Richard Francis Burton.

A plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, now entituled The book of the thousand nights and a night : with introduction, explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men, and a terminal essay upon the history of The nights (Volume 7) online

. (page 10 of 40)
Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonA plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, now entituled The book of the thousand nights and a night : with introduction, explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men, and a terminal essay upon the history of The nights (Volume 7) → online text (page 10 of 40)
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became harder than the rock. When he reached the age of fifteen,
his spirit waxed big in him and he said to Fakhr Taj, " O my
mamma, who is my papa ? " She replied, " O my son, Gharib,
King of Irak, is thy father and I am the King's daughter, of the
Persians," and she told him her story. Quoth he, "Did my
grandfather indeed give orders to slay thee and my father
Gharib ? " ; and quoth she, " Yes." Whereupon he, " By the
claim thou hast on me for rearing me, I will assuredly go to
thy father's city and cut off his head and bring it into thy pre-
sence!" And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and

ceased saying her permitted say.

Noto fo&en ft foas t&e &ft ffcuitofc an& Sb^entg.nfntD

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
Murad Shah son of Fakhr Taj thus bespake his mother, she
rejoiced in his speech. Now he used to go a-riding with two
hundred Marids till he grew to man's estate, when he and they

88 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

fell to making raids and cutting off the roads and they pushed
their razzias ever farther till one day he attacked the city of
Shiraz and took it. Then he proceeded to the palace and cut off
the King's head, as he sat on his throne, and slew many of his
troops, whereupon the rest cried " Quarter ! Quarter ! " and kissed
his stirrups. Finding that they numbered ten thousand horse, he
led them to Balkh, where he slew the King of the city and put
his men to the rout and made himself master of the riches of the
place. Thence he passed to Nurayn, 1 at the head of an army of
thirty thousand horse, and the Lord of Nurayn came out to him,
with treasure and tribute, and did him homage. Then he went
on to Samarcand of the Persians and took the city, and after that
to AkhUt 2 and took that town also ; nor was there any city he
came to but he captured it. Thus Murad Shah became the head
of a mighty host, and all the booty he made and spoils in the
sundry cities he divided among his soldiery, who loved him for
his valour and munificence. At last he came to Isbanir al-Madain
and sat down before it, saying, " Let us wait till the rest of my
army come up, when I will seize on my grandfather and solace
my mother's heart by smiting his neck in her presence." So he
sent for her, and by reason of this, there was no battle for three
days, when Gharib and Zalzal arrived with the forty thousand
Marids, laden with treasure and presents. They asked concerning
the besiegers, but none could enlighten them beyond saying that
the host had been there encamped for three days without a fight
taking place. Presently came Fakhr Taj, and her son Murad
Shah embraced her saying, "Sit in thy tent till I bring thy
father to thee." And she sought succour for him of the Lord
of the Worlds, the Lord of the heavens and the Lord of the
earths. Next morning, as soon as it was day, Murad Shah
mounted and rode forth, with the two hundred Marids on his
right hand and the Kings of men on his left, whilst the kettle-
drums beat to battle. When Gharib heard this, he also took
to horse and, calling his people to the combat, rode out, with
the Jinn on his dexter hand and the men on his sinistral. Then
came forth Murad Shah, armed cap-a-pie and drave his chargef
right and left, crying, " O folk, let none come forth to me but
your King. If he conquer me, he shall be lord of both armies,

1 In Turkestan : the name means " Two lights."

* In Armenia, mentioned by Sadik Isfahdni (Transl. p. 62).

The History of Gharib and his Brother Ajib. 89

and if I conquer him, I will slay him, as I have slain others."
When Gharib heard his speech, he said, " Avaunt, O dog of the
Arabs ! " And they charged at each other and lunged with
lances, till they broke, then hewed at each other with swords,
till the blades were notched ; nor did they cease to advance and
retire and wheel and career, till the day was half spent and their
horses fell down under them, when they dismounted and gripped
each other. Then Murad Shah seizing Gharib lifted him up and
strove to dash him to the ground ; but Gharib caught him by
the ears and pulled him with his might, till it seemed to the
youth as if the heavens were falling on the earth ' and he cried
out, with his heart in his mouth, saying, " I yield myself to thy

mercy, O Knight of the Age ! " So Gharib bound him, And

Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her
permitted say.

Note fo&cn ft foas t&

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
Gharib caught Murad Shah by the ears and well nigh tore them
off he cried, " I yield myself to thy mercy, O Knight of the Age ! "
So Gharib bound him, and the Marids his comrades would have
charged and rescued him, but Gharib fell on them with a thousand
Marids and was about to smite them down, when they cried out,
" Quarter ! Quarter ! " and threw away their arms. Then Gharib
returned to his Shahmiyanah which was of green silk, embroidered
with red gold and set with pearls and gems ; and, seating himself
on his throne, called for Murad Shah. So they brought him,
shuffling in his manacles and shackles. When the prisoner saw
him, he hung down his head for shame ; and Gharib said to him,
" O dog of the Arabs, who art thou that thou shouldst ride forth
and measure thyself against kings ? " Replied Murad Shah, " O
my lord, reproach me not, for indeed I have excuse." Quoth
Gharib, " What manner of excuse hast thou ? "; And quoth he,
" Know, O my lord, that I came out to avenge my mother and
my father on Sabur, King of the Persians ; for he would have
slain them ; but my mother escaped and I know not whether

1 This is the only ludicrous incident in the tale which justifies Von Hammer's sus-
picion. Compare it with the combat between Rustam and his son Sohrab.

