‘Abd al-Jabbar ibn Hamdis (1055-1133) survives as the best-known figure from four centuries of Arab-Islamic civilisation on the island of Sicily. There he grew up in a society enriched by a century of cultural development but whose unity was threatened by competing warlords. After the Normans invaded, he followed many other Muslims in emigrating, first to North Africa and then to Seville, where he began his career as a court poet.
Although he achieved fame and success in his time, Ibn Hamdis was forced to bear witness to sectarian strife among the Muslims of both Sicily and Spain, and the gradual success of the Christian reconquest, including the decline of his beloved homeland. Through his verse, William Granara examines his life and times.