dried naturally in the shade and in the flow of air for an average of a couple of years produces the best sound quality. Wood that has not been seasoned adequately is susceptible to warping and produces inferior tonal performance. To maintain a good sound quality, keep the santur away from exposure to moisture and sunlight. Store this instrument in its own case with desiccating chemicals or drying agents.

Strings (seem)

Use only the type of steel string made for musical instruments (music or piano wires). Strings are susceptible to rusting in humid environment. Chrome or nickel plated music steel wire is used for treble strings and phosphorus bronze plated steel music wire is used for bass strings. Gauges are .015″–.016″ (.38MM–.41MM). All strings are looped at hitch end, and wound at tuning end, with minimum of (7) windings to ensure stable winding.

Hammers (mezrab)

Santur is played with a couple of wooden hammers (mezrab), much thinner, lighter (4 grams) and traditionally more ornate than those of American hammered dulcimers. The short dimensions of santur hammers (22–24MM x 30MM) make it possible to use just about any types of dry light, very dense but high resonance hard wood like rosewood. The striking surface tips of hammers are sometimes covered with felt to produce a milder sound.


Use an adhesive that provides a good bond and cures to at least the same hardness as the soundboard. Persian santur makers use a gelatin based hot hide glue (serishom), which when heated indirectly and applied, dries to a hard, durable and moisture free texture. Steam is used in a double layer pot to heat this glue. You can use any type of glue which is appropriate for American hammered dulcimer including Franklin’s Tightbond II.

Wood Finish

Santur finish must dry fast without much penetration in the wood; protect exterior of santur surface against heat and moisture; endure high pressure from bridges and transmit vibrations from the bridges to the soundboard without flaking or cracking. Persian santurs are coated with a natural spirit varnish after the trimming, sanding and sometimes staining. The varnish is a mixture of lacquer as main resin and alcohol (lock-alkol). Somewhat darker non-reflecting finishes are preferred for santur. Color pigments stains are also used to improve color tone of lacquer. Violin shops are good places to get advice about varnish for santurs.

Construction Steps

Santur building is a time consuming project. Measurements must be made with less than one Millimeter tolerance. Having a viable blueprint and instructions is a must. If you are not experienced with woodworking, or have not previously built musical instruments, practices building each piece with scraps of wood until you are satisfied with the results. It is helpful to construct each piece as specified before attempting assembly. It also helps to build a frame jig from scrap wood that would surround and hold the frame of your finished santur frame while the adhesive cures. Always have the retaining clamps ready to use. Dry run the gluing process before you actually apply the glue to make sure everything is ready once the glue is applied. Practice gluing and curing on scrap wood to gain expertise in glue application. Always wipe any extra glue immediately after the clamps are applied. Take care to not let the adhesive get on the surrounding jig or retaining clamps. After the curing of the glue is complete, sand the inside of any visible glue. Sand and dust the inside surfaces to a smooth finish. Inside of your santur soundbox should be somewhat smooth and free of any visible glue marks. Do not use nails.

1. Prepare the Pieces – Cut and prepare each piece in precise dimensions according to the blueprint. You will find it easier if you measure the soundboard and back panel slightly larger (1–2MM) and trim afterward. Draw the layout on the interior surface of back board and identify the position of the support soundposts on the drawing. Draw the layout on the exterior surface of soundboard and identify the position of the sound holes on the drawing.

Pre-drill all holes in pin blocks. This is probably the most difficult part of building a santur as these holes are all at angle to the pin block surface (parallel to the courses). It is helpful to use a template or more preferably a jig to obtain precise cuts and holes. For best holes, keep your drill bits sharp and cool. A wood hole with charred inside will not be able to hold the string tension. When drilling, use separate10MM thick pieces of wood scrap between the drill and the santur surface to minimize splintering. Use a stopper guide or bushing around your drill bit to prevent drilling through the pin blocks. American dulcimer makers have found that counter sinking the holes by 1–2MM improves the aesthetics of their instruments. If you mis-drill a hole, the whole pin block will most likely need to be replaced. Blow out any dust that may have collected inside the pin block holes.

2. Glue Soundposts to Back – The back and soundposts can be cut and assembled at this point. Use a level or lay the back on top of the soundposts to verify uniform height of soundposts. A thread spool- like block may be used to ensure the correct vertical orientation of the soundpost on the back while the glue is curing. Take care to insure vertical orientation and uniform height between soundposts.

Remove any dust from interior of the pieces. Dry fit the frame pieces together on a flat surface to ensure tight fit, uniform height, and adequate surface contact. Test use of jigs and / or clamps to hold the glued pieces together while curing. Glue the frame pieces two pieces at a time (top rail and hitch block, and bottom rail and tuning pin block), and then complete the gluing of the final two pieces.

There are two approaches in the way you order gluing the back and soundboard to frame. The first approach (practiced in Persia) glues the frame to the back first, then the soundboard. The second approach (described here) would glue the soundboard to the frame first then the back. The advantage of the second approach is that if there are any problems with the height of the soundposts or if you feel you must correct for any warping in either boards, you still have one more opportunity to adjust the height of, or even replace a soundpost. A second advantage of the latter method is that gluing of the soundboard to the frame is more of a delicate process because the surface being glued is tapered. Gluing and having access to the interior side of the glued surface enables you to better clean any glue overlap. You do not have that option with the first approach unless you remove the back first.

3. Glue the Soundboard to Frame, then Frame to the Back – Spread the glue only on the narrow flat edge near to the exterior edge at the top of frame where the soundboard would be attached. It is important that you use the glue sparingly, and avoid gluing the tapered part of the top of the frame. Place and glue the soundboard on top of the frame using sturdy clamps.

Verify that the height of soundposts is 1–1.5MM above the frame by placing the back on top of the frame. The back should sit on soundposts with a 1MM gap with the frame. This is a critical step. If a soundpost is too short, the benefit of soundposts is essentially nullified and buzzing may even render your instrument useless. If a soundpost is too tall, it will create problem for other soundposts. Correct any problem before proceeding to the next step.

Next glue the frame to the back being careful not to tip over any of the support posts. Do not glue the top of supporting posts. You will need to use a dozen sturdy clamps to press the frame against the back in spite of the resistance by the soundposts. Do not remove the clamps until the glue is fully cured. This may take several days. Once the glue is cured, any over-hanging part of the soundboard and back may be removed by sanding or routing. After the bond between the back and frame rails is cured, the side bridges may be glued and clamped on to the soundboard.

4. Mark and carve the string guide notches on the exterior side bridges -Santur strings tend to ride up toward the top side if not guided properly. The grooves or notches on the outer edge of side bridges play an important role in the spacing between and alignment of strings on the bridges. If these notches are not laid properly, the player will see uneven spacing of strings on a course and between courses which is least desirable. It may help to use wooden dowels in tuning pin holes so that proper contact point of the strings with tuning pins may be best approximated. Place saddles on both bridges. Mark the top outer edge of the side bridge where the center positions of the 18 courses will be located. The center position is half way between the second and third string in a course. Mark the notch locations 2MM apart measured along the bridge length around the center positions. Bend a solid 2MM thick wire in form of letter “J” with a length of 100MM and bottom diameter equal to the diameter of a tuning pin. You will be using this J-rod to approximate the path of the string for which you are creating the notch. Mark the side bridges as close to, and parallel to the J-rod direction. Continue this process for the bottom and top strings of every course, and then mark the position of other strings evenly. Use a very thin (0.3MM) finishing X-acto razor saw to carve the notches starting at the top of the bridge and ending about 1MM below the top surface of the pin block. The groove depth should be curved to best approximate the natural path of the strings from saddle to the tuning pin. Place the string inside the first few grooves to test the correct angle and width of the cut. If you cut too shallow, the pressure from the strings may crack the side bridge or work against the adhesion of the bridge to the soundboard. If you cut too deep it may undermine the ability of the side bridge to keep the strings in tune. You may want to practice on a scrap wood first. Repeat this process for the hitch pin block.

It is customary to test the sound quality of the santur at this point. An experienced ear is an absolute requirement. First tap the instrument with finger tip and listen to the echo sounds form the music box. Next install a single string for the treble “B” or “C” course including the bridge in the correct location and examine the sound. The string and hardware is removed following this test.

5. Apply stain and finish – Give your santur its last sanding and clean it dust-free with a tack cloth. If you plan to stain your santur, be sure to use an alcohol (not water) base stain. Moisture is the #1 enemy of the tonal quality of santur. Use a small rag, soaked dry in stain to lightly rub the surface of santur. Darker colors and mat finishes are preferred because they minimize reflection of light from playing surface and make it easier for the musician to see the string courses. If the colors are too dark, they show off dust and absorb more heat from sunlight. You may need to repeat this step to darken the stain, but avoid pressing the rag against the surface as doing this will enable the moisture to get inside the wood. Be mindful of getting any stain or finish inside the pin block holes. Pat dry (or floss) corners, edges and groove areas where the stain tends to over-darken the surface. Place the santur in a moisture free warm location and let the stain dry completely (up to several days) before applying the varnish. The best varnish product for a santur is one that dries to a durable finish; the harder the better. Let the finish dry for a few days. Persian santur makers use a mixture of natural colors by boiling skin of walnuts, pomegranate, copper sulfate and tree sap. As a varnish, a 1:3 mixture of lacquer or shellac flakes and methyl alcohol (lock-alkol) is also used.

6. Install hitch and tuning pins – Gently tap in the hitch pins so that all but 5–7MM of it remains outside of the hitch pin block. A uniform protrusion of these pins enhances the appearance of your santur. Practicing the next few steps on scrap wood is recommended. It is helpful during tuning to use blue plated tuning pins for treble strings and nickel plated pins for bass strings. Measure the depth of a tuning pin hole and mark the tuning pins so that your tuning pin will not penetrate the holes beyond their depth. Doing so will crack your tuning pin block. Gently tap the first 1–2MM of the tuning pins into the holes until you get a straight and firm footing and then screw in the next few MM until you feel the tight grip of the wood. You will be turning the tuning pin clockwise. Do not use power tools for this step and do not press the tuning pin in while turning it. A wooden dowel with markings can insure uniform penetration between pins. You may want to test the adequacy of penetration of tuning pin on the upper treble strings first.

7. Install the bridges and strings – The upper strings of courses are installed first. The remaining strings are installed from bottom up alternating between the treble and bass courses. Loop the strings by clamping the ends of a loop (50MM long) adjacent to each other in vise, and turning the loop with a steel rod exactly 7 revolutions. Other method will suffice. Install the string by hooking the loop around the hitch pin inside the corresponding side bridge grooves and over the side bridges saddles. Keep the string taught while threading. Take care to unwind the string from its spool while doing so. Thread the string through the corresponding tuning pin eye and cut the string with about 60–70MM slack beyond the tuning pin. Bend the last 5MM tip of the string to make it easier for the string to stay in the tuning pin eye. You will be turning the tuning pin clockwise with the saddle side of the string rapped on the inside. It is helpful to guide the string with your fingertip. Keep an eye on the alignment of the string with the side bridge grooves. When the tension on the sting is tight enough to hold the string, continue to install the other strings in the course. Install the bridge for the courses. Wear eye-protective gear while doing this. Snip any excess string from the tuning pin.

8. Tuning the Santur – Tuning the strings is done by using a Tuning Wrench (kelid) that matches the end shape of tuning pins. Santur strings are ordinarily tuned to the key of G from bottom to top (E F G A B C D E F) with the middle (C – do) bass note being equivalent to the middle C 4 in piano. Check the alignment of bridges before you start tuning the strings. Tune the top and bottom treble strings and double check the harmonic pitch of the left and right treble strings. Tune the santur one octave lower first time and let it rest for a few days to allow the wood to adjust to the string tensions. Tune the top string of a course for all courses, and then continue with the second string and so on until the first tuning phase is completed. After the first tuning phase is complete, check the sides of the santur for signs of warping.

The tuning of the soundbox is made by installation of the tuning soundpost. The purpose of this soundpost is to regulate the echo characteristics of the soundboard so that a pleasant and uniform volume is produced by all santur courses. This step is rather tricky in that that it is used to adjust the lack of balance of sounds across courses. Furthermore, access to the inside of the soundbox is limited to the treble sound hole and the hole at the center of the bottom rail. The method used in Persia is as follows. The soundpost is held by two long nose metal pieces (like chopsticks) which are bent in the middle for better handling. A fabric string holds the soundpost firmly between the chopsticks. The string is knotted in such a way that by pulling its end, the soundpost is disengaged from the chopsticks thus allowing you to retrieve them from inside of santur. As of late a new tools have been devised to accomplish this. You may need to improvise your own installation tool.

Final tuning of santur may be accomplished at this point. Never tune the santur to higher octaves as doing this will structurally damage the instrument.

Playing the Santur

As with all musical instruments, good playing techniques from the onset help the musician avoid poor habits. To play the santur, the player stands, or sits on the floor with legs crossed, facing the santur at the bottom end. The payer’s forearms are held parallel and approximately 100–150MM above the soundboard. Santur hammers are held between the index and middle fingers, and are moved by the wrests, and not by the forearms.

Courses are struck 30–40MM from the bridges. Acquiring these playing skills is said to take a long time.

Santur Case

Santur case is made of a hard shell, and is padded on the inside to protect santur against shock and moisture. Santur strings should be loosened when freighting or transporting santur in rough train to protect the soundboard from cracking. Drying agent (Silicone based) packets are recommended to be used inside the santur case in humid climates.
Location of Sound Holes and Soundposts (MM)

Vertical distance to bottom edge

Horizontal distance to bottom corner
Bass Sound Hole (Horizontal distance measured from RIGHT frame corner)     142     330
Treble Sound Hole (Horizontal distance measured from LEFT frame corner)     107     227
Soundpost #1 (Horizontal distance measured from RIGHT frame corner)     163     299
Soundpost #2 (Horizontal distance measured from LEFT frame corner)     152     298
Soundpost #3 (Horizontal distance measured from LEFT frame corner)     174     405
Soundpost #4 (Horizontal distance measured from LEFT frame corner)     84     378


The contemporary santur in Iran owes a great deal to the dedicated lifetime work of santur makers such as (Mehdi Naazemi). These master instrument builders contributed to Persian music by leaving a legacy of not only beautifully sounding santurs but more importantly by sharing their decades of knowledge and experience with others.

The goal of this article is to document a design for santur in form of an introduction including the text, diagrams, design parameters and other specifications. The target audience is the Guild of American Lutherie readers and English speaking instrument builders who generally have access to woodworking information and supplies. Although every effort was made to keep this design reasonably close to the overall contemporary santur specifications, it is not represented as an authentic, acceptable-by-all authority on this instrument. The author’s hope is that this article will begin a dialog on this instrument amongst the instrument experts, builders, and musicians through whose participation, will emerge a future standard and guide for design and construction of contemporary Persian santurs. The author is indebted to Tim Olsen for his graphic support, editing and most of all coaching and patience, and to Nasser Shirazi for courteous encouragement and valuable information sources he unselfishly offered to this project.


There is an immense amount of information about material and construction tips for hammered dulcimer and other musical instruments in GAL archives, books and Internet that would be very helpful to santur builders.

“Building the Kamancheh” by Nasser Shirazi
American Lutherie #4, BRBAL 1

“Building the Tar” by Nasser Shirazi
American Lutherie #10, BRBAL 1

“A Practical Approach to Hammered Dulcimers” by John Calkin
American Lutherie #41, BRBAL 4

Understanding Wood by R. Bruce Hoadley
Identifying Wood by R. Bruce Hoadley
Taunton Press

Self-Learning of Santur by Hossein Saba
Iran – 1959 – Farsi language

Santour va Naazemi by Arfa’ Atra’i
Part Publishing – Iran – Farsi language

Vijhegi-e Santour by Mehdi Setaayeshgar
Iran – Farsi language

Setar Construction by Nasser Shirazi


English Translation            Farsi Pronunciation                 Farsi

A-tuned     la kouk                                                                     لاکوک
betel palm     foofel                                                                   فوفل
bridge bottom     khazineh                                                     خزینه
bridge cap     saachmeh                                                         ساچمه
bridge     kharak                                                                          خرک
frame     kalaaf                                                                            کلاف
G-tuned     sol kouk                                                                سل کوک
hammers     mezrab                                                              مضراب
hitch pin     seem geer                                                          سیم گیر
hot hide glue     serishom                                                    سریشم
nine-bridge     noh-kharak                                                نه خرک
saddle rod     maftool                                                        مفطول
santur     santour                                                                سنتور
shellac lock     lock-alkol                                                    لاک الکل
Siberian elm     Choob-e Aazaad                                    چوب آزاد
side bridge     sheytaanak / zehvaareh                       شیطانک \ زهواره
sound holes     gol-e santur                                            گل سنتور
strings     seem                                                                    سیم
traditional music of Persia     sonnati                       سنتی
system of traditional Persion music     radeef     ردیف
building blocks of radeef     dastgah                         دستگاه
tuning pin     gooshi                                                        گوشی
tuning wrench     kelid                                                    کلید

(Courtesy by Javad Naini)

The Art of The Persian Santur Vol 03 پرويز مشكاتيان

Parviz Meshkatian__

Parviz Meshkatian – SANTUR

Dastgah-e Segah

Radif of Mirza Abdollah

دو نوازی سنتور و تمبک

در دستگاه سه گاه
استادان : پرویز مشکاتیان و ناصر فرهنگفر
در غم و در آمد ، بداهه سه گاه ، چهار مضراب مخالف ، مخالف سه گاه ، چهار مضراب پگاه
روحشان شاد


Born in Neyshabur in 1955, he began his musical training at the age of six with his father Hassan Meshkatian, who was a professional tar and santur player.

He learned the radif, the total collection of more than 200 gushehs — traditional melodic entities — in all 12 dastgahs, studying under Iranian maestros Nur-Ali Borumand and Dariush Safvat.

He was also a student of Mohammad-Taqi Masudieh, Abdollah Davami, Saeid Hormozi, and Yusef Forutan, who helped him improve his skills.
After some years, he became one of Iran’s most prominent musicians.

In 1977, Meshkatian founded the Aref  Ensemble with Hossein Alizadeh and Mohammadreza Lotfi. The group performed many concerts in Iran, Europe, and the Americas. He was also one of the founding members of the Chavosh Artistic and Cultural Foundation. The Chavosh foundation has played a major role in the development of Iranian music for a few decades.

He also performed with some of Iran’s greatest vocalists like Mohammadreza Shajarian, Shahram Nazeri, and Iraj Bastami.

(see also :

The collaborations resulted in the creation of the albums “Bidad”, “The Court of the Beloved”, “Mystery of Love”, “Nava”, and “Dastan”, which are all very popular in Iran.

Meshkatian toured Europe and Asia and regularly performed in countries such as France, Germany, England, Sweden, Netherlands, and Denmark. In the spring of 1982 he published the book Twenty Pieces for Santour. In spring of 1992 Meshkatian and the Aref Ensemble won the first prize of the Spirit of the Earth Festival in England.

Der wohl größte Santur-Spieler unserer Zeit starb im Alter von nur gerade 54 Jahren. Meshkatian galt als genialer Musiker, Komponist und Orchester-Leiter und war einer der wenigen Giganten der klassischen persischen Musik. Er war eines der Gründungsmitglieder des Aref Ensemble’s (gegründet 1977) und vom Sheyda Ensemble. Er tourte durch Europa und Asien und trat regelmässig in verschiedenen Ländern Europas auf. 1982 veröffentlichte er das Buch ‚Twenty Pieces for Santour’. 1992 gewann er mit dem Aref Ensemble den ‘First prize of the Spirit of the Earth Festival’  in England. In Zusammenarbeit mit Mohammad Reza Shajarian produzierte Meshkatian einige der schönsten Aufnahmen  der zeitgenössischen persischen Musik.

Meshkatian starb am 21. September 2009 viel zu früh an einem Herzinfarkt. Die Welt verliert mit ihm ein Genie der klassischen persischen Musik.

در گذشت پرویز مشکاتیان

رفتی و رفتن تو آتش نهاد بر دل                              از کاروان چه ماند؟جز آتشی به منزل

خبر تاسف بار درگذشت استاد پرویز مشکاتیان هنرمند گرامی و بی همتای موسیقی باعث تاثر وتاسف همگان به خصوص اهالی موسیقی وهنرمندان عزیز کشورمان ایران شد

هنرمندی که با نغمه های گرانسنگش یادها و خا طره های زیادی را در دل مردم به یادگار گذاشت و دلش همیشه برای آزادی و تعالی مردمش می تپید و به فرهنگ بومی و ملی ایران سخت دل بسته بود و از فرهنگ بیگانه به شدت دلزده…  پرویز مشکاتیان در تاریخ 21.سپتامبر به علت ایست قلبی در منزل شخصی خود دار فانی را وداع گفت و با رفتنش ملت ایران و به خصوص جامعه موسیقی را داغدار کرد

افسوس و صد افسوس

شرکت فرهنگی هنری سه تار ضایعه درگذشت این هنرمند گرامی و بی همتا را به ملت ایران و جامعه هنری تسلیت گفته و آرامش روح آن فقید را از خداوند مسالت می نماید

شرکت فرهنگی و هنری سه تار

Parviz Meshkatian_Memorial


The gem of the Persian music ring passed away

The news of Parviz Meshkatian’s death was an unbearable and unbelievable.  The Iranian music community and many ordinary people burned with the grief of losing one of the most influential artists in the genre of Persian classical music and the source of musical creativity. Meshkatian was born in the year 1955 in the city of Neishabour. The city which is located in eastern Iran, the province of Khorásán. If Iran’s history can be divided into two main phases which are pre-Islamic Iran and Iran after the advent of Islam, Khorásán will be the cradle of Iranian art and science in the second phase of its history. This region is the birth place of Persian poetry and mysticism as well. It is where Ferdosi, Attar, Khayam, and many others were born and raised. Meshkatian started his musical training at the age of six with his late father, Hassan Meshkatian. The late Meshkatian played the tar and the santur masterfully and was also familiar with the violin and the setar.
Meshkatian entered the Music College of Tehran University and studied theory and technique with the masters Nur Ali Borumand, Dariush Safvat, Mohammad Taghi Massoudieh, and Mehdi Barkeshli. He chose the Radif of Mirza Abdollah as his main topic of research. After finishing his academic studies, Meshkatian continued the study of music with such masters as the late Abdollah Davami, Saied Hormozi, and Yousef forutan. He won the first prize of Barbad competition in the field of santur.

Meshkatian was among a few musicians who demonstrated his incredible musical creativity and talent since his early age. While he was still in his twenties, Meshkatiyan joined the Iranian Radio and began to collaborate with many distinguished musicians.  He was one of the founding members of the Aref Ensemble, founded in 1977. He was also one of the founding members of the Chavosh Artistic and Cultural Foundation. The Chavosh foundation which was both a conservatory and cultural center played a major role in the development of Iranian music in the recent years. At Chavosh, Meshkatian cooperated with the influential musicians such as Mohammad Reza Lotfi, Mohammad Reza Shajariyan, Hussein Alizadeh, and Shahram Nazeri. Meshkatiyan along with Lotfi and Alizadeh composed and performed many beautiful pieces which attracted the youth and made Persian classical music popular among the younger generation.

One of the main aspects of Meshkatian’s character was his awareness of the political and social situations of his time. In 1979 before the Islamic Revolution when the country was in its political upheaval and some people were killed in the event of the Jale Square, he along with the musicians of the Chavosh Institution resigned from the Radio. He composed several songs during the Revolution which became very popular. Two of these songs sang by the most famous singer of Persian classical music, master Mohammad Reza Shajarian.

Listen to the song “Hamrahsho Aziz” composed by Meshkatian and sang by Shajarian

Meshkatiyan composed many beautiful pieces in different genres of Persian classical music. He composed many songs for master Shajariyan and produced some of the most beautiful recordings of contemporary classical music of Iran. Meshkatiyan also composed many instrumental pieces which are very beautiful and rich in the technical sense.

Master Meshkatian performed in Iran and throughout the world. In spring of 1992 Meshkatian and Aref Ensemble won the first prize of the Spirit of the Earth Festival in England. Master Meshkatian also taught the santur and radif at the music college of the Tehran University, Chavosh Institute, the Center for the Preservation and Dissemination of Music, and also privately. Many of Iran’s santur players of the recent generations have been his students or have been influenced by him. He also published the book titled “Twenty Pieces for Santur” and many of his works are ready to be published.

Meshkatian was not among those musicians whose works are only appreciated by the experts. In fact, his works were understood by the masses and admired by the experts. He is among the major figures who, in the past thirty years, have revolutionized the Persian classical music. His innovative approach of combining the traditional with new elements, both in terms of music and technique, has injected a new vitality into a very old tradition. His original creativity and the deep-rooted emotional quality as well as the knowledge and understanding of the Persian classical music repertory or radif as well as Persian poetry have made him a unique figure in the realm of Persian music. As master Hassan Kasai, the prominent nay player of Iran, wrote as a part of his condolence letter “Meshkatian was the gem of the Persian music ring”.

Master Parviz Meshkatian passed away after going into cardiac arrest on September 21, 2009. He died at the age of fifty-four in Tehran. God bless him

(Written by Aryan Rahmanian)

Maestros of Santur – Majid Kyani-‏ردیف




Majid Kyani

Introducing The Radif Mirza Abdollah Shur Mode







The classical music of Iran is based on the Radif, which is a collection of old melodies that have been handed down by the masters to the students through the generations. Over time, each master’s own interpretation has shaped and added new melodies to this collection, which may bear the master’s name.
The preservation of these melodies greatly depended on each successive generations’ memory and mastery, since the interpretive origin of this music was expressed only through the oral tradition.
To truly learn and absorb the essence of the Radif, many years of repetition and practice are required. A master of the Radif must internalize the Radif so completely to be able to perform any part of it at any given time.
The Radif contains several different maqam’s which are distinguished from each other by their relationship of note intervals and the form of the movement of the melodies within them. A maqam portrays a specific sonic space. A dastgah may contain approximately from 10 to 30 gousheh’s (melodies). The principle gousheh’s of the dastgah specify the different maqams within that dastgah. The note, upon which the gousheh is based and often is the center of the gousheh, is called the shahead. The shahead moves when we modulate between principle gousheh’s, and this movement creates a new sonic space. Rhythm in these melodies takes three different forms: symmetric, asymmetric(lang), and free form. The rhythm is greatly influenced by the rhythm and meter of the Persian poetry. The instrumental and vocal Radif are different from the rhythmical point of view; however, their melodic structures are the same.







Extract from a scene of music (Hadith Bayâd wa Riyâdh), 13th century










M.A., B.D., D.D.,





” I regard it as a high compliment having been invited
to write the Preface to a treatise which is the fruit of so
much research, and which displays so much industry and
accuracy. It is, however, certain that you require no intro-
duction from me to the Orientalist public, and none from any-
one to the musical. I might, therefore, be charged with
presumption if I accepted your invitation.

” Further, I find a fair number of propositions in the
work which differ seriously from my own conclusions ; the
latter may certainly be erroneous, and I am most willing
and even anxious that such as differ from them should be
put before the world. … I am sure therefore that bearing
in mind these considerations, you will accept my cordial
thanks for your proposal while excusing me for declining it.”


Although this work was commenced fifteen years ago,
it was not until 1919-25, whilst I was fulfilling a Research
Studentship at the University of Glasgow that it assumed
its present form, During this period I had the benefit
of the teaching, on the linguistical and historical side, of
the late Rev. Dr. T. H. Weir, a scholar of rare ability, 1 as
well as the occasional guidance, in matters relating to the
science of music, of the late Dr. H. J. Watt. 2 Death has
claimed both of these savants. Nevertheless, I take this
opportunity of acknowledging, more especially to the
former, my deep appreciation of their advice and help,
always given ungrudgingly.

In this work I have observed the conventional chrono-
logical method because it was best suited to my purpose.
Only by adopting this system could I have conveniently
demonstrated how culture stood in relation to the social
and political regimen. Each chapter is divided into three
sections. The first deals with the social and political
factors which determined the general musical culture.
The second describes the musical life of the period, together
with details of the theory and practice of music. This
has been kept free, as far as was possible, from technicali-
ties, although the author hopes to deal with the theory and
science of Arabian music in detail, from an historical
standpoint, in a companion volume. The third section is
devoted to biographies of all the celebrated composers,
singers, instrumentalists, theorists, scientists, and littera-

In the transliteration of Arabic and Persian words I
have adopted the system approved by the International
Congress of Orientalists (1894), and recommended by the

1 The Lecturer in Arabic.

The Lecturer on Psychology.



Royal Asiatic Society, with but slight modifications,
notably in the non-observance of the ligature or logotype
in th, dh, etc. In regard to proper names, I have kept to
Arabic forms so far as I have considered reasonable.
For instance, I have written Al-Mausil rather than Mosul,
but with Mecca, Damascus, Cordova, I have fallen back
on conventional usage, although I have only made a half-
concession in Al- Medina. In dispensing with the forms
Caliph and Caliphate in favour of Khalif and Khalifate,
rather than the more proper Khalifa and Khilafat, I
sincerely trust that I have not committed too serious a
breach of convention. In the question of the use of the
Arabic definite article, I probably have not always been
consistent. A similar criticism may also be urged
against my transliteration of the hamza. As for any
inconsistency in plural forms, I have, generally speaking,
only used Arabic plurals in words of non-European usage.

The work has been planned to satisfy both the orienta-
list and the musician, and in spite of the reputed fate of
those who attempt to serve two masters, I can only hope
that in this case the exception proves the rule.

My sincere thanks are due to Professor Dr. D. S. Margo-
liouth, of Oxford, and to Professor Dr. W. B. Stevenson,
of Glasgow, for useful hints. To Dr. Richard Bell, of
Edinburgh, and Mr. John Walker, M.A., I owe an
acknowledgment for having read the proof sheets of
this work.

Glasgow, 1928





THE DAYS OF IDOLATRY (ist to 6th century) i

ISLAM AND Music 20


THE UMAYYADS (661-750) 59

THE ‘ABBASIDS (The Golden Age, 750-847) 90

THE ‘ABBASIDS (The Decline, 847-945) – – – – 137

THE ‘ABBASIDS (The Fall, 945-1258) – … 178





From the Kitab al-mustqi of Al-Farabi (d. 950) in the
Bibliotheca Nacionale at Madrid. 1 This copy dates from
the I2th century, and it is claimed that it was made for
Ibn Bajja or Avenpace (d. 1138). 2 Whether this design
of the shdhrud appeared in the original work of Al-Farabi,
or whether it is an addition by a later copyist, we have no
evidence. The design does not appear in the Leyden
copy. 3 Whilst its zither-like form agrees with the nth
century descriptions of Ibn Sina 4 and Ibn Zaila, 5 its
lute-like structure is vouched for by Ibn Ghaibi in the
I5th century. 6

To face page 108.

From the Risdla fl khubr ta’Kf al-alhan of Al-Kindi
(d. 874) in the British Museum. 7 This transcript was
made in the year 1661, and the scribe informs us that it
was copied from a ” defective ” and ” unreliable ”
exemplar which had been written in the city of Damascus
in the year 1224. In this treatise, Al-Kindi deals with
the theory of music almost entirely as he had learned it
from the Greek treatises, and his system of notation was
piobably influenced by these.

To face page 202.

From the Kitab al-adwar of Saf I al-Dln ‘Abd al-Mu’min
(d. 1294) in the British Museum. 8 The MS. was copied
in the year 1390. This folio gives a phonetic notation of
a song in the Nauruz melodic mode (awdz) and the Ramal
rhythmic mode (darb). This scheme of notation, which
may be found as early as Ibn Zaila (d. 1048), 9 was pro-
bably borrowed from Nikomachos.

No. 602, fol. 18, v. Cf. Robles, Catdlago, p. 249.

Or. 651. India Office MS., No. 1811, fol. 173.

Brit. Mus. MS., Or. 2361, fol. 235,

Bodleian MS., Marsh, 282, fol. 79.

No. 2361, fol. 167, v. Or. 136, fol. 38, v.

Brit. Mus. MS., Or. 2361, fol. 226. See my Facts for the Arabian
Musical Influence, p. 92, and Studies in Oriental Musical Instru-
ments, pp. 34-5.



” We must cease to regard Arabia as a land of deserts and barbarism ;
it was, on the contrary, a trading centre of the ancient world, and the
Muslims who went forth from it to conquer Christendom and found
empires, were but the successors of those who, in earlier times, had
exercised a profound influence upon the destinies of the East.”

Professor A. H. Sayce, Early Israel, p. 128.

ALMOST everyone who has written on the subject of the
music of the Arabs has looked, in the matter of origins,
to either Greece or Persia. Much of this is perhaps
excusable, seeing that until recent years we knew next
to nothing of pre-Islamic Arabia save what could be
gleaned from Greek and Latin authors or the legendary
material handed down from pre-Islamic Arabic sources.
Thus the temptation to look towards Greece and Persia
in this question was considerable, especially when we
consider the position of Arabia and the outside civiliza-
tions which came in cultures-contact with it. Yet the
truth is that Arabian culture did not originate in that
shadowy period of the so-called ” Days of Idolatry ”
when Greek, Roman, Byzantine, or Persian hegemonies
were at their height, any more than it began with Islam,
but dates back to a period long anterior to them all.

The excavations made in recent years on the sites of
ancient Semitic civilizations, have wrought wondrous
changes in our notions of the world’s culture-history.
The earliest reference to Arabia reaches at present to the
third millennium B.C., when we have cuneiform inscrip-
tions which mention lands identified as being situated in
Arabia. Under the Babylonian ruler Naram-Sin (ca. 2600
B.C.) a king of Magan or Makkan was conquered. In
the time of Gudea (ca. 2400 B.C.) we read of a kingdom
called Kimash or Mashu, as well as a place named Khakhu,
and a land of Malukhkha. Finally, an inscription of



Arad-Nannar (ca. 2300 B.C.) mentions a region known
as Sabu. Although the precise location of these lands
has been the subject of controversy, yet there is general
agreement that they were situated in Arabia. Both
Magan and Sabu have been identified with the South
Arabian kingdoms of Ma’ an (Ma’in) and Saba’. Kimash
or Mashu has been located in Central Arabia, whilst
Khakhu and Malukhkha are said to have been in Western
Arabia, the latter being considered the land of the
Banu ‘Amaliq.

At the beginning of the first millennium B.C., we cer-
tainly have definite evidence of some of these Arab
kingdoms. The South Arabian monuments reveal two
important kingdoms, Ma’in with its capitals at Qarnawu
and Yathil, and Saba’ with its capital at Ma’rib. They
each had their turn at dominion apparently, and both
extended their power as far north as the Gulf of ‘Aqaba,
where we read of an Arab territory called Musran.
About the sixth century B.C., the latter country fell
to the Arab Lihyanids, who made their capital at Al-Hijr.
The Arab Nabataeans, about the fourth century B.C.,
then took the political lead in these parts, with their
capital at Petra. They continued their dominion until
Trajan subdued them in 106 A.D. Meanwhile, other
Arab kingdoms had sprung up further south. From
Theophrastos (fourth cent. B.C.) we learn that there were
four kingdoms south of the Gulf of ‘Aqaba. These were
Saba’, Hacjramaut, Qataban, and Mamali (Mali). Eratos-
thenes (third cent. B.C.) mentions Ma’in with Qarnawu
as capital, Saba’ with Ma’rib, Qataban with Tamna’,
and Hacjramaut with Sbabwat.

Thanks to the labours of travellers, excavators, and
scholars, we are able to appreciate that these ancient Arab
kingdoms were in possession of a civilization quite as
important in its way as that of Babylonia-Assyria.
” In South Arabia,” says Dr. Fritz Hommel, ” we come
upon traces of a high civilization at a very early period.” 1
Later research has enabled this scholar to say almost
definitely that ” South Arabian civilization with its

Hommel, Ancient Hebrew Tradition, 77.


gods, incense altars, inscriptions, forts and castles,
must have been in a flourishing condition as early as the
beginning of the first millennium B.C.” 1 The greatness
of these civilizations is testified not only by the monu-
ments themselves, but by the Babylonian- Assyrian
cuneiform inscriptions, the Old Testament, and classical
authors. Whilst admitting the all-pervading influence
of Babylonian-Assyrian culture, it must also be allowed
that Arabia itself played no small part in determining
this culture. Hommel has pointed out that the great
importance of the Arabs for the ancient East lies in the
domain of civilization and religion, and if we mention
but two words, incense and moon-worship, we can realize
how the Arabs influenced their nearer neighbours, especi-
ally the Hebrews and Greeks. 2

Yet scarcely a line has come down to us concerning the
music of the ancient Arabs. That their music was
appreciated is borne out by an inscription of Ashurbanipal
(seventh cent. B.C.), where Arab prisoners toiling for their
Assyrian masters whiled away their hours in singing
(alili) and music (ninguti), which so delighted the
Assyrians that they begged for more. 8 This need not,
however, preclude us from surmising what the musical
culture of the ancient Arab kingdoms was like, because
in view of the definite similarity in general culture
between all the Semitic groups, especially in religion, with
which music was so closely associated, it could scarcely
have been otherwise than that a certain level of musical
culture was maintained among the Assyrians, Phoenicians,
Hebrews, and Arabs, who were connected by political
and commercial ties, and above all, speaking practically
the same language. In all the other groups we see the
inordinate elevation to which music had been raised,
and if we take into consideration the accounts of the
Greeks and Romans concerning the Arab kingdoms
whose luxurious living was the envy of their neighbours,
and whose wealth exceeded that of all other nations,

1 Encyclopedia of Islam, i, 380.

Ibid., i, 379-

Schradcr, Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek, ii, 234.


one can only assume that they must have been as well
served in matters musical as the other Semites.

Professor Stephen Langdon, the eminent Assyriologist,
has demonstrated the close connection between the music
of the Assyrian and Hebrew cults. If names can tell
us anything, this relationship can be extended to the
Arabs. The sharru or precentor in Assyria can be traced
in the shd’ir or poet-soothsayer of the Arabs. The
Assyrian hymn was the shiru, and in it we recognize
the Hebrew shir (song) and the Arabic shi’r (verse,
knowledge). The psalm in Assyrian was the zamdru,
which equates with the Hebrew zimrdh (song) and
mizmor (psalm). Certainly the Assyrian shigu or
penitential psalm is identical with the shiggdidn of
the Hebrews and the shajan of the Arabs in origin.
In a like way the allii or wail in Assyrian may be linked
up with the Hebrew and Arabic elal and wilwdl. Indeed,
the Assyrian shidru or recitation may find its cognate
in the inshdd of the Arabs.

The generic term for music in Assyrian was nigutu or
ningutu, the root being nagu (“to sound”). Hebrew
furnishes its like in ndgan (” to play a stringed instru-
ment”), hence negindh (music, stringed instruments).
In Assyrian the word ‘an stood for song. It is the
Hebrew ‘dndh and the Arabic ghind’. Scholars have
even identified the Assyrian alalu with the noisy tehilldh
of the Hebrews and the tahlil of the Arabs. The word
ndqu in Assyrian means ” to lament.” and this must
surely be connected with the Hebrew nehl and the
Arabic nauh (lamentory song).

As for musical instruments, the Babylonian- Assyrian
tabbalu (drum) and adapu (tambourine) can be matched
by the Aramaic-Hebrew tibela and toph and the Arabic
tabl and duff. The Hebrew reed-pipe called zemer and
the Arabic zamr, are manifestly identical, just as the
Assyrian qarnu, the Hebrew qeren, and the Arabic qarn
(horn), and the Assyrian ibbubu or imbubu, the Aramaic
abubd, and the Arabic unbub (pipe) are connected.
These very striking similarities in nomenclature would
not, however, be of such import if we did not know


of the close cultural connection between all these

About the opening of the Christian era, powerful forces
came into operation which were to change the entire
political and economic life of the peninsula. The decay
and final extinction of the great cities of the Mesopotamian
plains in the fall of Babylonia and Assyria must already
have reacted on the Arab kingdoms who, from time
immemorial, had controlled the great trade routes.
Then came the decline of the Phoenician markets, which
was a further setback. More serious still was the opening
of the sea-trade route up the Red Sea by the Romans
about the first century A.D. This completely ruined the
southern overland caravan trade which had been the
mainstay of the Arab kingdoms of the south. Political
events made matters worse. In the north, where the
Nabatseans held the northern caravan entrepots, the
end came swifter still when the Romans put Palmyra
to the sword in 272 A.D. The Arab kingdoms never
recovered from the economic pressure and political
stress. Migrations became the order of the day. The
mighty cities were deserted and left to crumble. Yet
Arabia was not smitten with sterility. From this womb
of the Semites was to issue one more child which was
to become the progenitor of the Islamic civilization
of the Khalifate, a worthy successor of the great Semitic
civilizations of the past. Just as the latter had been
built up by successive migrations from the heart of Arabia,
so the former was to receive a similar impulse. This
time, however, it is more clearly defined, and it is here
that we take up our story of the History of Arabian


(From the First to the Sixth Century)

” Be content to listen to the singing-girl who delights us on a cloudy

‘Abd al-MasIJi ibn ‘Asala (6th century ?), Al-mufad$aliyyat.

THIS is the period which Muslims have called the
jahiliyya or ” Days of Ignorance,” meaning by that,
ignorance of the revelations of the Prophet Muhammad. 1
In truth, these were days of ignorance, since not only
had political, economic, and cultural decay set in, but all
knowledge of the old Arab civilizations which had flour-
ished for two millenniums was practically lost. When
the Islamic historians came to deal with this period thev

Page 29, line 18. For ” JIanbal ” read ” Hanbal.”

Page 46, lines 33-4. For ” in Al-Yaman, but also common
perhaps in Al-Hijaz,” read ” in Al-Hijaz, and the
latter in Al-Yaman.”

Page 201, line 5. Delete ” by birth certainly.”
Page 223, line 3. For ” Almeira ” read ” Almeria.”

1 The jahiliyya properly refers to the period from the ” creation of
the world ” to the birth of Muhammad.
Qw’an, vii, xi, xxvi, xlvi.



of the ancient Arab kingdoms was due, as has already
been pointed out, to political and economic forces, speeded
up by subsequent migrations.

Historians are in common agreement that the first line
of the migratory Arabs from South Arabia began to
move northwards about the second century A.D. 1 This
was the migration of the Banu Azd, connected in legend
with the bursting of the famous Dyke of Ma’rib. 2 The
movement soon extended, and fresh Arab blood was
introduced not only into Al-Hijaz, Al-Yamama, ‘Uman,
Hajar, and Al-Bahrain, but also into Mesopotamia and
Syria, where there were still to be found the descendants
of those Semitic peoples whose culture had been of such
immense value to civilization. Much of this culture
had been preserved (with the help of Greece and Persia)
by Arab Chaldaeans, Nabataeans and Palmyrenes, and
by Aramaeans, Jews, and Syrians, who formed the bulk
of the population. This culture came to the new Arab
settlers, although it only blossomed into luxuriance in
the days of Islam.

South Arabia, the most ancient of the Arab kingdoms,
despite the political and commercial decline, still echoed
some of the old culture. At the opening of the Christian
era there were Sabaean rulers at Ma’rib from the Banu
Hamdan. In the fourth century the ” Kings of Saba’ ”
belonged to the Banu Himyar, a dynasty which lasted
until the year 525. Music and poetry flourished, and
although none of the authors of the Mu’allaqdt came from
these parts (Al-A’sha lived in Najran), many of those
in the Mufaddaliyydt and the Hamdsa were of southern
blood. We read of a tubba* ruler named Ibn Allshra
who was surnamed Dhu Jadan (Owner of the Beautiful
Voice). 3 The last tubba’ ruler, ‘Als ibn Zaid (d. 525)
also bore this laqdb or nickname, and Al-IsfahanI says

* Muir, Mohammad, xc. Cf. Nicholson, Literary History of the Arabs,

15, !7-

Al-Mas’udI, iii, 378.

Caussin de Perceval, Hist. Arabes, i, 75-6,


that he was the first [? among princes] to sing in Al-
Yaman. * The pre-Islamic song of Al-Yaman is mentioned
as late as the ninth century, since Al-Mas’udi quotes
Ibn Khurdadhbih to the effect that the people of Al-
Yaman practised two kinds of music : the himyari and
the hanafl.* The former was evidently the music of the
Himyarites and the latter perhaps that of more recent
adoption. Several musical instruments used in Islamic
times were of South Arabian provenance and among them
the mi’zaf (? barbiton) and the kus (large kettledrum).
Even to-day, the Arabs of Al-IJijaz say that the best
and real Arabian music comes from Al-Yaman, whilst
the Hatjrami minstrels are always considered to be
superior artistes*

Al-Hijaz was a land of some commercial importance
even in these days. At the opening of the Christian
era, Mecca, which was then known as Makuraba, was
under the dominion of the Banu Jurhum, who, tradition
says, succeeded the shadowy Banu ‘Amaliq. Al-Medma,
or as it was then called Yathrib, was practically in the
hands of the Banu Nadir, Banu Quraiza, and other tribes
who professed the Jewish faith. 4 In the waves of migra-
tion from the south already adverted to, clans of the
Banu Azd became masters of these two important towns
in Al-Hijaz and their surrounding territory. Under the
rule of the Quraish at Mecca, its ka’ba together with the
fair at ‘Ukaz, made these parts a sort of national rendez-
vous which neither the ancient renown of Al-Yaman
nor the brilliant culture of Al-HIra and Ghassan could
ever hope to rival. It became the centre of the indigenous
arts. At ‘Ukaz, the poets and minstrels from all parts of
the peninsula vied with each other for supremacy in
their art. It was here that the famous Mu’allaqdt
were recited or sung. 5 Singing Girls (qainat or qiyari)
were famous in these days, 8 and legend takes them back

1 Aghanl, iv, 37.

1 Al-Mas’udi, viii, 93.

Personal information from Professor Snouck Hurgronje.

Aghanl, xiii, no. Caussin de Perceval, op. cit., i, 214, 644.

Encyclopedia of Islam, i, 403. Entire qasidas are still sung by the
badawt Arabs. Burckhardt, Bedouins and Wahabys, i, 75, 253.

Aghanl > viii, 2. Cf. the Assyrian qinitu.


to the time of the Banu ‘Amaliq. 1 Musicians from
Al-Hijaz found favour even at other courts. 2 Among
the musical instruments in use we read of the mizhar
(lute), mi’zafa (? psaltery), qu$sdba (flute), mizmdr
(reed-pipe) and duff (tambourine). Al-Hijaz even claims
to be the fount of music, and we have the author of the
‘Iqd al-farid saying that it is clear and evident that the
origin and source of music (ghind*) are to be traced to the
slaves in the market towns of the Arabs such as Al-
Medma, Al-Ta’if, Khaibar, Wadi al-Qura, and others. 3
Al-Hira was another important culture centre. Meso-
potamia, in spite of the disappearance of the great
Babylonian- Assyrian cities, could still boast of large
towns peopled by Chaldaeans, Aramaeans, and Jews,
and, in spite of foreign domination, still carried on much
of the old Semitic culture. 4 As a result of the Arab
migration from South Arabia, a group of tribes, con-
federated under the title of the Tanukh, 5 settled in Hajar
and Al-Bahrain, after subduing the older population
who were Aramaeans and Chaldaeans. 6 About the third
century they moved northwards into Mesopotamia,
establishing themselves in the land called ‘Iraq ‘Arabi,
making Al-Anbar, and later Al-Hira (close by ancient
Babylon) their chief town. Under a later dynasty,
the Lakhmids, Al-Hira became one of the celebrated
cities of the East, and although to some extent impressed
by Persian influences, 7 it deviated but little from Semitic
ideals. It was to Al-Hira that Bahram Ghur (430-8),
the Persian monarch, was sent, as a prince, to be educated.
Here, he was taught music among other Arab accom-
plishments. 8 When he ascended the throne, one of his
first edicts was to improve the status of the musicians

Al-Mas’udl, iii, 157. Aghanl, xvi, 15. ‘Iqd al-farid, iii, 186.

King, Babylon, 284-7. Greek culture was certainly felt, but this
only made headway on the lower Tigris which had become the political
and industrial centre instead of on the Euphrates as formerly. King,
op. cit., 287-8.

Aghanl, xi, 161.

In the Aghanl they are called Nabataeans, but the Aramaeans are
intended. See Nicholson, Lit. Hist, of the Arabs, xxv.

T Persia herself was more influenced by the Semites. Browne,
Lit. Hist, of Persia, i, 65-6.

Al- jabaxl, i, 185. MIrkhwand, i (2), 356.


at the Persian court. 1 Al-Tabari tells us about the last
Lakhmid king of Al-Hira, Al-Nu’man III (ca. 580-602),
that among his shortcomings was an extraordinary
passion for music.

The influence of Al-Hira on the culture of Arabia
generally was considerable. It was the literary centre
from whence poetry radiated to all parts. 2 It was at the
Lakhmid court that the poets Al-Nabigha, Tarafa,
‘Amr ibn Kulthum, and ‘Adi ibn Zaid were treated with
princely munificence. Seeing how closely music was
allied to poetry, it may be conjectured that the former
was equally favoured. It was from Al-Hira that Al-
Hijaz borrowed a more artistic song than the nasb
hitherto used, and also, it would seem, the wooden-
bellied ‘ud (lute) in the place of the skin-bellied mizhar.*
It was here, too, that the anj or jank (harp) and tunbur
(pandore) were countenanced.

Syria, at the time that we are dealing with, was also
populated by a considerable Arabian element. The
Arab Nabataeans of the north-west had extended their
influence as far north as Palmyra (Tadmor), including
Damascus and Bosra. When Trajan broke up the
Nabataean kingdom of Petra in 106 A.D., the political
and commercial leadership of the Nabataean communities
passed to Palmyra. This remained an important culture
centre until the debacle of 272 A.D., when its inhabitants
were put to the sword. Of the specific culture of the
Nabataeans we have a reliable index in the art remains of
Petra, Bosra, and Palmyra. Whilst we see plainly the
impress of Greece and Rome, there is still the clearest
evidence that the older Semitic ideals still pervaded the
social and religious life. We know little of the musical
culture of the Nabataeans. Strabo tells us that they
employed musicians at their entertainments. 4 At
Palmyra we read of the kinora ( = Heb. kinnor).*

1 Al-Mas’udi, iii, 157.

Huart, Arabic Literature, 12. Nicholson, op. cit. t 37.

Al-Mas’udi, viii, 94.

4 Strabo, xvi, iv, 27.

Zeitschrift d. Deutschen Morgenldndischen Gesellschaft, xviii, 105.
See also the Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum, ii, No. 268, and the
Mission arMologique en Arable by Jaussen and Savignac, p. 217.



After the fall of Palmyra, the territory hitherto con-
trolled by the Nabataeans came under the jurisdiction
of the Ghassanids, who had just then migrated from the
south. The shaikhs of the Ghassanids became phylarchs
of the Byzantine Emperors for the old Provincia Arabia
as well as Syria, and with them the influence of Byzantium
was probably considerable. On this account perhaps,
it is said that the culture of the Ghassanids was the most
advanced among the Arab kingdoms of the Days of
Idolatry. 1 Both Al-Nabigha and Hassan ibn Thabit
have given glowing accounts of the Ghassanid court,
where not only Arab musicians from Mecca and else-
where were favoured, but singing-girls from Al-Hira
and Byzantium. 2 We are told that they played on the
barbat, which was either a lute or a barbiton.

On the plains of upper Mesopotamia were the Jarmaqs,
(Jaramiqa), who, together with the Nabataeans, are said
to have used a stringed instrument, the playing of which
was similar to that of the tunbur* Even among the
badawi Arabs of the interior we find that music was
appreciated. We read not only of the professional
singing-girl, but of the matrons of the tribe playing and
singing. Musical instruments are frequently mentioned
among them, such as the mizhar (lute), kiran (lute),
muwattar (lit. ” a stringed instrument”) 4 ; mizmar
(reed-pipe), duff (tambourine), jaldjil (bells), and ndqus

With the Arabs, whose strong point is genealogy,
music is given its appropriate family tree. Jubal the
son of Cain (Qain) is credited with the first song, which

1 Encyclopedia of Islam, ii, 142.

* Aghdnl, xvi, 15.

* Al-Mas’udl, viii, 91. The text has ghlrwdra but it is corrupt, and
Barbier de Meynard thinks that the word kinnara is intended. On the
other hand a MS. in the Berlin Staatsbibliothek (Pet. ii, 173) has
qundhiira. cf. the Arabic quribuz and Persian qupuz. See my Studies
in Oriental Musical Instruments, p. 59.

* It has been identified with the lute, being played with the thumb.
Lane, Lexicon, \, 126, b


was an elegy on the death of Abel. 1 Bar Hebrseus the
Syrian (d. 1289) tells us that the inventors of musical
instruments were the daughters of Cain, hence the name
for a singing-girl, which was qaina \ It will be recalled
that the Hebrews make Jubal, the son of Lamech, ” the
father of all such as handle the kinndr and ‘ugdb.” 2
The latter, as Lamak, also has a place in Arabic musical
tradition as the “inventor” of the ‘ud (lute). His son
Tubal is credited with having introduced the tall (drum)
and duff (tambourine), whilst his daughter Dilal is claimed
to have been responsible for the ma’dzif (instruments
with open strings). 3 From the same Arabic source we
learn that the tunbur (pandore) came from the people of
Sodom (Lut), although others say the Sabaeans. 4 At
any rate, since both of these people were probably of
Arab blood, the statements agree with the account of
Julius Pollux, who attributes the instrument to the
Arabs. 5 The Persians are allowed the nay (vertical
flute), the surydnai (flute or reed-pipe), the diydnai
(double reed-pipe) 6 and the jank (harp). 7 Many of
the above instruments are depicted in Persian art re-
mains. 8

As with all the Semites, music played an important
part in the mysteries of the Arab soothsayer, enchanter,
and prophet. The jinn (genii) were evidently conjured by
means of music, and the later notion that it was the jinn
who prompted the verses of the poet and the melodies
of the musician, was a survival of this belief. 9 The
Qur’dn hands down some interesting conceptions which

*Al-Mas’udI, i, 65. Al-Tabarl, i, 146. Mfrkhw&nd, i (i), 53.
Al-Jundl, Risala rau$ al-masarrdt.

Genesis, iv. 21.

As a generic term the ma’dzif were instruments whose strings gave
open notes like the harp, psaltery, or barbiton.

Huth MS. in the author’s possession.
1 Julius Pollux, iv, 9, 60.

Barbier de Meynard, the editor/ adopts the forms surndy and
dundy. See my Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments, p. 57.

The text has $anj.

See Flandrin et Coste, Voyage en Perse, pi. x and xii, for musical
instruments temp. Shapur II (309-79 A.D.), and Dalton’s Treasures of
the Oxus, 211.

8 Musicians in the days of Islam, such as Ibrahim al-Mausill, his son
, and Ziryab, all claimed to have been taught melodies by the jinn.


relate to music and magic. 1 The intimate connection
between these two is borne out by philology. In Arabic,
the voice of the jinn is termed the ‘azf, which is also the
name for a certain musical instrument. 2 When the Jews
likened ” God’s Holy Spirit ” to the sounds of the kithara,
as we find in Odes of Solomon (iv, xiv), the apparent
symbolism seems to have its origin in primitive culture.

What part music played in the Pagan worship of the
Days of Idolatry we know but little. The hajj or pil-
grimage to the various ka’bat was practised, 3 although
Mecca was evidently the chief attraction. During the
hajj, the pilgrims appear to have indulged in those
primitive musical chantings which still exist in the
tahlil and talbiyya. Perhaps we may even look for some
sort of ritual and even hymns. 4 One fragment of the
ritual performed during the hajj has been preserved in
the words ashriq thablr kaima nughw, said to have been
sung during the ifada to Mina. 5 St. Nilus tells us of the
Arabs of the north, who chanted a hymn whilst encircling
the sacrificial stone. 6 Noeldeke likens it to the tahlil.
Doughty saw a stone (nusb) at Al-Ta’if in Al-Hijaz which
was dedicated to Al-Lat the goddess. 7 It was upon such
stones that sacrifices were offered, 8 and it is not improb-
able that the song called the nasb, may have been con-
nected originally with the cult. Both Imru’u’1-Qais and
Labid, the pre-Islamic poets, speak of “maidens circling
a pillar,” which would most likely be performed in a
dance, accompanied by music or song, as with the
Phcenico-Cyprian maidens that the art remains have
revealed. 9

Yet in spite of idols and temples, the Arabs of the

1 Suras, xxi, 79. xxxiv, 10. xxxviii, 17-18. Kashf al-mahjub,
402-3. Al-Tabarl (Zotenberg Edit.), i, 426.

‘Azfmi ‘zaf. Lane, Lexicon. See Bibliotheca Geographorum
Arabicorum, vi, 68 (text).

Syed Ahmed Khan, Manners and Customs of the Pre-Islamic
Arabians, 15.

4 Nicholson, Lit. Hist, of the Arabs, 73. Encyclopedia of Religion
and Ethics, x, 883.

Encyclopedia of Islam, ii, 200.
Migne, Pat. Lot., Ixxi, 612.

7 Doughty, Travels in Arabia Deserta, ii, 511.

Lyall, Ancient Arabian Poetry, xxviii.

Rawlinson, History of Phoenicia, 187.


jdhiliyya interested themselves but little in religion of
any sort. * The badawi view of life, which was thoroughly
secular, and quite hedonistic, dominated even the cities
and towns. To the badawi Arab, ” love, wine, gambling,
hunting, the pleasures of song and romance, the brief,
pointed and elegant expression of wit and wisdom,”
alone came to be the affairs that mattered. ” These
things he knew to be good. Beyond them he only saw
the grave.” 2 We see these thoughts in a poem by Sulmi
ibn Rabl’a, who lived in the century before Islam.
It is given in the Hamdsa. The poet tells us how death
comes to all and sundry, but meanwhile, there are
” life’s joys,” and among them the pleasure of listening
to the music of the mizhar (lute).

Everywhere the sha’ir or poet-soothsayer possessed
high social prestige, alike at the courts of Al-Hira and
Ghassan, the fair at ‘Uka?, and the badawi encampment. 3
The hijd or satire (originally an incantation) was held
in the utmost veneration. It was delivered in rhymed
prose called s0/, or else in unrhymed poetry known as
rajaz. The shd’ir was doubtless often as much a musician
as a poet, although it would seem that he sometimes
engaged a musician (mughann, mughanni) to chant his
verses for him, in the same way as he would employ
a reciter (rdwi) to recite them. This idea persisted even
unto the days of Islam, when we find a poet like A’sha
Hamdan and a musician like Ahmad al-Nasibi in this
kind of partnership. 4

How highly the shd’ir was esteemed we have evidence
from the Muzhir of Al-SuyutI 6 :

” When there appeared a poet in a family of the
Arabs, the other tribes round about would gather
together to that family and wish them joy in their
good luck. Feasts would be got ready, the women

1 Lyall, op. cit., xxvii. Nicholson, op. cit., 135.

Nicholson, op. cit., 136.

1 That a number of kings and chiefs during the jdhiliyya were poets
and musicians is significant.

Aghanl, v, 162.

Al-SuyutI, Muzhir, ii, 236. The translation is from Lyall’s Ancient
Arabian Poetry, xvii. See Sale’s Koran, 20,


of the tribes would join together in bands, playing
upon their lutes (mazdhir, sing, mizhar), as they were
wont to do at bridals … for a poet was a defence
to the honour of them all, a weapon to ward off insult
from their good name, and a means of perpetuating
their glorious deeds and of establishing their fame for

There was also the female musician (mughanniya),
who played no inconsiderable part in the musical and
literary life. The harim was unknown, and women appear
to have enjoyed almost as much liberty as men. 1 It
was the women of the tribes who joined in the music of
the family or tribal festivities with their instruments,
a custom which continued down to the time of Muhammad,
whose nuptials with Khadija were ” celebrated with great
festivity, mirth, music, and dancing.” At Uhud (625)
the journey of the Quraish was enlivened by the women
led by Hind bint ‘Utba singing war songs and laments
for the slain at Badr, and playing their tambourines
(dufuf, sing, duff).* At the onset to battle, they were
still singing and playing. 3 What the women generally
excelled in was the marthiya or lament, and the nauh
or elegy. 4

Side by side with these matrons we find a class known
as the qaindt or qiydn (sing, qaina). These were the
singing-girls, who were invariably found in the house-
hold of every Arab of social standing. Singing-girls
appear in the old story of the destruction of the people
of ‘Ad as told by Al-Tabari and Al-Mas’udi. 5 The people
of ‘Ad are said to have belonged to South Arabia, 6 and
when a lengthy drought afflicted this land, suppliants were
sent to the temple at Makuraba (Mecca) to beseech
divine aid for rain. At Makuraba the deputation was
received by the amir of the Banu ‘Amallq, Mu’awiya

1 Lyall, op. cit. t xxxi.

Caussin de Perceval, Hist. Arabes, Hi, 91.

Ibid., Hi, 99. Muir, Mohammad, 259.

Mufcuftfaliyyat, ii, 215. Aghanl, xix, 87,

Al-f abarl, i, 231. Al-Mas’fidI, Hi, 296-7, and Vabrigi des Mer-
veilles, 134.

Encyclopedia of Islam, i, 121.


ibn Bakr, who entertained them suitably, especially with
the music of his two famous singing-girls known as the
jarddatdn (the two grasshoppers). These pleasantries
continued for a month, and meanwhile the suppliants
were neglecting their mission. Finally, supplications
were begun, but the deity was so wroth with the people
of ‘Ad on account of their sins, that a storm cloud was
sent over the land which, bursting, destroyed the whole
race. 1 At a period just prior to the dawn of Islam, a
Quraish chief, ‘Abdallah ibn Jud’an, possessed two
singing-girls called the jarddatdn of ‘Ad, and while he had
them they were such an attraction at Mecca that he was
compelled to keep an ” open house.” He then presented
them to his friend Umayya ibn Abfl-Salt (d. 630), the
Pagan poet of Mecca. 2

How much the singing-girls had become an integral
part of social life may be seen in the early struggles of
Muhammad himself. When the Meccans were marching
to Badr in 624, they took with them ” all the instruments
and appurtenances of pleasure, and singing-girls ; the
latter performing on musical instruments, singing near
every water, where a halt was made, and lengthening
their tongues with reproaches against the professors of
Islam/’ 3 When Muhammad was known to be approach-
ing, the Meccan chief was counselled to retire rather than
risk a battle, but he replied : ” No. I will not return
to Mecca until we have refreshed ourselves at Badr,
and spent three days in feasting and listening to the
singing and playing of the singing-girls/’ 4

At the court of the Ghassanid monarch, Jabala ibn
al-Aiham (ca. 623-37), ten or more of these singing-

1 The jarddatdn passed into proverb. See Freytag, A rabum Proverbia.
iii, 49. xxiii, 517.

Aghdni, viii, 3.
Mlrkhwand, n (i), 291.

* Al-Tabarl, i, 1307. The singing-girl is sometimes called a karlna.
(Iqd al-farld, iii, 186. Al-Mas’udI, vni, 419. Al-TibrlzI, 83). Ddjina
or mudjina was also given her, and the name has particular interest
from a point of view of etymology. The words are derived from the
verbal root dajana =- ” to be cloudy.” (Cf. Mufaggaliyydt, ii, 89, 221.)
It was customary for the ddjina to sing and play when the skies were
overcast so as to conjure rain. (See my Influence of Music ; From
Arabic Sources, 9.) One of the jarddatdn was named Tham&d ( pre-
server of water). Cf. the name of the tribe Thamud,


girls were in evidence. 1 Hassan ibn Thabit (ca. 563-683)
says 2 :

” I saw ten singing-girls, five of them Byzantines,
singing the songs of their country to the accompaniment
of the barbat (lute or barbiton), and five others from
Al-HIra, who had been given to King Jabala by
lyas ibn Qabisa, singing the songs of their country.
Arab singers also came from Mecca and elsewhere
for his [Jabala’s] pleasure.”

At Al-HIra, 3 and at the Persian court, 4 we see these
singing-girls, and even with the badawi Arabs. It was the
antiphonal chanting of the singing-girls (ddjindt) that
Bishr ibn ‘Amr praised. 5 One of the singing-girls of this
old pre-Islamic poet, who was named Huraira, led the
more famous ppet-minstrel Al-A’sha Maimun ibn Qais
to declare his love. 6 The valiant poet-shaikh of the
Banu’l-Harith, ‘Abd Yaghuth ibn Waqqas (d. ca. 612),
could not forget the delights of the singing-girls even in
his death-song. 7

Singing-girls were also attached to the taverns for the
entertainment of visitors. Al-A’sha Maimun ibn Qais
sings of the bitter-sweet joys of the tavern, not merely
of the ” flowing bowl/’ but of the alluring jank (harp)
and the refrain (tarjt’) of the singing-girl. 8 Tarafa, 9
Labid, 10 and ‘Abd al-Masih ibn ‘Asala, 11 all praised the
good-cheer of the tavern singing-girl. 12

Lyall was of opinion that these singing-girls ” were all
foreigners, either Persians or Greeks from Syria ; they
sang, however, at any rate sometimes, poems in Arabic,
though probably to foreign airs.” 13 Von Kremer goes
further and says : “It is clear beyond doubt that these
female singers originally sang in their own tongue :

1 Professor Nicholson points out that this reference really belongs
to an earlier period.

1 Aghanl, xvi, 15. Mufa4$aliyyat, xxx. 4 Ibid., Ixxii, xxvi.

I Ibid., Ixxi. Aghanl, viii, 79. Muja^^aliyyo^t, xxx.

Al-TibrfzI, 146. The text has $anj, a word sometimes used instead
of jank to represent the Persian chang.

Mu’allaqdt. 10 Al-Tibrlz!, 73. ” Mufa$$aliyyat, Ixxii.

II For the particular character of these singing girls see Al-Tirmidhl,
ii 33- Taj al-‘arus, sub ” Zammar.

Lyall, op. tit., xxvi, 87. Cf. Clouston, Arabian Poetry . . . 377.


Greek or Persian and not Arabic. . . . Tuwais is the first
who sang in Arabic with the accompaniment of the hand
drum.” I do not know of any authority for these
statements. That all the singing-girls were ” foreigners ”
can scarcely be true, unless we are to discredit the great
Kitab al-aghani and the poets of the jdhiliyya, who
most certainly tell us about Arab singing-girls, who sang
in their native tongue. 1 The qaina who sang the verses
of Al-Nabigha, and made the poet realize for the first time
that his poetry contained faulty rhymes (iqwa’) t must
have spoken Arabic well, and was assuredly an Arab
by education. 2 Indeed, one can scarcely imagine that
the Arabs would have listened for one moment to Arabic
poetry from the mouth of a ” foreigner,” who could
rarely have been able to apportion the vocalic and con-
sonantal values which are inseparable from the poetic
art, especially when sung. That Tuwais was the first to
sing in Arabic, is certainly not the case. What has been
claimed for him in this respect by Arab historians is
something quite different, as we shall see later.

” Before Islam/’ says Perron, ” music was little else
than unpretentious psalming, 3 varied and embroidered
by the singer, male or female, according to the taste,
emotion, or effect desired. These variations, or rather
caprices, were prolonged interminably on a syllable,
word or hemistich, in such a way that the singing of a
cantilena of two or three verses might be prolonged for
hours. . . . The timbre of the voice, its mobility and
vibrations, the feeling which made it sound or quaver,
determined the merit of the singer.” 4 Everyone sang in
unison or octave, as harmony in our acceptation of the
term in music, was quite unknown. The only ” har-
mony,” if such it could be called, was that supplied by
the various instruments of percussion such as the fabl
(drum), duff (tambourine), or qadib (wand), and the

1 Mufa<j,<j,aUyyat t xv.

Aghdnl, ix, 164. For the importance of correct pronunciation in
the song see also Aghdnl, v, 57.

1 Tar annum was the Arabic word for this. Ibn Khaldun says that
the young men of the jdhiliyya passed their idle hours away by in-
dulging in this ” psalming.”

4 Perron, Femmes arabes avant Vlslamisme.


figuration of the melody by means of ornaments in the
shape of trills or turns which were called zawd’id.

Bisbr ibn ‘Amr tells us about a skilful songstress
(ddjina) who ” sang antiphonally with another like her,
and struck the resounding lute.” 1 Tarafa, describing
a scene ” where men tap the wine skins,” speaks of the
” low note ” upon which the song began. Again we are
told in a poem by ‘Abda ibn al-Tablb that ” the singer
prolonged the final vowels with a high trill (twin) and
clearly enunciated the syllables (tariff) giving each its
due measure and value.” 2

Arab historians like to expatiate upon the origin of the
song. The first song is claimed to have been the hudd’
or caravan song, and its origin is traced to Mu^ar ibn
Nizar ibn Ma* add, 3 who is the Almodad of the Old
Testament.* It was in the rajaz metre, a measure said
to correspond with the lifting and lowering of the camel’s
feet. 6 From the hudd 1 there issued the nasb, which is
expressly stated to be no more than an improved hudd 9 .
With the folk, the hudd\ sometimes called the rakbanf, was
the “muse populaire.” 6 Being in the simple rajaz
metre it was pre-eminently suitable for the extemporane-
ous song known as the ghind* murtajal, which we frequently
read of among the earlier untutored minstrels, who used
a qadib or wand to mark the measure of the song. The
later Al-Asma’I objected to this type of music, probably
because it savoured of Paganism.

In Al-Hijaz, which was not so advanced musically as
either Al-HIra or Ghassan perhaps, the na$b and the nauh
were the only types of songs practised until the close of
the sixth century or beginning of the seventh, when the
poet-minstrel Al-Nadr ibn al-Harith (d. 624) introduced
several innovations from Al-Hira, and among them the

1 Mufa<j,$aliyyat, Ixxi.
1 Ibid., xxvi, p. 101.

Al-Mas’udI, viii, 92. Ibn Khaldun, ii, 359. The story runs that
Mudar fell from his camel and fractured his hand. In his pain he
cried out : ” Yd yadah, yaddh ” (” O my hand “), which gave birth
to the rajaz metre.

i Chronicles, i, 20.

See my Influence of Music ; From Arabic Sources, 9.

Encyclopaedia of Islam, i, 466.


more advanced song (ghind*), which supplanted the
na$b, and the wooden-bellied ‘ud, which seemingly took
the place of the skin-bellied mizhar. 1 Rhythm $qd’) t
such as we read of in the sindd and hazaj types of song
in the late seventh century, appears not to have been
practised in these days, 2 for although we are told that the
hudff and the nab (by inference) were made up of
measured melodies (alhdn mauzuna)* the musical measure
was evidently determined by the prosodical feet of the
verse, and was not independent of the verse metre as
was the later rhythm called iqd*.

In Al-Yaman there were two kinds of song practised,
the himyan and the hanaff, the latter being considered
the better. 4 Here we are clearly introduced to a Pre-
Islamic type in the himyari, i.e., the music of the Himyar-
ites, and a more recent type, the hanafi. There is a pass-
age in the Qur’dn (liii, 61), which is claimed to refer
to pre-Islamic music. The passage runs ” Ye laugh
and do not weep and ye are sdmidun/’ Abu 1 !-‘ Abbas
‘Abdallah ibn al-‘ Abbas ibn al-Muttalib (d. 688) said that
the sdmidun were those who indulged in the singing of
the Himyarites. 5

In the Days of Idolatry we do not find the mention of
the tunbur (pandore), although it most certainly existed.
Al-Farabi (d. 950) tells us that the tunbur al-baghdddi
or tunbur al-mizdm of his day was fretted in accordance
with a pre-Islamic scale which was arrived at by dividing
a string into forty parts. 6 The lute was quite common
it would seem. It was known variously as the mizhar,
kirdn, barbat, muwattar, and ‘ud. 1 The earlier instru-
ment was a skin-bellied contrivance, and this we imagine
to have been the mizhar. 8 The kirdn t which is stated to
have been not absolutely identical with the ‘ud, 9 may

AI-Mas’udI, viii, 93-94- ‘ ‘Iqd al-farid, iii, 186.

Al-Ghazall, Ihya ‘ulum al-dln t in J.R.A.S. (1901), p. 217.

Al-Mas’udI, viii, 93. Al-GhazSlI, loc. eft.

Land, Recherches, 140-49. Kosegarten, Lib. Cant., 89. Mafatfy
al-‘ul&m, 237.

‘ ‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 186. Lane, Lexicon, p. 1262.

The verbal root zahara – ” to shine brightly ” produces mixhar –
” a thing that brightens.”

Madrid MS., No. 603. Kitab al-imta*.


have been a name derived through Syriac-Hebrew
sources, being a metathesis of kindr or kinndr ( = Hebrew
kinnor, Nabataean kinord). 1 Barbat was the Persian
name apparently for the wooden-bellied lute adopted
by the Arabs as the ‘tid (= wood). 2 Muwattar means
literally ” an instrument of strings/’ but it is identified
by the old Arabic lexicographers with the lute, and it
would seem that it was played with the thumb. 3 Finally,
there were the jank (= Persian chang), also called the
anj, which was a harp, the mi’zafa, which may have been
a kind of psaltery, 4 and the murabba’, most probably
the flat-chested quadrangular guitar. 6 So far the stringed

Among wind instruments and the percussion group
there are not many to record. The term mizmdr stood
for any wood- wind instrument in general, although in
particular it was used for a reed-pipe. 6 The qussdba
(= qasaba) was the vertical flute. 7 It was this long type
which gave the Greeks the prompting for a proverb. 8
The Qur’dn mentions the sur and ndqur as the instru-
ments upon which ” the last trump ” will sound. 9 The
tdbl (drum) and duff (tambourine), as well as the more
primitive qadib (wand), were the instruments for deter-
mining the measure. Sunuj (sing, sinj) or metal cas-
tanets and jaldjil (sing, juljul) or sonnettes were also
favoured. 10 Cymbals were used in battle as Clement of

1 Cf. Forbes, Diet, of the Hindustani Language, sub ” karan.”

Persian lexicographers derive the word from bar ( = ” breast “)
and bat ( = ” duck “), because its shape was like the breast of a duck.
The Greeks borrowed both word and instrument in the fiapptTos.
That the barbat and ‘ud were synonymous in the nth century is
apparent from the Shifa of Ibn Sina (d. 1037). The barbat had four
strings in the time of Khusrau Parwiz (yth cent.) if we are to ‘accept the
authority of Khalid al-Fayyad (d. ca. 718). J.R.A.S. (1899), p. 59.

‘ Lane, Lexicon, sub al.

4 See ante pp. 4, 7, and my Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments
P- 7-8.

See the instrument depicted in the frescoes of the Qusair ‘Amra
palace. Kusejr ‘Amra, ii, pi. 34. (Published by the Kais. Akad. der
Wissenschaflen, Vienna, 1907.)

Aghanl, ii, 175. The mizmdr and duff were the martial instruments
of the tribes.

7 Mufa$4aliyyat, xvii.

1 Suidas, Lexicon, sub ‘Apdflios.

Suras, vi, 73. Ixxiv, 8.
10 Lane, Lexicon.


Alexandria tells us, while jalajil were part of the impedi-
menta of dancers.

During the Days of Ignorance as to-day 1 music was to
be found in the private, public, and religious life of the
Arabs. Just as they toiled for their Assyrian taskmasters
in ancient times to the joy of their songs, 2 so the Arabs
of Al-Medina sang as they dug the fosse around the
city when the Meccans threatened them. 3 Just as the
Israelites sang their ” Well Song,” 4 so did the fifth century
Arabs. 5 Just as the ancients entered battle to music, 6
so did the Arabs of the jdhiliyya. 1 Just as Sargon sang
of the exploits of his Assyrian warriors, so did the fourth-
century Arabs recount their victory over the Romans
in song. 8 Just as the temples of Ishtar and Yahweh
resounded with music and song, so possibly did the
temples and shrines of the Arabs. 9 When the Hebrews
said, ” A concert of music at a banquet of wine is as a
signet of carbuncle set in gold/’ 10 the Arabs were not far
behind when their poet, ‘Abda ibn al-Tabib, who lived
during the jdhiliyya, spoke of music at a festive gathering
as being like ” painters’ work set off with gold.” 11 If
the harvesters of Israel had their songs, so had the Arab
workers in the palm-tree oases. 12 Music and song were
with the Arabs from the lullaby at the cradle 13 to the
elegy at the bier. 14


Of the musicians of the Days of Idolatry but few names
have been preserved for us. We are told, however,
that “the singers in the Days of Idolatry were many/’ 15
and one of the writers mentioned in the Fihrist (tenth
century) wrote a Kitdb al-aghdm ‘old huruf which con-

1 Parisot, Musique Orientate, 5.

1 Schrader, Keil Bibl., ii, 234.

1 Ibn Sa’d, ii/i, 50. Numbers, xxi, 17.

Pat. Lat. Ixxi, 612 Ezekiel, xxxiii, 3. Hamasa, 254.

Sozomen, Hist. Eccles., vi, 38.

Nicholson, Lit. Hist, of the Arabs, 73.

I Ecclesiasticus, xxxii, 5-6.

II Mufatfdaliyyat, xxvi.

” Encyclopedia of Islam, i, 402.

“‘Iqd al-farld t iii, 176. ” Aghanl, xix, 87.

* Huth MS. In the author’s possession.


tained the names of the male and female singers in the
Days of Idolatry as well as in the Days of Islam. 1 It
seems highly probable, as Brockelmann says, that the
poems of the jahiliyya were meant to be chanted to a
simple musical accompaniment. 2 Indeed the lahn
(melody) to which shi’r (verse) was set was a survival
of the more primitive chanting (talhin) of the shd’ir
when he was a soothsayer pure and simple. It is signi-
ficant that the more primitive meanings of lahan and
shi’r are ” intelligence ” and ” knowledge.” In the
days that we are concerned with it was perhaps the fact
that a poet had a good voice that soon marked him out
as being the superior of another.

‘Adi ibn al-Rabf a (d. ca. 495), the famous poet of the
Banu Taghlib, is said to have been surnamed Muhalhil
on account of his voice. 3 Some writers, however,
attribute other promptings for this name. 4

‘Alqama ibn ‘Abda (sixth century) was one of the
poets sometimes included in the Mu’allaqdt. That he
was a singer is evident from a statement made by Al-
Farabi, who tells us ‘Alqama was refused a hearing by
the Ghassanid king Al-Harith ibn Abi Shamir (529-69)
until he had melodized (lahhana) his verse and sung
(ghanna) it to him. 5

Al-A’sha Maimun ibn Qais (d. ca. 629) belonged to
Al-Yamama, although he had travelled the whole Penin-
sula ” harp in hand, 11 as Professor Nicholson says, singing
the wonderful verses that gave him a place in the
Mu’allaqdt. He was called ” the sanndjat al-arab,”
i.e., ” the sanjist of the Arabs. 1 ‘ It is on this account
that it has been presumed that he played the harp
(anj = jank),* although it is quite likely that the name
meant ” the measurer [in poetry] of the Arabs,” having
the clashing idea of the cymbals (sinjdn) in mind. 7

Al-Na<Jr ibn al-Harith (d. 624), a descendant of the

1 Fihrist, 145. Encyclopedia of Islam, i, 403.

Caussin de Perceval, Hist. Arabes, ii, 280.
*Huart, Arab. Lit., 12. J.R.A.S. (1925), 422.

Al-FarabI, Leyden MS., Or. 651, fol. 7. Kosegarten, Lib. Can*.,

Nicholson, Lit. Hist, of the Arabs, 123. Aghanl (Sas! Edit.), i, 146.
1 See below p. 79.


famous Qusaiy and a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad,
was certainly one of the poet-minstrels of the jdhiliyya.
He became one of the Prophet’s rivals in a professional
as well as in a political sense, 1 since they both desired the
ear of the public, the one with ” song and story,” and
the other with ” Revelations.” It was Al-NacJr whom
the Prophet pilloried in the Qur’dn (xxxi, 5-6). At the
Arab court of A]-Hira, Al-Nadr had learned to play the
new type of lute called the ‘ud, which apparently super-
seded the old mizhar and its congeners, 2 as well as to sing
the more artistic ghind’, which ousted the nab. These
innovations he introduced into Mecca. 3

Outside of those in personal contact with Muhammad
after the Hijra, who will be mentioned later, only one
other male musician can be traced, and that is Malik
ibn Jubair al-Mughanni, who formed one of the deputa-
tion of the Banu Tai’ to the Prophet in the year 630.*

Among the songstresses many names have been
preserved. The legendary period supplies four at least.
The famous jarddatdn of the Banu ‘Ad were named
Qu’ad and Thamad. 6 Hazila and ‘Afira were singing-
girls of the Banu Jadis, the tribe which utterly destroyed
the Banu Tasm. 8

The mother of the celebrated poet Hatim al-Ta’I was
probably a musician, and Al-Khansa the exquisite elegaist
sang her laments (mardthi) to music. 7 Hind bint
‘Utba, a representative matron of the Arabs of the
jdhiliyya, was both a poet and musician. Bint ‘Afzar
was a songstress who kept or was employed at a house of
entertainment where the renowned Al-Harith ibn Zalim
and Khalid ibn Ja’far met. 8 Huraira and Khulaida were
singing-girls of Bishr ibn ‘Amr a grandee of Al-Hirainthe
days of Al-Nu’man III (d. ca. 602).* It was in praise of
the first of these that Al-A’sha Maimun ibn Qais sang. 10

1 Huart, op. cit., 32. See ante p. 15. * Al-Mas’udf, viii, 93-4.
4 Aghanl, xvi, 48, xxi, 191. Al-Tabarl calls him Malik ibn ‘Abdallah
ibn Khaibarl. See also Hajiz ibn ‘Awf al-Azdl in the Aghdnl.

