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El Tahadeyat

(The Challenges)



This page contains a translation into English of the lyrics to the Iraqi song "El Tahadeyat", which was composed and performed by Kazem el-Saher. Also included is a transliteration of the Arabic lyrics into the Roman alphabet so you can sing along if you like.

  • El Tahadeyat (The Challenges), 1999
  • Song Title in Arabic: التحديات
  • Album: Habibati Wal Matar
  • Lyricist: Nizar Qabbani
  • Composer: Kazem al-Saher
  • Original Artist: Kazem al-Saher

Song lyrics are provided for educational purposes. If you like the song, please purchase either the album or a download from an authorized source.

About Kazem el-Saher

Kazem el-Saher is an Iraqi singer, composer, and songwriter, sometimes known by the nickname "The Caesar of Arabic music". Over the course of his career, he has achieved spectacular success throughout the Arabic-speaking world and beyond. His biggest hit has been Ana Wa Laila.

When el-Saher was growing up, he was influenced by hearing music on the radio by composers such as Mohamed Abdel Wahab. He started learning to play guitar as a child, then later switched to oud. At age 21, he enrolled in the prestigious Baghdad Institute of Music and studied there approximately 6 years.

El-Saher found it difficult to break into the music business because he wanted to perform his own compositions, whereas music producers were more interested in artists who would perform their material. He collaborated with a friend who happened to be a television director to create a music video featuring one of his own songs, "Ladghat El Hayya". It was broadcast on Iraqi television in 1987, immediately generating controversy due to the content of its lyrics. A year later he released another hit, "Abart Al Shat".

After moving to Lebanon in 1996, el-Saher teamed up with Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani, who served as his lyricist on more than 30 songs. By 1998, el-Saher had released 10 albums and elevated his reputation from "pop star" to "artist". He won a UNICEF award for his song "Tathakkar", which he was invited to perform for the U.S. Congress and the United Nations.

El-Saher began his career as a songwriter creating music for other Iraqi singers, but eventually moved on to become a recording artist in his own right. He relocated to Cairo, Egypt, and built a following as the voice of Iraqi exiles.

Kazem el Saher has often been compared to legendary Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafez because of his emotive singing style. Like Hafez, he has also been a heartthrob in the eyes of many young Arab women. Al-Saher has been at the forefront of a return to romantic classicism in Arabic music, steering clear of the pop sound that is so prevalent today. El-Saher is known for his perfectionism and attention to detail, and praised for his non-traditional use of long-forgotten maqamat (musical building blocks) in his compositions.

El-Saher has released over 20 albums, toured the world, and achieved international popularity.

Other ways to spell his name include "Kathem el-Saher" and "Kadim Al Sahir".




Arabic Lyrics


English Translation


Part 1

Part 1

Part 1

أتحدّى Atahada I challenge
من إلى عينيكِ، يا سيّدتي، قد سبقوني Man illa einayki ya sayedati, kaad sabaqoni. all those who you saw in the past before me —
يحملونَ الشمسَ في راحاتهمْ Yehmelon al shams fe rahatihim. those who can effortlessly carry the sun,
وعقودَ الياسمينِ.. Wa akoodan al yasamin. and their flowery promises.
أتحدّى كلَّ من عاشترتِهمْ Atahada kol man ashartihim, I challenge all of those that you have befriended —
من مجانينَ، ومفقودينَ في بحرِ الحنينِ Min majanin wa atfal, wa mafkodin fe bahr al hanin. from children to madmen, and they that are lost in the sea of tenderness,
أن يحبّوكِ بأسلوبي، وطيشي، وجنوني.. An yeheboki be eslobi, wa tayshi, wa jenooni. to love you as I do, with my rashness and my madness.
أتحدّاكِ أنا.. أنْ تجدي وطناً مثلَ فمي Atahadaki ana an tajidi watanan mithla fami I challenge you to find a home like my mouth,
وسريراً دافئاً.. مثلَ عيوني Wa sariran dafiaan, mithla eioni. or a bed as warm as my eyes,
إنني أسكنُ في الحبّ Enani askono fel hob. for your love is my existence.
فما من قبلةٍ أُخذتْ.. أو أُعطيتْ Fa ma min koblatin okhizat aw ateyat. So what of those kisses you gave and received?
ليسَ لي فيها حلولٌ أو حضورْ Layasali feha helolon aw hezor. They don't matter at all.
إنني أسكنُ في الحبّ Enani askono fel hob. For your love is my existence.
فاقرأي أقدمَ أوراقَ الهوى Fakarai qodam awraq el hawa. I submit these love letters to you,
تجديني دائماً بينَ السطورْ Tajidinini daiman bayna el sotor. you will find me between their lines.

Part 2

Part 2

Part 2

أتحدّى كلَّ عشاقك يا سيدتي Atahada kol oshaqik ya sayedati, I challenge all of your lovers, my lady.
أتحدّاهُم جميعاً Atahadahom jamian. I challenge them all
أن يخطّوا لكِ مكتوبَ هوىً An yahoto laki maktobo hawan. to write you love letters,
كمكاتيبِ غرامي Ka ma katibi gharami. like I do.
أو يجيؤوكِ –على كثرتهم- Wa yajihoki ala kasratihim. Or that they give you as many notes as they can
بحروفٍ كحروفي، وكلامٍ ككلامي Be herofin ka herofi, wa kalamin ka kalami. with letters like mine or words like mine.
أتحدّاهم جميعاً Atahadahom jamian. I challenge them all,
أن يكونوا قطرةً صُغرى ببحري An yakono katratan soghra bi bahri. for they are but a small drop in my ocean.
أو يكونوا أطفأوا أعمارَهمْ Aw yakono atfao, amaraho Or that they end their lives
مثلما أطفأتُ في عينيكِ عُمري.. Mithlama atfaqto fe einayki omri. like I ended my life in your eyes.
أتحدّاكِ أنا.. أن تجدي Atahadaki ana an tajidi ashikan mithli, I challenge you to find a lover like me
وعصراً ذهبياً.. مثلَ عصري Wa asran dahabeyan, mithla asri. or an age as golden as mine.

Part 3

Part 3

Part 3

فارحلي، حيثُ تريدينَ Farhali, hay thotoridi. So I leave you to decide,
ارحلي حيثُ تريدينَ Erhali, hay thotoridi. I leave you to decide.
واضحكي وابكي، Wa adhaki wa abki. So smile or weep.
فأنا أعرفُ أنْ لنْ تجدي Fa ana arifo an lan tajidi, For I know there is no choice,
موطناً فيهِ تنامينَ كصدري.. Mawtinan fi tanamin ka sadri. You can only live when you choose me.
أتحدّاكِ أنا! Atahadaki ana! I challenge you!



Translations of
Kazem el-Saher's Songs On This Site

Translations on this web site of songs performed by Kazem el-Saher include:



About the Translation Source

This translation and transliteration of the song's lyrics are courtesy of



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