Every people has an image that is at the forefront of the chain of its cultural heritage, which is an individual or collective expression of common collective issues related to social, economic and political events that capture the interest of the human being and occupy his large and small surroundings, or it is a personal expression that reflects feelings of joy, love and sadness, or the personal achievements and disappointments that others share. Directly or indirectly. Based on the expression related to the popular base, such as the art of the Malhoun as some call it and the literature of the Malhoun as some call it, a prominent and distinctive image within the literary and folk art system of West North Africa.
An image that gradually and transformed, with its zajal peculiarities, somewhat similar to the Andalusian muwashah, from the era of the Almohads, (1121-1269), included in the popular memory and in the Moroccan heritage until it became an accompanying part of the singing in its current form, known as Malhoun.
Al-Malhoun formed a bridge across which poets and zajjalis crossed to the bank of the modern song of West North Africa, starting at the beginning of the last century. Mouinah Al-Shaary and Al-Gharyy, writers and theater directors, also obtained rich material for venerable works that have remained a model and spirit for the renewal of the theatrical movement until the present time. For example, but not limited to, the play “Al-Nour and Dejour” and the play “Haraz” in the sixties of the last century by the writer Abdel Salam Chraibi and directed by the artist Tayeb Al-Siddiqi, the play “Sidi Kaddour Alami” by the Wafaa Marrakesh troupe, or “The judge of the ring” by Ahmed El-Tayeb Al-Alj and a number of works. Other than these, which number in the tens, as the groups Nass El Ghiwane and Jil Jilala chose, and from the poems of this art, additions to their singing career.
Malhoun today is a lyrical art that is distinguished from the rest of the other Maghreb singing arts in terms of its reliance on the Arabic poetic poem Al-Zajaliyya, whether in the same seas of Arabic poetry or in its own seas that give it a distinct identity. Bahour bore names such as al-Miyadah, al-Mashtab and al-Sousi, and it has measurements and rules that set it apart from other literary expression tools.
The chants of the art of Al-Melhoun have always opened their songs with introductions in the style of ancient Arabic poems as the precursors to the poem called “Al Sarabah”. It is mostly short poems that are unknown to the creator and have nothing to do with the central theme of the poem.
O my heart, create a cactus for your beloved * Patience is a key to treasures and ammunition
Do not blame your beloved or the neighbor * Please arrive after difficult hours
In spite of the numerous research and studies that included this type of popular Zajal poetry, the stage of the emergence of the historical literature of Malhoun remains ambiguous. But there is no doubt that its emergence began with the spread of the colloquial Arabic language among the popular circles, where many people who had no interest in the rules of syntax, morphology and grammar found their way, as Ibn Khaldun indicates when he says in his introduction about the admiration of the people of Fez for him, “So the people of Fez applauded it and were fond of it and organized it according to its own way, and left the syntax that is not their business, and they heard it a lot among them, and many of them got worse and differentiated it” (p. 530).
The testimony of Ibn Khaldun indicates that this Zajal poetry did not have any connection with Ibn Khaldun at the time of Ibn Khaldun, but was merely poetry, which will later become, starting in the fifteenth century, the main authoritative of the musical maqamat of the Melhon, which in the majority of them are maqams that descend from the Andalusian nature and use the latter’s instruments such as Oud, perfection, and percussion instruments from Darbuka, Tar (rag) and chanting. However, it became unique over time with its independent identity under the name of Malhoun.
There are many adjectives and the noun is one
There are different opinions regarding naming al-Malhoun scholars and specialists. Professor Muhammad al-Fassi linked it to the melody, so he became a composer based on the weight of the object. However, Dr. Abbas al-Jarari opposes what al-Fassi said in his book “al-Qasidah” when he says: “The naming was derived from the melody in the sense of grammatical error” (p. 67), and he supports his opinion with the words of Ibn Khaldoun in the introduction: “And they may compose simple melodies in it, in the manner of the musical industry.”
These poems were called Asmaiyat as they were in the East called Bedouin due to the melody in the language. Apart from these two views, there is a third opinion of Professor Ahmed Sahoum, who tends to define the malhoun in the last page of his book “The Moroccan Melhoun” as “the eloquent saying, communicating convincing”, and this is evidenced by a poem by Abdullah bin Hasayin, who lived in the stage of the Saadi state (1554 -1659) when he says:
And the colum is all salt * or ph: the system is metered
He also says
Melhoun in: the meanings are measured * on the systems of the system.
