Hatim al-Tai or Hatim Altaaey (Arabic: حاتم الطائي Hatim of the Tayy tribe; died 578), but formally Ḥātim bin ʿAbda'llāh bin Saʿad a'ṭ-Ṭāʾiyy (Arabic: حاتم بن عبد الله بن سعد الطائي) was a famous Arab poet who belonged to the Ta'i tribe of Arabia. Stories about his extreme generosity have made him an icon among Arabs up until today, as evident in the proverbial phrase "more generous than Hatim" (Arabic: أكرم من حاتم).
He lived in the sixth century CE and also figures in the Arabian Nights stories. The celebrated Persian poet Saadi, in his work Gulistan (1259 CE) wrote: "Hatim Taï no longer exists but his exalted name will remain famous for virtue to eternity. Distribute the tithe of your wealth in alms; for when the husbandman lops off the exuberant branches from the vine, it produces an increase of grapes". He is also mentioned in Saadi's Bostan (1257). According to legends in various books and stories, he was a famous personality in the region of Ta'i (present day Ha'il) and is also a well-known figure in the rest of the Middle East as well as the Indian subcontinent, featuring in many books, films and TV series in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Turkish, Hindi and various other languages.
Rozat-ul-Sufa mentions that "In the eighth year after the birth of his eminence the Prophet (Muhammad), died Noushirwan the Just, and Hatemtai the generous, both famous for their virtues", around 579 CE. According to the 17th-century orientalist D'Herbelot, his tomb was located at a small village called Anwarz, in Arabia.
Qissa-e-Hatem-tai (قصۂ حاتم طائی), alternatively Dastan-e-Hatem-tai (داستانِ حاتم طائی), meaning "The Tale of Hatemtai" is very popular in South Asia. Multiple films (see below) have been made about Hatim based on this story, which narrates seven of his fantastic adventures in seven chapters.
The books on the story usually consist of a short introduction describing his ancestry and character and tells the seven episodes based on seven riddles, asked by a beautiful and rich woman named Husn Banu (حسن بانو), who will marry only the person who is able to obtain answers to all seven of them. The riddles are:
- 'What I saw once, I long for a second time.'
- 'Do good, and cast it upon the waters.'
- 'Do no evil; if you do, such shall you meet with.'
- 'He who speaks the truth is always tranquil.'
- 'Let him bring an account of the mountain of Nida.'
- 'Let him produce a pearl of the size of a duck's egg.'
- 'Let him bring an account of the bath of Badgard.'
A king, who falls in love with her but unable to find answers, tells the generous Hatemtai, whom he meets by chance, all about it. Hatim undertakes the quest to find the answers and help the king marry her.
- Abdul-Rahman, Muhammad Saed (2003-12-21). Islam: Questions And Answers - The Heart Softeners (Part 1). MSA Publication Limited. pp. 81–82. ISBN 9781861793287.
- Kitab al-Aghani by Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahani
- van Arendonk, Cornelis (1987). E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam 1913-1936. E. J. Brill. p. 290. ISBN 9789004082656.
- http://www.sacred-texts.com/isl/arp/arp159.htm HATIM TAI, THE GENEROUS ARAB CHIEF
- The Bustan of Sadi, tr. by A. Hart Edwards, 1911, http://www.sacred-texts.com/isl/bus/bus06.htm
- Arbuthnot, F. F. (1887). Persian Portraits: A Sketch of Persian History, Literature and Politics. B. Quaritch. p. 132. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
- Arabian Poetry, by W. A. Clouston, 1881, http://www.sacred-texts.com/isl/arp/arp028.htm#page_99
- Persian Portraits: A Sketch of Persian History, Literature and Politics by F. F. Arbuthnot
- PVR to release animation film Adventures of Sinbad, Farida Khanzada : Mumbai, Indian Express, Fri Jan 18 2013 http://www.indianexpress.com/news/PVR-to-release-animation-film-Adventures-of-Sinbad/1060773/
- The Story of Hatim in The Arabian Nights (AD 800-900 in modern form).
- The Adventures of Hatim Tai (Qissa-e-Hatim Tai, from an 1824 Persian manuscript) by Duncan Forbes.
- Adventures of the second Darwesh in Bagh-o-Bahar or Qissa Chahar Darvesh, Mir Amman of Delhi, Urdu 1804, translated by Duncan Forbes
- Edward FitzGerald (1809–1883) mentions Hatim Tai in his translations of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. See quatrain IX in Fitzgerald's first edition:
"But come with old Khayyam, and leave the Lot
Of Kaikobad and Kaikhosru forgot:
Let Rustum lay about him as he will,
Or Hatem Taiy cry Supper--heed them not."