Al-Mas’udI, iii, 296. Ibn Badrun, 53. Aghanl, x, 48.

Al-Mas’udI, iii, 29. Ibn Badrun, 65. ‘ Aghanl , xiii, 140.

Aghanl, x, 18. A wife of Hatim al-JS,’! was named Mawiya bint

Agh&nl, viii, 79. 10 See ante p. 12.


” To listen to music is to transgress the law : To make music is to
transgress religion : To take pleasure in music is to transgress the
faith and renders you an infidel.”

D’Ohsson, Tableau general de VEmpire Othoman, ii, 188.

ABOUT the year 571 a child was born at Mecca who was
destined to change the entire fortunes of Arabia and the
Arabs. This was Muhammad ” the Prophet of Allah.”
He belonged to the famous tribe of the Quraish, which
had been masters of Mecca since the fifth century, and
he was a grandson of one of its most eminent shaikhs,
‘Abd al-Muttalib, himself the great-grandson of the
famous Qusaiy, who created the hegemony of the Quraish
in Mecca. 1 When nearly forty years of age (610),
Muhammad began to receive his ” Revelations,” which
later became the foundation of the Qur’dn.

The Quraish, however, would have none of these
” Revelations ” and vigorously opposed Muhammad.
At first they thought him a shffir (poet-soothsayer)
or a kdhin (magician), for, indeed, his “Revelations”
showed the style of the saj or rhymed prose, such as the

1 Quaiy.

‘Abd Manaf.

‘Abd Shams. Hashim.

Umayya. ‘Abd al-Muttalib.

Al-‘ Abbas ‘Abdallah. Abu

“- ” Talib.





shcVir used. He was in fact called a sha’ir majnun,
i.e., a poet-soothsayer possessed of the jinn (genii), and
was looked upon as an ordinary augur. 1 The Prophet
indignantly repudiated the title of soothsayer in Sura
Ixix, although one can scarcely read Suras cxiii and cxiv
without feeling that they are no more than what could
be expected from a kahin, whilst Sura cxi is a typical
hij a or curse of a soothsayer. 2

In the course of time Muhammad’s teaching bore fruit,
and although his disciples were few, yet they included
some of the most influential men of the Quraish. Indeed,
his influence at Mecca became so commanding that the
Umayya branch of the Quraish actually proscribed him,
and later (622) he was compelled to seek refuge in the
city of Yathrib. This was the ” Year of the Hijra
(migration), 11 and Muhammad gave to his city of refuge
the name of Al-Medina (” The City “), whilst its two
tribes which formed the bulk of the population, the
Banu’1-Aws and Banu’l-Khazraj , had the title of Al-Ansdr
(” The Helpers “) bestowed on them. With the armed
forces of Al-Medina at his back, Muhammad unsheathed
the sword of Islam against the unbelievers.

Muhammad died in 632, but he had witnessed the
triumph of his mission in Arabia even as far afield as
Al-Bahrain the preaching of Islam. Al-Hijaz was now
the centre of attraction for the peninsula. The ancient
renown of Al-Yaman, the culture of Al-‘Iraq, the puissance
of Ghassan, counted for naught in the face of the new
spirit cradled in Al-Hijaz, which, within a century,
was to hold the minds of all peoples from the confines
of China and the banks of the Indus to the shores of
Morocco and the peaks of the Pyrenees.

1 Hirschfeld, New Researches into the Composition and Exegesis of
the Qoran, 10.

* Two of these Suras are ” charms ” against bewitchery and jinn
(genii), and to this very day they are engraved on amulets for this
purpose. There is little difference between these Suras and the charms
or denunciations of the ancient Babylonian-Assyrian ashshipu.



One of the most perplexing points in Islam is its
attitude towards music, and for centuries its legists have
argued the question whether listening to music (al-
samd 1 ) is lawful or not. It is not easy to comprehend how
the question arose, seeing that there is not a word of
direct censure against music in the Qur’dn, and above all,
in face of the fact that music was almost an indispensable
item in the social life of the Arabs. Where then did the
” authority ” come from for this opposition to music ?
The censure of ” wine, woman, and song ” was certainly
nothing new to Semitic peoples, for the Hebrews, and
apparently the Phoenicians also, had their puritans who
cried out against these things. 1 Something of this
spirit seems to have pervaded even Pagan Arabia, and
the heathen poet Umayya ibn Abil-Salt was quite a
puritan in some respects, although he never breathed
a word against music.

Orientalists are divided on the question of the origin
of the Islamic censure of ” listening to music.” One
group attributes it directly to the Prophet Muhammad
himself, whilst the other holds that it was manufactured
by the theologians of the ‘Abbasid era, who were jealous
of the inordinate attention paid to music and musicians.
At first sight it would appear to be an easy matter to
settle this question by an appeal to the Qur’dn and the
ffadith. Yet the former is interpreted according to the
particular view of the exegete, whilst the latter has
definite statements which support both sides.

It is claimed by Muslim exegetes that the verse (Sura,
xxxv, i), which says, ” He increases in His creatures
that which he wills,” refers to the ” Beautiful Voice.” 2
Again they say that where the text (Sura, xxxi, 18)
says, ” Verily, the worse liked of voices is the voice of
the ass,” we have a negative praise of the ” Beautiful
Voice.” 3 Then it is argued from Sura, vii, 30, that singing

1 Isaiah, v, 12 Amos, vi, 5. xxiii, 15, 16. Jesus ben Sirach says :
” Use not much the company of a woman that is a singer.” Ecclus.,
ix, 4.

This was the view of Al-Zuhrl. Cf. Al-BaidawI, ii, 148.

‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 177. Al-Ghazall, op. cit. t 209.


is allowable since it is laid down, ” Say, who hath for-
bidden the adornment of Allah which he hath provided
for His creatures/’ 1 On the other hand, the objectors
aver that singing is ” unlawful ” because it employs
poetry, and they point to the Prophet’s denunciation
of poets in Sura, xxxi, 5-6, where he says, “There is
one who purchases a ludicrous story, that he may seduce
men from the way of Allah, without knowledge, and may
laugh the same to scorn : these shall suffer a shameful
punishment.” This anathema was hurled . directly at
the poet-minstrel Al-Nadr ibn al-Harith, whose Pagan
song and story were being more readily listened to at
first than were the ” Revelations ” of the Prophet
Muhammad. Indeed, several of the early Muslims
considered that the ” ludicrous story ” meant ” singing,”
and among them Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Mas’ud
(d. 653), Ibrahim ibn Yazid al-Nakha’i (d. 715), and
Abu Sa’id al-Hasan al-Basri (d. 728). Then again, we
see Muhammad condemning the poet in Sura, xxvi,
224-26, saying, ” And the poets do those follow who go
astray. Dost thou not see that they wander distraught
in every vale ? ” Yet this, too, was probably not
directed against poetry as such, but simply against the
poet who in the eyes of the Prophet was the incarnation
of Pagan ideals, and who, moreover, was pouring out
satires and invective against him. 2 There can be little
doubt but that Muhammad feared the poets and minstrels,
and stopped at nothing to accomplish their discredit
and even destruction, as we know in the case of Ka’b
ibn al-Ashraf, Ka’b ibn Zuhair, and Al-Nadr ibn al-
Harith. All that savoured of the old religion was treated
contumeliously by Muhammad. Note how scornful he is
of whistling and hand-clapping in Sura, viii, 35. 3 On
the whole, however, it was not in the Qur’an that the
contemners of music found any real basis for their

Al-GhazalI, op. cit., 214.

Muhammad himself employed an official poet in Hassan ibn Thabit
to denounce his enemies. ” Pour out the raid against them,” he says
to Hassan, ” for by Allah, your poetry is more potent than the falling
of arrows in the darkness of dawn.” ‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 178.

That is why whistling is still considered a prompting of the Devil
by the Arabs.


strictures, and they were compelled therefore to turn
to the only other ” authority”, the Hadith.

Hadith was the name given to a saying or story of
Muhammad which acquired ” the force of law and some
of the authority of inspiration/’ 1 and it was looked upon as
second only to the Qur’dn. Which Hadith is to be impli-
citly accepted, which is only a partial truth, and which
is to be totally rejected, is determined by rules drawn up
by Muslim legists, which cannot be dealt with here.
Suffice it to say that no Hadith can be accepted that is at
variance with the Qur’dn. Of the ” traditions ” which
deal with the question of ” listening to music ” there are
many, and first of all we may consider those which con-
sider it ” unlawful.”

‘A’isha the wife of the Prophet has handed down a
tradition that Muhammad once said, ” Verily, Allah
hath made the singing-girl (qaina) unlawful, and the
selling of her and her price and teaching her.” Al-
Ghazali says that this Hadith only refers to the singing-
girl of the taverns. 2 A tradition of Jabir ibn ‘ Abdallah
makes the Prophet say, ” Iblis (Satan) was the first who
wailed and the first who sang.” Another Hadith from
Abu Umama runs, ” No one lifts up his voice in singing,
but Allah sends to him two devils to his shoulders,
beating with their heels on his breast until he refrains.” 3
Muhammad is also credited with having said, ” Music
and singing cause hypocrisy to grow in the heart as
water makes corn grow,” 4 whilst others attribute the
origin of this Hadith to Ibn Mas’ud. 5

In the Sahih of Al-Tirmidhi (d. 892), the Prophet is
said to have cursed both singing and the singer, 6 although
the truth of this Hadith has been questioned. 7 In another
tradition the singing-girls and stringed instruments
(ma’dzif) are given as signs of the end of the world. 8

1 Nicholson, Lit. Hist, of the Arabs, 144.

Al-Ghazali, op. cit., 244-5.
Ibid., 246.

Mishkdt al-ma$ablh, ii, 425.
Al-Ghazall, op. cit., 248.

Al-Tirmidh!,i, 2^1.

7 Lammens, Melanges de la Facultt Orientate (Beyrouth), iii, 233.

Al-Tirmidhi, ii, 33.


Musical instruments are declared to be among the most
powerful means by which the devil seduces men. An
instrument of music is the devil’s mu’adhdhin (caller
to prayer) serving to call man to the devil’s worship. 1

The legists even brought the testimony of the ” Com-
panions of the Prophet ” and other illustrious men of
Islam against ” listening to music.” ‘Abdallah ibn
‘Umar is said to have heard a pilgrim singing and rebuked
him saying, ” I do not hear Allah from you.” This same
worthy, hearing the playing of a mizmdr (reed-pipe),
stopped his ears, saying, ” Thus I saw the Apostle of
Allah do.” 2 Singing was as bad as lying, for ‘Uthman
said, “I have not sung and I have not lied.” 3 Other
contemners quote the Prophet’s rebuke to Shirin, the
singing-girl of Hassan ibn Thabit, whom he forbade to
sing ; and ‘Umar’s flogging the ” Companions ” who
used to listen to music ; and ‘All’s finding fault with
Mu’awiya for keeping singing-girls ; and his not allowing
Al-Hasan to look at the Abyssinian women who used to
sing. 4

The traditions in favour of ” listening to music ” are
however almost as weighty, although not as numerous,
as those against it. There are two which attribute to
Muhammad the following sayings : ” Allah has not sent
a Prophet except with a Beautiful Voice,” and, ” Allah
listens more intently to a man with a Beautiful Voice
reading the Qur’an than does a master of a singing-girl
to her singing. 5 It is related of Anas ibn Malik (d. 715)
that Muhammad ” used to make him sing the huda’
(caravan song) when travelling, and that Anjusha used
to sing it for the women and Al-Bara ibn Malik (the brother
of Anas) for the men. 6 Al-Ghazali testifies that the
hudd* ” did not cease to be one of the customs of the
Arabs in the time of the Apostle of Allah, and in the time
of the ‘ Companions/ and that it is nothing but poems

x Lane, Arabian Nights, i, 200.

Al-Ghazall, op. cit. t 248. Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., lii, 521.

8 Lisdn al-‘arab, s.v.

4 Kaslif al-mahjub, 411.

Al-Chazall, ‘op. cit. t 209.

Ibid., 21 7.


equipped with agreeable sounds (sawdt tayyiba) and
measured melodies (alhdn mauzuna).” 1

As for the singing-girls which a previous ffadtth pro-
scribes, there seems to be overwhelming evidence that the
Prophet considered them ” allowable.” First there is
the Hadith concerning the Prophet who heard the voice
of the singing-girl when passing the abode of Hassan
ibn Thabit. Asked by the poet if it were sinful to sing,
Muhammad replied, ” Certainly not ! ” 2

Two traditions of ‘A’isha on this question are of in-
terest. The first runs, ” Abu Bakr came in to her
[‘A’isha] in the Days of Mina, and with her were two
girls playing tambourines and beating time while the
Prophet was wrapped in his robe. And Abu Bakr
rebuked them, but the Prophet uncovered his face and
said, ‘ Let them alone, Abu Bakr, for it is the time of the
Festivals.’ ” 8 The second runs, ” The Apostle of Allah
came in to me [‘A’isha] while two girls were with me sing-
ing a song (ghina) of the Day of Bu’ath, and lay down
on his side on the bed and turned away his face. Then
Abu Bakr entered and rebuked me, and said, ‘ The pipe
of the Devil (mizmdr al-shaitdri) in the presence of the
Apostle of Allah ! ‘, but the Apostle of Allah turned to
him and said, ‘ Let them alone.’ ” 4

Another story of ‘A’isha is told as follows, ” ‘A’isha
said, ‘ A slave-girl was singing in my house when ‘Umar
asked leave to enter. As soon as she [the slave-girl]
heard his steps she ran away. He came in and the
Apostle smiled. ‘ O Apostle of Allah,’ said ‘Umar,
‘ what hath made thee smile ? ‘ The Apostle answered,
‘ A slave-girl was singing here, but she ran away as soon
as she heard thy step ! ‘ ‘I will not depart/ said ‘Umar,
‘ until I hear what the Apostle heard.’ So the Apostle
called the girl back and she began to sing, the Apostle
listening to her/’ 5

On another occasion, Muhammad entered the house of

* Al-Ghazall, op. cit., 217.

1 Usd al-ghdba, v, 496. Cf. ii, 127. iv, 126.

* Al-Ghazall, op. cit., 224-5.

* Ai-GhazSH, op. cit.. 226.

* Kashf al-mahjub, 401.


Al-Rubayyi’ bint Mu’awwidh, when singing-girls were
singing, and one of them remarked as the Prophet
entered, “And with us is a Prophet who knoweth what
shall be to-morrow.” Muhammad replied, ” Leave off
that and say what thou wast saying (singing).” 1

We also read that the women greeted Muhammad’s
arrival from the housetops with recitation (inshdd) set
to melody (lahri), and accompanied by the beating of
tambourines (dufuf). 2 Finally, there is the story of
‘A’isha who took to one of the Ansar his bride. When
she returned, Muhammad said to her, ” Did you lead
the girl to her husband ? ” and ‘A’isha answered, ” Yes.”
He then said, ” And did you not send someone who
could sing ? ” and ‘A’isha answered ” No.” Then
the Prophet said, ” Surely you knew that the Ansar
are people who delight in the ghazal (love song).” 3

Although some legists imagined that the Qur’anic
condemnation of poets and poetry was directed equally
against music, others held the view that poetry was
” allowable,” and since the song issued from poetry,
this, too, must be lawful. The author of the ‘Iqd al-fand
says, ” People differ in regard to the song (ghind’).
Most of the people of Al-Hijaz permit it, but most of those
of Al-‘Iraq dislike it. A part of the proof of those who
allow it is that its origin is poetry, which the Prophet
commanded. He incited to it, urged his ‘ Companions *
to it, and found help in it against the Unbelievers.” 4
‘A’isha, too, had said, ” Teach your children poetry
which will sweeten their tongue.” 5 It is also recorded
that Muhammad was riding one day with some friends
when he asked one of them to recite the poetry of Umayya.
A hundred lines were recited for him, and Muhammad
said at the finish, “Well done ! ” “And when the satire
in the poetry and the talking about it wearied them,”
says the tradition, ” it was said, ‘ The poetry is good, and
we do not see any harm in a beautiful melody (lahn).’ ” 6

1 Al-Ghazall, op. cit., 743.

Al-Ghazall, op. cit., 224.

‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 178.

Ibid. Ibid.

Ibid. The poetry was sung evidently.


On another occasion Muhammad passed by a slave-girl
and she immediately sang aloud :

” Is there upon me (Woe to you)
Any crime if I am gay ? ”

Muhammad answered her, ” There will be no crime,
please Allah.” 1 Considerable importance was claimed
for the testimony of al-DInawari (d. 895), who said that he
had seen Muhammad in a vision, and that he had asked
him specially whether he blamed music and singing, and
that the Prophet replied, ” I do not blame anything in
it, but say to them (who resort to music and singing)
that they open before it with the Qur’dn, and close after
it with the Qur’an.”*

One of the stories in the great Kitab al-aghdnt (tenth
cent.) seems to show that there was no specific ban on
music at the dawn of Islam. The Quraish had heard
that the famous poet-minstrel, Al-A’sha Maimun ibn
Qais, was on his way to meet Muhammad, and they
decided to intercept him. This they did and they en-
deavoured to dissuade him from his project by pointing
out that Muhammad had made ” unlawful ” many things
to which Al-A’sha was strongly addicted. ” And what
are these ? ” enquired the poet-minstrel. ” They are
fornication, gambling, usury, and wine/’ answered
Abu Sufyan, the chief of the Quraish. Had music
been among the ” unlawful ” things, it would assuredly
have been mentioned, seeing that Al-A’sha was interested
in the art. 3

Tradition is fairly persistent that Muhammad tolerated
instrumental music. 4 He had said, ” Publish the mar-
riage, and beat the ghirbdl (round tambourine)/’ 5 His
own nuptials with Khadija were celebrated with music,
and so were those of his daughter Fatima. 6 Popular
legend mentions many musicians among his personal
friends and supporters. 7

1 Ibid. Al-Ghazall, op. cit., 206. Aghanl, viii, 85-6.

Important passages on Muhammad and music may be found also
in Ibn Hajar, iii, 20. Ibn Sa’d, fabaqat, iv (i), 120.

Al-Ghazall, op. cit., 743. Lisdn al-‘arab, s. ” ghirbal.”

Evliya Chelebi, Travels, i, (ii), 226. * Ibid.


Out of this maze of ” tradition ” or ” testimony/ 1
Islam has endeavoured to formulate a law on ” listening
to music.” The four great legal schools, the Hanafi,
the Maliki, the Shafi’i, and the Hanbali, broadly de-
cided against its legality, although hundreds of treatises
have been written by both legists and laymen to prove
the opposite.

Abu Hanlfa (699-767) is said to have ” disliked singing
(ghina’), and made listening to it a sin/’ 1 although he
appears to have looked upon musical instruments as
lawful. 2 Malik ibn Anas (715-95) also forbade singing
and said, “When a man buys a slave-girl and finds that
she is a singer, then it is his duty to send her back/’ 3
The Imam al-Shafi’I (767-820) said, ” Singing (ghind’)
is a sport which is disliked and which resembles what is
false ; he who meddles much with it is light of under-
standing, you shall reject his testimony/’ 4 Ahmad
ibn Hanbal (780-855) disliked listening to music (al-
samd’). 5 Thus we see that the very founders of the four
great sects were opposed to music, although their views
differed considerably.

In spite of the foregoing censure of Al-Shafi’I, it would
appear that he held that music in itself was ” lawful.”
The legist himself said, ” I do not know one of the
learned in Al-Hijaz who disliked music and singing except
what consisted in amatory descriptions ; as for the
hudd 9 (caravan song) and the mention of the traces of
the encampment and of the spring pastures, 6 and the
making beautiful of the voice in singing poems, they are
permitted.” 7 His school holds therefore that it is lawful
to sing and to listen to the hudd’ and the like, but inter-
dicts all other singing that is not accompanied by musical
instruments. Yet, even these latter are banned if they
tend to excite unlawful desires, and among the instru-
ments so banned are the ud, sanj, nay al-irdqt, barbat,
rabdb, etc. These were instruments used by professional

1 Al-Ghazalf , op. cit., 202. Hiddya, in, 558.

Al-Ghaz5.lI, op. cit., 201. Ibid., 201. Ibid., 204.

This refers to the prelude (naslb) of the qalda, which, when used
by itself, is called a qit’a.

‘ Al-Ghazall, op. cit’., 242-3.


musicians, and their employment being for mere aesthetic
or illicit pleasure they were condemned. 1 Al-Ghazall
himself says that the objection to these instruments is
” in so far as they are badges of people who drink and of
the mukhannathun.” 2 On the other hand, the tabl,
shdhm, qadib, ghirbdl (or duff) were ” permissible ”
instruments, because they were used by pilgrims. 3

According to the general reading of the Shafi’I law,
any of the ” unlawful ” instruments can be broken or
destroyed (under certain conditions) without the breaker
or destroyer incurring any liability. 4 The legal question
turns, it would seem, on whether the instruments are
” property ” or not. If these instruments are ” unlaw-
ful ” they cannot be owned by a Muslim, and therefore
cannot be property. Thus a Muslim could destroy
them. So far the Shafi’i school.

The Hanaf I school argue that these musical instruments
are ” property ” and in consequence are ” capable of
yielding a lawful advantage.” 5 The fact that they are
used for ” unlawful ” purposes does not alter their value
as property. It is laid down therefore by this school
that, ” If a person break a barbat, tabl, mizmdr, or duff
of a Muslim … he is responsible, the sale of such articles
being lawful/’ Some say that the difference between
the two schools obtains only in regard to such instruments
as are used merely for amusement. 6

There were certain classes of theft which were punish-
able by amputation of the hand, but the Shafi’i school
said, ” The hand of the thief is not cut off according to
the two disciples for stealing a duff, tabl, or mizmdr,
because, in their opinion, these articles bear no price.”
The HanafI school point out, however, that the thief
could say that he stole them to destroy them. 7 The

1 Ibid., 214. Al-NawawI, 515.

The drum called the kuba was condemned on account of its use by
the mukhannathun.

Al-Ghazall, op. cit. t 214, 237, 743.
*Al-NawawI f 200.

Abu Hanlf a had a neighbour who sang, and he once bailed him out
of jail, because he ” missed his voice.” ‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 181.

Hiddya, iii, 558-9.
7 Hidaya, ii, 92.


same law applies to the tunbtir or other stringed instru-
ments (ma’dzif). 1

The actual purveyor of music also felt the hand of
the legists. At the time of Harun al-Rashid (786-809)
a musician was denied ordinary justice in the courts.
The Imam al-Shafi’i had laid it down that the testimony
of a person who indulged in music was untrustworthy.
According to the Hiddya, ” the testimony of women
that lament or sing is not admissible, because they are
guilty of forbidden actions, inasmuch as the Prophet
has prohibited those two species of noise.” 2 In the
Tanbih of Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi (d. 1083), singers in
general were included in this law. 3 The Hiddya also
stipulates that ” It is not lawful to give a pledge for the
wages either of a mourner or of a singer.” 4

When one views all these pains and penalties which had
been directed against music, it is a wonder that the art
thrived at all under Islam. But the truth is that in
spite of the rigours of the legists and theologians, the law
concerning ” listening to music ” has been honoured
more in the breach than in the observance. Sinners
in this respect always had some sort of back-door of escape,
which is well illustrated by a story in the ‘Iqd al-farid.
A certain prominent man of Al-Hijaz was making the
pilgrimage to Mecca and was found lying on his prayer-
mat singing. A kinsman who passed by reproved him
saying, ” Allah forbid that I should hear you do the like
of this, and you a pilgrim.” The offending one replied,
” O son of my brother, and aieyou not listening to me ? ” 6
The law condemns not only the singer or player, but also
the listener 1 6

Islam never really eradicated the Pagan ideals of the
Arab so far as music is concerned. Although the charge
that the opposition to ” listening ” (al-samd’) was
fabricated by the ‘Abbasid theologians may have much
to support it, yet there can be little doubt that Muhammad

ii, 89. Ibid., ii, 687. Tanbl h, 336.

4 Hiddya, iv, 212.
‘Iqd al-farid, iii, 178.
D’Ohssbn, Tab. Gtn. t ii, 188.


was indirectly responsible for the germ of the oppo-
sition. 1

There are some writers who account for Muhammad’s
attitude on purely physiological grounds. In him, the
senses appear to have been quite abnormally developed.
His sense of smell was a veritable burden to him.- He
was hypersensitive in the matter of touch. Gastronomic
affairs almost became a mania with him. He had
visions. He was afflicted with hummings in the ears,
and heard the sounds of cats, hares, and bells, which
caused him much annoyance, if not suffering. Even
the jingling of the caravan bells troubled him. In such
an extraordinary structure, a veritable slave to hyper-
aesthesia, one might reasonably expect to find a mind
temperamentally averse to music, or at least, insensible
to its charms and beauties. To the same cause has been
attributed his lack of rhythmic instinct. 2 It is very easy,
however, to overstate the physical and psychical reflexes
in Muhammad, and there is, in fact, many a Hadtth
to counter objections on these lines. It has been shown
by Dr. Hartwig Hirschfeld that this so-called ” lack of
rhythmic instinct ” was really a deliberate attempt by
Muhammad to ignore prosodical forms lest he should be
taken for a mere soothsayer or magician. ” The general
form of any sort of public announcement being poetic,
Muhammad had to avoid all imitation of it, and this
gave him immense trouble.” Yet although he only just
managed to escape from the ” ditty ” form of the urjuza
(verses in rajaz), he could not evade the saf (rhymed
prose). 3

Muhammad’s attitude towards music might perhaps
be explained on somewhat similar lines. The kind of
music that accompanied the poetry which glorified in

1 A Muslim has said, ” Nowhere do we see pious men more given to
falsehood than in tradition” (Noeldeke, Gesch. des Qorans, 22). It
does not follow however, that all were conscious frauds, for we must
remember Muhammad’s saying, ” Whatever good saying has been said,
I myself have said it.” And again : ” You must compare the sayings
attributed to the Qur’dn ; what agrees therewith is from me, whether
I actually said it or no.” See Goldziher, Muh. Stud., 48,

* Lammcns, Melanges de la Facultt Orientale (Beyrouth), iii, 230-3.

Hirschfeld, 37.


the ideals of Paganism he had to avoid. He may not
have been blessed with the ” Beautiful Voice ” himself
with which to deliver his ” Revelations/ 1 but he certainly
realized the value of it. He favoured Abu Mahdura
on account of his ” Beautiful Voice,” whilst he likened
the chanting (qard’a) of Abu Musa al-Ash’arl to ” a pipe
(mizmdr) from the pipes of David/’ 1 Yet this chanting
of the Qiir’dn would have to be different from the singing
of poetry if Muhammad would keep his hearers’ minds
away from thoughts of Paganism, and so a legal fiction
arose which determined that the cantilation (taghbir) 2
of the Qur’dn and the tahKl, was merely a modulation
of the voice which could be grasped by the learned and
unlearned in music alike, it being of a different genre
(so it was said) from the ghind’ or song proper, which
belonged to the professional musician. 3 The cantilation
of the Qur’dn is said to have been introduced by ‘Ubaidal-
lah ibn Abi Bakr, the governor of Sijistan (appointed
697), but it evidently had an earlier existence.

The adhdn (call to prayer) was instituted by the
Prophet himself in the first or second year of the Hijra,
and Bilal the Abyssinian was the first mu’adhdhin
(caller to prayer). 4 The adhdn, too, is considered a
cantilation of a like nature to that of the Qur’dn, but in
spite of the legal distinction between ” cantilation ”
and ” singing/’ we are assured by Ibn Qutaiba (d. ca.
889) that the Qur’dn was sung to no different rules than
those of the ordinary artistic songs (alhdn al-ghind’),
and the caravan song (hudd’). 5 Indeed, it was openly
said that if melodies (alhdn) were to be considered ” un-
lawful ” then the cantilations of the Qur’dn and the
adhdn were equally so and had better be dispensed with. 6
The cantilation of the Qur’dn was in fact actually pro-

t’lqd al-fartd, iii, 176. Al-Ghazall, of. cit. t 209.

Professor I). B. Macdonald, quoting Sayyid Murtada’s Ithaf al-sdda,
writes ta’blv (” expression “), but Ibn Khaldun, both in Quatremere’s
text and in Von Hammer’s translation has taghblr. Cf. Dozy, Glossaire,
13. Abu Ishaq al-Zajjaj (d. 922) makes it taghblr and explains its
derivation from ghablr.

8 Ibn Khaldun, ii, 359.

4 Al-Bukharl, i, 209. Mishkdt al-masablh, i, 141.

5 Ibn Qutaiba, 265.

‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 178.


scribed by the Maliki school, although allowed by the
Shafi’i. 1 All the schools, except the Hanbali, permitted
the adhdn.

Besides these ” allowable ” musical customs there
were those of Pagan Arabia, which Islam was impotent
in restricting, as in many other of the moving social
Semitic forces. 2 Like the Christian Roman emperors,
Muhammad had to adapt himself to the social resistance
when he found that he could not mould it to his wishes,
and in this way the Pagan festivals, even with their
malahi or ” forbidden pleasures,” came into acceptance
under fresh sanctions.

First there were the old Pagan chantings of the pil-
grimage, the tahtil and talbiyya, which were turned
favourably to the account of Islam and became ” lawful/’
even to the allowability of the tall (drum) and shdhm
(fife) as an accompaniment. 3 Music for the pilgrimage
became a necessity. 4

The song of war, i.e., of inciting to war against the
infidel, was allowable because it ” summons a man to
warfare by inciting courage and by moving wrath and
anger against the unbelievers.” The actual battle-song,
such as that in the rajaz verses, was allowed on the
same grounds. The legists allowed what they could not
prevent in most cases, because many of these customs
were too deeply ingrained in the Semite to be plucked out
by a fiat. It had been the custom of ‘All and Khalid,
and other valiant ” Companions of the Prophet/’ 5 Yet
the shdhm was forbidden in the camp lest its plaintive
sound should “soften the heart.” 6

The nauh or elegy was lawful, for this was too valuable
an asset to Islam, despite its pagan character, to be set
aside. The wilwdl or wailing, however, was forbidden
(save in certain cases), but in spite of all the penalties,
and all the centuries, it still remains. 7

1 Ibn Khaldun, ii, 357.

Abu’1-Fida’ says : ” The Arabs of the Days of Idolatry did things
which Islam has accepted.”

Al-Ghazall. 220. Al-Ghazall, 221. Al-Ghazall, 222.

Ibid. In one of the Arabic chronicles of the Crusades the Muslims
are made to banish flutes from their camp for this reason.

‘ ‘AH Bey, i, 183.


Then there was the music of the feast and festival such
as abounded in Pagan Arabia. This, too, found a place
in the public festivals connected with Islam, such as
exists to-day in the ‘id al-adha, the ‘id al-fitr, the yaum
‘ashura, and the various mawdlid. 1 Music was allowed
when joy was allowed, such as on the days of private
festivals like betrothals, weddings, births, and circum-
cisions. Finally, the love-song was allowable.

Yet there was something that even the legists had not
taken into account, and that was the spiritual effects
of music. It was this that had given the soothsayer and
magician of old that wonderful power over the people,
and strange to say the legists did not apprehend it.
Arabic tradition had it that the Prophet David brought
the birds and beasts to listen by means of his voice,
and the two-and-seventy different notes of his ” blessed
throat/’ 2 People that heard his voice died of rapture. 3
The mysterious power of music was something that the
Arabs could see for themselves in every-day life. They
saw the camel alter its pace according to a change of
rhythm or measure 4 ; deer were rendered docile by
melody 5 ; snakes were charmed, bees made to alight, 6
and birds actually dropped dead at the sound of music. 7
There is an abundant literature which tells us of people
who have been deeply influenced by the ” Beautiful
Voice.” 8 Yet what connection has this “spiritual”
music to that which the legists said was the procurer
of drunkenness and fornication ? The ufi shall answer.

” Music and singing do not produce in the heart that
which is not in it,” says Abu Sulaiman al-Darani (d. ca.
820),* and so those who are affected by music can be
divided into two classes as has been done by Al-Hujwiri
(eleventh cent.), the author of the Kashf al-mahjub, as

1 The ‘Id al-adha (sacrificial feast) is held on the loth dh&’l-frijja,
and it is the actual day that the Pagan Arabs sacrificed in the Vale of

Mlrkhwand, ii (i), 57.

91 Iqd al-farld t in, 179. Kashf al-mahjub, 402.

‘Jqd al-farid, in, 177. Al-GhazalS, 219.

Kashf al-mahjub, 400. ‘Iqd al-favld, iii, 177.

‘ A ghaut, v, 52. Al-Ghazall, 219. Sa’dl, Gulistdn, ii, 27. iii, 28.

‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 198. Al-Ghazall, 715. Kash al-ma(ijub t 407.
Al-Ghazall, 220.


follows : (i) Those who hear the spiritual meaning, and
(2) Those who hear the material sound. ” There are good
and evil results in each case/’ says this author. ” Listen-
ing to sweet sounds produces an effervescence of the
substance moulded in man ; true, if the substance be
true, false, if the substance be false. When the stuff of
man’s temperament is evil, that which he hears will be
evil, too.” 1 Then he goes on to quote Muhammad in
the saying, ” O Allah, let us see things as they are.”
So, says our author, ” right audition consists in hearing
everything as it is in quality and predicament.” Thus
the suft looked upon music as a means of revelation
attained through ecstasy.

Dhu’1-Nun says, ” Listening (al-samd’) is a divine
influence which stirs the heart to see Allah ; those who
listen to it spiritually attain to Allah, and those who
listen to it sensually fall into heresy.” Another sufi,
Al-Shibll, says, ” Listening to music is outwardly a
temptation and inwardly an admonition.” Says Abu’l-
Husainal-Darraj, “Listening . . . causes me to find the
existence of the Truth beside the Veil.”

In the ufi conception of music, such as we have in
Al-Hujwiri and Al-Ghazali, 2 we see much of what the
modern Schopenhauer taught. To the latter, music is
the eternal will itself, and through it one can pierce the
Veil, witness the Watcher, and behold the Unseen. 3
Thus was music called in as a handmaid to Islam after
all, and as such it is recognized in every Islamic land
in spite of Islam.

Of the musicians contemporary with Muhammad,
several have been mentioned in the preceding chapter.
Besides these there were a few who came in personal
contact with the Prophet and Islam, and on that account
are mentioned here.

1 Kashf al-mahjub, 402-3.

J Both the Kashf al-mahjub of Al-Hujwiri and the section on music
in the Ihya ‘ulum al-din of Al-GhazaU have been translated into English.
See Bibliography.

Al-Ghazali, 720,


Bilal ibn Riyah (Rabah, Ribab) al-Habashi (d. 641)
was the son of an Abyssinian slave-girl who had been
ransomed by Abu Bakr. He was one of the first converts
to Islam, and suffered for it. Muhammad called him
” The First-Fruits of Abyssinia,” and made him his
purse-bearer. To him the Prophet is claimed to have
said, ” O Bilal, sing us a ghazal.” He was the first
mu’adhdhin (caller to prayer) in Islam, and is nowadays
considered the patron saint of those who follow this
calling. Bilal died at Damascus, where his tomb may
be seen. 1

Shirln is the name of the singing-girl of Hassan ibn
Thabit the Prophet’s panegyrist. 2 It is not improbable
that she is the slave-girl Sirin who, with her sister Mariya
the Copt was sent to the Prophet by Al-Muqauqis, the
governor of Egypt in 630. Sirin was handed over to
Hassan, whilst Mariya became one of the Prophet’s
wives. 3 During the ” Orthodox” khalifate we read that
the famous songstress, ‘Azza al-Maila’, sang the songs
of an early singing-girl (qaina) named Sinn, who may
have been identical with the Sirin or Shirln of Hassan
ibn Thabit. 4

The names of three other singing-girls have come
down to us from this period in consequence of their
being doomed for destruction by the Prophet just prior
to his entrance into Mecca as conqueror in 630. Their
sole ” crime ” was that they had sung satirical songs
against him. The first of these singing girls was Sara,
who belonged to ‘Amr ibn Hashim (or Hisham) ibn
‘Abd al-Muttalib. She escaped death by ” opportunate
submission.” 5 Quraina (or Kurinna, Fartana) and Qariba
(or Arnab), who were in the service of ‘Abdallah [ibn
Hilal] ibn Khatal al-Adrami, were also proscribed.
Only Quraina suffered the death penalty. 6

1 Ibn Hisham, 205. Caetani, iii, 99. Evliya Cheleb!, i, (ii), 91, in.
Al-Nawawi, 176.

a Kashf al-mahjub, 411.
8 Al-Tabari, cf . Index.

* Aghanl, iv, 14. Guidi looks upon them as separate individuals.
8 Muir, Mohammad, 411.

Al-Tabarii i, 1626, 1640-2. Al-WaqidI, 343. Caetani, ii, (i), 134.



From a comparatively modern Turkish authority,
Evliya Chelebl (d. ca. 1680), we learn the names of three
male musicians who are said to have performed before
the Prophet. Only one of these names has a classical
attestation, and that is ‘Amr ibn Umayya, although we
get no mention of his musical accomplishments from the
latter source. 1 Yet the tradition can scarcely be of late
origin, seeing that two of these individuals are claimed
as patron saints of musical fraternities. The three
musicians mentioned by Evliya Chelebi are :

‘Amr ibn Umayya Dhamiri, also called Baba ‘Amr,
or ‘Amr ‘lyar, is said to have played the daira (round
tambourine) at the wedding of ‘AH and Fatima, and all
tambourine players look upon him as their patron
saint. 2 He was one of the ” Companions of the Prophet/’

Hamza ibn Yatim (or Yatima) is said to have sung with
Bilal in the presence of the Prophet, and to have been
girded by ‘All (or Salman al-FarisI). He is also said to
to have sung at the wedding of ‘All and Fatima. He is
the patron saint of all singers, and his tomb is pointed
out at Al-Ta’if. 3

Baba Sawandik was an Indian who is credited with
having played the kettledrum called kus in the Prophet’s
military expeditions. He is said to have been buried
at Al-Mausil, near Jarjish. 4

1 Caetani, i, 283.

Evliya Cheleb!, i, (ii), 226, 234.

Evliya Chelebl, i, (ii), 113, 226, 233, 134.
‘Ibid., i, (ii), 226.


(A.D. 632-661)

” And the first of those who sang the graceful music (ghina* al-raqtq)
in Islam was Tuwais.”

Ibn ‘Abd Rabbihi ‘Iqd al-farld (loth century).

UPON the death of the Prophet in 632, the Faithful
elected a successor in the person of Abu Bakr, whom they
saluted as Khalifa (“Successor”). Three succeeding
khalifs were also elected by the suffrages of the Muslims,
and these ” Successors ” were ‘Umar (634), ‘Uthman
(644), and ‘AH (656). No sooner had the Prophet
passed away than Arabia was torn asunder by dissension.
False prophets arose on every side, and the tribes from
distant ‘Uman to the very threshold of Al-Medina the
capital were in open revolt against the Khalif ate and in
avowed apostasy from Islam. Yet within a year the
dissident crowd was brought back to the political and
religious fold. To effect this, however, huge armies
had been set in motion, and the spirit of warfare against
the infidel in general was roused to its highest pitch.
Babylonia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Egypt, were invaded
and conquered (633-43), a circumstance which was of
great cultural significance to the coming Muslim civiliza-

The days of the four Rashidun or ” Orthodox ” khalifs
were the strict days of Islam, when the letter of the law
as laid down or implied by the Prophet, or such inter-
pretations of it as the ” Companions of the Prophet ”
thought it their duty to declare, were rigidly enforced.
Music was banned. Ibn Khaldun, the greatest of Muslim
historians, avers that at the beginning of Islam everything



that did not fall in with the teachings of the Qur’dn was
scorned, whilst the song and pantomime were forbidden.
On the other hand, a modern Muslim historian, Sayyid
Amir ‘AH, is of opinion that music was not proscribed
until the later legists came on the scene. 1

The first two khalifs had, possibly, little love for,
nor any interest in, music. They were certainly too
busy with the sword in consolidating Islam to dally
much with the arts. They practised the utmost sim-
plicity of life themselves, and they expected it in others.
They knew that the arts could not be indulged in without
ostentation and even prodigality, both of which were
frowned on by these khalifs. We know that one of the
charges brought against the famous Arab general,
Abu Musa, was that he had bestowed a thousand pieces
of silver (darahim) 2 upon a poet. 3

Since general culture was primarily dependent upon the
social and political regimen, and this is nowhere more
conspicuously evident than in the Khalifate, it will be my
plan in each chapter to deal with the individual khalifs
and rulers first of all, so that we may apprehend the
culture conditions at the outset.

Under Abu Bakr (632-34) it may be taken for granted
that music as part and parcel of the malahi or ” forbidden
pleasures ” was interdicted. Precise evidence, however,
is wanting. The singing-girls (qainat, qiyari) t who were
slaves in the households of the noble and wealthy families,
were possibly not interfered with, but it is fairly certain
that those of the taverns, as well as public musicians
in general were suppressed, or at least, dared not follow
their vocation. The singer of elegies (nd’ih, fern.
na’iha) was probably tolerated for the reason that the
elegy (nauh) was not considered music like the song called

1 Syed Ameer All, Short Hist, of the Saracens, 457.

* A dirham (pi. darahim) was a silver com something like a sixpence,
and twenty of them made a dinar (pi. dandnlr), a gold coin, not unlike
a half-sovereign.

Muir, The Caliphate, 180.


ghina’. Al-Tabarl has recorded that two singing-girls
named Thabja al-Ha<Jramiyya and Hind bint Yamin,
had their hands cut off and their teeth pulled out, so that
they could neither play nor sing. This was done by Al-
Muhajir when he subdued Al-Yaman in 633, and it
received the approbation of Abu Bakr. Yet this punish-
ment was not necessarily occasioned by the fact that they
were musicians, but merely because they had sung songs
which had satirized the Muslims 1 to the accompaniment
of a leed-pipe (mizmdr).

In spite of the austere regime of Abu Bakr, there appear
to have been a goodly few who indulged in the maldhl.
” Nature is not to be for ever thus pent up ; the rebound
too often comes ; and in casting off its shackles, humanity
not seldom bursts likewise through the barriers of Faith.

The gay youth of Islam, cloyed with the dull delights
of the sequestered harim, were tempted thus when
abroad to evade the restrictions of their creed, and seek
in the cup, in music, games and dissipation, the excitement
which the young and lighthearted will demand.” 2 But
there were days of greater freedom in store.

‘Umar (634-44) seems to have been little different
from his predecessor in this respect. According to a
HadUh of ‘A’isha, ‘Umar had heard a singing-girl in the
very household of the Prophet. 3 This may have influ-
enced him in favour of the singing-girls at least. It is
also said that he trembled at the thought that the Qur’dn
should be recited otherwise than in melodious tones. 4
‘Asim his son was particularly devoted to music, whilst
one of the khalifs governors, Al-Nu’man ibn ‘Adi,
who had charge of Maisan, was certainly a patron of
the art. 5

On the other hand there is a story told by Ibn al-Faqih
al-Hamadhani (fl. 902) that on one occasion ‘Umar
heard slave-girls playing their tambourines (dufuf) and
singing that ” Life is made for pleasure,” when he up-

1 Al-fabarl, i, 2014. Al-Baladhurl, 102. Caetani, ii (2), 802.

Muir, The Caliphate, 185.

Kashf al-mahjub, 401.

Ibn Sa’d, Jabaqdt al-kablr, v, 42.

Ibn Hisham, 782.


braided and cudgelled them for this. 1 Yet one must ask
whether his disapproval was on account of the song or
of the sentiment. The latter is the more likely explana-
tion, since we have the tradition that ‘Umar was abroad
one day when the sound of the tambourine reached his
ears. ‘Umar asked what it was, and when he was told
that it was the merry-making at a circumcision, it is
distinctly stated that the khalif held his peace. 2

Several stories are told in the ‘Iqd al-fand concerning
‘Umar and music. In one of these, ‘Umar, when asking
a man to sing added, ” May Allah forgive you for it.”
The remark clearly shows how he stood in regard to the
conventional ban. Two nobles of the Quraish (one
of them being ‘Asim ibn ‘Amr), whom ‘Umar heard
singing, were dubbed ” asses ” by the khalif. On both
these occasions the singing was the rakbdni of the nasb,
which had tacitly been acknowledged to be ” allowable.” 3
‘Umar was wont to make a tour of Al-Medina at night,
so as to see that there were no infractions of the law. 4
On one occasion he came to a house where the master
was listening to the voice of his singing-girl and was
indulging in the wine-cup to boot. ‘Umar burst in upon
the scene crying, ” Shame on thee.” The shamed one
turned the tables on the khalif by retorting, ” Shame on
thee for violating the sanctity of the household, which is
forbidden by the word of Allah.” 5 The author of the
Kitdb al-agham says, ” It has been said that Khalif
‘Umar had composed a song, but nothing is less probable.”
Possibly, the historians had confused this khalif with the
later ‘Umar II (717-20), who was certainly a composer.
Yet ‘Umar I has been claimed as a poet by Ibn Hajar 6
and Ibn Duraid. 7

‘Uthman (644-56) was the next khalif, and under his
rule a great change came to the social and political life
of the Arabs. Unlike his predecessor, ‘Umar, who was

1 Ibn al-Faqih, Bibl. Geog. Arab., v, 43.

1 Taj al-arus, sub ‘azifa. See also Ibn Khallikan, i, 359.

‘Iqd al-farid, iii, 178-9.

4 Cf . Syed Ameer All, Short History, 67.

Lammens, iii, 275. Cf. Al-Tabarl, i, 2742.

Ibn Hajar, ii, 21.

‘ Ibn Duraid, Ishtiqdt, 225. Cf. Al-Baladhurl, 99.


content to sit on the steps of the mosque at Al-Medina
eating his barley-bread and dates, ‘Uthman was fond
of wealth and display. With the vast treasures and
crowds of captives which kept pouring into Al-Hijaz
from conquered lands, the Arabs were able to build up
for themselves such glories as they had seen and envied
in other Arabian lands, as well as in Persia and the
Byzantine Empire, which had fallen to their swords.
Gorgeous palaces, large retinues of slaves, brilliant
equipages and sumptuous living became the order of
the day not only in Al-‘Iraq and Syria, which already
knew of these things, but even in the holy cities of Al-
Hijaz. In all the palaces and houses of the nobility and
the wealthy, music and musicians came in for special
indulgence, in spite of the averred ban of the Prophet,
and the murmurs of the stricter Muslims.

‘All (656-61) was himself a poet, and he was the first
khalif who extended any open and real protection to the
fine arts and letters by authorizing the study of the
sciences, poetry and music. 1 From this date, the future
of music was assured, and when the Khalif ate passed from
the Rdshidun khalifs to the Umayyad dynasty, the art
had practically become established in the court of the
very ” successor ” of the Prophet.


The general position of music and musicians, together
with considerable details of the theory and practice of the
art in the early days of the Khalif ate, seem fairly well
defined by the annalists. In the first half-century of
Islam, the conditions, as we have seen, were scarcely
propitious for the arts. Not only were men’s minds
centred on the battle throng, but the austerity of life
under the new regime left little room for these things.
In Pagan days the tribes would dispute the pre-eminence
of one poet over another, but now they squabbled over
the precise way of reading the Qur’dn. Yet there were
new social forces at work in Al-I3ijaz. The propagation

1 Salvador-Daniel, 20.


of Islam by the sword brought its own revenge. The
Arab armies had reclaimed Babylonia and Mesopotamia
from the Persians. Syria and Egypt had been wrested
from Byzantium. Finally, the great land of Persia
itself had been conquered. The banner of Islam had not
only linked up the two extremes of Arab social life, the
nomads of the desert and the cultured citizens of Al-Hira,
Al-Yaman and Ghassan, but it had brought them in
touch with civilizations which were more cultured and
refined than anything that Al-Hijaz, the political centre,
had hitherto experienced. The result was that Al-
Medlna, the seat of the Khalifate, became ” the centre
of attraction, not to the hosts of Arabia only, but also
to enquirers from abroad. Here flocked the Persian,
the Greek, the Syrian, the ‘Iraqian, and the African.” 1
The influence of these people cannot be ignored, although
the induction of alien elements must not be overstated.
Clearly, the Arabs were too jealous of encroachments
upon that sacred and superior thing called Arab nation-
ality to permit of ” foreign ” ways and customs to any
great degree. Every word of ‘Umar tells us that. 2
Islam meant much in these days, but the word ” Arab ”
meant more. 3

We have seen that during the ” Days of Idolatry ”
music, as a profession, was in the hands of the women-folk
and slave-girls for the greater part, at any rate in Al-Hijaz
and the peninsula generally. This continued for the first
decade of the Khalifate. During the reign of ‘Uthman
(644-56), however, a new figure appears in Al-Hijaz the
male professional musician. He was quite common in
Persia and Al-Hira, whilst in Byzantium and Syria he
had had a place from time immemorial. It is worthy
of note from whence this innovation came. The first
male professional musicians in Al-Hijaz belonged to a
class known as the mukhannathun (sing. mukhannath) t
who were evidently unknown in Pagan times. 4 These
people were an effeminate class who dyed their hands and

1 Syed Ameer All, Mohammad, 531.
Al-Jabarl, i, 2751.

Jurji Zaidan, 29-31.

* Lane, Lexicon, s.v.


affected the habits of women. 1 The first male profes-
sional musician in the days of Islam is generally acknow-
ledged to have been Tuwais the mukhannath, and indeed,
it is said that “in Al-Medina, music (ghina’) had its
origin among the mukhannathun.”*

The circumstance scarcely augured well for music.
Already the stricter Muslims had proscribed this art,
or at any rate looked upon it as something disreputable.
No wonder that it had become part and parcel of the
malahl or ” forbidden pleasures,” and linked up with
wine-bibbing, gaming and fornication. 3 Indeed, the
notoriety of the singing-girls of the taverns had led to
such terms as mughanniya (female musician), sanndja
(female saw; player), and zammdra (female zamr player) be-
ing considered as synonyms for courtesan and adulteress. 4
Now there was added the disrepute of the mukhannathiln.
Yet in spite of these unpleasant associations, the art
was able to throw off much of the anathema hurled against
it. This was mainly owing to the interest displayed by
the upper classes, and also perhaps to the old musical
traditions of Al-Medina, the city of the Ansar who had
always been keen lovers of the song, as even the Prophet
himself had testified.

At first, all the professional musicians, male and female,
came from the servile class, slaves or free-folk. These
latter were called the mawdli (sing, mauld) . Ibn Khaldun
has said that the Arabs, in their exercise of military
command and government service, were led to look
upon the arts as beneath their personal attention. The
study and cultivation of such things were for the mawdli,
who were, for the most part, Persians. That is substan-
tially true. The Arabs looked upon themselves as the
elect of Allah, the aristocracy of nations, whose only
” business ” was that of the warrior. It does not mean,

l For these mukhannatkun see Aghanl, i, 97, 108. ii, 170-1. iv,
35. 59, 61. Abu’1-Fida’, Annales Moslemici (Reiske), i, 109. Ibn
Khallikan, i, 438. Kosegarten, Lib. Cant., 1 1 . Burton, Arabian Nights,
Terminal Essay. Caetani, ii (i), 175, and the lexica of Lane and

Aghanl, iv, 161. Probably a canard of the legists (ulamd’).

8 Abu Muslim, ajilh t ii, 123.

Al-‘Askad. (Quoted by Lammens iii, 235).


however, that they ceased to be interested in the arts,
for never in the history of the East did they flourish
as they did under the Khalifate. Nor does it mean, as
so many have assumed, that the arts which were encour-
aged were wholly alien importations. 1 Nothing can be
further from the truth. We may talk about music being
an international language, but to the Arab it could not
be divorced from song. He had his own national dis-
positions, and perhaps pre-dispositions, to be satisfied
on the purely melodic and mensural or rhythmic side,
which no alien music could satiate. He obviously had
an indigenous musical system which was different to
some extent from that of Persia and Byzantium.

The first male professional musician in Islam, Tuwais,
was evidently an Arab, or at least he appears to have been
born and educated in Arabia, and therefore had been
schooled in the national music. 2 Sa’ib Khathir, although
the son of a Persian slave, was brought up to Arabian
music, and only learned some of the tricks of the Persian
art later. ‘Azza al-Maila’, one of the first important
female professional musicians in Islam, boasted that she
carried on the musical traditions of the old Pagan song-
stresses of Arabia, Sinn, Zirnab, Khaula, Al-Rabab,
Salma and Ra’iqa, her own teacher. It was her renderings
of the old Arabian music that brought her fame. That
she also sang Persian melodies is merely incidental,
as it was with other musicians.

What the music of the Arabs was like at this period
we can conjecture from the names of their musical
instruments and the various technical musical expres-
sions. Among the stringed instruments we read of the
mi’zafa (? psaltery) and mi’zaf (? barbiton). 3 The former
was especially favoured in Al-Yaman, but also common
perhaps in Al-Hijaz. 4 The mizhar was a lute, apparently

1 ‘Umar detested the Persians and would have none of their refine-
ments for his people. He had the palace of Sa’d ibn Abl Waqqas at
Al-Kufa burned. It had been built by the Muslims in imitation of the
Persian Taq-i Khusrau, at Al-Mada’in.

1 The date of his birth, 632, proves that to some extent.

See my Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments, pp. 7-8.

4 Aghanl, xvi, 13. Al-Mas’udl, viii, 93. Lane, Lexicon, s.v.


with a skin belly, which had considerable vogue, 1 although
it had been superseded, to a considerable extent probably,
by the ‘ud, a wooden-bellied lute, introduced about the
close of the previous century from Al-Hira. a The
tunbur or pandore appears to have received greater
appreciation in Al-‘Iraq, 3 where the jank or harp was
also afforded grace.

Among the wind instruments, the vertical flute was
known as the qussdba or qa$aba,* whilst the reed-pipe
was called the mizmdr, a term also used for wood-wind
instruments in general, as we have seen. 5 The horn
or clarion was the buq, 6 although it was not yet a martial

First among the instruments of percussion was the
qadib or wand, which was popular with those who sang
the improvisation (murtajal). 7 The duff or square
tambourine was another favoured instrument for marking
the rhythms or measures. 8 The sunnuj saghwa were
the small metal castanets which were part of the im-
pedimenta of the dancers. Finally, the term fabl covered
the drum family proper.

In chamber music we do not read of a combination
of these different instruments in performance, although
this does not preclude the possibility of it. 9 Tuwais,
the first male professional musician in Islam, never
accompanied himself with any other instrument save the
duff. ‘Azza al-Maila’ is usually represented playing on
the old Arabian mi’zafa and mizhar, although she could
also play the ‘ud. Sa’ib Khathir began his career with the
qadib, but later he took up the ‘ud, and he is claimed to
have been the first in Al-Medina to accompany his singing
with the ‘ud, which looks as though the instrument
had previously been used only for purely instrumental
performances, or else that it had fallen into desuetude
under early Islamic rigours.

Considerable progress was made on the technical
side of the art. This was due to a variety of causes.

1 Aghani, xvi, 13-14. Al-Mas’udI, viii, 93-4.

Aghanl, v, 161. * Lane, Lexicon, s.v.

Mufa^cUiyydt, xvii. Lane, Lexicon, s.v.

Aghanl, vii, 188. Aghanl , ii, 174. Ibid.


First, there were the new ideas which came to the Arabs
through the fresh culture contacts. Then there was the
rise of a professional class of male musicians. Finally,
the inordinate passion for music, which found its lead in
the highest circles, gave an impetus to improvement
on the technical side, so as to meet with the new demands
that verse was making.

It was the patronage of the art and its professors by
the nobility that put the hall-mark of ” respectability ”
and ” allowableness ” upon music. ‘A’isha, the favourite
wife of the Prophet, Al-Hasan, the grandson of Khalif
‘All, Sukaina, the daughter of Al-Husain, Sa’d ibn Abi
Waqqas, ‘ A’isha bint Sa’d, Mus’ab ibn al-Zubair, ‘A’isha
bint Talha, and ‘Abdallah ibn Ja’far, were all keen
supporters of music and protectors of its professors.
At a reception given by ‘A’isha bint Talha, the wife of
Mus’ab ibn al-Zubair, a prominent professional songstress
like ‘Azza al-Maila’, who was engaged to entertain the
guests, was treated on an equality with the noble dames of
the Quraish. ‘Abdallah ibn Ja’far, himself a brilliant
amateur, made his palace a veritable conservatory of
music. 1 He was the patron of most of the eminent
musicians of the day, and among them, Tuwais, Sa’ib
Khathir, Nashlt, Nafi’ al-Khair, Budaih al-Mal!h, Qand,
and ‘Azza al-Maila’.

Fresh culture contacts found expression in new types
of song or styles of singing. The prisoners captured
in the Persian wars were toiling as slaves on the public
works at Al-Medina, and their national melodies began
to attract considerable attention. Tuwais, the leading
Arab musician of the day, found it profitable to imitate
their style. Later, a Persian slave named Nashlt,
became the rage on account of the vogue for Persian airs.
Sa’ib Khathir also realized that he had to fall in with the
popular demand and supply his public with the latest
craze. Even ‘Azza al-Maila’, the conservatrix of the old
Arabian art, had to go to Nashlt and Sa’ib Khathir
so as to learn these novel fancies. Yet, as I have pointed

1 Al-Mas’udI, v, 385. Cf. De Meynard’s translation of this passage.
Jurjl Zaidan, 89. ‘Iqd al-fartd, iii, 198.


out elsewhere, 1 there is no question of any musical system
or theory being borrowed from the Persians, since it
was no more than one nationality borrowing from the
other a particular type of song or style of singing, and the
imitation is expressly mentioned in the Kitab al-aghdm
as being connected with the melody. Indeed, we know
that Nashit himself had to take lessons from Sa’ib
Khathir in the Arabian type of song or style of singing,
so as to meet the demands of his patrons.

That progress was made in the art at this period is
stressed by the historians. We have seen that in the
” Days of Idolatry ” there was only one type of song
known in Al-Hijaz, and that was the nasb, which was
merely an improved hudd’ or caravan song. This is
said to have been made up of ” measured melodies ”
(alhdn mauzuna), although we must not suppose that this
measure referred to the iqd* or ” rhythm ” that we read
of later, but rather that the melody was measured
according to the prosodical feet (arud).

About the close of the ” Orthodox ” period, we read of
the introduction of a more artistic genre of music called
the ghind’ al-mutqan, whose special feature was the
application of an iqa’ or rhythm to the melody of the
song, which was independent of the metre (‘artid)
of the verse. Whatever may have prompted it, its pro-
duction would appear to have been quite indigenous,
and seemingly was an offshoot from metrical principles.
At any rate it was scarcely borrowed from the Persians,
who have been claimed as the inventors of iqff or
” rhythm ” by Ibn Khurdadhbih, 2 if we are to credit the
assertion that they were unacquainted with metre at this
time. 3 We certainly know that subsequent to the
introduction of the ghind al-mutqan, with its rhythms
into Al-Hijaz, the Persian-minded city of Al-Hira was
still using the older type of song of the genre of the

The conflicting claims in the Kitab al-aghdni make

1 Farmer, Facts for the Arabian Musical Influence, p. 53
Al-Mas’udI, viii, 90.

Browne, Sources of Dawlatshdh, in J.R.A.S. (1899), pp. 56, 61, 62.
Cf. his Literary History of Persia, i, 12-14.


it rather difficult to appreciate the actual innovations
in the ghind’ al-mutqan. Ibn al-Kalbi (d. 819), a most
reliable traditionist, 1 who passed on traditions from his
father, who was a really scientific enquirer in his way,
tells us something about the various genres of music.
He says, ” Music (ghind’) is in three styles (awjuh) the
nasb, the sindd, and the hazaj. As for the nasb, it is
the music of the riders (rukbdri) and the singing-girls
(qaindf). As for the sindd, it is the heavy refrain, full
of notes (naghamdt). And as for the hazaj, it is the
light [song], all of it, and it is that which stirs the hearts
and excites the forbearing.” 2 Evidently it was the
sindd and hazaj that were introduced in the ghind’
al-mutqan at the time that we are speaking of.

In the Kitdb al-aghdni we are informed through a long
string of authorities ending with Al-Kalbi (d. 763) and
Abu Miskm, that ” the first who sang in Arabic [?] in
Al-Medlna was Tuwais,” and again that ” the first
music (ghind’) was his [Tuwais’] music, with the hazaj
in it ” :

” Love has so emaciated me,
That through it I am almost melting away.” 3

In another place in the same work (as though it were
another Tuwais) we are told that Tuwais was ” the first
to sing the ghind’ al-mutqan” and that he was the fore-
most exponent of the hazaj rhythm. 4 The author
(d. 940) of the ‘ Iqd al-farid says, ” The first of those who
sang in the time of Islam the graceful music (ghind 9
al-raqiq) was Tuwais.” 6 Finally, the Kitdb al-aghdm

1 Encyclopedia of Islam, ii, 689.

1 ‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 186. Al-Mas’udI (viii, 93) on the authority of Ibn
Khurdadhbih (ca. 870-92) has a slightly different version. He says :
” Music (ghind’) is the nasb which comprises three genres the rakbdnl
( *= ghind’ al-rukbdn) the sindd or heavy, and the hazaj or light.” The
word nasb appears to have got shifted from its place after genres.

The passage in the ‘Iqd al-farld also occurs in the Mustatraf (i5th
cent.), ii, 134. Mitjana in Le Monde Orientals (1906, p. 205) attributes
the tradition in the Mustatraf to Abu Muhammad al-Mundhirl. This
is an error. The author of the Mustatraf says that it is Abu Mundhir
Hisham, i.e., Ibn al-Kalbl. In fact, all of the chapters dealing with
music in the Mustafraf appear to have been lifted from the ‘Iqd al-farld.

Aghdnl, ii, 170. Aghdnl t iv, 38. ‘Iqd al-farld t iii, 187.


says, ” The first in Al-Medma to sing the music intro-
ducing in it the iqd* (rhythm) was Tuwais.”

It is this last tradition which appears to sum up the
truth of all the others, and that is that the graceful
music (ghina’ al-raqiq) or artistic music (ghina’ al-mutqan)
was that which employed a new device of rhythmical
symmetry quite independent of the metrical structure
of the verse. The first iqd f (rhythm) introduced was the

Another claimant for honours in introducing the
” new music ” is ‘Azza al-Maila’, since it is said that
” she was the first who sang the rhythmic song (ghina’
al-mauqi’) in Al-Hijaz.” 1 Sa’ib Khathir also contributed
a share to this ” new music,” and Ibn al-Kalbi says that
the song commencing :

” Why are these homes desolated,
The sport of wind and rain ? ”

which is in the iqa’ (rhythm) called thaqil awwal, was the
first song in the music of the Arabs of artistic and savant
composition in the days of Islam. 2 These rhythmic
modes, which became a special feature in Arabian music,
were soon extended, as we shall see. Meanwhile we turn
to the melody.

Music was known by the generic term ghina , which
primarily meant ” song,” hence mughann or mughannl
stood generally for ” musician,” although in its specific
sense it implied ” singer.” Music was also called tarab,
hence mutrib meant ” musician,” or from a point of view
of the stricter Muslim, music was lahw (lit. ” entertain-
ment “) and musical instruments were dubbed malahi.
Throughout the Kitdb al-aghdm we find the verses
that were set to music superscribed with the term saut,
and the word was strictly confined to ” vocal music,”
although later it came to be used by the theorists to mean
“noise” in contradistinction to fawn (“tone”) and
naghma (“musical note”). An interval was called a

1 Aghanl, xvi, 13.
vii, t88.


nabra in these days, 1 although there were no names for
the specific intervals, save in the nomenclature of the
finger-places on the lute, such as mutlaq (” open string “),
sabbdba (” first finger “), wustd (” second finger “), binsir
(“third finger”), and khinsir (“fourth finger”). It is
highly probable, however, that the terms for the tonic
and octave at this period were sajah (shuhdj) and
iyydh. 2

The term for melody was lahn, and all serious or artistic
music was composed in certain melodic modal formulas
called asdbi’ (” fingers,” sing. asba 1 ). At first we meet
with these modes described merely according to their
majrd or ” course.” 3 There were two ” courses,”
the binsir and wustd. Later, the asdbi’ are more clearly
designated by their tonics.


Among the names of the great musicians of the first
days of Islam are a few that have been preserved in song,
story, verse and proverb among the Arabs, which show
the high esteem in which they were held. Fortunately,
we have precise details of their lives from other sources,
for the most part from that mine of Arabian verse and
history, the great Kitdb al-aghani.

The first musician to make a name under Islam was
Tuwais (“The Little Peacock”), whose full name was
Abu ‘Abd al-Muna”am ‘Isa ibn ‘Abdallah al-Dha’ib
(632-710) 4 He was a freeman (mauld) of the Banu
Makhzum and belonged to Al-Medina, having been
brought up in the household of Arwa’, the mother of
Khalif ‘Uthman. Whilst he was still young, he was

1 See the definitions in the Taj al-‘arus ; Land, Remarks, etc., p. 156.
Ribera, La mfisica de las cantigas, p. 23. Hasan Husnl ‘Abdulwahab,
Le Developpement de la Musique Arabe en Orient , Espagne et Tunisie
(Tunis, 1918), p. 5.

See the Mafdtlh al-‘ulum, 240, and Land, Remarks, 157.

* Aghanl, ii, 171. xvi, 16.

Freytag, Arab. Prov., xiii, 158. Ibn Khallikan, i, 438. The
proverb, ” More unfortunate than Tuwais ” was due to the fact that
all the great events of his life, his birth, circumcision, marriage, etc.,
happened to fall on the dates when one of the illustrious men of Islam


attracted by the melodies sung by the Persian slaves
who were employed at Al-Medina, and he imitated their
style. According to Ibn Badrun, it was in the later years
of Khalif ‘Uthman (644-66) that Tuwais rose to fame. 1
He is highly esteemed in Arabian annals for his musical
abilities. Ibn Suraij, his pupil, called him the finest
singer of his day, whilst he was considered the greatest
exponent in the hazaj rhythm. We have already seen
that he is generally credited with being the first to sing
the ” new music ” which was introduced in his time.
According to the Kitdb al-aghdni, he only used the square
tambourine called the duff in accompanying himself,
which he carried in a bag, 2 or in his robe. 3

Like the majority of the first male musicians in Al-
Medina at this period, he was socially an outcast, by
reason of his being a mukhannath.* Yet he was highly
esteemed by the nobility. When Mu’awiya I (661-80)
ascended to the Khalifate, Marwan ibn al-Hakam, the
governor of Al-Medina, offered a reward for every
mukhannath that was delivered into his hands. One of
these, Al-Naghashi, was put to death. 6 Tuwais sought
refuge at Suwaida on the road to Syria. Here, the old
musician remained until his death, full of bitterness that
his musical reputation had not exempted him from the
edict of Marwan the governor. Among his pupils were
Ibn Suraij, Al-Dalal Nafidh, Nauma al-Duha, and Fand. 6

Sa’ib Khathir (d. 683) or more properly, Abu Ja’far
Sa’ib ibn Yassar, was the son of a Persian slave in the
service of the Laith family of Al-Medina. Given his
freedom, he entered commercial life, and in his leisure
hours he attended the weekly concerts of the na’ihdt
(female singers of elegies), which gave him an ambition

1 Ibn Badrun, 64.

*’Iqd al-farld, iii, 186. Aghanl ii, 174.

4 Hence the proverb, ” More effeminate than Tuwais.” Freytag,
Arab. Prov. t vii, 124.

* Aghanl, ii, 171. Tuwais was scarcely the first mukhannath in
Al-Medina as this author says. Cf. Al-Bukharl, iv, 32. Al-TirmidhI, i,
271. Ibn al-Ath!r, Usd al-ghaba, iv, 268.

Aghanl , ii, 170-76. iv, 38-9. ‘ Iqd al-farld, iii, 1 86. Ibn Khallikan,
ii, 438. Guidi makes out that there were two musicians named



to be a singer. Devoting himself to the art, he made such
progress that one day, a noble of the Quraish, ‘Abdallah
ibn Ja’far, hearing him sing, took him into his service.
At this time, following the practice of untutored musicians,
he merely accompanied himself with the qadib or wand,
but he soon abandoned this for the ‘ud (lute), and he is
credited with being the first in Al-Medina to accompany
his songs with this instrument. When Nashit the Persian
became the rage on account of his national airs, Sa’ib
showed that he could sing the same to Arabic verse.
He is also reputed to have been the originator of the
thaqll awwal rhythm, and the first song in which he used
it is esteemed to be the first song in Arabian music of
artistic composition.

When his protector, ‘Abdallah ibn Ja’far, visited
Khalif Mu’awiya I (661-80) at Damascus, he took Sa’ib
with him. As this khalif was influenced by the conven-
tional ban on music, ‘Abdallah had to introduce this
musician to court as a poet who ” embellished ” his verse.
After Sa’ib had given a display of his singing, which his
protector had called ” embellished verse,” the khalif
rewarded Sa’ib with a present. During the reign of
Yazid I, the people of Al-Medina revolted, and an army
was sent against the rebels. One of the first innocent
victims of the soldiery after the battle of Al-Harra
(683) was the musician Sa’ib Khathir. Sa’ib had four
eminent pupils ‘Azza al Maila’, Ibn Suraij, Jamila,
and Ma’bad. 1

‘Azza al-Maila’ (d. ca. 705) received her cognomen on
account of her figure. She was a handsome half-caste
of Al-Medina, and was a pupil of an old songstress named
Ra’iqa, who taught her the music of olden days, such as
had been sung or played by Slrin, Zirnab, Khaula, Al-
Rabab and Salma. Later she learned some of the
Persian airs from Nashit and Sa’ib Khathir. As a young
woman, we find her with her teacher, Ra’iqa, and the
poet Hassan ibn Thabit (d. ca. 674) at the best festivities
in Al-Medma. This was in the reign of ‘Uthman. The
weekly concerts at her house attracted a throng of

*Aghanl t vii, 188-90.


dilettanti, and her influence was felt even at Mecca. 1
Tuwais, who attended these concerts, testified that
” the most complete propriety was observed at them.”
Strict silence was demanded from the audience, and the
slightest misbehaviour was reproved by a stroke with a
stick. 2

The extraordinary popularity of ‘Azza al-Maila’
scandalized the stricter Muslims, and during the reign
of Mu’awiya I (661-80) they complained to Sa’id ibn
al-‘As, the governor of Al-Medina, who would have upheld
their grievance had not the great art patron, ‘Abdallah
ibn Ja’far intervened. Many poets and musicians sang
her praises. Hassan ibn Thabit said that her performances
reminded him of the artistic music at the Ghassanid
court in the ” Days of Idolatry/’ Tuwais said that she
was the ” Queen of Singers/’ Although she made a
speciality of playing the mizhar and mi’zafa, which were
the instruments of the olden days, we have it on the
authority of Ma’bad that she excelled in playing the
*ud. The date of her death has not been recorded, but
she died before 710. 3 There was a later songstress named
Na’ila bint al-Maila’, who was probably her daughter. 4

Nashit was a Persian slave in the service of ‘Abdallah
ibn Ja’far, who freed him later. He created a furore
in Al-Medina on account of his Persian melodies, and
Arab singers were compelled to adopt Persian airs for
their repertory in consequence. At the same time,
Nashit had to take lessons from Sa’ib Khathir in order
to learn the Arabian melodies, so as to keep pace with
his rivals. Nashit had the honour of being one of the
teachers of ‘Azza al-Maila’ and Ma’bad. 5 We read of
a Hammad ibn Nashit, who appears to have been his
son. 6

Hunain al-Hiri was the usual name given to Abu
Ka’b Hunain ibn Ballu’ al-Hiri (d. ca. 718). As his name
implies, he was a native of Al-Hira, and he appears to
have been an Arab of the Banu’l-Harith ibn Ka’b, and

1 Aghanl, x, 55.

1 Aghanl, xvi, 14. We read of the same custom in Plato’s Laws, 700.

Aghanl> xvi, 13-20. ‘Aghanl, v, 176

Aghanl, vii, 188. Aghanl, iv, 61.


a Christian, which partly explains why he, an Arab, is
to be found among the purveyors of this illicit calling of
music. As a young man he followed the employment of
a flower-seller, and this took him to the houses of the
nobility and wealthy classes, where he became infatuated
with the performances of the singing-girls, until one
day he decided to become a musician. After studying
under good masters, 1 he became a first-rate performer
on the ( ud, an excellent singer, and a composer of repute.
He was the first in Al-‘Iraq in the time of Islam, to cul-
tivate the artistic song in the sindd genre, his predecessors,
we are told, having been satisfied with the hazaj, which
was, at this time, little different from the nab in Al-‘Iraq.

Hunain must have started his career in the time of
‘Uthman (644-56) at least. During the reign of ‘Abd
al-Malik (685-705), the governor of Al-‘Iraq, Khalid ibn
‘Abdallah al-Qasri, interdicted music and musicians,
but owing to the reputation of Hunain, the latter was
permitted to follow his avocation, provided that no bad
or dissolute characters were admitted to audition.
When Bishr ibn Marwan, the brother of Khalif ‘Abd
al-Malik, became governor, the edict was rescinded and
Hunain was summoned to his palace at Al-Kufa, where
he remained in constant attendance on this prince.

About the year 718, the virtuosi of Al-Hijaz, desiring
to pay their respects to their venerable confrere of
Al-‘Iraq, invited him to Mecca. Here, an illustrious
gathering of musicians, poets and dilettanti received him
with pomp and ceremony. At the residence of Sukaina
bint al-Husain, a liberal patroness of music, a grand
musical fete was prepared, and during its progress a
gallery which had become overcrowded with the audience
collapsed, and the aged Hunain was killed. On the author-
ity of his son ‘Ubaidallah, Hunain al-HIri is to be ranked
among ” the four great singers ” of Islam. 2

Ahmad al-Nasibi, or Ahmad ibn Usama al-Hamdani,
belonged to Al-Kufa. It seems that he began his musical

1 ‘Umar al-Wadl and Hakam al-Wadl are mentioned as the teachers
of Hunain, but their dates preclude the possibility of this.
Aghdnl, ii, 120-27. Cf. post. p. 80.


career during the ” Orthodox ” Khalifate. He was an
Arab, and a kinsman of the poet A’sha Hamdan (d. 702),
whose companion he was. His singing of the poet’s
verses brought him fame. He was a master of the type of
song called the nasb, and it was due to him that it was
introduced into serious music. Apparently, he was the
first in the days of Islam to make a name as a performer
on the tunbur (pandore). He became the minstrel and
boon companion of ‘Ubaidallah ibn Ziyad (d. 685), who
was governor of Al-Kufa. Although Jahza al-Barmaki
the author of the Kitdb al-tunburiyym speaks of him with
contempt, the author of the Kitdb al-aghdni says that
he was unrivalled as a composer and performer on the
tunbur.’ 1

Qand of Al-Medma was another of the musicians of
the ” first period,” says the ‘Iqd al-farid. He was a
freeman of Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas (d. 670) and ‘A’isha
the ” Mother of the Faithful,” was particularly attached
to him. Sa’d once thrashed Qand, and this so enraged
‘A’isha that she refused to speak to the noble Quraishite
until he had begged the musician’s pardon. Qand was
alive as late as the appointment of Sa’id ibn al-‘A
(d. 672-78) to the governorship of Al-Medina. 2

Fand or Find, sometimes called Abu Zaid, was a freeman
of ‘A’isha bint Sa’d. He was a man of debauched
character, although a fine musician. His remissness
passed into the proverb, ” More delaying than Fand/’ 3
He lived to take part in the famous Jamila pilgrimage
in the days of the Umayyads. 4

Al-Dalal Nafidh 6 Abu Yazid belonged to Al-Medina
and was a freeman of the Banu Fahm. He was also in
the service of ‘A’isha bint Sa’d. Khalif ‘Abd al-Malik
(685-705) favoured him, for he was a fine musician and

*AghZnl, v, 161-4.

1 Aghanf, vii, 135. ‘Iqd al-farid, Hi, 189. Cf. Qa’Id mentioned by
Von Hammer, Lit. der Arab., ii, 705.

* Freytag, Arab. Prov., ii, 159. iii, 81.

4 Agh&nl, xvi, 60-1. vii, 135. Fand and the preceding Qand would
appear to be the same person.

Written Al-Dallal by De Meynard and Freytag. Cf . Kosegarten
Lib. Cant., and Lane, Lexicon, sub ” khanatha. The Sasi edition of
the Aghdnl has Nafid, and Von Hammer says Naqid.


had studied under Tuwais. Like his teacher, he was a
mukhannath, and he is pilloried by Al-Maidam in the pro-
verb, ” More effeminate than Al-Dalal.” His melodies
were imitated a century later by one of the most famous
of Arab musicians Ibrahim al-Mausili. 1

Budaih al-Malih was a freeman of ‘Abdallah ibn
Ja’far (d. 699) together with Nafi’ al-Khair and Nauma
al-Duha. All of these musicians took part in the Jamila
pilgrimage. Nauma al-Duha was taught by Tuwais,
and Nafi’ al-Khair was at the courts of Mu’awiya I
(661-80) and Yazid I (680-3). 2

In Al-‘Iraq were some lesser known musicians Zaid
ibn al-Talis, Zaid ibn Ka’b and Malik ibn Hamama. 3

* Aghanl, iv, 59-73. vii, 137. ‘ Iqd al-farid, iii, 187. Freytag,
Arab. Prov., vii, 96.

* Aghanl, xiv, Q-II. iii, 86. vii, 103, 104, 135. Cf. iv, 61, 129
(Hablb Nauma al Duha). ‘Iqd al-farld, 111, 186.

‘ 8 Aghanl, ii, 125.


(A.D. 661-750)

“There is no true joy but in lending ear to music.” 1

Khalif Al-Walid II.

THE Khalifate fell to the house of Umayya on the death
of ‘AH (661). Although the Umayyads ruled for nearly
a century, the stricter Muslims looked upon them as
usurpers, not merely because they came of the Pagan
aristocracy of ” unbelieving Mecca ” that had withstood
the Prophet, but on account of their worldly ways.
Yet it was under this dynasty that the Arabian empire
and Muslim civilization entered upon a path of glory.
The Khalifate extended its dominions eastward as far as
the Oxus and Indus, and westward as far as the Atlantic
and the Pyrenees. Indeed, it has well been said that
where the Orthodox khalifs had made Islam a religion,
the Umayyads had created it an empire. 2

The removal of the capital from Al-Medina to Damascus,
where it remained practically for the whole of the
Umayyad period, was not an auspicious event politically,
although culturally it made for progress. The wider
influence brought to intellectual life by closer contact
with Byzantium and Persia, lifted the people beyond the
confines of Islam and the insularity of Arabia. The
circumstance eventually re-acted on European culture
generally, for the Arabs became the pioneers of that
regeneration of culture which led to the Renaissance. 3

1 Nicholson, Risdlat al-ghufran (J.R.A.S., 1902), and Literary History
of the Arabs, 206.

2 Jurjl Zaidan, 74.

1 See my Arabian Influence on Musical Theory (1925).




Mu’awiya I (661-80) was a ruler of literary and artistic
tastes. 1 ” He assembled at his court all who were most
distinguished by scientific acquirements ; he surrounded
.himself with poets ; and as he had subjected to his
[dominion many of the Grecian isles and provinces, the
sciences of Greece first began, under him, to obtain an
influence over the Arabs/’ 2 Yet although the khalif
was susceptible to the charms of poetry, and his badawi
wife Maisun was an accomplished poetess, he appears
to have been swayed by the conventional ban against
artistic music. 3 His governors frequently interdicted
the art, and we know that when ‘Abdallah ibn Ja’far
wished to introduce a certain musician at court, he had
to plead that the latter was a ” poet/’ because the
khalif pretended that he had no idea of music and had
never admitted a musician into his presence. 4 Yet the
khalif was pleased with the performance of the so-called
” poet/’ who happened to be Sa’ib Khathir, one of the
foremost musicians of his day, who did not deliver
” poetry ” but sang before the khalif ! Towards the end
of his reign, Mu’awiya heard this musician once more in
Al-Medma, and rewarded him with a present.

Yazid I (680-83) was the son of Maisun, and it is no
wonder therefore that he had such inordinate tastes
for poetry and music. He was himself a poet of no mean
order, 5 and Al-Mas’udi says that he was “appassioned
for music (tarab),”* whilst in the Kitdb al-aghani we read
that he was ” the first to introduce musical instruments
(maldhi) and singers into the court.” 7 The strict Muslims

1 Al-Mas’udT, v, 77.

* Sismondi, i, 50.

3 Al-Tabarl, ii, 214. There was music of a kind at court, such as
the singing-girls provided. This we know from the pathetic song of
the khahf’s wife Maisun who longed for the desert tent instead of the
gilded court,

” The wind’s voice where the hill-path went
Was more than tambourine [s] can be.”

(Quoted by Nicholson, Lit. Hist, of the Arabs, 195.)
Cf. ‘Iqd al-fand, i, 318. iii, 238.
1 Lammens, iii, 193.

Al-Mas’udl, v, 156.
7 Aghanl, xvi, 70.