In this context, it came in the hadith of Umm Salamah on the authority of the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace:
“Rather, I am a human being, and you are doodling against me, and perhaps some of you may be composing his argument from another. So I spend for him in what I hear, until the end of the hadith, ”narrated by Al-Bukhari.
The ancient interested people were not satisfied with the name Al-Malhoun, but they gave it a number of names. Among them are: Al-Qrayed, Lausanne, Kalam, Al-Sajiya, Al-Kuriha, Al-Sharif, the gifted knowledge, and the list of names is long. And all of these names have their testimonies in their poetry. The space here will narrow to mention all of them, and we will suffice, for example, with the model of gifted knowledge, on the basis that the talent in poetry is a divine gift that is not acquired by memorization or learning. In this sense, the poet Al-Melhoun Ali Al-Baghdadi says:
The secret of God is what is hidden and not perceived by whoever or not * except from the one who is a Creator and whose eyes are open
The poetry of Al-Malhoun attracted as well as all movements of popular poetry in all Arab societies with currents of rejection and acceptance. But he was able to withstand all these calls rejecting and hostile to him, so he walked the path of his growth and spread through the channels of support for the popular classes of craftsmen and handicraftsmen. His poets, most of whom belong to professions and handicrafts such as tanning, tanning, weaving, baking, etc., embraced the concerns and interests of this social stratum.
These poets, most of whom do not write or read, found in this type of poetry a fertile ground for expressing what was going on in their minds and responded very quickly to all life developments, economic crises and political events, whether in Morocco or in the Arab East.
The appeal of Malhoun’s art was not limited to the popular base; Rather, it exercised its magic on the class of jurists, politicians, sultans, writers and mystics, who contributed to the development of this literary movement with abundant productions. Among the jurists, for example, Abdel Aziz Al Maghraoui, among the men of politics, the minister Muhammad Al-Amrawi, and from the sultans, Abdelhafid, whose poem was printed at the beginning of the twentieth century in the lithographic press in Fez and then reprinted by the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco in 2019, and from the Sufis such as Muhammad Al-Harraq, and other such examples a lot.
The art of Malhoun was not restricted to men. Rather, female poets singing in his field contributed to it with their creativity, such as the Tordana poet and the poet Al Wardigha. Nor did the creations of the poets of Al-Malhoun pass without criticism and discussion of intellectuals. The scholars have also contributed to the advancement of this poetic field, through their fatwas, and by resolving the intellectual and ideological differences that abound with the topics of the poets of Al-Melhoun. The two poets Ahmed Gharabli from Fez and al-Madani al-Turkman from Marrakesh at the beginning of the last century approached al-Qarawiyyin scholars about the issue of saying and deed in belief. Is martyrdom in God and the Messenger sufficient, as al-Turkmani says:
The lime evacuates the servants, each one in the event * witnessing God and the Messenger is sufficient for its guardian
Or is it not enough, and the work must accompany it, as in what Al-Gharabli says:
Claim, I know, he listened to the people of knowledge, what they said. * Testimony without workers is not sufficient for its fulfillment
A disagreement that resulted in a wonderful booklet by the scholar Bouachrine, which is a long fatwa, in which he triumphed for Gharabli, and he issued a fatwa not to sing the Turkmen poem except in the presence of singing the poem of Gharabli.
The melody inspires the eloquent
Al-Fusha poets have gone through many periods of stagnation in which they were in isolation or semi-isolation from the concerns and issues of the people, so their productions revolved in vicious circles, copying themselves and hovering around their poles. This gave the popular poet a fertile field to fill this void by expressing the various issues related to daily life in its universality. He dealt with various topics that he weaved along the lines of what we find in Arabic poetry (such as praise, adoration, pride, satire, mutual satire, lament and mysteries) religious topics such as divine adoration and praise. The anchoring, the family of the house, the saints, the righteous people, the opposition in opinion, and many other topics.
Including what was created by the poet Al-Malhoun on his own from the poet Al-Fasha, such as the love poem story called Haraz (Haraz: the hippocampus in which the thing is kept. In order to liberate his beloved, and in the end he succeeds in that) or dimlig, anklets, gnaoui, or humorism such as Hamman, and zarda or opposites discounts (such as fat and thin women, black and white, ummah and free, Bedouin and Medina, or coffee and tea, etc.).
