The Italian island of Sicily in the Mediterranean became an embrace of a flourishing Arab culture, which continued even after the Normans took control of it in 1072 AD, and the Arab poem settled the island from the ninth century to the twelfth century, including the era of the rule of the Norman kings and the many political turmoil that the island witnessed.
In the modern era, the German orientalists were interested in the Arab civilization, its language, its sciences, studies and rare manuscripts.
Translations became active in their countries, the most important of which was the translation of the Holy Qur’an, many manuscripts and ancient Arabic books. The Mediterranean island with an Arab past received special attention.
Arabic manuscript in Palermo, Sicily
Among that cognitive effort was made in 2016 by the German orientalists, Dr. Sebastian Heine (a specialist in comparative linguistics in Eastern, Turkish, Arabic and Persian languages in Germany), and Dr. Sargon Karam (Professor of Arabic Literature and Translation at the Institute of Oriental and Asian Studies at the University of Bonn Germany), where they went to The city of Palermo - the capital of the island and autonomous region of Sicily in southern Italy - at the invitation of the mayor of the city, Leo Luke Orlando, to reveal writings likely to be Arabic inscribed on the walls of the so-called Chamber of Wonders in Palermo.
From there, they set out to trace the traces of Arab civilization in the city and neighboring cities such as Cefalu and Chevala Diana.
During the research, they signed the manuscript of the Italian historian Michele Amari (died 1889) and his fellow Orientalist Celestino Schiaparli (died 1919), which is a manuscript about the Sicilian Arab poet Ibn Hamdis (447-527 AH) (1055-1133 CE).
And since 2017, the orientalists Haina and Karam began translating the poems of Ibn Hamdis related to the history of Sicily and the history of the Arabs in it. Unique ontology in Germany.
From the right: Secretary of the Italian Parliament, next to him is Antonio Ventorino, Deputy Speaker of the Sicilian Parliament, then Dr. Sebastian Heine, followed by Dr. Sargon Karam (Al-Jazeera)
The neglect of an Arab-European poet
Al-Jazeera Net spoke to the orientalists Karam and Heine, who said that Ibn Hamdis al-Siqali suffers from complete neglect in the studies of European Orientalism in general and in the Arab world as well, especially in terms of not devoting sufficient studies to address his poems, the environment in which he lived and the country to which he belongs, as this poet is classified in The anthology is described as an Andalusian poet, even though the period that Hamdis lived in the court of al-Mu'tamid ibn Abbad in Seville did not exceed 13 years of his life.
But in fact Ibn Hamdis is a Sicilian poet par excellence.
It can be considered the most important witness to the civilization of a lost scientist, namely, the Muslims of Sicily, but rather Islam in Sicily in the period of its fall in the hands of the Normans.
For the orientalists, the texts of Hamdis al-Sicilian are a treasure of information and a historical witness to a time period that is the most difficult in the history of Arab civilization in Sicily and a rich study subject that calls on the German Orientalists to pay attention to his experience, especially since this poet contemporary with important historical figures such as Prince of the Almoravids Yusef bin Tashfin in Morocco And the Sultan of Zirid Africa, Ali bin Yahya in Tunisia, the al-Mu'tamid, the last king of the Andalusian Beni Abbad, and the circle of the poets of Seville, Ibn Ammar and Ibn Zaidoun, King of Castile and Leon Alfonso VI, and Rodrigo Diath de Pepar, nicknamed the master of the battlefield.
He also lived during the reign of Roger II, King of Sicily, who financed Al-Idrisi's book "Rogar's Book - A Journey to the One Who Desires to Penetrate the Horizons".
On the fame of Ibn Hamdis al-Sicilian in Europe, Sebastian Heine considers that Europe did not know this poet except through Italian Orientalism.
This is because the Italian orientalist Michele Amari (1806-1889) is the founder of modern Arab studies in Italy, and he was born in Palermo Sicily, and his studies focused on revealing the history of Muslims in Sicily, and this resulted in the publication of his most important books, including “History of the Muslims of Sicily 1854- 1872 "(Storia dei Musulmani di Sicilia), which is in three volumes, as well as his author entitled“ The Arabic Sicilian Library - Texts and Translations. 1857-1887 ”(Biblioteca arabo-sicula - testi e traduzioni. 1857-1887) in which he studies the works of Arabs Sicily and is located in two volumes, and Amari tried to collect all written Arabic sources - historical, literary and geographical - that talk about Sicily.
In his follow-up to the first book, Heine adds that "Amari" talks about Ibn Hamdis in two pages and describes him as the most important Arab poet in Sicily, because he is the only one who has remained his complete collection to this day.
