KHANSA (Tumadir bint 'Amr, known as al-Khansa) (d. c. 645), Arabian poetess of the tribe Sulaim, a branch of Qais, was born in the later years of the 6th century and brought up in such wealth and luxury as the desert could give. Refusing the offer of Duraid ibn us-Simma, a poet and prince, she married Mirdas and had by him three sons. Afterwards she married again. Before the time of Islam she lost her brothers Sakhr and Moawiya in battle. Her elegies, written on these brothers and on her father made her the most famous poetess of her time. At the fair of 'Ukaz Nabigha Dhubyani is said to have placed A'sha first among the poets then present and Khansa second above Hassan ibn Thabit. Khansa with her tribe accepted Islam somewhat late, but persisted in wearing the heathen sign of mourning, against the precepts of Islam. Her four sons fought in the armies of Islam and were slain in the battle of Kadislya. Omar wrote her a letter congratulating her on their heroic end and assigned her a pension. She died in her tent c. 645. Her daughter 'Amra also wrote poetry. Opinion was divided among later critics as to whether Khansa or Laila (see ARABIC LITERATURE: Poetry) was the greater.
Her diwan has been edited by L. Cheikho (Beirut, 1895) and translated into French by De Coppier (Beirut, 1889). Cf. T. Noldeke's Beitrdge zur Kenntniss der Poesie der alien Araber (Hanover, 1864). Stories of her life are contained in the Kitab ul-Aghdni, xiii. 136-147. (G. W. T.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)