Mawwāl (Muwwāl, Mawāliya)
(560 words)

According to the famous Iraqi poet and musician Ṣafī al-Dīn al-Ḥillī (1278–1349), the Arabic verse form known variously as mawwāl (Middle East), muwwāl (North Africa), and mawāliya is a connecting isthmus between classical and colloquial forms—it is in classical meter and lends itself to compositions in both inflected and uninflected language. Al-Ḥilli cites a legend about the term’s origin: short songs invented in Iraq during the Abbasid period were picked up by mawālī (non-Arab clients) who sung them to their masters with the refrain: Omawālīya (holders of power). Pierre Cachia i…

Cite this page
Amnon Shiloah, “Mawwāl (Muwwāl, Mawāliya)”, in: Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World, Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Consulted online on 25 March 2017
First published online: 2010



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