Al-Akhtal: A Christian Arab Poet

Please find a short biographical entry for al-Akhtal, a famous Christian poet whose compositions are still cited as examples of how the Arabic language should be used.
Imam al-Dhahabi said regarding him in his ‘al-Siyar’ (4/589):
The poet of his era, his name is Ghiyath Ibn Ghawth al-Taghlabi, the Christian (al-Nasrani).
It was said to al-Farazdaq: Who is the best poet? He replied: I am sufficient for you for poetry whose subject matter is boasting, and Jarir is best for satire, and the son of the Christian woman (al-Akhtal) is best for poetry consisting of praise.
Abd al-Malik bin Marwan would generously reward al-Akhtal, and would give preference to him over others in poetry. Al-Akhtal said:
Peoples concern is life, and I do not see
A lengthy life increase except confusion
For if you are in need of treasure, you will not find
A treasure which is like righteous action
It was said: Al-Akhtal was imprisoned al-Usquf and humiliated, he was censured for his patience towards it, he replied: It is religion (deen), it is religion.
He obtained considerable wealth from the Umayyads (Bani Umayyah), and died a number of years before al-Farazdaq.
Adapted from ‘al-Fawaid al-Gharra’. Also please note that our Imam’s may cite poetry from the jahili Arabs, and even Christians such as al-Ahktal, not because they are authorities in the religion, but rather because they have authored compositions which highlight the correct usage of words. Understand this and do not be confused.

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