The Pillar Regarding Creation and Critique of Poetry


This book is a printed edition of Al-‘Umdah fi Sina’at al-Shi’r wa-Naqdih (The pillar regarding creation and critique of poetry), a foundational text of Arabic literary criticism. The author, Ibn Rashīq al-Qayrawānī, covers poetic history and prosody up to his lifetime in 11th century Qayrawān, the center of intellectual life in Tunisia, then called Al-Ifriqiya. The work is universally known as Ibn Rashiq’s Al-‘Umdah (The pillar). It is also cited as Al-‘Umdah fī maḥāsin al-shiʻr wa-ādābih. Scholarly judgment of Al-‘Umdah holds that although it is not a groundbreaking theoretical work, it is a major reference for and compendium of the religious, social, and stylistic debates regarding poetry from the earliest days of Islam. This edition is in two volumes, “corrected” (i.e., edited) by Muhammad Badr al-Din al-Na’sani al-Halabi. Publication of the work was financed by Muhammad Kamal al-Na’sani and Muhammad ‘Abd al-‘Aziz. It was printed at al-Sa’adah Press in Cairo and distributed from the al-Khanji bookstore. These individuals and organizations were all part of the well-developed printing and publishing trade in early-20th century Cairo. The same editing and publishing team cooperated to bring other classical literary works into print. A biography of Ibn Rashīq (believed by some to have been born in the town of Muhammadiyah where his father was a goldsmith) appears as front matter. A picture of Ibn Rashīq appears on the Tunisian 50 dinar banknote.

Date Created

Publication Information

al-Sa’adah Press, Cairo


Title in Original Language

العمدة في صناعة الشعر و نقده

Type of Item

Physical Description

2 volumes ; 25 centimeters


  1. Ouyang, Wen-chin, Literary Criticism in Medieval Arabic-Islamic Culture: The Making of a Tradition (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997).

Last updated: August 8, 2014