A History Of Arabian Music _01


were scandalized at the ” ungodliness of the court
wine and music, singing-men and singing-women, cock-
fighting and hounds.” 1

Mu’awiya II (683-84) and Marwan (684-85) only occu-
pied the throne for a year, too brief a space to have any
appreciable influence on the culture of the period. The
latter, however, banished all the mukhannathun from
Al-Medma when he was its governor as a prince, including
the famous musician Tuwais.

‘Abd al-Malik (685-705) gave general encouragement
to music and letters. He was ” a composer of no mean
merit,” and he ” encouraged poets with a princely
liberality.” 2 Both Ibn Misjah and Budaih al-Malih,
the best known musicians of the time, were patronized by
him. At the same time, so as to display some appearance
of ” orthodoxy,” he appears to have made a pretence
not only to be ignorant of music, but even to disapprove
of it. Before his courtiers, he censured music as ” de-
basing to manliness, and ruinous to dignity and honour,”
but he was taken to task by ‘Abdallah ibn Ja’far for this
opinion. 3 Again, in the Halbat al-kumait, it is said that
‘Abd al-Malik once simulated unacquaintance with the
purpose of the *ud (lute), but a freely-spoken courtier
answered that everyone present was fully informed
about the instrument, and no one more so than the
khalif himself, at which sally ‘Abd al-Malik was much
amused. From the Kitab al-aghdni we know that the
khalif was sufficiently well acquainted with music to be
able to ask for the hudd’, the ghind’ al-rukbdn, and the
ghind’ al-mutqan. The khalif s brother, Bishr ibn Mar-
wan, was a staunch patron of music.

Al-Walid I (705-15) reigned during a most eventful
period. The banner of Islam was planted within the
confines of China in the east, and on the shores of the
Atlantic in the west. The Mediterranean was crossed,
and the foundations of a western khalifate were laid in
Spain. ” In his reign,” says Muir, ” culture and the

iMuir, Caliphate, 314.

Muir, Caliphate, 344. Al-Mas’udI, v, 310.

‘Iqd al-farld t iii, 198.


arts began to flourish.” 1 The cultivation of music, in
spite of the high-handed measures of some of his gover-
nors, progressed by leaps and bounds. The chief musi-
cians of Mecca and Al-Medma, Ibn Suraij and Ma’bad,
were summoned to the court at Damascus, where they
were received with even greater appreciation and honour
than the poets. The khalif’s favourite minstrel was
Abu Kamil al-Ghuzayyil, who, he declared, was indis-
pensable to him. 2

Sulaiman (715-17) was a man of pleasure. Music was
for him not an art to be sought for itself alone, but as a
mere concomitant with the joys of the feast or hanm.
The singing-girls alone had his attention. 3 When he was
a prince, however, he had displayed a predilection for
music, since he was keen enough to offer a prize for com-
petition among the musicians of Mecca, and this during
a pilgrimage ! The first prize of 10,000 pieces of silver
was carried off by Ibn Suraij, whilst a like amount was
distributed among the other competitors. 4

‘Umar II (717-20) brought a change to the Khalifate.
He was pious and to some extent a bigot. The result
was that ” poets, orators, and such-like soon found that
his court was no place for them, while it was thronged
by godly and devout divines.” 5 Compared with his
predecessors, it became a proverbial expression among
the Arabs that whilst Al-Walid I was for art, and Sulaiman
was for women, ‘Umar II was for piety.* Yet before he
came to the throne he was not only fond of music, but was
actually a composer. In the Kitab al-aghdm he is
claimed to have been the first khalif who composed songs,
and the words and ” modes ” of these compositions are
mentioned. 7 This was when ‘Umar was governor of
Al-Hijaz, and surrounded by a music-loving aristocracy.
When he became khalif, however, listening to music
was forbidden. It came to his notice on one occasion
that a judge (qddl) of Al-Medina had become a veritable
slave to the accomplishments of one of his singing-girls.

Muir, Caliphate. 361. Aghanl, vi, 144.

Cf. Aghanl, iv, 60-2. Aghanl , i, 126.

Muir, Caliphate, 369. Fakhvl, 173. T Aghanl , viii, 149-50.


The khalif decided to dismiss him from office, but first
sent for both the judge and his singing-girl. When they
appeared before him, the latter was commanded to sing.
The khalif was deeply moved by the charm of her voice
and the sentiment of her song, and turning to the judge
he said, ” Thy crime is nothing. Return to thy post,
and may Allah guide thee.” 1

Yazid II (720-24) brought back music and poetry to
the court and public life, although he went to the very
opposite extreme from his predecessor. Like his uncle,.
Yazid I, he was a man ” without religion ” according
to the orthodox annalists, and he cultivated music and
the song on every hand. Ibn Suraij, Ma’bad, Malik,
Ibn ‘A’isha, Al-Baidhaq al-Ansan, Ibn Abi Lahab and
other musicians, were treated with generous bounty at his
court. Here, too, we see the lavish favours bestowed
on the singing-girls Sallama al-Qass and Habbaba, who
played important roles in political as well as musical
affairs during his reign. Yazid was utterly free from
religious prejudices. The singer Ibn Abi Lahab, who had
pleased the khalif with his singing one day was asked
by whom he had been taught. The musician replied,
” My father/’ Yazid replied, ” If you had received no
other heritage than this song, your father left you a
considerable fortune. 1 ‘ “But,” urged the singer, “my
father was an infidel and an enemy of the Prophet all
his life ! ” “I know,” said Yazid, ” yet he was such an
excellent musician that I have a certain sympathy for
him.” 2 Some of this khalif ‘s verses have been pre-
served. 3

Hisham (724-43) had a prosperous reign and it was
” one of the most exemplary of the Khalif ate either before
or after,” says Muir. 4 Of his attitude towards music
during his occupancy of the throne, we get no information
in the Kitdb al-aghdm, although we know that he had
musicians at court. Whilst he was a prince, he patronized
the doyen of the musicians of Al-‘Iraq, Hunain al-HIri,

Al-Mas’udI, v, 428.

Al-Mas’udI, v, 449.

Aghanl, xiii, 161.

4 Muir, Caliphate, 399. He abstained from wine (nabldh).


during a pilgrimage even, 1 which would lead one to de-
duce that he was not quite in agreement with the con-
ventional proscription. 2 Bar Hebraeus 3 tells us that
Hisham once admitted that he did not know the differ-
ence between a pandore (tunbur) and a lute (barbat),
but this story probably belongs to the same class as those
told of other khalifs. (See ante p. 61).

Al-Walid II (743-44) cared little for political life, and
it was from this time that the fortunes of the House of
Umayya began to wane. Like Yazid I, Al-Walid I,
and Yazid II, this khalif was absorbed in pleasure and was
an open-handed patron of the arts. Al-Mas’udi says
” He loved music (ghind’) and was the first to support
musicians from abroad, showing publicly his pleasure
in the wine-cup, the revels (maldhi) and the stringed
instrument ( ( azf). . . . The cultivation of music spread not
only among the leisured class, but with the people also,
whilst the singing-girls became the rage/’ 4 At his court,
musicians from all parts were welcomed with open arms,
and among them : Ma’bad, ‘Atarrad, Malik, Ibn ‘A’isha,
Dahman (al-Ashqar ?), ‘Umar al-Wadi, Hakam al-Wadi,
Yunus al-Katib, Al-Hudhali, Al-Abjar, Ash’ab ibn
Jablr, Abu Kamil al-Ghuzayyil and Yahya Qail. The
khalif himself was a born artiste, and he excelled in both
music and poetry, as we know from the Kitab al-aghani,
where a chapter is devoted to his accomplishments in
these arts. Besides being an excellent singer and a
performer on the ‘ud (lute) and the tall (drum), he was a
composer. 5 Unfortunately, he plunged into excesses,
and this ” alienated from him the regard of all the
better classes.” 8 This gave the ‘Abbasid faction, the
enemy of the House of Umayya, the opportunity to fur-
ther their propaganda against the “ungodly usurpers,”

1 Aghant, ii, 121.

His reproof of Ibn ‘A’isha for singing (Aghdnl, xiii, 127) was only
because it interfered with the progress of a caravan. Similarly his
punishment of Yunus al-Katib was not on account of music, but because
the words libelled a lady.

Bar Hebraeus, 207.

Al-Mas’udi, vi, 4.

Aghdnl, viii, 161-2.

Muir, Caliphate, 403.


as they termed the Umayyads. The reign of Al-Walid II
was short, but a great deal was done for music during
those fleeting years. ” The love of music/’ said Sayyid
Amir ‘All, ” grew almost into a craze, and enormous
sums were spent on famous singers and musicians.” 1

Yazld III (744) only reigned six months. He appears
to have been equally favourable towards music, and he
instructed his governor of Khurasan, Nasr ibn Sayyar,
to furnish him with ” every kind of musical instrument,”
as well as a number of singing-girls. 2 On the other hand,
Al-Ghazali hands down the saying attributed to this
khalif, which bespeaks rigid orthodoxy on the question
of ” listening to music.” Yazld III is credited with these
words: “Beware of singing for it maketh modesty to be
lacking and increaseth lust and ruineth manly virtue ;
and verily it takes the place of wine and does what
drunkenness does ; and if ye cannot avoid having to do
with it, keep it out of the way of women, for singing
incites to fornication.” 3

Marwan II (744-50) was the last of the Umayyad
khalifs in the East. The whole of his reign was taken up
with internecine strife, which enabled the ‘Abbasids,
whose seat was in Khurasan, to raise the standard of
revolt. On the 25th January, 750, the famous battle of
the Zab was fought. It sealed the fate of the Umayyads
and culminated in the death of Marwan II. It was the
end, too, of the purely Arabian period in the national
music, which, in spite of Persian and Byzantine in-
fluences, seems to have held its own during the reign of
the Umayyads. For a continuation of the old art we
have to turn to the west, where a scion of the House of
Umayya was to raise a sultanate and Khalif ate in a land
known as Al-Andalus (Spain).

The indifference of the Umayyads towards Islam
augured well for musical art. The new khalifs represented

* Syed Ameer All, Short History.
Muir, Caliphate, 406.

Al-Ghazali, op. cit., 248-9.


the old Pagan ideas of the Arabs, and so far as they had
any religion, says Muir, they were Unitarians, ” and so
might be called Muslims ; but in the matter of drinking
wine and most other things, they set Islam at naught.” 1
Among the ” other things ” was music, and indeed the
Muslim purists did not forget to include music among
the ” sins ” of the Umayyads. Al-Hasan al-Basrl (d.
(728), a contemporary theologian, said concerning
Mu’awiya I, the least unorthodox of the Umayyads
save ‘Umar II, that he deserved damnation on four
points, one of them being that he had left the Khalifate
to Yazid I, who was ” a wine drinker, a player of the
funbur (pandore) and a wearer of silken garments.” 2
Yet we need give credit to but a tithe of the stories about
the profligacy of the Umayyads, since the ‘Abbasid
hatred of this dynasty accounts for many a canard.

With the exception of the reigns of Mu’awiya I, ‘Abd
al-Malik and ‘Umar II, the courts were thronged with
musicians both male and female, and the greatest en-
couragement given to the art. The honours showered
upon singers and instrumentalists and the largesses
bestowed can only be equalled in the ” Golden Age ”
of the ‘ Abbasids. The Umayyads, however, had political
as well as artistic reasons for these favours. It was the
singer who, by setting the panegyrics and satires of the
court poets to music, reached the ear of the populace. 3
As Lammens says, the singer and the poet were the jour-
nalists of their day. 4 A poet like Jarir might affect
to look down on the singer as he does in his Naqd’id,
but it was readily acknowledged that a poem set to music
had greater potency than when it was delivered by a mere
reciter (rze*). 6 Singers journeying from town to town
and tribe to tribe passed on their songs which were taken
up even by the singers in the caravans. 6 All this helped
to consolidate the body politic as well as art.

Muir, Caliphate, 431. Nicholson (Lit. Hist, of the Arabs) says:
” They had little enough religion of any sort/’ For their contempt of
the Qur’dn and the Holy places, see Jurji Zaidan, 102.

1 Al-Tabarl, ii, 146.

Aghanl, ii, 153.

4 Lammens, ii, 146.

Aghanl, iii, 124. Aghanl, ii, 153.


Music and musicians had won back, to some extent,
their places of esteem and honour in the social life of the
Arabs which had once been theirs. Music was no longer
an avocation for mere slaves, since we find freemen
(mawdli) of good social standing and possession making
music their profession. Yunus al-Katib, an official in the
municipal adminstration of Al-Medina, took up this
vocation. We also see a musician named Burdan being
appointed to a lucrative municipal post. 1 Even whilst
it must be admitted that most of the professionals came
from the freeman class, for the most part Persians by
extraction, yet there were Arabs who did not think it
beneath their dignity to be professional musicians, and
among them Malik, himself one of the aristocracy.

Yet musicians formed a class apart. This was not due
to any official measure such as operated in Persia under
the Sasanids, 2 but was merely on account of the ban of
Islam, and strengthened somewhat by craft consciousness.
At first, looked upon as vagabonds, like the mediaeval
minstrels of Europe, musicians were naturally forced into
a separate class, which assumed something of the nature
of a brotherhood, just as in Europe they were compelled
to form guilds. The leading musicians appear to have
made rather comfortable livings. They were in constant
demand at court, the houses of the nobility and the rich
bourgeoisie, as well as at the innumerable festivities
connected with Islam and social life generally. 3 Some
of the virtuosi turned their residences into conservatories
of music, where the rich dilettanti spent their leisure hours,
and where they sent their singing-girls to be trained,
for no house could be without its singing-girl.

The custom of audition at this period is of considerable
interest. At the Umayyad court, whilst the khalif ob-
served the Sasanid custom 4 of having a thin curtain
between the performers and himself during audition,

*Aghanl, vii, 168. Al-Mas’udf, ii, 157.

* The ” presents ” bestowed on musicians are possibly exaggerated
in some cases, but we must remember the Arab proverb, ” Singing
without silver is like a corpse without perfume.” Burckhardt, Arab.
Prov., 464.

Al-Mas’udI, ii, 158.


this does not appear to have always been the case, except
when the ladies of the harim were with him. Even then,
instances are given where the curtain was raised. 1 There
were occasions indeed, when the musician performed
face to face with his audience, and on one occasion actually
occupied the same couch as the khalif. 2 Outside the
court the musician was under no such restriction. Of
course, the singing-girls, both at court and in private
households, did not usually entertain guests without the
customary curtain, although we read of some strange
anomalies in this respect. The famous songstress,
Jamila, prepared a fete for ‘Abdallah ibn Ja’far and his
entourage, in which the singing-girls who were studying
at her house took a prominent part. The latter were
gaily attired and performed without any curtain and in
full view of the audience. 3 On the other hand, at her
famous fete during the pilgrimage which the Kitab
al-agham makes so much of, we read that the singing-
girls performed behind a curtain. 4 Again, in the house
of ‘A’isha bint Talha, we find the songstress ‘Azza al-
Maila’ singing to the wives of the Quraish nobles, the whole
of them being hidden from the men by a curtain. 5 Yet
on another occasion we find Ibn Suraij and ‘Azza al-
Maila/ singing together at the house of Sukaina bint
al-Husain before the entire company quite openly. 6

Perhaps the great musical advantage of the Umayyad
period was gained on the theoretical side. According to
Al-Mas’udi, it was not until the reign of Yazid I (680-83)
that music began to be seriously cultivated in Mecca
and Al-Medina. 7 This might very well be true of Mecca,
but certainly not of Al-Medina and elsewhere. Mecca,
since the departure of the Umayyads for Syria, had
fallen into strict orthodoxy, whilst Al-Medina seems always
to have maintained a more healthy secular outlook. 8
Mecca, at any rate, was later in its musical revival than

1 Aghanl, m, 99. * Aghanl, i, 117. Aghanl t vii, 1444

Aghanl, vii, 135. Aghanl, x, 55.

Aghanl, xv, 131-2. See ‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 198, where instances are
given of singing-girls performing openly before guests.

7 Al-Mas’udi, v, 157. Jurjl Zaidan, 139, repeats this assertion.

Cf . the opinion of Ibn al-Kirriya (Ibn Khallikan) Biog. JDict., i, 239


Al-Medma. During the ” Orthodox Khalifate,” most of
the musicians belonged to Al-Medina, which, of course,
might have been due to the fact that it was the capital.
Now, however, Mecca begins to produce musicians to
rival Al-Medina (and a rivalry did seriously exist), and
it is Mecca that gives Arabian music its first schooled
exponent in the person of Ibn Misjah.

When last we saw the musicians of Al-Medina,
they were being captivated by the Persian melodies of
the slaves. During the reign of Mu’awiya I (661-80),
Persian slaves were brought from Al-‘Iraq to work on
the buildings being erected at Mecca, and their singing
immediately attracted attention just as it had already
charmed the people of Al-Medina. The first to take
advantage of this exotic art was Ibn Misjah, who is claimed
to have been the ” first who sang the Arabian song copied
from the Persians,” or again that he was the ” first who
transferred the Persian song (ghind*) into the Arabian
song.” 1 More important perhaps were the other inno-
vations of Ibn Misjah.

It is highly probable that the Arabs of Al-HIra and
Ghassan possessed the Pythagorean scale, although those
of Al-Hijaz still retained the old scale of the tunbur al-
mizam. When Al-Nadr ibn al-Harith introduced the
*ud (lute) from Al-HIra about the close of the 6th century,
some foretaste of the Pythagorean scale may have been
introduced at the same time. 2 Yet there is no certainty
on this question. All that we know is that the Arabs of
Al-Hijaz had a system of music that was different from
that of Byzantium and Persia. We get this information
in the life of Ibn Mis j ah already mentioned. This musician,
we are told, was responsible for grafting sundry ” foreign ”
musical ideas upon the native practice. Here is the whole
passage from the Kitab al-aghdm* :

” In Syria, he [Ibn Misjah] learned the melodies
(alhari) of Byzantium and received instruction from
the barbiton players (barbatiyya) and the theorists
(astukhusiyya) . He then turned to Persia, where he

1 Aghanl, iii, 84-5. See ante pp. 5, 19. * Aghdnl, iii, 84.



learned much of their song (ghina’}, as well as the art
of accompaniment. Returning to Al-Hijaz, he chose
the most advantageous of the modes (nagham) of these
countries, and rejected what was disagreeable, for
instance, the intervals (ndbaraf) and modes (nagham),
which he found in the song (ghina) of the Persians
and Byzantines, which were alien to the Arabian song.
And he sang [henceforth] according to this method,
and he was the first to demonstrate this [method]
and after this the people followed him in this.” 1

Strange to say, his pupil, Ibn Muhriz, is credited with
a similar service to Arabian music. Like his master,
he too travelled in Persia and Syria, where he learned
the melodies (alhan) and song (ghina) of the Persians
and Byzantines. ” Then,” says the author of the Kitdb
al-aghani, ” he laid aside from these what he did not
consider good in the modes (nagham), and by a careful
melange he composed in this way songs (aghani) which
were set to the poetry of the Arabs, the like of which
had not been heard before.” 2

What was actually borrowed from Persia and Byzan-
tium we cannot be sure of. We certainly know that
benefit was derived from the Persian contact on the in-
strumental side. The word dastdn is Persian for ” fret,”
and this was borrowed by the Arabs for their finger-
places on the finger-board of the ‘ud (lute) and tunbur
(pandore). Further, there are reasons for believing that
the Arabs altered their accordatura of the ‘ud to the
Persian method. The old Arabian accordatura appears
to have been C-D-G-a, but with the new Persian method
it was tuned A-D-G-c. This probably accounts for the
Persian names zlr and bamm being given to the first and
fourth strings whilst the second and third, which had not
been touched, retained their Arabic names of mathnd
and mathlath.*

1 See my Facts for the Arabian Musical Influence, p. 57, and Ap-
pendix 23.

” See the Burhdn-i qdti’, sub ” si lahn.” Mafatlh al-ulum, 238.
See also my article ” The Old Persian Musical Modes ” in the J.R.A.S.
January, 1926.

* Cf. Land, Remarks, 161-2, and my Facts for the Arabian Musical
Influence, Appendix, 24.


What was gained from Byzantine theory or practice
is equally uncertain. The general principles of the
Byzantine theorists (astukhusiyya) 1 could scarcely have
been borrowed, or at least not much, since one of the
Al-Kindi treatises informs us that the system of the
astukhusiyya of Byzantium was different from that of the
Arabs. 2 Probably the Pythagorean system was more
rigidly fixed owing to this Byzantine influence, and
perhaps the two ” Courses ” (sing, majra) were also of the
same origin, although they may, indeed, have already been
known, and may have belonged to ancient Semitic
teachings. 3

Yet whilst a considerable alien influence was at work
in Arabian music, we must not forget however that this
was a period of strong national feelings, when the old
Pagan ideals were gloried in. 4 As Land points out,
” the Persian and Byzantine importations did not supersede
the national music, but were engrafted upon an Arabic
root with a character of its own.” 5

The rhythmic and melodic modes now appear in a more
definite form than we saw them during the ” Orthodox
Khalifate.” Six rhythmic modes (iqd’dt) are mentioned
at this period the thaqil awwal, thaqtl thdni, khafif
thaqll, hazaj, ramal and ramal tunbun. Two of these
were invented during the Umayyad period, since the
ramal was introduced by Ibn Muhriz. 6

The melodic modes (asdbi’) were classified according
to their ” course ” (majra), as either in the binsir (third
finger, i.e., with the Major Third) or wustd (middle finger,
i.e., with the Minor Third).

The ” courses ” had their species named after their

1 See Professor D.S.Margoliouth’s remarks in J.R.A .S., July, 1925. My
opinion as there expressed was based on the assumption of Kosegarten
(Lib. Cant., 34), but the appearance of the word in Al-Kindi as quoted
below, leads me to prefer the meaning of ” theorists ” for astukhusiyya

Al-Kindi, Berlin MS. t 5530, fol. 30. See my article ” Some
Musical MSS. Identified,” in J.R.A. S., January, 1926.

The majra al-binsir is called ” masculine,” and the majra al-wusta
” feminine.” The idea is Chaldaean and Pythagorean.

‘Iqd al-farld, ii, 258. Aghanl, xix, 153, xx, 169.

Land, Remarks, 156.
6 Aghanl, i, 152.


tonics (mabadi), such as mutlaq (= open string), sabbdba
( = first finger), wustd (== second finger), bin$ir (= third
finger). The ” species ” or ” modes ” (asabi’) bore such
names as mutlaq fl majrd al-binsir (=” open string in
the ‘ course ‘ of the third finger “) or Sabbdba fi majrd
al-wustd (=” first finger in the ‘course’ of the second
finger “). There were eight of these ” modes.”

Although the Kitab al-aghdni contains innumerable
verses that had been set to music during the Umayyad
period, not a solitary note has come down to us. All
that we know is the metre (arud] of the verse, together
with the melodic mode (asba*), and the rhythmic mode
(*?#’)’ which the great musicians sang in. Whether the
virtuosi knew of a notation or tablature at this period,
we cannot say, although something of the sort was prac-
tised under the ‘ Abbasids. Possibly, the idea of a nota-
tion was contrary to the interests of the musicians, who
looked upon their compositions, so far as theory and
practice is concerned, as something secret. 1 There were
schools and cliques that passed on the tricks and special
accomplishments from master to pupil. 2 All the evidence
at this period seems to show that music was learned ” by
rote ” and auricularly.

All music was melodic or homophonic (in the Greek
sense of the term). Whether a musician had his song
accompanied by one or fifty instruments, nothing save
the melody was performed, for as the author of the
Kitab al-aghdni says, everyone ” played as one. 1 ‘ 3 One
departure, however, was allowed from this, and that was
the admission of the za’ida or ” gloss.” This was a
science of decorating or festooning the melodic outline
by graceful figurations such as we know of in Western
music as the appoggiatura, shake, trill and other graces,
and including perhaps, another note struck simultane-
ously, as with the Greeks. 4 Harmony, in our sense of

1 Cf. C. S. Myers, Anthropological Essays Presented to E. B. Tylor t
p. 240. Some musicians believed, like their Pagan forebears, that some
of the music that they composed was actually given them by the jinn

‘Iqd al-farld, in, 187.

8 Aghanl, vii, 135.

4 Reinach, La musique grecque (1926), 69-70.


the word, was unknown. 1 Its place was taken by rhythm
(tqd*), which one writer on Arabian music has termed
“rhythmic harmony.” 2

Ibn Suraij tells us what was expected of a good musician
in these days :

” The best musician is he who enriches the melodies
[by means of the ‘ gloss ‘ ?] and who quickens souls 3 ;
who gives proportion to the measures (awzdn) and
emphasizes the pronunciation ; who knows what is
correct and establishes the grammatical inflection
(i’rdb) ; who gives full duration to the long notes
(nagham al-tiwdl) and makes definite the cutting off
of the short notes (nagham al-qisdr) ; who ‘ hits the
mark ‘ in the various genres of rhythm (iqd f ) and grasps
the places of the intervals (nabardt), and completes
what resembles them in the beats (nuqardt) of the
accompaniment (darb).”*

On the instrumental side, we see a few changes. It has
already been noted that there was a change in the
accordatura of the lute. This may have been due especi-
ally to Ibn Suraij, and not necessarily Ibn Misjah. In
684, ‘Abdallah ibn al-Zubair brought Persian workers
to help in the construction of the Ka’ba. From these
slaves Ibn Suraij borrowed the Persian lute (udfdrisi)*;
and he is said to have been ” the first in Mecca to play
Arabian music on it.” 6 This lute continued to be in
favour until the first half-century of the ‘Abbasids,
when a lute called the { ud al-shabbut was invented by
Zalzal. Sometimes, the Persian name for the lute,
which was barbat, is mentioned by the chroniclers, but
the term was scarcely in common use as we know from a
story of Yazld II (720-24), who was hardly uninformed

1 By ” harmony ” I mean the modern art of chords. ” Harmony/ 1
in the Greek sense of appovta, i.e., an ordered succession of intervals,
the Arabs certainly recognized.

See my Music and Musical Instruments of the Arab, p. 45. It
reminds one of the ” armonia rithmica ” mentioned in Trevisa’s
translation of Bartholomaeus de propnetatibus rerum.

Or ” prolongs the breath.”
Aghanl, i, 125.

Persian ” lutes ” are mentioned as though there were several kinds.

Aghanl, i, 98.


in musical matters. The barbat had been mentioned to
him one day, and he pleaded that he was unacquainted
with such an instrument. 1 In Al-‘Iraq, where the
tunbur (pandore) was favoured, the ‘ud (lute) appears
to have been strung and perhaps tuned the same as the
former. 2 At least we read of a two-stringed lute in the
‘Iqd al-fand in the time of Bishr ibn Marwan (d. 694),
and its strings were termed the zw and bamm. 3 The
tunbur was now in more general use in Al-Hijaz and
Syria. 4 Those who still had a taste for the old Pagan
songs of the ” Days of Idolatry/’ indulged in the tones of
the tunbur al-mizdm, with its curious scale. The jan k
or anj (harp) also had its votaries. 5

Wood-wind instruments came into more accepted use
by the virtuosi, as we frequently read of the mizmdr
sustaining the melody of the song whilst the ‘ud was used
for the accompaniment. 6 Both the tabl (drum) and duff
(square tambourine) were also used for the accompaniment
by marking the rhythm. 7 Martial music consisted of
drums and kettledrums. 8 With untutored musicians,
we find the qadib or wand being used to accentuate the
metrical or rhythmical beats. 9

One of the great musical events of the Umayyad
period was the pilgrimage of the famous songstress, Jamila,
to Mecca, and the consequent fetes. All the principal
musicians, male and female, of Al-Medma, took part
in this affair, as well as the poets Al-Ahwas, Ibn Abi
‘Atiq, Abu Mihjan Nusaib, and a crowd of dilettanti,
together with some fifty singing-girls (qaindt). The
magnificence of the litters and the cortege in general
was much commented on. When it arrived at Mecca,
the leading musician and the poets ‘Umar ibn Abi
Rabfa, Al-‘Arji, Harith ibn Khalid al-Makhzumi, received
it in admirable style. On the return to Al-Medina, a

l ‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 201.

Cf. Land, Remarks, 157, 161, and my Facts, etc., Appendix 24.
‘ ‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 181.

4 Bar Hebraeus, 207. Al-Jabarl, ii, 146.

Al-Farazdaq, 684.

Aghani.ii, 121. 7 Aghanl, ix, 162.

Syed Ameer Ali, Short History, 65.

Aghdnf, i, 97.


series of musical fetes were held for three days, the like of
which had not been experienced in Al-Hijaz before.
During the first two days, performances were given
either singly or by two or three together, by Jamila,
Ibn Misjah, Ibn Muhriz, Ibn Suraij, Al-Gharid, Ma’bad,
Malik, Ibn ‘A’isha, Nafi’ ibn Tunbura, Nafi’ al-Khair,
Al-Dalal Nafidh, Fand, Nauma al-Duha, Bard al-Fu’ad,
Budaih al-Malih, Hibat Allah, Rahmat Allah and
Al-Hudhali. On the third day, Jamila assembled fifty
of the singing-girls, with their lutes, behind a curtain,
whilst she herself, lute in hand, sang to their accompani-
ment. This same orchestra played for the performances
of other famous songstresses, such as Sallama al-Zarqa’,
‘Azza al-Maila’ (?), Sallama al-Qass, Habbaba, Khulaida,
Rabiha, Al-Fariha (or Al-Far’a), Bulbula, Ladhdhat
al-‘Aish and Sa’ida (or Sa’da).

Although the accounts of this pilgrimage and the fetes
are based on the chronicle of a contemporary musician,
Yunus al-Katib, a considerable amount of legend has
crept in. 1 The pilgrimage probably took place during the
reign of Al-Walid I (705-15). 2

It was during the Umayyad regime that the first musical
litterateur of the Arabs, Yunus al-Katib, began to collect
biographical and historical materials concerning the
native music, although Ibn al-Kalbi (d. 819) had already
accomplished much in this direction. His Kitdb al-
nagham (Book of Melodies) and Kitdb al-qiydn (Book of
Singing-Girls) laid the foundation for the later musical
literature, including the famous Kitdb al-aghani of
M’l-Faraj al-Isfahanl (d. 967).

The old Pagan notions of the elemental powers of music
still obtained. Islam had banished idolatry, but super-
stition held its own, and the genii (jinn), charms, phy-
lacteries, and even magic, had their place. What else
could be expected, seeing that Ja’far al-Sadiq (d. 765)

1 See Encyclopedia of Islam, i, 1012. J.A ., Nov.-Dec., 1873, p. 451.

‘The dates of ‘Azza al-Maila’, Sallama al-Qass, Habbaba, and the
various poets are some guide to this. At any rate, it could scarcely
have occurred during the reigns of Sulaiman (715-17) or ‘Umar II
(717-20). Both fuwais (d. 710) and Ibrahim al-Mausil! (b. 742) are
mentioned in the pilgrimage, but it is extremely doubtful if the first-
named was present, and the latter certainly was not.


the sixth imam, taught the theory of magical numbers,
which was closely connected with music. On the whole,
perhaps, magic and charms were discountenanced, except
where they had a religious import. Poetry and song,
however, were known as ” lawful magic,” a phrase which
reveals the Pagan past. The wonderful effect of music
could not help but clothe it with a magical or mystical
significance. There is a chapter in the ‘Iqd al-farid
concerning those who fainted or died through listening
to music. 1 Music, as a means of exciting religious
devotion was even recognized in these days, although
it was reserved for the later sufi to develop it. When
the Arabs came in contact with the writings of the ancient
Greeks during the ‘Abbasid period, the doctrine of the
” influence ” (fa’thw^iQos) of music confirmed the older
dogmas. 2

Summing up the musical situation during the Umayyad
days, one might emphasize three distinct features :

(1) The revival of the Pagan Arab predilection for music
due to the indifference of the Umayyads to Islam ;

(2) the impress of Syria, which came with the removal of
the capital to Damascus, when a North-Greco Semitic
culture helped to mould a new musical theory ; (3) the
influence of Persia, which made itself felt on the instru-
mental side. Yet, as I have already pointed out, these
external promptings must not be overstated. Ibn
Khaldun says for instance that musicians from Persia
and Byzantium, passing into Al-Hijaz, playing on the
‘ud (lute), tunbur (pandore), mi’zaf (? barbiton), and
mizmdr (reed-pipe), led to the Arabs adopting Persian
and Byzantine melodies for their poetry. 3 That is only
a partial truth. That the Arabs adapted Persian and
Byzantine melodies is generally admitted, 4 but they
possessed the ‘ud, tunbur, mi’zaf and mizmdr in the
” Days of Idolatry.” Further, there is not one Byzantine
musician mentioned by the annalists during the first

1 ‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 199.

For a discussion of this question see my lecture, The Influence
of Music : From Arabic Sources (1926).
Ibn Khaldun, ii, 360.
See ante pp. 46, 48, 70.


century of the Hijra, and all the musicians, save perhaps
Nashit al-Farisi, even the so-called Persian musicians
(i.e., of Persian extraction), were either born or educated
in Arabia. Indeed, only four musicians of importance
came from beyond the confines of Al-Hijaz, and they were
Nashit al-Farisi (the Persian), Abu Kamil al-Ghuzayyil
of Damascus, Ibn Tunbura of Al-Yaman, and Hunain
al-Hiri from Al-‘Iraq.

The conservatory of music was Al-Hijaz, a circumstance
which scandalized the provinces. Al-‘Iraq, once the very
seminal ground of Semitic musical culture, lagged behind,
having fallen into the hands of the purists of Islam, who
proscribed music, although one of its greatest theologians,
Al-Hasan al-Basri (d. 728), said, ” Music (ghina) is a good
help in obedience to Allah, and man learns through it the
ties of friendship.” 1


The lives of the virtuosi of the Umayyad period are
replete with most interesting details of the social as well
as the artistic life. Much of the material has been handed
down on the authority of a contemporary musician,
Yunus al-Katib, and for that reason it may be considered
reliable so far as music is concerned.

Ibn Misjah, 2 or in full, Abu ‘Uthman Sa’id ibn Misjah
(d. ca. 715), was the first and greatest musician of the
Umayyad era. He was born at Mecca, and was a freeman
of the Banu Jumh. During the reign of Mu’awiya I
(661-80) his master heard him singing Arabic verses
to Persian melodies, and it led to his emancipation.
Ibn Misjah then took it into his head to go abroad so as
to ascertain what else there was to be learned from
foreigners. This took him to Syria and Persia, as we have
already mentioned, and on his return to Al-Hijaz we see
that new methods were superimposed on Arabian music.
His fame spread with amazing rapidity and during the
reign of ‘Abd al-Malik (684-705) his popularity roused the

al-farld, iii, 179.

” This is the vocalization in the Fihrist, p. 141, and it is followed by
Guidi. Kosegarten however (Lib. Cant., 9) has Musajjij, whilst
Caussin de Perceval writes Musajjifc. (J.A. t Nov.-Dec., 1873, p. 414.)


indignation of the stricter Muslims, who laid a charge
against him before the governor of Mecca, saying that he
was seducing the ” Faithful ” by means of his profane
art. 1 The khalif, apprised of this, commanded that
Ibn Mis j ah be sent to Damascus. On his arrival at the
capital he fell in with the cousins of the khalif, who,
being fond of music, took him to their palace, which
adjoined that of the ” Commander of the Faithful.”
Owing to the proximity, the khalif heard Ibn Mis j ah
singing, and immediately commanded that he be sum-
moned to his presence. Before the khalif we read of
the musician singing the hudd’, the ghina’ al-rukbdn
(a form of the nasb), and the ghind’ al-mutqan (the artistic
song). He was not only pardoned by the khalif, but
awarded a handsome present. Ibn Mis j ah returned to
Mecca, where he lived until the reign of Al-Walid I
(705-15). We do not know the date of his death, but it
appears to have taken place during the latter reign. 2
Ibn Mis j ah has been designated ” the first in the art of
music/’ and by general consent is included among the
” four great singers.” Among his pupils were: Ibri
Muhriz, Ibn Suraij and Yunus al-Katib, all of whom are
famed in Arabian musical annals. 3

Ibn Muhriz, 4 or Abul-Khattab Muslim (or Salm)
ibn Muhriz (d. ca. 715), belonged to Mecca, where his
father, a Persian freeman, was one of the guardians of
the Ka’ba. Ibn Muhriz himself is said to have been a
freeman of the Banu Makhzum, and besides having been
taught music by Ibn Misjah, he had learned the art
of accompaniment from ‘Azza al-Maila’. Unfortunately,
he was afflicted with leprosy, and for that reason he made
no appearance at court or public engagements, but led
a wandering life, spending only three months of the year

1 In the Raufat al-Safa, ii (i) 57, we read that it was the Devil’s
jealousy of the Prophet David’s beautiful voice that led him to invent
musical instruments, ” and thereby decoyed men from the straight
path, precipitating them into the valley of perdition.”

/. A. t Nov.-Dec., 1873, p. 421.

Aghanl, iii, 84-88.

4 In both editions of the Kitab al-aghdnl and elsewhere, he is called
Ibn Muhriz. On the other hand, Al-Bu^turl (Dlwan, i, 134) calls him
Ibn Muharrar,


at Mecca, the remaining time being taken up at Al-Medina
and other towns. He is counted with his master, Ibn
Misjah, as one of the contributors to the improvement
of the native art. 1 He certainly had a considerable
reputation, and was said to be ” the best of men in music
(ghind’),” whilst popular voice dubbed him ” The harpist
or cymbalist (sanndj) of the Arabs/’ 2 His songs were in
great demand, and although he kept aloof from the
public on account of his infirmity, these songs were in-
troduced by a singing-girl. Two musical innovations
stand to his credit the rhythmic mode called ramal,
and the practice of singing the couplet (zauj). The
beauty of his melody was its simplicity, and the annalists
say, ” It seems as though his singing was created from the
very heart of man, since every man could sing it.” 3
Among the ” four great singers ” we find the name of
Ibn Muhriz. 4

Ibn Suraij, or Abu Yahya ‘Ubaidallah 5 ibn Suraij
(ca. 634-726) 6 was the son of a Turkish slave born at
Mecca. He was a freeman of the Banu Naufal ibn
‘Abd al-Muttalib or the Banu’l-Harith ibn ‘Abd al-
Muttalib. He had been taught music by Ibn Misjah,
and had received instruction from Tuwais at Al-Medina,
where he also attended the concerts of ‘Azza al-Maila/. 7
Returning to Mecca, he took upon him the calling of a
na’ih (singer of elegies), and we find him at the court of
‘Uthman. At this time he only sang the improvisation
(murtajal) to the accompaniment of the qadib or wand.
Up to his fortieth year he was practically little known,
but in 683 he attracted notice by his elegy (nauh) on the
slain of Al-Medina during that rebellious year. Im-

1 See ante p. 70.

That is, ” the sanj player of the Arabs.” Here, the instrument is
undoubtedly meant, not like the title given to the Pagan poet Al-A’sha,
who was called, ” The sanndja (fern.) of the Arabs,” meaning probably
” The rhythmist (in poetry) of the Arabs.” See Lane, Lexicon, s.v.,
but cf. Nicholson, Literary History of the Arabs, 123. De Perceval,
Essai sur I’ hist, des Arabes, ii, 396. Aghanl (SasI Ed.), i, 146.

Aghdnl, i, 150-2.
*See p. 80.

Cf. Kosegarten, Lib. Cant., 12. J.A., Nov.-Dec., 1873, p. 457.

He could scarcely have lived until the reign of Al-Hadl (785-6) as
suggested in one place. (Aghdnl, vi, 67.)

7 Aghdnl, ii, 174. iii, 84. xvi, 14. ‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 187.


mediately he sprang into fame and Sukaina bint al-
IJusain became his patroness.

We have already seen that about 684 Ibn Suraij took
up the *ud al-farisi or ” Persian lute/’ This circum-
stance, together with the fact that a pupil of his named
Al-GharicJ, had already outshone him as a nd’ih, led him
to relinquish this profession and become a practical
musician (mughanni). In this sphere he was equally
successful, and he won the prize offered by Sulaiman
(afterwards khalif) at a tournament of song at Mecca.
He was later invited to the court of Al-Walid I (705-15),
at Damascus, where he was lodged in a splendid pavilion
and loaded with honours. On his return to Mecca
however, he found that the new governor, Nafi’ ibn
‘Alqama, had forbidden music and wine in the city;
yet so great was the prestige of Ibn Suraij that the ordin-
ance was relaxed in his favour. Hisham ibn Mirya said,
” After the Prophet David, Allah created no musician
comparable with Ibn Suraij.” He was considered the
supreme exponent of the ramal rhythmic mode, whilst
his famous ” Seven Songs ” rivalled those of Ma’bad.
Yunus al-Katib names him as one of the ” four great
singers.” 1

Al-Gharitf was the nickname (meaning ” The good
singer”) 2 of Abu Yazid 3 (or Abu Marwan) ‘Abd al-Malik.
He belonged to a Barbary family of slaves, and was a
freeman of the famous sisters known as the ‘Abalat
in Mecca. He afterwards passed into the household of
Sukaina bint al-Husain, who had him trained as a
nd’ih by Ibn Suraij. He then persevered with the song
(ghind*) proper, and soon became a serious rival to his
teacher. We next find him at the court of Al-Walid I
(705-15) at Damascus, where he was accompanying his
singing with the qadib, duff, and ‘ud. When Naft’ ibn
‘Alqama, the governor of Mecca, issued his decree against

1 Aghanl, i, 97-129. Yunus al-Katib gives the ” four great singers”
as Ibn Suraij, Ibn Muhriz, Al-Gharld and Ma’bad. Ishaq al-Mausill
says that they were ‘ibn Suraij, Ibn Muhriz, Ma’ bad and Malik.
‘Ubaid ibn Hunain al-HIrl mentions Ibn Suraij, Al-Gharld, Ma’bad
and Hunain al-HIrl.

Cf. Kosegarten, Lib. Cant., 14. /. A. t Nov.-Dec., 1873, 460.

Kosegarten has Abu Zaid.


wine and music, Al-Gharid was compelled to seek refuge
in Al-Yaman, where he is said to have died in the reign
of Sulaiman (715-17). In another account, however,
he is mentioned at the court of Yazid II (720-24)) l Accord-
ing to the ‘Iqd al-farid, Al-Gharid died at a festive gather-
ing in the bosom of his family. He had just finished
singing to them when ” the jinn (genii) twisted his neck
and he died.” 2 He, too, has been claimed among the
” four great singers.” 3

Ma’bad, 4 or Abu ‘Abbad Ma’bad ibn Wahb (d. 743),
was a mulatto, his father being a negro. He belonged
to Al-Medma and was a freeman of ‘Abd al-Rahman
ibn Qatan. In his youth he was an accountant, but hav-
ing taken music lessons from Sa’ib Khathir, Nashit
al-Farisi and Jamila, he became a professional musician.
After a sort of musical pilgrimage, he returned to his
native city, and at a tournament of song organized by
Ibn Safwan, a noble of the Quraish, he carried off first
prize. He then sang at the courts of Al-Walid I (705-15),
Yazid II (720-24) and Al-Walid II (743-44). Ma’bad
was treated very handsomely by Yazid II, and one day
this khalif said that he had noticed in Ma’bad’s com-
positions a certain strength (matdna) and solidity which
did not exist in those of Ibn Suraij , whose works appeared
to him to be more pliable (inhind’) 5 and tender (layyin).
To this Ma’bad replied, ” Ibn Suraij cultivates a light
(khafif) style, whilst I adopt a grandiose (kdmil tdmm)
mode. He moves towards the East, and I towards the
West/’ 8 Upon the death of Ibn Suraij, Ma’bad came to
be recognized as the leading singer, and when Al-Walid II
was called to the throne in 743, he was invited to the
court at Damascus. Here he was received with much
consideration and was rewarded with a gift of 12,000
pieces of gold 1 The next time that he was commanded
to court, he was ill, and although he was lodged in the

* Aghanl, vii, 11-12.

1 ‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 187.

* See ante, p. 80.

4 Burton, Arabian Nights (Isobel Burton’s Edit.), iii, 252, writes

Cf. J.A., Nov.-Dec., 1873, p. 488. Agh&nl, i, 116.


palace itself, and treated with the utmost attention,
paralysis intervened and Ma’bad died. At his funeral,
the khalif and his brother, Al-Ghamr, dressed in simple
tunics, accompanied the bier to the palace boundaries,
whilst the renowned songstress, Sallama al-Qass, one
of Ma’bad’s pupils, chanted one of the old singer’s

Ishaq al-Mausill said, ” Ma’bad was a consummate
singer and his compositions reveal a talent superior to
all his rivals.” A poet of Al-Medina also wrote :

“Tuwais, and after him Ibn Suraij, excelled [in

But no musician outstripped Ma’bad.”

Poets like Al-Buhturi (d. 897) and Abu Tammam (d.
846) have shown the place of Ma’bad in Arabian music. 1
Among his famous songs were seven known as the ” For-
tresses ” (husun Ma’bad) or ” Cities ” (mudun Ma’bad),
whilst five others were celebrated as the Ma’baddt. 2
Among his pupils were : Ibn ‘A’isha, Malik, Sallama
al-Qass, Habbaba, Yunus al-Katib and Siyyat. 3

Ibn ‘A’isha, or Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn ‘A’isha
(d. ca. 743) belonged to Al-Medina, and was the son of
‘A’isha (his father’s name being unknown), a female
hairdresser in the service of Al-Kathir ibn al-Salt al-Kindi.
In music, Ma’bad and Jamila were his teachers, and he
possessed a voice of extraordinary quality. We read of
his musical abilities as early as ‘Abd al-Malik (685-705). 4
At the courts of Yazid II (720-24) and Al-Walid II
(743-44) he created a deep impression. Indeed, the
former was so completely ravished by the music of Ibn
‘A’isha that on one occasion he gave vent to such ex-
clamations in his ecstasy, that they were considered
impious. 5 At Al-Walid’s court, he was wine-bibbing with

1 Al-Buhtur!, Dlwan (Const. Ed.), ii, 160, 193, 218. Abu Tammam,
Dlwan (Bairut Ed.), 103.

Aghani, viii, 91. Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., ii, 374.

Aghdnl, i, 19-29. ‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 187. See also my article on
Ma’bad in the Encyclopedia of Islam.

4 Aghanl, xviii, 127.

Al-Mas’udI, vi, 9-10,


the khalif ‘s brother, Al-Ghamr, on a balcony, when they
quarrelled. A struggle ensued, and the musician either
fell or was thrown from the balcony and was killed.
This is said to have been about 743. l Ibn al-Kalbi
says of Ibn ‘A’isha, ” He was the best of mankind in
singing,” whilst his brilliant style gave rise to the saying,
” Like the beginning of a song of Ibn ‘A’isha.” During
his recitals he would preface the performance with an
explanatory lecture on the poetry of the song, the music
to which it was set, and the composer of it. 2

Yunus al-Katib, or Yunus ibn Sulaiman (d. ca. 765),
was a freeman of ‘Amr ibn al-Zubair. He was the son of
a lawyer of Persian origin, and had been educated at
Al-Medina, where he became an official in the municipal
service, hence his surname al-Katib (“the secretary”).
At first, music was merely a pastime, but after studying
under Ibn Muhriz, Ibn Suraij, Al-Gh arid and Muhammad
ibn ‘Abbad al-Katib, 3 he became a good all-round
musician, even so proficient as to arouse the jealousy of
Ibn ‘A’isha. During the reign of Hisham (724-43) he
was patronized by the khalif s nephew, who afterwards
became Al-Walid II. 4 Unfortunately he got into trouble
with the ” authorities ” by reason of having set to music
some verses about a young lady of noble birth named
Zainab, which had become popularly known as the
Zayanib. The lady’s family were incensed at the liberty
taken in this way and Yunus al-Katib and the poet
had to flee the country. On the accession of Al-Walid
II (743), Yunus returned and was invited to the Damascus
court where he remained until the death of this pleasure-
loving monarch in 744. After this date we have no
trace of Yunus, but he possibly lived until the middle of
the reign of Al-Manur (754-75).

The chief merit of Yunus al-Katib was on the literary
side. He was a highly esteemed author and quite a

*Cf. Aghdnl, v, 17, 54. viii, 86.

Aghdnl, ii, 62-79. ‘Iqd al-farid, iii, 187. In the index to De
Meynard’s edition of Al-Mas’udl’s Prairies d’or, the singer Ibn’ A’isha
is confused with the traditionist and others of the same name.

9 Aghdnl, vi, 15.

* An account of this friendship is given in the 684th Night of the
Arabian Nights,


good poet. 1 His books on music, already adverted to,
are mentioned in the Fihrist (ca. 988). They are a
Kitab al-nagham (Book of Melodies) and a Kitab al-qiyan
(Book of Singing-Girls). 2 The first-named, says the
author of the Kitab al-aghdm, was ” the first collection of
song (ghind’),” that is to say, it was the first attempt
made to collect the songs of the Arabs, together with
information about their melodies, modes, authors and
composers. Among the pupils of Yunus were Siyyat
and Ibrahim al-Mausili. 3

Malik al-Ta’i, or Abu Walid Malik ibn Abi’1-Samh
(d. ca. 754) was an Arab of noble birth, his father being
a member of the Banu Thul, a branch of the Banu
Tai’, whilst his mother came of the Banu Makhzum and
was therefore a Quraishite. He was born in the mountain
home of Tai’, but was left an orphan, when he was
adopted by ‘Abdallah ibn Ja’far of Al-Medlna. In his
house, Malik received a good education, but in the year
684, Malik heard the celebrated singer, Ma’bad at the
house of Hamza ibn ‘Abdallah ibn al-Zubair, and the
event changed his whole career. He asked leave to take
singing lessons from Ma’bad, and before long he aston-
ished Al-Medina by his musical abilities. The court
and nobility favoured him, and in company with Ma’bad
and Ibn ‘A’isha he appeared before Yazid II (720-24)
and Al-Walid II (743-44).* On the death of his pro-
tector, ‘Abdallah ibn Ja’far (ca. 700), 5 he attached himself
to Sulaiman ibn ‘All the Hashimite. On the accession
of the ‘Abbasids to power (750), Sulaiman was appointed
governor of the Lower Tigris, and Malik accompanied him
to his seat at Al-Basra. After a short stay at this city,
Malik returned to Al-Medina, where he died upwards of
eighty years of age about the year 754. As a singer,
Malik was ranked very high, and according to one version
was one of the ” four great singers.” Apparently he
was not an original composer, and he did not even play

1 Brockelmann, Gesch. der Arab. Lit., i, 49.
1 Fihrist, i, 143.

Aghdnl, vi, 7.

Cf. J.A., Nov.-Dec., 1873, 499.

Cf . Encyclopedia of Islam, i, 23.


the ‘ud (lute), which was a considerable drawback.
At first he only sang the ” improvisation ” (murtajal),
and we are told that Ma’bad had to rectify his songs for
him. 1

‘Atarrad, Abu Harun (d. ca. 786) was a freeman of the
Ansar and a pupil of Ma’bad. He was held in high
esteem at Al-Medina by reason of his legal erudition as
well as on account of his music. He was ” pre-eminently
a good singer and possessed a fine voice/’ We read of
him in connection with the best families in Al-Medina,
including Sulaiman ibn ‘All. When Al-Walid II (743-44)
was khalif , he was called to court at Damascus, where his
music so affected the khalif that he tore his robes in
twain in his excitement. ‘Atarrad was rewarded with a
thousand pieces of gold, the khalif saying, ” When you
return to Al-Medina you may be inclined to say, ‘ I
have sung before the Commander of the Faithful and
so entranced him that he tore his garments/ but, by
Allah, if a word escapes your lips of what you have seen,
you will lose your head for it.” 2 ‘Atarrad lived as late as
the reign of Al-Mahdi (755-85), and perhaps even into the
time of Harun (786-809). 3

Among the famous songstresses of the Umayyad era
there are four outstanding names : Jamila, Sallama
al-Qass, Habbaba and Sallama al-Zarqa’.

Jamila (d. ca. 720) was a freewoman of the Banu
Sulaim, or rather the Banu Bahz, a branch of the former.
Whilst she was with this latter family, Sa’ib Khathir
was their neighbour, and Jamila was clever enough to
memorize the notes (naghamdt) of his songs which she
heard him singing, and one day she surprised her mistress
by singing not only the songs of Sa’ib Khathir, but also a
composition of her own. 4 Al-Medina soon rang with the
praises of the new singer, and she was in great demand
as a teacher, with the result that a crowd of slaves were to

1 Aghdnl, iv, 168-75. ‘ Iqd al-farld, Hi, 187. See my life of Malik
al-Ta’l in the Encyclopedia of Islam.

* A similar story is told of Ma’bad. A khalif said to him : “If you
desire to continue to receive the favour of kings, guard their secrets.”

Aghdnl, Hi, 96-9.
‘Aghanl, vii, 1 88.



be found at her house being prepared as ” singing-girls ”
(qaindt). Having gained her freedom, she married, and
established herself in a splendid residence, which eventu-
ally became the centre of attraction for the musicians
and dilettanti of Al-Medina and Mecca. Many musicians
of later fame, such as Ibn Misjah, Ibn Muhriz, Ibn Suraij,
Al-Gharid, Ma’bad, Ibn ‘A’isha, and Malik, as well as the
poets ‘Umar ibn Abi Rabi’a, Al-Ahwas and Al-‘Arji,
were frequent auditors at her concerts, some indeed
being her pupils. One of the most imposing events of
her career was her famous pilgrimage.

Although the dates of the Kitdb al-aghdni are rather
confusing we can be fairly certain that Jamila flourished
during the first half of the Umayyad period. In one place
(Aghdm, vii, 148) she is mentioned as having sung before
‘Umar I (634-44), an d in another as singing the verses of
Al-Ahwas before Yazid II (720-4). Clearly, the first
date is too early, and apparently she did not live much
later than Al-Walid I (d. 715). Jamila held a high
place in the estimation of her contemporaries, especially
as a teacher. Ma’bad said, ” In the art of music (ghinff)
Jamila is the tree and we are the branches.” 1

Sallama al-Qass was a singing-girl of a Quraishite
noble of the Banu Zuhra named Suhail. She was a
handsome mulatto who was brought up, if not born, at
Al-Medina. She counted among her teachers, Jamila,
Ma’bad, Ibn ‘A’isha and Malik. At the death of Suhail
she passed into the possession of his son, Mus’ab, who
sold her to Yazid II, whilst he was a prince, for 3,000
pieces of gold. Yazid was considerably influenced by
Sallama, but when he became khalif, he transferred his
affections to another singing-girl, Habbaba. Sallama
al-Qass continued at court, however, under successive
khalifs. 2

Habbaba, the second favourite of Yazid II, was
procured by him when he was a prince for 4,000 pieces
of gold from a certain Ibn Rummana or Ibn Mina of
the Banu Lashik. The affair greatly displeased his

1 Aghanl, vii, 124-48.

a Aghanl, hi, 115-117. Al-Mas’udI, v, 446, etc.


brother, the Khalif Sulaiman, and Yazid was compelled
to send her back. When the latter became khalif (720),
Habbaba became his constant companion until her death
in 724. Yazid was prostrated with grief, and for a long
time clung to the lifeless body. He never lifted his head
again, and was dead within a week. Habbaba had been
taught by ‘Azza al-Maila’, Jamila, Ibn Muhriz, Ibn
Suraij, Ma’bad and Malik. 1

Sallama al-Zarqa/ was a pupil of Jamila and took part
in her celebrated fetes. She went to the court of Yazid I
(680-83) an( i was presented to the poet Al-Ahwas, who
had fallen in love with her. She was a celebrated beauty
as well as an accomplished singer, and she passed into
the hands of several masters. We read of her finally
at the court of Yazid II (720-24). 2 Her sister Rayya’
also won some fame. 3

There are also some less famed musicians who deserve
passing mention.

Muhammad ibn ‘Abbad al-Katib, a freeman of the
Banu Makhzum, was one of the good singers of Al-Hijaz.
He is specially mentioned on account of his interview
with Malik ibn Anas (d. 795), one of the great legists of
Islam. He was one of the teachers of Yunus al-Katib.
He died at Baghdad in the reign of Al-Mahdl (775-85). 4

‘Amr ibn ‘Uthman ibn Abil-Kannat, a contemporary
of Ibn ‘A’isha, was credited with a phenomenal voice.
There is a story how a procession of pilgrims was held
up by its charm. 5

Ibn Tunbura was a musician who came from Al-Yaman,
and is classed among the most skilful executants in the
hazaj rhythmic mode. 6 He may be identified with Nafi 1
ibn Tunbura, who flourished during the ” Orthodox
Khalifate.” 7

Al-Burdan was a pupil of Ma’bad, and was contemporary
even with ‘Azza al-Maila’, Jamila and Ibn Muhriz. It

1 Aghanl, xiii, 154-65. Al-Mas’udl, v, 447, etc.

Aghanl, viii, 89-90. If the account in the Aghanl (xxi, 5) of her
being at the court of Yazid II (cf. Guidi, 381, who says Yazid III) is
correct, she must have been about fifty years of age.

1 Aghanl , viii, 7, 9. * Aghanl. vi, 15-16. Aghanl, xviii, 126-8.

‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 187. 7 Aghanl, vii, 135, 163.


was through him that the classical musical traditions
of the Umayyad school were passed on to the virtuosi
of the ‘Abbasid court. In his old age he gave up the
musical profession and became an inspector of markets
in Al-Medma. 1

Yahya Qail 2 was a freeman of the famous ‘Abalat
family. He gave music lessons to Khalif Al-Walid II
(743-4), even during a pilgrimage to Mecca, which scan-
dalized the devout. 3

‘Umar al-Wadi, whose real name was ‘Umar ibn
Da’ud ibn Zadhan, was a freeman of ‘Amr ibn ‘Uthman
ibn ‘Affan. He is said to have been a muhandis, i.e.,
a geometrician, and must therefore have been one of the
first to be acquainted with this science among the Arabs. 4
As a musician he was a great favourite with Al-Walid II
(743-4), who called him, ” The joy of my life.” He was
actually singing to this artistic khalif when the latter was
assassinated. At his native place, Wadi al-Qura, he is
said to have been the first of the singers (? of artistic
music), and is claimed to have been the teacher of Hunain
al-HIrl. His date, however, rather precludes these
attributions, and perhaps it is his father who is meant. 5

Abu’l-‘Ala’ Ash’ab ibn Jubair was another favourite
of Al-Walid II, and he once sang before this khalif dressed
in pantaloons made from the skin of an ass, much to his
master’s delight. He possessed not only an excellent
voice, but a fund of buffoonery. 6

Dahman (al-Ashqar ?) 7 ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Amr
was a well-known singer who had a contest with Hakam
al-Wadi. He is mentioned as late as Facjl ibn Yahya
the Barmakide in the eighth century. 8

Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman Sa’id ibn Mas’ud, commonly
called al-Hudhali, was a sculptor by profession, but a

1 Aghdnl , vii, 168-9.

8 Guidi writes Qll, whilst Huart (Arab. Lit., 58) has Fll. Kosegarten
(Lib. Cant., p. 18) calls him Qail.
Aghdnl, Hi, 11-12. viii, 162.

4 Unless muhandis here means ” an architect, or engineer.”
‘ Aghdnl, vi, 141-44.

Aghdnl, xviii, 83-105.

7 Cf. Kosegarten, Lib. Cant., 21. Guidi, s.v.

Aghdnl t iv, 141-46.


skilful singer as well. He found a considerable audience
among the gentry of the Quraish, and he married a
daughter of Ibn Suraij, who taught him her father’s
songs. 1

Al-Baidhaq al-Ansari sang before Yazid II (720-24). 2
Abu Kamil al-Ghuzayyil was at the court of Al-Walid II
(743-4) and of this minstrel the khalif once said, “When
he is away I am like one bereft.” 3 Another singer was
Ibn Mush’ab of Al-Ta’if in Al-Hijaz. 4 Bard al-Fu’ad,
Hibat Allah and Rahmat Allah took part in the Jamila
pilgrimage. 5 Other musicians of passing fame were :
Abu Talib ‘Ubaidallah (or Muhammad) ibn al-Qasim,
better known as Al-Abjar, 6 and ‘Abdallah ibn Muslim
ibn Jundab. 7

Among the less famed female musicians were : Tanbi,
at the court of Sulaiman, 8 and Umm ‘ Auf , who belonged
to the circle of Yazid II. 9 Shuhda (or Shahda) was a
singing-girl of Al-Walid I (705-15), and her daughter
‘Atika became famous during the ‘Abbasid regime. 10
Khulaida, Bulbula, Ladhdhat al-‘Aish and Al-Fariha
were among those who assisted at the Jamila fetes. 11

1 Aghanl, iv, 152.
1 Aghanl , xin, 163.

Aghanl, vi, 144-6. He is called Abu Kamil al-‘Aziz in the various
copies of the ‘Iqd al-farld that I have consulted.

4 Aghanl, iv, 82-3.

Aghanl, vii, 135, 139.

Aghanl, iii t 115-17.
7 Aghanl, v, 145.

Aghanl, ix, 20.

9 Aghanl, xiii, 164.

10 Aghanl, vi, 57-8.

I, vii, 124, 135.


(” The Golden Age,” 750-847)

” The art of music continued to make progress with the Arabs, and
under the ‘Abbasids it was carried to perfection.”

Ibn Khaldun, Al-Muqaddima.

WHEN the House of ‘Abbas rose on the ruins of the
Umayyad dynasty, a new era dawned for the Arabs,
and the foundations of the great intellectual life of sub-
sequent centuries were laid. The more liberal intercourse
with Byzantium, and the encouragement given to the
people of Persia and Khurasan, were the main causes
of this. Although Persia and contiguous lands had been
thoroughly subdued, and almost every trace of their
national life effaced under Arab domination and Islamic
penetration, yet there still remained the mind of the
Aryan, which became a weighty factor in the artistic,
philosophic and scientific ideas of Islamic civilization.
Under the Umayyads, the Arabs, as we have seen, formed
a sort of military and administrative aristocracy. The
time had now arrived, however, when the Arabs, sated
with conquest, power and dominion, began to ” settle
down.” They scorned even the best administrative
positions, preferring to admit their erstwhile slaves
(mawatt), Persians for the most part, to a number of them.
Side by side with this political decline, there was a re-
trogression in the purely Arabian arts and literature.
Poetry especially was affected, and the number of
Persian and other foreign poets who sprang up after the
‘Abbasids came into power is considerable.

The arts became similarly influenced. Persian costume
and decoration were encouraged at court, whilst Persian
scholars and philosophers were welcomed. Indeed there



are many proofs of a considerable domination of the
Aryan over the Semitic spirit, for a time at least, in this
direction. 1 In music, however, this influence did not
reveal itself until a much later period. This was pro-
bably owing to the fact that musicians formed quite a
special and distinct class of society, which, by reason
of its insularity, was very narrow and conservative.
In this particular, it will be noticed that nearly all the
musicians of the “Golden Age” were Arabs either by
race or birth, and came mostly from Al-Hijaz, the home
of the Arabian art. 2

The ‘Abbasid period that comes within our purview
at present, falls into three cycles of culture epochs, which,
for the sake of historical convenience, may be divided
into “The Golden Age” (750-847), “The Decline”
(847-945), and ” The Fall ” (945-1258). Herein, as in the
previous chapters, the individual khalifs will be used to
illustrate the determining political factors in the culture
conditions. Everywhere they form excellent milestones,
as it were, for this purpose, since all culture seems to
depend on the body politic.


Abu’l-‘ Abbas, surnamed Al-Safiah (750-54), was the
first ‘Abbasid khalif. In choosing the capital, the new
dynasty would have nothing to do with Syria, which had
been the home of the Umayyads. It was perilously
near the Byzantine frontier, and it was too far away from
Persia and Khurasan, whose people had given the ‘ Abba-
sids the throne. 3 Al-Kufa in Al-‘Iraq was therefore made
the capital, and the khalif built his first palace, the Hashi-
miyya, at Al-Anbar, where there began those brilliant
courts which soon became the by-word of the Mediaeval
world. AbuV Abbas was a despot and a tyrant, but a

1 Muir, Caliphate, 465. Huart, Arab. Lit., 64. Von Kremer,
Streifztige, 32.

Lichtenthal, Dizionario e bibliografia della musica, calls it, ” The
Golden Age of Persian music with the Arabs.” As a matter of fact,
Persian influence was extremely slight at this period in music. It was
during ” The Decline ” that Persian music really came into favour.

Le Strange, Baghdad during the ‘A bbdsid Caliphate, 4.


patron of the arts withal. His interest in Persia
and Khurasan, where music and Islam did not come into
conflict, had made him partial to the art, and in this
respect he carried on the best traditions of the old Sasanid
kings of Persia, of whose patronage of music the khalif
was no feeble imitator. No clever musician ever left
the presence of AbuVAbbas, says Al-Mas’udi, without
a gift of money. 1

Al-Mansur (754-75), his brother, is said to have been
the greatest ruler among the ‘Abbasids. During his reign
the Persian family of Barmak were given high adminis-
trative positions. Khalid al-Barmaki, his son Yahya
al-Barmaki, and his grandsons Ja’far and Fa<Jl al-
Barmaki, all played significant parts in the cultivation
of the arts, and music especially, during the ” Golden
Age.” In the year 762, Al-Mansur founded the city of
Baghdad, which became not only the capital of the
Empire and the centre of the Eastern world, but the very
home of art, literature and science, and indeed of all
intellectual activity, the glories of which became quite
fabulous. The tales which were spread abroad concerning
this wonderful city of Al-Mansur, with its two gorgeous
palaces the Bab al-Dhahab and the Khuld, soon attracted
intellectuals from all parts, as well as a crowd of poets
and musicians who were soon to shed lustre on the
Khalifate. Al-Mansur, we are told, was “completely
insensible to the charms of music.” 2 Hakam al-Wadi
was the leading musician of the day, and although his
talents were the talk of Baghdad, yet Al-Mansur could
see nothing clever in his performance except, as he
once said, that Hakam was certainly ” clever ” to be
able to extort money from his patrons. 3 Yet Al-Mansur
did not impose his personal dislike or indifference in this
matter upon others, since we find the nobility of Baghdad,
isuch as the khalifs cousins, the two sons of Sulaiman
‘ibn ‘All, his own son Al-Mahdi, and his nephew Muham-

Al-Mas’udi, vi, 121-2.

Bar Hebraeus says that Al-Mansur pretended that he did not know
what a tunbur (pandore) was. We have seen the story told of so many
of the khalifs, that it looks suspicious.

Aghdnl, vi, 6ft


mad ibn AbiV Abbas, all eager to patronize music and

Al-Mahdi (775-85) was particularly fond of music,
and his court in the new Qasr al-Mahdi palace was
crowded with musicians, and among them : Hakam
al-Wadi, Siyyat, Ibrahim al-Mausili and Yazid Haura/.
At the same time, he would not allow his two sons
Al-Hadi and Harun to meddle with music, and two emin-
ent musicians were punished for entering the princes’
palace contrary to his orders. 1 There is a good story told
of Al-Mahdl and the court musician, named Siyyat,
that is worthy of a place here. Siyyat had two instru-
mental accompanists one named Hibbal, who played
the mizmdr (reed-pipe), and the other named ‘Uqqab,
a performer on the ‘ud (lute). The names of these
individuals in Arabic, if pronounced in a slightly different
way, stand for ” whips,” ” ropes ” and ” punishment.”
One day Al-Mahdi, during a court reception (majlis),
was heard to address some words to his chief eunuch,
and all that the courtiers could hear were the above words
of sinister import, which led them to conclude that one
or more of their number had fallen into disfavour and were
about to pay the penalty. Imagine their relief when
Siyyat, and his two accompanists, Hibbal and ‘Uqqab,
appeared on the scene. 2 Muir says of the period of Al-
Mahdi, ” Music, literature, and philosophy, refined the
age.” 3 Al-Mahdi himself was fond of singing, and Ibn
Khallikan says that ” no man had a finer voice than he.” 4

Musa al-Hadl (785-6) only reigned a short time. The
two musicians who had been punished by his father for
entering his palace when he was a prince, were sent for
on his accession, and they were installed as court
musicians. They were Ibrahim al-Mausili and Ibn
Jami’. These, with the older Hakam al-Wadi, were the
special favourites. This khalif had a son, ‘Abdallah,
who was an accomplished singer and performer on the
‘ud (lute). 5

1 Aghdnl, v, 4. Aghdni, vi, 7.

Muir, Caliphate, 467.

Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., iii, 464. Aghani, ix, 99.


Harun al-Rashid (786-809) is the khalif whose name has
become a household word not merely in the East, but in
the West. The magnificence of his palaces at Baghdad,
Al-Anbar and Al-Raqqa, has been abundantly com-
mented on. His court ” was the centre to which, from
all parts, flocked the wise and the learned, and at which
rhetoric, poetry, history and law, as well as science,
medicine, music, and the arts, met with a genial and
princely reception all of which bore ample fruit in the
succeeding reigns.” 1 The enchanting pages of The
Thousand and One Nights have revealed Harun quite
in harmony with this picture. The galaxy of musical
talent which clustered at his court must have had millions
disbursed in their favour, and among those who benefited
were : Hakam al-Wadi, Ibrahim al-Mausili, Ibn Jami’,
Yahya al-Makki, Zalzal, Yazid Haura’, Fulaih ibn Abi’l-
r Aura/ ‘Abdallah ibn Dahman, Al-Zubair ibn Dahman,
Ishaq al-Mausili, Mukhariq, ‘Alluyah, Muhammad ibn
al-Harith, ‘Ibthar (?), ‘Amr al-Ghazzal, Abu Sadaqa,
Barsauma, and Muhammad al-Raff. The favourite son
3f Harun, who was named Abu Isa, was also a good musi-
cian, and we find him at the court, with his brother
Ahmad, taking part in the musical festivities. 2

Al-Amm (809-13) and Al-Ma’mun, became joint
rulers of the Empire, the one controlling the West from
Baghdad, and the other the East from Merv. They both
took the title of khalif, and this arrangement lasted until
813, when war was declared between them. It resolved
itself finally into a struggle between the Arab and Persian
factions, culminating in the defeat of the former, and the
death of Al-Amin. This khalif was a man of pleasure,
who spent his whole time, we are told, with musicians
and singing-girls. The latter were gathered for their
beauty ” from all parts of the Empire.” His festivities
” were of the most sumptuous kind/’ and we read on one
occasion that a hundred singing-girls sang before him. 3
Whatever his faults were he was a patron of the arts.
Isfraq al-Mausili, Mukhariq and ‘ Alluyah were among the

1 Muir, Caliphate, 486. Aghanl, v, 63. ix, 143.

Muir, Caliphate, 488-9.


famous musicians who received his bounty. 1 He gave
protection to his uncle, Prince Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi,
who was one of the most accomplished musicians of the
day. The talents of his kinsman had a particular charm
for him, 2 and in the khalif’s last days, when the army of
Al-Ma’mun was investing Baghdad, Al-Amin found
solace in the songs of Ibrahim. Al-Mas’udi has drawn a
pathetic picture of this khalif, just before the end, sitting
by the banks of the Tigris, listening to the voice of his
favourite singing-girl, Du’afa. 3 His son ‘Abdallah was
quite a talented musician. 4

Al-Ma’mun (813-33) assumed full control of the Khali-
fate on the overthrow of Al-Amin, although he remained
at Merv until 819. During the interval, both Syria and
Al-‘Iraq rose in rebellion, and in Baghdad, Prince
Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi was actually proclaimed khalif.
This step greatly shocked the stricter Muslims because
Ibrahim openly professed himself a musician. Di’bil
the poet, suiting the occasion, wrote some bitter verses
against Ibrahim, saying, ” If Ibrahim is fit to reign, then
the Empire has devolved by right to Mukhariq, Zalzal,
and Ibn al-Mariqi [the court musicians]/’ 6 He further
asked what good could be expected from a khalif “who
made the barbat (lute) his Qur’an.”* Ibrahim’s attempt
to seize the Khalifate failed, and he threw himself on the
mercy of Al-Ma’mun, who spared his life. But from the
day of his triumphal entry into Baghdad in 819 until 823,
Al-Ma’mun would not listen to a note of music, nor
permit a musician to be near him, so exasperated was he
with the perfidy of his musical kinsman, Ibrahim. 7
The first to break the silence, we are told, was Muhammad
ibn al-Harith, who was admitted to the khalif’s presence. 8
On the other hand, the ‘Iqd al-farid says that the silence

1 A concert is described in the Aghdnl t xvi, 138.

Aghdnl, ix, 56, 62, 63. xxi, 242.
Al-Mas’udI, vi, 426-30.

4 Aghdnl, ix, 102-3.

Ibn Khalhkan, Biog. Diet., i, 18. See also the lines by Bashshar ibn
Burd preserved by Abu’l-‘Ala al-Ma’arr!, Risdlat al-ghufrdn t 97.

Aghdnl, xviii, 30.

Aghdnl, ix, 52, 67.
8 Aghdnl, ix, 52, 60, 61.


only lasted twenty months, and that the first musician
who was listened to was another musical kinsman,
Abu ‘Isa, the talented son of Harun. 1 At any rate,
as soon as the proscription was raised, the famous Ma’mum
palace rang with the sound of voices and instruments.
Here appeared Ishaq al-Mausili, Mukhariq, ‘Alluyah,
Muhammad ibn al-Harith, ‘Amr ibn Bana, Ahmad ibn
Sadaqa and ‘Aqid.

Of great importance to musical culture and learning
in general was Al-Ma’mun’s patronage of the Greek
sciences. Inclined to Rationalism, he made the
Mu’tazati doctrine the state religion, which gave more
freedom to independent thought. At Baghdad he in-
stituted a college called the Bait al-hikma or ” House of
Wisdom/’ where he installed Yahya ibn Abi Mansur,
the Banu Musa and other learned men, who devoted
their lives to the translation of the Greek sciences and
their study, including the study of music, which had
already started under earlier khalifs.

Al-Mu’tasim (833-42) was equally favourable to the
arts and sciences, and especially encouraged the trans-
lators from the Greek and Syriac. He held out the hand
of friendship to the famous Arab philosopher and music
theorist, Al-Kindi, whose writings became the text-books
for several centuries. Al-Mu’tasim built a new palace in
the Mukharrim quarter of Baghdad, which became his
residence until 836, when he removed to Samarra, where
he built another costly palace. Here, as brilliant a
scene was enacted as anything Harun of The Thousand,
and One Nights had staged. The palace sheltered all the
musical virtuosi of the day, and their doyen, Ishaq al-
Mausili, was the khalifs ” boon companion.” The
khalifs uncle, the musical Prince Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi,
also found favour at his court. 2 Among other musicians
of his munificence were : Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Makki,
Zurzur al-Kabir, 3 and Muhammad ibn ‘Amr al-Ruml. 4

Al-Wathiq (842-47) was the first of the ‘Abbasid

1 ‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 188. Cf. Aghanl, v, 106.

Aghanl, viii, 58.

Aghdni, xii, 92. Aghanl, vi, 190.


khalifs who was actually a real musician. Hammad ibn
Ishaq al-Mausili testifies that he was the most learned
of the khalifs in this art, and that he was an excellent
singer and a skilled performer on the ‘ud (lute). 1 His
songs are mentioned in the Agham. So much did the art
find support and flattery at his court that one might
think that it had been turned into a conservatory of music
with Ishaq al-Mausili as Principal, instead of it being the
majlis of the ” Commander of the Faithful.” Even the
khalifs son Harun was a gifted musician and a brilliant
instrumentalist. Among the older musicians at the
court were : Ishaq al-Mausili, Mukhariq, ‘Alluyah,
Muhammad ibn al-Harith, ‘Amr ibn Bana, whilst among
the new-comers were ‘Abdallah ibn al-‘ Abbas al-Rabfi,
Ibn Fila/ al-Tunburi, Ibrahim ibn al-Hasan ibn Sahl
and Al-Hasan al-Masdud. Al-Wathiq carried forward
the spirit of Rationalism inaugurated by Al-Ma’mun,
and gave the fullest encouragement to art and letters.
His death in 847 brought to a close the first period of the
‘Abbasid regime, generally known as ” The Golden Age ”
of Islam, by the side of which the civilization of con-
temporary Europe might be considered mere barbarism.

In Al-Andalus (Spain), at the Western extremity of the
Empire, another Khalifate had sprung into being. 2 This
land, as Stanley Lane-Poole has said, was to become ” the
marvel of the Middle Ages/’ Al-Andalus, ” when all
Europe was plunged in barbaric ignorance and strife,
alone held the torch of learning and civilization bright
and shining before the Western world/’ 3

As early as 710 the Muslim armies, after conquering
the northern coast of Africa, crossed the Mediterranean
and invaded Spain. By 713, the whole of Spain prac-
tically, up to the Pyrenees, and even further, had fallen
to the invaders. Under the Umayyads, governors were
appointed to this land, a system which continued under
the early ‘Abbasids. In the year 755, however, a refugee
landed in Al-Andalus who was to change the fortunes

1 Aghanl, viii, 172.

* The rulers of Al-AndalusJhowever, did not call themselves khalifs
until the time of ‘Abd al-Rahman III (912).
8 S. Lane-Poole, Moors in Spain, 43.


of the country. This was ‘Abd al-Rahman, the sole
survivor of the House of Umayya who had managed
to escape the swords of the ‘ Abbasids. Thousands flocked
to his banner, and in the following year he made his
triumphal entry into Cordova, the capital, and was pro-
claimed sultan. Henceforth, this land has a history
apart from the Khalifate of the East.

‘Abd al-Rahman I (756-88) laid the foundations for the
future greatness of Al-Andalus. The Arab tribal factions,
the Berbers, the muwalladun (Spaniards turned Muslims),
whose internecine strife had for a quarter of a century
been a menace to the body politic, were now checked.
In spite of the fact that his reign was almost entirely
taken up by politics, art and letters flourished. We read
of his favourite singing-girl ‘Afza, who sang to the ‘ud. 1

Hisham I (788-96) was, unlike his predecessor, extremely
pious. This did not prevent him from surrounding
himself with men of science, poets and sages. What his
attitude was towards music we are not told by the
annalists. From the fact that the court was dominated
by the theologians of the Malik! school, it is possible that
music may have been proscribed.

Al-Hakam I (796-822) refused to be governed by the
theologians, and they, in turn, fomented rebellion. The
new sultan was a true son of the House of Umayya.
” He was gay and sociable, and enjoyed life as it came to
him, without the slightest leaning to asceticism. Such
a character was wholly objectionable to the bigoted
doctors of theology.” 2 Al-Hakam was a free-handed
patron of letters, art and science, and it was during his
reign that music began to assume a high importance in
Al-Andalus. Among the court musicians were : Al-‘Abbas
ibn al-Nasa/i, Al-Mansur (a Jew), ‘Alun and Zarqun.

‘Abd al-Rahman II (822-52) did not inherit the strength
of mind of his predecessor, and the theologians soon
regained power. Yet they did not interfere with the artis-
tic and intellectual tastes of the court, always the index
of the general culture, which reached a very high

1 Aghanl, xx, 149. Al Maqqarl, Analectes, ii, 97-8.
1 S. Lane-Poole, Moors in Spain, 74.


pinnacle during his reign. 1 Music and musicians received
greater attention than ever, a fact borne out by the life
of Ziryab, the chief court musician. He was the ” boon
companion ” of the sultan, who shared his meals with the
musician. The great musical feature of the period
was the school of Ziryab, and the importation of singers
from Al-Medina for the propagation of the old Arabian
musical ideals. The school lasted until the extinction
of the Western Khalifate. On the death of ‘Abd al-
Rahman II in 852, Al-Andalus was split up into a number
Df petty kingdoms, although a sultan still ruled at


The ‘Abbasid Empire during the early years of the
‘ Golden Age ” extended westward through Egypt,
Tripoli, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, into Spain and
France, and eventually into Italy. 2 Northward, it
ncluded Syria, a portion of Asia Minor, Kurdistan,
\rmenia and Georgia. Eastward, it stretched through
Iraq ‘Ajami, Tabaristan, Khurasan, Khwarism, Bukhara
😮 the borders of Tartary, and through Persia, Afghanistan
😮 Sind. Baghdad was the capital of this vast Empire,
md Al-‘Iraq was the emporium of the East. Baghdad
tfa^a.ciiy of .great populousness and magnificence. The
wealth of the khalifs, nobility and merchants was almost
abulous. 3 Al-Mahdi spent six million pieces of gold
>n a single pilgrimage ! Harun, richer still, was able to
jive away two and a half million at one time, whilst at
lis death the treasury showed nine hundred million
.terling. The magnificence of the palaces, mosques,
colleges, and official residences, the luxurious appoint-
nents and furnishings of the interiors, the gorgeous
etinues and equipages, the sumptuous fetes, banquets,

1 Casiri, Bibl. Arab.-Hisp. Escur., ii, 34.

1 Some of these divisions were not, of course, known in these days,
-nd so far as Spain and Italy is concerned the ‘ Abbasids only held a very
light control on the former.

8 However much we may feel inclined to doubt the veracity of the
-nnahsts in these matters, it has to be confessed that the figures quoted,
rom the highest to the lowest, are invariably proportionate.


and other gatherings, together with the splendour of
social life, not only in the capital, but in all the great
cities from Cordova to Samarqand, surpasses anything
of its kind in history.

