Utenzi wa ‘Amuri (MS 53497g)

Material Information

Utenzi wa ‘Amuri (MS 53497g)
Series Title:
Hichens Collection : Swahili Poems
Publication Date:
Paper ( medium )
Typescript manuscript Typescript with black ink on thin paper, with ten verses to a page


Subjects / Keywords:
Islam ( LCSH )
Religious history
Legends ( LCSH )
Swahili poetry ( LCSH )
Kiswahili mashairi
History -- Religious aspects ( LCSH )
Islam -- History ( LCSH )
Muḥammad, Prophet, -650 ( LCNA )
Prophet Mohammed
ʻAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib, Caliph, approximately 600-661 ( LCNA )
علي بن أبي طالب، الخليفة، 600-661
Poetry ( LCTGM )
Spatial Coverage:
Africa -- Eastern Africa -- Swahili Coast
-9.633997 x 39.778998


This section of MS 53497 contains the incomplete poem ‘Utenzi wa Amuri’ in 259 verses, transliterated and typed. The same incomplete poem can be found in MS 210002. A complete version of the poem may be found in MS 300069 (Knappert collection) under the title ‘Utenzi wa Vita Vikuu baina ya Isilamu na Makafiri wa Kiarabu’. This is the story of Amuri bin Ghuweni az-Zuhuri, a non-believer in Islam. The poem tells how Jibril was sent by God to inform the Prophet about the misconduct of Amuri. Ali was then sent to deal with Amuri. In Stanza 56, kipande 4, Ali is referred as the brOther-in-law of the Prophet, shemegi. This is done for rhyming purposes, but in fact Ali is the son-in-law of the Prophet. The first 57 Stanzas contain an ode to God for the good sake of Ali’s journey to the town where Amuri lives. Stanzas 60-80 describe the city ruled by Amuri, which is very large, with a million houses (Stanza 77, kipande 3, ‘alifu lake’), and tells of Amuri’s intention to attack Medina. Stanzas 80-110 narrate the encounter between Ali and Amuri, and how Ali set a plot to convince Amuri to follow him. Amuri wants to gather his army to go along with them, but Ali opposes this decision, and convinces Amuri to go with him alone without his army (Stanzas 130-150). Finally, Ali unveils his real identity to Amuri, which lead to a fight between the two men (Stanzas 150-160). Amuri is then taken to the Prophet Mohammed who tries to convert him to Islam, but Amuri says that he would rather be killed. Ali then kills him (Stanzas 180-182). Asad, a relative of Amuri, informs his community of Amuri’s death and gathers an army to face Muhammad (185-240). The final stanzas narrates that Jibril informs Muhammad of Asad’s arrival in Medina, and tells Mohammed to face him with his forces. Bilali is told by Mohammed to call and gather all the Muslims. Mohammed leads a prayer and then tells the Muslims about the arrival of Asad’s army, and the community gives him its support (240-259). The poem uses a considerable vocabulary of Arabic words not fully incorporated into Swahili, but slightly adapted. Many errors have been found in the poem including the following: In Stanza 1, kipande 1, ‘madadi’ should be ‘midadi’; and in kipande 2, ‘lahu’ should be ‘lawhu’. In Stanza 2, kipande 3, ‘sikomo’ should be ‘zikomo’. In Stanza 5, kipande 4, ‘nitungua’ should be ‘kitungua’. In Stanza 49, kipande 4, ‘sameu’ should be ‘samia’. In Stanza 100, kipande 2, ‘mbwakhubiri’ should be ‘nawakhubiri’. In Stanza 110, kipande 3, ‘akathania’ should be ‘akadhania’. Stanza 131, kipande 3, ‘asiri’ should be ‘usiri’. Stanza 144, kipande 2, ‘umi’ should be ‘ammi’. ( en )
General Note:
Date of Composition is unknown
General Note:
Languages: Swahili (Roman script)
General Note:
Poetic Form: Utenzi
General Note:
Extent: 31 leaves
General Note:
Incipit: Akhi patia madadi : na lahu njema jadidi, na kalamu Mkayadi : ipendezayo kolea
General Note:
Purchased from Kegan Paul, 6 October 1948
General Note:
This poem is also known as the Utenzi wa Vita Vikuu baina ya Isilamu na makafiri wa Kiarabu. See SOAS University of London manuscripts MS 380069 and MS 210002.
General Note:
Africa -- Eastern Africa -- Swahili Coast
General Note:
Publication information: Knappert, Jan. 1967. Traditional Swahili Poetry. Brill, Leiden
General Note:
Publication information: Knappert, Jan. 1979. Four Centuries of Swahili Verse. London: Heinemann, pp. 210-217.
General Note:
Publication information: Knappert, Jan. 1999. A Survey of Swahili Islamic Epic Sagas. Lewiston, New York; Queenston, Ontario; Lampeter, Wales: Edwin Mellen Press; pp. 32-33.
General Note:
Publication information: Knappert, Jan. 1971. Swahili Islamic Poetry. Brill, Leiden.
General Note:
Publication information: Knappert, Jan. 1983. Epic Poetry in Swahili and Other African Languages. Leiden: E.J. Brill, pp. 74-128

Record Information

Source Institution:
SOAS University of London
Holding Location:
Archives and Special Collections
Rights Management:
This item may be in the public domain. Its status has yet to be assessed.
Resource Identifier:
MS 53497 ( SOAS manuscript number )
MS 53497g ( SOAS manuscript number )