The One of a Kind


Abdulmalik ibn Muhammad al-Thaalibi (961–1038 AD, 350–429 AH) was a leading linguist, literary figure, and poet. He was born in the trading and cultural center of Nishapur in Persia (present-day Iran). Yateemet al-dahr (The one of a kind) is the most famous of his more than 80 works. The book is a compilation of biographies of the poets of the time, divided into four main sections, each of which covers a region: the poets of al-Sham (Levant) and its environs; the Buwayhid poets (Western Persia and Iraq); the poets of the mountainous lands of Gorgan and Tabaristan (Persia); and the poets of the Central Asian kingdoms of Khorasan and Transoxiana. Each section is further divided into ten chapters. Typically, Al-Thaalibi traveled to talk to the poets themselves. If this was not possible, he talked to those who knew them or, as a last resort, consulted books about them. He finished the book circa 994 AD, and rewrote it nine years later after it had become widely known. Some 20 years later, he added an appendix updating the biographies and adding new poets, such as Abu Al-Alaa Al-Maari, who had risen to pan-Arab prominence in the years since the first publication. At least five authors later wrote similar versions of the book or added new materials covering new regions, such as Andalusia.

Last updated: August 12, 2016