Attainment of Fluency in “Al-Muthallathat” Poetry


Nayl al-arab fi-muthallathat al-‘Arab (Attainment of fluency in al-muthallathat poetry) is a manual of poetics for students. It discusses the use of triple short vowels (muthallathat) in a manner conforming to Arabic morphology and authoritative practice. The author, Hasan ibn ‘Ali Quwaydir (1788 or 1789−1846), does not tell us how he came to select the words and phrases in the book. In its idiosyncratic choice of examples and its prescriptive directions for use, this is a highly personal work. The verses of the main text, framed in a double border, are extensively glossed by the author with literary and morphological explanations. The main text is completely vowelled, while there is no vowelling on the marginalia. The work is organized alphabetically, with tables of contents at the beginning and end. The main lexicon is followed by a list of unusual words and proper names. According to a biographical note, Quwaydir was born in Cairo and spent his entire life there. His ancestors were from Morocco and came east to settle in Hebron. His father, a merchant, moved to Cairo, where his son was born. Although educated in language and literature under prominent teachers at al-Azhar, Quwaydir devoted much of his time to international trade. He had a close following of students who studied with him and wrote panegyric poems about him upon his death. His literary and commercial interests left him no time to compile his poetry into a diwan, or authoritative collection. This edition was printed at Al-Khayriyah Press in Cairo in 1902. It features the ornamental framing of the title page and front matter characteristic of the period.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Al-Khayriyah Press, Cairo


Title in Original Language

نيل الأرب في مثلثات العرب

Type of Item

Physical Description

108 pages ; 27 centimeters


  1. Sarkis, Yusuf Ilyan, Mu’jam al-Matbu’at al-‘Arabiyah wa-al-Mu’arrabah (Dictionary of Arabic Imprints). (Cairo: Sarkis, 1928).

Last updated: January 16, 2015