Of the pre-Mahommedan poets the most famous were the six whose poems were collected by Asma`i about the beginning of the 9th century (ed.
Other members of the school of Basra were Abu `Ubaida (q.v.), Asma`i (q.v.), Mubarrad (q.v.) and Ibn Duraid.
He died about fifty years before Abu `Ubaida and al-Asma`i, to whose labours posterity is largely indebted for the arrangement, elucidation and criticism of ancient Arabian verse; and his anthology was put together between fifty and sixty years before the compilation by Abu Tammam of the Ilamasa (q.v.).
He, no doubt, like al-Asma`i and Abu `Ubaida, also himself visited the areas occupied by the tribes for their camping grounds in the neighbouring desert; and adjacent to Kufa was al-IIIra, the ancient capital of the Lakhmid kings, whose court was the most celebrated centre in pre-Islamic Arabia, where, in the century before the preaching of the Prophet, poets from the whole of the northern half of the peninsula were wont to assemble.
The rival school of Basra, on the other hand, has given currency to a story that the original collection made by al-Mufaddal included a much smaller number of poems. The Berlin MS. of al-Marzugi's commentary states that the number was thirty, but a better reading of the passage, found elsewhere,' mentions eighty; and that al-Asma`i and his school added to this nucleus poems which increased the number to a hundred and twenty.
It purports to be the second part of a combination of two anthologies, the Mufaddaliyat of al-Mufaeldal and the Asma`ayat of al-Asma`i, but contains many more poems than are in either of these collections as found elsewhere.
The Tandhib ul-Asma'i has been edited as the Biographical Dictionary of Illustrious Men chiefly at the Beginning of Islam by F.
In these matters he was the great rival of Asma'i (q.v.).
Asma`i was one of the greatest scholars of his age.
While the latter followed (or led) the Shu`ubite movement and declared for the excellence of all things not Arabian, Asma`i was the pious Moslem and avowed supporter of the superiority of the Arabs over all peoples, and of the freedom of their language and literature from all foreign influence.
For life of Asma`i, see Ibn Khallik5n, Biographical Dictionary, translated from the Arabic by McG.