90 A If Laylah wa Lay la k.

he killed my father or not." When Gharib heard these words,
he replied, " By Allah, thou art indeed excusable ! But who were
thy father and mother and what are their names ? " Murad Shah
said, " My sire was Gharib, King of Al-Irak, and my mother
Fakhr Taj, daughter of King Sabur of Persia." When Gharib
heard this, he gave a great cry and fell down fainting. They
sprinkled rose-water on him, till he came to himself, when he
said to Murad Shah, " Art thou indeed Gharib's son by Fakhr
Taj?"; and he replied, "Yes." Cried Gharib, "Thou art a
champion, the son of a champion. Loose my child ! " And
Sahim and Kaylajan went up to Murad Shah and set him free.
Then Gharib embraced his son and, seating him beside himself,
said to him, " Where is thy mother ? " " She is with me in my
tent," answered Murad Shah ; and Gharib said, " Bring her to
me." So Murad Shah mounted and repaired to his camp, where
his comrades met him, rejoicing in his safety, and asked him of
his case ; but he answered, " This is no time for questions."
Then he went in to his mother and told her what had passed ;
whereat she was gladdened with exceeding gladness : so he
carried her to Gharib, and they two embraced and rejoiced in
each other. Then Fakhr Taj and Murad Shah islamised and
expounded The Faith to their troops, who all made profession
with heart and tongue. After this, Gharib sent for Sabur and
his son Ward Shah, and upbraided them for their evil dealing
and expounded Al-Islam to them; but they refused to profess;
wherefore he crucified them on the gate of the city and the people
decorated the town and held high festival. Then Gharib crowned
Murad Shah with the crown of the Chosroes and made him King
of the Persians and Turks and Medes ; moreover, he made his
uncle Al-Damigh, King over Al-Irak, and all the peoples and
lands submitted themselves to Gharib. Then he abode in his
kingship, doing justice among his lieges, wherefore all the people
loved him, and he and his wives and comrades ceased not from
all solace of life, till there came to them the Destroyer of Delights
and Sunderer of Societies, and extolled be the perfection of Him
whose glory endureth for ever and aye and whose boons embrace
all His creatures ! This is every thing that hath come down to

us of the history of Gharib and Ajib. And Abdullah bin

Ma'amar al-Kaysi hath thus related the tale of

Otbah and Rayya. 9 1


I WENT one year on the pilgrimage to the Holy House of Allah,
and when I had accomplished my pilgrimage, I turned back for
visitation of the tomb of the Prophet, whom Allah bless and
keep! One night, as I sat in the garden, 2 between the tomb and
the pulpit, I heard a low moaning in a soft voice ; so I listened
to it and it said :

Have the doves that moan in the lotus-tree o Woke grief in thy heart and

bred misery ?
Or doth memory of maiden in beauty deckt o Cause this doubt in thee,

this despondency?

night, thou art longsome 'for love-sick sprite o Complaining of Love and its

ecstacy :
Thou makest him wakeful, who burns with fire o Of a love, like the live coal's

The moon is witness my heart is held o By a moonlight brow of the

brightest blee :

1 reckt not to see me by Love ensnared o Till ensnared before I could

reck or see.

Then the voice ceased and not knowing whence it came to me
I abode perplexed ; but lo ! it again took up its lament and
recited .

Came Rayya's phantom to grieve thy sight o In the thickest gloom of the
black-haired Night !

And hath love of slumber deprived those eyes o And the phantom-vision vexed
thy sprite ?

I cried to the Night, whose glooms were like o Seas that surge and billow with
might, with might :

W O Night, thou art longsome to lover who o Hath no aid nor help save the
morning-light ! "

She replied, " Complain not that 1 am long : o 'Tis love is the cause of thy long-
some plight ! "

1 I cannot understand why Tre"butien, iii., 457, writes this word Afba. He remarks
that it is the " Oina and Riya" of Jami, elegantly translated by M. de Chezy in the
Journal Asiatique, vol. I, 144.