Yet one may ask, ” What has all this to do with
music ? ” A great deal. Everywhere we see culture
progress dependent upon economic and political forces,
and side by side with this material luxury and political
grandeur we find intellectual weal and aesthetic splendour.
It has been called ” The Augustine Age of Arabian
literature/’ for not only belles lettres, but science (including
the science and theory of music) and philosophy were
patronized with zeal. Colleges were opened, libraries
founded, observatories, hospitals and laboratories built,
and ” all this brilliance of literary and scientific attain-
ment is contemporary with Charlemagne, in other words
when the whole of Christian Europe was submerged in a
barbarism very insufficiently tempered by the educational
reform which he initiated.” 1

The art of music naturally fared well under such pro-
pitious conditions. The courts were crowded with pro-
fessional musicians and singing-girls, who were treated
with unheard-of favours and generosity, the memory
of which is proverbial with the Arabs to-day. Much
of this was due to Persian example, since the ‘Abbasids
desired to emulate the glories of the Sasanids of old. 2
Ibrahim al-Mausili received 150,000 pieces of gold in one
gift from Khalif Al-Hadi. Mukhariq took a present from
Harun of 100,000 pieces. Hakam al-Wadi had nearly
600,000 pieces of silver bestowed on him in two gifts
from Harun and Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi. These people
were certainly the virtuosi, but even the ordinary pro-
fessional musician made a small fortune by his art in these

It has already been shown that the favours showered
on musicians were resented by the theologians (ulama),
who objected to music on religious grounds. Now,
however, even the poets are aroused to jealousy. It was

1 Owen, J., Skeptics of the Italian Renaissance, 65.
Al-Mas’udI, ii, 158.


the poet Abu Nuwas (d. ca. 810) who wrote the line,
” The mien of a singer (mughanni) and the elegance of a
freethinker (zindiq)” Even the singing-girls were the
object of envy, since the poetess Fadl once said, ” They
never ask less than a gold-mine, and treat a poor man as
if he were a dog. 1 ‘

Yet although we see these musicians enjoying wealth
and patronage, and some of them like Ibrahim al-Mausill,
his son Ishaq al-Mausill, Mukhariq, and others, were
even the “boon companions ” of the khalifs, 1 yet their
avocation placed them in an anomalous position. The
” letter ” of the law proscribed them because they were
the practitioners of an art which, even if it were not
actually ” sinful ” (haram), was ” religiously unpraise-
worthy ” (makruh), as Burton says. 2 However much the
Arabs delighted in a musician’s company, it was apparent-
ly some spiritual consolation and satisfaction that they
recognized him as a ” sinner/’ Indeed, musicians had
no standing at law, at any rate in regard to their calling. 3
Even their professional life was not so serene as might be
imagined, for often their duties were most arduous and
exacting. 4 Many, too, tasted both the whip and the dun-
geon at the hands of the khalifs and nobility. 5 Still,
on the whole, their lot was certainly better than that of
Haydn and Mozart at European courts nine centuries later.

1 The virtuosi, like the ” boon companions,” were expected to be
able to do justice to the wine-cup, and not infrequently we find them
under the influence of wine. Al-Amln however, although fond of the
wine-cup himself, did not extend its bounty to his musicians. Aghdnl,
vi, 72.

Burton, Arabian Nights (Isobel Burton’s edit.), vi, 59.

A musician named Ja’far al-Tabbal brought an action against
Prince Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi for payment of lessons given to a singing-
girl. Before the judge, he offered to prove that he had fulfilled his
contract, by getting the girl to sing. The judge would have none of it,
and walked out of court crying : ” The curse of Allah on all you
musicians.” Judgment therefore went by default against the musician.
Aghdnl, xiv, 5. Musicians, like modern ” bookmakers,” were tolerated
in their avocation, but dared not go to law on account of it. Even
to-day, in Islamic lands, a singer cannot sue for wages. Al-Hidaya,
iv, 212.

Aghdnl, xvi, 138. If the musicians of the Umayyads were the
journalists of the day, they were more so under the ‘Abbasids. Know-
ing that music went hand-in-hand with the wine-cup, and that ” men
in wine speak the truth,” the ‘Abbasids even used their musicians as
spies. Aghdnl, v, 113.

Aghdnl, iii, 162, v, 7


Besides the virtuosi there were two other classes of
musicians, the instrumentalist (dldtl) and the sing-
ing-girl (qaina). These were either slaves or freemen
who were attached to the virtuosi as accompanists, but
their position as freemen was an inferior one. The
second class were slaves who, when they were betrothed
or became mothers, were given their freedom. 1 At the
courts some ten or twelve of the virtuosi were always
to be found, whilst thirty, fifty or even a hundred or more
singing-girls were part of the establishment.

As in the Umayyad days, the singing-girls were usually
taught by the virtuosi, more frequently at their schools
of music. In the ” Golden Age,” the famous Ibrahim
al-Mausili, the leading musician of the time, had his
music school for the training of singing-girls. High
prices were asked for these female musicians, for they
were invariably highly accomplished, not only in music,
but in other departments of culture. 2

It still continued to be the custom at court for the
virtuosi to be hidden from the khalif by a curtain, although
according to Lane it would appear that what really took
place was that there was a dais or stage for the musicians,
which was screened off. 3 The accounts of the author of
the Kitdb al-aghdni do not admit of this interpretation
generally. Ibn Jami’ describes the music saloon of the
court in the following story :

” I was led into a large and splendid saloon, at the
end of which there hung a gorgeous silk curtain. In
the middle of the room were several seats facing the

1 Aghdnl, xix, 136.

In the A If laila wa laila, ii, 493, we read of a singing-girl versed in
syntax, poetry, jurisprudence, exegesis, philosophy, musical science,
arithmetic, geodesy, geometry, fables of the ancients, the Qur’dn,
hadlth, medicine, logic, rhetoric, composition, and the art of playing the
‘ud (lute). See also i, 280 ; iv, 163. ‘Iqd al-farid, ii, 198. Ibrahim
al-Mausill selling a singing-girl to Ja’far al-Barmakf, asked rather a
high price. The latter said : ” What is her particular merit that she is
priced so high ? ” The musician replied : ” Though she had no other
merit than of singing this melody which is mine, she is worth the price
and more.” It is highly probable that the singing-girl of Egypt to-day
hands down in her name, ‘dlima (” learned “), the old status of her
class. Cf. Lane, Modern Egyptians, 355, who says that the word might
perhaps be derived from the Hebrew word ‘almdh (“a girl”).

* See Lane’s ” Notes ” to the Arabian Nights, i, 203.


curtain, and four of these seats had been already taken
by four musicians, three females and one male, with
lutes (iddn) in their hands. I was placed next to the
man, and the command was given for the concert to
commence. After these four had sung, I turned to
my companion and asked him to accompany me with
his instrument, saying, ‘ Sharpen (shadd) the string
of your lute thus, to raise the pitch (tabaqa), and go
down to this fret (dastdri) thus when playing/ I then
sang a melody of my own composition, and when
finished, five or six eunuchs came from behind the cur-
tain and demanded the name of the melody. I replied,
‘ It is my own/ After they had returned with the
message, Sallam al-Abrash [the chief eunuch] came
from behind the curtain and said, ‘ You lie ! It is by
Ibn JamiV . . . Again we all sang in the same order,
and again I sang one of my own compositions, and
again I was asked the composer, and once more I said,
‘ It is my own/ and once more did the chief eunuch
say, ‘ You lie ! It is by Ibn JamiV Then I said,
‘ Yes, and I am he/ As soon as I had uttered these
words, the curtain opened, and Fadl ibn Rabf cried,
‘ The Commander of the Faithful/ and Harun appeared
upon the arm of Ja’far al-Barmaki, and, approaching
me said, * Ah, it is you, Ibn JamiV . . . Harun then
reclined upon a divan and commanded me to sing some
new melody. I then sang my song of the negress/’ 1

In this account we see the khalif behind the curtain
listening to music, and then practically tete d tete with the
performer. A similar sort of thing occurs over and over
again in the pages of the Kitab al-aghdm. In the ‘Iqd
al-fand we read that when Ishaq al-Mausili and Khalif
Al-Mahdi became reconciled, the musician used to say,
” I reclined with the khalif [on a divan] and he patted me
with his hand as a familiar friend would do/’ 2 Of
course, the singing-girls continued to be screened off. 3

*Aghanl t vi, 78-80. Abridged.

‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 188.

Abu’l-‘Ala al-Ma’arri gives as an argument against girls going to
school that they sit without a curtain, when ” even the singing-girls
sit behind one.” Luzumiyyat, p. 62.


During the period covered by the ” Golden Age,”
Arabian music made greater progress than during any
other period. This was due primarily to two causes,
which can be viewed quite apart from industrial pros-
perity or political poise. These causes were the influence
of Shi’ a 1 and Mutazili* ideas upon Islamic thought,
and the dominant note of Greek scientific culture in
secular life. The former brought a more tolerant attitude
towards music in so far as Islam was concerned. Strange
to say, however, the theologians had considerable power
at court. Whilst the Umayyads kept the theologian
to his private and domestic sphere, the ‘Abbasids brought
him into the court and made him take part in public
policy. Favouring the theologian in this way was
evidently considered a better policy than keeping him at
a distance. The personal contact seems to have enabled
the khalifs to get their own way to a considerable extent,
and certainly it obtained so far as the maldhl were
concerned, including music. Harun said to Ibrahim
ibn Sa’d al-Zuhri the theologian one day, ” I hear that
Malik ibn Anas makes singing a crime.” The court
theologian replied, ” Has Malik the right to loose and
bind ? … If I heard Malik condemning it, and I had
the power, I would improve his education.” 3 Harun
was amused at the reply. Indeed, what other reply
could Al-Zuhri have made, seeing that everyone knew,
many to their cost, that it was Harun alone who could
” loose and bind.” Of course, the orthodox still
murmured, and we have the poet Bashshar ibn Burd,
himself a Rationalist, voicing their opinion in a satire,
saying how incongruous it was to find a ” Successor of
the Prophet in the midst of wine-bottle and lute.” 4
The pasquinade brought him to his death.

Proficiency in the theoretical side of musical art had

1 The Shi’ites were the sect (sht’a) or followers of ‘All. They were
always more tolerant and open-minded on the question of music than
the Sunnites or orthodox Muslims. The Persians are Shi’ites.

The Mu’tazilites (” Seceders “) were the Rationalists of the day.

‘ Iqd al-farld, hi, 180.

* Aghanl, jii, 71. De Meynard translates the passage as ” lutes and
oboes,” but the text has ziqq wa’l-ud. Cf. the line quoted by Abu’l-
‘Ala al-Ma’arrl, where it runs, ” nay (flute) and the ‘&d (lute).”


long been established, but this did not prevent further
progress. In general culture we see the influence of both
Byzantium and Persia, the latter perhaps the most
marked. Persian influence, especially that from Khur-
asan, made itself felt on the accession of Al-Ma’mun
(813), for the reason that the latter event pushed back
the Arabian ascendancy which Al-Amin represented. 1
Its effect on music, however, was considerably less than
in other spheres, and perhaps quite unimportant. Byzan-
tium contributed very little to musical culture. What the
Arabs got from Byzantium were the ancient treatises
on Greek theory of music, which were practically unknown
to the Byzantines save by name. Indeed, it was not until
the Syrian and Arab translators turned these treasures
into Arabic that the East revived its interest in them.
From these sources the Arabs certainly borrowed, but the
loaning did not assume much import until the Golden
Age had passed. 2

On the whole, theoretical progress during the period
under survey was practically indigenous. Ishaq al-
Mausili came forward as the chief musician of his day,
to lay down and fix definitely the theory which appears
to have fallen into neglect since the time of Yunus al-
Katib in the days of the Umayyads. It was Ishaq,
says the author of the Kitdb al-aghdnl, who first estab-
lished methodically the genres (ajnds) of the melodic
modes (asdbi’ ) and the different kinds (tara’iq) of rhythmic
modes (iqd’dt), which, in the works of Yunus al-Katib,
had been insufficiently indicated. Al-KhaHl ibn Ahmad,
one of the most famous scholars of the time, contributed
the first really scientific treatises it would seem on
musical theory in his Kitdb al-nagham (Book of Notes)
and Kitdb al-iqd* (Book of Rhythm). 3 More important
still were the treatises of the celebrated Al-Kindl, no less
than seven of these standing to his credit. 4 From
the latter we get a close insight into the theory and
practice of the virtuosi of the age, together with the

* Jurjl Zaidan, 185-6.

Aghdni, v, 53. See my Facts, etc., pp. 55-6.
Fihrist, 43.

‘Fihrist, 257.


theories derived from the Ancient Greeks. Collectors of
songs such as Yahya al-Makki, Ahmad ibn Yahya al-
Makki, Fulaih ibn Abi’l-‘Aura/, and Ishaq al-Mausili,
issued several works, whilst the last named compiled a
dozen or so biographies of famous musicians. 1 It is
here that we see how considerably the Arabian traditions
were preserved in the music of the period. 2

The rhythmic modes (iqd’dt) appear to have been little
different from what we saw in Umayyad times. They
are fully described in the Risdla fl ijzd’ khabariyya
al-musiqi by Al-Kindl, now preserved at Berlin. 3 The
only apparent difference is the substitution of a khafif
al-khaf if instead of a ramal tunburi. The Persians adopted
the rhythmic modes ot the Arabs, although it was not
until the time of Harun (786-809) that they took the
ramal mode, which was introduced by a musician named
Salmak. 4

In the melodic modes (asdbi’) the old principles still
obtained. Ishaq al-Mausili had composed a song which
attracted the attention of Prince Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi,
who wrote to the composer asking him to let him have
it. Ishaq replied by letter giving him particulars of the
verse, together with ” its rhythm (Tqd ( ) and its division
(bastt), its course (majrd) and its melodic mode (asba’),
its proportionate dividing (tajzi’a) and its parts
(aqsdm), the succession of its notes and the places of the
rests (maqdti’), the particulars of its compound modes
(adwdr) and its measures (awzdn).”*

The passage above gives us a fair example of the
technical nomenclature of the period Iqd t , asba’ , and
majrd, we are already acquainted with. The busut
(sing, basit or basdt) appear to have been the divisions of
the rhythmic modes (iqd’dt). The word for the propor-
tionate dividing of the melody or rhythm has its root in
jaza’a, which opens an interesting speculation for the
origin of the modern word jazz.* The maqdti’ (rests)

1 Fihrist, 141-3. Aghanl, i, 183. vi, 17, 18. xv, 159.

Ishaq al-MauilI sang the old melodies. Aghanl, xviii, 175.

Berlin MS., No. 5503, fol. 31, v.

‘Aghdnt, i, 151* Aghdnt , ix, 54, 56.

See my Facts, etc., p. 14.


are detailed in the rhythmic modes given by Al-Kindi.
The adwdr (sing, daur) 1 were made up of the first tetra-
chord of one melodic mode (a$ba { ) and the second tetra-
chord of another. Transposition scales called tabaqat
(sing, tabaqa) were practised. These were, of necessity,
innumerable, and Ishaq al-Mausili says that it took him
ten years to learn them. These tabaqat were like changes
of key signature.

There is another very interesting passage which
reveals the fact that the Arabs employed genres similar
to the Ancient Greeks. The tetrachord was the theo-
retical landmark of the Arabs, and it was contained with
the stretch of the hand on the f ud (lute). 2 The Greeks
called their variations of the tetrachord genres (=ywj),
of which there were three, the diatonic, chromatic, and
enharmonic. In the loth century these were known to
the Arabs as the qawl, khunthawi, and rdsim respectively. 3
That the Arabs of the period concerned with used these
genres is quite likely, as the following passage appears
to show 4 :

” I read in one of the books that Muhammad ibn
al-Hasan (and I think that he is Ibn Mus’ab) mentions
Ishaq al-Mausili. He says, ‘ His art was correct in
principles (usul), and his notes wonderful of arrange-
ment (tartib), and his division (qism) just of measures
(awzdri). And he used to perform in all the divisions
(busut) of the rhythms tyqd’dt), and whichever division
(basdt) he wished to sing a song in, he used the aqwd
( = qawi) song which was the division (basdt) of the
ablest of the older people (qudamd’). . . . Sometimes he
would seek the very threshold of the ancients (awd’il)
and would follow their manner in their methods.
Then he would build upon the rdsim, and work it out

1 Both editions of the Kitdb al-aghdnl have awdra. De Meynard
(J.A., Mars-Av., 1869, p. 325) rightly suggests that this should be
adwdr. Strange to say Kosegarten (Lib. Cant., 183), in quoting this
passage, actually omits this word.

This point is worth noting in connection with Wead’s theories in
his Contributions to the History of Musical Scales, 433.

Mafdtlh al-ulum, 243-4.

4 Aghdni, v, 53.


according to their example. He would then make
it qawi, and so his work became strong and firm, uniting
in it two states the strong in nature (and it is easy of
method), and the khunthd (= khunthawi), in which are
many notes (nagham) and their arrangement (tartiV)
between the high (siyyah) and the low (isjdh). This
art is more akin in the tabaqat (scales) to that of the
ancients (awa’il) than to the less remote people. 1 ”

Discussions on the theory of music, even before the
khalifs, both by the virtuosi and the scientific musicians,
were not uncommon, and they certainly reveal the temper
of the period. 2 That a phonetic notation was known
during the Golden Age is highly probable. Perhaps
the letter of Ishaq to Prince Ibrahim mentioned above
contained a notation. We certainly read that khalif
Al-Ma’mun (in 819) “waited twenty months without
hearing a letter (harf) of music (ghind’).”* Al-Kindi
(d. ca. 874) uses a notation in his Risdla fi khubr ta’Kf
al-alhdn, which is the earliest definite use of it among
the Arabs. 4

Considerable changes had taken place on the instru-
mental side, and during the second half of the 8th century,
one of the court musicians, Zalzal, introduced a new type
of ‘ud (lute), which was soon generally adopted in the
place of the ‘ud al-fdrisi or Persian lute that had been in
common use. This ” perfect lute ” was called the ‘ud
al-shabbut, which Land thinks to have been the instru-
ment in which the neck and fingerboard gradually
broadened out to the body. 6 It was still mounted with
four strings, 6 although in Al-Andalus, a musician named
Ziryab had added a fifth. 7 This Ziryab, whilst he was
at the court of Harun (786-809), introduced some novel

1 By the ” ancients ” we may presume that the Greeks are meant,
whilst the ” older people ” probably refers to his immediate predeces-
sors. By ” less remote people ” we may infer that the Byzantines are

Aghanl, v, 22, 23, 53, 60-1. ix, 74.

‘Iqd al-farld, in, 188. Perhaps harf stands for ” particle.”
British Museum MS., Or. 2361, fol. 167, v.

Land, Remarks on the Earliest Development of Arabic Music, p. 161-2.

Al-Kindi, Berlin MS., 5530, fol. 30. Aghanl, v, 53.
f Al-Maqqarl, Moh. Dyn. t ii, 116.




















v i


1 ./^ /’iiTi/^x./iJ.,i/’./rL’X,/.///Ly/*../i-.//rA .*tf/il

From the ” Kisala f! khubr ta’Hf al-alhan ” of Al-Kindl (d. 74)


improvements to the lute. Whilst his instrument was
” equal in size and made of the same wood ” as the
lute in general use, it was heavier by nearly one-third.
His silk strings were made differently from those of his
confreres, 1 whilst his second, third and fourth strings
were made from the entrails of a young lion, which he
claimed to be ” far superior to those of any other animal
in point of strength, depth of tone, and clearness of sound.”
Besides this he asserted that they would bear much longer
wear and were not so liable to change of temperature. 2

We read of large bands of singing-girls playing lutes
in these days, for these were the special instruments
of accompaniment. Only occasionally do we read of the
mi’zafa (? psaltery) or the tunbur (pandore) being used.
More general for the accompaniment, after the lute,
were the wood-wind instruments (mazdmir) of the flute
type, the tdbl (drum) and the duff (square tambourine).
Open-air music consisted of the tabl (drum) and surndy
(reed-pipe), 3 and the court military band of Al-Amin
was thus constituted, 4 which shows that the old ideas of
the Pagan Arabs concerning martial music still obtained.

Some writers have imagined that these bands were
directed by a conductor with baton in hand. 5 This
conjecture appears to have been due to a misinterpre-
tation of a passage in the ‘Iqd al-fand, which runs, ” Ibra-
him [al-Mausili] was the first to beat the rhythm (tqd’)
with a qadfb (wand).” 6 This “beating” has already
been described, and was much older than Ibrahim
al-Mausili. 7

The doctrine of the ethos (ta’thir) was now definitely
linked up with music. This old Semitic idea had been
strengthened by the doctrines of the Sabi’a of Harran
and the theories of the ancient Greeks and Byzantines.

1 Cf . the text.

Al-Maqqarl, Analectes, ii, 88. Moh. Dyn., ii, 116-21, 410.

The text has surndb.

Aghanl t xvi, 139.

Syed Ameer All, Short Hist., 451. Perron .Femmes Arabes. F.
Salvador-Daniel, 98. Fetis, Hist. Gen., ii, 121. The latter attributes
the ‘Iqd account to Ishaq al-Mausill.

‘Iqd al-farld, hi, 18*8.

T Cf. Aghanl, i, 97, and see ante pp. 16, 47, 74.


Almost everything terrestrial was ” influenced ” by
something celestial. The seven notes of the scale corres-
ponded to the planets. The twelve signs of the zodiac
were associated with the four pegs, four frets, and four
strings of the ‘ud. The four strings were affiliated with
the primeval elements, the winds, the seasons, the
humours, the mental faculties, colours, perfumes, the
quarters of the zodiac, moon, and the world. Al-Kindi
deals with this question at considerable length. 1 In
Al-Andalus also, the doctrine was in full swing. 2

The Music School of Ibrahim al-Mausili at Baghdad
has been mentioned. Unfortunately we get little or no
information about the didactic methods which obtained
there. In Al-Andalus, however, we get some details
of the Music School founded by Ziryab. Before the ad-
vent of Ziryab, the professors of music had no other
method of teaching their pupils to sing than mere prac-
tical example. 3 Ziryab changed all this. He divided
the curriculum of his pupils into three parts first, the
rhythm, metre, and words of a song were taught to the
accompaniment of a musical instrument. Then, the
melody in its simple state was mastered. Finally,
the ” gloss ” (za’ida) was introduced.

The following account is given of the method adopted
by Ziryab with beginners. ” Whenever a youth came to
him for the purpose of taking lessons in vocal music,
he made him sit down on the round cushion called
miswara, and bade him exert the full power of his voice.
If his voice was weak, he was made to tie his turban
round his waist, a practice which is well known to
increase the voice. … If the youth stammered, or could
not well open his mouth, or if he had the habit of clenching
his teeth whenever he spoke, he bade him put inside his
mouth a small piece of wood three inches (three fingers)
in width, which he was to keep there day and night
until his jaws were well expanded. This being done, he
made him cry out at the top of his voice, ya hajjdm or

1 Al-Kindl, Berlin MS., 5530, fol. 30.

Al-Maqcjarl, Moh. Dyn. t ii, 118. See my Influence of Music:
From Arabic Sources.

See Ribera, La ensenanza de los musulmanes espanoles.


ah ! telling him to protract the sound as much as possible :
if he found that he uttered those words in a clear, powerful,
and sonorous voice, 1 he admitted him into the number of
his pupils, and spared no trouble or fatigue to make him
an accomplished singer ; if the contrary, he took no
further pains with him.” 2

Notwithstanding the inordinate elevation of musical
art and belles lettres during the ” Golden Age,” the great
classical standards fell into desuetude. The old qa&da
which ” breathed of the desert,” was a thing of the past.
The litterateurs were Persians for the most part, and, as
citizens of gay and festive communities, they saw little
interest in the stern ideals of Arab life which formed the
background of Arabic poetry. Hence a new school arose
in which we find ” the maddest gaiety and the shame-
fullest frivolity ; strains of lofty meditation mingled
with a world-weary pessimism ; delicate sentiment,
unforced pathos, and glowing rhetoric ; but seldom the
manly self-reliance, the wild, invigorating freedom and
inimitable freshness of badawi song.” 3

Music, dependent on the song, which was far more in
favour than instrumental performance, became similarly
affected. As far back as the days of Ma’bad and Ibn
Suraij, there had been a growing preference for a lighter
(khafif) rhythmic mode in place of the more serious one
(kdmil tdmm)* The craze for the former grew and the
hazaj and makhuri rhythmic modes were the most frequent
in demand. Hakam al-Wadi, being upbraided by his son
for pandering to the taste of the public in this way
with the hazaj rhythm, answered him thus, ” My son :
For thirty years have I sung in the thaqll rhythmic modes
and hardly gained a living, yet in the three years of singing
in the hazaj I have earned more money than thou hast
seen in thy life.” It was the old story, the musician
had to get his living, and art must necessarily go* by the
board. Even a great artiste like Ishaq al-Mausili had

1 Literally, ” Without any roughness, nor straightness, nor narrow-
ness of production.”

Al-Maqqarl, Moh. Dyn., ii, 121. Analectes, ii, 88-9.
Nicholson, Lit. Hist, of the Arabs, 291.
*Aghanl,i, 116.


to bow to the demand for the hazaj rhythm, 1 whilst his
father made his name with the mdkhuri. 2


The virtuosi of the ” Golden Age ” won undying fame.
How real this has been we know from the pages of the
‘Iqd al-fand, the Kitdb al-aghani, the Fihrist, the Nihdyat
al-arab, and the Thousand and One Nights. Take away
those alluring musical interludes, those escapades of the
virtuosi and the singing girls that we read of in the
last-named work, and there would be a relish wanting.

The first great musician of the ‘ Abbasid era was Hakam
al-Wadi, or Abu Yahya Hakam ibn Maimun al-Wadi.
He was a freeman of Al-Walid I (705-15), and was born
at Wadi al-Qura, his father, of Persian origin, having
been a hairdresser who amassed a small fortune. On
his father’s death, Hakam became a successful trader in
oil, but taking a liking for music he went to his com-
patriot, ‘Umar al-Wadi, for lessons, and in due course
his teacher presented him at the court of Al-Walid II
(743-44), where his performance brought him a reward
of one thousand pieces of gold. He remained at court
until the death of this khalif . After this he languished
in obscurity until the time of Al-Mansur (754-75) when he
set out for Baghdad. Here, he was immediately patron-
ized by the khalif ‘s cousin, Muhammad ibn AblV Abbas.
Fame came rather late to him, for he was then over
fifty years of age. Yet he was recognized as the leading
musician in the capital. Having made a fortune he re-
tired to his native town, but he soon returned to Baghdad,
and was present at the courts of Al-Mahdi (775-85),
Al-Hadi (785-86), and Harun (786-809). At the court of
Al-Hadi he managed to defeat Ibrahim al-Mausili and
Ibn Jami’ in a tournament of song, carrying off the first
prize of 300,000 pieces of silver. Later, Hakam went to
the court of Prince Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi, then governor
of Damascus, where he composed no less than 200

*Aghanl t v, 83, 89, 115.
*Aghanl, vi, 66.


melodies for this prince, for which he received 299,000
pieces of silver. 1 Retiring finally to WadI al-Qura, he died
about the middle of Harun’s reign, at the age of about 8i. 2
Hakam is classed among the great singers of the Arabs, 3
and was an acknowledged expert in the hazaj rhythm. 4

Siyyat (d. 785) was the popular cognomen of Abu
Wahb ‘Abdallah ibn Wahb, a freeman of the Banu
Khuza/a. He was born at Mecca about 739, and, although
his career was short, it was a distinguished one. He had
two excellent teachers who were well versed in the best
musical traditions of the Orthodox and Umayyad periods.
These were Yunus al-Katib, the author of the first
Kitdb al-aghdnt, and Burdan, an old musician who had
heard ‘Azza al-Maila’, Ibn Muhriz, Ibn Suraij, Jamila
and Ma’bad. 5 Siyyat became one of the foremost
lutenists and singers of his day, as well as being a com-
poser of repute. 6 During the reign of Al-Mahdi (775-85)
he established himself in Baghdad, and soon won success
at court. He died in the prime of life in 785. His two
greatest pupils were Ibrahim al-Mausili and Ibn Jami’.
One day the former was asked by his son, Ishaq al-
Mausill, who was the composer of a certain song, when
Ibrahim replied, ” The composer was a man who, had
he lived, would not have taken a second place to me or
to any other musician who is at present favoured by the
khalif. This melody is by Siyyat.” 7

Yahya al-Makki, or Abu ‘ Uthman ibn Marzuq al-Makki,
was a freeman of the House of Umayya and belonged
to Mecca as his name tells us. He was an estimable
artiste and was justly considered the doyen of the musicians
of Al-Hijaz in his day. It was he who taught Ibn Jami’,
Ibrahim al-Mausili, and Fulaih ibn AbiVAura/ the
classical traditions of the Hijazian music. 8 He was
present at court from the time of Al-Mahdi (775-85) to
Al-Ma’mun (813-33). Al-Amin (809-13) thought so

1 This broken amount was ” policy ” on the part of the prince.
To have given as much as the khalif would probably have been con-
sidered Use majesty.

” Aghdnl, vi, 64-8. ‘ Aghdnl, v, 9.

‘ Aghdnt, v, 36. vi, 13, 66. B Aghdnl, vii, 141.

* Aghdnl, v, 9. ”Aghdnl, vi, 7-10. Aghdnl, vi, 17.


highly of his abilities that he paid him 10,000 pieces of
silver for one music lesson given to his brother, Prince
Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi. As a singer, he was praised by
no less a person than Ibrahim al-Mausill. His fame,
however, rests more upon his literary work, since his
Kitab ftl-agham (Book of Songs), comprising the best
examples of the ancient song (ghina* al-qadim) became
the standard collection until his son Ahmad issued a re-
vised edition which comprised some 3,000 songs. Although
Yahya is classed among the foremost who composed
works of this kind, Al-Isfahani, the author of the great
Kitab al-agham, points out that his classification of the
” modes ” displays ” confusion.” He does not appear
to have been a careful chronicler, and it is possibly due
to him, although perhaps more so to ‘Amr ibn Bana,
that so many errors have been perpetuated. There is a
story told of Ishaq al-Mausili who, knowing how unreliable
Yahya was as an historian, set a trap for him. One day
before Harun, Ishaq invented the name of an individual
and then asked Yahya for information concerning him.
Yahya began expatiating on this man’s genealogy.
When Ishaq explained that the individual had no ex-
istence, Yahya/s reputation as a genealogist was at an
end so far as Harun was concerned. 1

Abu Ja’far Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Makkl (d. 864), son
of the above, was ” one of the most praiseworthy of the
narrators (ruwdt) of music (ghind’), and the most learned
in its science.” Not content with revising the work of
his father 2 he issued a collection known as the Kitab
mujarradffl-aghani (Book of Choice Songs), which became
one of the text-books for later investigators. It was
compiled for Muhammad ibn ‘Abdallah ibn Tahir, a
brother of the musical theorist, and it comprised some
14,000 songs. As a practical musician he was praised
by Ishaq al-Mausili, which was the means of his receiving
a gift of 20,000 pieces of silver from Khalif Al-Mu’tasim
(833-42). He first appeared at the court of Al-Ma’mun
(813-33), 3 and finally at that of Al-Mutawakkal (847-61).*

1 Aghdnl, vi, 16-24. * Aghanl, vi, 17-18.

Aghanl, v, 104. Aghanl, xiii, 22.


He is sometimes called Zunain al-Makki 1 and in the
‘Iqd al-farid there is an account of Zunain and two
other musicians named Al-Hasan al-Masdud and Dubais
at the house of Abu ‘Isa ibn al-Mutawakkal, and here
they are called ” the cleverest men in singing.” Ahmad
ibn Yahya al-Makki died in 864.2

Ibn Jami’, whose full name was Abu’l-Qasim Isma’il
ibn Jami’, was born at Mecca. He was an Arab of noble
blood, since both his father and mother belonged to the
house of Sahm, one of the principal branches of the
Quraish. He was originally destined for a profession
suitable to one of such a station, and he received an
excellent education, especially in law, and he knew the
Qur’an by heart. Whilst he was a youth, he lost his father,
and his mother having married the musician Siyyat 3 the
career of a singer soon attracted the young and impres-
sionable Ibn Jami’. Although his step-father was his
first teacher, he also received lessons from Yahya al-
Makki. When Siyyat left Mecca for Baghdad and
became a favourite at Al-Mahdi’s court, Ibn Jami’
and another of Siyyat’s pupils named Ibrahim al-Mausill
were countenanced by the khalifs sons, Harun and
Al-Hadi. The khalif, however, fearing lest this liking
for music by his heirs might offend the people, forbade
these two young musicians the princes’ apartments.
The instruction was ignored, and Ibn Jami’ and Ibrahim
al-Mausili were arrested. The latter was sentenced to
300 strokes of the lash, whilst Ibn Jami’, protesting
his noble birth, was banished. ” You,” cried the khalif,
” one of the Quraish, and following the profession of
music! What a disgrace. Out of my sight. Leave
Baghdad instantly.” 4 Ibn Jami’ fled to Mecca, but
when the khalif died (785) and Al-Hadi came to the throne,
Ibn Jami’ was sent for and was presented with 30,000
pieces of gold. With this fortune, Ibn Jami’ thought he

1 The ‘Iqd al-farld has ” Zunain.” See Guidi, s.v. and also sub
” Tunain.”

Aghanl, xv, 65-8. ‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 191.

See ante p. 113.

* ” Sovereigns are of the Quraish ” runs the tradition. ‘ Iqd al-
farld, h, 40.


would retire to Mecca, but through reckless living he
fell on evil days, and was compelled to take to music once
more, making an appearance at the court of Harun
(786-809). Here he found his old fellow pupil, Ibrahim
al-Mausili, who was the chief court minstrel, and a bitter
jealousy arose between them. Even the other court
minstrels took part in this, and two rival parties actually
existed at court in consequence. There can be little
doubt that Ibn Jami* was a finished performer, although
inferior perhaps to his rival. Ibn ‘Abd Rabbihi says that
” Ibrahim al-Mausili was the greatest of the musicians
in versatility, but Ibn Jami’ had the sweetest note/’ 1
Barsauma, a favoured court minstrel, was asked by
Harun for his opinion of Ibn Jami’, when he replied,
” Why not ask my opinion about honey ? ” 2

Ibrahim al-Mausili or Al-Mausili (d. 804) were the
usual names given to Ibrahim ibn Mahan (or Maimun) 3
al-Mausili, who was born at Al-Kufa in 742. He came of
a noble Persian family, but was brought up by an illus-
trious Arab of the Banu Tamim. Running away from
his protector, he settled at Al-Mausil, which gave him his
surname, and it was here that he took his first music
lessons. Later he went to Al-Raiy in Northern Persia,
where he acquired a comprehensive knowledge of both
Persian and Arabian music (ghina). Here he met a
representative of Khalif Al-Mansur, who enabled him to
go to Al-Basra to further prosecute his musical studies. 4
Finally he directed his steps to Baghdad, where he studied
under Siyyat. We have already seen how he suffered
on account of the sons of Al-Mahdi, and when the latter
died, his successor, Al-HadI (785-86), repaid Ibrahim
for his punishment on his account by a gift of 150,000
pieces of gold. With Harun (786-809) he was elevated
to the foremost position among the court musicians,
and became the ” boon companion ” of the khalif, hence
his nickname Al-Nadim. 5

1 ‘ Iqd al-farld, iii, 179. Ibid. Aghanl, vi, 12, 69-92.

‘ Mahan was his father’s Iranian name, but the Arabs changed it
to Maimun.

‘Ahlwardt, Abu Nuwds.

See how he is respected in the Alf laila wa laila, iv, 232.


The rival camps of Ibrahim al-Mausili and Ibn Jami’
caused a great stir at court. Among the supporters of
the former were : Ishaq his son, Zalzal his brother-in-law,
and Muhammad al-Raff, whilst the latter had Mukhariq
and ‘Aqid among his adherents. An audition was being
held by Ibrahim one day in which some thirty singing-
girls were playing their lutes, and Ibn Jami’ complained
that one of them was playing out of tune. Ibrahim
immediately named the culprit and actually mentioned
the string that was out of tune. The court was amazed,
much to the chagrin of Ibn Jami’.

Ibrahim became extremely rich, for not only did he
receive a court pension of 10,000 pieces of silver a month,
but the liberalities of the khalif and nobility in his favour
almost pass credence. He also derived a large income
from his lands, and his Music School alone brought him a
total profit of twenty-four million pieces of silver. His
mansion was the talk of Baghdad, and one person says,
” A more spacious and nobler dwelling I had never seen.” 1

As a singer and instrumentalist, Ibrahim was without
a peer. 2 As a composer he also stood unrivalled, and no
less than 900 compositions stood to his credit. 3 Ibn
Khallikan credits him with the introduction of “several
new modes.” 4 Other writers say that he was the first
to make a name with the makhun rhythmic mode. 5
When the great musician was on his deathbed, Khalif
Harun was ever present, and at his funeral the piayers
were recited by Al-Ma’mun himself. Besides his son
Ishaq, he had several eminent pupils, and among them :
Zalzal, Mukhariq, ‘Alluyah, Abu Sadaqa, Sulaim ibn
Sallam and Muhammad ibn al-Harith. The name of
Ibrahim al-Mausili has been made famous in the West
as well as in the East by the Thousand and One Nights. 6

1 Iqd al-farld, iii, 188.

1 ‘Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., i, 21. Cf. ‘Iqd al-fartd, iii, 188.

8 Aghanl, v, 17. xviii, 176.

Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., i, 21.

Aghanl, vi, 66. Al-Mas’udi, viii, 98.

A If laila wa laila, iii, 388. This is his adventure with the Devil,
told also in the Aghanl, v, 36, and by Al-Ghuzuli, i, 241. His escapade
with the singing-girls (Aghanl, v, 41 ; Al-Ghuzuji, i, 243 ; Ibn Badrun,
272), is told in the Alf laila wa laila, ii, 437, of his son Ishaq.



Yazid Haura’ Abu Khalid was a musician of Al-Medina,
and a freeman of the Banii Laith ibn Bakr. Settling in
Baghdad, he made a reputation at the court of Al-Mahdi
(775-85). His voice was of an extraordinary quality and
Ibrahim al-Mausili employed him at his Music School,
but it is said that Yazid was unable to impart to his pupils
the secret of his charming vocalization. He excelled also
as a composer, and both Ibrahim al-Mausili and Ibn
Jami’ sang his compositions. Harun (786-809) was
devoted to Yazid, and on the deathbed of the latter the
khalif never failed to send his chief eunuch to enquire each
day after his favourite. He was a personal friend of the
poets Abul-‘Atahiya and Abu Malik al-A’raj, and it was
the latter who wrote the elegaic verses on his death. As
an all-round musician, he is ranked with Ibrahim al-
MausilT and Ibn Jami’. 1

Zalzal, or Mansur Zalzal al-Darib (d. 791), 2 was a very
important musician of the early ‘Abbasid period. The
author of the ‘Iqd says of him, ” Zalzal was the most
pleasant of the stringed instrumentalists, and there was
not his equal either before or after.” 3 Ishaq al-Mausili
testified at the court of Al-Wathiq, that Zalzal had no
equal as a lutenist. 4 He was the special accompanist of
Ibrahim al-Mausili, whose brother-in-law he was, and
apparently his forte was as an accompanist, hence his
surname (al-Darib), since he did not sing much. 5 He
is better known in musical history as a reformer of the
scale, for it was he who introduced the famous neutral
third (22:27) on the l ute – He was also the inventor of a
” perfect lute ” called the ‘ud al-shabbut, which super-
seded the Persian lute hitherto in use. Unfortunately,
he incurred the displeasure of Harun and was flung into
prison, where he languished for years. On his release

1 Aghant, iii, 73-75.

Carra de Vaux, Traits des rapports, 56, and Caussin de Perceval,
J.A., Novembre-Decembre, 1873, p. 548, write Zolzol. The above
however, is the pronunciation indicated in the Mafdtlh al-ulum, 239.
Guidi writes Zilzil. See also Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., i, 21. Land,
Recherches, 61, Von Hammer, Lit. der Arab., iii, 764.

‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 190.

1 Aghanl, v, 57-8.

1 Cf . ‘ Iqd al-farld, iii, 190.


his beard was quite white, and his health was ruined. He
died in 791. 1 During his lifetime Zalzal had a well dug
at Baghdad, and at his death he left this to the people
of Baghdad with sufficient funds to keep it in repair.
For centuries it was known as the Birkat al-Zalzal.*

Fulaih ibn Abf l-‘Aura’ was a native of Mecca and a
freeman of the Banu Makhzum. He was a pupil of Yahya
al-Makki, and was considered one of the chief singers at
the court of Al-Mahdi (775-85), being the only musician
(so it is said) who appeared before that khalif without the
customary curtain. He was one of the three musicians
commissioned by Harun (786-809) to make a collection
of songs for him, his collaborators being Ibrahim al-
Mausill and Ibn Jami’. The collection was called
” The Hundred Songs/’ 3 Ishaq al-Mausili praises him as
a singer. 4 Among his pupils were the songstresses
Badhl and Dananir. 5

Prince Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi, Abu Ishaq (779-839) was
the younger brother of Harun, but by another mother,
whose name was Shikla. Born at Baghdad, he received
a very careful education, and his profound knowledge
of the poets, the sciences, jurisprudence, dialectic, and
traditions, is commented on by the annalists. His
abilities as a musician, however, outshone all these other
accomplishments. Losing his father, Al-Mahdi, when six
years of age, and being confided to his mother’s care,
Ibrahim was nurtured in the hanm, where music played
so large a part. His mother, who came from Al-Dailam,
was a musician, and so was Maknuna the mother of his
step-sister ‘Ulayya. So we find these two spoilt children
being initiated very early into the practice of music.
Harun himself evinced extreme interest in the musical
education of his brother and sister, and although it was
not considered ” good form ” for a Muslim of any social
standing to indulge in the profane art of music, yet
Harun encouraged them to perform before liim, and was

1 Aghanl, v, 22-24.

1 Lc Strange, op. cit., 62.

8 Aghanl, iv, 98-101.

* Aghanl, v, 9.

* Aghanl, xv, 144. xvii, 77.


even delighted to see them competing with the court
musicians. 1

When Al-Amin became khalif (809) he sent for his musi-
cal nephew Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi, so that his court
might have the benefit of his talents. After the accession
of Al-Ma’mun, Ibrahim allowed himself to be proclaimed
khalif during the Baghdad rebellion of 817, The glory
was but short-lived, and the would-be khalif sought safety
in flight, but, apprehended, 2 he begged for his life at the
feet of Al-Ma’mun. It was granted him, and henceforth
the prince was only known as a professional musician. 3
For a time, however, musicians were banned at court,
as we have seen. 4

Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi eventually became the leader of
the Persian Romantic music movement, and through it
there began an historic struggle between this school and
that of Ishaq al-Mausili, who stood for the old Arabian
traditional school. Ibrahim continued as favourite at
court until the time of Al-Mu’tasim. Two of his sons,
Yusuf and Hibat Allah, published biographical notices
of their illustrious father, the former going out of his
way to calumniate Ishaq al-Mausili, his father’s rival,
an act justly condemned by the author of the great
Kitab al-agham. The other son, however, was a fount of
information for the latter author. Among the most
notable pupils of Ibrahim were Muhammad ibn al-
Harith and ‘Amr ibn Bana.

Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi had a magnificent voice of tre-
mendous power, 5 with a compass of three octaves. 6
” No other singer in the world was capable of this feat/’
says Al-Isfahani. As a theorist and instrumental per-
former he was of outstanding ability. The Kitab al-
aghani says, ” Ibrahim was one of the most proficient of

1 Both Ibrahim al-Mausill and Ibn Jami* acknowledged the clever-
ness of the young prince. Aghdnl, ix, 51.

The Aghdnl and the Arabian Nights (Burton, 274th night), both
say that Prince Ibrahim was denounced to the authorities by Ibrahim
al-Mausili. This cannot be correct, since the latter had been dead for
many years.

* Aghdnl, ix, 60-1. * Aghdnl, ix, 60-1.

Aghdnl, ix, 51, 72. Even Ishaq al-Mausili conceded his talents.
Aghdnl, v, 119. * Aghdnl, ix, 51.


mankind in the art of the notes (nagham), in the know-
ledge of the rhythms (tqd’dt), and in performing on stringed
instruments.” He even essayed to play the mizmdr
(reed-pipe) and the tabl (drum). 1

Mukhariq (d, ca. 845) or Abu’1-Mahanna’ Mukhariq
ibn Yahya, 2 was born at Al-Medina (or Al-Kufa), and
was a slave of ‘Atika bint Shudha, a famous songstress.
From her, Mukhariq received his first lessons in music,
and was purchased for Fadl al-Barmaki, who, in turn,
passed him on to Harun. Ibrahim al-Mausili took him
as a pupil and Harun gave him his freedom. Soon after
this he won high favour at court, was rewarded with
100,000 pieces of gold, and honoured with a seat by the
side of the khalif himself. 3 Al-Amin (809-13) had
Mukhariq at his court. One day this capricious monarch
was riding in his manege to the music of his military band
of pipes (surndydt) and drums (tubill), and he commanded
Mukhariq to sing along with these instrumentalists.
This was kept up continuously during the night, the
khalif being absolutely indifferent to the fatigue of this
demand. 4 Under Al-Ma’mun (813-33), Al-Mu’tasim
(833-42), and Al-Wathiq (842-47), he remained a conspicu-
ous favourite at court, and he appears to have died in
845. He was a close friend of the poet Abu’l-‘Atahiya,
who, on his deathbed, sent for Mukhariq, that he might
hear the great singer intone those verses of his which had
been set to Mukhariq’s music, beginning, ” When my life
closes, the sorrow of women will be short/’ 5 Ibn
Taghrlbirdi says in his Nujum al-zdhira that whilst
Ibrahim al-Mausili and his son Ishaq sang well to the
accompaniment of the ‘ud, in pure vocal work Mukhariq
outshone them both.

Muhammad ibn al-Harith ibn Buskhunr (or Buskhun-
nar) 6 Abu Ja’far was of foreign extraction, since his

1 Aghanl, xiv, 54.

Cf. Ibn Khalhkan, Biog. Diet., i, 18. Kosegarten, Lib. Cant., 30.
Von Hammer, Lit. der Arab., iii, 784.

Aghdnl, viii, 20. * Aghanl, xvi, 139. See ante, p. 109.

Aghanl, xxi, 220-56.

Both the Bulaq and SasI editions of the Aghanl have Bashkhir or
Shakhfr, but the Tashfy kitdb al-aghdnl has Buskhunnar and the
Nihdyat al-arab has Buskhunr.


family came from Al-Raiy. His father, who had been a
judge (qadi), was fond of music and was noted for his
singing-girls. 1 At first, Muhammad contented himself
with the ”improvisation/’ but he became the pupil of
Ibrahim al-Mausili and we find him playing on the mi’zafa
(? psaltery) and later on the ‘ud (lute), which he learned
from Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi. When al-Ma’mun pardoned
the latter for his treachery in 817-19, he made him
virtually a prisoner within the palace under the charge of
the wazir Muhammad ibn Mazdad. The latter appointed
Muhammad ibn al-Harith to see that the prince did not
break his parole. It was this musician who was able to
persuade the khalif to remove this irksome surveillance. 2
One day, however, Muhammad sang some verses in praise
of the Umayyads which so enraged the khalif that the
latter ordered the imprudent musician to be beheaded,
and it was with the utmost difficulty that the wazir
was able to stay the hand of the khalif. Muhammad
ibn al-Harith appears to have lived to a ripe old age,
since we find him at the court of Al-Wathiq (842-47). 3
Abu Sadaqa, or Miskln ibn Sadaqa, was a minstrel of
Al-Medma. Called to the court of Harun (780-809), he
won a considerable reputation as a story-teller as well as
a musician. His talents are said to have been discovered
by Ibrahim al-Mausili. Historians say that he was
particularly clever in the extemporization (iqtirdh) and
in the rhythmic modes (tqadt), which, like the earlier
musicians, he marked with a qadib (wand). At a concert
given before Harun, when most of the virtuosi were pre-
sent, the khalif commanded that a certain song should be
performed by each of them in turn. None of the rendi-
tions pleased the ” Commander of the Faithful ” until
the sattdr or ” Guardian of the Curtain/’ commanded
Abu Sadaqa to sing. At the conclusion, the khalif
showered the most extravagant encomiums on this min-
strel, and, drawing aside the curtain, listened to a story
from the lips of Abu Sadaqa concerning the origin of this
particular song. His son, Sadaqa ibn Abl Sadaqa, and

1 Aghdni, xx, 83. Aghdni, ix, 61.

Aghdni, x, 161-4. xx, 82.


his grandson, Ahmad ibn Sadaqa ibn Abi Sadaqa,
both became celebrated minstrels. 1

‘Alluyah (or ‘Allawaya) 2 al-A’sr Abu’l-Hasan ‘AH ibn
‘Abdallah ibn Saif was a freeman of the House of Umayya.
He belonged to Al-Medlna, and was a grandson of a musi-
cian named Saif, who lived in the days of Al-Walid ibn
‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan. He was taught music by Ibrahim
al-Mausili and became a skilful performer. His first
court appearance was with Harun (786-809), who, on
one occasion, punished him. 3 With Al-Amm (809-13)
he was shown some partiality, although once again
punishment fell upon him. Al-Ma’mun (813-33) a l so
extended his patronage to ‘Alluyah, and it was through
the latter that Ishaq al-Mausili was re-instated in the
khalif ‘s good graces after a long estrangement. 4 When the
Romantic movement, headed by Prince Ibrahim ibn
al-Mahdi, took definite form, ‘Alluyah joined this party,
and he and Ishaq al-Mausili became enemies. 5 Yet
after the prince’s death these two great virtuosi patched
up their differences. In the ‘Iqd al-farid, ‘Alluyah is
blamed for the introduction of Persian notes into Arabian
music, 6 and it was this which eventually contributed to
the loss of much of the classical music of Arabia. 7
‘Alluyah died in the reign of Al-Mutawakkil (847-61). 8

Al-Zubair ibn Dahman was a musician of Mecca and
a freeman of the Banu Laith ibn Bakr. His father was a
well-known musician of the Umayyads. Although suc-
cessful in commercial life, he became enamoured with
music, and in the reign of Harun (786-809) he was called
to court. Here he took part in the rivalry between the
factions of Prince Ibrahim and Ishaq al-Mausili, both he
and his brother ‘Abdallah, 9 also a court musician, joining
the former party. Ishaq, however, paid a warm tribute
to his ability, and Harun bestowed his favours. On one
occasion it was a musical setting of Al-Zubair to a pre-

1 Aghanl, xxi, 153-64. Al-Mas’udl, 342-47.

See Nihdyat al-ardb, v, Fihrist. Aghanl, v, 45.

Aghanl, v, 106. ‘Iqd al-farid, iii, 188.
5 Aghanl , v, 60, 64, 91.

‘Iqd al-favld, iii, 188.

7 Aghanl , i, 2. * Aghanl, x, 120-32. * Aghani, xx, 144-5.


scribed piece of verse that carried off the prize of 20,000
pieces of silver, with twenty competitors. 1 Among his
pupils was the songstress Qalam al-Salahiyya. 2

Ishaq al-Mausili (767-850) or in full Abu Muhammad
Ishaq ibn Ibrahim al-Mausili, became the chief court
musician on the death of his father. Born at Al-Raiy in
767, he came to Baghdad with his father. He received
a fine education, and we are told that he began his daily
studies with the traditions under the guidance of Hushaim
ibn Bushair. The next hour took him to Al-Kisa’i and
Al-Farra’ for the study of the Qur’dn. His uncle Zalzal
then initiated him into the craft of the lutenist, and the
science of the rhythmic modes (iqd’dt). He then passed
into the hands of ‘Atika bint Shudha, the famous song-
stress, who taught him her art. Finally, he closed his
day’s studies with Al-Ama’i and Abu ‘Ubaida ibn al-
Muthanna, from whom he learned history and belles

His attainments were such that, as soon as he was
old enough, he was admitted to the circle of the court
minstrels by Harun (786-809) and the Barmakids, all
of whom lavished untold wealth and unprecedented
favours upon him. Each succeeding khalif seemed
anxious to outdo his predecessor in paying honour to
this savant musician. Much of his reputation was also
due to his gifts outside of music, for his talents as a poet,
litterateur, philologist, and jurisconsult, won deserved
appreciation. Al-Ma’mun (813-33) was so impressed
that he said, ” Were Ishaq not so publicly known as a
musician, I would have appointed him a judge (qddi),
for he is more deserving of it than any of the judges
that we now have, and he surpasses them all in virtuous
conduct, piety and honesty.” Al-Ma’mun permitted
Ishaq to take his stand with litterateurs and savants
at the court receptions (majdlis), and not with the musicians
who held a lower rank. Later, he granted him the pri-
vilege of wearing the black ‘Abbasid robes, which were
reserved for legists, and he even allowed him to assist

1 Aghanl, xvii, 73-8.
” ~ I, xii, 115.


at the Friday prayer from the tribune of the khalif.
Al-Wathiq (842-47) said, ” Ishaq never yet sang to me
but what I felt that my possessions were increased.”
When Ishaq died in 850, x from the results of the Ramadan
fast, Al-Mutawakkil (847) paid this tribute, ” With the
death of Ishaq my Empire is deprived of an ornament
and a glory.”

As an all-round musician, Ishaq was the greatest
that Islam had produced. Although his voice was pro-
bably not so good in quality as some of his contemporaries,
yet his absolute artistry gave him a decided superiority.
As an instrumentalist he certainly was supreme. As a
theorist, whilst he may not have been a scientific thinker
like Al-Kindi, yet he was able to reduce the conflicting
theories of the practice of the art to a definite system.
This we are told was accomplished ” without his having
known a solitary book of the Ancients (awd’il),” meaning
the Greeks. As a litterateur his library was one of the
largest in Baghdad, and it was especially rich in Arabic
lexicography. 2

The Fihrist places nearly forty works to his pen,
and in this monumental work, written at the close of the
tenth century, Ishaq is described as ” a recorder of
poetry and antiquities … a poet, clever in the art of
music (ghina), and versatile in the sciences. ” Among
his books on music and musicians were : Book of Songs
sung by Ishdq, Book of Stories of ‘Azza al-Maila , Book
of the Songs of Ma’ bad, Book of Stories of Hunain al-
Hiri* Book of Stories of Tuwais, Book of Stories of Ibn
Mis j ah, Book of Stories of Al-Daldl, Book of Stories of
Ibn ‘A’isha, Book of Stories of Al-Abjar, Book of the
Selected Songs of Al-Wathiq, Book of Dancing (Kitdb
al-raqas wa’l-zafari), Book of Notes and Rhythm (Kitdb
al-nagham wa’l-iqd’), Book of the Singing-Girls of Al-
ffijdz, Book of the Singing-Girls, Book of Stories of Ma’ bad
and Ibn Suraij and their Songs, Book of Stories of Al-
Gharid, and the Grand Book of Songs. This last-named

1 Abu’l Fida’ says 828.

2 He allowed a pension to Ibn al-‘Arabl, the lexicographer.
The text has Al-Khlrl.


book, which became very popular, was not entirely from
the pen of Ishaq, but was a compilation by a bookseller
named Sindi ibn ‘All. Only the licence (rukhsa) was by
Ishaq, the remaining material being selected from his
other works by this editor. Biographies of Ishaq
al-Mausili were written by his son Hammad, and by
‘All ibn Yahya ibn Abi Mansur, and others. 1

Al-Khalil ibn Ahmad (718-791), one of the famous
scholars of the Al-Basra school of Arabic philology, was
perhaps the only great musical theorist of his day.
He is universally known as the compiler of the first
Arabic lexicon, the Kitab al-ain, and the systematizer
of the rules of prosody. His investigations into the science
of music were made public in two works a Kitab al-
nagham (Book of Notes) and a Kitab al-iqa 1 (Book of
Rhythm). 2 Hamza ibn al-Hasan al-Isfahani (tenth
cent.) says of him, ” Islam never produced a more active
spirit than Al-Khalil for the discovery of the sciences
which were unknown, even in their first principles, to
be learned by the Arabs.” 3

Hunain ibn Ishaq al-‘Ibadi, Abu Zaid (809-73), was a
Christian belonging to the ‘Ibad of Al-HIra. In this city,
where his father was an apothecary, Hunain received his
earliest education. He then proceeded to Baghdad and
became a pupil of the famous physician Yahya ibn
Masawaihi. His education was completed in Asia Minor,
where he learned Greek. Returning to Baghdad he
entered the Bait al-hikma (College of Science) in the service
of the Banu Musa. Later he became personal physician
to Al-Mutawakkil (d. 861). Hunain became famous for
his translations of Greek works into Syriac and Arabic. 4
It is highly probable that some of the Greek treatises on
music that were known in Arabic, were his translations.
We certainly know that the Arab theorists learned much
of the physical and physiological aspects of the theory of

1 Aghanl, v, 52-131. Fihrist, 141-3. ‘Iqd al-farld t iii, 188. Nihdyat
al-arab, v, 1-9.

Fihrist, 43.

Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., i, 494.

Fihrist, 294. Ibn al-Qiftl. Ibn Abi Uaibi’a, i, 184. Ibn
Khallikan, Biog. Diet., i, 478.


sound from Hunain’s translations of Aristotle’s De anima
(Kitab fi’l-nafs), Historic* animalium (Kitab al-hayawdri) t
and Galen’s De voce (Kitab al-saut), although the first
two had already been dealt with by Yuhanna ibn Batriq
(d. Sis). 1 The Staatsbibliothek at Munich possesses an
Arabic MS. by Hunain, which contains material on music
gathered from the Greeks. 2 It was also translated into
Hebrew. 3

Al-Kindi, whose full name was Abu Yusuf Ya’qub
ibn Ishaq al-Kindi (d. ca. 874), was an Arab of noble
descent. He was born at Al-Basra about 790, and rose to
favour in the days of Al-Ma’mun (813-33) an d Al-Mu’tasim
(833-42). Under the orthodox reaction in the reign
of Al-Mutawakkil (847-61) his identification with the
Mu’tazilites led to the confiscation of his library. Al-
Kindi has been called ” The Philosopher of the Arabs ” by
his own countrymen, since he seems to have been the first
to have devoted special attention to natural phenomena
from a rationalist standpoint. 4 He was a voluminous
writer, and among his books on music are : a Kitab
risdlat al-kiibri Ji talif (Grand Treatise on Composition),
Kitab risdla fl tartlb al-nagham( Treatise on the Arrange-
ment of the Notes), Kitab risdla fl’l-lqd’ (Treatise on
Rhythm), Kitab risdla fl’l-madkhal ild sind’at al-muslql
(Introduction to the Art of Music), Kitab risdla fl khubr
sind’at al-ta’Kf (Information concerning the Art of
Composition), Kitab risdla f I akhbdr ‘an sind’at al-muslql
(Stories about the Art of Music), Mukhtasar al-musiqi
fl tallf al-nagham wa san’at al-ud (Compendium of
Music in the Composition of Melodies and the Art of the
Lute.) 6

Three if not four of these works have come down
to us, although the titles are slightly different. In the
British Museum we have a Risdla f I khubr ta’lif al-alhdn*
and the Berlin Staatsbibliothek has a Risdla fi ijzd*

1 Wenrich, De auct. Graec., 129, 253.

1 No. 651 (Aumer) fols. 25, V.-3Q.

* See A. Lowenthal, Hmiain ibn Iscliaqs Sinnspruche der Philosophen . . .

4 Steiner, Die Mu’tazihten, 15.

6 Fihrist, 255-7. Ibn al-Qifti, 370. Ibn Abi Uaibi’a, i, 210.

Bnt. Mus., Or. 2361.


khabariyya al-mmiqi* and a Risdla ff’l-luhun. 2 Another
work in this library may also be by Al-Kindl. 3 In the
British Museum MS. there is another work mentioned
by name a Kitdb al-‘azm fl ta’lif al-luhun. 4 Al-KindTs
treatises had a fairly considerable influence on later writers
for two centuries at least. 5

The Banu Musa, whose names were Muhammad
(d. 873), Ahmad, and Al-Hasan, were the sons of Musa
ibn Shakir, one of the first algebraists. They were among
the most celebrated scholars of their day, and were at
the Bait al-hikma (a college founded at Baghdad by Al-
Ma’mun) contemporary with Yahya ibn Abi Mansur
(d. ca. 831). In the Fihrist we read that their favourite
sciences were geometry, mechanics, music, and astron-
omy/’ Ibn Khallikan also assures us that music and
mechanics were among their accomplishments. Yet,
not a solitary work on music is mentioned under their
name in the Fihrist, nor by Ibn al-Qifti, unless the
Kitdb al-urghanun (Book on the Organ), mentioned in
another part of the Fihrist in connection with them,
is to be placed to their credit. 6 Casiri mentions a Liber
de musica on their account, but the treatise corresponds
in the text with a Kitdb al-qarastun which has no concern
with music. 7 One musical work by the Banu Musa
has fortunately survived. It is a treatise on automatic
musical instruments, including the hydraulic organ.
The MS. is preserved at the Greek Orthodox College
at Bairut known as ” The Three Moons/’ The work is
entitled Al-dlat illati tuzammir binafsihd (The Instrument
which Plays by Itself), the text of which has been pub-
lished in the Mashriq. B

Ziryab was the nickname of Abu’l-Hasan ‘All ibn

Berlin MS., Ahlwardt, 5503. Berlin MS., Ahlwardt, 5531.

Berlin MS., Ahlwardt, 5530.

4 Brit. Mus. MS., Or. 2361, fol. 165, v.

Brit. Mus. MS., Or. 2361, fol. 229, v. Fihrist, 285.

7 See Dozy, Suppl. Diet. Arabes, sub ” Qarastun.” Suter, Math.
Verz. im Fihrist, 20. Steinschneider, Die Arab. Ueber.

Fihrist, 271. Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., hi, 315. Ibn al-Qifti, 441.
Casiri, i, 418. Al-Mashriq, xvi, 444. See the present author’s work
entitled The Organ of the Ancients from Eastern Sources, F. Hauser’s
Vber das Kitdb al-hijal . . . der Benu Musa, and Centenario della nascita
di M. Amari, 11, 169.


Nafi’. It was given him ” on account of his dark com-
plexion and his eloquence of speech/’ 1 He was the most
famous musician among the Western Arabs of Al-Andalus.
We first read of him at Baghdad, as a freeman of Al-
Mahdl (775-85) and a pupil of Ishaq al-Mausili, although
he did not make his first appearance at court until the
time of Harun (786-809), where his remarkable person-
ality, quite apart from his musical talents, so struck the
khalif that he was predicted as the coming master.
At his first audition before Harun, he refused to play on
the lute of his teacher, Ishaq al-Mausili, and insisted on
using his own, which he said was of different structure. 2
Ziryab soon captured Harun’s fancy, and this aroused
the jealousy of Ishaq, who immediately gave Ziryab
to understand that he would not tolerate a rival at court,
and insisted on his leaving Baghdad. It would have
been folly to have defied so eminent a man as Ishaq,
and so the young minstrel emigrated to the West
(North Africa), where he soon rose to fame. Whilst in
the service of Ziyadat Allah I (816-37), the Aghlabid
sultan of Qairawan, near Tunis, he sang a song of ‘Antara
one day. It was the one beginning, ” If my mother
were as black as a crow/’ and the sultan was so furious
at this verse that he had Ziryab whipped and banished.
The musician then crossed the Mediterranean and entered
Al-Andalus, where the sultan, ‘Abd al-Rahman II
(822-52), took him into his service. So says the author
of the ‘Iqd al-farid*

Al-Maqqari says that it was in the year 821 that
Ziryab landed at Algeciras, and offered his talents to
sultan Al-Hakam I (796-822), who immediately sent one
of his court musicians, a Jew, Al-Mansur, to invite him
to Cordova. Just then the sultan died, but his successor,
‘Abd al-Rahman II, equally anxious to obtain Ziryab’s
services, confirmed the previous invitation. Great respect
was paid to Ziryab during his journey to Cordova, and
the sultan himself actually rode out of the city to meet

1 Ziryab is the name for a dark bird that has a sweet note. In
Persian it stands for a solution of gold for gilding.
1 See ante, p. 108. ‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 189.


him. 1 For several months he was feted at the palace,
and finally he was lodged in a splendid mansion with a
pension and emoluments amounting to 40,000 pieces of
gold annually.

Ziryab soon eclipsed all other musicians in Al-Andalus.
Al-Maqqari says, ” Ziryab was deeply versed in every
branch of art connected with music, and was, moreover,
gifted with such a prodigious memory that he knew by
heart upwards of one thousand songs, with their appro-
priate airs : a greater number than that recorded [?]
by Ptolemy, who established rules on the science of music,
and wrote upon it.” Ziryab, like many of the other
musicians, believed that the jinn (genii) taught him his
songs in the middle of the night. When thus inspired,
he would call his two favourite singing-girls, Ghazzalan
and Hinda, and bid them commit to memory the music
which had come to him by these means.

Like Ishaq al-Mausill, the gieat Ziryab ” had a deep
acquaintance with the various branches of polite litera-
ture. He was likewise learned in astronomy and in
geography/’ 2 Indeed, his accomplishments were such
that Al-Maqqari says, ” There never was, either before
or after him, a man of his profession who was more
generally beloved and admired/’ He introduced plectra
of eagles’ talons instead of those of wood, and added a
fifth string to the lute. 3 His greatest fame was made
through his Music School at Cordova, which became the
conservatory of Andalusian music, 4 and its pupils were
looked upon as one of the glories of the country. 5 The
date of Ziryab’s death is not recorded, but it is doubtful
whether he lived later than the reign of Muhammad
(852-86). His sons and daughters became well-known
musicians. *

Al-Andalus had a few other well-known musicians who
deserve mention.

1 Ibn Khaldun, Prolegomena, ii, 361.

This was requisite for those who taught the influence of the ” Music
of the Spheres ” and its cosmical potency. See my Influence of Music :
From Arabic Sources.

Al-Maqqarl, Moh. Dyn., ii, 116-21.

4 Ibid., ii, 117. Von Hammer, op. cit., iv, 727.
Ibn Khaldun, ii, 361.


‘Alun and Zarqun were ” the first of the musicians
who entered Al-Andalus [from the East] in the days of
Al-Hakam I (796-822), and they were maintained by him
[at his court]/’ They became the most eminent of the
virtuosi until Ziryab came and wrested the laurels from
them. 1

‘Abbas ibn al-Nasa’I was the chief musician at the
court of Al-Hakam I, and he is mentioned as the singer of
the songs of this sultan.

Al-Mansur was a Jewish musician who stood high in
favour at the court of Al-Hakam I. It was he who was
sent to conduct Ziryab to Cordova. 2

Among the minor musicians in the Baghdad khalifate
at this period were the following :

Muhammad ibn Hamza Abu Ja’far was a freeman of
Al-Mansur (754-75). He was a pupil of Ibrahim al-
Mausili and was counted ” among the foremost of the
singers, players, and story-tellers of the day.” He was
at the court of Harun (786-809). 3

Isma’il ibn al-Harbidh was a freeman of the Banu
Zubair ibn al-‘Awwam or the Banu Kinana, and he sang at
the courts from the time of Al-Walid II (743-4) to Harun. 4

Sulaim ibn Sallam Abu ‘ Abdallah belonged to Al-Kufa,
and was an intimate friend of Abu Muslim and Ibrahim
al-Mausili. He possessed “an excellent voice.” 5

Barsauma al-Zamir was a pupil of Ibrahim al-Mausili
and a talented performer on the zamr or mizmdr (reed-
pipe). He seems to have been trusted as a critic of con-
temporary musicians by Harun. 6

Zunam was also a famous performer on the mizmdr ,
and he is mentioned in the i8th maqdma of Al-Hariri,
as a well-known musician. He was also the inventor of
a reed-pipe called the nay zundmi or nay zuldmt, as the
Western Arabs misnamed it. He was at the courts of
Harun, Al-Mu’tasim and Al-Wathiq. 7

1 Ibid. * Al-Maqqari, Analectes, ii, 85.

8 Aghanl, v, 45. xvi, 226.

4 Aghanl, vi, 150. 6 Aghanl, vi, 12-15.

Aghanl, v, 34. yi, 12. ‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 188. He is called Jussun
by Von Hammer, Lit. der Arab., iii, 766, and Fe*tis, ii, 14.

7 Steingass, Assemblies of ffarlrl, i, 137. Chenery, Assemblies of
Al-ffarirt, 209. Cf. Ency. of Islam, ii, 136.


Muhammad ibn ‘ Amr al-Raff (or al-Ziqq) was a freeman
of the Banu Tamim and came from Al-Kufa. He was a
fine performei on the ‘ud, and a man of handsome appear-
ance. He was a partisan of Ibrahim al-Mausili against
the rival clique of Ibn Jami’. 1

‘Amr al-Ghazzal, 2 Al-Husain ibn Muhriz, 3 Muhammad
ibn Da’ud ibn Ismail, 4 and ‘Abd al-Rahim ibn Fadl
al-Daffaf, 5 were at Harun’s court, whilst Ma’bad al-
Yaqtini, 8 Ja’far al-Tabbal, 7 and Abu Zakkar 8 were the
favoured minstiels of the Barmakids.

The singing-girls and songstresses of the ” Golden
Age ‘ ‘ were even more famous than those of the Umayyad
days, as we know from the pages of The Thousand and
One Nights, although, strange to say, most of the names
handed down in this entertaining work have no place
in the Kitdb al-aghanl t Nihdyat al-arab> and kindred

Basbas (” Caress “) was a half-caste singing-girl of
Yahya ibn Naffs, who was famed for his concerts at
Al-Medlna. Here ‘Abdallah ibn Mus’ab heard Basbas
sing, which led him to compose verses specially for her.
It was these verses that so charmed Khalif Al-Mansur
(754-75) that he learned them by heart. Ibn Khurdadhbih
avers that Al-Mahdi (775-85) bought Basbas from Yahya
whilst he was a prince for 17,000 pieces of gold. Whilst
she was at Al-Medina she was the idol of the Quraish,
and her beauty was praised by the poets. 9

‘Uraib (d. 841) was a songstress who had a most ex-
traordinary career, which deserves recording as it gives
an insight into the social life of the peiiod. Handsome,
accomplished as poetess, writer and musician, ‘Uraib
won a tremendous reputation. She ” surpassed all the
songstresses of Al-Hijaz and was particularly skilful in
the art and science of the notes (nagham), and stringed

1 Aghdnl, xiii, 19-22. See Guidi, 601.

Aghanl, xi, 34. xx, 64. * Aghanl, vi, 12. xiii, 9.
4 Aghanl, iii, 57. xxi, 226.

8 Aghanl, iii, 80-81. See Guidi, 435.

Aghanl, xii, 168-70. Nihdyat al-arab, v, 13.
7 Aghanl, xiv, 54.

Aghanl, vi, 212. Al-Mas’udI, vi, 359. Ibn Khallikan, i, 317.

Aghanl , xiii, 114-18. Nihdyat al-arab, v, 70.


instruments (awtdr).” She is ranked with ‘Azza al-
Maila* and Jamila of old. Ishaq al-Mausili said that he
knew of no better performer on the ‘ud (lute), nor a more
gracious or artistic woman. She is credited with
knowing 21,000 melodies by heart. Her first owner was
‘Abdallah ibn Isma’il, Captain of the Galleys under
Harun, but she fled with a lover to Baghdad. Here
she sang in the public gardens, but was discovered and
compelled to return to her master. She was then acquired
by Al-Amin (809-13), and at his death she reverted to her
old proprietor, but again fled with a lover, who married
her. Al-Ma’mun (813-33) then possessed her, and at his
court she held a high place as a musician. Under
Al-Mu’tasim (833) she was still captivating all hearts
and minds by her beauty and accomplishments. She
died in 841. Al-Mu’tamid (870-92) ordered a collection
of her songs to be made. 1

‘Ubaida, surnamed al-Tunburiyya, was ” one of the
best of the songstresses and the foremost of them in art
and literature.” Ishaq al-Mausill said, ” In the art of
tunbur playing, anyone who seeks to go beyond ‘Ubaida
makes mere noise.” Jahza al-Barmaki, the historian
of the tunburists, remarked that ‘Ubaida was ” an ex-
cellent musician and a remarkable virtuoso/’ She re-
ceived her first lessons from a certain Al-Zubaidi al-Tunburi,
who used to stay at her father’s house. On her parents’
death she became a public singer, visiting all and sundry
for a few coins. She was then acquired by a certain
‘AH ibn al-Faraj al-Zajhl, by whom she had a daughter.
Divorced, she entered the household of a cadet of the
family of Hamza ibn Malik, himself a good singer and a
performer on the mi’zafa (? psaltery). Her cleverness
as an instrumentalist was generally acknowledged.
At a concert given in the presence of the most celebrated
tunburist of his day, Masdud, the latter refused to play
in front of ” a mistress of the musical art ” like ‘Ubaida.
Jahza al-Barmaki possessed her tunbur, and underneath
the neck was written, ” In love one can endure almost

*Aghanl, xviii, 175-91. Nihayat al-arab, v, 92, where the name is
vocalized as ‘Arlb.



anything except faithlessness.” The instrument had
been given her by Ja’far ibn al-Ma’mun. ‘Ubaida seems
only to have been true to her art. 1

Shariyya was a native of Al-Basra, her father belonging
to the Banu Sama ibn Lu’ai, and her mother to the
Banu Zuhra a branch of the Quraish. In spite of her
origin, she was put up for the highest bidder by her
mother, and was purchased by Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi.
He had her taught by the best singing-girls in his house-
hold, including the famous Raiq ( Bloom of Youth”),
and he then made a present of her to his daughter,
Maimuna. The prince afterwards freed her, and made her
his wife. Al-Mu’tasim (833-42) was annoyed at this, but
Ibrahim argued that she was one of the Quraish. On
the death of Ibrahim she entered the harim of Al-Mu’tasim
and remained at court under several khalifs. Muhammad
ibn al-Harith, asked his opinion of the respective merits
of Prince Ibrahim and Shariyya as musicians, awarded the
palm to the latter. One of her best pupils was Farida. 2

Badhl (” Gift “) was a songstress of Al-Medlna who
flourished at the courts from Al-Amin (809-13) to Al-
Mu’tasim (833-42). She belonged at first to Ja’far ibn
al-Hadi, but Al-Amin, having heard her sing, begged his
cousin to sell her to him. Ja’far replied, ” Men of rank
do not sell their slaves.” Finally, however, Al-Amin
obtained her. She was a most accomplished artiste,
Fulaih ibn Abi’l-‘Aura’ having been one of her teachers.
She had a prodigious memory and boasted of a repertory
of 30,000 songs. So perfect was her knowledge of the
songs that even Ishaq al-Mausili stood abashed. Abu
Hashisha, the musical biographer, says that in the time
of Al-Ma’mun (813-33) she composed a Kitdb al-agham
(Book of Songs) of some 12,000 specimens for ‘AH ibn
Hisham. This resulted in a reward of 10,000 pieces of
silver. She left a large fortune. 3 Among her pupils
were Dananir and Mutayyim al-Hashimiyya 4

*Aghdnl, xix, 134-7. Nihdyat al-arab, v, iii. Written ‘Atoda by
Guidi. 355, but cf. 500.

Aghdnl, xiv, 109-14. Nihayat al-arab, v, 80.

Aghdnl, xv, 144-7. Nihayat al-arab, v, 85.
4 Aghdnl, vii, 31-8. xvi, 136.


Dananir (” Wealth “), surnamed al-Barmakiyya, was
a slave of a man of Al-Medina, who sold her to Yahya
ibn Khalid al-Barmaki, who set her free. She was well-
educated and was a gifted poetess. Among her music
teachers were Ibrahim al-Mausili, Ishaq al-Mausili, Ibn
Jami’, Fulaih, and Badhl. She sang before Harun
(786-809) and was the authoress of a Kitdb mujarrad
al-aghani (Book of Choice Songs). 1 She refused to
marry the court musician ‘Aqil, on the ground that
she could not ally herself with a second-rate performer. 2

‘Atika bint Shuhda 3 was the daughter of Shuhda, the
famous songstress at the court of Al-Walid II (743-44).
Like her mother, she was an excellent singer, and Yahya
ibn ‘All, the musical theorist, said that she was one of
the best of people in singing. At the court of Harun
(786-809) she was a great favourite, and among her pupils
were Ishaq al-Mausili and Mukhariq. 4

Mutayyim (” Enslaving “) al-Hashimiyya 6 was a free-
woman of Al-Basra, where she lived all her life. Taught
by Ibrahim al-Mausili and his son Ishaq, and Badhl, she
became a well-known singer and poetess. She was
acquired by ‘All ibn Hisham and became the mother of
his children. Both Al-Ma’mun (813-33) and Al-Mu’tasim
(833-42) had heard her sing. 6

Qalam al-Salihiyya was a singing-girl of Salih ibn
‘Abd al-Wahhab. She was counted ” a clever singer and
performer,” and was bought from this man by Al-Wathiq
(842-7) for 10,000 pieces of gold. 7

Dhat al-Khal (” Mistress of the Beauty Spot “) was
originally purchased by Harun (786-809) for 70,000 pieces
of silver, but was afterwards given to his favourite slave,
Hammawaihi, in marriage. On her husband’s death she
re-entered the harim of Harun, and she was one of the
three favourites that the poets sang about, the other two
being Sihr (“Charm”) and Diya’ (“Splendour”). 8

1 Aghanl, xvi, 136-9. Nihayat al-ardb, v, 90.

8 Von Hammer and Fetis have ‘Aqld.

8 Kosegarten writes Shahda. Lib. Cant., 22. Aghanl, vi, 57-8.

6 Kosegarten writes Hishamiyya. Lib. Cant. t 29.

Aghdnl, vn, 31-8. Nihdyat al-arab, v, 62.

7 Aghdnl, xii, 115-17. Nihayat al-arab, v, 68.

Aghanl, xv, 79, 80. Nihayat al-arab, v, 88.


‘Inan was another singing-girl who captivated Haiun.
She was formerly in the service of a certain Al-Natifi.
One day when the khalif had heard one of her verses
recited by a court minstrel, he approached her owner with
a view to purchase. The price was 30,000 pieces of gold.
Al-Asma’i said that Harun was never infatuated with
anyone more than with ‘Inan. 1

Other singing-girls of passing note were : Hasana, 8
Raiq, 3 Daman, 4 Wahba, 5 Dufaq, 6 Sam^a, 7 and
Qumriyya. 8

In Al-Andalus there were some famous songstresses.
‘Afza was the favourite singing-girl of ‘Abd al-Rahman I
(756-88). She was purchased in the Orient, and was con-
sidered “the most excellent of people in music (ghind).” 9

Facjl was originally in the service of a daughter of
Harun at Baghdad, but later went to Al-Medma, and from
there she journeyed with a companion ‘ Alam, to Al-
Andalus, and became famous at the court of ‘Abd al-
Rahman II (822-52). We are told that she excelled in
music (ghina). 10

Qalam was a Biscayan songstress who was obtained by
‘Abd al-Rahman II. She is spoken of as a scholar, an
excellent scribe, a historian of poetry, a reciter of stories,
well versed in the various forms of polite literature, and
” devoted to music (al-samd’).” n

Musabih was a singing-girl of Abu Haf ‘Umar ibn
Qalhil of Al-Andalus. In music she is said to have reached
” the highest point of excellence and skill, together with
sweetness of voice.” Ibn ‘Abd Rabbihi has a poem in her
honour. She had Ziryab as a teacher. 12

Mut’a was another of Ziryab’s pupils, and when she
grew up she so captivated the sultan, ‘Abd al-Rahman II
(822), that Ziryab presented her to him. 18

1 Aghdnl, x, 101. xx, 76. ‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 199. Nihayat al-arab t
v, 75. Aghdnl, xii, 108.

Aghanl, iii, 184. Rlq in Kosegarten, Lib. Cant., 29.
4 Aghdnl, v, 58-9. Aghanl, xiii, 126.

Aghanl, xi, 98-100. Nihayat al-arab, v. 67. In the latter as in
Kosegarten and Von Hammer, she is called Duqaq.

7 Aghdnl, iii, 115. Aghdnl, vi, 17.

Al-Maqqarl, Analectes, ii, 97-8. Aghdnl, xx, 148, 149.
10 Al-Maqqarl, Analectes, ii, 96.

” Ibid, i, 225. “Al-Maqqarl, Analectes, ii, 90. “Ibid.


(The Decline, 847-945)

” I like the man who cultivates poetry for self-instruction, not for
lucre, and the man who practises music for pleasure, not for gain.”

Ibn Muqla (loth cent.). 1

BY this time the Khalifate had begun to reveal signs of
serious political decline. One of the causes of this decay
was the rise of the Turkish soldiery, who played a part
in the history of the Khalifate similar to that of the
Praetorian guards in the Roman decline. They had been
brought to Baghdad by Al-Ma’mun (813-33) so as to
counterbalance the influence of the Khurasan! mercen-
aries, 2 and by the time of Al-Mu’tasim (833-42) the entire
standing army of the khalif comprised these soldiers,
the Arabs, both officers and men, who had been displaced,
having retired to their tribes, where they were to become
” a chronic element of disturbance and revolt/’ 3 The
Turks, whose numbers were ever on the increase, soon
became masters of the Khalifate, and from the accession
of Al-Mu’tazz (862) to the coming of the Buwaihids
(945) the very succession to the Khalifate was determined
by these people. 4 There can be but little doubt that the
domination of these mercenaries contributed seriously
to the decline of the political Khalifate.