The poet Al-Malhoun did not leave a door from the doors of life without organizing it, especially in the woman who captured the largest part of his interest, like other poets in all cultures, he gave his beloved a long list of epithets and names such as Harrat al-Bakr, and decorated the rim, the gazelle, the joy of the cheeks, and the crescent light. One of the most famous poets of the Melhon, Muhammad bin Sulayman of the eighteenth century, says in the poem Khaduja, meaning Khadija:
Khadouj Badeet El Gamal * Khadouj thinned the letters.
The poet Al-Malhoun also wooed this beloved by sending messengers:
F: Then I said, O my messenger, * He left the mourning and returned to her
Her shape and my curiosity * My need must satisfy her
Or when he complains about broadcasting it to the candle:
And if we cry from your sickness, I will see a current sickness * from Qais Warath after his death, Laila’s love.
Or complain to him to the bathroom:
If he was smitten, oh pigeons, they got stuck in the period of the Vita *, and the one who has healed in a long time would not have seen Anjal
Or crying over the ruins:
Your visit is the shortest
God and where did they walk and give me the news.
Or getting closer to your beloved with a tattoo:
The size of the bloody spinster * The tattoo was a number, so it was issued by the owners of the owners, the dead gazelle
He also dealt with poetry, wine, the universe, nature, wisdom, asceticism, the journey to the pilgrimage, the cities that the pilgrim passes through, and of course Mecca and Medina, and poems on resistance to the entry of colonialism into the Arab countries and the issue of Palestine:
Yak Tammen who broke the limit and betrayed the vows
As well as the Charter, none of them in whom we trust to read for me
A foolish person who believes in his enemies will not escape from the bank
Revelation of itself
Generally speaking, there is no human-related topic that the poet Al-Malhoun did not write about. Based on the benefit of the Melhoun poets in building their poems on the religious and cultural heritage, the Qur’an and the most important books in hadith, the Prophet’s biography and jurisprudence, Muhammad al-Maghari says in the poem of al-Haraz:
“Qari al-Kutub al-Tasub al-Tasub al-Tasub al-Tasub al-Tasub al-Taswil is recited as it was revealed. We recite it in Nafeh, and the chanter said. We recite it by makki, O sah, and al-Bab al-Bazi. Tamim * I wish, O Al-Fahem, he listened to this hadith as the narrator said. I recounted, we read Al-Shami at the end, and Ibn Dakwan we know it until Hesham * by which we always read the walls … Ready of the science of logic and Al-Senussi and the statement * Zayd until Al-Jurmiya, millennium and Muwatta as narrated by Malik With the letter * and Khalil’s book after al-Buqaq and Kitab al-Zuqaq, and I read al-Shamayl and al-Zarkani with al-Ayni and Ibn Hajar Ma Khafani and the large group.
The poets of Al-Malhhoun also intelligently employed the biography of the caliphs and the news of the Arabs in Islam and the Jahiliyyah, and their symbols, such as: Saif Dhu Yazan, Antarah, Hatim al-Tai, Abu Zayd al-Hilali, Qais and Layla. This employment cast its shade on the classical poet later on as a new spirit for eloquent poetry topics and as a new breath out of the recession periods that the poetic movement defined in certain periods, as already mentioned.
In his poem, the poet al-Malhoun, in addition to what we mentioned from intellectual sources, used a popular proverb, anecdote, myths and legends. He also employed everything that could be used from the tools of war or the tools of play in the construction of the poem. Muhammad bin Aslaman says in the poem of Thunder attacking his opponents by employing the game of checkers and the game of cards:
In Dama Al-Shatara, how can a puppy be a dime * I was laid, and the dogs were held by the Arkan
And in my eyes, on the following: * That the one who said it is defeated will prevent it
Two arsenals in my hand, her daughter-in-law Lazim * and their masters I have money, and so is a thief’s Gog
The origin is North * does not go out, knocked out, without what we provide. *)
In the end, it is not possible at all to become acquainted with this booming sea, whose name is Al-Malhoun, neither through dozens of articles nor even through books. In it he presented more than 70 authorization papers and more than 33 theses, as one of his prominent columns, Hajj Ahmad Sahoum, told me that.
What I have put here in the hands of the reader is nothing but a drop of an ocean yam that has no other, and the discussion about al-Malhoun cannot end in an article or articles, and what I have presented here is nothing but a scant definition with which I did not want research or study, but opened a very modest window. It may stimulate the appetite for curiosity and a love of knowledge more and more deeply in this art.