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The qaṣīda (also spelled qaṣīdah) is an ancient Arabic word and form of poetry, often translated as ode, passed to other cultures after the Arab Muslim expansion.

The word qasidah is originally an Arabic word (قصيدة, plural qaṣā’id, قصائد), and is still used throughout the Arabic-speaking world; it was borrowed into some other languages such as Persian: قصیده (alongside چكامه, chakameh), and Turkish: kaside.

Well known qaṣā’id include the Seven Mu'allaqat and Qasida Burda (Poem of the Mantle) by Imam al-Busiri and Ibn Arabi's classic collection Tarjumān al-Ashwāq (The Interpreter of Desires).

The classic form of qasida maintains a single elaborate metre throughout the poem, and every line rhymes on the same sound.[1] It typically runs from fifteen to eighty lines, and sometimes more than a hundred.[1] The genre originates in Arabic poetry and was adopted by Persian poets, where it developed to be sometimes longer than a hundred lines.


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Arabic qaṣīda means "intention" and the genre found use as a petition to a patron. A qaṣīda has a single presiding subject, logically developed and concluded. Often it is a panegyric, written in praise of a king or a nobleman, a genre known as madīḥ, meaning "praise".

In his ninth-century "Book of Poetry and Poets" (Kitab al-shi'r wa-al-shu'ara') the Arabian writer Ibn Qutaybah describes the (Arabic) qasida as being constituted of three parts:

  1. The nasīb: a nostalgic opening in which the poet reflects on what has passed. A common theme is the pursuit by the poet of the caravan of his beloved: by the time he reaches their camp-site they have already moved on.
  2. The raḥīl or travel section: a release or disengagement (takhallus), often achieved by the poet describing his transition from the nostalgia of the nasīb to contemplating the harshness of the land and life away from the tribe.
  3. The message of the poem, which can take several forms: praise of the tribe (fakhr) or a ruler (madīḥ), satire about other tribes (hija) or some moral maxim (hikam).

While many poets have intentionally or unintentionally deviated from this plan it is recognisable in many. From the Abbasid period onwards, two-part qaṣīda forms containing just a nasīb and madīḥ have been dominant.[2]


Qasidas were introduced to Dhaka, and later the rest of Bengal, during the Mughal era by Persians. Subahdar of Bengal, Islam Khan Chisti's naval fleet is said to have sung them after arriving in Jessore in 1604.[3][4] In 1949, Hakim Habibur Rahman spoke of the recent revival of qasidas since that period in his book, Dhaka Panchas Baras Pahle (Dhaka, fifty years ago). The qasidas were promoted by nawabs and sardars across the region, and especially popular during the Islamic month of Ramadan. An old tradition of Old Dhaka is during the time of sehri, groups of people would sing qasidas to wake up the Muslims in the neighbourhood.[5][6]


In Burushaski, the Qasida refers broadly to Isma'ili devotional literature in general rather than a specific style of poetry and is interchangeably used with the word Ginan in the language. It was regularly performed in the jamat-khana and has been a cornerstone of Ismaili practics in the Hunza Valley. The Burushaski Qasida is used extensively to describe Ismaili philosophy, theology, and hermeneutics in a vernacular language. Furthermore, the Qasida builds upon classical Isma'ili thought, with original theological, metaphysical, and teleological expositions that draw on the historically unprecedented philosophical injunctions of the Ismaili Imams.[7]

Aga Khan’s message to Hunzai, congratulating him on the completion of the "Ginan Book"

The Burushaski Qasida has had a pivotal role in developing the Burushaski language. Burushaski had been a broken, oral tongue, without a written script. This changed in 1961, 'Allamah Hunzai published his first poetry collection, entitled Nagmah-yi Israfil, which featured a selection of his Burushaski poems. The collection was telegrammed in the same year to the 49th Isma'ili Imam, Shah Karim al-Husayni, who, in his response, ascribed to 'Allamah Hunzai's collection the status of a "ginan book in the Burushaski language."[8]

As van-Skyhawk notes this had the effect of sacralizing 'Allamah Hunzai's poetry for the Isma'ilis, and thus his poems were and continue to be widely recited in Isma'ili jama'at-khanas following this exchange.’ [9] Apart from Allama Hunzai, leading Burushaki Qasida poets include Aalijah Ghulamuddin Hunzai and Wazir Fida Ali Esar.

Below is an excerpt from, “Noor-e-shama”, one of Allama Hunzai’s most popular Burushaski Qasida:

In 2013, the recitation of Burushaski ginans was discouraged at Isma'ili jamat khanas by regional councils.  However, Burushaski Qasidas continue to be sung at Dawaat (traditional house warming), zikr-mehfil, and other similar private religious gatherings. Several artists such as Meher-Angez, Barkat Ali, Shakila Parveen, Islam Habib, and Noman Asmet are recording and publishing Burushaski Qasida on streaming platforms online.[10] These renditions have amassed millions of views. Many of these recording are accompanied with a chardah and a daff, which are instruments inspired by Central Asian Isma'ili traditions.


