Amin Al-Mashreqi's Poetry Against Terrorism

Updated on August 18, 2019
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Poetry became my passion, after I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962.

Amin al-Mashreqi



Reciting his own poetry, Yemeni poet Amin al-Mashreqi has a unique take on fighting terrorism. He explains that while other countries fight terrorism with weapons such as guns and bombs, the Yemenis prefer to employ poetry.

The poet claims that with his poems, he can persuade people regarding the necessity of peace. He says that poetry works better than making laws or using force.

The following lines exemplify al-Mashreqi's peaceful verse:

O, you who kidnap our guests,
Your house will refuse you,
These violations are against Islam

University of Wisconsin professor, Flagg Miller, who has studied Yemeni poetry for twenty years, explains that the Yemenis prefer listening to poets who are capable of addressing diverse groups. The literati and the elite have not been able to reach many of these people, who gladly listen to poets.

Yemen Fighting Back

The USS Cole was bombed off the coast of Yemen in 2000. Yemen became the refuge of Usama bin Laden after Saudi Arabia expelled him, and Yemen became a haven for other violent jihadists.

After suffering the reputation as a refuge for terrorism, this small country is now strongly fighting back against extremists who use Islam as an excuse to terrorize and murder.

The Arab world has often relied on poets to spread messages to their people.

Professor Miller explains that a long tradition of Arabic leaders employing poetry exists and is particularly strong in Yemen.

Miller says that the prophet Muhammed actually worked with the poet, Hassan ibn Thabit.

Together the prophet and the poet composed poetry to assist them in broadcasting peace and harmony as they attempted to spread Islam. They also declaimed against poets who tried to instill fear and terror.

Not Always a Poet of Peace

Amin al-Mashreqi did not always compose poems of peace and harmony. A few years ago, at a meeting of Yemeni leaders, al- Mashreqi was present along with Faris Sanabani, the editor of The Yemen Observer, an English language newspaper. They had gathered in Sanaa to discuss politics and listen to poetry.

Someone turned to al-Mashreqi and asked if he had a poem on terrorism; he obliged with a poem glorifying suicide bombers.

After the meeting, Sanabani took the poet aside and invited him to come to his office the next day, where he showed al-Mashreqi a video of an al-Qaeda attack on a French oil tanker off the Yemeni coast in 2002.

Sanabani explains that he showed the poet film footage of the devastation caused by the terrorist attack on the French oil tanker that destroyed the livelihood of Yemeni fishermen and their families. Their fishing waters had been polluted.

Change of Heart

After having his consciousness raised by the video regarding the devastating effects of terrorist activities, al-Mashreqi had a change of heart.

Replacing al-Mashreqi's earlier despicable verse, the poet then offered what Sanbani described as some of the most beautiful poems he had ever experienced.

According to Sanbani, al-Mashreqi's new poetry promoted pace and harmony and spoke against the violence of terrorism.

Al-Mashreqi has explained that the citizens of Yemen are very sensitive to poetry. They especially are attracted to traditional verse.

The poet says that if the poems speak with correct ideas within the appropriate context the Yemenis will respond also appropriately because poetry is "heart of their culture."

No Panacea, But Still Helpful

The poet and the newspaper editor both claim that poetry has the power to win over the tribal people who are skeptical of what government officials say and do.

The following lines appeal to the people’s sense of pride and honor as well as patriotism:

O men of arms, why do you love injustice?
You must live in law and order
Get up, wake up, or be forever regretful,
Don't be infamous among the nations

Although poetry is no cure-all for terrorism, Yemeni leaders believe it helps.

Ahmed al-Kibsi, professor of political science at Sanaa University has remarked that education as well as the media and the military all must combine to spread the word that the effects of terrorism result in a dangerous and degraded world.

Universities, the media, and the military all complement one another. And poetry complements them all.

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Linda Sue Grimes


    Submit a Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)