Solomon and Mythic Kingship in the Arab-Islamic Tradition: Qaṣīdah, Qurʾān and Qiṣaṣ al-anbiyāʾ

In: Journal of Arabic Literature
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This article contrasts techniques from non-narrative, poetic and Qurʾānic texts with the narratives of Qiṣaṣ al-anbiyāʾ (the Stories of the Prophets) in order to interpret passages on Sulaymān/Solomon in pre- and early Arabic-Islamic texts. Beginning with the renowned non-narrative Sulaymān passage in the pre-Islamic poet al-Nābighah al-Dhubyānī’s ode of apology to the Lakhmid king al-Nuʿmān ibn al-Mundhir and several Qurʾānic passages concerning Sulaymān, the article compares these to the eminently narrative prose renditions of Solomonic legend that appear in Qurʾānic commentary and the (related) popular Stories of the Prophets (Qiṣaṣ al-anbiyāʾ). I argue that verbal structures and rhetorical techniques characteristic of non-narrative forms such as poetry and the Qurʾān have the effect of preserving and stabilizing the essential panegyric (poetic) or salvific (Qurʾānic) message in a manner that the constantly mutating popular narrative forms neither strive for nor achieve.

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