See also: Music of Indonesia § Qasidah modern

In Indonesia, qasidah (Indonesian spelling: kasidah) refers broadly to Islamic music in general, rather than a specific style or poetry. Traditional qasidah was historically limited to Arab immigrant and pious Muslim neighbourhoods. Modern qasidah has broadened to include influence from Western and local Indonesian music.


After the 10th century Iranians developed the qasida immensely and used it for other purposes. For example, Nasir Khusraw used it extensively for philosophical, theological, and ethical purposes, while Avicenna also used it to express philosophical ideas. It may be a spring poem (Persian بهاریه, bahâriye) or autumn poem (Persian خزانیه, xazâniye). The opening is usually description of a natural event: the seasons, a natural landscape or an imaginary sweetheart. In the takhallos poets usually address themselves by their pen-name. Then the last section is the main purpose of the poet in writing the poem.

Persian exponents include:

From the 14th century CE Persian poets became more interested in ghazal and the qasida declined. The ghazal developed from the first part of qasida in which poets praised their sweethearts. Mystical poets and Sufis used the ghazal for mystical purposes.


The qesîde is a type of oral religious poem in Yazidi literature, considered to have been composed by the disciples of Sheikh Adi.[11]


Qasida in Urdu poetry is often panegyric, sometimes a satire, sometimes dealing with an important event. As a rule it is longer than the ghazal but follows the same system of rhyme.[12]

West African

A large number of religious qasā'id have been written in Arabic by the Sufi Shaykh Amadou Bamba Mbacke (1855–1927) from Senegal, West Africa. His qasā'id poetically explore the Qur'an and other learned texts, praising Allah and the prophet, and are considered — both in Senegal as well as in Morocco and other West African countries — as advanced and beautiful poetry. The qasā'id of the Shaykh are today still sung and recited actively by both Mourides belonging to the Sufi Tariqa Mouridiyya, as well as by members of other Sufi Tariqas in Senegal and throughout West Africa, especially the Tijaniyya. The original poetry works of Shaykh Amadou Bamba Mbacke are preserved in a large library in the holy city Touba, Senegal, which was founded by the Shaykh, built by his talibés (students) and considered to be the Capital of Mourides.


Somali Sufi Sheikhs such as Uways Al-Barawi, Shaykh Sufi, and Al-Zayla'i would often compose Qasida's on religious matters. A well known collection of Somali Qasida's is entitled Majumuʿa Qasaʿid fi Madh Sayyid Al-Anbiya (A Collection of Qasidas in praise of the Master of Prophets).[13]

Hadiyat al-ʿAnam ila Qabr al-Nabi (Guidance of Humanity to the tomb of the Prophet) extols the Prophet Muhammad:

See also


  1. ^ a b Akiko Motoyoshi Sumi, Description in Classical Arabic Poetry: Waṣf, Ekphrasis, and Interarts Theory, Brill Studies in Middle Eastern literatures, 25 (Leiden: Brill, 2004), p. 1.
  2. ^ Akiko Motoyoshi Sumi, Description in Classical Arabic Poetry: Waṣf, Ekphrasis, and Interarts Theory, Brill Studies in Middle Eastern literatures, 25 (Leiden: Brill, 2004), p. 1 n. 1.
  3. ^ Ahmed Riyadh. "কাসিদা". Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  4. ^ Mirza Nathan (1604). Baharistan-i-Ghaibi.
  5. ^ Sirajul Islam. "Qasida". Banglapedia: The National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, Dhaka. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  6. ^ Maqbool, Majid; Mahmud, Faisal; Pathak, Nilima (6 May 2021). "The fading Qasida tradition in Bangladesh". Al Jazeera.
  7. ^ (Andani, K. Revelation in Islam: Qur'anic, Sunni and Shi'i Isma'ili Perspectives [Unpublished PhD Thesis]. Harvard University. p. 742.)
  8. ^ (Lakhani, A. (2022). A Short Biography of 'Allamah Nasir al-Din Nasir Hunzai (p. 28). London, England: Daru'l-Hikmat al-Isma'iliyyah.)
  9. ^ Van-Skyhawk, H. (2005). The Devotional Poems of ʿAllāmah Naṣīr al-Dīn Hunzai as Inter-Cultural Translations. In Mitteilungen fuer Anthropologie und Religionsgeschichte 17(1), 305-316. Münster, Germany: Ugarit-Verlag
  10. ^ Ismaili Burushaski Ginan | Didar Oyam Jaar | Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee, retrieved 2022-12-03
  11. ^ Omarkhali, Khanna (2017). The Yezidi religious textual tradition, from oral to written: categories, transmission, scripturalisation, and canonisation of the Yezidi oral religious texts. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3-447-10856-0. OCLC 994778968.
  12. ^ A History of Urdu Literature by T. Grahame Bailey; "Introduction".
  13. ^ Reese, Scott S. (2001). "The Best of Guides: Sufi Poetry and Alternate Discourses of Reform in Early Twentieth-Century Somalia". Journal of African Cultural Studies. 14 (1 Islamic Religious Poetry in Africa): 49–68. doi:10.1080/136968101750333969. JSTOR 3181395. S2CID 162001423.