Saturday, May 29, 2010


So I'm taking this Classic Arabic Literature class and I've got to say - it is pretty damn cool. Poetry is the main form of pre-Islamic literature in the Arabian Pennisula and most of it focuses on fighting, women, and horses.

Right now we're studying a group of outcast poet/assassins called the Sa'alik. The Sa'alik were individual bad-ass outcasts who lived like animals outside of society and dedicated their lives to their particular revenge quest.

The coolest one is a guy called Shanfara from about 530 AD. Keep in mind as you read this, that this is a real poet not a fictional character. Shanfara was an African child who was taken to Arabia when his mother was sold as a slave. He was raised by a nomad tribe as one of their own. As a young man Shanfara fell in love with a woman of the tribe but she spurned his love. So Shanfara left the tribe after vowing to kill 100 men to avenge the insult put on him by the girl and her family.

Shanfara spent the rest of his life hounding the nomad tribe, killing the men off one by one for years. Duels, stealth assassinations, and archery were his forte. Shanfara spent most of his time living among the wolves in foothills, stalking the tribe, and writing poetry about his killing prowess and ability to survive as an animal. Eventually the tribe formed a posse to kill Shanfara. They hunted him for months. By the end of the chase Shanfara had killed 99 men of the tribe. The posse finally cornered and killed Shanfara then flayed the flesh from his bones.

Legend has it that years later, a rider from the same tribe was speeding across the desert when his horse tripped on Shanfara's skull. The rider was thrown from his horse and he died of a broken neck. Thus Shanfara completed his blood-vow to kill 100 men years after he was long dead.

Originally posted on September 13, 2005 on Myspace.

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