The Maqámát of Badí‘ al-Zamán al-Hamadhání, tr. W.J. Prendergast  at sacred-texts.com
MAQAMA, plural Maqámát, from … he stood, primarily signifies an occasion of standing, or a place where one stands upright. Standing appear to have been not only the natural, but the conventional position of the speaker, e.g.
(2) I have heard that ‘Alí ibn al-Ḥusain was standing admonishing the people. 3
(3) Come near and eat, or, if thou wilt, stand and speak. 4
The practice of standing to speak goes back to Homeric times:--
According to Ibn Qutaiba (A. H. 276) reports of the literary discussions held in the assemblies of men of learning and culture received, early in the ‘Abbásid period (A. H. 132-656), the name Maqáma. 2
These literary reunions appear to have been a recognized institution. Saif al-Daula used to hold an assembly every night to which men of learning came and conversed in his presence; 3 and Tha‘álibí, in referring to the literary splendour of Bukhára in Hamadhání's time, mentions a remarkable gathering of the chief scholars of the day at the Court of that State. 4
Maqáma probably acquired the more restricted meaning of a discourse, exhortation or oration, between the time of Jáḥiz (ob. A.H. 255) and that of Hamadhání (ob. A.H. 398).
The extracts given below illustrate the various uses of the word from the time of the pre-Islámic poet Zuheir (end of the sixth century A.D.) to that of the author (end of the eleventh century A.D.) It is thus used by early writers:--
And if he is present in the maqáma--assembly or council--on the day of final decision,
Thou wilt see the equal of Luqmán the sage. 2
Solitary ones who have not heard the barking of the dogs of maqáma--a company of Bedawín. 5
So wait for the end of his maqáma--a discourse. The word here refers to a stirring sermon which ‘Ísá ibn Hishám had been listening to. 2
And him who enters the maqámát--companies or assemblies of respectable people. 3
And of their distinguishing marks is the vileness of their maqámát--assemblies of chief men, or speeches. 4
Verily he who has dictated four hundred maqámát on mendicity. 5
Although the maqámát were composed chiefly for assemblies of the learned and for the entertainment of the great, the word maqáma is applied by Hamadhání himself to the species of composition first associated with his name, and not to the people who assembled to listen to his discourses. It is in this restricted sense that it has come down to us.
As the extracts from different authors do, however, show that the word has the triple signification of an oratorical address or harangue, a collection of champions, or a company of people, I have preferred a transliteration to the rendering by the familiar, but unsatisfactory, term assembly.
11:2 Kitáb al-Amálí, ii, 73.
11:3 Maqámát of al-Hamadhání, p. 130.
11:4 Maqámát of al-Ḥarírí, p. 21.
12:1 Iliad, Book xix, line 79.
12:2 Brockelman, Gesch. der Arab Litteratur, i, 94.
12:3 Ibn Khallikan, i, 105.
12:4 Yatíma, iv, 33.
12:5 Shu‘ará al-Nasrániah, p. 573.
12:6 Abú Tammám (Beyrút edition), p. 82, last line.
13:1 Abú Tammám (Beyrút edition), p. 211, line 4.
13:2 Ibid., p. 256, line 4 from the end.
13:3 Hamasa, p. 95.
13:4 Book of Misers (Lyden edition), p. 218, line 23.
13:5 Haywán, part iv, 154,
13:6 Kitáb al-Amálí, i, 95.
14:1 Text, p. 25.
14:2 Ibid., p. 135.
14:3 Ibid., p. 160.
14:4 Letters, p. 106.
14:5 Ibid., p, 390.