Abu Nuwas

His complete name was Abu Nuwas al-Hasan ben Hani Al-Hakami (756–814), one of the greatest of classical Arabic poets, who also composed in Persian on occasion. Born in the city of Ahvaz in Persia, of an Arab father and a Persian mother, he became a master of all the contemporary genres of Arabic poetry. Abu Nuwas has entered the folkloric tradition, and he appears several times in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights.

The two versions of Abu Nawas stories in the Malay language are as below:
  1.  Islam -Indian origin- A book entitled «Hikayat Abu Nawas» published in Singapore in 1917. Pustaka Antara Kuala Lumpur published another book using the same title in 1966 by Wan Shamsuddin.
  2. Persian-Arabic origin- «Cerita Abu Nawas» published in series in Majalah Seri Pustaka by Balai Pustaka, Jakarta in 1922. Dozens of reprints are produced subsequently.
Unlike the Malay version Abu Nawas, the original Abu Nuwas was not too good in getting out of trouble. For instance, he went into exile for incurring the wrath of his royal patron Caliph Harun al-Rashid. Harun’s successor, al-Amin who favoured Abu Nuwas also had him imprisoned. During the reign of Amin’s successor, al-Ma’mun, he was imprisoned again and it is said finally poisoned. Most of Abu Nuwas legacy of poetries remained untranslated.
Here is one of the famous poems of Abu Nuwas believed as his expression of repentance during the life.
God, I don’t deserve your paradise,but I can’t withstand your hellfire,so allow me to repent and forgive my sins,as You are the Forgiver of Sins.
My sins is as much as the sands at the beach,so allow me to repent oh He Who Have All The Greatness my lifetime decreases each and every day,but my sins increases, I can’t help it God, this sinful servant of Yours comes to face YouIndeed I have sinned and I ask of You, If you forgive indeed You are the Forgiver of Sins, but if You refuse, to whom should we pray to other than You.
Source : Santunan Jadid, March 2011

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