The crusades in Arabic poetry up to the death of Nur-ad-din
Ghaith, Zakaria Musbah
The poetry of our period depicts this Muslim attitude very strongly. In almost every poem addressed to Zanki, Nur-ad-Din and Saladin we find this urge to recover"al-Bayt al-Muqaddas" (the hallowed house) by using the strongly expressive religious term "Tahhir" (purify) the Holy House from the "rijs" or "najasa" (filth). The reference to the living of pigs in Jerusalem or its mosque was also stirring because it is regarded as an abominable animal in the Qur'an.The religious character of this Arabic poetry is also demonstrated by the absolute absence of praise or boasting of the Arab race or its past, for all the Muslim leaders were in fact of non-Arab origin. Therefore, all the panegyrics on them were marked by religious descriptions. So, any victorious leader was the sword of Islam, the knight of Islam,and the re-creator of Islam, etc.We have seen from the previous pages how the poets made use of every occasion to urge the rulers to drive the Franks from Syria. But how far could they influence those rulers by their poetry ? If we suppose that the influence of any poetry depends on the relationship between its quality and characteristics on the one hand, and the spirit, mentality and attitude of the reader or hearer on the other, then we may be able to assess to what extent the poets succeeded in influencing the Muslim leaders. In this respct, it is certain. that the poetry of our period was most appealing to the hearer or the praised ruler, for it reflected the latter's feelings and thoughts. It was loaded with religious meanings and terms, and the leaders were religious-minded and pious. Their response to the hortatory/poetry must have been strong. This claim is supported by the fact that each one of the Muslim rulers showed favour to the poets and made them close to him.It is reported that Ntir-ad-Din used to ask al-Asfahani to describe in verse some of his successful raids, such as his raid on Ti berias, and as the following two lines which N'Ur-ad-DI'n asked al-Asfahani to compose in description of Drunascus:There is no city in the whole world like Damascus (in beauty). And my fondness (of fighting) in the way of God entertains me better than it.Saladin was also interested in poetry, and it is reported that he used to carry with him the Diwan of Usama b. Munqidh, and to compose poetry himself. we have seen how Tala'ic was himself a poet.The final word to be said about this poetry is that it gives us a historical advantage in that it may be considered as a historical source for the history of the Crusades.