Side by side with this military tyranny and political
decadence, there was a revival of a bigoted orthodoxy
in Islam that brought about a corresponding Intellectual
and artistic retrogression, which played no small part

1 Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., iii, 270.
1 Muir, Caliphate, 511.
Muir, op. cit. t 513.
4 Muir, op. cit. t 531.



in the general decline. The first century of ‘Abbasid
rule, as Professor R. A. Nicholson points out, was marked
by a great intellectual agitation. Rationalism and free-
thought were ” in the air,” and these ideas had official
support from the time of Al-Ma’mun (813-33). When
Al-Mutawakkil (847-61) became khalif, orthodoxy was
re-established, and all forms of heresy were suppressed
with the utmost rigour and cruelty. 1 During the
whole of this period practically, the Hanball sect domin-
ated. A regular inquisition spilling wine and destroying
forbidden musical instruments, to say nothing of execu-
tions and imprisonments was in full swing. Whilst
the Khalif ate was pampering ” religious men without
intelligence ” as Abu’l-‘Ala al-Ma’arri would say, and
persecuting ” intelligent men without religion,” the
finest civilization of the Middle Ages was slipping away.

We have already seen that Al-Andalus in the West
had claimed its own sultan, an Umayyad, since 755,
and the disintegration of the Empire was to follow
swiftly on this event, although not connected causally
with it. First there came Idris, a great-grandson of
Khalif ‘All, who raised the Idrisids of Morocco (788-985)
to independence. The rest of North Africa accepted
this lead when the Aghlabids (800-909) set up their
kingdom at Qairawan near Tunis, who, in turn, were
succeeded by the Fatimids (909-972). In Egypt and
Syria, the Tulunids (868-905) took control, and were
succeeded (save for a brief interval when the khalif
asserted his authority) by the Ikhshldids (935-969).

In the East, matters were almost as bad, for the
various provinces, Khurasan, Tabaristan, Persia, Trans-
oxiana, and Jurjan, had become practically independent
(making a mere nominal acknowledgment to the khalif)
under the Tahirids (820-72), ‘Alids (864-928), Saffarids
(868-903), Samanids (874-999), and the Ziyarids (928-976)
respectively. Nearer home, ‘Uman had long since
acknowledged its own imam. Al-Yaman claimed its
own rulers in the Ziyadids (819-1018) of Zabid, and the
Ya’furids (861-997) f San’a and Janad, whilst the

1 Al-fabarl, iii, 1389, seq.


Hamdanids ruled in Mesopotamia (929-91) and Syria
(944-1003). By the end of the period under consideration
all that was left to the khalif, save nominal allegiance,
was the capital, and even here, as Muir remarks, how
little was the authority of the ” Commander of the
Faithful.” Still, he was the spiritual head of this loosely-
held empire, and Baghdad was the centre of Islamic
culture in the East, although it was Cordova that counted
in the West.


Al-Mutawakkil (847-61), the first khalif of the decline,
opened his reign with an official return to orthodoxy,
and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the founder of the narrowest
and least spiritual of the four orthodox sects, 1 became
the chief theologian. There then began the terrors of
an inquisition, details of which may be read in Al-Tabari
and Ibn al-Athir. The philosopher and music theorist,
Al-Kindi, had his library confiscated, whilst the renowned
physician, Bukht-Yishu’, was despoiled of his possessions
and banished. It is not surprising therefore ” how
comparatively small is the number of writers and scholars
of eminence who flourished in Al-Mutawakkil’s time.”
Among the few writers on music were Al-Kindi and Ibn
Khurdadhbih. The practice of music, however, was
scarcely interfered with, for the khalif was a great lover
of the art, and gave constant public encouragement to
its professors. 2 His son, Abu ‘Isa ‘Abdallah, was an
accomplished musician who composed some three hundred
songs. 3 His wazir, Muhammad ibn Fadl al-Jarjara’i,
was also ” celebrated for his musical talents.” 4

The khalif built a gorgeous palace away from Samarra,
now the official capital, which he called the Ja’fariyya,
after himself. It was ” crowded with every means of
enjoyment, music, song, and gay divertissement.” 5
Here the khalif encouraged the virtuosi Ishaq al-Mausili,
Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Makki, Muhammad ibn al-Harith,

1 Browne, E. G., Literary History of Persia, i, 344.

Al-Mas’udl, vi, 191.

Aghdnl, ix, 104.

Fakhrl, 413

Muir, Caliphate, 528. Cf. Al-Mas’udl, vii, 192.


‘Amr ibn Bana, ‘Abdallah ibn al-‘ Abbas al-Rabi%
Ahmad ibn Sadaqa, ‘Ath’ath al-Aswad, Al-Hasan al-
Masdud, and Ibn al-Mariql, as well as the songstresses
‘Uraib, Shariyya, Farida, and his favourite Mahbuba.
He was most generous to them all, 1 but, as Muir says,
it ” makes but sorry amends for a life of cruel tyranny,
bigotry, and self-indulgence/’ 2

Al-Muntair (861-2) had but a short reign. He was
both a poet and musician himself, and the words of his
songs have been preserved in the great Kitab al-aghanl,
where a chapter is devoted to him. 3 His favourite
minstrel at court was Bunan ibn ‘Amr [al-Harith], who
sang his compositions. Another to whom he was partial
was Al-Hasan al-Masdud. We read of his singing-girls
in the Muruj al-dhahab of Al-Mas’udi. 4

Al-Musta’m (862-66) has left no record of his musical
tastes. One of his governors, however, Muhammad ibn
‘Abdallah ibn Tahir (d. 867), was a great patron of music.
One day he was asked by Abu’K Abbas al-Makki, just
before a concert, what he considered was the best music
(samd’). He replied, ” The best music is that of the four
strings [the ‘ud] when it accompanies a good song ren-
dered by a perfect voice.” 6

Al-Mu’tazz (866-69) was a ^ so a musician and a poet,
as we know from the great Kitab al-aghani which registers
some of his songs. 6 Among his favourite minstrels were :
Bunan ibn ‘Amr [al-Harith] and Sulaiman ibn al-Qassar,
the latter a fine tunburist. Shariyya and Jaha/i were his
two special songstresses. His son ‘Abdallah, a most
accomplished musician, 7 took part in the musical dis-
cussions at the court of Al-Wathiq. 8 This prince wrote
a book on the songstress Shariyya, and a Kitab al-badf
(Book of Poetics), the first treatise of its kind. 9 He was
called to the throne in 908 on the death of Al-Muktafi,
but was murdered the same day by the partisans of

Al-Muhtadi (869-70) was a son of the artistic Al-Wathiq,

1 Al-Mas’udI, vii, 276. Muir, op. cit., 530.

Aghani, vm, 175-8. * Al-Mas’udI, vii, 297.

Al-Mas’udf, vii, 347. Aghdnl, viii, 178.

Aghani, ix, 140. Aghani, v, 97. Aghani, xiv, 109.


but he inherited neither his father’s culture nor his
toleration. He took the pious Umayyad khalif ‘Umar II
as his model, and the court was speedily transformed.
First of all he placed an interdict on music. 1 ” Singing-
girls and musicians were expelled ; beasts in the menagerie
slaughtered, and hounds turned adrift . . . wine and games
proscribed; and a frugal household.” 2 It mattered
little, for he was murdered as were his four prede-
cessors. 8

Al-Mu’tamid (870-92), under the impulsion of his
brother, Al-Muwaffaq, was the first of the khalifs of the
decline to attempt to stem the tyranny of the Turkish
faction. The removal of the court back to Baghdad
helped to accomplish this to some extent. The khalif
was a musician himself, and he brought the musicians
and singing-girls back to the court now held in the
Ma’muni palace, or as it was now called, the Hasani,
so eloquently described by Yaqut. 4 This khalif, says
Al-Mas’udi, was appassioned for musical instruments
(malahi). Ibn Khurdadhbih, the geographer and writer
on music, was favoured by him, and it is to his oration
on music before this khalif that we owe some of our
knowledge of the early musical history of the Arabs and
Persians, 6 and to a songstress of his court for a description
of the dances and dance rhythms of the period. 6 Among
the newcomers to be favoured among the court virtuosi
was Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Makki.
Shariyya too was still in good graces at court. 7 It was
Al-Mu’tamid who commanded that a collection of the
songs of ‘Uraib be made. 8 One of his own songs in the
khafif thaqU rhythm, set to the words of Al-Farazdaq,
is given in the great Kitab al-aghanl*

Al-Mu’ta<Jid (892-902), although strictly orthodox and
a bigot who interdicted philosophical works, favoured
music and intellectual culture. When he was a prince

1 Fakhrl, 427. Muir, Caliphate, 539.

Al-Muntasir however, may have died a natural death.

Yaqut, i, 806-9.

Al-Mas’udi, viii, 88-89. See my Studies in Oriental Musical
Instruments, chap. v.

Al-Mas’udi, viii, 100. Aghanl, xiv, 113-

Aghani, xviii, 176. Aghanl, viii, 186.


he was noted for his marvellous voice. 1 He had ‘Ubaidal-
lah ibn ‘Abdallah ibn Tahir as his ” boon companion/’
and this latter was the author of a Kitab fi’l-nagham
(Book on the Notes). 2 He anathematized all who even
mentioned the name of the Umayyads in ordinary public
affairs, yet he would listen for hours to a song by the
Umayyad khalif Al-Walid II, when sung by his favourite
minstrel Ahmad ibn ‘Abdallah ibn Abfl-‘Ala’. 3 At the
same time, he had the philosopher and music theorist
Al-SarakhsI put to death for a political offence. 4 Al-
Mu’tatfid held splendid courts at the Firdaus and
Thurayya palaces, which had been built by him.

Al-Muktafi (902-08) was a son of the preceding. We
know nothing of his musical preferences save that
‘Ubaidallah ibn ‘Abdallah ibn Tahir still continued to be
one of the ” boon companions/’ 5 an honour shared with
another music theorist Yahya ibn ‘All ibn Yahya
ibn Abl Manur. The Baghdad hospital at this time was
under the direction of the famous Abu Bakr Muhammad
ibn Zakariyya al-Razi (Rhazes) who was also a music
theorist. Under this khalif the Empire became more
secure than it had been for many years.

Al-Muqtadir (908-32) was but ” a weak voluptuary
in the hands of women of the court and their favourites.” 6
Baghdad was still in the control of the Turkish soldiery
who held the khalif at their mercy, whilst the orthodox
party terrorized all and sundry who disagreed with their
opinions. 7 Yet the khalif maintained brilliant and pomp-
ous courts at his new palaces, the Shajara and Muhdith,
and possessed no fewer than 11,000 eunuchs. 8 Spending
his days and nights with musicians and singing-girls, 9
he made no attempt to check the excesses of the lawless
soldiery or the intolerant theologians, with the result
that he left a legacy of anarchy to his successors.
Miskawaihi says that he ” avoided male companions
even minstrels.” 10 On the other hand, several male

1 Aghanl, viii, 196. Aghanl, viii, 44, 45.

* Aghanl, viii, 88. Al-Mas’udi, viii, 179.

* Aghanl, viii, 54. Muir, Caliphate, 565.
‘ Muir, Caliphate, 567-8. Fakhri, 449.

* Muir, op.cit., 566. The Eclipse of the ‘Abbasid Caliphate, i, 13.


minstrels are mentioned at his court in the great Kitdb
al-aghdm, and among them Jahza al-Barmaki, Ibrahim
ibn Abi’l-‘Ubais, Ibrahim ibn al-Qasim ibn Zurzur,
Wasif al-Zamir, and Kaniz. 1 One of his favourite
singing-girls was Salifa.

Al-Qahir (932), Al-Radi (934), Al-Muttaqi (940), and
Al-Mustakfi (944-46) were the next khalifs. Little need
be said of them. Mere puppets in the hands of the
Turkish soldiery, worse even than their predecessors,
they wielded little or no authority. Their elevation
to the thone depended upon the whims of the mercen-
aries. Three of these khalifs were deposed by them and
blinded. Al-Radi, the only one who died as khalif,
is generally spoken of as ” the last of the real khalifs,”
i.e., the last to deliver the Friday orations, and to con-
duct the affairs of state like the khalifs of old. He was
also the last khalif whose poetry has been preserved. 2

Yet in spite of these trials and tribulations, music
still flourished at the courts. 3 Al-Qahir made a show of
” orthodoxy/’ and forbade wine, male musicians, song-
stresses and mukhannathun. These individuals were
arrested and sent to Al-Basra and Al-Kufa. At the
same time, Al-Qahir himself indulged in music, and had
as many songstresses as he liked. 4

So far the state of music at the Baghdad court, the hub
of the Eastern world. Yet we cannot ignore the in-
fluence of the many independent dynasties, ” whose
courts often became foci for learning and literature
[and music], more apt in many ways to discover and
stimulate local talent than a distant and unsympathetic
metropolis. ” 6 It was the Samanids of Transoxiana
who protected the scientist and music theorist Muhammad
ibn Zakariyya al-Razi (Rhazes), and later fostered Ibn
Sma, as well as the minstrel Rudaki, who is sometimes
claimed as the first Persian poet. In Syria, the Ham-
danids patronized the philosopher and music theorist

1 Aghanl, v, 22.

* Fakhrl, 484. Muir, op. cit. t 571.

Aghanl , xv, 99.

* The Eclipse of the ‘Abbasid Caliphate, i, 269.

Browne, Lit. Hist, of Persia, i, 339-40.


Al-Farabi, and in their dominions there flourished the
music historians Al-Isfaham and Al-Mas’udi. In Egypt
the Tulunids were the first under the Arab domination
to make the land famed for its art, and the court for its
wealth and splendour. Khumarawaih married his
daughter to the Khalif Al-Mu’tamid, and spent one
million pieces of gold on the event. He had such an
inordinate appreciation for music and singers that his
palace was adorned with portraits of his songstresses,
in spite of the ban of Islam against portraiture. 1 The
Ikhshldids who succeeded the Tulunids were equally
favourable to music and belles lettres (witness Al-
Mutanabbi). If the court of the regent (ustdd) Abul-
Misk Kafur was resplendent for its music and musicians
so were the fetes of the people. Al-Mas’udi who visited
Al-Fustat in 942, describes a. fete in which he heard music
on all sides, with singing and dancing. 2

More important still perhaps was the culture influence
of Al-Andalus in the West. Here, rulers were equally
anxious to patronize music, literature and science.
During the reigns of Muhammad I (852-86), Al-Mundhir
(886-88), and ‘Abdallah (888-912), we see the arts flour-
ishing, and science in the ascendant. 3 The last named
khalif was, however, prejudiced against music.

” The learned of Al-Andalus,” says Sa’id ibn Ahmad
(d. 1069), ” exerted themselves in the cultivation of science
and laboured in it with assiduity, giving evident proofs
of their acquisitions in all manner of learning.” 4 In the
science of music, the first-fruit of this was Ibn Firnas
(d. 888).’

At the same time, independent dynasties had sprung
up in Al-Andalus as in the East. These petty rulers,
who gave mere nominal allegiance to the sultan at
Cordova, vied with each other not only for temporal,
but for artistic and cultural superiority. The amir

l Al-Maqr!zI, Al-Mawa’i$ (Bulaq edit.), 316, 317. S. Lane-Poole,
A Hist, of Egypt in the Middle Ages, 74.
Al-Mas’udi, Prairies d’or, ii, 364-5.

Casiri, ii, 34,

Al-Maqqarl, Moh. Dyn. t i, 140, and Appendix xl.

Afcmad Zakl B&sha, L’ Aviation chez les Musulmans (Cairo, 1912).


of Cazlona, ‘Ubaidallah ibn Umayya, was distinguished
for his patronage of minstrelsy and the arts in general,
whilst Ibrahim ibn al-Hajjaj (d. 900), who ruled at
Seville, was the envy of the land on account of his poets
and musicians. He brought scholars from Arabia and
singing-girls from Baghdad, including the famous Qamar. 1
The next sultan of Cordova, ‘Abd al-Rahman III
(912-61), put an end to the independence of the petty
chiefs. His reign is cited as the most illustrious in the
history of Al-Andalus, 2 and he was the first of its rulers
to adopt the title of khalif. “Except perhaps Byzan-
tium,” says Stanley Lane-Poole, ” no city in Europe
could compare with Cordova in the beauty of her build-
ings, the luxury and refinement of her life, and the learning
and accomplishments of her inhabitants.” 3 The famous
Ibn ‘Abd Rabbihi, the author of the ‘Iqd al-farid, which
has been freely drawn upon in these pages, was court
poet to this sultan.


We now come to a period when alien influences reveal
themselves more clearly in Arabian music. Ever since
the accession of the ‘Abbasids (750), the influx of Persian
notions, especially those of Khurasan, persisted in general
culture. The rise of the Samanids further east, exercised
additional weight in the balance in favour of Iranian
art. From the opening of the ” Decline ” (847) Turkish
ideas found slight acceptance in Al-‘Iraq, and with the
supremacy of the Tulunids (867) these were extended to
Egypt. Equally important perhaps was the impression
created by the great strides made in the translation of
the ancient Greek writers on music. How far all this
flux was to change the course of Arabian music we shall
see. Yet we must remember that if the Arabs borrowed
from the Persians, the Persians too owed a weightier
debt to the Arabs, not only for Islam, but for their sciences,
philosophy, and belles lettres. As Noeldeke says, ” Hellen-
ism never touched more than the surface of Persian life,

1 Al-Maqqarl, Analectes, ii, 97.

1 Dozy, Hist, des musul., iii, 90.

1 Lane-Poole, The Moors in Spain, 129, 139.


but Iran was penetrated to the core by Arabian religion
and Arabian ways.” 1

During the opening of this period, science and philo-
sophy were proscribed. Scientists were punished,
libraries of suspected individuals were seized and even
destroyed, and booksellers were forbidden to sell anything
but orthodox literature. Precisely the same plague of
intolerance swept over Al-Andalus, and although it
raged here for a shorter spell, the damage to be assessed
in the actual destruction of books is probably greater
in the latter case. The practice, and perhaps the science
of music, alone escaped the fury of the orthodox re-
action, and only one of the khalifs had either the
courage or inclination to hurl anathema at it, and that
was Al-Muhtadi. The theologians, it would appear,
dared not interfere with the pleasures of the court and
the Turkish officers. It would have been almost as futile
as asking them not to breathe as to suggest that they
should not indulge in music. However, the tendency
of the age is well expressed in the literature of Abu Bakr
ibn ‘Abdallah ibn Abi’l-Dunya (823-94), the tutor of
Al-Muktafi. In his Dhamm al-malahl (Disapprobation
of Musical Instruments), which is a diatribe against
music, he argues in effect that all dissipation begins with
music and ends in drunkenness. 2 Soon indeed a veritable
school arose who put forth quite a library of literature
on this question as to whether al-samd* or ” listening to
music ” was lawful or not. On the whole most of their
threatenings went for naught, for, indeed, there was a
far more interesting debate in progress.

In the days of Harun (786-809) the court musicians
were divided into two hostile camps, led by Ibrahim
al-Mausili and Ibn Jami’ respectively. On the death
of these virtuosi, we find Ishaq al-Mausill and Prince
Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi, leading rival cliques at court.
Both of these movements had their origin in the jealousy
aroused by the unique position held by the Mausili
family at court. In the second case, however, it developed

* Quoted by Browne, Literary History of Persia, i, 6.
1 Berlin MS., 5504. Cf. Hajj! Khalifa, No. 5824.


into an epic struggle between a classic and romantic
school in music. Prince Ibrahim was the son and the
brother of a khalif , and, indeed, had been an anti-khalif
himself for a time. He was a spoilt child, petted and
pampered by all he came in contact with, and so became
a consummate egotist. The author of the great Kitab
al-aghani tells us that in spite of his natural gifts and
eminent merits, Prince Ibrahim would not conform to
the proper interpretation of the ancient music, but would
suppress notes and alter passages just as he thought fit,
and would answer when reproved, ” I am a king, and the
son of a king ; I sing just as the whim of my fancy takes
me.” He was the first musician who introduced licences
into the ancient song. The result of this independent
attitude was that a crowd of dilettanti, ever enthusiastic
for novelties, as well as a considerable number of the
virtuosi, set out to defy all classical traditions. The
struggle between the Classicists and Romanticists was
waged with considerable vigour on both sides, and whilst
Ishaq al-Mausili lived the victory remained with him,
but after that, the principles of the new school gained
the day.

Apparently the new art tendencies suited the general
social and political drift of the period. At the same time,
it is not easy to discern clearly what the precise inno-
vations were that the Romanticists were concerned with.
It is clear from the great Kitab al-aghdni that an alteration
took place in the rhythmic modes (tqd’dt). Ishaq
al-Mausili had carefully classified these, but Prince
Ibrahim challenged him in this respect, 1 and there are
some interesting discussions on the subject, some of
which have been preserved. The author of the great
Kitab al-aghdni himself contributed a treatise to this
question, which, unfortunately, has not come down to

More serious still was the interference with the old
melodic modes. This may have been due to the intro-

1 Ishaq could trace his traditions back through pupil to master up
to the days of the jdhiliyya thus, Ishaq al-Mausili, Siyyat, Burdan,
‘Azza al-Maila’, and Ra’iqa,


duction of the Khurasan! scale of two limmas and a comma,
as exhibited in the tunbur al-khurdsani. Possibly, this
was the innovation in the scale from Persia which is
mentioned in the early ninth century. 1 The author of
the ‘Iqd al-farid says :

“Mukhariq (d. 845) and ‘Alluyah altered the old
[music], all of it, and had introduced Persian notes
[or modes] (naghamdt) into it. And when the Hijazian
came to them with the thaqil awwal he said, ‘ Your
singing requires bleeding ‘ (i.e., it is too full of notes).” 2

According to the author of the great Kitab al-aghdm,
Ishaq al-Mausili considered it a crime that the old
music should be rendered other than as it had been
traditionally handed down. The other school, led by
Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi and his followers, such as Mukhariq,
Shariyya, Raiq, and others, subjected the old music to
their caprices. Our author was anxious to pillory the
Romanticists for all time, and so he names those respon-
sible for the alteration of the old Arabian traditional
music as follows. Among the foremost, he says, of those
who corrupted the old music were : the family of Hamdun
ibn Isma/il and his teacher, Mukhariq, the pupils of
Zaryat (sic) a songstress of Al-Wathiq, and the female
slaves of Shariyya and Raiq (written Ziq). He then
gives the names of the Classicists who followed Ishaq
al-Mausili, and they were : ‘Uraib and her circle of sing-
ing-girls, Al-Qasim ibn Zurzur and his family, the circle
of Badhl the songstress, the minstrels of the Barmakid
family, and the progeny of Hashim, Yahya ibn Mu’ad,
and Al-Rabr [ibn Yunus]. 3

Jahza al-Barmaki, who died in 938, said that in his
day, so great had been the tampering with the old music
that it was impossible to hear one of the old songs exe-
cuted as it had been composed. 4 At the same time,

1 It is still possible however that the KhurasanI scale is later, and that
the innovation mentioned concerns merely the Persian ” middle
finger ” note (wusta al-fars) which had been adopted on the ‘ud being
placed between the Pythagorean and Zalzalian third.

1 ‘Iqd al-farid, iii, 190. Al-Wathiq employed songstresses from
Khurasan whose melodies were called fahlldhiyydt. They received this
name after the famous Persian minstrel called Fahlldh (Barbad).

1 Aghdnl, ix, 35. ‘The author of the Aghdnl says the same (ix. 35).


both Yahya ibn ‘All ibn Yahya ibn Abi Mansur (d. 912)
and the author of the great Kitdb al-aghdni (d. 967)
insist that even in their day the theoretical system of
Ishaq still obtained. The latter says : ” All that we have
mentioned of the genres (ajnds) of the songs follows the
theory of Ishaq al-Mausili . . . seeing that his method is that
which is accepted to-day, and not that of those who op-
posed him like [Prince] Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi, Mukhariq,
‘Alluyah, ‘Amr ibn Bana, Muhammad ibn al-Harith
ibn Buskhunr and those who agree with them . . .
for what they say is now rejected and left behind, and
people only recognize what Ishaq taught/’ 1

At the same time, interest in the new ideas did not
flag, since we have ‘All ibn Harun ibn ‘AH ibn Yahya
ibn Abi Mansur (d. 963), a nephew of Yahya ibn ‘All
ibn Yahya ibn Abi Mansur, a great protagonist of the
theories of Ishaq, writing a book on this subject entitled,
Kitdb risdla fi’l-farq bain Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi wa Ishaq
al-Mausill fi’l-ghind* (Treatise on the Difference between
Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi and Ishaq al-Mausili concerning
Music). 2

If the Romantic movement was responsible for the loss
of much of the older music of Arabia, it can claim to its
credit the introduction of some new ideas from Persia
which were to lend additional colour to the music of the
Semites, an influence which remains to this very day.
Most noticeable were the new modal ideas, due as much to
a novel scale that had been introduced as to anything else.
The Persian scale did not supersede the Arabian and
Pythagorean systems but found acceptance side by side
with them. East of the Tigris and Euphrates the scale
of the tunbur al-khurdsdni already adverted to was

It is rather unfortunate that we get no information
from either Al-Kindl or Al-Farabi on the construction of
the melodic modes, although they both describe the
rhythmic modes fully. We know from the great Kitdb al-
aghdni* and the Risdla fi’l-musiqi (or Kitdb al-nagham)

1 Aghanl, i, 2. Fihrist, i, 144.

Aghanl, viii, 24-5.


of Yahya ibn ‘AH ibn Yahya ibn Abi Mansur (d. 9I2) 1
that modes of nine and ten notes had recently been
introduced, the latter by ‘Ubaidallah ibn ‘Abdallah ibn
Tahir (d. 912) it would seem. In view of this we need
not necessarily attribute the nine note modes that we
find very popular later, such as that known as Isfahan,
to alien influence. Of course, the melodic modes were of
secondary importance to the rhythmic modes in these
days, and this attitude continued until the late tenth or
early eleventh century, when Persian and Khurasan!
ideas made a breach in Arabian musical art. 2 The
same thing might be shown in Arabic poetry. Metre
(arud) was of more count than rhyme (qdfiya). Although
rhyme is a necessity to Arabic poetry, yet the peculiarity
of the latter is that, with the exception of the muzdawaj,
the same rhyme is continued throughout the poem.

I have remarked that the influence of the Greek
theorists in music did not make any definite headway
until the ” Golden Age ” had passed, 3 and therefore
although the treatises of Al-Kindi (d. 874) were written
during the latter period, impressions only showed them-
selves during ” The Decline/’ Whether Al-Kindi de-
rived his theories of Greek music from Greek originals or
from Arabic translations is a question for future dis-
cussion. One or two passages point to a Syriac version
or an Arabic version via Syriac. 4 On the other hand his
terminology is quite different from that of Al-Farabi,
Ibn Sina, and later writers, and from this it may be
assumed that the treatises which he consulted on Greek
theory were not the same as those consulted by the other
writers mentioned. 5 Many of Al-Kindi’s opinions on
the physical and physiological aspects of sound may,
indeed, be quite original, notwithstanding the fact that
Arabic translations of such works as Aristotle’s De anima,

1 British Museum MS., Or. 2361, fol. 238-238 v.
1 The rhythmic modes hold the field in the Ikhwan al-Safa’, but by
the time of the Ibn Sina there are signs of change.

See ante p. 105.

4 For instance he writes qlthura and not qlthdra. Berlin MS.,
Ahlwardt, 5531, fol. 24. But cf. Berlin MS., Ahlwardt, 5503, fol. 35 v.

On the question of Al-Kind! and his knowledge of Greek see
Leclerc, Histoire de la medecine arabe, i, 134 et seq.


Historia animalium, and the Problemata, as well as Galen’s
De voce t made by Hunain ibn Ishaq (d. 873), were pro-
bably known to him.

Although the Arabs had long been acquainted with
ratios in the fretting of their stringed instruments, and
probably the Kitdb al-nagham of Al-Khalil (d. 791) dealt
with them, 1 the teaching of Al-Kindi on this subject
must have been of considerable importance. Indeed,
there can be little doubt that the Ikhwan al-Safa/ bor-
rowed from this writer. This is not the place to discuss
his Greek theories. Suffice it to say that he deals with
sound (saut), intervals (ab’dd), genres (ajnas), systems
(jumu’) and species (anwd’), modes (luhuri), tones
(taninat), mutation (intiqdl), and composition (ta’lif),
following the Greeks. As previously remarked, however,
Al-Kindi’s account of the practical art, as known to the
Arabs, is of highest interest and value in the history of the
theory of Arabian music.

Al-Kindi is also helpful as evidence that the Arabian
system of music was not merely Persian or Byzantine
methods as some writers have assumed. Here is one
extract : ” The teaching [of the art of music] is of many
sorts (funun), that is to say, Arabian, Persian, Byzantine
(Ruim), etc.” 2 Another reads : ” To every nation in
regard to this instrument [the lute] is a method which
no other people have. And their difference in that
respect is like their difference in other things. Do you not
see between the Arabs, the Byzantines, the Persians,
the Khazar* the Abyssinians, and other people, the great-
est difference in their natures, intellects, opinions, and
customs ? ” He then goes on to mention the difference
in the musical art between the celebrated modes (turaq)
of the Persians, the eight modes (alhdn thamdniyya=
‘OKTwrjxos) of the Byzantine theorists (astukhusiyya) ,
and the eight rhythmic modes (usul) of the Arabs, in
each of which these nations specialized respectively. 4

1 The pioneer mathematicians of the Arabs, Abu Ishaq al-Fazarl,
Al-Nubasht, and Jabir ibn Hayyan were all dead by 777.’
a Berlin MS, Ahlwardt, 5530, fol. 30.
8 See Encyclopedia of Islam, ii, 935.
Berlin MS., Ahlwardt, 5530, fol. 30.


What helped to counteract Persian influence was the
ascendancy of the Greek scholiasts. We have already
seen that the scholars of the Bait al-hikma, the College
of Science at Baghdad, had been busy with the treatises
of the Greeks on music which had been translated into
Arabic. Among the Greek musical theorists who had
been translated were Aristoxenos, Euklid, Ptolemy
and Nikomachos. Aristoxenos was known by two
books, the Kitdb al-rlmus [? ru’us] (Book of Principles
= a/>x a O and the Kitdb al-iqd* (Book of Rhythm
= pvOpos). 1 In addition to his Problemata, Euklid
(Pseudo-Euklid) was studied in two other musical works,
a Kitdb al-nagham (Book of Notes = EtVaywy^
ap/zoi’ifcrj ?) and a Kitdb al-qdnun (Book of the
Canon = Karon-op) /cavovos ?). 2 Ibn al-Haitham (d. 1038}
wrote a ” commentary ” on Euklid’s contribution to the
science of music, and Ibn Sina may have made a similar
contribution. 3 Nikomachos appeared in Arabic script in a
Kitdb al-musiqi al-kabw (Opus Major on Music) and in
several compendia (mukhtasar =yx t / n ‘ 8tm ‘)- 4 Ptolemy
is also mentioned as the author of a Kitdb al-musiqi (Book
of Music = ‘A/o/zcw/o;). 5 Even a treatise on music
by Pythagoras is recorded by the Arabic bibliographers. 6

When these writings of the Greeks made their appear-
ance in Arabic, music became one of the courses of
scientific study and part of the ‘ulum riyddiyya or
mathematical arts. Al-Kindi (d. ca. 874), Al-SarakhsI
(d. 899), the Banu Musa (tenth century), Thabit ibn
Qurra (d. 901), Muhammad ibn Zakariyya al-Razi
(d. 923), Qusta ibn Luqa (d. 932), and Al-Farabi (d. 950)
were writers after the Greek school. What the Arabs
borrowed directly may be traced in technical nomen-
clature. The Arabic word ghind’ had stood for both
” song ” in particular and ” music ” in general. It now
came to be applied to the practical art, whilst the theo-
retical art was represented by the word musiqi or miisiqd

1 Fihrist, i, 270. Fihrist, i, 266. Ibn al-Qiftf, 65.

1 Casiri, i, 416. Ibn Abl Uaibi’a, ii, 98. Cf. below, p. 218.

4 Fihrist, i, 269.

‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 186. Kitdb al-tanblh, 128.

Wenrich, De auct. graec., 88.


/). The names of a few musical instruments
appeared in Arabic such as the qltdra (/u0a/>a) and
qdnun (KO.VW). More permanent were some of the
names introduced into the ” theory.” The interval
was called the bu’d, and each specific interval was also
given a name. The quarter-tone was the irkhd’, the
semitones were the baqiyya (Aet/^a) and infisdl
a7roTo/jt^), the whole-tone was the tanin (roVos),
etc. The Greek devices of genres (y^) and species
(eiSfj) were adopted as the ajnas and anwff respec-
tively. 1

Following the example laid down in the Umayyad
period and the ” Golden Age ” by Yunus al-Katib,
Yahya al-Makki, Ishaq al-Mausili, and others, both
virtuosi and dilettanti became quite diligent in the study
of the history of music and the lives of its professors.
Al-Mas’udi (d. ca. 957) says that he found an abundance
of literature dealing with music (al-sama’), its history
among the Arabs and other nations, as well as biographies
of celebrated musicians both ancient and modern. 2
Al-Isfahani (d. 967) compiled his famous Kitdb al-
aghdni (Book of Songs), which, in spite of its title, is
practically a history of Arabian music and poetry from
the days of Idolatry to the tenth century. Biographers
of musicians abound, and among them Qurais al-Jarrahi,
Jahza al-Barmaki, Abu Hashisha, Al-Hasan al-Nasibi,
and Al-Madmi.

From the Kitdb al-aghdni we are able to appreciate
the type of vocal music that was current. We not only
have the lighter qit’a, which was more in keeping with
the tastes of the period, but also the more serious pieces
from the qa$d’id. It was apparently about this time that
the musical performance called the nauba became known.
In the Kitdb al-aghdni we read in several places of a com-
pany of musicians being called a nauba* The name
probably originated from the circumstance that the per-
formance of these musicians was given at certain specified

1 See my Facts for the Arabian Musical Influence, chap. iv.

* Al-Mas’udi, viii, 103.

*Aghanl,iii t 184-5 ; v, 167 ; vi, 76 ; xxi, 233.


periods of the day, or that these musicians took turns in
performance. In the course of time, however, the word
was transferred from the performers to the performance,
and we find the periodic playing of the khalif s military
band at the five hours of prayer being called the nauba.

The military band had now become one of the most
important emblems (mardtib) of the sovereignty of the
khalif. In the early days, as Ibn Khaldun points out,
the shrill trump (bug) and spirit-stirring drum (tabl)
were unknown to the Islamic armies. 1 It was the duff
(square tambourine) and mizmdr (reed-pipe) that sufficed
in these days. 2 But when the stern Muslims of Al-Hijaz
came in contact with the Arabs of Al-HIra and Ghassan,
the pomp and circumstance of war became the order of
the day, and we find bands with the surndy (reed-pipe)
and tabl* and then with the bug al-nafw (large metal
trumpet), the dabddb (kettledrum), the qas’a (shallow
kettledrum), 4 as well as the sunuj (cymbals).

Instrumental music in general was considerably de-
veloped during this period, and the careful descriptions
of musical instruments in the Kitab al-mu$iqi of Al-
Farabi are extremely valuable. 5 The ‘ud (lute) was
still ” the most generally used ” instrument, and was
still strung with four strings in the East, although in
Al-Andalus it possessed five ; that innovation having
been introduced in the ninth century. A fifth string is
certainly postulated by Al-Farabi, but seemingly only
as a theoretical makeshift, just as Al-Kindi had done
in the previous century. An arch-lute or zither called
the shdhrud was invented by a certain Hakim ibn Ahwas
al-Sughdi. 6 It had a compass of three octaves.

The tunbur (pandore) became a special favourite with

1 Ibn Khaldun, Prol. t ii, 44. The buq was not a warlike instrument
with the Arabs when Al-Laith ibn Nasr (8th cent.) wrote, and in the
following century Al Asma’I only knows of it as a martial instrument of
the Christians. Lane, Lexicon, s v.

Aghanl, ii, 175. Cf. Evliya Chelebl, i, ii, 226.
1 Aghanl, xvi, 139.

Fakhrl, p. 30.

Casiri says that the Madrid MS. of Al-Farabi contains upwards of
30 designs of musical instruments. The statement has been often
repeated, but it is erroneous.

See my Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments, p. 7.


the virtuosi, contesting the supremacy of the *ud as the
instrument par excellence for the accompaniment. 1 Ibn
Khurdadhbih assures us that it was common to Persia,
Al-Raiy, Tabaristan, and Al-Dailam. 2 The peculiar timbre
of the instrument, due to the drum-like structure of the
sound-chest (it was probably constructed with a skin
belly at this time) gave it a noisy tone, and was therefore
more acceptable for solo performance. Two kinds of
tunbur are described at length by Al-Farabi, the old
Pagan tunbur al-mizdni, now called the tunbur al-baghdadi,
and the tunbur al-khurasani fretted with a scale of two
limmas and a comma. At this time both these instru-
ments were to be found in Syria, but Al-Farabi says that
the former was more common to the people of Baghdad
and the lands to the West and Centre, whilst the latter
instrument belonged especially to Khurasan and the
countries east and north of it. 3

Harps and psalteries like the jank (sanj), the salbdq
(== o-a/A/^t^), 4 the mi’zafa (?), and the qdnun, which
had been improved by Al-Farabi, 5 were in general use.
For the first time we have positive proof of a stringed
instrument being played with a bow. 6 The older lutes
of the mizhar and kirdn type are also mentioned during
the period.

Among wind instruments, the nay, the surydnai, the
mizmdr, and the diydnai or mizmdr al-muthannd, re-
presented the wood-wind, whilst the buq or clarion be-
longed to martial music together with drums (tubul,
sing, tabl) of various types, and perhaps the cymbals
(plur. sunuj, sing. sinj). Both the pneumatic organ and
the hydraulis were also known to the Arabs of these
days. 7 Nearly all these instruments are mentioned by
Al-Mas’udi on the authority of Ibn Khurdadhbih (d.c.
912), 8 and carefully described by Al-Farabi. 9

1 Aghani, viii, 184-5. Al-Mas’udi, viii, 91.

* Kosegarten, Lib. Cant., 89 et seq. Land, Recherches, 107-121.

4 See my article ” Byzantine Musical Instruments in the Ninth
Century,” in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, April, 1925,
p. 301, et seq. Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., iii, 309.

6 Kosegarten, Lib. Cant. t 77, line 4.

7 See my Organ of the Ancients : From Eastern Sources.

8 See my Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments, p. 53 et. seq.

* Kosegarten, Lib. Cant., 76-115. Land, Recherches, 100-68.


The period of the Decline, in spite of the political
decadence, the internecine strife, and the infirmity of the
court at Baghdad, was almost as glorious an era for music
as the ” Golden Age.” It was said of Al-Mutawakkal
(847-61), who opened this epoch, that music and the
dance reached a higher degree of excellence than before.
The eloquent oration of Ibn Khurdadhbih on music at the
throne of Al-Mu’tamid (870-92) amply discloses the
ideals of the age. ” Music (ghind’),” he says, ” sharpens
the intellect, softens the disposition, and agitates the
soul. It gives cheer and courage to the heart, and high-
mindedness to the debased. With wine (nabidh) it
creates freshness and vivacity against the grief and care
which afflict the body. It is to be preferred to speech,
as health would be to sickness. . . . May the peace of
Allah fall on the sage who discovered this art, and on the
philosopher who improved it. What a mystery he
unveiled ! What a secret he revealed/’ 1

Similarly in Al-Andalus of the West we find the court
poet Ibn ‘Abd Rabbihi (d. 940) singing the praises of
music. He calls it ” the ‘ foraging ground ‘ of hearing,
the pasturage of the soul, the spring-grass of the heart,
the arena of love, the comfort of the dejected, the com-
panionship of the lonely, and the provision of the traveller.
. . . Oftentimes, man only appreciates the blessings of
this world and the next through beautiful music (alhdn),
for it induces to generosity of character in the performance
of kindness, and of observing the ties of kinship, and the
defending of one’s honour, and the overcoming of faults.
Oftentimes man will weep over his sins through [the
influence of] music, and the heart will be softened from
its stubbornness, and man may picture the Kingdom of
Heaven and perceive its joys through the medium of
beautiful music.” 2


The virtuosi still thronged the courts, even though there
were no outstanding figures as of old. Among the per-

1 Al-Mas’udI, viii, 88. ‘Iqd al-farld, iii, 170.


formers, whether vocal or instrumental, there were no
names that could be matched with a Ma’bad, Ibn ‘A’isha,
Ibn Suraij, or Malik of the Umayyad days, nor with an
Ibrahim al-Mausili, Ishaq al-Mausili, Prince Ibrahim,
or Ibn Jami’ of the ” Golden Age. 11 Fresh conditions
obtained. Something more than the talents of a virtuoso
were demanded. To make headway at court and else-
where, a minstrel had to possess other than executive
musical accomplishments alone, and it will be observed
that among the performers who will now be mentioned
there were a goodly few who rose to celebrity because
of their ability as poets, authors, story-tellers, chess
players, and as agreeable ” boon companions.”

‘Amr ibn Bana 1 (d. 891), whose full name was ‘Amr
ibn Muhammad ibn Sulaiman ibn Rashid, was a freeman
of Yusuf ibn ‘Umar al-Thaqafi. His father was in charge
of one of the government offices and was a distinguished
scribe, whilst his mother, from whom he took the name of
Bana, was a daughter of Rauh the secretary of Salama
al-Wasif. ‘Amr was a pupil of Ishaq al-Mausili and
Prince Ibrahim, and he made his first public appearance
at the court of Al-Ma’mun (813-33). In the days of
Al-Mu’tasim (833-42) he was quite prominent, and on
the accession of Al-Mutawakkil (847) he became the
khalif s ” boon companion.” With Prince Ibrahim he
was a great favourite, and one of his most reliable
supporters in the Romantic movement. We are told,
however, that although he was ” an excellent singer
and a good poet,” he was, at bottom, but a mediocre
musician. On one occasion, at a musical festival given
by ‘Abdallah ibn Tahir, he carried off the prize, a circum-
stance due, we are informed, to the importunacy of Prince
Ibrahim, who was particularly solicitous that his protege
should have this honour. He was not an instrumentalist,
and was quite ignorant of the art of accompaniment.
His fame seems to have rested mainly on his Kitdb
mujarrad al-aghdni (Book of Choice Songs), which, says
Ibn Khallikan, was ” a sufficient proof of his abilities.”
On the other hand, the author of the great Kitdb al-

Cf . index of the Nihayat al-arab.


aghdni in comparing Ibn Bana’s book with that of
Ishaq al-Mausili, has small opinion of its worth. 1 ” His
haughtiness and pride were excessive,” we are told.
He died at Samarra of leprosy. 2

Abu Hashisha or Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn ‘All
ibn Umayya, was a clever tunburist who flourished at the
courts from the time of Al-Ma’mun (813-33) to Al-
Mu’tamid (870-92). He had some reputation also as a
composer and musical litterateur. Several of his melodies
are mentioned in the great Kitdb al-aghdni? whilst
two of his books, a Kitdb al-mughanni al-majid (Book
of the Glorious Singer) and a Kitdb akhbdr al-tunburiyyin
(Stories of the Tunburists), are mentioned in the Fihrist.
Among his pupils was the celebrated Jahza al-Barmaki. 4

Ahmad ibn Sadaqa ibn Abi Sadaqa was the son and
grandson of famous musicians at the court of Harun,
and he himself was one of the greatest performers on the
tunbur from the time of Al-Ma’mun (813-33) to
Al-Mutawakkil (847-61), hence his surname Al-Tunburi.
He was besides an excellent composer in the ramal,
hazaj and mdkhuri rhythmic modes. 5

Bunan ibn ‘Amr [al-Harith] 6 was an adroit musician
at the courts of Al-Mutawakkil (847-61) and Al-Muntasir
(861-2). It was this musician that the poetess Fadl
fell in love with, and of whom Al-Buhturi (d. 897) wrote :

” The ud (lute) resounds with pleasing tune

Under the arm of Bunan,
Whilst Zunam’s hand just as nimbly
Plays upon the mizmdr (reed-pipe).”

With Al-Muntasir, Bunan was specially preferred. 7
Abu’ All al-Hasan al-Masdud was the son of a

1 Aghani, v, 52.

1 Aghdnl, xiv, 52-55. Fihrist, 145. Ibn Khallikan, ii, 414.

8 Aghani, viii, 173. xi, 32. xiv, 54.

Aghani, xxi, 257. Fihrist, 145.

Aghani, xix, 137-9. xxi, 154.

I have added al-Harith following Al-Mas’udl. He is the Shaiban
ibn al-IJarith al-‘Awwadh mentioned by Von Hammer, iv, 744. The
great Kitdb al-aghdnl only refers to him as Bunan, or Bunan ibn ‘Amr

7 Aghani, viii, 176-8, 184, 186 ; xvii, 8; xxi, 179, 184. Al-Mas’udl,
vii, 294.


butcher of Baghdad. He was an admirable composer,
and as a tunburist he was considered by Jahza al-Barmaki,
the historian of the tunburists, as the foremost performer
of his day. He, too, was surnamed Al-Tunburi on
this account. He flourished at the courts of Al-Wathiq
(842-47), Al-Mutawakkil (847-61), and Al-Muntasir
(861-2). * Ibn ‘Abd Rabbihi says that he was ” one of
the ablest men in singing,” and we read of him with
Zunain (Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Makki) and Dubais, at
the house of Abu ‘Isa ibn al-Mutawakkil. 2

‘Abdallah ibn Abf l-‘Ala’ was a musician of Samarra,
and a pupil of Ishaq al-Mausili. He is praised in the
great Kitdb al-aghdni for his superior talents. 3 It was of
this minstrel that a poet wrote :

” When Ibn Abi’l-‘Ala’ is with us,
Then welcome be company and wine.”

Ahmad ibn ‘Abdallah ibn Abfl-‘Ala/, son of the above,
was also a fine musician. He flourished at the courts
of Al-Mu’tadid (892-902). Mukhariq and ‘Alluyah were
his teachers. 4

‘Amr al-Maidani was a famous singer and tunburist,
who was born at Baghdad. Jahza al-Barmaki says,
on the authority of Abu’l-‘Ubais ibn Hamdun, that
whilst both Abu Hashisha and Al-Hasan al-Masdud 5
were considered to be the first among contemporary
tunburists, ‘Amr al-Maidani really surpassed them both. 6

Jirab al-Daula was the name given to Abu 1 !-‘ Abbas
Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Alluyah (?) al-Sajzi. He
was a clever tunburist, although more celebrated perhaps
as the author of a book of ” rare and laughable stories ”
entitled the Kitdb tarwih al-arwah wa miftdh al-surur
wa’l-afrdh (Alleviation of the Spirits and the Key to
Joy and Gladness). 7

1 Aghanl, xxi, 256-8.
1 ‘Iqd al-farld, iii, IQI.

* Aghanl, xx, 114.

* Aghanl, viii, 88 ; ix, 34 ; xx, 114.

The name is written Masturad in both the Bulaq and SasI editions
of the Aghanl.

9 Aghanl, xx, 66-7. Fihrist, 153.


Ibn al-Qassar or Abu Fa<Jl Sulaiman ibn ‘AH, was
another good tunburist praised by Jahza al-Barmaki.
He appears to have been the favourite accompanist to
Al-Mu’tazz (866-69), w h was himself a musician, and
we are told that every time Ibn al-Qassar performed,
this khalif gave him a hundred pieces of gold. 1

‘Abdallah ibn al-‘ Abbas ibn al-Fadl ibn al-Rabfi was
a singer, poet and composer who was celebrated at the
courts from the time of Harun (786-813) to Al-Muntasir
(861-2) ! He was a great admirer of Ishaq al-Mausili.
Al-Mutawakkil was particularly partial to him. Two
of his compositions were celebrated. 2

Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Makki was the
son and grandson of famous musicians, and a well-known
singer at the court of Al-Mu’tamid (870-92). He became
noted for his pupils. 3

The Ziryab family in Al-Andalus carried on the musical
reputation of its founder, the illustrious Abu’l-Hasan
‘All ibn Nafi’. The latter had six sons and two
daughters, ” all of whom/’ says Al-Maqqari, ” sang and
practised the art of music.” Their names were : ‘Abd
al-Rahman, ‘Ubaidallah, Yahya, Ja’far, Muhammad,
Al-Qasim, and the daughters Hamduna and ‘Ulayya.
‘Abd al-Rahman inherited his father’s talents and
carried on the music-school, but he displeased the aris-
tocracy by the undue familiarity which he assumed.
He was an extremely vain man, and in singing he asserted
that he had no equal. Ahmad had his father’s poetic
gifts, whilst Al-Qasim was considered the finest singer of
the family. The best all-round musician was ‘Ubaidallah.
The daughter Hamduna married the wazir Hisham ibn
‘Abd al-‘Aziz, and Al-Maqqari says that she ” excelled
in singing ” and was more proficient than her sister
‘Ulayya. 4

Qurais al-Jarrahi, sometimes called Qurais al-Mughanni
(d. 936), was another contemporary musician of merit
in the Baghdad Khalif ate, and is called ” one of the

1 Aghanl, xii, 167-8.
1 Aghanl, xyii, 121-41.

Aghanl, vi, 17.

* Al-Maqqari, Analectes, ii, 89.


clever ones of the musicians, and among the most learned
of them.” He wrote an important work entitled the
Kitab sina’at al-ghind* wa akhbdr al-mughanniyyin
(The Art of the Song and Stories of the Singers), which
dealt with the songs in alphabetical order. He did not
live to complete his work, but what was finished and given
to the public, comprised about a thousand folios. 1

Jahza al-Barmakl was the name generally given to
Abul-Hasan Ahmad ibn Ja’far ibn Musa ibn Khalid ibn
Barmak (ca. 839-938). Ibn Khallikan says that he was
” a man of talent and a master of various accomplish-
ments. 1 ‘ In the Fihrist we are told that he was ” a poet
and a singer, innate in poetry and clever in the art of
singing to the tunbur, and well educated. ” Al-Khatlb
al-Baghdadi says that he was ” the first singer of his
time/’ He was taught the tunbur (pandore) by no less
a master than Abu Hashisha. ” He had met the learned
and the narrators, and had studied under them, and had
a great reputation in this respect/’ His books, a Kitab
al-tunburiyyin (Book of Tunburists) and a Kitab al-
nadim (Book of the Boon Companion) became famous.
The author of the great Kitab al-aghani quotes from the
former work, although he censures Jahza for calumniating
several musicians, and insists that it is the duty of a
biographer to bring out the best points in the life of a
person, not the worst. 2 In spite of his talents, Jahza
appears to have had a small mind, and even the author
of the Fihrist speaks of his ” meanness of soul/’ He was
favoured at the courts of Al-Mu’tadid (892-902) and
Al-Muqtadir (908-32). It was ‘Abdallah ibn al-Mu’tazz
that nicknamed him Jahza (“cross-eyed”). 3

Among the lesser known musicians of the period were :
‘Amir ibn Murra, 4 Abul-‘Ubais ibn Hamdun, 5 Abu’l-
‘Anbas ibn Hamdun, 6 Abu’l-Fatfl Radhadh, 7 ‘Ath’ath

1 Fihrist, 156.
1 Aghdnl, v, 161.

* Aghani, v, 32. See Guidi, 262. Fihrist, 145-6. Al-Mas’udl, viii,
261. Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., i, 118.

4 Aghani, xx, 35-6.

8 Aghani, xix, 118-19 ; xx, 10-11, 66.

Aghdnl,, 3 ; xiv, 162.
Aghanl, xii, 32, 59.


al-Aswad, 1 and Ibn al-Mariqi, 2 all of whom were present
at the court of Al-Mutawakkil (847-61). One of the
principal men of state under this khalif, Ibrahim ibn
al-Mudabbir, patronized several of these musicians. 3
Nashwan was a singer in the house of ‘Abdallah ibn
al-Mu’tazz. 4 Ibrahim ibn Abfl-‘Ubais, 5 Kaniz, Al-
Qasim ibn Zurzur, 6 Ibrahim ibn al-Qasim ibn Zurzur 7
and Wasif al-Zamir, 8 were minstrels at the court of Al-
Muqtadir (908-32).

Among the songstresses, some famous names have been

Mahbuba (” Beloved “) was a half-caste born at Al-
Basra who became the property of a man of al-Ta’if.
She was given a fine education, and became a good singer
and lutenist, but above all an exquisite poetess. ‘Abdallah
ibn Tahir purchased her as a gift for Al-Mutawakkil
(847-61), and the khalif became so infatuated with her
that he could not bear her out of his sight. After the
assassination of Al-Mutawakkil, a number of court song-
stresses including Mahbuba, passed into the hands of
Wasif al-Turki, the wazir, and when she first appeared
before him, she was still dressed in mourning for her
late master, which the wazir, at first, appeared to be
amused at. When, however, he commanded her to sing
she took her lute and sang some elegaic verses in memory
of Al-Mutawakkil, which so enraged Wasif that he had
her flung into prison. At the demand of the Turkish
captain, Bugha/, she was set at liberty on condition that
she left Samarra. She retired to Baghdad and died
there in obscurity. 9

Farida was originally a singing-girl of ‘Amr ibn Bana
the musician, but afterwards passed into the intimate
circles of the court of Al-Wathiq (842-47) and Al-Muta-
wakkil (847-61), where her performances were highly
esteemed. She was a pupil of Shariyya, and a great

1 Aghanl, xiii, 30-2. * Aghanl, vi, 20-1.

Aghanl, xix, 114-27. Aghanl, ix, 143.

Aghanl, v, 32. Aghanl, v, 32.
7 Aghanl, viii, 44.

Aghanl, v, 32.

Aghanl, xix, 132-4. Al-Mas’udI, vii, 281-6.


admirer of the talents of Ishaq al-Mausili, whose reputa-
tion she defended when it was assailed. 1

Mu’nisa was a singing-girl of Al-Ma’mun (8i3-33), 2
but was later possessed by Muhammad ibn Tahir. There
is an anecdote of her in the Muruj al-dhahab of Al-Mas’udi,
as well as some of her verses. 3

Among the lesser songstresses were : Ziryab (sic)
whom we find singing before ‘Abdallah ibn al-Mu’tazz, 4
and Salifa, a singing-girl owned by the preceding, who is
shown performing before Al-Muqtadir (908-32). 5 Shaji
belonged to ‘Ubaidallah ibn ‘Abdallah ibn Tahir, and she
sang to Al-Mu’tadid (892-902). 6 Bunan was another
singing-girl who appeared before Al-Mutawakkil (847-61). 7

In Al-Andalus there were also some famed songstresses.

Qamar was the name of a songstress who graced the
court of Ibrahim ibn al-Hajjaj (d. 900), the amir of Seville
and Carmona. He purchased her for an immense sum
from Abu Muhammad al-‘Udhri, a grammarian of
Al-Hijaz. She was noted for her eloquence, erudition,
and her cleverness as a composer of music (alhdn). 8

Tarab 9 was a singing-girl presented by a merchant to
Al-Mundhir, a son of ‘Abd al-Rahman II, who sent his
donor in return a thousand gold pieces. She ” excelled
in music (ghina’).” 1Q

Uns al-Qulub was one of the most famous of the singing-
girls who shed lustre on the Zahira palace of ‘Abd al-
Rahman III. 11

Bazya was a singing-girl of ‘Uthman, the son of
Muhammad I (852-86). 12

It has already been pointed out how musical literature
had grown. Historians, biographers, and writers on the

I Aghdnl, iii, 183-6. v, 95-6. viii, 166.

* Al-Mas’udi says that she was a slave of Al-Mahdl (775-85).
‘ Aghdnl, vii, 36. xx, 57. Al-Mas’udi, vii, 387-93.

4 Aghdnl, ix, 142-3. She may be identical with the songstress Zaryat
(ix, 35) mentioned already (ante p. 148).

* Aghdnl, v, 32.

Aghdnl, viii, 44-6. She is called Sajl in the Nihdyat al~arab t v, 66 .
f Aghdnl, xxi, 179.

8 Al-Maqqari, Analcctes, ii, 97. Dozy, ii, 313-14.

Called Tarb by Ribera.

10 Al-Maqqari, Analectes, ii, 391. Moh. Dyn., i, 17.

II Al-Maqqari, Analectes, i, 406

11 Ibn al-Qutiyya. 80.


theory of music had sprung up on all sides, and among
them were some of the foremost names in the annals of
Arabic literature.

‘All al-Isfahani (897-967) or Abu’l-Faraj ‘AH ibn
al-Husain ibn Muhammad al-Quraishi, was born at
Isfahan, although he was an Arab who claimed descent
from Marwan the last Umayyad khalif. Educated at
Baghdad, he settled nominally at Aleppo under the
patronage of the Hamdanids, although he led the life of
the ordinary literary man in travel. He was a most
painstaking collector of poetry and songs, and Al-Tanukhl
(d. 994) said of him : “I never found a person knowing
by heart such a quantity as he did of poems, songs,
etc.” 1 At Aleppo, he compiled his famous Kitab al-
aghdni (Book of Songs), a work of the first rank among the
literary productions of the Arabs. 2 It took a lifetime
to compile, and the vast erudition displayed, to say
nothing of the enormous industry and patience which it
engendered, leaves one abashed at the productions which
pass as ” musical literature ” to-day. Besides being a
history of Arabian music from the days of Idolatry to
the tenth century, it is a storehouse of information on
almost every phase of the social life of the Arabs. Ibn
Khaldun calls it ” the register (diwari) of the Arabs/ 1
and the ” final resource of the student of belles lettres”
Saif al-Daula the Hamdanid sultan gave the author a
thousand pieces of gold on account of this work, whilst
the Andalusian sultan Al-Hakam II bestowed a similar

The text of this monumental work was published by
the Bulaq Press in twenty volumes in 1868, whilst a
twenty-first volume was issued at Ley den in 1888 by
Brunnow. 3 Guidi then followed with his invaluable
Tables alphabetiques du Kitab al-aghani (1895-1900).
A more correct edition of the Agham (known as the
Sasl edition) under the editorship of Ahmad al-Shanqiti
was afterwards issued at Cairo (1905-6), together with

1 Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., ii, 249.
“Huart, Arab. Lit., 185.

Wellhausen, in the Z.D.M.G., i, 145-51, also added fresh material.
See J.R.A.S. (1927), 905-6, re a new edition of the Aghftni.


Guidi’s tables amended in Arabic. Since then Muhammad
‘Abd al-Jawwad al-Asma’I has issued his Ta$hlh kitdb
al-aghdm (Cairo, 1916), and now an entirely new edition
of the ” Songs ” is being published. Both Quatrem^re 1
and Kosegarten 2 began translating the work, the former
in French and the latter in Latin.

Al-Isfahani was also the author of a Kitdb al-qiydn
(Book of Singing-Girls), 3 Kitdb al-imd* al-shawd’ir (Book
of Female Slave Poets), Kitdb mujarrad al-aghdni (Book
of Choice Songs), 4 Kitdb al-ghilmdn al-mughanniyyin
(Book of Slave Singers), Kitdb akhbdr Jahza al-Barmaki
(Book of Stories of Jahza al-Barmaki), and a Kitdb
al-hdndt (Book of Taverns). 5

Al-Mas’udi (d. ca. 957) or Abul-Hasan ‘AH ibn al-
Husain ibn ‘All al-Mas’udi, came of a family of Al-Hijaz,
one of his ancestors, Mas’ud, having been a ” Companion
of the Prophet.” He was born at Baghdad in the last
years of the third century of the Hijra. From his
earliest years he had a passion for travel, and in the year
912 we find him at Multan, and three years later in Pars
and Kirman. He again penetrated India, journeying
from there, possibly by the Deccan, to Ceylon, Madagascar
and to the coast of ‘Uman. It is not improbable that he
even travelled as far as the Malay archipelago and the
seaboard of China. We certainly know that he visited
the shores of the Caspian and the Red Sea.

His great work, the Akhbdr al-zamdn, is a universal
history from the ” Creation of the world to the year 947.”
It was completed in thirty volumes, of which, but a soli-
tary volume, now at Vienna, has been preserved. The
Muruj al-dhahab and the Kitdb al-awsdt, are two other
important works from his pen, the former being an ex-

1 Journal Asiatique (1835).

Liber Cantilenarum Magnus (ca. 1840-43).

Thus in Ibn Khallikan, but Quatremere reads Kitdb al-nabat (Book
of Vegetation).

It was an issue of the Kitdb al-aghanl, without the historical or
biographical material.

Quatremere calls this a ” Recueil d’airs ” as though it were Kitdb al-
alhdn, but cf . Kosegarten, Lib. Cant., 196. For the life of Al-Isfahani,
see Ibn Khallikan, ii, 249-52. Wflstenfeld, Die Geschichtschreiber der
Araber, No. 132.



tract from the Akhbdr al-zamdn, and the latter an abridg-
ment of it.

It is in the Muruj al-dhahab (Meadows of Gold) that we
find a section devoted to the early history of Arabian
music, part of which was derived from an earlier authority,
Ibn Khurdadhbih (d. ca. 912). The text of this work to-
gether with a translation in French was issued by Barbier
de Meynard in 1861-77 under the title of Les prairies
d’or. Al-Mas’udi was particularly interested in music,
and he tells us in his Muruj al-dhahab t that in his other
books he dealt ” fully with the question of music, the
various kinds of musical instruments (maldhi), dances,
rhythms (hwaq, sing, turqa), 1 and notes (nagham),” as
well as ” the kinds of instruments used by the Greeks,
Byzantines, Syrians, Nabataeans, and the people of
Sind, India, Persia, etc.” In his Kitdb al-zulaf he dealt
with interval ratios (mundsabat al-nagham lil’awtdr),
as well as the influence of melodies on the soul. In
his Akhbdr al-zamdn and Kitdb al-awsdt, he also
gave some ” curious details about the concerts and
musical instruments of these peoples.” 2 Al-Mas’udi is
counted among the greatest of Arab historians, worthy
of rank beside Al-Tabari and Ibn al-Athir. Ibn Khaldun
calls him ” The imam of the historians.” 3

Ibn ‘Abd Rabbihi (860-940) or Ahmad ibn Muhammad,
was an Andalusian Arab known by his anthology the
‘Iqd al-farid (The Unique Necklace). It contains twenty-
five sections, each of which is named after a precious
stone. One section (kitdb al-ydqutat al-thdniyya) is de-
voted to ” The Science of Melodies, and the Disagreement
of People about them,” which deals with a number of
interesting topics, including the lawfulness of listening to
music, the origin of the song, biographies of musicians,
etc. Several editions of the text have been printed at
Bulaq and Cairo, 4 but there is no translation at present.

1 The text has farab and Barbier de Meynard translates it as
rhythms. For that reason I suggest that the word should be turaq.

Al-Mas’udi, ii, 322.

1 Prairies d’or, avant-propos. Quatremere, Journal Asiatique,
Ser. iii, Tome vii.

Bulaq, A. H., 1293. Cairo, A. H., 1303, et seq.


The family of Abu Mansur al-Munajjim, famous as
astrologers, poets, historians, and ” Boon Companions ”
to the khalif s, were all keen musicians. The first of them,
Yahya ibn Abi Mansur, was a freeman of Al-Mansur
(754-75), and was very intimate with Al-Ma’mun (813-33).
He died about the year 831. His two sons, Muhammad
and ‘All, were both interested in music.

Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn Abi Mansur was a man
” of eloquence and good education/’ says the Fihrist.
He ” had a knowledge of music and of the stars.”
Among his books was a Kitab akhbdr al-shu’ard’ (Stories
of the Poets). 1

‘All ibn Yahya ibn Abi Mansur (d. 888) was especially
noted as a poet, musician, and reciter (rdwl) of verses
and stories, all of which he learnt from Ishaq al-Mausili.
At first he attached himself to Muhammad ibn Ishaq
ibn Ibrahim al-Musa’bi, the governor of Fars, but finally
he accepted service at the court of Al-Mutawakkil (847-61)
and became his ” Boon Companion.” This position he
held under successive khalifs down to the time of Al-
Mu’tamid (870-92). The Fihrist says : ” He used to sit
in front of their thrones and they would impart to him
their secrets.” Ibn Khallikan says that ” his skill lay
particularly in music (ghina), which had been taught
him by Ishaq al-Mausili, with whom he was personally
acquainted.” Among his books were : a Kitab al-
shu’ard’ al-qudamd* wa’l-Isldmiyya (Book of Poets
Ancient and Modern), and a Kitab akhbdr Ishaq ibn
Ibrahim (Stories of Ishaq al-Mausili). His two sons,
Yahya and Harun, became well-known authors. 2

Yahya ibn ‘All ibn Yahya ibn Abi Mansur (856-912)
was ” Boon Companion ” to Al-Muwaffaq, the brother of
Khalif Al-Mu’tamid (870-92). He was also a learned
metaphysician of the Mu’tazali school, an excellent poet,
and a gifted music theorist, well acquainted with the
writings of the Greeks. Specimens of his poetry delivered
by him before Al-Mu’tamid (892-902) and Al-Muktafi

1 Fihrist, 143,

Fihrist, 143. Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., ii, 312. Wafayat
al-a’yan, \, 506. Guidi, 500.


(902-08) have been preserved by Al-Mas’udi. 1 Among
his books were : a Kitab al-bdhir (Book of the Illuminat-
ing) on stories of the half-caste poets, 2 and a Kitab
al-nagham (Book on the Notes). 3 This latter is quoted
in the great Kitab al-aghdnl as an important work.
The British Museum has a solitary exemplar of a treatise
from his pen entitled a Risdla ffl-musiql (Treatise on
Music), which maybe identical with the afore-mentioned
book. 4 Apparently he was also the author of a work on
singing. 5

‘All ibn Harun ibn ‘All ibn Yahya ibn Abi Mansur
(890-963), a nephew of the preceding, was ” a reciter of
poetry and a poet ; learned, witty, a metaphysician, and
a religious writer (hibra’)” He was ” Boon Companion ”
to a number of the khalifs, and he wrote a musical work
entitled Kitab risdla fi’l-farq bain Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi
wa Ishdq al-Mausilifi’l-ghind’ (Treatise on the Difference
between Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi and Ishaq al-Mausill
concerning music). 6 His verse set to music was very
popular. 7

Harun ibn ‘All ibn Harun ibn Yahya ibn Abi Mansur,
a son of the preceding, was ” a poet and learned man,
pre-eminent in discourse, and acquainted with music/’
He was the author of a Kitab mukhtdr fi’l-aghdm (Book
of Choice Songs). 8

The family of Tahir, which furnished generals, prefects,
governors and statesmen for the Khalifate, were all keen
patrons of music and many of them clever musicians to
boot. The great Tahir was the founder of the Tahirid
dynasty (820), and his son, ‘Abdallah ibn Tahir (d. 844),
was not only a generous supporter of music, 9 but a clever
performer, who sang his own compositions before

1 Al-Mas’udi, viii, 206, 222, 238.

Fihrist, 143.

Aghdni, viii, 26. Kamil, viii, 57.

British Museum MS. Or. 2361, fol. 236, v.

A passage m the British Museum MS. runs, ” We have mentioned
in our book before this, the description of the singer, and what sort of man
he must be, and we have described what is requisite in him for that.”

Fihrist, 144.

Ibn Khalhkan, Biog. Diet., i, 313.

Fihrist, 144.

Aghanl, xiv, 55,


Al-Ma’mun. His two sons, Muhammad and ‘Ubaidallah,
were great enthusiasts for the art. 1

‘Ubaidallah ibn ‘Abdallah ibn Tahir (d. ca. 912) was
a ” Boon Companion ” of Al-Mu’tadid (892-902) and
Al-Muktafi (902-08), and was Commander of the Police
Guards at Baghdad. His life is given in the great
Kitdb al-agham, where he is counted as ” the first in the
philosophy of music.” 2 His book, the Kitdb fi’l-nagham
wa ‘Hal al-aghdnl al-musammd (Book on the Notes and the
Denominated Songs), 3 is placed among the chefs d’ceuvre
on the theoretical and practical science of music of the
period. 4 We read of him and the sons of Hamdun having
correspondence with ‘Abdallah ibn al-Mu’tazz (who was
also ” clever in the science and art of music “) on the
question of certain notes in the ancient song. 6

Mansur ibn Talha ibn Tahir, a cousin of the preceding,
was also a musical theorist, and the author of a Kitdb
mu’nis ffl-mmiqi (Companion Book on Music) according
to the method of Al-Kindl. 6

Ibn Khurdadhbih (d. ca. 912) or Abu’l-Qasim ‘Ubaidallah
[ibn ‘Abdallah] ibn Khurdadhbih, was of Persian origin,
his grandfather being a Magian converted to Islam. His
father was governor of Tabaristan, but ‘Ubaidallah
was educated in Baghdad, being instructed in music and
belles lettres by Ishaq al-Mausill. He was Director of the
Posts in Al-Jabal (? Al-‘Iraq), and was at Samarra between
844 and 848, when he wrote his famous Kitdb al-masdlik
wa’l-mamdlik (Book of Routes and Kingdoms). He
afterwards became ” Boon Companion ” to Al-Mu’tamid
(870-92), and ” was intimate with him.” It was before
this khalif that he delivered his oration on music, which,
as reported by Al-Mas’udi, gives us details of the earliest
musical traditions of the Arabs. 7 Among his other
books were : a Kitdb adab al-samd’ (Book of Liberal

1 Al-Mas’udi, vii, 347-8.

Aghanl, viii, 44-46. Philosophy (falsafa) with the Arabs included
mathematics (with music), logic, medicine, and the natural sciences.

1 Aghanl, viii, 45.
4 Aghanl, viii, 54.

Aghdnl t ix, 141.

Fihrist, 117.

1 For further information about this oration see my Studies in
Oriental Musical Instruments, chap. v.


Education in Music), Kitab al-lahw wa’l-maldhi (Book
of Diversion and Musical Instruments), and a Kitab
al-nudamd’ wa’l-julasa’ (Book of Boon Companions and
Associates). Only the second of these works has been
preserved to-day, and a solitary exemplar is in the library
of Habib Afandi al-Zayyat of Alexandria. 1

Abu’l-Qasim ‘Abbas ibn Firnas, who is identified with
the poet of that name who died in 888, 2 was a man of
considerable attainments in art, science, and literature.
He is credited with being the ” first who taught the
science of music in Al-Andalus,” and the first to introduce
the science of prosody as laid down by Al-Khalil. 3

The family of Hamdun were noted ” Boon Companions ”
to the khalifs. The first of them was Hamdun ibn
Isma’il ibn Da’ud al-Katib, who was a pupil of Mukhariq
in music, and a great admirer of the songstress Shariyya. 4
His three sons were familiar figures at the courts and
well known for their literary and musical talents. Ahmad
ibn Hamdun was a chronicler of stories and the author of
a Kitab al-nudamd’ wa’l-julasa’ (Book of Boon Com-
panions and Associates). 5 AbuVUbais ibn Hamdun and
Abul-‘Anbas ibn Hamdun were musicians at the court of
Al-Mutawakkil (847-61). 6 The family supported the
Romantic movement of Prince Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi. 7

Al-Hasan ibn Musa al-Nasibi was the author of two
musical works, a Kitab al-aghani ‘ald’l-huruf (Book of
Songs in Alphabetical Order) and a Kitab mujarraddt
al-mughanniyyin (Book of Abstracts of the Singers). The
former book was written for Al-Mutawakkil (847-61),
and it is praised in the Fihrist because it contains informa-
tion about the songs which had not been mentioned by
Ishaq al-Mausili nor by ‘Amr ibn Bana. It gave the
names of the singers both male and female in the Days of
Idolatry as well as in Islamic times. 8

1 Fihrist, 149. Jiajjl Khalifa, v, 509 (cf. the name, Khurdadbih).
De Goeje, Bibl. Geog. Arab., vi, preface. Hilal, xxviii, 214.
1 Al-Maqqarl, Moh. Dyn., i, 426.

Al-Maqqarl, Moh. Dyn., i, 148. See L’ ‘aviation chez les Musulmans,
by Ahmad ZakI Basha (Cairo, 1912).

4 Aghdni, vhi, 168. ix, 35. xiv, in.

Fihrist, 144. Aghdnl, xii, 3. xx, 10-11.
Aghdnl, ix, 35. Fihrist, 145.

A History Of Arabian Music _02


Hammad ibn Ishaq al-Mauili was a son and grandson
of two of the most famous musicians in Islam. He was a
pupil and disciple of Abu ‘Ubaida and Al-Asma’i, and
studied music under his father, who also taught him the
sciences. Al-Suli says : “He was a learned traditionist
and shared with his father much of his [ability in] music.”
He wrote a number of books, mostly biographies of the
poets. 1

Al-Madini, or Abu Ayyub Sulaiman ibn Ayyub ibn
Muhammad al-Madini, belonged, as his name tells us,
to Al-Medina. According to the Fihrist, he was ” one
of the ingeniously learned, acquainted with music (ghina)
and with the stories of the singers.” Among his books
were : a Kitab akhbdr l Azza al-Maild* (Stories of ‘Azza
al-Maila/), Kitab Ibn Misjah (Book of Ibn Misjah),
Kitab qiydn al-Hijdz (Book of the Singing-Girls of Al-
Hijaz), Kitab qiydn Makka (Book of the Singing-Girls
of Mecca), Kitab tabaqdt al-mughanniyyin (Book of the
Ranks of the Singers), Kitab al-nagham wa’l-tqd’ (Book
of Notes and Rhythm), Kitab al-munddimm (Book of
Boon Companions), Kitab akhbdr Ibn ‘A’isha (Stories of
Ibn ‘A’isha), Kitab akhbdr Hunain al-Hlri (Stories of
Hunain al-HIri), Kitab Ibn Suraij (Book of Ibn Suraij),
and a Kitab Al-Gharid (Book of Al-Gharld). 2

Ibn Tarkhan, or Abul-Hasan ‘All ibn Hasan, was a
good singer and litterateur, and among his books was one
entitled Kitab akhbdr al-mughanniyyin al-funburiyyin
(Book of Stories of the Singers of the Tunburists). 3

Ibn Al-Dubbi (d. 920), or Abul-Tayyib Muhammad
ibn al-Mufaddal ibn Salama al-Dubbi, was an eminent
Shafi’I doctor of Baghdad and a renowned philologist
who had studied under Ibn al-A’rabi, who had been a
pupil of his father. Among his books is a Kitab al-ud
wa’l-maldhi (Book on the Lute and Musical Instruments),
a solitary copy of which exists at Cairo. 4

One of the outstanding features of the period was the
contribution of the Greek Scholiasts to the theoretical art

1 Fihrist, 142-3.

Fihrist, 148.

Fihrist, 156.

Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., ii, 610. Hildl, xxviii, 214.


as has already been stressed. Following in the footsteps
of the scholars of the Bait al-hikma, the Banu Musa,
and Al-Kindi, there came Al-SarakhsI, Thabit ibn Qurra,
Qusta ibn Luqa, Muhammad ibn Zakariyya al-RazI,
and Al-Farabi.

Al-Sarakhsi (d. 899) or Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn
Marwan al-Sarakhsi, 1 who was also called Ahmad ibn
al-Tayyib, was the greatest pupil of Al-Kindi, and was
even known as Tilmidh al-Kindl (pupil of Al-Kindi).
He was born at Sarakhs in Khurasan, and became tutor to
the son of Al-Muwaffaq, afterwards Khalif Al-Mu’tadid
(892-902), who made him a member of his suite and
Director of Weights and Measures in Baghdad. Un-
fortunately, the choler of the khalif was aroused against
this eminent scientist on account of a secret having been
betrayed. He was put to death and his property con-
fiscated. 2 Al-Sarakhsi, like his teacher, was learned in
most of the sciences, including mathematics, logic,
astronomy, music, and philosophy, and he left more than
thirty works on these subjects. Among his theoretical
works on music were : a Kitab al-madkhal ild f ilm al-
musiqi (Introduction to the Science of Music), Kitab
al-musiqi al-kabir (Opus Major on Music), Kitab al-
musiql al-saghir (Opus Minor on Music). Unlike a
number of the scientific writers on music at this period,
he was also keenly interested in the practical side of the
art, as we are told in the great Kitab al-aghdni, and he
wrote such works as : Kitab al-lahw wa’l-maldhi fi’l-
ghind* wa’l-mughanniyyin . . . (Book of Joy and Diversion
in the Song and the Singers, etc.), a Kitab nuzhat al-
mufakkir al-sdhi fi’l-mughanniyyin wa’l-ghind’ wa’l-
maldhi (Book of Diversion for the Perplexed Thinker
concerning the Singers, the Song, and Musical Instru-
ments), and a Kitab al-dalalat ‘aid asrdr al-ghind’ (Book
of Guidance in the Secrets of Singing). 3

1 Collangettes, Journal Asiatique, Nov.-Dec. 1904, p. 382, and
Rouanet, Encyclopedic de la musique (Lavignac), v, 2679, both write

1 Arrested in 896, he languished in prison until his execution in 899.

Fihrist, 149, 261. Ibn Abl Uaibi’a, i, 214. Al-Mas’udl, viii, 179.
Aghdnl, -viii, 54. xix, 136. Casiri, i, 406. Hajj! Khalifa, v, 161.
Ahlwardt, Verz. No. 5536 (2).


Thabit ibn Qurra Abu’l Hasan (836-901) was a abian
of Harran in Mesopotamia. He was one of the most
brilliant of the scholars of his day who studied the
” exact sciences ” including music. Owing to his ration-
alism, he was persecuted, and was finally driven into re-
tirement at Kafartutha. Here he met Muhammad ibn
Musa ibn Shakir, who brought him to Baghdad, 1 where
he was given the opportunity to devote himself to scientific
study. He became the greatest mathematician of his
day, and was the first to apply algebra to geometry.
Among his music books were the following : Kitab fl
‘Urn al-musiqi (Book on the Science of Music), Maqdla
ffl-musiqi (Discourse on Music), Kitab al-mtisiqi (Book
of Music), and a Kitab fl dlat al-zamr (Book of the Wind
Instrument). 2 Hajji Khalifa mentions a work entitled
Kitab fi’l-musiqi in fifteen sections, which is probably
identical with one of the above. 3 Some of these works
were known to the practical musicians of the period. 4

Qusta ibn Luqa al-Ba’albakl (d. 932) was a Melchite
Christian of Ba’albak in Syria. We are told that he
” greatly excelled in the science of medicine, philosophy,
geometry, arithmetic, numerals, and music,” and was
the author of several translations from the Greek as well
as of many original treatises. He was employed by
Al-Musta’m (852-66), and was alive in the reign of Al-
Muqtadir (908-32), hence his death is given as 932.
On the other hand Suter places his death about 912,
whilst an earlier date (890 or 900) is even suggested. 5
Casiri mentions a Liber de musica by Qusta ibn Luqa,
which in the Arabic text is really a Kitab al-qarastun
(Book of the Steelyard), and has nothing to do with
music. His Greek translations were of inestimable benefit
to succeeding generations. 8

1 He is said to have introduced Thabit to Khalif Al-Mu’tadid (892-902),
but this cannot be correct if Muhammad ibn Musa died in 873.

Probably a treatise on some type of organ. See my Studies \n
Oriental Musical Instruments, Chap. iii.

Fihrist, 272. Casin, i, 390-1. Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Dict. t i t 288.
Ibn Abl Usaibi’a, i, 216. Hajji Khalifa, v, 161. Ibn al-Qiftl, 115.

4 Aghdni, viii, 54.

Suter, Die Mathematiker u. Astronomen der Araber, 41. Ency. of
Islam, ii, 1081.

Fihrist, 295. Casiri, i, 420. Ibn Abl Usaibi’a, i, 244. Ibn al-
Qiftl, 262.


Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyya al-Razi (d. 923)
was born at Al-Raiy. Abu Da’ud ibn Juljul says of Al-Razi
that he was a practical musician who ” in his youth
played on the l ud (lute) and cultivated music.” In his
twentieth year, however, he abandoned these arts and
came to Baghdad to study the sciences. Here, he became
the pupil of ‘All ibn Sahl ibn Rabban, the personal
physician to Al-Mu’tasim (833-42). Later, Al-Razi be-
came director of the Baghdad hospital, and was considered
the greatest medical authority of his time. For centuries
the works of Rhazes, as he was called in Latin, were the
text-books for European doctors. Finally, he rose to
be a court dignitary with the Samanid prince Al-Mansur
ibn Ishaq, to whom he dedicated his great medical treatise
the Manftiri. 1 Although Kiesewetter says that he left
no work on music, Leclerc, the medical historian, mentions
a ” Compendium on Music.” 2 This probably refers to the
Kitdb / jumal al-musiqi (Book of the Summings Up of
Music) mentioned by Ibn Abi Usaibi’a. Works in
the Paris Bibliotheque Nationale have been wrongly
attributed to him, as I have pointed out elsewhere. 3

Sa’id ibn Yusuf (892-942), better known as Saadia ben
Joseph the Gaon, was a Jew born in Egypt. Emigrating
to Palestine in 915, he became famous by his controversy
with the Qaraites and the celebrated Ben Meir. In 928
he was appointed Principal (Gaon) of the Sura Academy in
Al-‘Iraq, but owing to trouble with the Exilarch he was
deposed two years later, and was not reinstated until 938.
During the interim, which was spent in literary activity in
Baghdad, Saadia wrote some of his most important works,
for the greater part in Arabic, which was the language of
polite literature among the Jews. 4 Among his works is
Kitdb al-amdndt wa’l-i’tiqdddt (Book of Philosophical
Doctrines and Religious Beliefs), which was translated

1 Fihrist, 299. Ibn Abi Uaibi’a, i, 309. Ibn Khallikan, iii, 311.
Ibn al-Qiftf, 271.

1 Leclerc, Hist, de la m6decine arabe, i, 353.

See my article, Some Musical MSS. Identified in the Journal of the
Royal Asiatic Society, Jan., 1926. Cf. Collangettes, Journal Asiatique,
Nov.-Dec., 1904, p. 384, and Lavignac’s Encyclopedia de la musique,
v, 2679.

