Mustafa Wahbi al-Tal

Mustafa Wahbi Al-Tal
Arar, 1922
Born Mustafa Wahbi Saleh Al-Tal
(1897-05-25)May 25, 1897
Irbid, Ottoman Empire
Died May 24, 1949(1949-05-24) (aged 51)
Irbid, Jordan
Pen name 'Arar
Occupation Lawyer, judge, teacher, political agitator, writer, poet, philosopher
Language Arabic, English, Turkish, Persian, Kurdish, French.
Nationality Jordan
Genre Poetry, essay, philosophical literature, social commentary, translation
Notable works Ashiyyat Wadi Al-Yabis, Arar Political Papers, Al 'A'imma Fe Quraish, Bil Rafah Wal Banin, translation of Khayyam's famous quatrain to Arabic


Mustafa Wahbi Al-Tal, better known as Arar (25 May 1897 – 24 May 1949), was a Jordanian nationalist poet, reformist, lawyer, teacher, judge, political agitator and philosopher. He was a pioneer of Jordanian patriotism and a spokesman for the nation’s ideals and aspirations. He was known for his nationalist and revolutionary oeuvre and his activism in accordance to it. Rebellious patriotism in Arar's poetry is inextricably tied to his never-ending Don Juanism. As a lover, obsessed by the nostalgia for places that had once quenched his thirst for love, Arar created a quite new type of metaphors and terms of reference to the beloved and to her place in the poet's dream-world. Place-related identity terms referring to the poet's beloved or her close surroundings.

Life history

Arar was born Mustafa Saleh Mustafa Yousef Al-Tall in the city of Irbid in Jordan during the Ottoman Empire era. A second name, "Wahbi," was added to his birth name per the Western tradition imported via the Ottoman Turks. Jordan was at that time a part of the Ottoman Empire referred to as Bilad Al-Sham.

He finished his elementary school education in Irbid in 1911. In 1912, Arar registered in a school in Damascus called the Anbur School, which was named after a Damascan Jew who founded it. Arar's father was an alumnus school. Before the end of the school year, however, he was exiled with some other Jordanian students to Beirut, Lebanon, by the Ottoman authorities. He returned to Anbur School from exile in 1913 or 1914, and then visited Irbid during 1915. In 1917, while in tenth grade, he visited Istanbul for six months, which was during World War I. During this time he also got married to Setteh Jaber Marashdeh.

In 1917 or 1918, he was exiled again to Beirut, for political activism. From 1919 to 1920, he participated in a demonstration and gets expelled once again from Anbur School to Aleppo, Syria. He earned his high school diploma from the Madrasat Tajheez Halab in Aleppo.

Following completion of his high-school education, he found employment as a teacher of Arabic literature in Al Karak in 1922. He was, however, fired from his job in 1923 and was first exiled to Ma'an, then Aqaba, and then Jeddah. On his return from exile in 1924 he began his long-lasting relationship with the Gypsy community in Mandatory Palestine.

Arar was appointed a local governor to the Showbuk/Wadi Moosa district in 1929. In 1930, he earned a law degree and license to practice as a lawyer. In spring of 1931 he was exiled to Aqaba for his political dissent and calling for political changes. In 1939 he became the District attorney of Salt, Jordan.

In 1941, Arar spent ninety days in prison for his political views. By this time he had become a heavy drinker and his alcoholism became apparent. In 1943, he represented the Fellaheen (i.e., peasantry) in court during a bloody feud with the Zou'bi tribe in Ramtha.

Arar is the father of Wasfi al-Tal who was a prime minister of Jordan for three separate terms and was assassinated in 1971 by the Black September unit of the Palestine Liberation Organization outside a Cairo hotel.

Arar died in 1949. His hometown of Irbid holds an annual poetry festival and Jordan's most prestigious literary award is named after him.


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