By Mohammed Mirza
Renowned across the Middle East and South Asia for his extreme generosity, tales of this Arabian poet have been part of many movies, TV shows and books.
Although he was considered a well-established poet in his time, today he is mostly famous for his altruism. So much so that amongst Arabs an encomium given to a generous man is to say that he or she is “more generous than Hatem.”
Hatem lived in the sixth century in the central Arabian region of Hail and belonged to the Al Tai tribe. It is believed the he lost his father when he was young and was raised by his grandfather. Hatem’s habit of giving away whatever happened to be in his hands to friends and strangers was a source of pride and even boasting for his grandfather at first; but as the years passed, the habit remained and his grandfather’s resources decreased and so did the boasting.
There are many such stories associated with Hatem, which have been passed down from generation to generation. Eventually his legend made its way to the famed ‘Arabian Nights.’ His son Adi Ibn Hatem was a companion of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and was also acknowledged for his generosity. Today Hatem’s legend lives on and in recognition of his largesse and munificence, a street in Jeddah is named after him.