4 See Matter, Saadia Gaon : His Life and Works (Philadelphia, 1921).


into Hebrew by Judah ben Tibbon (d. 1190). At the end
of the tenth section (maqdla) of this work there is an
interesting discussion on music and its influence, which
appears to have considerable affinity with Arabian
notions. It is on this account especially that Saadia is
given a place here. The Arabic text of this work was
issued by Landauer (Leyden, 1880), whilst the Hebrew
text was edited by Slucki (Leipsic, 1864). *

Al-Farabi (ca. 870-950), or in full Abu Nar Muhammad
ibn Tarkhan, was of Turkish origin, and was born at
Farab in Transoxiana. Coming to Baghdad he studied
philosophy under Abu Bishr Matta ibn Yunus, and later
went to Harran to prosecute studies under Yuhanna
ibn Khailan. Having mastered the sciences of the
Greeks, he soon surpassed his contemporaries. 2 We are
informed that he was ” a perfect and erudite musician,” 3
and ” an excellent performer on the ud (lute).” 4 His
fame in music led Saif al-Daula the Hamdanid ruler to
invite him to settle in Aleppo. Here, the great philosopher
and music theorist attracted pupils from all parts, who
thronged to his lectures, which were held in the delightful
gardens on the outskirts of the city. He wrote on logic,
ethics, politics, mathematics, alchemy, philosophy, and
music. Many of these works were translated into Latin,
and Alpharabius, as he was called in the West, had
an immense influence on the culture of Mediaeval Europe.
He has been called ” the Second Master ” (i.e., Second
to Aristotle), and ” the greatest philosopher the Arabs
ever produced.” 5

Among his musical writings were : the Kitab al-
musiql al-kaKr (Grand Book on Music), Kilam fl’l-musiqa

1 Steinschneider gave another reading from a Bodleian MS. in
” Beth O’^ar hapharoth,” Year I, xxx. See also the same writer’s
Jewish Literature, pp. 154, 337, and Matter, op. cit., pp. 259, 369.

Soriano-Fuertes, Historia de la musica Espanola, i, 82 ; and
Saldoni, Diccionario . . . de musicos Espanoles, s.v., would make him an
Andalusian Arab. Lichtenthal, Dizionario e Bibliographia della
Musica, s.v., and S. M. Tagore, Universal Hist, of Music, 101, make him
a khalif I !

Abu’1-Fida’, Annales Moslem.

Ibn GhaibI, Shark al-adwar MS.

Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., iii, 146. 307. Fihrist, 263. Ibn al-
Qiftl, 277. Ibn Abl Usaibi’a, ii, 134. Casiri, i, 189.


(sic. Styles in Music), Kitab fl ih$a al-iqa’ (Book on
the Classification of Rhythm), and Kitdbfi’l-nuqra (? nuqla)
muddf ild al-iqct (Book of Supplementary Enquiry
concerning Rhythm). 1 Of these, only the first-named
appears to have survived, and three copies are preserved
at Madrid, Leyden, and Milan. The Madrid copy,
which dates from prior to 1138, appears to have been
made for the celebrated Ibn Bajja (Avenpace). 2 The
Milan example dates from I347, 3 and that of Leyden from
1537, being copied from one dated 1089.* Portions of this
monumental treatise, both in text and translation have
been given by Kosegarten in his Alii Ispahanensis Liber
Cantilenarum Magnus (ca. 1840-43), and in the Zeitschrift
fur d. Kunde d. Morgenlandes, v. (1850). Soriano-
Fuertes, in his Mtisica Arabe Espanola y Conexi6n de la
mtisica con la astronomia, medicina y arquitectura (1854),
and Land in his Recherches sur I’histoire de la gamme
arabe (1884), also gave extracts. 6

Al-Farabi also wrote a second volume to this Kitab
al-muslqi al-kabir, which has not come down to us. It
comprised four chapters (maqalat), in which he says
he examined and commented on the theories of the
Greeks. 6 It was suggested by Kosegarten, Land, and
Tripodo, 7 that the manuscript alluded to by Toderini,
entitled the Majdl al-musiqi (Arena of Music), preserved
in the ‘Abd al-Hamld Library at Constantinople, was
perhaps, the lost second volume of the Kitab al-mmiqi al-
kabir* But the title given by these writers was clearly

1 Steinschneider, Al-Farabi, 79.

Robles, Catdlogo de los MSS. Arabes . . . Bibl. Nac. de Madrid.
No. 602. Derenbourg, in Homenaje d D. Franc. Coder a, 612.

Hammer-Purgstall, Catalogo dei Codici arabi, persiani e turchi della
Biblioteca Ambrosiana (Bibl. Ital., T. xciy), No. 289.

4 Catalogue Codicum Orientafaum Bibliothecae Academicae Lugduno
Batavae, No. 1423.

It has been said that Jerome of Prague made a translation of part
of the Kitab al-muslql al-kabir, but see my Arabian Influence on Musical
Theory, 15-16.

Zeitschrift f. d. Kunde d. Morgenlandes, v. 150, 159. Munk,
Melanges, 350.

7 Kosegarten, Zeit.f. d. Kunde d. Morg., v. 150, but cf. Lib. Cant., 35.
Land, Recherches, 43, but cf. his Remarks on the Earliest Development of
Arabic Music (Trans. Inter. Congress of Orientalists, 1892). Tripodo,
Lo stato degli studii sulla Musica degli Arabi, 13.

Toderini, Letteratura Turchesca (1787), i, 233.


an error for Madkhal al-musiql* of which copies exist in
the ‘Abd al-Hamid Library, 2 as well as in other collections
in Constantinople, 3 and elsewhere. 4 Munk, too, was of
opinion that the lost work was the one referred to by
Andres in his Dell’ origine,progressi . . . d’ogni Letter atur a*
This was also incorrect, since Andres says that his inform-
ation was based on particulars obtained from Casiri
concerning a MS. in the Escurial, from which we know
that it was the first volume of the Kitab al-musiql al-
kabir that was under discussion. 6

Al-Farabi also deals with music in his Kitab fl ihsd*
al-ulum (Classification of the Sciences). This work was
translated into both Latin and Hebrew and is frequently
quoted by Mediaeval writers, under its Latin title, De
scientiis, 1 as was another work of Al-Farabi’s, known as De
ortu scientiarum. 8 Another work attributed to Al-Farabi,
but not mentioned under this title by his biographers, is a
Kitab al-adwdr now in the Library of Ahmad Taimur. 9

[‘All ibn Sa’id al-Andalusi is the name of the author
of a Tract on Musical Composition mentioned in an old
catalogue of Oriental manuscripts. 10 Search for the
identity of the writer and the location of the manuscript
has been in vain. There is an ‘AH ibn Musa al-Maghribi
called Ibn Sa’id (1214-74 ?), who might conceivably be
the same individual, 11 but it is more likely that the above
writer should be identified with the ‘All ibn Sa’id al-
Uqlidisi (early tenth cent.) mentioned in the Fihrist. 12 ]

1 The original Italian edition of Toderini (as above) has Medchalul
Musikl, which was clearly intended for what we would transliterate
madkhal al-mmiql.

Hajji Khalifa, vii, 520.

Hajji Khalifa, vii, 318, 400, 453.

‘British Museum MS., Or. 2361, fol. 238, v.

Munk, Melanges, 350.

See Toderini, i, 248-52.

7 Farmer, Arabian Influence on Musical Theory, p. 15.

Beitrage z. Geschichte d. Philosophie d. Mittelalters, xix.

Hildl, xxviii, 214.

10 Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts purchased in Turkey, belonging
to Dr. Lee, 1830. Printed by R. Watts, London, 1831. Second Part,
1840. See my Arabic Musical Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library,
p. 16.

“Cf. Brockelmann, i, 313, and 336.

” Fihrist, 285. AndalusI and UqlldisI could very easily be confused
by a scribe.



(The Fall ; 945-1258)

” The soul of man derives many benefits from the song . . . and
among them the calmness that it brings in the hour of care or pain.”

Al-Husain Ibn Zaila (d. 1048).

ALTHOUGH this chapter covers nominally the Khalifate of
Baghdad from the coming of the Buwaihids to the fall
of the city before the hordes of Hulagu in 1258, it also
includes, as in the previous chapters, a survey of the
history of the art in other Arabian lands, and specifically
that of Al-Andalus up to the rout of the Muwahhids
(1230), and that of Egypt until the Mamluk period (1250).

The break-up of the Baghdad Khalifate continued apace,
and with it much of the culture that had made it illustrious.
The intellectual and artistic decline only made itself felt
however, in Al-‘Iraq and the capital. Elsewhere, the
independent kingdoms made up for what was being lost
through the inactivity of Baghdad. During the Buwaihid
(945-1055), Saljuqid (1055-1184), and Khwarizmian (1184-
1231) ” protection,” some improvement in the cultural
situation resulted to Al-‘Iraq and the capital. Not that
either of the first two had any particular gifts of refine-
ment to offer. The coming of these ” protectors ” simply
meant a wider patronage to general culture. Indeed, in
most respects the ” protectors ” imitated the tastes of the
” protected.”

These were days as great and as glorious for Arabian
culture as for Arabian polity, although both refer to
lands that were outwith the Baghdad Khalifate, that is
to say, Al-Andalus, Egypt, and Syria. The superiority


of the Umayyad arms in the West, and of the Ayyubids
and Zangids in the East, from the tenth to the twelfth
century, was only to be matched by their surpassing
culture. This too broke through the walls of Western
Mediaeval civilization, and gave birth to the Renaissance.
Elsewhere I have shown that music played an important
part in this cultural conquest of Western Europe. 1


By the mid-tenth century, the situation in Al-‘Iraq and
the capital was desperate, and the conquest of the land
by the Buwaihids was, to some extent, a timely one.
The conquerors themselves were Iranians from Al-Dailam.
Since 933 they had been gradually advancing westward,
wresting provinces from the khalif, ‘Iraq ‘AjamI,Kirman,
Fars, and Khuzistan. Their occupation of Baghdad
checked for a time the lawless domination of the Turkish
soldiery which had been a menace to the state for a
century. Further, the Buwaihids, being of the Shf a sect,
curbed the orthodox fanatics. Scientific and philosophic
speculation which had long been silent were given freedom
once more, whilst music and the arts generally enjoyed
a liberty that had been denied them under the Hanbali

The khalifs of the Buwaihid period were Al-Muti’
(946-74), Al-TaT (974-91)* Al-Qadir (991-1031), and
Al-Qa’im (1031-75), but the ” Commander of the Faith-
ful ” exercised as little authority as he did under the
Turkish soldiery the previous century. With ” a mere
pittance doled out for his support, the office was shorn of
every token of respect and dignity.” 2 Yet Le Strange
says that at this period ” the palaces of the khalifs may be
considered to have attained their utmost extent and
splendour/’ 3 Here, the same musical extravagance
appears to have been carried on as in the days of the great
khalifs. The group of philosophers and music theorists

1 See my Arabian Influence on Musical Theory (1925), and Facts fof
the Arabian Musical Influence (1929).
1 Muir, The Caliphate, 578.
Le Strange, Baghdad,


known as the Ikhwan al-Safa’, and the bibliographer
Muhammad ibn Ishaq al-Warraq lived under these rulers.

Not only in the palaces of the khalif s were music, belles
lettres, and learning generally patronized, but also in the
palaces of the Buwaihids. One of the criticisms levelled
against ‘Izz al-Daula (967-77) was that he spent too much
time with musicians and buffoons. 1 ‘Adud al-Daula
(977-82), who built the ‘Adudl hospital which for three
centuries was famous as a school of medicine, 2 was also
interested in music. 8 Baha’ al-Daula (989-1012) had a
wazw, Fakhr al-Mulk, who protected the song collector
Al-Maghribi, whilst another wazw, Sabur ibn Ardashir,
founded the Karkh academy with a library of 10,400
books. 4 Musharrif al-Daula (1020-25) made Al-Maghribi
his wazir* Mu’ayyid al-Daula (976-83) of Isfahan had a
wazir, Ibn ‘Abbad, who possessed a library of 140,000
volumes. 5 Shams al-Daula (997 c. 1021) of Hamadhan
was a patron of the scientist and music theorist Ibn Sina.

Whilst the various Buwaihids ruled the Baghdad
Khalifate, i.e., Al-‘Iraq (which included Khuzistan and
Kirman), ‘Iraq ‘Ajami (which embraced the Caspian
provinces), and Pars, Syria, Mesopotamia, and the
whole of Arabia proper were in the hands of Arab rulers.
The Hamdanids were established at Al-Mausil (929-91)
and at Aleppo (944-1003). At the latter city was called
forth one of the most important artistic and literary
movements of the century. 6 The ‘Uqailids (966-1096)
succeeded to the lands of the Hamdanids of Al-Mausil
whilst the Mirdasids (1023-79) followed the Aleppo
family. Contemporary with these dynasties were the
Marwanids (990-1150) of Diyar-Bakr, and the Mazyadids
(1012-1150) of Al-Hilla.

These Arab dynasties form one of the outstanding
features of the period, and in spite of the fact that they

1 The Eclipse of the ‘Abbdsid Caliphate, ii, 234.
8 Le Strange, op. cit., 318.

The Eclipse of the ‘Abbdsid Caliphate, iii, 41, 68.

4 Margoliouth, Letters of Abu’ I-‘ A Id, xxiv. Journal Asiatique, July,
1838, p. 50.

Journal Asiatique, July, 1838, p. 49. Another library at Al-Basra
at this period numbered 10,000 volumes.

Huart, Arab. Lit., go.


did not succeed in re-establishing a purely Arab polity 1
within the Khalifate (and the Hamdanids occupied
Baghdad for a while), yet they were mainly responsible for
a restoration of the indigenous arts and literature. 2 It
was the Hamdanids, as we have seen, who sheltered Al-
Farabl the music theorist, and the music historians
Al-Isfahani and Al-Mas’udl. The ‘Uqailids had the song-
collector Al-Maghribi as their wazir. In the peninsula
itself, Al-Yaman, Al-Hijaz, and ‘Uman, needless to say,
the Arabs held undisputed sway.

After a century of beneficent rule by the Buwaihid
umava\ the Saljuqid Turks became masters of the lands
of the Khalifate. They came from Jand in Bukhara, and
had been pushing Westward since 1037, when they drove
the Ghaznawids from Khurasan and Tabaristan. In 1055
they conquered ‘Iraq ‘Ajami and entered Baghdad,
finally subjugating Syria and Asia Minor, claiming
dominion from the Caucasus mountains to the borders of
Afghanistan. The Saljuqids were of the Sunni persuasion,
i.e., Orthodox Muslims, and they granted considerable
freedom to the klialif, whom they acknowledged as
spiritual head, and accepted investiture at his hands.

Al-Qa’im (1031-75) was the khalif at the Saljuqid
conquest, and he was succeeded by Al-Muqtadi (1075-94),
Al-Mustazhir (1094-1118), Al-Mustarshid (1118-35), Al-
Rashid (1135-36), Al-Muqtafi (1136-60), Al-Mustanjid
(1160-70), and Al-Mustadi (1170-1180). There is little
difference between their reigns. Some of them tried their
hand at gaining independence but with small success.
Others were content to be mere figure-heads, and spent
their treasury on keeping up courtly surroundings. Only
the last two khalifs occupied anything like an independent
position. Every one of them appears however, to have
exercised his right to distribute patents of authority to
tributary malik, sultan, amir or atdbag.

The Saljuqids divided their dominions among their
family, the ” Great Saljuqids” of Khurasan (1037-1157)
controlling Al-‘Iraq, whilst others ruled in Kirman

jl Zaidan, 264.
‘bid., 262,


(1041-1187), Asia Minor (1077-1300), and Syria (1094-
1117). The earliest of the ” Great Saljuqids ” resided at
Baghdad as well as at Nisabur, and one cannot fail to
recognize that the protection which they gave to art and
letters was greater even than that bestowed by the
khalifs. It was Malik Shah who patronized ‘Umar
al-Khayyam, whilst his wazir, Nizam al-Mulk, founded the
Nizamiyya colleges at Baghdad and Nisabur. San jar
(1117-57), the last of the ” Great Saljuqids/’ was par-
ticularly attached to music, and his court minstrel,
Kamal al-Zaman, was far-famed. The ‘Iraqian Saljuqid
Mahmud (1117-31) protected the music theorist and
scientist Abu’l-Hakam al-Bahili.

The Saljuqid atdbags or provincial governors soon
became independent rulers in their various districts. The
first of these were the Anushtigmids of Khwarizm (1077-
1231). Then came the Sukmanids of Armenia (noo-
1207), the Urtuqids of Diyar-Bakr (1101-1408), the
Burids of Damascus (1103-54) the Zangids of Mesopo-
tamia and Syria (1127-1250), the Ildigizids of Adharbaijan
(1136-1225), the Bagtiginids of Arbela (1144-1232), and
the Salgharids of Fars (i 148-1287) . This decentralization,
as elsewhere, helped rather than retarded general culture.
Towns which hitherto had mere provincial standing, now
began to flourish as centres of government where courts
were maintained with pomp and ceremony. Music
theorists like Fakhr al-Dln al-Razi, Muhammad ibn
Abi’l-Hakam, and Ibn Man’ a, were patronized by the
Anushtigmids, Zangids, and Bagtiginids respectively.

Although the authority, both temporal and spiritual,
of the Khalifate of Baghdad was wider under the Saljuqids
than under the preceding ” protectors/’ yet the real rulers
were the Saljuqids, and they were ” foreigners.” Arabia
itself however, was still left quite undisturbed in Arab
hands. Al-Yaman was ruled at Zabld by the Najahids
(1021-1159) and Mahdids (1159-73), and at San’a by the
Sulaihids (1037-98) and the Hamdanids (1098-1173), when
the Egyptian Ayyubids became masters. Al-Hijaz pros-
pered under the Hashimids until 1202, whilst ‘Uman was
still content with its imams. In Al-Yaman the Najahid


Sa’id al-Ahwal (1080-89) favoured music and singing. 1 and
the names of some of the Najahid songstresses have come
down to us. Under the first of the Mahdids, ‘All ibn
Mahdi (1159) who himself possessed an excellent voice,
singing and wine were forbidden. 2 The Sulaihid Al-
Mukarram Ahmad ibn ‘All (1080-91) and other rulers
were particularly attached to music. 3

It is still necessary to follow the developments political
and cultural in the extreme East, for we must not forget
that Islam was a world in itself. What is more, Iranians
and Turanians were to be found everywhere in the lands
of the Arabs, even in Al-Yaman, where the Ghuzz managed
to gain a footing. At the Eastern extremity of the old
Khalifate theSamanids’ dominions had fallen to the Ilak
Khans (c. 932 c. 1165) of Turkestan, and to the Ghazna-
wids (962-1186) of Afghanistan. The latter became the
leaders of Persian culture just as the Samanids had been.
The literary, artistic, and scientific activity of the
Ghaznawid rulers throws all the other contemporary
Islamic courts into the shade. 4 In the mid-twelfth century,
the Ghurids superseded the Ghaznawids, and their sultans
were not a whit behind their predecessors in the patron-
age of culture. Among their proteges was the music
theorist ‘Abd al-Mu’min ibn SafI al-Dln.

In 1180, the Khalifate fell to Al-Nasir (1180-1225) whose
set purpose was to restore his office ” to its ancient role
among the nations/’ 5 Four years later, chafing at the
Saljuqid yoke, he invited the Shah of Khwarizm to rid
him of his irksome suzerain. The shah complied, and
entering Al-‘Iraq in 1184, he exterminated the Saljuqids.
The next khalifs AlZahir (1225-26) and Al-Mustansir
(1226-42) were the son and grandson respectively of
Al-Nasir. This period was one of comparative quiet.
Under Al-Nasir ” leaning flourished ” and ” schools and
libraries were patronized/’ 6 whilst the famous Al-

1 Kay, Yaman, Its Ear\y Medieval History, 84, 108, 116.

8 Ibid., 124.

8 Ibid., 40, 51, 54.

4 Browne, Lit. Hist, of Persia, ii, chap. ii.

8 Muir, The Caliphate, 587.

Ibid. t 589.


Mustansiriyya college at Baghdad, built by his successor,
accumulated a library of 80,000 books. But the sands
of the Khalifate were running low.

Al-Musta’sim (1242-58) was the last khalif of Baghdad.
During his reign, much of the ancient pomp and dignity
of the Khalifate were restored. He was not merely a
patron of culture, but lived the life of a literary man and
bibliophile. The author of the Fakhri says that he spent
many of his leisure hours listening to music. 1 One of the
most celebrated musicians of Arabian history, Safi
al-Din ‘Abd al-Mu’min, was his chief minstrel.

In the year 1219, Chingiz Khan and his Mughal hordes
conquered the Eastern lands of the Khwarizmian empire.
His son Ugdai completed the conquest in 1231 which
resulted in the death of the last Shah of Khwarizm. In
1256, Hulagu, a grandson of the former, crossed the Oxus
to chastise the Isma/ili. This having been accomplished,
the khan marched on Baghdad, and in the beginning of
1258, the ” City of Peace ” was invested, stormed and
taken. Then followed weeks of massacre, pillage and
burning, the details of which make the fall of Baghdad the
most awful and frightful episode in history. Out of over
two million inhabitants says Ibn Khaldun, one million
six hundred thousand were put to the sword or otherwise
perished, 2 including the khalif and every member of his
family on whom hands could be laid. Palaces, mosques,
and colleges were burned or destroyed after having been
ransacked. Learned men, professors, literary men, and
imams, were slaughtered as ruthlessly as whole libraries of
books, the treasures of centuries, were committed to the
flames or the Tigris. 3 ” The loss suffered by Muslim
learning/’ says the late Professor E. G. Browne, ” defies
description and almost surpasses imagination : not only
were thousands of priceless books utterly annihilated, but
owing to the number of men of learning who perished or
barely escaped with their lives, the very tradition of
accurate scholarship and original research, so conspicuous

1 Fakhri, 571. Howorth, op. cit., iii, 113, 117.
1 The figures differ in the various accounts.

Ibn Sa’id al MaghribI (d. 1274 or 1286) who was at Baghdad just
before this, visited thirty-six libraries in the city.


in Arabic literature before this period, was almost des-
troyed/ 11 So ended the Khalifate of Baghdad.

We have now to turn our attention to other important
centres of Arabian polity and culture, Al-Andalus and

In Al-Andalus, the arts, literature and science flourished
with such brilliance that their light was reflected to all
parts, not only of the world of Islam, but of Western
Europe. At the opening of this period ” the torch of
science ” says Sa’id ibn Ahmad (d. 1069) ” shone brighter
than ever,” in Al-Andalus. The Greek sciences were
especially studied. The fame of its people has been
expressed in a panegyric of Ibn Ghalib (d. 1044) who likens
them to the Indians ” in their love of learning, as well as
their assiduous cultivation of science/’ and to the Greeks
” in their knowledge of the physical and natural sciences. ” a
Ibn al-Hijari (d. 1194) says that during the reign of the
Umayyads in Al-Andalus (eighth to eleventh century),
” students from all parts of the world flocked … to
learn the sciences of which Cordova was the most noble
repository, and to derive knowledge from the mouth of the
doctors and ‘ulamd’ who swarmed in it.” 3

Al-Hakam II (961-76) was the khalif who succeeded the
great ‘Abd al-Rahmaii III. Like his predecessor, he was
a liberal patron of culture. Being a zealous bibliophile he
dispatched emissaries to Cairo, Baghdad, Damascus and
other cities, to procure books, and in this way collected
a library of some 600,000 volumes. 4 He sent 1,000
pieces of gold to the author of the great Kitdb al-aghani,
so as to be one of the first to obtain a copy of his magnum
opus. 5

Hisham II (976-1009) was a weakling who was ruled by
his minister Al-Mansur and the theologians. While the

1 Browne, Lit. Hist, of Persia, ii, 463.

Curiously enough, this writer says that all this superiority of the
Andalusians was due to planetary influence. According to him their
musical gifts were due to Venus and their love of learning and science
to Mercury.

8 Al-Maqqari, Moh. Dyn., i, 30, 117-8, 140, and Appendix xl.
4 The number given by Casiri (i, 38) is 600,000, but Al-Maqqarl
(Moh. Dyn.) says 400,000.

Al-Maqqarl, op. cit. t ii, 169.


wazw led his victorious armies against the Christians in
the North, the theologians made war on heresy in Islam.
The special aversion of the theologians was Greek science,
and works on natural philosophy and astronomy especially
were seized and destroyed. l The sciences actually fell into
desuetude for a time on this account.

After the death of Al-Mansur in 1002, the Praetorian
guards became masters of the situation. These were
Slavs (hence their name saqdliba) and Berbers, and
precisely the same turn of affairs that happened to the
Baghdad Khalifate now came to that of Cordova. In less
than thirty years, no fewer than nine khalifs occupied the
throne, some of them twice. The first of these puppet
khalifs was Muhammad II al-Mahdi (1009-10). He gave
offence to the orthodox by reason of his indulgence in
music and wine. His palace resounded with a hundred
lutes (iddri) and as many reed-pipes (mazdmlr). 2 Al-
Mustakfi (1024-27) had a daughter Wallada who was a
famous poetess and musician. The last of these puppet
khalifs was Hisham III (1027-31), and on his fall the
House of Umayya ceased in Al-Andalus. In a year or
two Cordova became a republic.

The land then became split up under numerous ” Party
Kings ” (muluk al-tawaif), who set up courts at Malaga
( Hammudids, 1016-57), Algeciras (Hammudids, 1039-58),
Seville (‘Abbadids, 1023-91), Granada (Zairids, 1012-90),
Cordova (Jahwarids, 1031-68), Toledo (Dhu’l-Nunids,
1035-85), Valencia (‘Amirids, 1021-1085), Saragossa (Tuji-
bids, 1019 ; Hudids, 1039-1141), Denia (Mujahids,
1017-75) and others. ” The cause of science and liter-
ature ” says Al-Shaqandi (d. 1231), “instead of losing,
gained considerably ” by the break-up of Al-Andalus into
petty states. 3 These rulers ” delighted to do honour to
learning and belles lettres and made their courts the homes
of poets and musicians.” 4

The ‘Abbadids of Seville, who for a time ruled Cordova,
were the most important of these kings. Al-Shaqandi

1 Al-Maqqarl, Moh. Dyn., i, 141

1 Dozy, Hist, des Mus. d’Espagne, iii, 284.

Al-Maqqari, Moh. Dyn., i, 35. See also i, 37, 40, 42, 53, 67.

*S. Lane-Poole, The Moors in Spain, 176.


avers that the ‘Abbadids ” showed a greater passion for
literature than was even shown by the Hamdanids in
Aleppo/’ 1 and Seville had long been famed for its cultiva-
tion of art and science. 2 Al-Mu’tamid (1068-91) the last
‘Abbadid ruler, says a contemporary poet Ibn al-Katta
(b. 1041), made his court ” the meeting-place of the learned
. . . the resort of poets and literary men.” 3 This
monarch was a singer and a performer on the ‘ud and
his son, ‘Ubaidallah al-Rashld, was also a cultured
musician and poet who performed on both the ‘iid and
mizhar.* His inordinate passion for music offended his
subjects. 5 The songs of the court poet ‘Abd al-Jabbar
ibn Hamdis, a Sicilian Arab, were the rage of the Sevillian
musicians. 6 One of the ‘Abbadids used to carry a copy
of the great Kitab al-aghanl about with him on his
itineraries. 7 According to Al-Shaqandi, Seville was
famous for its manufacture of musical instruments, in
which it had an export trade, 8 and Ibn Rushd (d. 1198)
testifies that it was the centre of this industry. 8

At Toledo, the splendour and extravagance of the
entertainments of the Dhu’l-Nunids gave rise to the
proverb, ” Like a Dhu’l-Nunid banquet/’ 10 It was this
city that boasted of the celebrated musician Abu’l-
Husain ibn Abi Ja’far al-Waqshi. The amir Yahya al-
Ma’mun (d. 1074) fostered the study of the mathematical
sciences, 11 and it was through the portals of Toledo that
many of the Latin translations from the Arabic of the
sciences found their way into Christian Europe. 12

Other petty rulers were just as keen in their patronage
of music. Indeed, the gallant Cid himself censured them

1 Al-Maqqari, op. cit., i, 36.

a Al-Maqqari, op. cit., i, 59. It was the home of science in Gothic
days, i, 26.

Al-Maqqar!, ii, 301.

4 For music under the ‘Abbadids, see Scriptorum Arabum loci de
Abbadidis, edited by Dozy (1846-52), i, 394, 422 ; ii, 40, 62, 71.

6 Al-Maqqarl, op. cit., ii, 254.

His songs were published by Schiaparelli in his // Canzoniere di Ibn
Hamdis (Rome, 1897).

Hajjl Khalifa, i, 367.

Al-Maqqari, Moh. Dyn., i, 58-9. Ibid., i, 42.
10 Dozy, Hist, des Mus. d’Espagne, ii, 255.

” Al-Maqqari, Moh. Dyn., i, 384.

18 Raskins, Studies in Medieval Science, 12-13.


for dabbling so much with ” wine, woman, and song.” 1
A certain Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Yamanl testifies
to the inordinate taste for music by the inhabitants of
Malaga in 1015. He heard the sounds of the ( ud (lute),
tunbur (pandore,) mizmdr (reed-pipe), and other instru-
ments on every side. 2 Al-Shaqandi (d. 1231) remarks on
the fondness of the people of Ubeda near Jaen for music
and dancing, and the fame of this town for its dancing-
girls. 3 Saragossa boasted of a great mathematician and
music theorist in Abul-Fadl Hasday.

In Al-Andalus, music and poetry belonged, not so much
to a special class as in the East, but to the people at large.
Zakariyya al-Qazwini (d. 1283) mentions in his Athdr
al-bildd that at Shilb in Portugal almost every inhabitant
displayed an interest in literature, and that one could
find even ploughmen capable of improvising in verse. 4

In the second half of the eleventh century, the
Christians began to seriously threaten the Muslim states,
and when Toledo fell in 1085, the Andalusians petitioned
their co-religionists the Murawids of North Africa to
extend their help. The latter entered Al-Andalus in
1086 and defeated the Christian army at Zallaqa near
Badajoz. Like all ” protectors/’ the Murawids had
their price, and that was Al-Andalus. The petty king-
doms were broken up and the whole land became part of
the empire of Morocco.

The new masters were fanatics, and with them the
faqih (theologian) possessed an enormous influence.
” Free thought became impossible,” whilst ” culture and
science faded away.” 5 Even the Ihyd ‘ulum al-din of
Al-Ghazall was interdicted. Poets and musicians were
scarcely looked on with favour publicly. One of the great
names however that stand out during this period is that
of the celebrated Ibn Bajja the philosopher and music
teacher, known in Western Europe as Avenpace. It is

1 Pnmera crdnica general. (Nueva Biblioteca de Autores Espan.
1906), i, 589. Quoted by Ribera.

1 Hadlqat al-afrdh (Cairo Edit.) p. 127.
Al-Maqqarl, Moh. Dyn., i, 54.

* Al-Qazwini, Athar al-bildd (Wustenfeld Edit.), 364.

Nicholson, Lit. Hist, of the Arabs, 431.


the life of Ibn Baj ja that shows us that the Murawids were
not so averse to the fine arts after all. At any rate they
kept their singing-girls as did their predecessors, as we
know from a story told of the Murawid amir of Saragossa
Ibn Tifalawit. 1 The Murawids were soon to find masters

In 1130 a new power arose in North Africa. This was
the Muwahhids, Attacking the Murawids in Morocco
and Al-Andalus (1144-5) they practically exterminated
them. The Muwahhids ruled Al-Andalus and North
Africa for nearly a century. Like the Murawids, the
Muwahhids were Berbers, but they were ” far more
enlightened and favourable to culture than the Murawids
had been.” 2 During their regime some of the greatest
names of Arabian culture became world-famous, and
among them, Ibn Tufail, Ibn Rushd (Averroes) Musa
ibn Maimun (Maimonides), and Ibn Sab’in, all of whom
however, were persecuted on account of their philosophical

The Muwahhids eventually suffered the fate of their
predecessors. In 1228, the Hafsids of Tunis claimed their
independence, and by 1230, the Christians had driven the
Muwahhids from Al-Andalus back to North Africa. The
final blow to the Muwahhids came in 1269 when the
Marinids of Morocco ousted them from their very strong-
hold. The disastrous rout of the Muwahhids was not
however, the end of the Arabs in Al-Andalus. Granada
gave shelter to the surviving Arab population, and here
the Nasrid dynasty (1232-1492) held the banner of Islam
aloft against the Christians of the peninsula.

Egypt, at the opening of this period, was ruled by the
Ikhshidids (938-69), but in the latter year they were
ousted by the Fatimid khalifs from the West. The new-
comers removed their capital from Al-Mahdiyya near
Tunis to Al-Qahira (Cairo) a new quarter of Fustat, which
was soon to become the centre of Arabian culture for the
Near East. The Fatimids, claiming descent from Fatima
the daughter of the Prophet, assumed the title of khalif ,

1 Ibn Khaldun, Prol , iii, 426-7.

Nicholson, Lit. Hist, of the Arabs, 432. Al-Marrakushl, 159, 170-5.


and were recognized as such by the Shi’a world of Islam,
dispensing patents of regality to their spiritual subjects as
far off as Delhi. 1 Naturally, a magnificent court was
maintained at Cairo, where every effort was made to out-
do the prestige of the Baghdad Khalifate. Art, science,
and letters were promoted under their aegis, whilst music
and musicians were encouraged with prodigality.

Al-Mu’izz (953-75) was the first Fatimid khalif to rule
in Egypt, and he is described as “an accomplished
scholar, well versed in science and philosophy and a
munificent patron of arts and learning/’ 2 His son Tamim
was an accomplished poet and like his father, a keen
devotee to music. 3 During this reign the Fatimids
extended their power to Syria and Al-Hijaz, completed
the conquest of Sicily, and broke the power of the
Qardmita (Carmathians).

Al-‘AzIz (975-96) accomplished the conquest of Syria
and of a considerable part of Mesopotamia. The Fatimid
empire now extended from the Euphrates to the Atlantic.
The khalif ‘s court indulged in the most inordinate luxury
and unheard-of splendour. 4 He founded the college at
the Azhar, which had been built in the previous

Al-Hakim (996-1021) ascended the throne as a child
under the tutelage of his Slav ustdd Barjawan. This
tutor is recorded as having lavished too much attention
upon musicians, and in this way neglected the proper
attention to his ward. 6 After the assassination of
Barjawan, the young khalif revealed himself a bigot and
barbarian. He forbade all public amusements, and
musicians were threatened with banishment if they dared
follow their vocation. 6 At the same time he gave en-
couragement to the historian and song collector Al-
Musabbihi, and patronized the physicist and music
theorist Ibn al-Haitham. The literature and science of

1 Al-Bada’unI, i, 94, 310. fabaqdt al-nasirl, ii, 616.
1 Syed Ameer Ah, A Short Hist, of the Saracens, 597.

Ibn Khalhkan, Bwg. Diet., iii, 494.

4 Wustenfeld, Gesch. der Fat.-Chal., 162. S. Lane-Poole, A Hist,
of Egypt in the Middle Ages, 120-3.

S. Lane-Poole, op. cit., 125.

Ibn Khalhkan, Biog. Diet., iii, 451.


music were not counted among the maldhim the same way
as ” listening to music ” was. He built colleges and
observatories in both Egypt and Syria, including
the famous Ddr al-hikma (Hall of Science), erected
in 1005.

Al-Zahir (1021-36), unlike his father, cultivated an
immoderate taste for the maldhi or forbidden pleasures.
He was an accomplished amateur in music and spent
fabulous sums of money on his female singers. 1 He
became completely engrossed in a sybaritic life, in which
” his love of music and dancers was combined with a
savage cruelty/’ 2

Al-Mustansir (1036-94) was similarly appassioned for
musicians and singing-girls, and an estate near the Nile
known as the Ard al-tabbdla (Demesne of the Female
Drummer) was a gift to a favourite singing-girl. 3 He
ignored many of the precepts of Islam, and his wazir
Al-Yazuri had pictures painted of dancing-girls. 4 The
khalif had a pavilion with a pond of wine constructed in
imitation of the Zamzam building and well at Mecca.
Here he passed his hours drinking and feasting to the
music of stringed instruments and singers, saying,
” This is pleasanter than staring at a black stone, listening
to the drone of the mu’adhdhin, and drinking bad water ! ” 5
It was during this reign that the Persian traveller Nasir-i
Khusrau visited Egypt and wrote so enthusiastically
about the Fatimid splendour, including its military
music. 6 Of all the Fatimid khalifs, Al-Mustansir was the
richest, and his reign is certainly the most splendid, in
spite of anarchy, famine, and pestilence. The inventory
of his treasures, as recorded by Al-Maqrizi, reads, as
Stanley Lane-Poole says, 7 ” like a fable in The Thousand

1 Al-Maqrlzl, Al-Mawd’i?, 355.

S. Lane-Poole, op. cit. t 136.

8 Ibid., 139. Al-Maqrizi, op. cit., 338.
4 Ibid., in.

S. Lane-Poole, op. cit., 145. This refers to the sacred stone built
into the wall of the Ka’ba at Mecca, and the Zamzam well opposite it,
whose waters the pilgrims drink. The mu’adhdhin is he who chants the
call (adhdn) to prayer.

Nasir-i Khusrau, Safar ndma (Paris, 1 88 1), pp. 43, 46, 47.
7 S. Lane-Poole, op. cit., 147.


and One Nights.” His library housed over 100,000
volumes. 1

Al-Musta’H (1094-1101) and Al-Amir (1101-1131) were
the next khalifs. The latter, like^most of his predecessors,
was addicted to pleasure and music. He patronized
Abu’1-Salt Umayya the scientist, composer, and music
theorist. During this period the real decline of the
Fatimid Khalif ate asserted itself. The loss of Syria and
Palestine to the Crusaders was a serious blow to its

Al-Hafiz (1131-49) was deeply interested in astrology, 2
and it was for him that a court physician made a special
drum whose notes were supposed to cure a malady from
which he suffered. It was constructed of seven different
metals ” welded at the exact moment when the southing
of each of the seven planets promised fortunate results.” 3
This instrument was preserved in the palace until the time
of Salah al-DIn when it was accidentally broken by one
of his soldiers. 4

Al-Zafir (1149-54) is blamed for having given more
attention to music than to arms and politics. 5 A copy
of the great Kitdb al-aghdm that was made for this
monarch is still preserved.

Under the next two khalifs, Al-Fa’iz (1154-60) and
Al-‘Aclid (1160-71), the Fatimid dynasty was hurried to
its close. The end came when the two Zangid generals
Shirkuh and Salah al-Din entered the capital in 1169.
Two years later the last of the Fatimid khalifs died, and
Salah al-Din better known as Saladin, the first of the
Ayyubids, became the ruler of Egypt.

1 Ibid., 149. Some writers put the total of this Khalif ate library at
two million books. It was pillaged during his reign by the Turkish
soldiery, yet when Salah al-Din took control in 1171, there were still
120,000 volumes in the khalifs library. They eventually passed into the
possession of the Fadihyya college. It is said that this library con-
tained 6,500 works on the quadnvium alone. See the figures given in
the Journal Asiatique, July, 1838, p. 55 et scq., Encyclopedia of Islam,
ii, 1045, and Lcclerc, Histowe de la Mtdecine arabe, i, 583.

1 Al-Maqrizi, Al-Mawd’iz, 357.

8 This was prompted by the astro-musical theories which held a place
in therapeutics. Sec my brochure The Influence of Music : From Arabic
Sources (1926).

4 S. Lane-Poole, op. cit., 169.

*Ibid., 171.


Although the Fatimid period is one of the most brilliant
for intellectual culture in Arabian history, and in science
alone the Ddr al-hikma (Hall of Science) and such names as
Ishaq al-Isra’ili, Ibn Ridwan, and Ibn al-Haitham,
known to Western Europe as Isaac Israeli, Rodoam, and
Alhazen, enable us to appreciate to some extent what this
amounts to, yet it is in the fine arts probably that their
great patronage was most fruitful. Not only in their
architecture but in their encouragement of the industrial
arts, the Fatimids have left a glorious record.

Under the Ayyubids (1171-1250), Egypt returned to
the Sunni or Orthodox faith, and the Shl’a creed was
tabooed. The name of the ‘Abbasid khalif of Baghdad
was re-inserted in the khutba 1 in place of that of the
Fatimid, and in return the khalif created Salah al-Din a
sultan. The Ayyubids extended their dominions to
Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, Tripoli, and Al-Yaman,
and dynasties were set up in Mesopotamia (1200-44),
Damascus (1186-1260), Aleppo (1186-1260), Kama (1178-
1341), Hims (1178-1262), and Al-Yaman (1173-1228).

Music and the arts in general flourished under these
sultans. Salah al-Din (1171-93) and Al-‘Aziz (1193-98)
were the patrons of scholars. The famous Musa ibn
Maimun was employed by them, and the scientists and
music theorists Abu Zakariyya al-Bayasi and Abu Nasr
ibn al-Matran were favoured. ” Of the cultivated tastes ”
of ‘Adil (1199-1218), Al-Kamil (1218-38), and Al-Salih
(1240-49), says Stanley Lane-Poole, ” we have contem-
porary evidence from Ibn Khallikan, Ibn al-Athir, and
Baha’ al-Din Zuhair.” 2 Although Al-Ashraf Musa (1250-
52) was named in the khutba, the rule of the Ayyubids in
Egypt ended with Turanshah (1249-50), when the
Turkish Bahri Mamluks took the reins of government.

Under the Ayyubids a new phase of culture is said to
have been developed, which, so far as the court and
society is concerned, is claimed to have been due in some

1 The Friday oration delivered in the mosque. It comprises praise
to Allah, blessing on the Prophet and his descendants, and prayer for
the Khalif.

‘ S. Lane-Poole, op. cit. f 240.


respects to Turkish ideas. 1 How music was affected we
shall see later.


In spite of political adversity in both the East and
West, the Muslim states still held their own in the battle
throng, in art, in science, and in philosophy. One has
but to mention such names as Salah al-DIn (Saladin), the
Alcazar at Seville, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), and Ibn Rushd
(Averroes), and the truth of this is as palpable as the
noon-day sun. No serious change had come to the social
life of the Arab in these days of ” the fall.” Music was
still ” the one thing needful ” where joy was concerned,
and was as fully appreciated as ever it had been, although,
strange to say, the stricter Muslims were even more
insistent on its condemnation. Indeed, the polemical
writings concerned with the lawfulness of music help us
to understand the temper of the age, for it would seem
that this descanting on the ” sin of listening,” just as much
as the pessimistic poetry of the period, was nurtured, as
much by the introspective state of minds created by the
political events as anything else. The curious point
about this debate is that, after Al-Ghazali (d. mi), music
came to play an important part in the dervish (darwish)
and marabout (murabit) fraternities. The cue for this had
been given by suft teaching and practice. 2

We have already seen how the opposition to music
arose, and a landmark in the controversy is the Dhamm
al-maldhi (Disapprobation of Musical Instruments) of
Ibn Abi’l Dunya (d. 894). Since the Hanbali governance,
the discussion seems to have become more acute in
Al-‘Iraq, and by the twelfth century a literature specially
devoted to this subject abounded. The legal position was
regularized by such authoritative writers as the Shafi’i
Al-Mawardi (d. 1058) and the Hanafi Al-Marghmani
(d. 1197) whose Hiddya became the most widely read
compend of Muslim law. 3 Opinions however, were to a

1 Encyclopedia of Islam, i, 223.
See Chapter II, p. 35.

1 Al-Mawardf s works however, were not published during his life-


great extent controlled by the teaching of the great
philosopher Al-Ghazali (d. mi). As Principal of the
Nizamiyya colleges at Baghdad and Nisapur, he exercised
an enormous influence, and his defence of music (al-samd’)
in his monumental Ihyd ‘ulum al-dm (Revivification of
the Religious Sciences), so widely read, must have served
as a balm to the consciences of many on this subject. 1
His brother who succeeded him as Principal of the
Nizamiyya college at Baghdad, Abul-Futuh Majd al-
Din Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Tusi, was
also a strong champion of music, which is testified by his
Kitab biwdriq al-asmd’ preserved at the Staatsbibliothek at
Berlin. 2 Another writer of the period in Al-‘Iraq,
‘Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi (d. 1232), also wrote a Kitab
al-samd’ *

In Syria, we see the problem handled by Taj al-DIn
al-Sarkhadi (d. 1275), a Hanafi professor at the Nuriyyi
college at Damascus, who wrote a Tashmf al-asmd’
(Condemnation of Listening to Music), and by the
Shafi’i mufti ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Ibrahim al-Firkah (d.
1291), the author of a Kashf al-qind’ fl hall al-samd 1
(Lifting the Veil in the Solution of Listening to
Music). 4

In the West, as early as the tenth century, we have seen
Ibn ‘Abd Rabbihi reproving those who argued that listen-
ing to music was sinful. 5 At the same time there were
legists who were influencing opinion that music was to be
condemned. 6 By the close of the eleventh century, the
fanatical Murawids were masters in the land, and the
pleadings of the partisans of al-samd’ were hushed, the
Ihyd ‘ulum al-dm of Al-Ghazali being among the works
interdicted. By the twelfth century we have Abu Bakr
ibn al-‘Arabi (d. 1151), a celebrated qddtoi Seville, defend-

1 The text of the Ihyd was issued at Cairo in the year A.H. 1326. The
7th section of the 2nd rub’ , which deals with the question under dis-
cussion, was translated by Professor D. B Macdonald in the Journal of
the P oval Asiatic Society (1901-2) under the title of ” Emotional Religion
in Islam as Affected by Music and Singing.”

Ahlwardt, Vcrz., No. 5505.
Ibid., No. 5536, 8.

4 Ahlwardt, Verz., No. 5536, 9.

‘Iqd al-farld, in, 176.

o Aljoxani, Histona de los Jueces de CGrdoba, 255.


ing music against the strictures of the extremists. 1 A
townsman of his, Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Ishbili
(d. 1253) was the author of a Kitab al-samd’ wa ahkdmuhu
(Book of Listening to Music and its Ordinances). 2

The ‘ulamd* orfuqaha (legists) could rail as they pleased,
for it made little difference in the long run. The tabl
khdna (military band) still cheered the soldiers ; the
mughanni (professional musician) still found unlimited
patronage in public and private festivities ; the qaina
(singing-girl) was yet an adornment of the harim ; and
the darwish (dervish) was beginning to regulate his
dhikr (ritual) by means of music. The poets still sang
in praise of music, musicians, and musical instruments. 3
Perhaps the musicians themselves did not hold quite
the same social position that we see them enjoying in the
great Kitab al-aghdni or in the earlier stories of the A If
laila wa laila, but they were still people of importance.
Even the Ikhwan al-Safa/, Ibn Sina and Ibn Zaila, refer
their readers to the rules of the practitioners when they
consider it necessary. The important position of Safi
al-DIn ‘Abd al-Mu’min at the Baghdad court is, perhaps,
no criterion, since he was first of all the court librarian and
scribe, but the fact that eminent scientists and men of
letters like Abu’1-Salt Umayya, Ibn Bajja, Abul-Hakam
al-Bahili, and Abul-Majd Muhammad ibn Abfl-Hakam
all boasted of being performers on the ‘ud (lute) shows that
the art of music was still “respectable.” There were of
course, certain reasons besides art and mere diversion that
made music necessary, for as one of the characters says in
the Alf laila wa laila* ” To some people music is meat,
and to others medicine.”

The doctrine of the ” influence of music ” was given a
fresh lease of life by contact with the Greek notions of the
ethos. As for the doctrine of the Harmony of the Spheres,
the Ikhwan al-Safa’ say, ” It is clear that to the move-

1 Ibn al-‘Arabl’s work does not appear to have come down to us, but
it is freely quoted in the Kitab al-imta 1 wal-mtifa’ in the National
Library at Madrid (Robles, Catdlogo, No. 603.).

1 Ahlwardt, Verz., No. 5536, 7.

Al-Nuwairl, Nihayat al-arab, v, 113-22,

* Alf laila wa laila, ii, 87.


ment of the spheres and stars are notes (naghamdt) and
melodies (alhan)” In this doctrine was found the
” first cause ” for all music in the world of ” generation
and corruption.” They taught that ” the temperaments
of the body are of many varieties, and the animal natures
of many kinds. And to every temperament and every
nature is a note resembling it and a melody befitting it. 11
For that reason, music was employed in the hospitals
because ” it lightened the pain of disease and sickness
from the afflicted/’ 1 Every genre (jins) and tone
(tamdid) in music, as well as every melodic and rhythmic
mode had its particular ethical value. 2 Ibn Sina says
that certain modes should be allocated to particular
periods of the day and night. He says, ” It behoves
that the musician should tune the time of the false dawn
(subh al-kddhib) with the [mode] Rahawi,, and the time of
the true dawn (subh al-sddiq) with the Husain, and the
rising of the sun with the Rdst, and the time of the fore-
noon (duhd) with the Busalik* ; and the time of midday
(nisf al-nahdr) with the Zankuld, and the time of noon (zuhr)
with the ‘Ushshdq, and between the prayers with the
Hijdz, and the time of the afternoon (asr) with the ‘Iraq,
and the time of sunset (ghurub) with the Isfahan, and the
time of nightfall (maghrib) with the Nawd, and after the
evening prayer ( { asha) with the Buzurk, and the time of
sleep with the Mukhdlif (== Ztrdfkand).”*

His disciple Al-Husain ibn Zaila devotes considerable
attention to the ethical aspect of this question. 5 Safi
al-DIn ‘Abd al-Mu’min says that ” every mode (shadd)
has an influence on the soul, only that it is of different
kinds. Some influence courage and simplicity, and these
are three, the ‘Ushshdq, Abu Salik, and Nawd. . . .
And as for the Rdst, Nauruz, ‘Iraq, and Isfahan,
then they pacify the soul with a pleasant pacification,
delightful. And as for the Buzurk, Rdhawi, Zirdfkand,

i Ikhwan al-Safa’ (Bombay Edit.), i, 87, 92, 100-1.
Mafatlh al-‘ulum, p. 243-4.

=Abu Sallk.

British Museum MS., Or. 2361, fol 201 v.

British Museum MS., Or. 2361, fol. 226 v.


Zankula, Husaini, and Hijdzi, they influence grief,
lassitude.” 1

After the period covered by the great Kitdb al-aghdm,
which takes us to the opening of the tenth century, we
have little information concerning the type of verse used
in the vocal music of these days, the works of writers of
the same class as Abu’l-Faraj al-Isfahani having been
lost. The names of four important eleventh to thirteenth
century poets, whose verses were set to music, have
been preserved. They are Al-Bayadl (d. 1076), Ibn
Hamdis (d. 1132) of Seville, Abu ‘Abdallah al-Abla
(d. ca. 1138) of Baghdad, and Taqi al-Din al-Saruqi
(d. 1294) of Cairo. In the British Museum there is a MS.
dating from the thirteenth century, which contains the
words of songs, each superscribed with the name of the
mode in which it was sung. 2 From Al-Andalus and North
Africa there have come down to us the words of the
classical naubdt, even though the music may be ques-
tioned. 3 It was in Al-Andalus that the popular verse-
forms the zajal and muwashshah came. These be-
came the more general vehicles for songs. 4 Popular
verse, when set to music caught the public taste, as we
know from Diya’ al-Dinlbn al-Athir (d. 1239). 5

‘ Abd al-Qadir ibn Ghaibi (d. 1435) who deals at length
with the various art-forms that were current in his day
tells us that in olden days the recognized vocal forms were
the nauba, nashid, and bastt. The last-named was a
qit’a which had to be set to one of the thaqil rhythms. 6

As of old, melodies could be either set to rhythm $qd f )
or not. The technical terms for these two features were
nazm al-naghamdt (arrangement of the notes) and nashr
al-naghamdt (dispersion of the notes).

Among the melodies that were set to the rhythmic
modes were those known as the dastdndt (sing, dastdn), 7

1 Kitdb al-adwdr, fasl xiv. For further information on this question
see my brochure The Influence of Music . From Arabic Sources.

* British Museum MS., Or. 136, fols. 40-55 v.

* Majmu’ al-aghanl wa’l-alhdn. (Algiers, 1904). vw

* Ibn Khaldun, Prol., iii, 422, 436, 441. Hartmann, Das Muwassah.
Schack, Poesie und Kunst der Araber in Spanien und Sizilien.

* Al-mathal al-sd’ir (Bulaq, A. H., 1282), 46.

* British Museum MS., Or. 2361, fol. 215 v. ‘ Ibid., fol. 233


the origin of which has been ascribed to Barbad the min-
strel of the Sasanian monarch Khusrau Parwiz (d. 628). l
Eight rhythmic modes are given by Ibn Sina 2 and Al-Husain
ibn Zaila, 3 and they are quoted not only on the authority
of Al-Kindi and Al-Farabi, but also according to the
contemporary practitioners. Agreement between them
is lacking, and it is difficult even to make them conform
to the rules of the Mafdtth al-ulum and the Ikhwan al-
Safa’. In the days of Safi al-Din ‘ Abd al-Mu’min only
six of these rhythmic modes were current. This author
informs us that the Persians had several rhythmic modes
that were unknown to the Arabs, and vice versa.* In
Al-Andalus, according to Ibn Sida (d. 1066) the rhythmic
modes were similar (at least in name) to the Eastern
school. 5 As for the songs and instrumental pieces that
were not set to rhythm, they were known by the general
name of rdwism (sic). 6 The ghazal or love-song was sung
in this way in the thirteenth century, whilst the nashid
exhibited both the rhythmical and unrhythmical features. 7
The most important class of composition appears to
have been the nauba (pi. naubdf). We have reference to
this as early as the ninth century, 8 although we know
little of its character. Apparently it was a suite, i.e., a
number of movements played in succession (suite) hence
the term. It was chamber music and must not be con-
fused with the nauba of the tabl khdna or military band.
In the Alf laila wa laila we read of an entire nauba being
performed, and also a portion (the ddrij) of a nauba, 9 but
we cannot be sure of the dates of these stories. It is not
until the time of ‘Abd al-Qadir ibn Ghaibi (d. 1435) that
we get any reliable particulars concerning the nauba.
According to this virtuoso and theorist the nauba was of
ancient origin, and in his day it comprised four move-

1 Mafdtlh al-ulum, p. 238. Cf. ante p. 49.

Al-shifa’ t maqala v.

British Museum MS., Or. 2361, fol. 227 et seq.

Bodleian MS., March 115, fol. 52. British Museum MS. Or. 135,
fol. 37 v.

Kitab al-mukhassas (Bulaq edit ), xii. i, n.

British Museum MS., Or. 2361, fol. 233.
‘Ibid., fol 215.

See ante p. 153.

Alf laila wa laila (Macnaghten edit.), ii, 54, 87 ; iv f 183.


merits (qita’}, called the qaul, ghazal, tar ana, and furu
ddsht. But in the year 1379, Ibn Ghaibi, whilst at the
court of the Jalayrid sultan of Al-‘Iraq, Jalal al-Din al-
IJusain, introduced a fifth movement which he named the
mustazdd. 1 That the ancient nauba only contained four
movements is specifically mentioned.

In Al-Andalus the nauba received special attention,
every mode being used by the composers, hence the mis-
nomer, ” the twenty-four naubdt.”* The Andalusian
nauba, according to modern writers, had five distinct
movements quite irrespective of a daira or vocal prelude,
a mustakhbir or instrumental prelude, and a tushiya or
overture. These five movements, each of which is
preceded by an introductory karsi, are called the masdar,
bataih, darj, insiraf, and khalas (or mukhlas). 3 The
nauba was the classical type of Andalusian music. 4

In the science of music, save for two Persian docu-
ments the Bahjat al-nih of ‘Abd al-Mu’min ibn Safl
al-Dln, 5 and the Jami’ al-ulum of Fakhr al-Dln al-Razi, 6
all the works that we know of during this period are in
Arabic. This was still the language of science and of
polite society throughout Islamic lands, from Afghanistan
to Al-Andalus, and so, whatever theoretical treatises on
music were studied, had to be read for the most part in the
language of the Qur’dn. Of course, the scientific (mathe-

1 Bodleian MS. t fol. 95 et seq. British Museum MS., Or. 2361, fol.
215 v. et seq.

* Rafael Mitjana, Le monde oriental (1906), p. 215. Lavignac’s
Encyclopedic de la musique, v, p. 2846.

Majmu 1 al-aghanl wa’l-alhan (Algiers, 1904). See also Dolphin et
Guin, Notes sur la poesie et la musique arabes, p. 63 et seq.

4 The examples of the nauba slka and nauba jarka given in the first-
named work cannot be earlier than the i6th century, and they are not

‘The author of the Bahjat al-ruh (Bodleian Library, Ouseley, 117)
is ‘Abd al Mu’mm ibn Safl al-Dln’ ibn ‘Izz al-Dln Muhyl al-Dln ibn
Ni’mat ibn Qabus Washingir Jurjani. The work appears to have been
written in Afghanistan during the reign of Muhammad Ghurl, Mu’izz
al-Dln (1173-1206). The work quotes both Greek and native author-
ities, Plato, Hermes, Fakhr al-Dln Ta’us Marwl, and Diya’ al-Dln
Muhammad Yusuf.

Fakhr al-Dln al-Razi (1149-1209) was born at Raiy and resided in
Khurasan, Khwanzm, and Transoxiana, dying at Herat. The Khwarizml
shah, ‘Ala’ al-Dln, for whom he wrote his Jami’ al-‘ulum, accorded him
high honours. There are two copies of this latter work in the British
Museum (Or. 2972, and Or. 3308).


matical) side of Arabian theory was derived from the
Greeks of old as we have seen, yet the practical art always
had reference to purely Arabian models. Even Ibn
Sina and Al-Husain ibn Zaila, both of whom were pro-
bably Iranians (by birth certainly), register Arabian
methods in dealing with the practical art.

In Al-‘Iraq and the East up to the first half of the
eleventh century we have ample information concerning
the state of both the science and the practical art of music
in the works of Abu’1-Wafa’ al-Buzjam, the Ikhwan
al-Safa’, Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Khwarizmi, Ibn Sina,
and Al-Husain ibn Zaila, all of which, save that of the
first-named, have come down to us. In Egypt, Ibn
al-Haitham was the representative theorist, although his
works have perished, whilst in Al-Andalus, the interest
of Al-MajritI in the treatises of the Ikhwan al-Safa’,
enables us to gauge the opinions of the Western theorists.

The second half of the eleventh century is almost
sterile of music theorists. In Al-‘Iraq and the East,
this may be accounted for by the Saljuqid conquests,
which probably retarded intellectual activities for a time.
In Al-Andalus, the fall of the House of Umayya, and the
relegation of Cordova to provinciality, may also explain
the gap in the West.

The twelfth century, however, opens brilliantly with
Ibn Baj ja in Al-Andalus, and he is followed by Muhammad
ibn al-Haddad, Ibn Sab’In, and Muhammad ibn Ahmad
al-Raquti. In Egypt and Syria several important names
occur, and among them : Abu’1-Salt Umayya, Abul-
Majd ibn Abfl-Hakam, Kamal al-DIn ibn Man’a, and
‘Alam al-Din Qaisar. In Al-‘Iraq we have Ibn al-Naqqash,
Abu’l-Hakam al-Bahili and Safi al-Din ‘Abd al-Mu’min.
Unfortunately, with the exception of two treatises by
the last-named, no works of any writer after Al-Husain
ibn Zaila, have been spared for us. 1

By this time the Arabs were able to delve deeper still
into the treatises of the Greeks of old. A new school of
translators had also appeared in Yahya ibn ‘Adi (d. 975),

1 A work by Ibn Sab’In has indeed, been preserved, but it is in private
hands and not accessible.


‘Isa ibn Zar’a (d. 1007), and others. The Ikhwan al-Safa’
reveal themselves as thorough-going Aristotelians in
philosophy. In music, whilst they follow Euklid and
Nikomachos so far as mathematics is concerned, they deal
with the practical art, in most respects, just as they found
it. Their contribution to the question of sound is certainly
an advance on the Greeks. 1 The Mafdtlh al j ulum of
Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Khwarizmi (tenth cent.) is of con-
siderable value because it helps us with precise definitions.
Here, too, we get a marked influence from the Greek writers.

With Ibn Sina (d. 1037) we are introduced to a theorist
who is profoundly interested in Greek theory, and
especially in Euklid. His biographers even claim that
he dealt with questions that had been neglected by the
Greeks. As valuable as this part of both the Shifa’
and Najdt may be, it is really of subsidiary importance
to what he has preserved for us of the practical musical
art of the eleventh century. Ibn al-Haitham (d. 1039)
was also interested in Euklid (or Pseudo-Euklid) and
wrote commentaries on the two treatises on music that
are attributed to the latter. Ibn Zaila (d. 1048), a disciple
of Ibn Sina, follows his master rather slavishly in many
respects, although in some cases his information regarding
the practical art is additional to that recorded by Ibn Sina.

After Ibn Zaila, as already remarked, we have a blank
of two centuries so far as theoretical documents are
concerned. Nothing has been spared us from the East
until we reach the thirteenth century in the works of
Safi al-DIn ‘Abd al-Mu’min (d. 1294). This author,
says the late Professor Collangettes, ” n’y invoque
Tautorite ni des Grecs ni des Persans. II pretend bien
faire ceuvre purement arabe. Ce qui n’empeche pas
les mots persans d’y figurer k tout instant, surtout pour
la designation des modes. On s’est degage de Tinfluence
grecque, mais pour subir celle de la Perse. Quels que
soient du reste les elements de ce style composite, Tceuvre
finale est sans contredit Texpression de Tart arabe au
XHIe sidcle.” 2

1 See my Facts for the Arabian Musical Influence, appendix 33.
Journal Asiatique, Nov.-Dec., 1904, p. 379.

t.*Ji*&J &)&.%&.

, ” r- — \

i ;. ‘ , / i / t* ‘ r\ o / * /

.-. ^ ^ -4^ uj>. ^V->of->


, . I’i ”

t <- ‘ f ‘ H
ir r M 1 1


From the ” Kitab al-adwar” of Safi al-Dln ‘Abel al-Mu’min
(d. 1294).


The influence of this virtuoso and savant was far-reach-
ing. His ” authority ” is quoted by most of the later
theorists, for as Hajji Khalifa says, he is one of those
“taking the front rank” in this question. 1 Qutb al-
Din al-Shirazi (d. 1310), Muhammad ibn Mahmud al-
Amull (fourteenth cent.), the author of the Kanz al-
tuhaf (fourteenth cent.), ‘ Abd al-Qadir ibn Ghaibi (d. 1453),
Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Ladhiql (fifteenth
cent.), and the author of the Muhammad ibn Miirdd
MS. (fifteenth cent.), all prostrate themselves before the
authority of Safi al-Dln ‘Abd al-Mu’min, even when
they have to disagree with him.

A notation has already been referred to as being used
by both the theorists and the practitioners. 2 The idea
was borrowed from the Greeks. It is used or mentioned
by both Ibn Sina and Ibn Zaila. By the time of Safi
al-Din ‘Abd al-Mu’min we find it being used for recording
melodies. 3

We know from Ibn Sina (d. 1037) that there were
twelve principal modes, some of them bearing Persian
names. 4 The old modes which had been named after
the fingers or asdbi’, had in time become known by more
fanciful names, and others of a more complex nature,
due to fresh scales, Zalzalian and Persian, had been
added. These latter, as we know from the Shifd’ of
Ibn Sina, were very popular, especially two named
Isfahan and SalmakL 5 Here the modes are referred to
under the generic name of the jamd’dt al-mashhura
(sing, jama’ a ” assembly”). By the time of Safi al-Din
‘Abd al-Mu’min (d. 1294), these principal modes were
called the maqdmdt (sing, maqdma}. There were also six
secondary modes called awdzdt (sing, awdz), which are
stated to be of later origin than the principal modes. 6

1 Hajji Khalifa, vi, 255.

See ante p. 108

1 See my Facts for the Arabian Musical Influence, chap. vi.

4 British Museum MS., Or. 2361, fol. 201 v.

India Office MS., No. 1811, fol 174. We must not conclude from
these names that Persian modes were favoured rather than Arabian.
Tn the Gulistan of Sa’dl (d. 1292) Sifahan ( Isfahan) and Hijaz are
mentioned as though they were the commonly pei formed modes.

9 Bodleian MS. t Marsh, 521, fol. 171.


How far the branch modes named shu’ab (sing, shu’ba)
or furu’ (sing, far’), which later became so popular, 1
were practised by the Arabs at this period, we have no
evidence, in spite of their appearance in the Persian
Bahjat al-ruh, 2 the Durrat al-tdj of Al-Shirazi (1236-1310), 3
and elsewhere. 4 Here are the names of the maqdmdt
and awdzdt according to ,the Kitdb al-adwdr of Safi
al-Din ‘Abd al-Mu’min 5 :

MAQAMAT. ‘Ushshdq, Nawd, Abu Sattk, Rdst, ‘Iraq,
Zirdfkand, Buzurk, Zankula, Rdhawi* Husaini,
and Hijdzl.

AWAZAT. Kuwdsht, Karddniyya, Nauruz, Salmak,
Maya, and Shahndz.

In Al-Andalus and North Africa the modal system
appears to have been different from that practised in
the East. We have little information that enables us
to form an opinion concerning its origin, but if contem-
porary nomenclature and modern practice can tell us
anything it would appear to have been of indigenous
growth. According to the Ma’rifat al-naghamdt al-
thamdn treatise, 7 there were four principal modes (usul),
viz., DU, Zaiddn, Mazmum, and Maya. From these
were derived a number of branch modes (furu’) as follows :

DIL. Ramal al-dil t ‘Iraq al-‘arab, Mujannab al-dil,

Rasd al-dtt, and Istihldl al-dtt. 8
Z AID AN. Hijdzal-kabw, Hijdz al-mashriql, ‘Ushshdq,

Hisdr, Isbahdn, and Zaurankand (sic.).
MAZM UM.Gharibatal-husain, Mashriqi,and Hamddn.

1 Ibn Ghaibi, Bodleian MS., Marsh, 282, fol. 41. British Museum
MS., Or. 2361, fol. 198 v.

Bodleian MS., Ouseley, 117, fol. 7 v.

British Museum MS., Add. 7694.

4 Bodleian MS., March, 521, fol. 171, and marginal notes in British
Museum MS , Or. 136, fol. 21.

British Museum MS., Or. 136. For a critical account of the scales
of these modes see my Facts Joy the Arabian Musical Influence, Appendix
49. The names given by Carra de Vaux in his Traiti des rapports
musicaux, p. 62, do not agree with those in the MSS. consulted by the
present writer.

Also written Rahawl.

Madrid MS., No. 334 (2). See also 334 (3).

Six branch modes are mentioned but only five are named in the


MAYA. Ramal al-maya, Inqildb al-ramal, Husain,
and Rasd.

There was also another principal mode called the
Gharibat al-muharra, but this had no branch modes.
In all there were twenty-four modes.

Notwithstanding the fairly considerable Persian nomen-
clature that obtained in Arabian music we must not too
hastily assume that it was Persian music that prevailed.
On the contrary we know from the Ikhwan al-Safa’
that different types of music were to be found in the two
countries. The Ikhwan say, ” Consider each nation,
and the melodies (alhdn) and modes [or notes] (naghamdt)
which they enjoy and are pleased with, which others
do not enjoy nor are pleased with, for example, the music
of the Dailamites, the Turks, the Arabs, the Kurds, the
Armenians, the Ethiopians, the Persians, the Byzantines,
and other nations who differ in language, nature, morals
and customs/’ 1 In another place they say concerning
the rhythmic modes (iqd’dt), ” These are the eight kinds
(ajnds) which, as we have said, are a basic principle and
are canons to the music (ghind’) and melodies (alhdn)
of the Arabs. And as for other people like the
Persians, Byzantines, and Greeks, there are to their
melodies and music other canons, different from these.” 2
Ibn Zaila also refers specifically to melodies known as the
dastdndt of Khurasan and Isfahan which were alien to
Arabian practice. 3 In the time of Safi al-DIn ‘Abd
al-Mu’min, as already remarked, the rhythmic modes of
the Arabs and Persians were different, although the
Persians were singing the nauba in Arabic as late as the
fifteenth century. 4

As for the scale, the Mafdtih al-ulum shows the
Pythagorean system in use, with the addition of both the
Zalzalian and Persian systems which have already been
adverted to. 5 The Ikhwan al-Safa’ only refer to the

1 Ikhwan al-Safa’, i, 92-3.

Ibid., i, 116.

British Museum MS., Or, 2361, fols. 232 v, 233.
Bodleian MS., Marsh, 282, fol. 95.

Mafdtlfr al-‘ulum, 238-9.


Pythagorean system. 1 Ibn Sma and Ibn Zaila demon-
strate that the practitioners used both the Zalzalian and
Pythagorean scales, although they refer to the latter
as the ” Old Persian ” system. 2

By the time of Safi al-Din ‘Abd al-Mu’min (d. 1294)
a new scale had been adopted. We have no precise
information concerning its designer, but probably it
ought to be attributed to the above theorist. It is
certainly not mentioned by his immediate predecessors,
Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 1209), 3 and Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
(d. 1273). 4 This scale, which proceeded by steps of two
limmas and a comma, was clearly founded on the old
tunbur al-khurdsdm scale, and nominally, at any rate,
embraced the Pythagorean, Zalzalian, and Persian
systems. The theorists who built up this system have
been designated by European authors the ” Systema-
tists.” 6

What scale system was used in Al-Andalus and North
Africa at this period we have no direct evidence. No
ratios are mentioned in the Ma’rifat al-naghamdt al-
thamdn treatise. We can only assume that the old sys-
tem, already mentioned, was maintained, 6 although we
know that the Pythagorean Ikhwan al-Safa/ treatise
was favoured in the late tenth century. We are told,
however, that North Africa was deeply influenced in
the arts by Al-Andalus. 7 In music, the impression
made by Abu’1-Salt Umayya, 8 and Ibn Bajja 9 is openly
acknowledged. The influence of the Andalusians in
Africa was especially marked after the fall of Seville
(1248), when 400,000 of its people went into exile.

The tabl-khdndh or military band has been lightly

Ikhwan al Safa’, i, 98.

1 India Office MS., 1811, fol. 173. British Museum MS., Or. 2361,
fol. 235y.-36.

9 British Museum MS., Or. 2972, fol. 151 V.-I55.
4 Paris Bibl. Nat. MS., Arabe, 2466, fol. 197 v.

This theory was misunderstood by European writers until J. P. N.
Land wrote his Over de Toonladders der Arabische Mustek (1880) and
Recherches sur I’histoire de la gamme arabe (1884). See my Facts for the
Arabian Musical Influence, Append. 49.

See my Facts for the Arabian Musical Influence, Appendix 38
‘ Al-Maqqarl, Moh. Dyn., i, 119,

Al-Maqqarl, Anal., i, 530.

Ibn Khaldun, iii, 422.


touched upon in previous chapters. During this period,
however, it is lifted into such prominence that we must
afford it detailed notice. Petty rulers were springing up,
and all and sundry among them were clamouring for the
privilege of the tabl-khanah and the nauba (periodic
musical performance) as part of their patent of royalty.
Hitherto such honours had been reserved for the khalif
alone. In the year 966, Al-Mutf had granted leave to
a general to have kettledrums (dabadib, sing, dabddb)
played at prayer-times during a campaign, a privilege
which appears to have been retained on his return. 1
The Buwaihid amw Mu’izz al-Daula also begged this
concession from the khalif, but, strange to say, it was
refused. 2 Indeed, the Arab historians condemn such as
presumption on the amir’s part, which, they aver,
amounted to a usurpation of the sovereign attributes
of the khalif. 3 In 979, however, Al-TaT conferred on
‘Adud al-Daula the much-sought privilege, and it is
claimed that he was the first monarch who obtained this. 4
This, however, was the three-fold nauba 5 and not the
five-fold one which was still the prerogative of the khalif.
Yet in 1000, under Al-Qadir, a minister was allowed to
beat a tabl (drum) for the five-fold honour, 6 and in 1017
Sultan al-Daula beat this same nauba. 7

Under the Saljuqids these privileges continued to be
extended, although specific distinctions as to the class of
nauba t and the number and type of instruments to be
used, were introduced. Khalif Al-Muqtadl (1075-94),
in appointing a governor to a province, conferred on him
the great kettledrums called kusdt (sing, kus), and was
permitted to sound the five-fold nauba within the limits
of his province, but in the camp of the sultan he was to
confine himself to the three-fold nauba. s A similar
distinction was made at the peace treaty between the

1 The Eclipse of the ‘ Abbasid Caliphate, ii, 264.
1 Ibid., v, 435, note.

Quatremere, Histoire des Mongols, 418.

The Eclipse of the ‘ Abbasid Caliphate, ii, 396.

At daybreak (subfr), sunset (maghnb), and nightfall (‘ ashd’).

The Eclipse of the ‘ Abbasid Caliphate, iii, 345.
7 Quatremere, loc. cit.

Quatremere, op. cit., 419.


two Saljuqid princes Barkiyaruq and Muhammad in
1101, when the former took the title of sultan and the
latter that of malik. with the five-fold and three-fold
nauba respectively. 1 The last Shah of Khwarizm Jalal
al-Dln MankubartI (d. 1231), who boasted of playing the
nauba of Alexander the Great (Dhul-qarnain), had it
performed on twenty-seven drums of gold encrusted with
pearls, the players at its inception being the sons of sub-
ject monarchs. 2 Ghiyath al-Din (d. 1202), the Ghurid,
had great kettledrums of gold, which were carried on a
chariot. 3 The Fatimid khalifs also dispensed musical
honours to subject rulers when conferring patents of
regality (mardtib)* When Al-‘Aziz (d. 996) marched
into Syria he had five hundred clarions (abwdq, sing.
buq). 5 We read of the nauba under the Fatimids being
performed by a large military band. 6

Nasir-i Khusrau refers to the buq (clarion), the surnd
(reed-pipe), tall (drum), duhul (drum), kus (kettledrum),
and kdsa (cymbal) among the Fatimid martial display. 7
With the ‘Uqailids the buq (clarion) and dabddb (kettle-
drum) were favoured, 8 whilst in Al-Yaman we read of
the buq and tabl. 9 Nur al-Din, the Zangid at Damascus,
sounded the five-fold nauba, whilst his amir, the famous
Salah al-Din only had the three-fold honour. 10

In Al-Andalus we read of the gold-mounted clarions
(buqdt) of Al-Hakam II. 11 The Muwahhids reserved the
drums (tubul) for royalty alone, and the band was formed
into a separate company with the standard-bearers and
called the sdqa. 12

The names of musical instruments, including many
new ones, crowd upon the scene during this period.
The *ud qadim or classical lute of four strings still con-

*Ibid. Al-NasawI, 21.

‘ fabaqat al-nasirl, i, 404.

4 Ibid., 11, 616. Al-Bada’unI, i, 94, 310.

Ibn Khaldun, Prol., n, 45.

Quatremdre, op. cit., 420.

7 Nair-i Khusrau, Safar nama, pp. 43, 46, 47.

Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1901), 755, 785.

Kay, op. cit.

10 Quatremfcre, op. cit., 419.

” Ai-Maqqarl, Moh. Dyn., li, 158.

” Ibn Khaldun, Pro/., ii, 52.


tinned to be favoured, 1 in spite of the introduction of the
‘tid kdmil or perfect lute of five strings, which was fretted
according to the ” Systematist ” scale. The lute is
fully described by all the theorists, and the Ikhwan
al-Safa/ give measurements, 2 whilst we have a design
in one of the works of Safi al-DIn ‘Abd al-Mu’min. 3
It was made in various sizes, and in some MSS. , instru-
ments of considerable dimensions are depicted. 4

The shdhrud was an arch-lute or zither. In the early
fifteenth century it was certainly an arch-lute, and is
described as being twice the length of the lute. 5 Two
new instruments of the lute class were the qupiiz and the
awzdn, both apparently of Turkish origin, and introduced
into Egypt under the Ayyubids. 6 The former had a large
sound-chest, and possessed five double strings. 7 The
latter had three strings and was played with a wooden
plectrum. 8

The tunbur (pandore) family also held its own. The
tunbur al-baghdddi was still to the fore at the close of the
tenth century. 9 The two and three-stringed instruments
are described by Safi al-Din ‘Abd al-Mu’min, but they are
both given the scale of the ” Systematists.” 10

The qltdra^ presumably a flat-chested instrument,
was used in Al-Andalus. Since it was identified with the
murabba’, it was probably quadrangular. 12 Other instru-
ments of the lute, guitar, or pandore family were the
mizhar, awtaba, kinnlra or kinndra, kirdn, barbat and
mi’zaf (?).

Among psalteries there were the qdnun and the nuzha.
The latter was the invention of Safi al-DIn ‘Abd al-

I It was still in use in the i5th century. Bodleian MS., Marsh,
282, fol. 77.

Ikhwan al-Safa’, i, 97.

‘ See my Arabic Musical MSS. in the Bodleian Library, front.

* Der Islam, iii, fig. 6 in article entitled, ” Beitrage zu einer
Geschichte des Planetendarstellung im Orient und im Okzident.”

* Bodleian MS., Marsh, 282, fol. 79. See frontispiece.

* Qupuz vuml (Byzantine qupuz) is mentioned in the above cited
Bodleian MS.

7 Bodleian MS. as cited, fol. 77 v. Ibid.

9 Mafatlh al-‘ulum, p. 237.

10 Kitab al-adwar, fasl. 7.

II Also written qlthara, and in other forms.
” Kitab al-imta’, Madrid MS., No. 603.


Mu’min. 1 There was also the mughni, another instru-
ment invented by this virtuoso* It is described as a
type of qdnun on the one hand, 3 but is delineated as a
lute on the other. 4 The jank (sanj) or harp was still in
use. We have no particulars of its structure until the
fourteenth century, 5 although in the mid-thirteenth
century we read of instruments of 36 and 72 strings being
used at the khalif s court at Baghdad. 6

The rabdb or rebec, appears to have been specially
favoured in Khurasan, 7 although it must have had con-
siderable support in Arab lands, since it passed for a
national instrument. 8 The term rabdb covered several
types of bowed instruments with the Arabs, and perhaps
it was the flat-chested form that was considered the
national type. 9 In a similar way, the Persians gave the
term kamdnja (kamdn = a bow) to their bowed instru-
ments. One particular type was the ghishak (= Arab
shaushak (?)). 10 The use of the bow is inferred from the
Ikhwan al-Safa/, Ibn Sma, and Ibn Zaila. 11

Among wood-wind instruments we read of the mizmdr
or zamr, the surnd or surndy, the nay, the shabbdba, the
saffdra, the yard 1 ‘, the shdhin, the zummdra, the zuldmi,
the qasaba, the buq [bi’l-qasaba], and the mausul. Brass
instruments were represented by the buq and nafir.
Other wind instruments were the urghanun (organ) and
the armuniqi (pan-pipes).

Drums were to be found in the kus or great kettledrum,
the naqqdra, dabddb, or tabl al-markab the ordinary kettle-
drum, the qasa* or shallow kettledrum, and the nuqaira
or small kettledrum, the tabl tawtt or ordinary long drum,

I See my Arabic Musical MSS. in the Bodleian Library, front,
and Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments, pp. 12-14, Kanz al tuhaf,
maq. 3.

Kanz al-tuhaf, maq. 3.

Bodleian MS., Marsh, 282, fol. 78.
4 Kanz al-tuTiaf, maq. 3.

Kanz al-tufyaf. There is a I3th century design in Riano’s Notes
on Early Spanish Music, fig. 52.

Bretschneider, Notes on Medi&val Travellers, 84.
‘ Mafatlh al-‘ulum, p. 237.

Berlin ‘MS. (Ahlwardt) 5527, fol. 47 v.

9 Bodleian MS., Marsh 282, fol. 78 v.

10 This form occurs in the Ikhwan al-Safa’, i, 97, as shaushal.

II See my Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments, chap. viii.


as well as the kuba or tabl al-mukhannath the hour-glass-
shaped drum. Tambourines were represented by the
duffy ghirbdl, bandair, far, mazhar, tirydl, and shaqf.
Then there were the cymbals, castanets, etc., in the
sunuj, kdsdt, musdfiqdt, and qadib


One noticeable feature of this period is the absence
of names of the virtuosi. This is due to the fact that there
were no historians of music of the calibre of the author
of the great Kitdb al-aghdni. We certainly have Al-
Maghribi and Al-Musabbihi in the East, and Yahya [ibn]
al-Khuduj j al-Mursi in the West, who wrote works of this
type, but these writings have not come down to us.
Apart from this, however, a great change had come over
the land. In the past, a composer’s or singer’s biography,
his special compositions and accomplishments, were
acceptable to the elite of society in Baghdad and other
cities in close touch with the capital. It was necessary
to be conversant with these topics since the songs and
melodies of famous musicians like Ma’bad, Ibn Suraij,
or Ibrahim al-Mausili belonged to the repertoires.

