ESMĀʿĪL, b. Yasār NESĀʾĪ


ESMĀʿĪL, b. Yasār NESĀʾĪ, a poet of Persian origin from Medina (d. before 132/750). He was the decendant of a Persian prisoner of war from Azerbaijan and lived in Medina, where he had been born, as a client (mawlā) of Taym b. Morra. The nesba Nesāʾī is said to derive from Arabic nesāʾ (woman) and refer to his father’s occupation, which is said to have been preparing meals or selling carpets for weddings; but this is questionable (Pellat, p. 189; Sezgin, GAS II, pp. 429-30). He supported the Zubayrid’s cause; but after the defeat and death of ʿAbd-Allāh b. Zobayr in 73/692, he attached himself to the Omayyad court and, despite strong anti-Arab sentiments permeating most of his poetry, out of necessity praised a number of Omayyad caliphs and princes in panegyrics. He was eventually punished and exiled to Ḥejāz after he recited before the caliph Hešām b. ʿAbd-al-Malek a poem in which he had glorified his Persian ancestors without praising the caliph. Samples of his poetry in Aḡānī (pp. 409-28) suggest a talented poet with considerable range and versatility. He may be justifiably called one of the earliest Šoʿūbī poets in Arabic (Nallino, pp. 213-15; Rescher, I, p. 186; Ḥosayn, p. 160-61). Some of his lyrics were put to music. He died a very old man before the fall of the Omayyads (132/750). His two brothers, Moḥammad and Mūsā Šahawāt, and his son, Ebrāhīm, were also poets.



Abu’l-Faraj Eṣfahānī, Ketāb al-āḡānī IV, Beirut, 1956.

Brocklemann, GAL I, p. 60; S. I, p. 95.

Ebn Qotayba Dīnavarī, al-Šeʿr wa’l-šoʿarāʾ, ed, A. Šāker, 2 vols., Cairo, 1364-69/1945-50, II, p. 577.

I. Goldziher, Muslim Studies, tr. and ed. C. R. Barber and S. M. Stern, 2 vols., London, 1967-71, I, p. 148.

Ṭ. Ḥosayn, Fi’l-adab al-jāhelī, 13th ed., Cairo, 1977.

Abū ʿAbd-Allāh Moḥammad b. Sallām Jomaḥī, Ṭabaqāt foḥūl al-šoʿarāʾ, ed. Ṃ. M. Šāker, Cairo, 1952, I, pp. 408-9; II, pp. 675-76.

Ch. Pellat, “Ismāʿīl b. Yasār,” in EI2 IV, pp. 189-90.

C.-A. Nallino, La littérature Arabe, tr. Ch. Pellat, Paris, 1950, pp. 210-15.

O. Rescher, Abriss der arabischen Litteraturgeschichte, Osnabrück, 1983, pp. 186-88.

Ḵayr-al-Dīn Zereklī, Qāmūs al-aʿlām I, Beirut, 1979, p. 329.

(Kevin Lacey)

Originally Published: December 15, 1998

Last Updated: January 19, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. VIII, Fasc. 6, pp. 627-628