The problem of terminology in the Muwashshah

by Zakareia Enany [Cairo]


SUMMARY: The problem of terminology is apparent in the early writings on muwashshahaat, the most outstanding of which is the Dakhira of Ibn Bassam (died in 542 H.). This book dates back to two hundred years after the appearance of the muwashshahaat as literary form. This is evidence enough that nobody is certain about the nature of the muwashshahaat, when they were first conceived, and how different from or similar they were to the traditional form we know now.


Most famous of the work written on terminology is the Dar at-Tiraz of the oriental Ibn Sana’ al-Mulk (died 608 H.). It presents a large number of the technical terms that became influential later (for example kharja, qufl, bayt, etc.). Another work is al-Muqtataf by Ibn Sa’īd, whose work was quoted in the works of Ibn Khaldun and Maqqary. Other ancient books are also of significance as far as the study of terminology is concerned. These are Tawshi’ by safady, ‘Uddat al-Jalis by Ibn Bishri and Sagaal-wurq by Sakhawi (a manuscript). Various references to the problem of terminology are made in different collections such as al-aADara al-Maisay, only to mention an example.


It is mandatory that a thorough analysis be undertaken of the anthologies and Dawawins, containing a considerable number of muwashshahaat, such as those of Tutayly, Ibn Sahl, and as-Shushtari. This is in addition to the anthology of Ibn Arabi, which presents more terms than other work.


Modern studies have contributed to the investigation of the problem of terminology. A survey of these is to be presented starting with Orientalists such as Hartmann in the later part of the nineteenth century and coming to Gomez, and F. Corriente, Stern, A. Jones, etc. Arab and Eastern scholars such as Ahwany, al-Karin, Gazy, I. Abbas and Jirary also made their contribution. The study of terminology in the case involves structuring of all these different writings and the examination of their differences as well as their similarities.


The kind of study is analytical. It is based on presenting a critical survey of the contribution of all writers and critics who have contributed to this critical issue, with the objective of giving an analysis of this Andalusian form of art.