This study is intended to examine the depiction of woman in the pre-Islamic poetic collection known as the Mu'allaqat; which are considered the best piece of poetic collection in literary Arabic. The significance of this study is to identify the true rationale behind the poets' over emphasis on woman in their odes. A combination of both empirical and library-based method is adopted in this study and Discourse and Qualitative contents Analysis are the techniques applied in interpreting the data. The study identifies two different types of women in the odes, the ideal woman who is not a specific woman per se, but a woman considered a deity and worshiped due to her fertility and reproductive function as a mother, she was deified by invoking her memory in the prelude of the poems as form of reverence and incantations which the poets inherited from the ancient religious legend and standardized it as format for starting a Qasida. The other type of woman is the real normal woman, whom most of the time is a true beloved of the poet, who the poet describes in his poem by giving a vivid account for their love affairs. She may also be a bar attendant, and Jaariya or slave woman. The study found the depiction of both the Ideal and real woman in Mu'allaqat to confine to descriptions and similes them to objects found in the surroundings of the poets. She is therefore compared to wild deserts animals and birds and from such descriptions it is deduced women were always given priority in moments of insecurity and drought, they command a maximum freedom in choosing their partners and had absolute rights to revoke marital relationship with their male partners without any hindrance or obstacle. Above all, she also participates in the warfare by nursing the injured, the horses as well as feeding them.


Arab & Islamic Civilizations Department

Degree Name

MA in Arabic Studies

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2012

First Advisor

El-Sayyed, Fadl Faragallah



Document Type

Master's Thesis

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Women in literature.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Arabic poetry -- To 622 -- History and criticism.


The author retains all rights with regard to copyright. The author certifies that written permission from the owner(s) of third-party copyrighted matter included in the thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study has been obtained. The author further certifies that IRB approval has been obtained for this thesis, or that IRB approval is not necessary for this thesis. Insofar as this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study is an educational record as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC 1232g), the author has granted consent to disclosure of it to anyone who requests a copy.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item


Many Individuals have enormously contributed to the completion of this paper and I wish to express my greatest appreciation to them all. First, I acknowledge with profound gratitude, the person of Professor El-Sayyed Fadl, my advisor for his constructive guidelines and supervision, and for the fatherly attention and time he gave me during my study at AUC. Many thanks also to Dr. Mohammed Birairi and Dr. Mo Mikhail for the care and attention. I also appreciate the support from Sawsan Mardini, Director of Graduate Student Service AUC, which facilitated my smooth establishment in Egypt. I also wish to thank AUC for awarding me with African Graduate Fellowship and the opportunity to widen the spectrum of my knowledge, without the fellowship I would not have been able to pursue my study in this institution. Warmest appreciations go to my family for their patience and prayers, and to my friend Beylal Racheha for his indispensable support encouragement and attention. May Allah bless you all!