A few days ago I was reading Ignaz Goldziher's Muslim Studies
, and he was talking about how in pre-Islamic (and early Islamic) Bedouin culture, satirical poetry was believed to have an actual impact on the people satirized, so that tribes would often ask a poet to compose poetry about their enemies prior to attacking them. Goldziher also mentions that Numbers 22
is probably another example of this from a related culture. In this story
, the Moabites hire one Balaam to curse the invading Hebrews. Poetry is never mentioned, but Balaam did speak in poetry
, and the situation was probably obvious to the community in which the story originated. This also undoubtedly reflects the context in which Muhammad allegedly had a poet who satirized him put to death, a tradition which I suspect dates from a time when this aspect of Bedouin culture was still strong.
Have the Israelis and Palestinians considered making poetry the main weapon of their conflict instead of tanks and rockets?