Fityan Al Shaghuri – “The Letter R”

Bibliographic Information


Medieval Title:

“The Letter R”



Fityan Al Shaghuri



Late twelfth to early thirteenth century


A short biography found in and translated from the introduction of The Anthology of Fitayn Al Shaghuri by Ahmad al Jundi: 

The full name of Fityan Al-Shaghuri is Abu Muhammad Fityan Bin Ali Jamal Al-Din Al-Asadi Al-Nahawi. His surname Al-Shaghuri was given to him because he was raised in a neighborhood called Al-Shaghur in Damascus, where he had spent his childhood and early adulthood. He was a famous poet at that time; people used to refer to him as the “teacher” because of his knowledge and teaching, especially in reading the formal Arabic in Damascus Big Mosque. Al-Shaghuri was born in 530 (Muslim calendar) [1136 AD] in Baniyas city in Syria and died in his mid 80s [according to the Muslim calendar], in 615 (Muslim Calendar) [1219 AD].

Al-Shaghuri lived in the age of Al-Ayubi [dynasty] and specialized in praising many of Al-Ayubi kings and leaders. Al-Ayubi age was known for the many conflicts and wars between the Muslims and Crusaders because it was considered the age of fight and struggle (jihad). The poetry of that age had a certain dedication to description and praising that most poets turned to between the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century (Muslim calendar). During that period, [Arabic] poetry had witnessed significant degradation in style, in terms of expressing honesty, concerns, and emotions related to nature and life. The reason for this degradation is that poetry required the use of sophisticated words, metaphors, and similes that carried with them unsolicited exaggerations. Another primary reason for this degradation is that most of the praised kings and leaders of that time were not Arabs. In fact, most of them did not understand the Arabic language in its sophisticated and artistic style, which made the poets simplify and trivialize their poems and articulations in order to impress the ones being praised. Al-Shaghuri was not a fond of this degradation as he complained about it in some of his poems. He was very articulate in his own language that he overused sophisticated and difficult styles.



Textual Information

Brief Summary:

In the below poem, the famous Arabic poet, Fityan Al Shaghuri, praises Salah al-Din Yusuf Ibn Ayub for his famous conquest and dear victory in a long poem titled “The Letter R,” in which he mentions Salah al-Din’s achievements and, most importantly, the break of the True Cross.


Relics Appearing in Text:

True Cross


Manuscripts, Editions, and Translations



List of Editions of the Medieval Text: 

Al Jundi, Ahmad, ed., “The Letter ‘R.’” in The Anthology of Fityan Al Shaghuri 530-610 A.H [1136-1218 AD]. Al Hashimya: Damascus, 1976, pp. 140-148.


List of Translations of the Medieval Text: 

Recueil Des Historiens Des Croisades: Historiens Orientaux. Les Soins de L’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. Vol. 4, 1967, pp. 291-2.


Original Editions/Translations We Have Produced: 

The Letter R – Fityan Al Shaghuri, translated by Hisham Al Khatib (click here)


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