With the decline of the Khalifate, culture centres arose
elsewhere, and the necessity for information about the
traditional music of a distant metropolis became less
apparent. Further, the strictures of the Hanbali
sectaries must have contributed to some extent to the
diminution if not cessation of this type of literature,
which dealt specifically with people who made the
malahi their living. Yet, as Collangettes says, “Si la
periode suivante n’a pas eu son Al-Isfahani pour nous
narrer ses chroniques, rien ne nous autorise & croire &
une decadence/’ 1

A few names among the Andalusian virtuosi have been
handed down.

‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Husain ibn Ja’far al-Hajib was
one of the most famous musicians of Al-Andalus at this
period. Al-Maqqari calls him ” the unique one of his

1 Journal Asiatique, Nov.-Dec. (1904), p. 378.


generation in pleasant music (ghina), delightful learning,
fine poetry, and beautiful expression . . . the most capable
of mankind in playing the ‘ud, and in the different modes
(tara’iq) played on it, and in composing melodies (luhtin).
And he would often utter fine sentiments in beautiful
verses, and mould them upon delightful melodies . . .
out of his own invention and cleverness.” So great was
his reputation that no musician came from the East
without first seeking to make his acquaintance, since he
was recognized as ” the one who had attained the highest
excellence in the profession.” His bounty and hospi-
tality to other musicians were proverbial, and although
his income was quite a considerable one, he was frequently
poor on account of this generosity. All his family were
musicians. 1

Abul-Hasan [ibn al-Hasan] ibn al-Hasib was a cele-
brated teacher of music (musiqi) at this time, and is known
as the tutor of the next mentioned artiste*

Abu’l-Husain ibn Abi Ja’far al-Waqshi was the son of
a wazir of Toledo. He is called ” a miracle of Allah
in sagacity . . . gifted with a taste . . . [for music], together
with a wonderful voice more to be desired than the cup
of the wine-bibber.” 3

Abul-Husain ‘All ibn al-Hamara was a poet and
musician of Granada. He surpassed all others as a com-
poser of melodies (alhdn), and was a skilful performer
on the *ud. He also appears to have been the inventor of
a special type of lute. 4

Ishaq ibn Sim’ an was a Jew of Cordova and a friend
of Ibn Bajja, and famous as a composer of melodies in
all styles. 5

Yahya ibn ‘Abdallah al-Bahdaba was a physician who
wrote zajal melodies. 6

Wallada, one of most esteemed poetesses of her day,
was the daughter of Al-Mustakfi (1024-27), one of the last
of the Andalusian khalifs. Her salon was the centre of
attraction for artistes and litterateurs. Her love affair

1 Al-Macjqarl, Analectes, i, 119.

Ibid., ii, 516. * Ibid., ii, 515-16.

* Al-Maqqari, Analectes, ii, 517.

1 Ribera, La Mtisica de las Cantigas, 72. Ibid., 72.


with the poet Ibn Zaidun has become a commonplace in
Andalusian history. She was a musician and has been
compared with ‘Ulayya the musical step-sister of Harun
al-Rashld. 1

Hind was a singing-girl of Abu Muhammad ‘Abdallah
ibn Maslama al-Shatabi. She excelled as a performer
on the ‘ud, and Abu ‘Amir ibn Yannaq (d. 1152) once
addressed verses to her expressing his longing to hear the
notes (naghamdt) of her ‘ud in the thaqil awwal rhythm. 2

Bishara al-Zamir was ” one of the cleverest of pipers
from the East.” He played for ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-
Husain. 3

Nuzha al-Wahabiyya was another famous songstress
of these days. 4

In the East, the names of celebrated virtuosi are

Abu ‘Abdallah Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn al-Munajjim
(d. 1000) appears to have belonged to the family mentioned
in the last chapter. It is said of him that there was no
singer or lutenist who equalled or even approached him
in ability. He died at Shiraz. 5

Kama! al-Zaman was the chief court minstrel of the
Saljuqid sultan San jar (1117-58). There is a story re-
lated by Minhaj-i-Saraj concerning the effect of his
‘Si-playing on his master. 6

Umm Abfl-Jaish was an accomplished songstress at
the court of the Najahid ruler Al-Mansur ibn al-Fatik
(1109-23 [?]) of Al-Yaman. 7

Warda was a famous singing-girl of the Najahid
wazir ‘Uthman al-Ghuzzi. 8

If we have but few names and details of the virtuosi
there is ample information concerning the theorists and

Abu ‘Abdallah Muhammad ibn Alimad ibn Yusuf

1 Al-Maqqarl, op. cit., ii, 565.

1 Ibid , ii, 634. Cf. Mohammadan Dynasties, i, 1 66.

Al-Maqqari, Analectcs, i, 119. * Ibn al-Abbar, Takmila, ii, 745.

Minhaj-i-Saraj, i, 153-4.

Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., iii, 401. A similar story is told of
Rudakf. See Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1899), p. 68.
7 Kay, H. C., Yamun, its early Medieval History, p. 98.

Ibid. , p. 104-111.



al-Khwarizml (fl. 976-97) was the author of a very import-
ant work entitled the Mafdtih al-ulum (Keys of the
Sciences), the first of those abridged encyclopaedias which
afterwards became so common in the East. It was com-
posed, between the years 976 and 991, for Abu’l-Hasan
‘Ubaidallah al-‘Utbl, the wazlr of the Samanid amir Nuh II
(976-97). Manuscripts of this work are to be found in
several libraries, the Ley den copy (dated 1160), the most
perfect, having been edited by Van Vloten who issued the
text in 1895. * The work is divided into two chapters
(maqdldt) on (i) The Native Sciences, and (2) The Foreign
Sciences. These are again divided into various parts
(abwdb), the seventh part of the second chapter being on
music (musiqi). It is practically a dictionary of music in
which we have not only the explanation of musical terms,
but their proper vocalization (pronunciation).

The Ikhwan al-Safa’ (Brothers of Purity) were a group
of philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, and littera-
teurs, who flourished at Al-Basra during the second half of
the tenth century. Five of them we know by name,
Abu Sulaiman Muhammad ibn Mushir (or Ma’shar) al-
Bayusti, Abu’l-Hasan ‘All ibn Harun al-Zanjani, Abu
Ahmad al-Mihrajam, Al-‘Awfi, and Zaid ibn Rifa/a. 2
From these names we see that almost every corner of the
Khalifate was represented, two Persians, a Palestinian,
and two Arabs apparently. 3 Ibn al-Qifti says that they
belonged to a brotherhood for the furtherance of holiness,
purity, and truth, maintaining that since the religious law
had been corrupted through ignorance, it needed puri-
fying. 4 This could only be done, said the Ikhwan al-
Safa’, by combining science and philosophy with religion,
and more especially Greek philosophy. 5 To this end the
” Brothers ” compiled fifty-one (or fifty-two) tracts
(rasd’il) which may be said to cover the whole gamut of
science (including music) and philosophy known to the

*Van Vloten, Liber Mafdtih al-Olum (Leyden, 1895).

For these names see Brockclmann, Gesch. der Arab. Lit., i, 213-14,
Nicholson, Lit. Hist, of the Arabs, 370.

Browne, Lit. Hist, of Persia, i, 378.

See Goldziher, Muh. Stud., on the meaning of the word ikhw&n.

Ibn al-Qifti, 83.


Arabs. 1 These tracts are said to have been written about
the year g6i, 2 but it may have been later. Manuscripts
of these msd’il are to be found in many libraries, and the
text has been printed several times and also edited, 3
whilst the mathematical portion (including music) has
been translated by Dieterici in Die Propaedeutik der
Amber (1865).

Abul-Faraj Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Abi Ya’qub al-
Nadim al-Warraq al-Baghdadi, was the author of a book
called the Fihrist (Index). Of its author we have little
information save that he was born at Baghdad, that he
was a bookseller or copyist (warrdq), that he was in
Constantinople in 988, and that he died about 9Q5-6. 4
The preface of this monumental work tells us that it is
” the index of all the books of all peoples, including the
Arabs and others, which exist in the Arabic language and
writing, in every branch of knowledge, together with
information of the writers, and the classes of the authors,
their genealogies, dates of birth, careers, times of death,
domiciles, and their merits and demerits, from the time of
the origin of each science down to the present time,” i.e.
the year A.H. 377 (A.D.gSy-S).

The work is divided into ten chapters (maqdldf) each of
which is subdivided into sections (funuri). Three of the
chapters give us valuable data concerning the early works
on music and musicians, not only of the Arabs, but also
of the Greeks which were known in Arabic translation.
The third section, third chapter contains, ” Stones of the
Boon Companions, Favourites, Men of Letters, Musicians
(mughanniyyun) , Jesters, Buffoons, and the titles of their
books.” 6 The first section, seventh chapter, gives us,
” Stories of the Natural Philosophers and Logicians [in-
cluding Music Theorists}, and the titles of their books, with

1 For a list of the various subjects dealt with in the risdla on music
see my Arabic Musical Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library.

The preface to the Bombay edition says the middle of the loth
century. Professor Nicholson says the end of the loth century. See
Der Islam, iv., 324.

The best texts are those of Bombay (1887-89), and Dieterici (Die
Abhandlungen der Ichwan es-Safa, 1886).

It has been suggested that he was related to Isfcaq al-Mausill. See
Fihrist, xi, and Nicholson, op. cit. 362.

1 Fihrist, 140-56.


the various translations and commentaries on the same, such
as are still in existence or are no longer extant.” 1 The
second section, seventh chapter, deals with, ” Stories of
Geometricians , Arithmeticians , Music Theorists (musi-
qiyyuri), Accountants, and Engineers.”* Most of the
books mentioned in this ” Index ” have probably dis-
appeared, and possibly only a half-dozen out of some one
hundred musical books are extant to-day. The holo-
causts of Hulagu, Tlmur, and Ximenes in the thirteenth
and fifteenth centuries brought about the destruction of
the great libraries which probably contained, in many
cases, solitary exemplars of the works mentioned in the
Fihrist. The text of this work was published by Fliigel,
Roediger, and Miiller in 1871-2, and the former had already
analysed the work in the Z.D.M.G. in 1859.

Abu’1-Wafa’ al-Buzjani (940-98), one of the greatest of
Arabian mathematicians, was born in Khurasan, but before
his twentieth year he had settled in Baghdad. It was due
to his genius that improvements were made in spherical
trigonometry. Several of his mathematical works have
been preserved but not his commentaries on Euklid nor
his Mukhtasar fl fann al-iqd’ (Compendium on the Science
of Rhythm), a work not mentioned in the ordinary
biographies, but is referred to in the Irshdd al-qa$id of
Al-Akfani (d. 1348) in company with other important
treatises on music which include those of Al-FarabI,
Ibn Sina, $afi al-DIn ‘Abd al-Mu’min and Thabit ibn
Qurra. 3

Maslama al-Majriti or Abu’l-Qasim Maslama ibn Afemad
al-Majriti (d. 1007) belonged, as his name tells us, to
Madrid in Al-Andalus. He was a famed mathematician
and astronomer who flourished during the prosperous
reigns of Al-Hakam II (961-76) and Hisham II (976-
1009) . 4 His writings were translated into Latin under the
name of Moslema or Albucasim de Magerith, and had

Fihrist, 238-65.

Fihrist, 265-85.

1 Bibliotheca Indica, 1849, p. 93. See my article ” Some Musical
MSS. Identified ” in J.R.A.S., Jan., 1926. For the life of Abu’1-Wafa .
see the Fihrist, 266, 283. Ibn al-Qiftf, 287. Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet.
Hi, 320.

Ibn Abl Uaibi’a, ii, 39. Al-Maqqarl, Analectes, ii, 134.


considerable circulation in Western Europe. 1 Maslama
revised the astronomical tables of Muhammad ibn Musa
al-Khwarizmi, the astronomer of Al-Ma’mun (813-33), and
is credited with having added the tangent function. 8
The rasa’il of the Ikhwan al-Safa’ appear to have been
introduced into Al-Andalus by him, and two copies in the
Bodleian Library carry his name. 8

Abu’l-Hasan ‘All ibn Abi Sa’id ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn
Yunus (d. 1009), popularly known as Ibn Yunus, was a
famous astronomer and mathematician at the court of
the Fatimid khalif Al-Hakim (996-1021), celebrated for his
contributions to spherical trigonometry and his Kitdb al-
zig al-Hakimi (Hakimite Tables). 4 He was an excellent
poet, and a work entitled Al-‘uqud wa’l-su’udff aw$af al-
‘ud (The Necklaces and Felicities in the Praises of the
Lute) stands in the name of Ibn Yunus. 5

Al-Maghribi or Abul-Qasim al-Husain ibn ‘All al-
Maghribi (981-1027) claimed descent from the Persian
musical king Bahram Ghur (430-38). He was born at
Cairo, and at an early age entered the service of the
Fatimid khalif Al-Hakim. He was then employed by
Fakhr al-Mulk, the famous literary wazir of the Buwaihid
amir Baha’ al-Daula at Baghdad. Later he became wazir
to the ‘Uqailids at Al-Mausil and re-entered the service
of the Buwaihids as wazir to Musharrif al-Daula. He died
at Mayyafarikln under the protection of the Marwanids.
Ibn Khallikan speaks highly of his erudition, ” of which,
even an inferior portion would suffice for any kdtib.”
Al-Maghribi has a place here as the author (or compiler)
of a Kitdb al-aghdni (Book of Songs). 6

Al-Musabbihi, or ‘Izz al-Mulk Muhammad ibn ‘Ubai-
dallah ibn Ahmad al-Harrani al-Musabbihl al-Katib
(977-1029), belonged to Egypt, and served the Fatimid
khalif Al-Hakim. He rose to be a provincial governor

1 Steinschneider, Die europ. ilbersetzungen aus dem Arabischen, i, 34,

49, 74-

Cajori, History of Mathematics (2nd edit.), 104.

Farmer, Arabic Musical MSS. in the Bodleian Library, 4, 6. See
also Suter, Die Math. u. Astron. der Araber, p. 76.

Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., 11, 365. Abu’1-Fida’, Annal. Musi., ii, 619
‘ Ahlwardt, Verz., No. 5536, 31.

Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., i, 450. IJajjI Khalifa i, 357.


and one of Egypt’s great historians. To his credit stands
a collection of songs entitled the Mukhtar al-aghdnt wa
ma’amha (Selections from the Songs with Explanations
of the Verses). 1

Ibn Sma, or Abu ‘All al-Husain ibn ‘Abdallah ibn Sma
(980-1037), was born at Afshana near Bukhara. Shortly
after this event his father settled in the latter city, and
here Ibn Sma or Avicenna as he is generally called, was
educated. At the age of seventeen he was appointed
physician to the Samanid Nuh II (976-97) at Bukhara.
In this position he had access to the unique library of this
monarch which contained solitary exemplars of the
scientific works of the ” Ancients ” (the Greeks). At the
age of eighteen, Ibn Sma claimed to have mastered all the
sciences. After the death of his father, four years later,
the young scientist began the life of a wandering scholar.
He then settled at Al-Raiy, where the amir Majd al-Daula
was the nominal ruler, but later entered the service of
Shams al-Daula (997-1021) at Hamadhan, who appointed
him his wazir. During this period he wrote numerous
works, besides teaching a crowd of pupils, which however,
did not prevent him from spending his nights with singers
and musicians. When Sama’ al-Daula (1021) succeeded
as amir, Ibn Sma became dissatisfied with his position, and
fled to ‘Ala al-Daula at Isfahan, where he spent the last
ten or twelve years of his life. 2 Here he wrote, among
other things, upon the theory of music (musiqi), in
which subject says Ibn Al-Qifti, he was able to throw
light on the negligence of the ” Ancients ” (the Greeks) in
several questions. 3

Besides his famous Qdnun f7l-tibb (Canon of Medicine)
which became one of the text-books for physicians
throughout the civilized world, Ibn Sma was noted for his
contributions to science and philosophy. Three of his
works at least deal with the theory of music at some

1 Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., iii, 87. Hajjl Kh a l!fa, i, 367. Cf. his
name and the title of his book in these writers.

* Ibn al-Qifti, 4 J 3 etseq. Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., i, 440. Ibn Abl
Usaibi’a, ii, 2. Abu’1-Fida’, Annal. Musi., iii, 93.

It has been assumed by Casiri (i, 271) and Wenrich (189) that this
work on music was an abridgement of a work by Euklid, but the text
does not actually say this.


length. His most important work on this subject is that
contained in the Shifa, which has been printed at Teheran
(A.H. 1313), and is to be found in manuscript in several
libraries in this country. 1 According to the preface of
the Najdt, this work also contains a section on the science
of music (Urn al-musiqi), which came at the end of the
chapter on the mathematical sciences (ulum riyddiyya).
Yet strange to say, neither the printed edition (Cairo,
A.H. 1331), nor the manuscript in the British Museum
(Add. 9613), nor the old Latin version (Rome, 1593),
contain this section on music. At the same time, it is to
be found separately in two MSS. in the Bodleian Library. 2
Ibn Abi Usaibi’a says that Ibn Sina also wrote a Madkhal
ila sina’at al-milsiqi (Introduction to the Art of Music),
which, we are expressly told, was different from that in the
Najdt. In the Persian Danish ndma, written for the
Kakwaihid ‘Ala’ al-Daula, Ibn Sina’s last patron, there
is also a section on music. This is practically identical
with the treatise in the Najdt, and appears to have been
written after Ibn Sina’s death by his disciple Al-Juzjani. 3
Minor chapters on the science of music, with mere
definitions, also occur in his Risdla fi taqdsim al-hikma
(Treatise on the Divisions of the Sciences) and similar
works. 4

For an account of the subjects dealt with by Ibn Sina
on the theory of music in his Shifff and Najdt the reader
is referred to my Arabic Musical MSS. in the Bodleian
Library. Ibn Sina, who was known as ” The Chief
Teacher ” (al-shaikh al-ra’is), had a tremendous influence
on Arabian and Persian musical theorists for many

Ibn al-Haitham, whose full name was Abu’l-‘AH al-
Hasan ibn al-Hasan (or al-Husain) ibn al-Haitham
(c. 965-1039) was one of the most brilliant mathematicians
and physicists that the Arabs produced. He was born at

1 Bodleian Library MS., Pocock, 109 and 250. India Office MS.,
1811. Royal Asiatic Society MS., 58.

Bodleian Library MSS., Marsh, 161 and 521.

British Museum MS., Add 16830. See also Add. 16659 and Or.

‘SeeiheRasd’ilft’l-hikmawa’l-tabi’iyyat (Constantinople, A.H. 1298),
and the Ley den MS., Or. 985, fol. 170 v.


Al-Basra, where he rose to the post of wazw, but was
invited to the court of the Fatimid khalif Al-Hakim.
Here he was given a position in the administration, the
duties of which Ibn al-Haitham could not, or would not,
perform. This roused the ire of the khalif and he was
compelled to conceal himself until the khalifs death
(1021), when he was able to devote himself publicly to
literary and scientific pursuits. Ibn Abi Usaibi’a gives
the titles of some 200 treatises on mathematics, physics,
medicine, and philosophy of which Ibn al-Haitham was
the author. Euklid was especially studied by this
savant and he wrote a Shark qdnun Uqlaidis (Comment-
ary on the Canon of Euklid) and a Shark al-\a\rmumqi
[li-Uqlaidis] (Commentary on the Harmonics [of Euklid])
but alas ! neither of these commentaries have come down
to us. 1 Another work of his that appears to have
perished is the Risdla fl ta’thlrdt al-luhun al-musiqif?l-
nufus al-hayawdniyya (Treatise on the Influences of Musical
Melodies on the souls of Animals).

Abu Mansur al-Husain ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Umar ibn
Zaila (d. 1048), referred to as Al-Husain ibn Zaila, is
evidently the same individual mentioned by Ibn Abi
Usaibi’a as Abu Manur ibn Zaila, one of the most dis-
tinguished pupils of Ibn Sina. a He was the author of a
lengthy and valuable treatise on music entitled the K itdb
al-kdfi fi’l-musiqi (Book of Sufficiency in Music), a copy
of which (the only one that appears to have survived) is
preserved in the British Museum. 8

Abu’l-Hakam ‘Umar . . . al-Karmani (d. 1066) was
born at Cordova of a Carmona family, and died at
Saragossa. He was distinguished as a mathematician
and physician, and had studied in the East, notably at
Harran, the home of the Sabians. He popularized the
rasd’il of the Ikhwan al-Safa’. 4

Ibn Naqiya was the more general name by which

1 Ibn al-Qifti, 168. Ibn Abi U?aibi’a, ii, 90.

Ibn Abi Uaibi’a, ii, 19. See also British Museum MSS. Add.
16659, fol. 332, and Add. 23403, fol. 106.

Brit. Mus. MS., Or. 2361, fol. 220, et seq.

Ibn Abi U$aibi’a, ii, 40. Al-Maqqarl, Analectes, ii, 232. Moh.
Dyn. t i, 150. The latter claims him to have introduced the writings
of the Ikhwan al-Safa’ into Al-Andalus.


Abu’l-Qasim ‘Abdallah ibn Muhammad (1020-92) was
known. He was a poet of Baghdad who was interested
in music, playing the mizhar (pre-Islamic lute). 1 It is as
the author of an abridgment of the great Kitab al-aghdm
however, that he finds a place here. 2

Abu’1-Fadl Hasday ibn Yusuf ibn Hasday belonged to
an old Jewish family of Saragossa in Al-Anialus. The
dates of his birth and death are denied us, but he was a
young man in 1066. He was not only celebrated as a
mathematician and astronomer, but displayed much
talent in rhetoric and poetry, and was learned in the
science of music (miislqi)*

Abul-Salt Umayya is the name given to Umayya ibn
‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Abfl-Salt (io68-ii34). 4 He was born
at Denia in Al-Andalus but migrated to Egypt in 1096,
where he rose to high esteem with the Fatimid khalifs
until falling into disfavour, he was flung into prison.
In iii2 he retired to Al-Mahdiyya, where his learning
brought him the patronage of the Zairids. Ibn Khallikan
says that he ” possessed superior information in the
different branches of general literature . . . skilled in
philosophy . . . deeply versed in the sciences of the
Ancients/ 15 Ibn Abi Usaibi’a informs us that Abul-Salt
excelled in the science of music (muslqi) and that he was
a performer on the ‘iid* He was the author of a Risdla
ffl-musiqi (Treatise on Music), 7 which appears to have been
an important work since it was translated into Hebrew,
and a passage from it is quoted by Profiat Duran in his
Ma’aseh Efod (written in 1403), 8 hence perhaps, as
Steinschneider says, 9 the work was supposed to exist in

1 Erroneously termed a dulcimer by De Slane (Ibn Khallikan, Biog.
Diet., ii, 64). A dulcimer is also referred to in another place by De
Slane (i, 186) where no such instrument is mentioned in the text.

Hajjl Khalifa, i, 367. Here he is called Ibn Baqlya. Ibn Khallikan,
Biog. Diet., ii, 64. Wajayal, i, 376.

1 Ibn Abl Usaibi’a, ii, 50.

4 Collangettes (Jour. Asiat., 1904, p. 382) calls him Ibn al-Zalt ibn
‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Umarl. Rouanet (Lavignac’s Encyclopidie da la
musique, v, 2680) says the same.

Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., i, 228-31.

Ibn Abl Usaibi’a, ii, 52-62.

Ahlwardt, Verz., No. 5536, 5.

Grammar (Vienna, 1863), p. 37.

Steinschneider, Jewish Literature, 337.


the Oratory. 1 As a composer, the influence of Abu’1-Salt
Umayya on North African music appears to have been
considerable. 2

Ibn Bajja (Avenpace), is the more popular cognomen of
Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn al-Saigh (d. 1138).
He was born at Saragossa towards the end of the eleventh
century, and practised as a physician in his native city,
but after the fall of Saragossa (1118) to the Christians, he
resided at Seville and Xativa. Later he went to Fez in
Morocco, where he was wazir at the Murawid court. Here
he was poisoned at the instigation of an enemy. He was
a voluminous writer and no fewer than twenty-four of his
works on medicine, philosophy, and natural science have
come down to us. Besides his unrivalled gifts in these
sciences, he was ” skilled in the art of music (musiqi), and
was a clever performer on the ‘ud (lute)/’ as we are
informed by Ibn Abi Usaibi’a. 3 Ibn Khaldun assures us
that his music (talhiri) was well-known, 4 and Ibn Sa’id
al-Maghribi (d. 1274 or 1286) says that Ibn Bajja gave his
name to a collection of melodies the items of which were
very popular. 5 That he was ” a skilful musician ” is
testified by his enemy Al-Fath ibn Khaqan (d. 1134 or
1140). His reputation as a musical theorist appears to
have been considerable since Ibn Sa’id al-Maghribi
informs us that his book on music (musiqi) enjoyed the
same reputation in the West as that of Al-Farabi in the
East. 8 Indeed, after Al-Farabi, ” there was no man like
Ibn Bajja for the elevated manner in which he wrote and
spoke on the sciences.” ” Where,” says another An-
dalusian, ” are those that can be compared to Ibn Bajja
for the acquirements in the science of music and philos-
ophy ? ” Unfortunately we do not possess any of the
writings on music of this great author and thinker. 7

Wolf, Bib. Heb., ii, 331.
Al-Maqqarl, Anal., i, 530.
Ibn Abi Usaibi’a, ii, 62.
4 Ibn Khaldun, Prol., in, 393.

Al-Maqqarl, Anal., ii, 125.

Al-Maqqarl, Anal., ii, 125.

7 The Shark kitdb al-sama’ dl-tabl’l H-Aristutalls is not a ” Commentary
on the Treatise on Sound by Aristotle,” as Gayangos said (Moh. Dyn.)
i, Append. A. Hi., but a ” Commentary on the Physics (<J>VOIK)I a*poaais).”
See my Facts for the Arabian Musical Influence, appendix 33.


Abu’l-Hakam al-Bahili, or Abul-Hakam ‘Ubaidallah
(or ‘Abdallah) ibn al-Muzaffar ibn ‘”Abdallah al-Bahili
(1093-1155), was born at Almeira in Al-Andalus. 1 Before
the year 1122 he migrated to the East, and taught at a
school which he himself opened at Baghdad. Later, he
was a physician in the camp-hospital of the ‘Iraqian
Sal juqid sultan Mahmud (1117-31). Finally, he settled at
Damascus, where he was highly esteemed as a physician,
mathematician, litterateur, and musician. Al-Maqqari
says, ” Abul-Hakam excelled in the philosophical
sciences, and was skilled in medicine and fine wit. . . .
He played the ‘ild (lute) and his work on music is well-
known/’ Ibn Abi Usaibi’a also testifies to his musical
talents, and both these writers, as well as Ibn Khallikan,
praise his ” diwan of excellent poetry.” 2

Muhammad ibn al-Haddad, or in full Abu ‘Abdallah
Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn al-Haddad (d. 1165) was
another Andalusian, and the author of a work entitled by
Casiri, Musices Disciplina (Musical Instruction). 3 No
other information appears to be available concerning this
theorist, although Hajji Khalifa mentions a Muhammad
ibn Ahmad ibn ‘Uthman al-Andalusi, who is also called
Ibn al-Haddad. The latter however is said to have died
in 1087.*

Ibn al-Naqqash al-Baghdadi, or Muhadhdhab al-DIn
Abul-Hasan ‘AH . . . ibn ‘Isa (d. 1178), was a renowned
mathematician and music theorist at Damascus. He was
personal physician to Nur al-Din the Zangid atdbag
(1146-63) and was also employed at the Nurl hospital.
We know of him specially as the tutor of Abu Zakariyya
al-Bayasi and Ahmad ibn al-Hajib. 5

Abu Zakariyya Yahya al-Bayasi was an Andalusian
who migrated to the East and lived most of his time in
Egypt and Syria. He was a physician, mathematician,
and musician, and was one of the medical men at the court

1 Ibn Khallikan says Al-Yaman, whilst Bar Hebraeus says Murcia.
Al-Maqqarl, Anal., i, 548. Ibn Abi Usaibi’a, ii, 144. Ibn
Khallikan, Biog. Diet., ii, 82.

Casiri, ii, 73. The Arabic title of this work is not given by Casiri.

Hajji Khalifa, iii, 245.

Ibn Abi Usaibi’a, ii, 162, 181.


of Salah al-Din the Ayyubid sultan (1171-93). He was a
pupil of Ibn al-Naqqash in the science of music, and Ibn
Abi Usaibi’a says, ” Abu Zakariyya . . . made for Ibn
al-Naqqash many instruments of a composite nature,
which he derived from engineering (handasa}* . . . was
an excellent player on the *ud (lute), and he constructed
an organ (urghari), and sought by artful contrivance the
playing of it.” 1

Abu’1-Majd Muhammad ibn Abi’l-Hakam (d. 1180) was
a son of Abu’l-Hakam al-Bahili already mentioned, and
was a noted physician, mathematician, astrologer, and
musician. Whilst in the service of the Zangid atabag
Nur al-Din (1146-63) at Damascus, he had charge of his
hospitals. Ibn Abi Usaibi’a says of him, ” Abul-
Majd had knowledge of the science of music (mustqi) and
played the ud (lute) ; excelled in the song (ghina’}, the
rhythms (iqd'[dt]) t the zamr (reed-pipe), and other instru-
ments. And he constructed an organ (urghari) in which
he attained perfection.” 3

Abu Nasr As’ad ibn al-Yas ibn Jirjis al-Matran (d.
1191) was born at Damascus of a Christian family. He
studied medicine and the sciences at Baghdad, and was a
pupil of Ibn al-Naqqash. For some time he was in the
service of Salah al-Din, and amassed a library of ten
thousand volumes. 4 Besides being the author of a num-
ber of medical works, a Risdlat al-adwdr (Treatise on the
Musical Modes) is said to have been written by him.*

Kamal al-Din ibn Man’a, or Abu’1-Fath Musa ibn
Yunus ibn Muhammad ibn Man’a (b. 1156) was born at
Al-Mausil. At the Nizamiyya college at Baghdad he
won high honours, and, returning to his native town,
he became noted as a teacher of mathematics, and was
later the Principal of several colleges. Ibn Khallikan

1 Or “geometry.”

Ibn Abi Uaibi’a, ii, 163.

Ibn Abi Usaibi’a, ii, 155.
Ibn Abi U?aibi’a, ii, 175.

Ahlwardt, Vevz. t No. 5536, 25. I have not been able to verify this
statement elsewhere. The only work bearing a similar title in Ibn Abi
Usaibi’a, is a Risdlat al-adwdr entitled by Leclerc (Hist, de la Mid.
arabe., ii, 45), ” Un recueil des Ptriodes des Chaldtens,” and by
Wustenfeld (Gesch. d. Arab, aerzte, 101), “Compendium libri
mansionum Ibn Wahschijjae.”


says of him : “In the mathematical sciences he was
particularly distinguished. . . . He knew physics . . . was
acquainted with all the parts of mathematical science
explained by Euklid, astronomy, conies . . . music, and
mensuration. In all these sciences he was without a rival/’ 1

Yahya [ibn] al-Khudujj al-Mursi, also called Yahya
ibn al-Khudujj al-A’lam, was, as his name tells us, a
native of Murcia. Al-Maqqari informs us that he was
the author of a Kitab al-aghdm written in imitation of the
work of Abu’l-Faraj [al-Isfahani] 2 . He belonged, it
would seem, to the twelfth century.

Ibn Rushd (Averroes), or Abu’l-Walid ibn Ahmad ibn
Muhammad ibn Rushd (1126-98), the famous Andalusian
philosopher, has been claimed by several writers as the
author of a ” Commentary on Music/’ 3 Renan has
pointed out that this is probably an error due to the
ambiguity of a Hebrew word, and that the work which
these writers had in mind was Ibn Rushd’s Paraphrase of
Aristotle’s Poetics and Rhetoric* At the same time it is
not unlikely, if a mistake has been made, that such a work
as his Shark al-sama l al-tabi’i* might have misled these
authors, since the above could be understood to refer
to a commentary on the nature of sound. 6

‘Alam al-Din Qaisar ibn Abfl-Qasim (1178-1251) was
born at Afsun in Upper Egypt and died at Damascus.
” In Egypt and Damascus,” says Ibn Khallikan, ” he
was looked upon as the great master of the age in all the
mathematical sciences.” He had Kamal al-Din ibn
Man’a as his teacher, and he relates the following story
of his first interview with this savant. ” He [Kamal
al-Din] asked me by what science I wished to begin.
1 By [the theory of] music/ said I. ‘ That happens very

1 Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., iii, 467-68. Ibn Abl Usaibi’a, i, 306.

Al-Maqqarl, Anal., ii, 125. Gayangos, in his Mohammedan
Dynasties, i, 198 (cf. 480), names him Yahya ibn al-Haddaj (variants,
al-Hudj and al-Khurj).

Labbe, Nova Bibl. MSS., 1 16 (quoted by Renan) ; Wolf, Bib.
Heb., i, 20 ; and De Rossi, Cod. Hcb., ii, 9-10.

4 Renan, Averroes, 63. See Wenrich, De auct. Graec., 152.

Called Talkhls kitab al-samd’ al-taWl li-Aristutdlls by Ibn Abf

Ibn Abl U?aibi’a, ii, 75. See Al-Maqqarl, Moh. Dyn., i, Append.
A, iv.


well,’ he said, ‘ for it is a long time since anyone studied
it under me, and I wished to converse with some person
on that science so as to renew my acquaintance with it. 1
I then commenced [the theory of] music, after which I
passed successively to other sciences, and, in about
the space of six months, I went over more than forty
works under his tuition. I was already acquainted with
[the theory of] music, but I wished to be enabled to say
that I had studied that science under him/ 1 Hasan
ibn ‘Umar says that ‘Alam al-Din was particularly
distinguished for his profound knowledge of music. 1

Ibn Sab’In, or Abu Muhammad ‘Abd al-Haqq ibn
Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Ishbili (d. 1269) was a native
of Murcia and died at Mecca. He became famous for
his Kitdb al-ajwiba ‘an \lmin} al-as’ula (Answers to
Questions) written at the command of the Muwahhid
sultan ‘Abd al-Wahid al-Rashid (1232-42) in reply to
certain philosophical questions set by the Emperor
Frederick II of Hohenstaufen. 2 He was also the author
of a Kitdb al-adwdr al-mansub (Book of the Related
Musical Modes), the solitary copy of which is in the library
of Ahmad Taimur Bash a. 3

Abu Ja’far Nair al-Din al-Tusi (1201-74) was born
at Tus in Khurasan. He was the most celebrated scientist
of his day, and was especially noted for his mathematical
and astronomical works. As court astrologer to Hulagu,
the Mughal sultan, he accompanied the conqueror on his
campaigns, and was able to amass a library of 400,000
books, pillaged from the collections of Baghdad, Syria
and Mesopotamia. 4 He was a most productive author
and among his mathematical works is a tract on the
‘Urn al-musiqi (science of music), a copy of which is
preserved in the Paris Bibliotheque Nationale. 5 The
Turks attribute to him, it would seem, the invention

1 Ibn Khallikan, Biog. Diet., iii, 471-3. Abu’1-Fida’, Annal. Musi.
iv, 479, 529-

Al-Kutubf, Fawat al-wafayat, i, 247.

Hildl, xxviii, 214.

Bar Hebraeus Hist. Orient., 358. Abul-Fida’, Annal. Musi., v, 37.
1 De Slane’s Catalogue, No. 2466. In the library of King’s College,

Cambridge, there is a Persian work on music entitled the Kanz al-
tuliaf, which is attributed to Naslr al-D!n al-fusl. (J.R.A.S., June,
1867, p. 1 1 8). The work may belong to another author.


of the flute called mahtar duduk 1 . His greatest pupil
was Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi (1236-1310), the author of the
Durrat al-taj, one of the most authoritative works on
the ” Systematist ” theory of music.

Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Raquti was a
thirteenth century savant of Murcia, distinguished for his
abilities in music, mathematics and medicine. When
the Christians took Murcia (i3th century), their king
retained Al-Raquti to teach in the schools which he
founded. He died in Granada. 2

Safi al-Din ‘Abd al-Mu’min (ibn Yusuf) ibn Fakhir
al-Urmawi al-Baghdadi was probably born at Baghdad
in the early years of the thirteenth century, although
his father (or grandfather) evidently came from Urmia,
a town in Adharbaijan. 3 We find him at Baghdad in
the service of the last ‘Abbasid khalif Al-Musta’sim
(1243-58) as his chief court minstrel, boon companion,
caligraphist, and librarian. 4 He was on very intimate
terms with the khalif, who allowed him a pension of 5,000
golden pieces a year. Safi al-Din was in Baghdad when
it was sacked by Hulagu in 1258, and Hajji Khalifa
recounts a story which is taken from the Habib al-siyar,*
which relates that when the city was given over to the
Mughal hordes for slaughter and pillage the great musician,
by reason of his musical reputation, managed to gain
access to Hulagu, and so charmed the conqueror by his
performances on the ( ud that Hulagu ordered that
$afi al-Din, his family and property, should be spared
in the general devastation. 6 Entering Hulagu’s service,
his pension was doubled to 10,000 pieces of gold, which
was paid out of the revenues of Baghdad. He then
became tutor of the sons of the Mughal wazir or sahib
dlwdn Shams al-Din Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-
Juwaini, 7 who, with his brother ‘Ata Malik, the author
of the Tarikh-i jahan gushd, appointed the famous

1 Evliya Chelebl, Narrative of Travels, i, ii, 237.

Casiri, ii, 81-82.

De Sacy, Chrest. arab., i, 70.

*Fakhrl, 572.

1 Hablb al-siyar, Hi, i, 61.

Hajji Khalifa, iii, 413.

f Cf. Carra de Vaux, Le Tvaiti des Rapports musicaux, p. 4.


musician to the head of the Correspondence Bureau
(diwdn-i insha) at Baghdad.

Safi al-Dm’s two pupils, Baha’ al-Din Muhammad
(1240-79) and Sharaf al-Din Harun (d. 1286), the sons oJ
the wazir were extremely kind to him. 1 It was for the
latter that the great musician wrote his famous treatise,
the Risdlat al-Sharafiyya (Sharafian Treatise). The
former took Safi al-Dln with him to Isfahan when he was
appointed governor of Al-‘Iraq and ‘Iraq ‘Ajami in 1265,
On the death of Baha* al-Dm (1279) an( i the fall of the
family of Al-Juwaini (1284), the savant virtuoso lost his
protectors, and finally fell on evil days, being im-
prisoned for a debt of 300 pieces of gold. Yet, when he
had plenty he spent money lavishly, and could indulge in
fruits and perfumes costing 4,000 pieces of silver, for
the benefit of his friends. Yet this man, whose text-
books were the standard authority among music theorists
for centuries, and are even quoted to-day, died in a debtors’
prison. 2


Safi al-Din ‘Abd al-Mu’min was a man of wide culture.
Mirza Muhammad says that he was ” especially celebrated
for his skill in music and caligraphy.” In the former
art, Ibn Taghrfbirdi declares him to have been excelled
by none since the days of Ishaq al-Mausili, the boon
companion of Harun al-Rashid, whilst in the latter he is
placed on a level with such masters of the art as Yaqut
and Ibn Muqla. Besides being the inventor of two
stringed instruments the mughni, an arch-lute, which
he devised during his stay in Isfahan, as well as the nuzha,
a new type of psaltery, 3 Safi al-Din was the author of two
important treatises on the theory of music the Kitab
al-adwdr (Book of Musical Modes), and the Risdlat
al-Sharafiyya (Sharafian Treatise). The former work,

* In music, philosophy, and belles lettres, Baha al-Din stood heads
above many of his contemporaries. D’Ohsson, Histoire des Mongols,
iv, 11-12. Sharaf al-DIn was also ” one of the most accomplished men
of his day/’ and a dlwan of his poems is preserved in the British Museum
(Or. 3647). See Ta’rlkh-i jahdn gushd, xlviii.

For full life of Safi al-DIn see authorities quoted by Mirza Muham-
mad in his introduction to the Ta’rlkh-i jahdn gushd, li.

1 Kanz al-tufyaf, Brit. Mus. MS., Or. 2361, fol. 263 v, 264 v. See my
Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments, pp. 12-15.


which is probably the earlier and was probably written
in 1252, is perhaps the better known to the theorists.
Manuscripts of this work may be found in the Bodleian
Library, 1 the British Museum, 2 and other collections.
All sorts of commentaries (shuruh) have been written on
this work, and three are to be found in the British
Museum. 3 The Risalat al-sharafiyya is more familiar
to European readers on account of a resume of the work
having been published by Baron Carra de Vaux. 4 Manu-
scripts of the work are to be found in the Bodleian
Library, 5 Berlin, 6 Paris, 7 Vienna, 8 and elsewhere, 9 as
well as an epitome at Cairo. It is said to have been
written in 1267, 10 and we have a manuscript (Berlin)
dating from 1276. At the Bodleian there is another
work by Safi al-Din entitled Fl ‘ulum al-arud wa’l-
qawajl wa’l-badi’, a work which deals with prosody,
rhyme, and rhetoric, not with ” rhythm ” as has been
recently stated. 11 The great repute of Safi al-Din is
that he was the pioneer of a school which propagated
the ” Systematist Theory.”

Ibn al-Qif ti, the more general name by which we know
Abu’l-Hasan ‘All ibn Yusuf al-Qifti (1172-1248), is in-
cluded here because he is such a valuable source of in-
formation concerning writers on the theory of music.
Born at Qift (the ancient Koptos) he was educated at
Cairo, but spent nearly his whole life in Palestine and
Syria. Although fulfilling the duties of wazir at Aleppo,
he devoted himself to literary studies. 12 His greatest

1 Bodleian Library, Marsh 521 (two copies), Marsh 161 (two copies).
See my Arabic Musical MSS. in the Bodleian Library.

I British Museum, Or. 136, and Or. 2361. See Ha] j I Khalifa, iii, 361.
8 Or. 2361.

Le Traits des rapports musicaux ou l’6pttre a Scharaf ed-Din (Paris,

Bodleian Library, Marsh 115, and Marsh 521.

Berlin MS., Ahlwardt, Verz., 5506.
7 Paris MS., De Slane, Cat., 2479.

Vienna MS. Flugel, 1515.

Journal, American Oriental Society, i, p. 174.
10 Ibid., p. 174.

II Grove’s Dictionary of Music (3rd Edit.), iv, 498. The slip is evidently
due to the Latin title, De scientiis prosodiae, rhythmorum et dictioms
figuratae, given in the Bodleian catalogue. Several erroneous state-
ments are made in the former work concerning Sail al-Din.

” Yaqut, Irshad, v, 477.



work appears to have been a Kitdb ikhbdr al-ulamd’ f
which has come down to us in a synopsis made by Al-
Zauzani entitled (or at least known as) the Ta’rikh
al-hukamd’ (History of the Learned), a work quoted fre-
quently in the foregoing pages. 1

Ibn Abi Usaibi’a or Muwaffaq al-Din AbuVAnbas
ibn Abi Usaibi’a (1202-1270) is another writer in the same
category. Born at Damascus, he completed his medical
education at the Nasiri hospital in Cairo. He was
appointed to the charge of one of Salah al-Din’s hospitals
in this city, and later became personal physician to the
amw ‘Izz al-Din in Sarkhad. 2 His chief literary pro-
duction, the ‘Uyun al-anbd\ a history of physicians, is
another work used in these pages for information concern-
ing music theorists. 3

*The Arabic text was edited by Lippert (Leipsic, 1903).

1 Travaux du Vie Congrds intern, des Orientahstes Leide, ii, 259.

A. Miiller published the text (K6nigsberg, 1884).


This list contains the works mentioned in the footnote
references. Where several editions of the same work
are given, the one marked with an asterisk is the authority
quoted, although the others have generaJly been con-

J.A. Journal Asiatique.

J.R.A.S. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.

Abu’1-Fida’, Annales moslemici, arabice et latine.
Opera et studiis Jo. Jacobi Reiskii. 5 vols.
Hafniae, 1789-94.

Abulfedae Jnsloria Anteislamica, arabice. Edidit,

vers. lat. H. 0. Fleischer. Leipsic, 1831.
Abu Tammam, Dlwdn. Beyrout, 1889.
Al-Aghdm. See Isfahan!.

Ahlwardt (W.), The divans of the six ancient Arabic
poets. Edited by W. Ahlwardt. London, 1870.

Verzeichniss der arabischen Handschnften der konigl.

Bibliothek zu Berlin. 10 vols. Berlin, 1887-99.
Al-Akfani, Irshdd al-qdsid. [Bibliotheca Indica.] Cal-
cutta, 1849.

A If laila wa laila. See Macnaghten, Lane, Burton.
‘All Bey, Travels of Ali Bey, between the years 1803

and 1807. 2 vols. London, 1816.
Aljoxani, Historia de losjueces de Cordoba por Aljoxam.

Texto drabe y traduccion espanola por Julian

Ribera. Madrid, 1914.
Amedroz (H. F.) and Margoliouth (D. S.), The eclipse

of the ‘Abbasid Caliphate. Original chronicles

of the fourth Islamic century. Edited by H. F.

Amedroz and D. S. Margoliouth. 7 vols. Oxford,

Aumer (J.), Die arab. Handschriften der konigl. Hof-

und StaatsbibL in Munchen. Munich, 1866.


Al-Bada’uni (‘Abd al-Qadir ibn Muluk Shah), Muntakhabu-

t-tawarikh, by ‘ Abdu-l-Qadir ibn-i-muluk-shah,

known as Al-Baddom. Translated from the

original Persian by G. S. A. Ranking. [Biblio-

theca Indica.] Vol. L, Calcutta, 1898.
Baeumker (C), Alfarabi uber den Ursprung der Wis-

senschaften (De orlu scientiarum) . Heraus. von

Clement Baeumker. [Beit. z. Geschichte der

Phil. d. Mittelalters, xix.] Minister i. W., 1916.
Al-Baladhuri, Liber expugnationis regionum. Edidit M.

J. de Goeje. Leyden, 1866.
Banu Musa, Al-dlat illatl tuzammir binafsihd. [Al-

Mashriq, xvi.] Beyrout.
Barbier de Meynard, Ibrahim fils de Mehdi. [Journal

Asiatique, 1884.] Paris, 1884.
Bar Hebraeus (Abu’l-Faraj), Historia orientalis. Arabice

edita t et latine versa, ab Edvardo Pocockio. Oxford,

Bartholomaeus, Bertholomeus de proprietatibus rerum.

London, 1535.

Berlin MSS. See Ahlwardt.
Beth o’par hasspharoth. Edited by Eisig Grdber.

Year I. Przemysl, 1886.
Bevan (A. A.), The Nakaid of Jarir and Al-Farazdaq.

Edited by A. A. Bevan. 3 vois. Leyden, 1905-12.
Bibliotheca geographorum arabicorum. Edidit M. J.

de Goeje. 8 vols. Leyden, 1870-94.
Bodleian MSS. See Uri and Nichol, Sachau and

Ethe, Farmer.
British Museum MSS. See Catalogus cod. MSS.

orient. , and Rieu.
Browne (E. G.), A literary history of Persia from the

earliest times until Firdawsl. [vol. i.] London,


A literary history of Persia from Firdawsl to Sa’dt.

[vol. ii.j London, 1906.

The sources of Dawlatshdh, and an excursus on

Bdrbad and Rudagi. [J.R.A.S., 1899.] London,
Brockelmann (K.), Geschichte der arabischen Litter atur.

2 vols. Weimar u. Berlin, 1898-1902.
Al-Buhturi, Diwan. 2 vols. Constantinople, 1883.
Al-Bukhari (Muh. ibn Isma’il), Kitdb $ahih. 4 vols.

Cairo, 1888.

Burckhardt (J. L.), Notes on the Bedouins and Wahdbys.
2 vols. London, 1830.


Burhdn-i qafi’. Boorhani qatiu, a dictionary of the

Persian language, by Moohummad Hoosuen ibni

Khulufoot-Tubreezee, to which is added an appendix

by Thos. Roebuck. Calcutta, 1818.
Burton (R. F.) , Arabian Nights. Lady [Isobel] Burton’s

edition. Prepared for household reading by

J. H. McCarthy. 6 vols., London, 1886.
Caetani (L.), Annali dell’ Islam. In progress. Milan,

1905, et seq.
Cajori (F.), A history of mathematics. 2nd edit.

New York, 1919.
Carra de Vaux (Baron), Le traite des rapports musicaux

ou I’epitre d Scharaf ed-Dln, par Safi ed-Dm

‘Abd el-Mumin Albaghdadi, par M. le Baron

Carra de Vaux. Paris, 1891.
Casiri (M.), Bibliotheca arabico-hispana Escurialensis

. . . recensio et explanatio opera et studio Michaelis

Casiri. Madrid, 1760-70.
Catalogus codicum orientalium Bibliothecae Academiae

Lugduno Batavae. 6 vols. Leyden, 1851-77.
Catalogus cod. MSS. orient, qui in Museo Brit, asser-

vantur. London, 1838-71.
Caussin de Perceval (A. P.), Essai sur I’histoire des

Arabes avant I’Islamisme. 3 vols. Paris, 1847-8.
Notices anecdotiques sur les principaux musiciens

arabes des trois premiers siecles de I’Islamisme.

[J. A., 1873.] Paris, 1873.
Chenery (T.), The assemblies of Al-Harin. Translated

by T. Chenery. London, 1867.
Christianowitsch (A.), Esquisse historique de la musique

arabe aux temps anciens. Cologne, 1863.
Collangettes (M.), Etude sur la musique arabe. [J. A.,

1904, 1906.] Paris, 1904, 1906.
Corpus inscriptionum Semiticarum. Paris, 1881 et seq.

Dalton (O. M.), The treasures of the Oxus with other

examples of early oriental metal-work. 2nd

edit., London, 1926.
Darwish Muhammad, Kitab afa’ al-awqat fi ‘ilm

al-naghamdt. Cairo, 1910.
Delphin (G.) and Guin (L.), Notes sur la poesie et la

musique arabes dans leMaghrebalgerien. Paris,i886.
Derenbourg (H.), Les manuscrits arabes de VEscurial.

[Ecole des langues orientales vivantes, ii. ser., x,

xi.] Paris, 1884-1903.


De Slane (Mac Guckin), Catalogue des MSS. arabes de
la Bibliotheque Nationals. 1883-95. Paris.

Dieterici (F.), Die Propaedeutic der Araber im zehnten
Jahrhundert. Berlin, 1865.

D’Ohsson (A. C. Mouradja), Histoire des Mongols
depuis Tchinguiz-Khan jusqua Timour Bey ou
Tamerlan. 4 vols. The Hague, Amsterdam,

D’Ohsson (J. Mouradja), Tableau general de V empire

othoman. 7 vols. Paris, 1788-1824.

Doughty (C. M.), Travels in Arabia Deserta. Cam-
bridge, 1888.

Dozy (R. P. A.), Glossaire des mots espagnols et portugais
derives de Varabe, par R. Dozy et W. H. Engelmann.
Leyden, 1869.

Historia Abbadidarum, praemissis scriptorum

Arabum de ea dynastica locis nunc primum
editis. (Scriptorum Arabum loci de Abbadidio).
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15. Ibn Sin., Kitab al-shifa’t Bodleian MS. Pocock

250, fols. 74-93V.

16. Ibn Sma, Kitab al-shifa’. Bodleian MS. Pocock

109, fols. 74v.-3o8v.

17. Ibn Zaila (Abu Manur Al-Husain), Kitab al-

kdfl fi’l-musiqi. Brit. Mus. MS., Or. 2361.

fols. 220-3&V.

18. Ikhwan al-Safa’, Rasa’il. Bodleian MS. Hunt

296, fols. 23-38.

19. Ikhwan al-Safa’, Rasa’il. Bodleian MS. Marsh

189, fols. 25v-4iv.

20. Kanz al-tuhaf. Brit. Mus. MS. Or. 2361, fols.


21. Kanz al-tuhaf. Leyden MS. Cod. 271 (2) Warn.

22. Al-Kindi, Risdla f I khubr ta’lif al-alhdn. Brit. Mus.

MS. Or. 2361, fols. 165-8.

23. Al-Kindi, Risdla ffl-luhun. Berlin MS, We. 1240.

fols. 22-24V.

24. Al-Kindi (?) [Title not given]. Berlin MS. We.

1240. fols. 25-31.

25. Al-Kindi, Risdla fl ijzd* khabariyya al-musiqi. Ber-

lin MS. We. 1240. fols. 3iv.-35v.

26. Al-Ladhiqi (‘Abd al-Hamid), Fathiyya fi ‘Urn

al-musiql. Brit. Mus. MS. Or. 6629.

27. Lisan al-Dm (Ibn al-Khatib) (?), [Title not given],

Madrid MS. 334 (3) (Robles).

28. Ma’rifat al-naghamdt al-thaman (sic). Madrid

MS. 334 (2) (Robles).

29. Muhammad ibn Murdd MS. Brit. Mus. MS.

Or. 2361, fols. i68v-2i9v.

30. Muristus, Sariat al-juljul. Brit. Mus. MS. Or.

9649. fols. nv.-i3.

31. Muristus, San ( at al-urghin al-zamri. Brit. Mus.

MS. Or. 9649, fols. 6v-n.

32. Muristus, Sariat al-urghin al-buqi. Biit. Mus

MS. Or. 9649, fols. iv-5.

33. Al-Razi (Fakhr al-Dm), Jdmi* al-ulum. Brit.

Mus. MS. Or. 2972.

34. Al-Razi (Fakhr al-Dm), JamV al-ulum. Brit. Mus.

MS. Or. 3308.

*35* Safi al-DIn ‘Abd al-Mu’min, Kitab al-adwar.
Brit. Mus. MS. Or. 136. fols. i-sgv.

36. afi al-Dm ‘Abd al-Mu’min, Kitab al-adwar.

Brit. Mus. MS. Or. 2361. fols. i8v-32.

37. $afi al-Dm ‘Abd al-Mu’min, [Kitab al-adwar].

Bodleian MS, Marsh 161. fols. 10-42 v.


38. Safi al-Din ‘Abd al-Mu’min, Kitdb al-adwdr.

Bodleian MS. Marsh 161. fols. 43-83.

39. Safi al-DIn ‘Abd al-Mu’min, Kitdb al-adwdr.
‘Bodleian MS. Marsh 521. fols. I-32V.

40. Safi al-DIn ‘Abd al-Mu’min, Kitdb al-adwdr.
‘Bodleian MS. Marsh 521. fols. 118-58.

41. Safi al-DIn ‘Abd al-Mu’min, [Kitdb al-adwdr].

Paris MS. Arabe 2865. fols. 6-23V.

42. Safi al-Dm ‘Abd al-Mu’min, Risdlat al-sharafiyya.

Bodleian MS. Marsh 115. fols. 2-55V.
43 Safi al-DIn ‘Abd al-Mu’min, \Risdlat al-sharafiyya]
Bodleian MS. Marsh 521. fols. 34v.-n6.

44. Sharh al-adwdr. Brit. Mus. MS. Or. 2361.

fol. 33v. et seq.

45. Sharh Mauldnd Mubdrakshdh. Brit. Mus. MS.

Or. 2361.

46. [Al-Shalahi] , Kitdb al-imtd’ wa’l-intifd* . Madrid MS.

603 (Robles).

47. Al-Shirazi (Kutb al-Din), Durrat al-tdj. Brit. Mus.

MS. Add.’ 7694.

48. Al-Tusi (Nasir al-DIn) [Title not given]. Paris MS.

Arabe 2466. fols. I97v-ig8.

49. Yahya ibn ‘AH ibn Yahya, Risdla fi’l-musfqi.

Brit. Mus. MS. Or. 2361. fols. 236v-238v.


Al-‘ Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, 20
Al-‘Abbas ibn al-Nasa’I, 98, 131
‘Abda ibn al-Jabib, 14, 17
‘Abdallah ibn al-‘ Abbas ibn al-Fadl

al-Rabl’I, 97, 140, 160
‘Abdallah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib,


‘Abdallah ibn Abl’l-‘Ala, 159
‘Abdallah ibn ‘All ibn Nan’, 160
‘Abdallah ibn Dahman, 94, 123
‘Abdallah ibn [Musa] al-Haclf , 93
‘Abdallah [ibn Hilal] ibn Khatal al-

Adraml, 37
‘Abdallah ibn Ja’far, 48, 54, 58, 60

61, 68, 84, 85
‘Abdallah ibn Jud’an, n
‘Abdallah ibn Muhammad I (Al-

Andalus), 144
‘Abdallah ibn Mus’ab, 132
‘Abdallah ibn Muslim ibn Jundab,

‘Abdallah ibn al-Mu’tazz, 140, 161,

162, 163, 169

‘Abdallah ibn Tahir, 157, 162, 168
‘Abdallah ibn ‘Umar, 25
‘Abdallah ibn al-Zubair, 73
‘Abd al-Latff al-Baghdadl, 195
‘Abd al-Mahk, 56, 57, 61, 66, 77,


‘Abd Manaf, 20

‘Abd al-MasIh ibn ‘Asala, I, 12
Abd al-Mu’min ibn Safl al-Dm,

183, 200

‘Abd al-Muttalib, 20
‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Husain. See

‘Abd al-Qadir ibn Ghaibi. See Ibn

‘Abd al-Rahfm ibn Fadl al-Daffaf,

‘Abd al-Rahman I (Al-Andalus),

98, 136
‘Abd al-Rahman II (Al-Andalus),

98-9, 129, 136, 163
‘Abd al-Rahman III (Al-Andalus),

97, 145, 163, 185
‘ Abd al-Rahman ibn Qatan, 81
‘Abd Shams’, 20

‘Ab’d Yaghuth ibn Waqqas, 12
Al-Ab]ar, 64, 89, 125

Al-Abla, Abu ‘Abdallah, 189
Abu’l-‘ Abbas (Al-Saffah), 91
Abu’l-‘Abbas ‘Abdallah ibn al-

‘Abbas ibn al-Muttalib, 15
Abu ‘Abdallah Muhammad ibn

Ishaq ibn al-Munajjim, 213
Abu ”Abd al-Rahman Ibn Mas’ud,


Abu’l-‘ Ala’ Ash’ab ibn Jubair, 88
Abu’l-‘ Ala’ al-Ma’arrl. See Al-


Abii ‘All al-Hasan. See Al-Masdud
Abu ‘Amir ibn Yannaq, 213
Abii’l-‘Anbas ibn Hamdun, 169,


Abu’l ‘Atahiya, 118, 121
Abu Bakr, 26, 37, 39, 40-1
Abu Bishr Matta, 175
Abu Da’ud ibn Juljul, 174
Abu’1-Fadl Hasday. See Hasday.
Abu’1-Fadl Radhadh, 161
Abu’l-Futuh Majd al-Dln, 195
Abu’l-Hakam al-Bahill, See Al-

Abu’i-Hakam al-Karmanl. See Al-

Abu Hanlfa, 29
Abu’l-Hasan . . . ibn al-Hasib. See

Ibn al-Hasib
Abu Hashlsha, 134, 153, 158, 159,

Abu’l-Husain al-Darraj, See Al-

Abu’l-Husain ibn Abl Ja’far al-

Waqshl. See Al-WaqshI
Abu ‘Isa ‘Abdallah al-Mutawakkil,

“5, 139, 159

Abu ‘Isa ibn Harun, 94, 96
Abu Ishaq al-ShlrazI. See Al-

Abu Ishaq al-Zajjaj, See Al-

Abu Kamil al-Ghuzayyil. See

Abu Mahdura, 33
Abu’l Majd Muhammad ibn Abl’l-

Hakam, 224

Abu Malik al-A’raj, 118
Abu Man?ur al-Munajjim, 166
Abu Mihjan, 74




Abu’l-Misk Kafur, 144

Abu Miskln, 50

Abu Musa, 40

Abu Musa al-Ash’arl. See Al-


Abu Muslim, 131
Abu Nasr . . . al-Farabl. See Al-

Abu Nasr ibn al-Matran. See

Ibn al-Matran
Abu Nuwas, 101
Abu Sadaqa, 94, 117
Abu Salt Umayya, 192, 196, 201,

206, 221-2

Abu Said al-Hasan al-Basrl, 23
Abu Sufyan, 28
Abu Talib, 20
Abu f ammam, 82
Abu Sulaiman al-Darani. See

Abu ‘Ubaida ibn al-Mutbanna,

124, 171
Abu’l-‘Ubais ibn Hamdun, 159, 161,


Abu Umama, 24
Abu’l Wafa 1 al-Buzjanl. See Al-


Abu Zakkar, 132
‘Adi ibn al-Rabl’a, 18
‘Adi ibn Zaid, 5
Al-‘Adid (Fatimid), 192
‘Adud al-Daula, 180, 207
‘Aclil (Ayyubid), 193
‘Affra, 19
‘Afza, 136
Ahmad ibn [‘Abdallah ibn] Abl’l-

”Ala’, 142, 159
Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Yamanl.

See Al-Yamanl

Ahmad al-NasIbl. See Al-Naslb!
Ahmad ibn Sadaqa, 96, 123, 140,


Ahmad Taimur Basha, 177
Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Makk!, 96

106, 114, 139′, 159
Al-Ahwas, 74, 86, 87

‘A*’isha, 24, 26, 27, 41, 48, 57
‘A’isha bint Sa’d, 48, 57
‘A’isha bint falha, 48, 68
Al-Akfani, 216

‘Ala’ al-Daula, 219

‘Ala’ al-Din (shah), 200

‘Alam al-Din Qaisar, 201, 225

Alexander the Great, 208

‘AH, 25, 34, 38, 39, 43, 59

‘All ibn Harun ibn ‘All ibn Yahya,

149, 168

‘All ibn Mahdl (Al-Yaman), 183
‘All ibn Musa al-Maghribf, 177.

See Al-Maghribl.
‘All ibn Sahl ibn Rabban, 174

‘AH ibn Sa’ld al-AndalusI. See

‘All ibn Yahya ibn Abl Manur,

126, 167
‘Alluyah, 94, 96, 97, 117, 123, 148,

H9. 159

Almodad, 14

‘Alqama, 18

‘Als ibn Zaid, 2

‘Alun, 98, 131
Al-Amln, 94-5, 101, 105, 113, 120, 121,

123, 133, 134
Al-Amir (Fatimid), 192

‘Amir ibn Murra, 161

‘Amr ibn Bana, 96, 97, 114, 120,
140, 149, 157-8, 170

‘Amr al-Ghazzal, 94, 132

‘Amr ibn Hashim (Hisham) ibn
‘Abd al-Muttalib, 37

‘Amr ‘lyar. See ‘Amr ibn Umayya

‘Amr al-Maidanl. See Al-Maidan!

‘Amr ibn Kulthum, 5

‘Amr ibn ‘Uthman ibn Abl’l-
Kannat, 87

‘Amr ibn Umayya Dhamlrl, 38

‘Amr ibn al-Zubair, 83
Al-AmulI, Muhammad ibn Mahmtid,

Anas ibn Malik, 25
Al-AndalusI, ‘All ibn Sa’ld, 177

Anjusha, 25

‘Aqld, 96, 117

Arad-Nannar, xii.

Aristotle, 127, 150, 175, 202

Aristoxenos, 151

Arnab, 37
Al-‘Arji, 74, 86

Al-A’sha Maimun ibn Qais, 12, 18, 19,

A’sha Hamdan, 9, 57

Ash’ab ibn Jablr, 64
Al-Ash’arl, Abu Musa, 33
Al-Ashraf Musa (Ayyubid), 193

‘Asim ibn ‘Amr, 42

Ashurbampal, ix
Al-Asma’I, 14, 124, 136, 154, 171
Al-Asma’i. See Muhammad ‘Abd

‘A^a Malik, 227

Atarrad, 64, 85

‘Ath’ath al-Aswad, 140, 161

‘Atika, 89, 124, 135

Avenpace. See Ibn Bajja

Averroes. See Ibn Rushd

Avicenna. See Ibn Sina, 171
Al-‘Aziz (Fatimid), 190, 193, 208

‘Azza al-Maila’, 37, 46, 47, 51,
54-5, 68, 75, 78, 79, 87, 113, 125,

133, H7
Al-‘Awfl, 214



Baba ‘Amr. See ‘Amr ibn Umayya

Baba Sawandlk, 38

Badhl, 119, 134, 148

Baha’ al-Daula, 180, 217

Baha’ al-Dln Muhammad, 228

Baha’ al-Dln Zuhair, 193
Al-Bahdaba, Yahya ibn ‘Abdaliah, 212
Al-Bahill, Abu’l-Hakam, 182, 196,
201, 223

Bahrain Ghur, 4, 217
Al-Baidhaq al-Ansari, 63, 89
Al-Bara ibn Malik, 25

Barbad, 148, 199

Bar Hebraeus, 64

Barjawan, 190

Barkiyaruq, 208

Barauma, 94, 116, 131

Basbas, 132

Bashshar ibn Burd, 95
Al-Bayasl, Abu Zakanyya, 193, 223
Al-BayustI, Abu Sulaiman, 214

Bazya, 163

Biiai, 33, 37

Bint ‘Afzar, 19

Bishara al-Zamir, 213

Bishr ibn Marwan, 56, 74

Budaih al-Malty, 48, 58, 61, 75

Bugha 1 , 162
Al-Buhturl, 82, 158

Bukht-Yishu’, 139

Bulbula, 75, 89

Bunan, 163

Bmmn ibn ‘Amr, 140, 158

Burdan, 67, 87-8, 113, 147

Bard al-Fu’ad, 75, 89
Al-Buzjan!, Abu’l-rWafa’ 201, 216

Cain. See Qain
Charlemagne, 100
Chingiz Khan, 184

Dahman (al-Ashqar), 64, 88
Al-Dal’ai Nafidh, 53, 57-8, 75, 125

Daman, 136

Dananlr, 119, 134, 185
Al-Daranl, Abu Sulaiman, 35
Al-Darraj, Abu’l-Husain, 36

David, 33, 35, ’78, 80

Dhat al-Khal, 135

Dhu’1-Nun, 36

Dilal, 7
Al-Dinawari, 28

Diya’, 135

Diya’ al-Dln Muhammad Yusuf , 200

Diya’ al-Dln ibn al-Athlr, 198

Dubais, 115, 159

Dufaq, 136

Euklid, 151, 202, 220

Fadl (Poetess), 101, 138

Fadl (Songstress), 136
Al-Fadl al-Barmakl, 42, 121
Al-Fadl ibn Rabi’, 103

Fahlldh (Fahlabad). See Barbad.
Al-Fa’iz (Fatimid), 192

Fakhr al-Dln al-RazI. See Al-

Fakhr al-Dln Ta’us Marwi, 200

Fakhr al-Mulk, 180, 217

Fand, 53, 75

Al-Farabl, 15, 18, 144, 149, 152, 154,
155, 172, 175-7, 181, 199, 216,


Farlda, 134, 140, 162-3
Al-Fanha (or Al-Far’a), 75, 89

Fartana, 37
Al-Farra’, 124
Al-Fath ibn Khaqan, 222

Fatima, 38, 189
Al-Firkah, 195

Fulaih ibn Abl’l-‘Aura’, 94, 106,
“3, 119, 134, 135

Galen, 126, 151
Al-Ghamr, 82, 83

Al-Ghand, 75, 80-1, 83, 86, 125, 171
Al-Ghazali, 24, 25, 30, 36, 65, 188, 194,


Ghiyath al-Dln, 208
Al-Ghuzayyil, Abu Kamil, 62, 64, 77,

Gudea, xi.

Habbaba, 63, 75, 82, 85, 86-7
Hablb Afandl al-Zayyat, 170

Al-Hadl, 79, 93, 100, 112, 115

Al-Hafiz (Fatimid), 192

Al-Hajib, 211-12

Hajiz ibn ‘Auf al-Azdl, 19

Al-Hakam I (Al-Andalus), 98, 131

Al-H[akam II (Al-Andalus), 164, 185,

208, 216

Hakam al-Wadl, 64, 92, 93, 94, 100,
‘ 100, in, 112-13

Al-Hakim (Fatimid), 190, 217
Hakim ibn Ahwas al-Sughdl, 154
Hamduna bint ‘All ibn Nafi’, 160
Hamdun ibn Isma’Il, 148, 170
Hammad ibn Ishaq al-MauilI,
‘ 97, 126, 171
Hammad ibn Nashlt, 55
Hammawaihi, 135
Hamza ibn ‘Abdaliah ibn al-
‘ Zubair, 85
Ifamza ibn Malik, 133



Hamza ibn Yatfm, 38
Al-Harith ibn Abl Shamir, 18
Al-Harith ibn Jfalim, 19

Harun ibn ‘All ibn Yahya ibn Abl

Manur, 167, 188

Harun al-Rashld, 31, 94, 96, 99,
103, 104, 106, 108, 112, 113,
114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119,

121, 122, 123, 124, 129, 131,

135, 136. 160

Hasana, 136

Al-Hasan ibn ‘All, 25, 48
Al-Hasan al-Basrl, 66
Al-Hasan al-Masdud. See Al-

‘ Masdud

Al-Hasan al-Na?ibI, 153, 170

Hasday ibn Yusuf ibn Hasday, 188,
‘ 221

Hatim al-Ta’I, 19

Haydn, 101

Hazlla, 19

Hermes, 200

Hibat Allah, 75, 89

Hibbal, 93

Hind, 213

Hind bint ‘Utba, 10, 19

Hind bint Yamin, 41

Hisham, 83-4, 83

Hisham I (Al-Andalus), 98, 129

Hisham II Al-Andalus), 185-6

Hisham, III (Al-Andalus), 186, 216

Hisham ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azlz, 160

Hisham ibn Mirya, 80
Al-Hudall, 64, 75, 88
Al-Hujwlrl, 35, 36

Hulagu, 178, 184, 216, 226, 227

liunain al-Hlrl, 55-6, 63, 77, 80,
88, 125, 171

Hunain ibn Ishaq, 126, 151

Huraira, 19

Ibn ‘Abbad, 180

Ibn ‘Abd Rabbihi, 145, 156, 159,

166-7, 195
Ibn Abl ‘Atlq, 7_4
Ibn Abl’l-Dunya, 146, 194
Ibn Abl Lahab, 63
Ibn Abl Usaibi’a, 229
Ibn ‘A’isha, 63, 64, 75, 82-8, 85,

86, 87, 125, 157, 171
Ibn Allshra, 2

Ibn al-‘Arabl, Abu Bakr, 195
Ibn al-Athlr, Diya’ al-Dln, 198
Ibn al-Athlr ‘Izz al-Dln, 166
Ibn Badrun, 53
Ibn Bajja, 176, 188, 189, 196, 201,

206, 212, 222-3
Ibn al-Dubbl, 171
Ibn Duraid, 42
Ibn al-Faqlh al-Hamadhanl, 41

Ibn Flla’, 97

Ibn Firnas, 144, 170

Ibn GhaibI, ‘Abd al-Qadir, 198,

199, 200, 2O3

Ibn Ghahb, 185

Ibn al-Haddad, Muhammad, 201,

Ibn al-Haitham, 151, 190, 193, 201,

202, 219-20
Ibn Hajar, 28, 42
Ibn al-Hajjaj. See Ibrahim
Ibn Hanbal, 29, 139
Ibn Hamdfs, ‘Abd al-Jabbar, 187,

Ibn al-Hamara, Abu’l-Husain ‘All,


Ibn al-Hasib, Abu’l-Hasan, 212
Ibn al-Hijarl, 185
Ibn Jami’, 93, 94, 102, 103, 112,

113, 115-6, 117, 118, 119, 135,


Ibn al-Kalbl, 50, 51, 75, 83
Ibn Khaldun, 39, 45, 76
Ibn Khallikan, 93
Ibn Khurdadhbih, 49, 139, 141,

155, 156, 166, 169-70
Ibn Man’a, 182, 201, 224-5
Ibn al-Manql, 94, 140, 162
Ibn Mas’ud, 24
Ibn al-Matran, 193, 224
Ibn Misjah, 61, 69, 73, 75, 77-8, 86,

125, 171
IbnMuhriz, 70, 71, 75, 78-9, 80,

83, 86, 87, 113
Ibn Muqla, 228
Ibn Mush’ab, 89
Ibn Naqlya, 220
Ibn al-Naqqash, 201, 223, 224
Ibn al-Qassar, 160
Ibn al-Qiftl, 214, 229
Ibn Ridwan, 193
Ibn Rushd (Averrogs), 187, 189,

194, 225

IbnSab’In, 201, 226
Ibn Safwan, 81
Ibn Said al-Andalusf, 177
Ibn Sa’Id al-Maghribl, 177, 184,


Ibn Sida, 199
IbnSlna (Avicenna), 143, 151,

180, 194, 196, 197, 199, 201,

202, 203, 206, 210, 216, 218-9
Ibn Suraij, 53, 54, 62, 63, 68, 73,

75, ?8, 79-80, 81, 82, 83, 86,

87, 89, 113, 125

Ibn Tarkhan, Abu’l-Hasan, 171
Ibn Tlfalawlt, 189
Ibn Tiifail, 189
Ibn junbura, 77, 87
Ibn Yunus, 217
Ibn Zaidun, 213



Ibn Zaila, 196, 197, 199, 201, 202,

203, 205, 206, 210, 220
Ibn Zurzur. See Al-Qasim
Ibrahim ibn Abi’l-‘Ubais, 143, 162
Ibrahim ibn al-Hajjaj, 145, 163
Ibrahim ibn al-Hasan ibn Sahl, 97
Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdl, 95, 96, 100,
101, 106, 108, 112, 114, 119-21,
122, 123, 124, 134, 146, 147, 149,
157, 168, 170

Ibrahim ibn al-Mau?ilI, 7, 58, 75,
84, 93, 94, 96, ioo, 101, 102, 109,
no, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116-7,
118, 119, 121, 122, 123, 131, 135,

146, 157

Ibrahim ibn al-Mudabbir, 162
Ibrahim ibn al-Qasim ibn Zurzur,

143, 162

Ibrahim ibn Yazld al-Nakha’I, 23
‘Ibthar (sic), 94
Ikhwan al-Safa’, 151, 180, 196, 201,

202, 205, 206, 209, 210, 214-5, 217
‘Inan, 136
Imru’u’1-Qais, 8
‘Isa ibn Zar’a, 202
Al-Ifaham, Abu’l-Faraj, 75, 144, 149,

153, 164-5, 181, 185, 198, 211
Ishaq al-lsra’lll, 193
Ishaq al-Mausilf, 7, 82, 94, 97, 101,

103, 105, 106, 107, 108, 113, 114,

117, 118, 119, 120, 123, 124-6,

129, 133, 134. 135, 139, 146. 147.

148, 149, 157, 158, 159, 160, 162,

167, 168, 169, 170, 228
Ishaq ibn Sim’an, 212
Al-Ishblll, Ahmad ibn Muhammad, 196
Ismail ibn al-Harbidh/131
lyas ibn Qablsa, 12
‘Izz al-Daula, 180

abala ibn al-Ayham, n, 12

abir ibn ‘Abdallah, 24

abir ibn Hayyan, 151
>’far ibn ‘All ibn Nan’, 160
Ja’far al-Barmakl, 92, 102, 153, 158,
159, 160, 161, 165

‘a’ far ibn al-Hadl, 134

a’ far ibn al-Ma’mun, 134

a’far al-Sadiq, 75

‘a’far al-TTabbal, 101, 132

aha’I, 140

ahza al-Barmakl, 57, 133, 143,

Jalal al-Dln al-Husain, 200
Jalal al-Dln Mankubartl, 208. See

Shah of Khwarizm
Jamlla, 54, 57, 68, 74, 81, 82, 85-6,

87, H3. 133
Jarlr, 66
Jesus ben Sirach, 22

Jirab al-Daula, 159
Jubal, 6, 7

Judah ben Tibbon, 175
Al-JuzjanI, 219

Ka’b ibn al-Ashraf, 23

Ka’b ibn Zuhair, 23
Al-Kalbl, 50

Kamal al-Zaman, 182, 218

Kamal al-Dln ibn Man’a. See Ibn

Man’ a
Al-Kamil (Ayyubid), 108

Kanlz, 143, 162
Al-Karmanl, 220
Al-Kathir, Ibn al-Salt, 82

Khadfja, 10

Khahd, 34

Khahd ibn ‘Abdallah al-Qasrl, 56

Khahd al-Barmakl, 92

Khahd ibn Ja’far, 19
Al-Khatlb al-Baghdadl, 161
Al-Khalll, 105, 126, 151, 170
Al-Khansa, 19

Khaula, 46, 54
Al-Khudujj, 225

Khulaida, 19

Khulaida (2), 75, 89

Khumarawaih, 144

Khusrau Parwlz, 199
Al-Khwarizml, Muhammad ibn ‘Abdal-
lah, 201, 202/218-4

Al-Khwarizml, Muhammad ibn Musa,

Al-Kmdl, 71, 96, 105, 106, 108, no,
124, 127-8, 139, 149, 15* 1 5*
152, 154, 169, 172, 199.

Al-Kisa’i, 124
Kurmna 37

Labid, 8, 12

Ladhdhat al-‘Aish, 75, 89
Al-Ladhiql, 203
Al-Laith ibn Nasr, 154

Lamak (Lamech), 7

Al-Ma f arrI, Abu’l-‘Ala’, 103, 138
Ma’bad, 54, 55. 62, 63, 64, 75, 80,

81-2, 85, 86, 87, 113, 125, 157
Ma’bad al-Yaqtlnl, 132
Al-Madlnl, Abu Ayyub Sulaiman, 153,

Al-MaghribI, Abu’l-Qasim al-IJusain,

211, 217

Al-MaghribI, ‘AH ibn Musa, 177
Al-MaghribI, Ibn Sa’Id. See Ibn Sa’Id.

Mahbuba, 140, 162

Al-Mahdl, 87, 92, 03, 99, 103, H2, 113,
115, 119, 129, 132



Mahmud (Saljuqid), 182, 223
Al-MaidanI, Ahmad, 58

Al-Maidanl, ‘Amr, 159.