But he expanded on Hamdis al-Skali in his second book in the second volume, and he has devoted about 74 pages.
In these pages, Amari records selections of Hamdis' poems that he singled out for Sicily, based on the manuscripts of Hamdis’s Divan in the Vatican, which is the main source for Amari, and the second manuscript in Petersburg, Russia, within the group of Eastern manuscripts.
Sebastian Heine specializes in comparative linguistics in Eastern, Turkish, Arabic and Persian languages in Germany (the island)
Heine continues that the most important person who introduced Hamdis Sicilian to the Western world - which benefited from it and was adopted by the German orientalists in a scientific way - was Amary's favorite student and scientific heir, Chelstino Schiaparli (1841-1919), who studied under Amari in the city of Florence (the Center for Arab Studies in all Italy at the time), and he continued studying Arabic in Rome.
Schiaparli published a peer-reviewed collection of Hamdis in his book “The Divan of Abd al-Jabbar bin Abi Bakr bin Hamdis ... a groom poet from Syracuse (1056-1133) The entire published Arabic text based on the manuscripts of Rome and Petersburg, in addition to some of his poems obtained from other writers. Rome 1897. '
Thereafter, Ibn Hamdis' poetry was not published until 1960 in Beirut by Ihssan Abbas.
As for the scientific studies on Ibn Hamdis in Italy, Sebastian Heine believes that there were only some articles dealing with specific axes of his poetry.
Translation of nostalgic Arabic poetry
Regarding their translation of Ibn Hamdis' poetry into German, Sargon Karam refers to the axes that were worked on during the translation of his poetry into German, and this required a great effort from them, whether during the return to manuscripts and books or by visiting the places where Ibn Hamdis left his traces.
Ibn Hamdis is a Sicilian poet and sage, an Arab who was born in Sicily, Italy, and died in Mallorca, Spain (social networking sites)
In their study that preceded the translation, the Orientalists worked on dividing Ibn Hamdis 'poems into axes, as Sargon Karam points out that the topic of nostalgia for the motherland has a great impact on Ibn Hamdis' poetry, and he says in one of his poems:
And God has a land if you do not have its air, so your passions on the earth are strewn with regimes, and your
pride leads to humiliation and intentions from the obvious aim to reunite from you with what you
intend, because the countries of the people are not yours nor its neighbor, and the host is like a neighbor and a friend.
While the Italian today considers Sicily as part of his homeland, this poet notices when he talks about Sicily that he considers it his country and that the Norman-Italian is the occupier, so Hamidis was born in Noto near Syracuse in the east of the island. His homeland and longing for him as a result of everything that happened from him.
Fourth largest Islamic city
Karam continues to Al-Jazeera Net, "To clarify this idea and return to historical sources, the geographer and historian Ibn Hawqal (died 977) described Palermo as the fourth largest city in the Islamic world after Cairo, the Levant and Cordoba. The city has the largest mosque that Ibn Hawqal saw during his trip and more than 300 mosques. Inside it, and to this day, Surat Al-Fatiha is still on the pillar of the entrance to this mosque, which has been converted into a cathedral.
Church of San Cataldo in Palermo, Italy (Getty Images)
In their study, the German orientalists also touch on the topic “Description of life and living in Sicily during the Arab rule therein,” and they show precise details provided by Ibn Hamdis about the social way of life, including the sessions of mankind and wine in the monasteries of nuns and dancers and the blessed life of Arab Muslim and Christian women.
Orientalists were also interested in the topic of jihad in Hamdis' poems. Sargon Karam tells us about the stage after the fall of Palermo in 1076, when Ibn Hamdis organized an armed group called "Banu Thaghar", and during a period of 3 or 4 years this group attempted to push back the Norman attack About the city of Syracuse, and in this axis we see Ibn Hamdis' Islamic Quranic culture.
The great contradiction in this axis with the two previous axes, while in the second axis appeared a poet of wine and amusement, we see in the third axis a jihadist leader who defends Islam in the name of religion and cites in his poetry a lot of Quranic evidence, and on the other hand we see him as a brave knight alongside his brave brothers At the beginning of their youth in the first row of fighting. "
Sargon Karam refers to the poems that uniquely describe Ibn Hamdis in accurately describing his military combat experience, describing the military plans, comparing the Arab horses and the Norman horses, describing the swords and the quality of the armor, the Greek fire and catapults, and the Normans' private ships to transport their knights and horses.
Karam continues that Ibn Hamdis' military experience covers a period that extends from the fall of Sicily (the last castle fell in 1091) to the Battle of Zallaqa, in which he participated alongside Yusef bin Tashfin (1086), through the battle of Qusra in 1123, in addition to the battles of the Tunisian princes against the Norman kings in The island.