15444671911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 2 — A'ShāGriffithes Wheeler Thatcher

A‘SHĀ [Maimūn ibn Qais], Arabian poet, was born before Mahomet, and lived long enough to accept the mission of the prophet. He was born in Manfūha, a village of al-Yemāma in the centre of Arabia, and became a wandering singer, passing through all Arabia from Hadramut in the south to al-Hīra in the north, and naturally frequenting the annual fair at Okaz (Ukāz). His love poems are devoted to the praise of Huraira, a black female slave. Even before the time of Mahomet he is said to have believed in the resurrection and last judgment, and to have been a monotheist. These beliefs may have been due to his intercourse with the bishop of Nejrān (Najrān) and the ‘Ibādites (Christians) of al-Hīra. His poems were praised for their descriptions of the wild ass, for the praise of wine, for their skill in praise and satire, and for the varieties of metre employed. His best-known poem is that in praise of Mahomet.

His poems have been collected from various sources in L. Cheikho's Les Poètes arabes chrétiens (Jesuit press, Beirut, 1890), pp. 357-399. His eulogy of Mahomet has been edited by H. Thorbecke, Al Aša's Lobgedicht auf Muhammad (Leipzig, 1875).  (G. W. T.)