Poems in praise of the Prophet (madīḥ) as a citizen of the literary world (Forthcoming)

Walid Ghali


Nearly thirty-five years ago, I participated in the mawlid celebration in a remote village in Egypt's western desert. The festival started with people marching in the village's narrow alleys while carrying green flags and singing al-Burda and other madīḥ poems with musical accompaniment. I could not have imagined that similar celebrations take place on the same day in other places, thousands of miles away from the village, such as in East Africa, and South and South-East Asia despite the different manifestations displayed. One of the most recited poems is al-Būṣīrī's (d. 1249) poem known as al-Burda (cloak), which in addition to being the most popular piece has also received much scholarly attention. That said, al-madāʾiḥ al-nabawīyya, or poems in praise of the Prophet, remain as yet understudied in the discussions of World Literature. This paper, therefore, aims to shed light on the significance of madīḥ as a literary genre and its contributions to Muslim cultures. Also, in giving its literary history, the effect of socio-economic factors, and the Euro-centrism of "World Literature", the paper argues that madīḥ holds its character as part of World Literature and this paper uses the al-Burda poem as an example of madīḥ classics.