This article examines how the Persian prison poem (habsiyāt) incorporated Islamic legal norms for governing non-Muslim peoples into its poetics. By tracing how Khāqāni of Shirvān (d. 1199) brought the aesthetics of incarceration to bear on Islamic legal regulations pertaining to non-Muslim communities (ahl al-zemma), I offer a new perspective on the politics of poetry in Persian culture. As I delineate the intertextual references to legal stipulations (shorut) pertaining to non-Muslims that suffuse Khāqāni’s Christian qasida, I demonstrate how the Persian poetics of incarceration coalesced into a powerful internal critique of Islamic law.
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