Maimonides. See Musa ibn Maimun

Maimuna, 134

Maisun, 60
Al-Majrltl, 180, 181, 201, 211, 216-7

Maknuna, 119

Malik ibn Anas, 29, 87, 104

Malik ibn Hamama, 58

Malik ibn Jubair al-Mughannl, 19

Malik Shah, 182

Malik al-Ta’I, 64, 67, 75, 82, 84-5,

86, 87 ‘

Al-Ma’mun, 94, 95-6, 105, 113, 108,
114, 117, 120, 121, 122, 123,
124, 127, 128, 133, 137, 138,
157, 158, 163, 167, 169, 217
Al-Mansur, 83, 92-3, 112, 132
Al-Mansur (wazlr), 186
Al-Man?ur (musician), 98, 129, 131
Al-Mansur ibn Ishaq, 174

Man?ur ibn faiha ibn Tahir, 169
Al-Marghlnanl, 194

Manya, 37

Marwan I, 53, 61

Marwan II, 65, 164
Al-Masdud, 97, “5, 140, 158-9
Al-Mas’udl, 60, 64, 144, 153, 155,

163, 165-6, 168, 169, 181
Al-Mawardl, 194

Mawiya, 19
Al-Mihrajanl, Abu Ahmad, 214

Mmhaj-i-Saraj, 213

Mozart, 101

Mu’awiya I, 25, 53, 54, 55, 58, 60,
66, 69, 77

Mu’awiya II, 61

Mu’awiya ibn Bakr, 10

Mudar ibn Nizar ibn Ma’add, 14
Al-Muhajir, 41

Muhalhil, 18

MUHAMMAD, i, 10, u, 19, 20,

Muhammad I (Al-Andams), 130,


Muhammad II (Al-Andalus), 186
Muhammad (Saljuqid), 208
Muhammad ibn ‘Abbad al-Katib,

83, 87
Muhammad ibn ‘Abdallah ibn

Tahir, 114, 140, 169
Muhammad ‘Abd al-Jawwad al-

Ama’I, 165
Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Yahya

ai-Makkl, 141, 160
Muhammad ibn Abl’l-‘Abbas, 92,

Muhammad ibn Abl’l-Hakam, 182,

Muhammad ibn ‘All ibn Nan’, 160

Muhammad ibn ‘Amr al-Raff, 94,


Muhammad ibn ‘Amr al-Ruml, 96
Muhammad ibn Da’ud ibn Isma’ll,

Muhammad ibn Fadl al-Jarjara’i,

Muhammad ibn Hamza, Abu

Ja’far, 131

Muhammad ibn al-Harith, 94, 95
96, 97, 117, 120, 121-2, 134, 139,

Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, 107
Muhammad ibn Ishaq … al-

Musa’bl, 167
Muhammad ibn Ishaq . . . al-

Warraq. See Al-Warraq
Muhammad ibn Mazdad, 122
Muhammad ibn Murad, 203
Muhammad ibn Tahir, 163
Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn Abl

Mansur, 167
Al-Muhtadl, 140-1, 146
Al-Mu’izz (Fatimid), 190

Mu’izz al-Daula, 207
Al-Mukarram, Ahmad ibn ‘All, 183
Mukhanq, 94, 95, 96, 97 i I QI .
117, 121, 135, 148, 149, 159, 170’
Al-MuktafI, 140, 142, 143, 167, 169
Al-Mundhir (Al-Andalus), 144, 163

Mu’nisa, 163

Al-Muntasir, 140, 158, 159, 160
Al-Muqauqis, 37
Al-MuqtadI, 181, 207
Al-Muqtadir, 140, 142, 161, 163, 173
Al-MuqtafI, 181

Musa ibn Maimun (Maimonides) ,

189, 193

Mus’ab ibn al-Zubair, 48
Musabih, 136
Al-Musabbihl, ‘Izz al-Mulk, 190, 211,


Musharrif al-Daula, 180, 217
Al-MustadI, 181
Al-Musta’ln, 140, 173
Al-Mustakfl, 143

Al-Mustakf! (Al-Andalus), 186, 212
Al-Musta’ll (Fatimid), 192
Al-Mustanjid, 181
Al-Mustanir, 183
Al-Mustansir (Fatimid), 191
Al-Mustars’hid, 181
Al-Musta’sim, 184, 227
Al-Mustazhir, 181

Mut’a, 136
Al-Mu’tadid, 141-2, 159, 161, 163, 167,

Al-Mu’tamid, 133, 141, 144, 156, 158,

1 60, 167, 169

Al-Mu’tamid (Al-Andalus), 187
Al-Mutanabbl, 144



Al-Mutawakkil, 114, 123, 124, 126,
138, 139-40, 156, 157. 158, 159,
160, 162, 163, 167, 170

Al-Mu’tazz, 137, 140, 160

Al-Mutl’, 179, 207

Al-MuttaqI, 143

Mutayyim al-Hashimiyya, 134, 185

Al-Muwaffaq, 141, 167, 172

Al-Nabigha, 5, 6, 13

Al-Nadr ibn al-Hanth, 14, 18, 23, 69

Nan’ al-Khair, 48, 58, 75

Nan’ ibn ‘Alqama, 80

Nafi’ ibn Tunbura, 75, 87
Al-Naghashl, 53

Na’ila bint al-Maila, 55

Naram-Sin, xi

Nashlt, 48, 49, 54. 55, 77. 81

Nashwan, 162

Nasr ibn Sayyar, 65
Al-Nasibl. See Al-Hasan
Al-Naslbi, Ahmad, 56-7
Al-Nasir, 183-4

Naslr al-Dln al-Tusl, 206, 226-7

Nasir-i Khusrau, 191, 208

Naiima al-Duha, 53, 58, 75

Nikomachos, 151, 202

Nizam al-Mulk, 182
Al-Nubasht, 151

Nuh II, 214
Al-Nu’man III, 5, 19
Al-Nu’man ibn ‘Adi, 41

Nur al-Dln (Zangid), 208, 224

Nuzha al-Wahabiyya, 213

Plato, 200
Ptolemy, 151
Pythagoras, 152
Profiat Duran, 221

Al-Qadir, 179, 207
Al-Qahir, 143
Al-Qa’im, 179, 181

Qain, 6, 7

Qalam, 136

Qalam al-Salahiyya, 124

Qamar, 145, 163

Qand, 48, 57

Qarlba, 37

Al-Qasim ibn ‘All ibn Nan’, 160
Al-Qasim ibn Zurzur, 148, 162
Al-Qazwlnl, 188
u’ad, 19
umriyya, 136
aina, 37

^urai? al-Jarrahl, 153, 160-1

Qusta ibn Luqa, 152, 173

Al-Rabab, 46, 54

Rablha, 75

Radhadh. See Abu’1-Fadl
Al-Radl, 143

Ra^mat Allah, 75, 89

Raiq, 134, 148

Ra’iqa, 46, 54, 147
Al-RaqutI, 201, 227
Al-Rasmd, 181

Rayya’, 87

Al-Razi, Fakhr al-Din, 182, 200, 206
Al-RazI, Muhammad ibn Zakariyya,

142, 143, 152, 172, 174
Al-Rubayyi’ bint Mu’awwidh, 27

Rudakl, 143

Saadia. See Sa’Id ibn Yusuf
Sabur ibn Ardashlr, 180
Sadaqa ibn Abl Sadaqa, 122
Sa’d ibn Abl Waqqa, 48, 57
Sa’dl, 203
SafI al-Dln ‘Abd al-Mu’min, 184,

196, 199, 201, 202, 203, 204, 2O5,

206, 209, 216, 227-8

Sa’ib Khathir, 46, 47, 48, 49, 51,
53-4, 55, 60, 81, 85

Sa’fda (Sa’da), 75

Sa’id ibn Ahmad, 144, 185

Sa’id al-Ahwal, 183

Sa’Id ibn al-‘As, 55, 57

Sa’id ibn Yusuf (Saadia), 174-5

Saif, 123

Saif al-Daula, 164, 175
Al-SajzI, Abu’l-‘Abbas, 159

Salah al-Din (Saladm), 192, 193,
194, 224

Salama al-Wasif, 157

Salifa, 143
Al-Sahh (Ayyubid), 193

Sallam al-Abrash, 103

Sallama al-Oass, 63, 75, 82, 85,

Sallama al-Zarqa’, 75, 85, 87

Salma, 46, 54

Salmak, 106

Salman al-Farisf, 38

Samha, 136

Sanjar, 213
Al-SarakhsI, 142, 152, 172

Sargon, 17
Al-Sarkhadi, 195
Al-Saruqi, TaqI al-Dln, 198

Sayyid Amir, ‘All, 40, 65
Al-ShafiX 29, 31

Shah of Khwarizm, 183, 184. See
Jalal al-Dln

Shajl, 163

Shapur II, 7

Shams al-Daula, 180

Shams al-Dln al-Juwainl, 227



Al-Shanqftf, Ahmad, 164

Sharaf al-Dln Harun, 228

Shanyya, 134, 140, 141, 148, 162,

Al-Shibll, 36

Shikla, 1 19

Al-Shirazf, Abu Ishaq, 31
Al-Shirazf, Qutb al-Dfn, 203, 204

Shuhcla, 89, 121, 135

Shlrln, 25, 37. See also Slrin

Shfrkuh, 192

Sihr, 135

Sind! ibn ‘All, 176

Sinn, 37, 46, 54

Siyyat, 82, 84, 93, 113, 115, 147
Al-SughdI. See Hakim ibn Ahwas

Suhail, 86

Sukaina bint al-Husain, 48, 56, 80

Sulaim ibn Sallarn, 117, 131

Sulaiman ibn ‘All, 84, 92

Sulaiman ibn al-Qaar, 140
Al-Suli, 171

Sulml ibn Rabfa, 8

Sultan al-Daula, 207
Al-Suyutl, 9

Syed Ameer Ali. See Sayyid Amir

Al-Tabarl, 41, 166

Tahir, 168
Al-taT, 179, 207

Tamlm, 190

Tanbl, 89
Al-Tanukhl, 164

Tarab, 163

tarafa, 5, 12, 14

Thabit ibn Qurra, 152, 172, 173, 216

Thabja al-Hadramiyya, 41

Thamad, 19
Al-ThaqafI, 157

Tlmur, 216
Al-Tirmidhi, 24

Tubal, 7

Turanshah, 193
Al-fusI, Naslr al-Dln, 206

fuwais, 13, 45, 46, 47, 50, 51,
52-3, 55, 58, 75. 79, 125

‘Ubaida, 133

‘Ubaidallah ibn Abl Bakr, 33
‘Ubaidallah ibn ‘Ali ibn Nafi’, 160
‘Ubaidallah ibn Hunain al-Hirl,

56, 80

‘Ubaidallah ibn Umayya, 145
‘Ubaidallah al-‘Utbl, 214
‘Ubaidallah ibn Ziyad, 57
Ugdai, 184
‘Ulayya, 213
‘Ulayya bint ‘All ibn Nafi’, 160

‘Umar, 25, 26, 39, 41-2, 44, 86

‘Umar II, 42, 82, 66, 141

‘Umar ibn Abl Rabl’a, 74, 86

‘Umar al- Khayyam, 182

‘Umar ibn ‘Affan, 88

Umayya, 20

Umayya ibn AbI’1-Salt, ii f 22, 27

Umm Abl’l-Jaish, 213

Umm ‘Auf, 89

Uns al-Qulub, 163

‘Uqqab, 93

‘Uraib, 132, 140

‘Uthman, 25, 39, 42-3, 44, 52, 53,

54. 5 6 > 79
‘Uthman ibn Muhammad I (Al-

Andalus), 163
‘Uthman al-Ghuzzl, 213

Wahba, 136
Al-Walid I, 61, 62, 64, 75, 78, 80, 81,

86, 89, 112, 123
Al-Walid II, 59, 64-5, 81, 82, 83, 85,

88, 89, 112, 131, 135, 142
Wallada, 186, 212
Al-WaqshI, Abu’l-Husain, 187, 212

Warda, 213
Al-Warraq, Muhammad ibn Isliaq,

180, 215

Wasif al-Turkl, 162
Wasif al-Zamir, 143, 162
Al-Wathiq, 94, 96-7, 118, 121, 122,
124, 125, 131, 135, 140, 148,
I59i 162

Ximenes, 216

Yahya ibn Abl Manur, 96, 128,


Yahya ibn ‘Adi, 201
Yahya ibn ‘All ibn Nafi’, 160
Yahya ibn ‘All ibn Yahya ibn Abl

Mansur, 135, 142, 149, 150, 167-8
Yahya ibn Khalid al-Barmakl, 92,


Yahya al-Ma’mun, 187
Yahya [ibn] al-Khudujj. See

Yahya al-Makkl, 94, i6, 113-4,

“5, “9, 153

Yahya ibn Masawaihi, 126
Yahya ibn Nafis, 132
Yahya Qail, 64, 88
Al-Yamani, Ahmad ibn Muhammad,


Yaqut, 228
Al-Yazurl, 191

Yazld I, 58, 60, 64, 66


Yazld II, 83, 64, 73, 81, 82, 85,

86, 87, 89
Yazld III, 65, 87
Yazid Haura’, 93, 94, 118
Yuhanna ibn al-Batriq, 127
Yuhanna ibn Khailan, 175
Yunus al-Katib, 64, 67, 75, 77,

78, 80, 82, 83-4, 87, 105, 113, 153
Yusuf ibn ‘Umar al-Thaqafi. See


Al-Zafir (Fatimid), 192
Al-Zahir (‘Abbasid), 183
Al-?ahir (Fatimid), 191
Zaid ibn Ka’b, 58
Zaid ibn Rifa’a, 214
Zaid ibn al-Jalis, 58
Al-Zajjaj, 33


See Al-

Zakariyya al-QazwInl.

Al-Zanjani, 214

Zalzal, 73, 94, 95, 108, 117, 118-9,

124, 203, 206
Zarqun, 98

Zaryat (sic), 148, 163
Zirnab, 46, 54
Ziryab, 7, 99, 108, no, 128-30,

1 60

Ziryab (2), 162
Ziyadat Allah I, 129
Al-Zubaid! al-Tunburl, 133
Al-Zubair ibn Dahman, 94, 123-4
Al-Zuhrl, Ibrahim ibn Sa’d, 22, 104
Zunam al-Makkl. See Ahmad ibn

Yahya al-Makkl
Zunam, 131, 158
Zurzur al-Kablr, 96


ab’ad. See bu’d

‘Abbasids, 22, 64-5, 72, 76. Chaps.

v, vi, yii
abubd, xiv
abttsallk, 197, 204
Abyssinia, 151
Accordatura, 70, 73
adhan, 33-4
Adharbaijan, 182
Afghanistan, 99
Africa, 44, 129, 138, 188-9, 198, 204,

206, 221-2. See Algeria, Morocco,

Tripoli, Tunis
Afshana, 218
Afsun, 225
Aghlabids, 138
ajnds. See jtns
alalu, xiv

Aleppo, 164, 175, 180, 193, 229
Algeciras, 129, 186
Algeria, 99
allian. See lahn
‘Allds, 138
‘alima, 102
allu, xiv
Almeria, 223

Almohades. See Muwahhids
Almoravides. See Murawids
‘an, xiv
‘dndh, xiv
Al-Anbar, 4, 91, 94
Al-Andalus, 65, 97, no, 129-31, 136,

138, 144, 146, 156, 160, 163, 170,

177-8, 184, 198, 200-1, 204, 206,

209, 211-12, 2l6, 223

Ansar, The, 21, 27

Anushtiginids, 182

anwd’. See naw 1

Arbela, 182

armunlql, 210

‘artaba, 209

‘am$, 49, 72, 150

a$M. See a$ba’

asba’, 52, 71-2

Asia Minor, 99, 181-2

o$/(pl. Mfw/), 151

Assyria. See Babylonia-Assyria

asttikhftsiyya, 69, 151

awdz (pi. awazat], 203, 204-5

awtdr, 133 (sing, watar)

awzan. See wazn.

Ayyubids, 182, 193

‘azf, 8, 64. See mi’zaf, mi’zafa

Ba’albak, 173

Babylonia- Assyria, vii-xi, 4, 17, 39,


Badr, 10, 11

Baghdad, 87, 92, 94-6, 99, no,
112-3, 115, 117-20, 124, 126, 129,
133, 136-7, 139, 141-3. !52, 155-6,
159, 162, 164, 169, 171-4, 178-9,
181, 184-6, 193, 195-6, 198,
210-11, 214, 216-7, 22 3 – 4 226
Al-Bahrain, 2, 4, 21
Bagtiglnids, 182
Bairut, 128

Bait al-hikma, 96, 126, 128
bamm, 70, 74
bandair, 211
Banu ‘Ad, i, 10, n, 19

‘Amallq, xii, i, 3, 4, 10
Aws, 21
Azd, 2, 3
Bahz, 85
Fahm, 57

Hamdan. See Hamdanids
Hamdan, 2

Banu’ 1-Iianth ibn Ka’b, 55
Banu Himyar, 2
Jadls, i, 19
Jumh, 77
Jurhum, 3

Laith ibn Bakr, 118, 123
Makhzum, 52, 87, 119
Nadir, 3
Naufal ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib,

Banu’l-Khazraj, 21
Banu Khuza’a, 113

Kinana, 131

Quraiza, 3

Sama ibn Lu’ai, 134

Sulaim, 85

Taghlib, 18

Tai’, 19
Tamim, 132
fasm, i, 19
Thamud, i, 19



Banu Thu’l, 84

,, Zubair ibn al-‘Awwam, 131

,, Zuhra, 86
baqiyya, 153
barbat, 6, 12, 15, 16, 29, 30, 64, 69

73, 95, 209

Barbiton. See mi’zaf, barbat
baslt, basdt (pi. fcwsw/), 106, 107, 198
Al-Basra, 84, 116, 126, 135, 143, 162,

214, 218, 220
bataih, 200
Bedouins, 6, 9, in
Beyrout. See Bairut
Bosra, 5
Bow, 155, 210

bu’d (pi. ab’ad), 151, 153
Bukhara, 181, 218
buq, 47, 154, 155, 208, 210
buq [bi’l-qasaba], 210
bug al-naftr, 154
Bunds, 182

busallk, 197. Sec abusallk
bustit. See fcasF/
buzurk, 197, 204
Byzantium and Byzantines, ix, 6,

12, 43-4, 46, 59, 60, 65, 69, 70-1,

76-7, 90-1, 105, 109, 145-6, 151,

166, 205

Cairo, 185, 189, 198, 219, 230

Cantilation. See taghblr

Carmona, 220

Castanets, 211. See kdsa, sinj

Cazlona, 145

Ceylon, 165

Chaldsea, 2, 4, 71

Chanting. See qard’a

China, 21, 61, 165

Clappers. See ndqns, musdfiqdt

Classicists, 147

Colleges, 96, 100, 126, 128, 180,

182-5, 190-1, 193, 224
Constantinople, 215
Cordova, 99, 100, 128-31, 139, 144-5,

184, 186, 201, 212, 220

dabdab, 154, 207, 208, 210
Al-Dailam, 119, 155, 179
dd’ira (tambourine), 38
dd’ira (prelude), 200
ddjina, n, 14
Damascus, 5, 37, 59, 62, 76-8, 80,

83, 85, 112, 182, 185, 193, 195,

208, 223-5, 2 3
$arb, 73

Dar al-ljukma, 191, 193
darj, 199, 200
darwlsh, dervish, 194, 196
dastdn, 70, 103

dastdndt, 205

daur (pi. adwdr), 106, 224, 228

Days of Ignorance. See jdhiliyya

Deccan, The, 165

Delhi, 190

Denia, 186

Dhu’l-Nunids, 186-7

dll, dhil, 204

diydnai, 7, 155

Diyar Bakr, 180, 182

Drums. See tabl, naqqdra, dabdab,

qas’a, km, duhul
duff, xiv, 4, 6, 7, 13, 16, 26-7, 30, 41,

47, 53, 74, 80, 109, 154, 211
duhul, 208
Dulcimer, 221

Effects of music, 35. See Ethos.
Egypt, 37, 39, 44, 90, 102, 138,

144-5, 174, 178, 189, 191, 2OI,
217, 221, 223, 225

elal, xiv.

Ethos, 76, 109, 196, 220

far’ (pi. furu’}, 204

Farab, 175

Fars, 167, 179-80, 182

Fatimids, 138, 189

Festivals, 9, 10, 14, 17, 35

Flute. See nay, shabbdba, saffdra,

qasaba, shdhln, yard’
Four great singers of Islam, 80, 81
France, 99
fuqahd’, 194
furu 1 . See far’
furu ddsht, 200
t, 189

Genres. See;tns
gharlbat al-husain, 204
gharlbat al-muharra, 205
Ghassan, 3, 6/9, n, 14, 21, 44,


ghazal, 27, 37, 199, 200
Ghaznawids, 181, 183
ghma’ 4, 15, 19, 26, 29, 33, 64, 69-70,

108, 125, 136, 152, 212, 224
ghind’ al-mauqi’ (al-muwaqa’) t 51
ghwa’ murtajal, 14
ghind’ al-mutqan, 49-51, 61, 78
ghind’ al-raqlq, 50, 51
ghind’ al-rukbdn, rakbdnl, 50, 61,

7 8
ghirbal, 28, 30, 211

ghishak, 210
Ghurids, 183
Ghuzz, 183, 213
Granada, 186, 189, 212, 227


Greece and Greeks, xi, 2, 12-13,
16, 44, 60, 76, 96, 104, 106-7,
109, 126, 127, 145, 150-3, 166-7,
171, 173, 175, 186, 196, 200,
202-3, 214, 218. See Byzantium

Greek Works in Arabic, 150, 152,
201-2, 218, 220

Guitar. See murabba*

HADITH, 24, 41
Hadramaut, xh, 2
Hafsids, 189
Hajar, 2

Mi. 8

Kama, 193

Hamasa, The, 2, 9

tfamddn (mode), 204

Hamdanids, 139, 143, 180, 181, 182

Hamadhan, 218

Hammudids, 186

Hanball sect, 29, 30, 139, 194

HanafI sect, 29, 34, 194, 195

HanafI music, 3, 15

harf, 108

Harmony, 72, 73

Harp. See jank, salbdq

harlm, 10, 41, 62, 68

Harran, 109, 173, 175, 218, 220

Hashimids, 182

hazaj, 15, 50-1, 53, 56, 71, 87, 111-12

Hebrews, 7, 17, 22, 221. See Jews,

Hidaya, The, 31, 194

hija, 9

Al-Hijaz, 2-5, 8, 14, 21, 27, 29,
43-4, 46, 49, 56, 62, 69, 70,
74-7, 91, 113, 125, 132, 148, 154,
181, 190

hijaz, hijdzl (mode), 197-8, 203, 204

hijdz al-kablr, 204

tyjaz al-mashriql, 204
Al-Hilla, 180

Hims, 193

Himyarites. See Banu Himyar

Himyarl music, 3, 15
Al-Hlra, 3-6, 9, 12, 14, 19, 44, 47,

‘ 49. 55, 69, 154

faar, 204

jiudd’, 14, 25, 29, 33, 49, 6i f 78

Hudids, 186

liusain, husainl, 197-8, 204-5

(tusiin Ma’bad, 82

Hydraulis, 155


ibbubu, imbubu, xiv.
Idrlsids, 138
Ikhshldids, 138, 147
Ilak Khans, 183
lidigizids, 182

India, 21, 165-6. See Sind, Deccan

Influence of music. See Ethos.

infisal, 153

inqildb al-ramal, 205

inshdd, xiv, 27

intiqdl, 151

insiraf, 200

iqiirah, 122

iqwa, 13

‘irdq (mode), 197, 204

‘irdq al-‘arab (mode), 204

‘Iraq ‘Arab! (province), 4, 21, 27,

43, 47, 56, 58, 69, 74, 77> Qi, 95.

99, 145, 169, 178-9, 200-1, 228
‘Iraq ‘Ajami, 99, 179, 180-1, 227
Iqd’ (pi. iqadt), 15, 47, 50-1, 71-2,

105-6, 121-2, 124, 126, 147, 176,

205, 216, 224
irkha, 153
i’rdb, 73

isbahdn, 204. See isfahdn
Ishtar, 17

isfahdn (mode), 150, 197, 203
Isfahan (town), 205, 218
isjdh. See sajdh
istihldl al-dil t 204
Italy, 99

Al-Jabal. See ‘Iraq ‘ArabI
Jaen, 188

jdhiliyya, I, 9, 12, 17, 19
Jahwarids, 186
jalditl. See juljul
jam’ (pl.jumti), 151
jamd’a (pi. jama 1 at), 203
Janad, 138
Jand, 181
jank (pl.junuk), 6, 7, 12, 16, 18, 29,

45, 47, 74, 79, 155. 210
javddatdn, n
Jarmaqs, Jammiqa, 6
jaza’a, 106
Jazz, 106

Jews, 2-4, 7, 212. See Hebrews
jinn, 7, 21, 75, 80, 130
jtns (pi. ajnds), 105, 149, 151, 153,


juljul (pl.jaldjit), 6, 16, 17
jumu 1 . See jam 1
Jurjan, 138

Ka’ba, 3

kdhin, 20, 21

kamdnja (pi. kamdnjdt), 210. See


karddniyya, 204
karsl, 200
karlna, n
kdsa (pi. ^asa^), 208, 211


maqdrna (pi. maqdmdt), 203, 204-5

maqdti’. See maqta’

maqta’, 106

Ma’rib, 2, xii

marthiya, 10, 19

Marwamds, 180

masdar, 200

mashriql, 204

Mashu, vii, viii

Mathematics. See ‘W/MW riyafyya

mathnd, 70

mathlath, 70

wflwfo (pi. mawall), 45, 67, 90
Al-Mausil, 38, 1 1 6, 180, 217

wwyfl, 204

mazhar, 211

mazmum, 204

Mazyadids, 180

Mecca, 3, 8, 10, n, 12, 17, 19-21, 31,
37, 55, 5 6 > 59, 62, 68-9, 74, 77-80,
86, 88, 113, 115-6, 119, 191, 226

Mesopotamia, 2, 4, 6, 39, 44, 139,

171, 180, 182, 190, 226
Al-Medlna, 3, 4, 17, 21, 39, 42-5, 47-8,
50-2, 54-5, 57- 59, 60-2, 67-9, 74,
79, 81-2, 84-6, 118, 121-3, 132,

134-5, 171
Merv, 94
Military music. See fabl khdndh,


Mirdasids, 180
mi’zaf (pi. ma’dzif), 3, 46, 76,

mi’zafa (pi. ma’dzif), 4, 8, 16, 46-7,

55, 109, 122, 133, 155
mizhar (pi. mazdhtr), 4-6, 9-10, 15,

19, 46, 209, 221. See Lute
mizmdr (pi. mazdmlr), 4, 6, 16,


121, 131, 154, 158, 188.
mizmdr, xiv
Modes, Melodic, 149, 197, 203, 204.

Sec asdbi’, nagham, naghamdt
Modes, Rhythmic, 149. See Iqa’at,


Morocco, 21, 61, 99, 138, 188-9
Mu’allaqat, The, 2, 3, 18
mu’adhdhm, 25, 33, 37, 191
mud^ina, u. See ddjina
Mufaddaliyyat, The, 2
Mughals, 184, 227
mughannl, mughann, 9, 51, 170-1,


mughnl, 210, 228
Mujahids, 186
mujannab al-dll, 204
mukhdhf, 197. See zlrdfkand
mukhannath (pi. mukhannathun),

30, 44, 45, 53, 55, 61, 143
mukhlas, 200
Multan, 165

AAfl/y al-khaflf, 106

^a/^ i^f/, 71, 141

Khaibar, 4

Khakhu, xi, xii

khalds, 200

Khazar, 151


khunthawl, 107

Khurasan, 65, 90-1, 99, 137, 145,

150, 155, 172, 181, 210, 216
khutba, 193
Khuzistan, 179-80
Khwarizm, 99, 178, 182-4, 208
Kimash, xi

kindr, kinndr, kinndra, 6, 16
kinnlra, 209
kinndr, kinord, 5, 7
kirdn, 6, 15, 155
Kirman, 179, 180, 181
Kithara, 8
kuba, 30, 211
Al-Kufa, 46, 56, 91, 116, 121, 131, 132,


Kurdistan, 99
bus, 38
kuwdsht, 204

Man, 1 8

lahn (pi. alhdn, luhun), 15, 18, 26,

27, 33, 69, 127, 151, 197, 205, 212
Lakhmids, 4, 5
Lute, 14, 73, 75. See ‘ud, mizhar,


Lihyanids, viii
Libraries, 100, 180, 185, 192

Ma’an, Ma’ln, xii

ma’dzif, 7, 24, 31. Sec mi’zaf,

mi’zafa, ‘azf
Madagascar, 165
Al-Mada’in, 46
Madrid, 216

Magan, Makkan, xi, xii, i
Magic, magician, 6. 20, 21. See

Mahdlds, 182
mahtar duduk, 227
Maisan, 41

majrd, 52, 71, 72, 106
mdkhurl, in, 112, 117, 158
Makuraba. See Mecca
Malaga, 186, 188
maldhi, 4, 51, 60, 64, 141
Malay Archipelago, 65
MalikI sect, 29, 34, 98
Malukhkha, xi, xii. See Banu

Mamali, vii
JVIamluks, 178, 193


murabba’, 16

murdbit, 194

Murawids, Murabitun, 188, 189, 195

Murcia, 225-7

murtajal, 47, 79, 85

musdfiqdt, 211

mftslqi, 127-8, 152, 168-9, 172-5,

214, 221-2, 224, 226

Musran, yiii.
mustakhbir, 200
mustazdd, 200
Mu’tazalf sect, 96, 104, 127
mutlaq, 52
mutnb, 51

Muwahhids, 178, 189
muwalladun, 98
muwattar, 6, 15, 16
muwashshah, 198
muzdawaj, 150

Nabataeans, xii, xv, 2, 4-6, 16, 166

Wflfcra (pi. nabarat), 52, 70, 73

wa/Zr, 154, 210

ndgan, xiv.

nagham, naghamdt (sing, naghma),

5 1 * 7, 73 75, 8 5 I0 5, 121, 127,

132, 142, 148, 151, 166, 168, 171,

197, 205, 213

nd’ih, nauh, xiv, 10, 34, 53
Najahids, ‘182-3
naqqdm, 210
ndqur, 16
ndqus, 6
o?6, 5, 8, 15, 19, 42, 49, 50, 56,

57, 78
wasW, 198
Na$rids, 189
nauba (pi. naubat), 153-4, J 9^”9

200, 205

nauruz, 197, 204
waw5, 197, 204
naw’ (pi. anwa’), 153
way (pi. wa>’a/), 7, 104, 155, 210
nay al-iraql, 29
nay zundmt, 131
neglnah, xiv.

nigutu, ningutu, x.

Nlsabur, 182.

Nizamiyya Colleges, 182, 195, 224

Notation, 72, 108, 203

nitqaira t 210

nuqra (pi. nuqardt), 73

nuzha, 209, 229

‘Oktnechos, 151
Organ, 155. See wghanun,

Palestine, 174, 192-3, 214, 229

Palmyra, xv, 5-6, 8, 22

Pandore. See tunbur

Persia and Persians, xi, 2, 4, 5,
7, 12-3, 16, 43-6, 48-9, 53-4, 59,
65, 69, 70, 73, 76-7, 80, 90-2,
99, i5-6, in, 118, 120, 138, 141,

H3, 149-5, 151, 155, 214
Petra, xi, 5

Phoenicia and Phoenicians, xiii, 8,22
Plectrum, 130
Poet. See sha’ir
Portugal, 188
Psaltery. See qdnun, nuzha,

mi’zafa (?)

qadlb, (pi. qidbdn), 13-4, 16, 30,

47, 54, 74, 79-8o, 109, 122, 211
qdfiya, 150

qaina (pi. qaindt, qiyan), 3, 7, 10,
13, 24, 40, 84, 102, 171, 196

Qairawan, 129, 138

qdnun (pi. qawdnln), 152, 198, 200.
See nuzha

qara’a, 33

qarastun, 128

qarn ‘ (pi. qurun, aqrdn), xiv.

Qarnawu, xii.

qarnu, xiv.

qas’a (pi. qasa’dt, qis 1 ), 154, 210

qasaba (pi. qaabdt, qisab), 16, 47.
‘See qussdba

qaslda (pi. qasa’id), 3, in, 153

qaul, 200

qawl, 107

qeren, xiv.

Qift, 229

qtfa (pi. ^f/fl’), 153, 198, 200

^fiam, qith’dva, 153, 209

qunbuz, qupuz, qupuz, 6, 209

qundhura, qundura, 6

Quraish, 3, 10, n, 20, 21, 28, 42,

4 8 , 54, 57, 59, 68, 84, 89, 115
qussdba, 4, 16, 47, 210
QUR’AN, i, 7, 15-16, 19, 21-3,

25, 27-8, 33, 41, 66, 95, 102, 124

rdbdb, 29, 210

rdhawi, 197, 204
Al-Raiy, 116, 122, 155, 174, 218, 220

rajaz, 9, 14, 32, 34

rakbdnl, 14, 42, 50

ramal, 71, 79, 80, 106, 158

ramal al-dll, 204

ramal al-mdya, 205

ramal tunbftrl, 71, 106
Al-Raqqa, 94

rad, 205

ra$d al-dll, 204


vast, 195, 204

vdsim, 107

rdwl, 9, 66, 114, 167

rdwisln (sic), 199

Rebec. See rabdb

Reciter, See rdwl

Red Sea, 165

Reed-pipe. See nay, mizmdr, zamr,

surnd, nay zitndml
Rhythm. See iqd’, a$l.
Romanticists, 147
Rome, vii, xi, 17, 137
rukbdn. See rakbdnl

Saba’, xii, 2

Sabaeans. See Saba’

Sabians, dbi’a, 109, 173, 218

Sabu, viii.

foffdra (pi. $affdrdt), 210

Saffarids, 138

saj’, 9, 20, 32

sajah, 52

salbdq, 155

Salgharids, 182

Saljuqids, 178, 181

salmak, 203, 204

samd’, 22, 29, 31, 136, 146, 169,


Samarra, 96, 139, 162, 169
Samanids, 138, 143, 145, 183
Samarqand, 100
sdmidun, 15
an’a, 138, 182
anj. See jank
sdqa, 208

Saragossa, 186, 189, 221-2
Sarakhs, 172
arkhad, 230
aut, 51, 127, 151
Scale, Persian, 148, 205, 206
Scale, Pre-Islamic, 15, 69, 74, 155,


Scale, Systematist, 206
Scale, Zalzahan, 203-6
Schools of music, no, 117
Seville, 145, 186-7, 195, 198, 206,


shabbdba, 210
Shabwat, xii.
shadd, 197
Shafi’I sect 26, 34
shdhln, 30, 34, 210
shahnaz, 204

shahrtid, shdhrud, shahrtidh, 154, 209
shd’tr, xiv, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9-10, 21, 23, 35,


shajan, xiv.
shaqf, 211
sharrti, xiv.

Shl’a sect, 104, 179, 191
shidnt, xiv.

shiggdion, xiv

shigfi, xiv.

Shilb, 1 88

shir, xiv.

shi’r, xiv.

Shlraz, 213

shlru, x.

shu’ba (pi. shu’ab), 204

shuhdj. See sajah.

Sicily, 187, 190

slka, 200

sindd, 15, 50, 56

Sind, 99, 166

Singing-girls, II, 12, 19, 24-7, 37.
See qaina, ddjina, karina

finj (pi. simuj), 16, 47, 154, 155, 211

siyydh, 52, 108

Soothsayer. See shd’ir

Spain. See Al-Andalus

Species. See anwd’.

Strings of the lute, 70

?ufl, 35, 194

Sukmanids, 182

Sulaihids, 182

Sunn! sect, 81

Sura (town), 174

surnd, surnay, 121, 154, 208, 210

surydnai, 7, 155

Syria, 2, 5-6, 12, 39, 43~4, 53,
67-8, 70, 74, 76-7, 91, 95-6, 99,
105, 116, 126, 138-9, 143-4, W
155, 166, 178, 180-2, 190-3, 195,
208, 223, 229

tabaqa (pi. tabaqdt), 103, 107, 108
‘f abaristan, ’99, 138, 155, 169, 181
tabbalu, xiv.
‘tabl, xiv, 7, 16, 30, 34, 47, 64, 74,

109, 121, 154-5, 208

tabl khdndh, 199, 206-7
‘tabl al-markab, (al-murakkab), 210
‘tabl al-mukhannath, 211
‘tabltawll, 210
Tad’mor. See Palmyra
taghblr, 33
Tahirids, 138
tahlll, xiv, 7, 33-4
Al-Ja’if, 4, 8, 38
tajzi’a, 106
talbiyya, 8, 34
talhin, 18, 222
ta’ltf, 127, 151
Tambourines. See duff, mazhar,

ghirbdl, tdr t bandair, tirydl.
tamdld, 197
Tamna’, xii.

tanln (pi. tanlndt), 51, 151, 153.
Tanukh, 4
tanbur. See tunb&r.
faq-i Khusrau, 46


flV, 211

farab, 60

fara’iq (sing, fariqa), 213

tardna, 200

tarannum, 13

tavjl’, 12

Tartary, 99

tartlb, 107

terff/, 14

ta’thlr. See Ethos.

Taverns, 12, 14

tehillah, xiv.

*%!/, in, 199

lhaqll awwal, 51, 54, 71, 148, 213

thaqllthanl, 71

/ito, xiv.

%5J, 211

Toledo, 187-8

toph> xiv,

Transoxiana, 138, 143, 175

Tripoli, 99, 193

tudrl, 14

tunbUr (pi. tan&btv), 5-7, 31, 47,

57, 74, 76, 109, 133, 154-5, 158-9

161, 171, 188, 209
funbur al-baghdadl, 15, 154, 209
‘(unbar al-khurasanl, 149, 155
funbur al-mlzanl, 15, 69, 74, ‘155
Tunis, Tunisia, 99, 129, 138, 189
furaq. See twqa
Turkestan, 183
Turks, 137, 141-3, 145-6, 193-4,

205, 226. See Saljuqids,

fuvqa (pi. twaq), 151, 166. See

TUS, 226
ttishiya, 200

‘*d (pi. Wn), 5, 7. *5A 19, 29,
47, 54, 61, 64, 69, 70, 74, 76, 80,
93, 97* 98, 103-4, 107-8, no,
122, 132, 154, 158, 171, 174-5,
188, 196, 212-3, 217, 221-4
‘tid fdrisl, 73, 79, 108
‘tid kamil, 209
qadlm, 208
al-shabb&t, 73, 108, 118

^ud, to

3, 9

‘ulama’ (sin. ‘o/fm), 100, 196
‘Mm nyc4iyya t 152, 219
‘UmSn, 2, 39, 138, 165, 181-2
Umayyads, 21, 59-89, 104

Umayyads (Al-Andalus), 98, 144,


unbfib t xiv.
Uqailids, 180-1

urghanun, urghan, 128, 210, 224
Urtuqids, 182
‘ushshaq, 197, 204
u$uL See a$l

Valencia, 186

Violin. See rabdb> kam&nja,

wazn (pi. awz&ri), 73, 106-7, 209

wilwal> xiv, 34

Wood-wind. See Flute, Reed-pipe

Xativa, 272

Yahweh, 17
Al-Yamama, 2, 18

Al-Yaman, 3, 15, 21, 41, 77, 87, 138,
181-3, 193, 208, 213

yara’, 210

Yathil, xii.

Yathrib, 21. See Al-Medlna

Zabid, 138, 182

za’ida (pi. zawa’id), 14, 72, no

zaidan, 204

Zairids, 186

.ro/a/, 198, 212

Zallaqa, 188

gamaru, xiv.

tamr (pi. ^ttwtJf), xiv, 45, 131, 173,

210, 224. See mizmdr.
Zamzam, 191
Zangids, 182, 192
zanktila, 197-8, 204
tauj, 79

gaurankand (sic), 204
zawaid. See ^a’^a
Zayanib, 83
temer, xiv.
-jfiwrnA, xiv.
4fn^, 101

zlrafkand, 197, 204. See mukh&lif.
Ziyftrids, 138
zummara, 210
zunaml, zulaml. See w





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अमीर खुसरो Amir Khusro ابوالحسن یمین‌الدین خسرو‎



Bahut Kathin hai dagar panghat ki,
Kaisay main bhar laaun madhva say matki?
Paniya bharan ko main jo gayi thi,
Daud jhapat mori matki patki.
Bahut kathin hai dagar panghat ki.
Khusro Nizam kay bal bal jayyiye
Laaj rakho moray ghoonghat pat ki.
Bahut kathin hai dagar panghat ki.



Amir Khusro

(1253 – 1325 / Patiali / India)

Ab’ul Hasan Yamin al-Din Khusrow

(Persian: / Urdu ابوالحسن یمین‌الدین خسرو‎; Hindi: अबुल हसन यमीनुद्दीन ख़ुसरौ, better known as Amir Khusrow (or Khusrau) Dehlawi was an Indian musician, scholar and poet. He was an iconic figure in the cultural history of the Indian subcontinent. A Sufi mystic and a spiritual disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi, Amir Khusrow was not only a notable poet but also a prolific and seminal musician. He wrote poetry primarily in Persian, but also in Hindavi.

He is regarded as the “father of qawwali” (the devotional music of the Indian Sufis). He is also credited with enriching Hindustani classical music by introducing Persian and Arabic elements in it, and was the originator of the khayal and tarana styles of music.The invention of the tabla is also traditionally attributed to Amir Khusrow. Amir Khusrow used only 11 metrical schemes with 35 distinct divisions. He has written Ghazal, Masnavi, Qata, Rubai, Do-Beti and Tarkibhand.

A musician and a scholar, Amir Khusrow was as prolific in tender lyrics as in highly involved prose and could easily emulate all styles of Persian poetry which had developed in medieval Persia, from Khaqani’s forceful qasidas to Nezami’s khamsa. His contribution to the development of the ghazal, hitherto little used in India, is particularly significant.

Early Life and Background

Yaminuddin Abul Hasan Ameer Khusro was born in Patiali near Etah in northern India. His father, Amir Sayf ud-Din Mahmud, as a Turkic Officer and a member of the Lajin (Lachin) tribe of Transoxania, themselves belonging to the Kara-Khitais. His mother hailed from Delhi. Born of a Turkish Lajin (Lachin) later Saifuddin Shamsi, Amir Khusro eclipsed all his predecessors. His interests were kaleidoscopic and his genius versatile. But he enjoyed fame in the field of Persian poetry, in which his position is next to Saadi and can favorably be compared with Hafiz in lyrics.

The road to the well is much too difficult,
How to get my pot filled?
When I went to fill the water,
In the furore, I broke my pot.
Khusro has given his whole life to you, O Nizam.
Would you please take care of my veil (of self respect),
The road to the well is much too difficult.

Later Life

Amir Khusro served seven kings and three princes from the times of Sultan Balban to Mohammad Bin Tughlaq. His passion for his birthplace Delhi was ripped to the extent that when he was posted in Patiali, he not only lamented but completed a masanwi under the title ‘Shikayatnamah-e-Patiali’. Condemning Patiali and recalling the beauty and pleasure of his hometown Delhi, he compares himself with Joseph, who in separation from his home town Kan’an, feeling himself distressed, always pined for it.

“As Joseph, after having been taken away as a captive from his home town, Kan’an, used to sing the praise of his home town, so is the case with me. Though I happen to be faraway from my home town, yet I always sing of its beauty. My place was Quwat-ul-Islam (a title of Delhi) a qibla of the kings of seven climes (i.e. of the entire world). That place is Delhi, which is a twin sister of the holy paradise and true copy of Arsh (throne of God or a highest heaven) on the page of the earth.”

Literary Life

Poetry was inherent in Ameer Khusro. The day he was born, his father took him to a God absorbed darwesh, who said to his father, “You have brought one who would go two steps a head of khaqani (nightingale).”

In his early childhood, Khusro had developed a putting together in verse form worse of discordant meaning. Up to the age of sixteen, whichever book of verse he happened to lay his hand on, he tried to follow its author in the art of composition.

His adolescence ushered him under the guidance of both Mufti Muizzudin Gharifi and Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia, his mentor. Both of them guided him to the path of following the style of Saddi and Kamal Isfahani. Even at that young age, he used to lambaste his contemporaries, including Hasan Dehlavi in qitah (quatrains).

“And occasionally I used to lambaste my contemporary poets, with the sword of my tongue in a qitah form.” Ameer Khusro was quite indifferent in politics, he never indulged himself in the intrigues of courtiers. He is considered as the pioneer figure of the Indo-Muslim music. In fact, it was he who started the process of synthesizing Turko-Persian music with Indian music. He has credited three books on music just as three diwans of poetry.

“My verses have so far been collected in three diwans, would you believe, that if there were a system of notation for registering musical compositions, my performance in the field of music too, would have been collected in three registers” He invented number of ragas and raginis which include such novelties as Qaul, Qulbanah, Taranah. He also composed verses in Persian and Hindwi.

Royal Poet

On the one hand Sultan Aalauddin, for the sake of righteousness and expediency of empire, stamped out all kinds of intoxicants, the prohibited things, the wherewithals of disobedience, debauchery and wickedness with the use of chastisement and and on the other side Ameer Khusro opened wide the gate of discipleship and accepted all kinds of men as his murids, be they high or low, wealthy or impecunious, noble or faqir, learned or ignorant, high born or low born, urbane or rustic, soldier or warrior.

They all abstained from improper acts and if anyone would commit a sin, he would come and confess his guilt before Khusro and would indeed renew his discipleship. Men and women, young and old, merchants and ordinary men, slaves and servants and even young children began offering prayers regularly including the late morning prayers. Even the royal ameers, the armed acquirers, secretaries, clerks, sepoys and royal slaves, were particular about offering these supererogatory prayers. Owing to Khusro’s barakah (blessings), most people of the area including the high and low and irrespective of cast and creed became involved in prayers, tasawwuf (mysticism) and tark (renunciation) and turned to piety. During the last few years of Sultan Alauddin’s reign no person would talk of liquor, of beloveds, of debauchery and gambling, of obscenities and indecent life and no one would commit usury or usurp others’ rights.

Out of the teachings of Khusro, the shop people gave up lying and cheating and underweighing. Scholars visiting Khusro would talk of books on tasawwuf such as Fawaid-ul-Fuwad, Qut-ul-Qulub, Ihya-ul-Uloom, Kashif-ul-Mahjub, Awarif and Malfuzat of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia. People visited the bookshops in search of the books on suluk (deportment and self-control). Owing to the increased demand among the Sufis for lota (water vessel used specially for ritual cleansing) and tasht (basin for washing hands), the prices of these articles had slightly gone up showing that most people bent towards spiritual Sufi lifestyle.

Ameer Khusro served as an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity in his time. His Hindu or Hindwi poetry for which he has been so popular among the school-going children as well as elderly generation. In his introduction to Ghurra-ul-Kamal, Khusro writes, “A few poems that I have composed in Hindwi, I have made a gift of them to my friends. I am a Hindustani Turk. I compose verses in Hindwi with the fluency of running water.”

Parrot of India

It was he, who himself called Tuti-e-Hind’ (parrot of India). ‘To speak the truth, I am an Indian Parrot. If you want to listen from me some subtle verses, ask me then to recite some of my Hindwi poems.” He himself did not collect and preserve his Hindwi poems but made a gift of them to his friends. His poem, Kaliq Bari is a lexicon composed of synonymous words, from four languages, Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Hindwi.

Religious Life

Ameer Khusro was a devout Muslim. He was a friend and disciple of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia. He was a profound expounder of ethics and strict observant of Sharia. Sharia acquires meaning when it maintains a close relation with reality partaking the essence of reality-love of God. If Sharia is lacking in that or in other words if it is without ain (the alphabet meaning the essence of God-love) it becomes shar (evil). Like Shah Waliullah of the subsequent year, his attitude towards the Sufis of hypocrisy was very critical.

“Ah! what a shameful scene this band of the ‘pretenders to abstinence. They wear short sleeves (pose as fakirs) but keep their hands stretched in begging. They pretend abstinence but they are always in pursuit of money. They have commercialized faqiri (begging). How can one love God at the same time? As God’s unity is without any shadow of duality, he does not like dualism in the path of His love.

Ameer Khusro’s spiritualism, in fact, consisted in his philosophy of love, which he shared with all the Sufis. The depth of humanism in his poetry springs from that source of ‘Divine love’. He has composed as many as 99 works and four lac lyrics, which cover almost every aspect of life. He was a living legend. He was more of a qalandar (a free soul), though not less of a Sufi, Khusro’s humanism transcended all barriers of cast, colour and creed. In an autocratic age, when the king’s wilful actions were unrestricted, Khusro had the courage and the intrepidity to speak before the king, of the value of the equality of the man.

“Though my value may be, a little less, than that of yours yet, if your veins were to be cut open, our blood will come out of the same colour.”


Khusro not only upheld the values of equality and dignity of labour but also the principles of social justice. His love and respect for Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia reached the apogee that when he heard about his death at Lakhnawati, he immediately arrived and went to his grave, where he blackened his face and rolled over in dust in utter grief, tearing his garments. Six months after that event, he died on Friday 29th Ziq’ad 725AH/1325. His death is not a death in the literal sense of the world for, he would always remain one of the very few unforgettable legends of literature.

Amir Khusro’s Works:

Tuhfa-tus-Sighr (Offering of a Minor) his first divan, contains poems composed between the age of 16 and 19
Wastul-Hayat (The Middle of Life) his second divan, contains poems composed at the peak of his poetic career
Ghurratul-Kamaal (The Prime of Perfection) poems composed between the age of 34 and 43
Baqia-Naqia (The Rest/The Miscellany) compiled at the age of 64
Qissa Chahar Darvesh The Tale of the Four Dervishes
Nihayatul-Kamaal (The Height of Wonders) compiled probably a few weeks before his death.
Qiran-us-Sa’dain (Meeting of the Two Auspicious Stars) Mathnavi about the historic meeting of Bughra Khan and his son Kyqbad after long enmity (1289)
Miftah-ul-Futooh (Key to the Victories) in praise of the victories of Jalaluddin Firuz Khilji (1291)
Ishqia/Mathnavi Duval Rani-Khizr Khan (Romance of Duval Rani and Khizr Khan) a tragic love poem about Gujarat’s princess Duval and Alauddin’s son Khizr (1316)
Noh Sepehr Mathnavi. (Mathnavi of the Nine Skies) Khusrau’s perceptions of India and its culture (1318)
Tarikh-i-Alai (‘Times of Alai’- Alauddin Khilji)
Tughluq Nama (Book of the Tughluqs) in prose (1320)
Khamsa-e-Nizami (Khamsa-e-Khusrau) five classical romances: Hasht-Bahisht, Matlaul-Anwar, Sheerin-Khusrau, Majnun-Laila and Aaina-Sikandari
Ejaaz-e-Khusrovi (The Miracles of Khusrau) an assortment of prose compiled by himself
Khazain-ul-Futooh (The Treasures of Victories) one of his more controversial books, in prose (1311–12)
Afzal-ul-Fawaid utterances of Nizamuddin Auliya
?haliq Bari a versified glossary of Persian, Arabic, and Hindawi words and phrases attributed to Amir Khusrau, but most probably written in 1622 in Gwalior by ?iya ud-Din ?husrau
Jawahar-e- Khusrovi often dubbed as the Hindawi divan of Khusrau



Zehaal-e-miskeen makun taghaful,
Duraye naina banaye batiyan.
Ke taab-e-hijran nadaram ay jaan,
Na leho kahe lagaye chatiyan.
Shaban-e-hijran daraz chun zulf,
Wa roz-e-waslat cho umer kotah.
Sakhi piya ko jo main na dekhun,
To kaise katun andheri ratiyan.
Ke daad mara gharib Khusro.
Sapet man ke varaye rakhun,
Jo jaye paun piya ke khatiyan.






AMIR KHUSRAU’S CONTRIBUTIONS TO INDIAN MUSIC: A PRELIMINARY SURVEY Dileep Karanth This paper is due to be published in the Filliozat Felicitation Volume (eds. A.S. Venkatanathan, M. S. Krishna Murthy, Satkari Mukhopadhyaya), University of Mysore (in press). Introduction The name of the poet Amir Khusrau (1253-1325) is associated with several innovations in Indian classical music dating to the medieval period. Though Khusrau’s fame outside India is largely based on his Persian poetry, in India he is also remembered for his many putative contributions to Indian music. The writer of an anthology of Persian poetry describes his musical talent as follows: A superb musician in his own right and credited with the invention of several musical instruments and with having laid the theoretical basis for much of Indo-Muslim music, Khusraw imparted to his ghazals a lilt and melody that have assured their inclusion in musical programs in India to the present day.1 Khusrau’s fame as a Persian poet is indeed richly deserved. Known throughout the Persian-speaking world as Amir Khusrau-e-Dihlawi (Amir Khusrau of Delhi), Khusrau was court-poet to several kings in Delhi, most notable of whom was Sultan ‘Ala-ud-din Khilji. Contemporary (or even some later) historians however do not remember him as a musician, but only as a poet. For instance Firishta, who writes in detail of the court of ‘Ala-ud-din Khilji, lists Khusrau’s name among the poets, not among the qawwals or musicians.2 In this paper we attempt the beginning of a critical study of Amir Khusrau’s contributions to Indian music. While this subject has been much discussed, it is the aim of this paper to show briefly that a revision of the existing history (at least in the English language) is long overdue. A very important book Amir Khusro ka ‘ilm-e-musiqi (The Music of Amir Khusrau), by Rashid Malik, exists in Urdu, which deals extensively with this subject. Unfortunately it is still unavailable in English. Musical innovations ascribed to Khusrau Khusrau is said to be the inventor of the sitar3 and the tabla.4 But in addition to these musical instruments, he said to have been the originator of genres such as the tarana5 and the qaul. He is also said to have composed numerous new ragas. Muhammad Wahid Mirza, who is the author of an authoritative biography of Amir Khusrau, sums up Khusrau’s musical contributions: According to an old Persian work6 on Indian music (which is supposed to a be a translation of an older work7 written in the time of Rajah Mansingh of Gwaliyar), he invented the following new melodies: mujir, sazgari, aiman, ‘ushshaq, muwafiq, ghazan, zilaf, farghana, sarparda, bakharz, firodast, mun‘am (?), qaul, tarana, khayal, nigar, basit., shahana, and suhila.8 (In this quote, genres of music such as qaul, tarana and khayal have been conflated with names of ragas such as ‘ushshaq and aiman. Such inappropriate conflations abound in the secondary literature on Khusrau.) Difficulties in evaluating Khusrau’s musical legacy The chief difficulty in studying Khusrau’s contributions to music is that his own writings mention none of the contributions now ascribed to him, but later works attribute several innovations to him. These later works include Abul Fazl’s ‘Ain-i Akbari which was written in 1601. Five decades later came ‘Abd ul-Hamid Lahori’s chronicle of Shah Jahan’s reign, the Bâdshâh Nâmah. In the next decade, during the rule of the emperor Aurangzeb, appeared the Râg Darpan, which was followed in turn by the Tuh.fat-ul-Hind. The last-named work consisted of five volumes dealing with the arts and culture of India, one of which was dedicated to music. The Râg Darpan makes many more claims on behalf of Khusrau than does the Bâdshâh Nâmah.9 The fact that most such claims arose over three hundred years after Khusrau’s death suggests that these claims may be spurious. Khusrau’s biographer, Mirza is unable to confirm that Khusrau indeed invented the sitar and the tabla, claims which have been made so often that the matter is often assumed as proved. But unfortunately I have been unable to trace the name ‘sitar’ anywhere in Khusrau’s writings, although there are pages full of the description of the various instruments used in his time. Nor does any of his contemporary, or even later writers mention the name.10 The Tabla There is a widely quoted story that Khusrau invented the tabla by cutting up an existing instrument into two halves. But this story can be dismissed very easily, even with a very simplistic explanation: The story current among musicians that Khusrau cut the mridang into two halves and it thus became the tabla has no basis, for a mridang cut into two will not acquire the shape of a tabla.11 The two drums that make up the pair of drums called the tabla fulfill different functions. The left drum bayan is used to generate deeper sounds, and support the melody which is chiefly carried by the right drum. The two drums are different in size and shape, and have different membranes. The legend may also have a simple explanation based on folk etymology, though it does not explain the association of the name of Khusrau with the instrument. Classical Sanskrit sources and also Indo-Persian sources on music mention an instrument called the avaj which consisted of two drums. A single drum was called ardhavaj (half an avaj).12 This etymology could well be at the root of the persistent claim that the m®da©ga (or in some renderings, the d.hol) was divided into two parts, giving rise to the tabla. The tabla is also regarded by some as being of Middle Eastern origin, based on its name, derived from the Arabic word t..abl. However, the drums which go by this name in the Middle East are single-membrane drums, and lack the additional black central circular membrane (gabh/syahi) which is a feature of several Indian drums such as the pakhavaj and the m®da©ga. (This feature is very ancient, and certainly predates the advent of Islam in India, for it is mentioned as early as in Bharata’s Nat.ya Sastra.) The Indian tabla may be a drum indigenous to India, which may have been renamed in Islamic times. This view can be bolstered by the observation that the tabla has indigenous regional names such as the dukar. in Punjab13 and dokra in Kashmir.14 Also, according to the influential Persian encyclopedia Loghatnâmeh-ye Dehkhodâ, the word t..abl in Indian Persian contexts refers to the Persian drum tombak, which is a favourite instrument among the mystics (Sufis) of India (‘irfân-e Hind).15 That is, the word t..abl does not refer to the instrument now known as the tabla at all. This would again support the contention that the Perso-Arabic word t..abl, modified as tabla has been transferred to an indigenous drum. The Tarana Another of Khusrau’s contentious contributions is the genre tarana, described by Wade as a rhythm-oriented vocal genre featuring vocables and sometimes poetry, sargam, or drum syllables as text, frequently performed after khyal in medium or fast speed but occasionally sung slow speed; counterpart of Karnatak tillana.16 Wade adds that “the Karnatak version of tar¡n¡, which is called till¡n¡, is very similar and is said to have developed at about the same time.”17 In saying this, Wade confirms the accepted idea that Khusrau’s invention, the tarana, led to the development of the tillana. The textual content of the tarana is not verse, but vocables, such as in the phrase “Ta re da ni ta da ni”, (excerpted by Wade from a tarana sung by Salamat Ali and Nazakat Ali Khan). Occasionally a tarana may include a Persian couplet, but this couplet does not function as a poetic verse might in a song genre such as the khyal. Similarly, in a tillana …drum syllables, solfège, and brief passages of poetry provide the text. In dance tillanas, the rhythmic passages are composed so as to correspond with footwork, and drum syllables provide the only text.18 We will address the question whether Khusrau was indeed the originator of all these modes and genres mentioned above, by first looking at some writings which are widely quoted. We begin with S.Q. Fatimi, whose book contains much information about Khusrau’s music. Fatimi discusses some of Khusrau’s contributions with translations of excerpts from the Bâdshâh Nâmah: Half a century after the ‘Ain-i-Akbari came ‘Abd ul-Hamid Lahauri’s official chronicle of the first twenty years of Shah Jahan’s reign, named Badshah Namah. He wrote that before Amir Khusrau’s times git, chhand, dhurpad, and astiti used to be sung in Hindi, but the Amir introduced the following: Avval, qoul, keh be-qânûn-e gît mushtamal ast bar ‘arabî-o-farsî be-nazm yâ be-nasr va binâ-ye ân bar yek tâl ast yâ do yâ seh yâ chahâr (First, qaul, i.e., Arabic and Persian, poetic or prose, passages sung according to the rules of git, based on a single, or duple [sic], or triple, or quadruple tal (measure of time).) Dovvom, fârsî, ‘ash‘âr-i fârsî bâ tarâneh mubnî bar yek tâl farâham âvardeh (Second, Farsi, i.e. Persian couplets sung in the tarana (form of music) basing on a single tal (measure of time).) Sevvom, tarâneh keh bî ‘ash‘âr asâs-e ân bar yek tâl gozâshteh (Third, tarana, i.e., the singing of tarana without (words of) couplets based on a single tal.) Chahârom, tasnîfî, keh be-hindustânî zabân bar gozârad va ânrâ khayâl nâmîd va khayâl bish az bar yekjandî (?) bar sarâ’îdeh and. (Fourth, tasnifi, (lit. related to authorship, i.e. original) which he composed in the Hindustani language and called it khayal ….)19 We can see that Fatimi translates the word “tarâneh” as “tarana (form of music)” in both the second and third items listed in the Bâdshâh Nâmah. But this is incorrect. “Tarâneh” in Persian simply means “song”, “singing” or “poem”.20 In the second item, the word “tarâneh” simply means “song” or “singing”. That is, we are dealing with couplets in Persian being sung (as opposed to being recited). In the third item, we are told about a song or melody consisting of words without “poetry”, sung to a single beat. Fatimi translates the word “bî ‘ash‘âr” as “without couplets” but it is more appropriate to render it as “without poetry” because the word “‘ash‘âr” (‘ash‘âr being plural of the word shi‘r) more generally means “poetry”/“verses” and not necessarily “couplets”. Fatimi’s translation of the word tarâneh assumes that the word tarana in medieval Persian already meant what is now understood by tarana in Indian music. That is, he assumes the present meaning of the tarana in order to prove that it meant the same thing in Khusrau’s time. In fact, the correct translations of the second and third items should read: Dovvom, fârsî, ‘ash‘âr-i fârsî bâ tarâneh mubnî bar yek tâl farâham âvardeh Second, Fârsî, Persian verses sung (literally, with song), based on a single tala (or based on the beat ektala).21 Sevvom, tarâneh keh bî ‘ash‘âr asâs-e ân bar yek tâl gozâshteh Third, a song without verses, based on single tala (or based on the beat ektala). However, for the very first item we see that Khusrau’s contribution was that of a poet, and not that of a musician. Khusrau’s qaul clearly consisted of Arabic and Persian passages, sung according to the (existing) rules of git.22 Even in the case of the second and third items, there is no evidence that Khusrau introduced a musical innovation, there being only a mention of the words yek tâl, and the use of Persian text. The question still remains whether Khusrau really invented what is now called the tarana. An influential modern commentator on Indian music, Thakur Jai Deva Singh, answers in the affirmative. He writes: This was entirely an invention of Khusrau. Tarana is a Persian word meaning a song. Tillana is a corrupt form of this word. True, Khusrau had before him the example of Nirgit songs using sus.k-aks.aras (meaningless words) and pat.-aks.aras (Mnemonic syllables of the mridang). Such songs were in vogue at least from the time of Bharat. But generally speaking, the Nirgit used hard consonants. Khusrau introduced two innovations in this form of vocal music. Firstly, he introduced mostly Persian words with soft consonants. Secondly, he so arranged these words that they bore some sense. He also introduced a few Hindi words to complete the sense…. It was only Khusrau’s genius that could arrange these words in such a way to yield some meaning. Composers after him could not succeed in doing so, and the tarana became as meaningless as the ancient Nirgit. While Jai Deva Singh clearly admits the existence since ancient times of songs using words without semantic meaning, and drum syllables, he regards Khusrau as having invented the tarana genre for having introduced Persian words and for rearranging them to make some sense. The sense also needed to be complete only with the addition of Hindi words. Jai Dev Singh gives some examples of these words, but we prefer here to quote Ustad Amir Khan who seems to have been the first person in modern times to have expressed this view:23 Tanan Dar Aa — Enter my body; O Dani — He knows; Tu Dani — You know; Na Dir Dani — You are the complete wisdom; Tom — I am yours, I belong to you; Yala — Ya Allah; and, Yali — Ya ‘Ali. These translations are only partially correct. Tanan does not mean “my body” (but tanam would have meant it.) While tû dânî correctly means “you know”, û dânî is ungrammatical. Nâdir means “rarity”, and has meaning only as a single word — i.e., dir has no meaning at all. The translation “You are the complete wisdom” is simply incorrect; so is the translation “I am yours, I belong to you”. The reader who tries to make sense of the following verse attributed to Khusrau by Jai Deva Singh:24 Hayya ya dir tala laye — Hasan-o-Nizamuddin Auliya, dem dem dir dir tan tan tale ta — na na, na na, na na. will probably agree that the “tarana became as meaningless as the ancient Nirgit” even in Khusrau’s time! The syllables Dem, Dir, Tale have no particular lexical meaning. In spite of great efforts to read “meaning” into the tarana, we find it makes sense only as described by a distinguished artiste: For Bharata Natyam, Tillana is basically a structure which follows a particular sequence of phrasing and evolves in a certain way. It is performed, traditionally, at the end of a recital — usually fast paced, rhythmic and exciting. There are a set of syllables, or sollukottus, that are typical to a Tillana. They have no meaning — they are not meant to have any meaning. Usually the syllables are something like this: tom till ana udanata deem deem tana na dari tat da, etc. They are composed purely based on how beautiful they sound together. Traditionally, there is a short two line prayer within the Tillana towards the end. On the other hand, in the pushpanjali (flower offering usually done at the beginning of a recital), the Natya Shastra actually lays down certain syllables called “nandi shabda” which are said to have emanated from Shiva’s drum. Subsequently, the sounds became words and thus the creation was born. These “nandi shabda’s” are said to have an auspicious vibrations that bless the rest of the performance. Again, they have no meaning, but have been specifically prescribed by the Natya Shastra.25 The use of onomatopoeic syllables to mimic or notate music and dance is very ancient and traditional. There are many such schemes which cannot be attributed to Khusrau. However, a practice of attributing mystical significance to some syllables used in music did exist, but in Indo-Persian writings on music, it has been traced only as far back as the Shams al-As..wat of Ras Baras Khan Kalawant,26 which is dated 1698. This practice, which is attested in the practice of dhrupad alap, is without precedent, at least in the extant literature. Thus this tradition also cannot be ascribed to Khusrau, on the basis of the evidence at hand. Ragas attributed to Khusrau So far we have only discussed the linguistic contributions made by Khusrau (namely, the introduction of Persian and Arabic poetry and or terminology), or the instruments he is said to have invented. Now let us look at the more specific claims that attribute new ragas to Khusrau. For this we first look at the text which started the trend, namely, the Râg Darpan27 by Faqirullah Saif Khan, a work begun in 1662/1663 and completed in 1666. (In what follows, the Persian text has been taken from Malik’s edition, pp. 98- 99.28) Amîr ‘aleih. rah.matullah az jomleh-ye râghâ davâzdah râg râ gozîn namûdah ânrâ nâmhâ nehâdah badîn tartîb: The Amir, God’s Mercy be upon him, from among the ragas, chose twelve, and named them in this manner: Dar berârî va mâlasrî dogâh h.oseinî z.amm namûdah mowâfiq nâm kardah vîvâlî nîz gûyand. In Bairârî and Mâlasrî, he mixed Dogâh H.oseinî, and named it Movâfiq — it is also called Vîvâlî. Dar tod.î panjgâh va muh.ayyir keh gosheh-ye ûst yekjâ kardah muh.ayyir nâm kardah. In Tod.î he put Panjgâh and Muh.ayyir (which is a gosheh of Panjgâh) together, and named it Muh.ayyir. Pûrbî râ ghanam guyad va az maqâmât-e fârsî shahnâz dâkhil kardah. He called Pûrbî Ghanam, and of the Persian maqâms he introduced Shahnâz. Khat.-râg-râ zîlaf nâm gozâshteh. He named Khat.-râg as Zîlaf. Dar fârsî Khat.-râg -râg-râ ghazâl gûyand — dar pârsî va mârag va desî Khat.-râg yek ast. Dar ân tafâvut nîst. Gheir az Khat.-râg hîch râg nîst keh dar fârsî va hendî yekî bâshad. Âre ba‘azî râghâ hastand keh dar desî va mârag meyân-e ânhâ tafâvut nîst. Avval shash râg, dîgar kalyân, va deshkâr, va desâkh, gûjrî, gond., sorat.hî, sindhû, saindhavî, madhmât, sâvant, tarûn, bholâ, jaijâvantî, mangal bhairavî, marû, bangâl — shâyad chandî dîgar bâshad. In Persian, Khat.-râg is called Ghazâl. Khat.-râg is the same in the Persian system and in the Marga and the Desi systems. There is no difference between them. Other than Khat.-râg, there is no raga which is identical in the Persian and Indian systems. Of course, there are many ragas which are the same in the Desi and Marga systems. The first six ragas, then Kalyân, Deshkâr, Desâkh, Gûjrî, Gond., Sorat.hî, Sindhû, Saindhavî, Madhmât, Sâvant, Tarûn, Bholâ, Jaijâvantî, Mangal Bhairavî, Marû, Bangâl — there may be some more. Gaurah râ farghânah nâm kardah, chûn farghânah az maqâmât-e fars dâkhil kardah. He named Gaurah as Farghânah because Farghânah is one of the Persian maqâms. Va dar sârang navâ va basant z.amm namûdah ‘ushshâq laqab gozâshteh. And adding Navâ and Basant to Sârang, he named it (i.e., the result) the ‘Ushshâq. Dar gond., bilâval va gaur sârang va az maqâmât-e fars râst râ mulhaq sâkhteh, sarpardah nâm nehâdeh, In Gond., he added Bilâval and Gaur Sârang, and the Persian maqâm Râst, and named it Sarpardah. Dar kânhrah chand râg bâham makhlût kardah chonâncheh bâlâ tah.rîr yâft az as.l nuskhah, va ân nîz âhangî z.amm namûdah firodast esm gozâshteh. In Kânhrah, he blended a few ragas, as written above in the original manuscript, and further adding an âhang, named it Firodast. Dar aiman neirez z.amm namûdah ânrâ aimanî gûyad. He added Neirez to Aiman, and named it Aimanî. Pûrbî, Bibhâs,Gaurah, Gunkalî, va az maqâmât-e fars ‘irâq dar ân dâkhil kardah sâzgîrî nâm kardah. He blended Pûrbî, Bibhâs, Gaurah, Gunkalî, and a Persian maqâm ‘Irâq, and named the result Sâzgîrî. Va dar deshkâr bâkharz kaz maqâmât-e fars ast z.amm namûdah ânrâ bâkharz laqab gozâshteh. And adding the Persian maqâm Bâkharz to Deshkâr, he named it Bâkharz. Va dar kalyân nei-rez mulhaq sâkhteh ghanam laqab kardah. And blending Neirez in Kalyân, he called it Ghanam. Muh.tajib namânad keh dar sâzgirî bâkharz va ‘ushshâq va mowâfiq dar în chahâr râg kheilî kâr kardah tâ dîgar râg-o-maqâm be-t..arîq-e onîq z.amm namûdah. Dar dîgar râghâ chandân kâr nakardah be-joz ân-keh maqâmî makhlût.. namûdah va nâmî gozâshteh. Dîgar az jomleh-ye râghâ-ye amîr aiman basant ast keh aiman va basant râ yekjâ kardah. Let it be known that he did a lot of work on the four ragas Sâzgirî, Bâkharz, ‘Ushshâq and Mowâfiq, and only then beautified the other ragas and maqâms. On the other ragas he did not do much work other than blending a certain maqâm or giving them a new name. Another of Amir’s ragas is Aiman Basant which is Aiman and Basant brought together. It is difficult to determine what exactly were Khusrau’s innovations, because the words “z.amm kardan/namûdan” would literally mean “to add, annex, append”. For instance, in the absence of independent complementary information from other sources, it is difficult to understand what is meant by “adding the Persian maqâm Bâkharz to Deshkâr, and naming it Bâkharz”.29 But in any case, we see that at least some of the ragas Khusrau is said to have invented are no more than previously existing ragas renamed. The later work Tuh.fat-ul-Hind by Mirza Muh.ammad Ibn Fakhr-ud-din has its fifth volume devoted to music. Its eighth chapter has a discussion of ragas composed by Amir Khusrau. It lists as Khusrau’s contributions the following ragas: First, Muh.ayyir: It is said to be a composite of Ghârâ and a Persian maqâm. Some people say that is a composite of Tod.î and ‘Irâq. Second, Sâzgîrî: It is a composite of Pûrbî, Gaurâ and Gunkalî, and is one of the Iranian maqâms. Some people mention Bibhas instead of Pûrbî. Third, Yaman: It is a composite of Hind.ol and a Persian maqâm. Some people regard it as a composite of Aiman and a Persian maqâm. Fourth, ‘Ushshâq: It is a composite of Sârang, Basant and a Persian maqâm. Fifth, Movâfiq: It is a composite of Tod.î, Mâlasrî, Dogâh and H.oseinî, and it is also called Dîvalî. Sixth, Ghanam: It is derived by making small variations in Pûrbî. Seventh, Zîlaf: It is derived by making small variations in Khat.-râg. Eighth, Farghanâ: It is a composite of Gunkalî and Gaurâ. Ninth, Sarpardah: It is a composite of Gaud. Sârang and a Persian maqâm. Some people regard it as a composite of Gond. Bilâval, Pûriyâ and a Persian maqâm. Tenth, Bâkhrez: It is a composite of Deskâr and a Persian maqâm. Eleventh, Firodast: It is a composite of Kânhrâ, Gaurî, Pûrbî Syâm and a Persian maqâm. Twelfth, Ghanam: It is a composite of Kalyân and a Persian maqâm. Some people call it Neirez instead, and regard it as a composite of Pat.manjarî and a Persian maqâm.30 There are some contradictions in the claims of the Râg Darpan and those of the Tuh.fat- ul-Hind. There are some minor differences of spelling, such as in the case of Bâkharz and Bâkhrez. But there are more serious differences between the two sources. For example, the Râg Darpan unambiguously asserts that Khusrau did not compose all the twelve ragas associated with him — that he composed only a few of them, and renamed some (Ghanam, Zîlaf, Farghânah). The Tuh.fat-ul-Hind, however, claims that he composed all the twelve ragas associated with him, even if some of them involved only small variations in existing ragas. Perhaps the most significant difference is the fact the later work, the Tuh.fat-ul-Hind, is less detailed in its information. It mentions only two of the Persian maqâms which Khusrau is supposed to have used in his creations, namely, ‘Irâq and Neirez. However, while being less detailed, it is more emphatic in his conclusion that Khusrau actually composed the ragas associated with him. The process of myth-making involving Khusrau seems to have already been under way by the time the Tuh.fat-ul-Hind was composed. While the Râg Darpan attributes to Khusrau the creation of a raga Aimanî, whereas the Tuh.fat-ul-Hind attributes to him the creation of a raga Yaman. The raga Yaman (often called Yaman Kalyan, sometimes Aiman or Aiman Kalyan) is regarded by some to be a Middle Eastern raga borrowed into Indian music. It is sometimes credited to Khusrau, but sometimes more involved explanations are offered, such as this one by Sarmadee: Aiman is undoubtedly Yamana Indianized. Yamana (Southern Arabia) and Kalyana (near Bombay coast) have been trade-links and culturally congenial places of early medieval days. Hence the two ragas Yamana and Kalyana have always fraternized the way they have.31 This argument seems far-fetched in view of the fact that early Sanskrit texts do not mention any raga named Yamana. It is indeed true that there were far-reaching trade links between India and Arabia, dating to pre-Islamic times. For example, the island of Socotra (off the coast of Yemen) had a large Indian merchant population and even may have taken its name Socotra from the Sanskrit word Sukhatara-dvipa.32 However, a raga that entered Indian musical culture from Yemen, ostensibly along the west coast, would surely not have needed a thirteenth-century poet from Delhi to “invent” it, so that its ascription to Khusrau is suspect. (In fact, it is only the Arabic name that suggests a Middle Eastern origin for this raga; there is no other internal evidence that it is otherwise an innovation in Indian music.) The explanation is probably much simpler than the speculations offered by Sarmadee. It has been long noted that the Arabic word Aiman and the Sanskrit word Kalyan.a have the same meaning.33 After the conquest of the kingdom of Devgiri by ‘Ala-ud-din Khilji, its capital Kalyan.a was renamed Aimanabad. The use of the compound name for this raga, consisting of the juxtaposed words Aiman and Kalyan.a probably dates from this time. Conclusion Rashid Malik, author of the definitive work on Khusrau’s music alluded to above, points out that unlike other composers such as Tansen, Mirabai, Surdas or Ramdas, whose names are commemorated both in the texts and in the living traditions of the musicians themselves in form of raga-names such as Miyan ki Malhar, and Ramdasi Malhar, Khusrau’s name does not explicitly figure in any such raga-name.34 It is possible that Khusrau has been credited with the contributions made by a long list of musicians, whose names are now lost to us. Even the ragas now associated with Khusrau (by historians) have turned out to be largely ephemeral, and hardly figure in the repertoires of Indian and Pakistani musicians, whether Muslim or Hindu.35 In spite of the claims such as the one made by Thackston (see footnote 1), Khusrau’s impress on Indian music is simply not as great as his enormous fame could lead one to believe. As one of the brightest stars in the firmament of Indo-Persian poetry, he will certainly continue to be remembered by posterity with respect. But a careful reappraisal of his musical legacy may rehabilitate the work many great but as yet unknown musicians. * * * Transliteration scheme Long vowels in Indic words have been transliterated with the help of a macron, but long vowels in Persian words are indicated with the use of the circumflex. In the case of Indic words appearing in a Persian text, the Persian transliteration conventions have been followed. Thus, for instance the words Raga is spelled as Raga if it occurs in a Sanskrit work, but râg if it occurs in a Persian text. Arabic velar consonants have been transliterated with the help of two dots below the corresponding letter; Sanskrit retroflex consonants have been represented with one dot below the letter. Thus, t.. and s.. are Arabic velars, and t. is an Indic retroflex. Acknowledgments I am grateful to Dr. Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat and Dr. Vasundhara Filliozat for their initial willingness to share information in response to a stranger’s email, and their subsequent encouragement over the years. Anuradha Naimpally, an artiste well-known to dance-lovers in Austin, Texas, shared with me her knowledge of Indian dance. Dr. Katherine Butler Brown, a musicologist now at Corpus Christi College, sent me her Ph.D. dissertation, and it has proved to be an invaluable resource in my study. Dr. Yvette-Claire Rosser, also of Austin, Texas, kindly brought me books and manuscripts relating to music, from her study-trips to Pakistan and Bangladesh. My work would have been seriously hampered without this help. * * * Notes & References 1 A Millennium of Classical Persian Poetry, Wheeler M. Thackston, Bethesda, Maryland, 1994, Page 50. 2 Amir Khusro ka ‘ilm-e-musiqi, Rashid Malik, Lahore, 1975, pp. 198-199. 3 Sitar technique in Nibaddh forms, Stephen Slawek, Page 6. (Slawek rejects the claim, for it is lacking in substantiation, but notes that the legend is persistent.) 4 Music In India: The Classical Traditions, Bonnie C. Wade, New Jersey, pp. 135-136. 5 The Tillana music of Bharat Natyam is regarded as a genre derived from the tarana. The word “Tillana” is said to be a derivative of tarana. 6 Mirza here refers to the Rag Darpan by Faqirullah Saif Khan, a work begun in 1662/1663 and completed in 1666. 7 The work referred to here is the Man-Kutuhal, a work dedicated to Raja Man Singh of Gwalior (r. 1486-1517). 8 The Life and Works of Amir Khusrau, Mohammad Wahid Mirza, Idarah-i Adabiyat-i Delli, Delhi 1974 (1935), p. 238. (The words “mujir”, “sazgari” and “mun‘am” are misspelled — they should have been “Muh.ayyir”, “Sazgiri” and “Ghanam” respectively.) 9 Amir Khusrau’s Contribution to the Indus-Muslim Music, S. Qudratullah Fatimi, Pakistan National Council of the Arts, Islamabad, 1975, p. 21. 10 Ibid., p. 239. 11 Ibid. 12 The ‘Ain-i Akbari says that the “Ardhavaj is half of an avaj”. (Page 166, Excerpt related to music from the ‘Ain-i Akbari, reproduced in Barr-i S.aghir meñ musiqi ke Farsi ma‘akhiz, editor, Rashid Malik; translated and annotated by Khvajah H.amid Yazdani, Lahore, Idarah-i Tah.qiqat-i Pakistan, 1983.) 13 Pakhawaj & Tabla: History, Schools and Traditions, Aban E. Mistry, Mumbai, page 157. 14 S.ufyana musiqi: the classical music of Kashmir, Józef M. Pacholczyk, 1996, Berlin, p. 34. Pacholczyk points out that the Kashmiri dokra is simply the Hindustani tabla brought in from Punjab. 15 Loghatnâmeh, Ali Akbar Dehkhoda, Edited by Mohammad Moin and Dj. Shahidy, University of Tehran, NS 133, Lettre T, Fascicule 10, Oct 1967 (Mehr 1346), p. 184. 16 Music In India: The Classical Traditions, Bonnie C. Wade, 1979, p. 241. 17 Ibid., p. 177 18 Ibid., p. 204. 19 Amir Khusrau’s Contribution to the Indus-Muslim Music, S. Qudratullah Fatimi, Pakistan National Council of the Arts, Islamabad, 1975, pp. 15-16 20 In this sense, the word has entered Urdu as in the expression “Qaumi Tarana” (national anthem). 21 From the text, it is not possible to decide whether the Persian expression “yek tâl” means “one tala” or is a translation for the word “ektala”. 22 This fact has long been known. For example, footnote 2 of page 45, Essays of History of Indo- Pak Music, Abdul Halim, Dacca, 1962. 23 In a paper that he read at the Conference on the Music of East and West held at New Delhi in February, 1964. (Amir Khusrau’s Contribution to the Indus-Muslim Music, S. Qudratullah Fatimi, Pakistan National Council of the Arts, Islamabad, 1975, p. 17.) 24 Singh, op. cit., p. 274. 25 Anuradha Naimpally, personal communication, 8 October 2001. 26 Hindustani Music in the time of Aurangzeb, Katherine Butler Brown, Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, SOAS, 2003, p. 77. 27 Edited and translated into Urdu by Rashid Malik, Majlis-e Taraqqi-e Adab, Lahore, 1997. 28 Malik’s Urdu translation has been rendered into English by the author of this article. 29 It is also not clear what is meant by the word maqâm. Later Indo-Persian texts such as the Kitab-i-Nauras treat the word maqâm simply as an equivalent of the word raga/ragini. (Kitab-i- Nauras, (ed. Nazir Ahmad), Bharat Kala Kendra, New Delhi, 1956, p. 68.) 30 Tuh.fat-ul-Hind, by Mirza Khan Ibn Fakhr-ud-din Muh.ammad, edited by Dr. Nurul Hasan Ansari, Intesharat-e Farhang-e Iran, Khordad 1353 (May-June 1974), Volume 5, Chapter 8, pp. 421-423. (This excerpt was translated from Persian by the author of this article.) 31 Tarjuma-i-Manakutuhala And Risala-i-Ragadarpan.a, Ed. Shahab Sarmadee, New Delhi, 1996, p. 270, footnote 94. 32 The Wonder that was India; a survey of the history and culture of the Indian sub-continent before the coming of the Muslims, A. L. Basham, New York, 1968, 3rd rev. ed., page 230. 33 Khusrau’s Musical Compositions by Thakur Jai Deva Singh, in Life, times & works of Amir Khusrau Dehlavi (ed. Z. Ansari), p. 276, New Delhi, 1975. 34 Malik, Amir Khusro ka ‘ilm-e-musiqi, p. 102, pp. 236-237. 35 The Urdu sitar manual Qanun-i sitar, (Sayyid Safdar Husain Khan, Munshi Naval Kishor Press, Lucknow, 1873), for instance, mentions only the ragas Sazgiri and Sarparda. The most influential modern Urdu work on Indian music Ma‘arifunnaghmat (Thakur Nawab Ali Khan, 1873) mentions only Sazgiri and Aiman. * * *

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see also :



Alexander Visits the Sage Plato, from the Khamsa of Amir Khusro

Alexander  Visits the Sage Plato   from the Khamsa of Amir Khusro

The Art of The Persian Santur Vol 02




The Scale of Kings




History of Santur:

The santūr for the first time appears in the Moruj al-Zahab, a history book written by Abol Hassan Ali Ibn Hussein Masudi (tenth century). He mentions the santur when talking about Persian music and its various instruments during the Sassanid Empire. Also, the santur is mentioned by the famous Persian poet, Manuchehri (eleventh century). Although Abdol Qader Maraqe’i (a great Persian Musician of the thirteenth century) in his writings introduces an instrument called the yatufan which is very similar to the santur, the instrument that today we know as the santur is absent from Persian music history until the nineteenth century. However, a very similar instrument called the qānūn existed in the Iranian plateau for centuries. Farabi (Persian philosopher and musician of the tenth century) in his famous book, al-Musiqi al-Kabir, portrayed the qānūn. Also, this instrument is seen in the paintings and miniatures of the Chehelsotun building (sixteenth century). This point should be made here that the santur is similar with the qānūn only in shape.