3 I have described this part of the Medinah Mosque in Pilgrimage ii , 62-69. Th fi
name derives from a saying of Mohammed (of which there are many variants),
" Betweeen my tomb and my pulpit is a garden of the Gardens of Paradise"
(Burckhardt, Arabia, p. 337). The whole Southern portico (not only a part) now
enjoys that honoured name and the tawdry decorations are intended to suggest a

92 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

Now, at the first of the couplets, I sprang up and made for the
quarter whence the sound came, nor had the voice ended repeating
them, ere I was with the speaker and saw a youth of the utmost
beauty, the hair of whose side face had not sprouted and in whose

cheeks tears had worn twin trenches. And Shahrazad perceived

the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

Nofo fofjen it toas tfje >uc p^untrrrtu anfc lEi


She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abdullah

ibn Ma'amar al-Kaysi thus continued : So I sprang up and made
for the quarter whence the sound came, nor had the voice ended
repeating the verses, ere I was with the speaker and saw a youth
on whose side face the hair had not sprouted and in whose cheeks
tears had worn twin trenches. Quoth I to him, " Fair befal thee
for a youth ! " ; and quoth he, " And thee also ! Who art thou ? "
I replied, " Abdullah bin Ma'amar al-Kaysi ; " and he said, " Dost
thou want aught?" I rejoined, " I was sitting in the garden and
naught hath troubled me this night but thy voice. With my life
would I ransom thee ! What aileth thee ? " He said, " Sit thee
down." So I sat down and he continued, " I am Otbah bin al-
Hubcib bin al-Mundhir bin al-Jamuh the Ansari. 1 I went out in
the morning to the Mosque Al-Ahzab 2 and occupied myself there
awhile with prayer-bows and prostrations, after which I withdrew
apart, to worship privily. But lo ! up came women, as they were
moons, walking with a swaying gait, and surrounding a damsel of
passing loveliness, perfect in beauty and grace, who stopped before
me and said : O Otbah, what sayst thou of union with one who
seeketh union with thee ? Then she left me and went away ; and
since that time I have had no tidings of her nor come upon any
trace of her ; and behold, I am distracted and do naught but
remove from place to place." Then he cried out and fell to the

1 Mohammed's companions (Ashab), numbering some five hundred, were divided into
two orders, the Muhajirin (fugitives) or Meccans who accompanied the Apostle to Al-
Medinah (Pilgrimage ii. 138) and the Ansar (Auxiliaries) or Medinites who invited him
to their city and lent him zealous aid (Ibid ii. 130). The terms constantly occur in
Arab history.

2 The " Mosque of the Troops," also called Al-Fath (victory), the largest of the
" Four Mosques : " it is still a place of pious visitation where prayer is granted. Koran,
chap, xxxiii., and Pilgrimage ii. 325.

Otbah and Rayya. 93

ground fainting. When he came to himself, it was as if the
damask of his cheeks were dyed with safflower, 1 and he recited
these couplets:

I see you with my heart from far countrie o Would Heaven you also me from

far could see
My heart and eyes for you are sorrowing ; o My soul with you abides and you

with me.
I take no joy in life when you're unseen o Or Heaven or Garden of Eternity.

Said I, " O Otbah, O son of my uncle, repent to thy Lord and
crave pardon for thy sin ; for before thee is the terror of standing
up to Judgment." He replied, " Far be it from me so to do. I
shall never leave to love till the two mimosa-gatherers return." 3
I abode with him till daybreak, when I said to him, " Come let us
go to the Mosque Al-Ahzab." So we went thither and sat there, till
we had prayed the midday prayers, when lo ! up came the women;
but the damsel was not among them. Quoth they to him, " O
Otbah, what thinkest thou of her who seeketh union with thee ? "
He said, "And what of her ? " ; and they replied, " Her father hath
taken her and departed to Al-Samawah." s I asked them the
name of the damsel and they said, " She is called Rayya, daughter
of Al-Ghitrff al-Sulami." 4 Whereupon Otbah raised his head and
recited these verses :

My friends, Rayy hath mounted soon as morning shone, And to SamaVah's

wilds her caravan is gone.
My friends, I've wept till I can weep no more, Oh, say, * Hath any one a

tear that I can take on loan.

1 Arab. "Al-Wars," with two meanings. The Alfaz Adwiyah gives it = Kurkum,
curcuma, turmeric, safran d'Inde ; but popular usage assigns it to Usfur, Kurtum or
safflower (carthamus tinctorius). I saw the shrub growing all about Harar which
exports it, and it is plentiful in Al-Yaman (Niebuhr, p. 133), where women affect it to
stain the skin a light yellow and remove freckles : it is also an internal remedy in
leprosy. But the main use is that of a dye, and the Tob stained with Wars is almost
universal in some parts of Arabia. Sonnini (p. 510) describes it at length and says that
Europeans in Egypt call it " Parrot -seeds " because the bird loves it, and the Levant
trader " Saffrenum."

3 Two men of the great 'Anazah race went forth to gather Karaz, the fruit of the Sant
{Mimosa Nilotica) both used for tanning, and never returned. Hence the proverb which
is obsolete in conversation. See Burckhardt, Prov. 659 : where it takes the place of
"ad Craecas Kakndas"

8 Name of a desert (Mafazah) and a settlement on the Euphrates' bank between Basrah
and the site of old Kufah near Kerbela ; the well known visitation place in Babylonian

* Of the Banu Sulaym tribe ; the adjective is Sulami not Sulaymi.

94 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

Then said I to him, "O Otbah, I have brought with me great
wealth, wherewith I desire to succour generous men ; and by
Allah, I will lavish it before thee, 1 so thou mayst attain thy
desire and more than thy desire! Come with me to the as-
sembly of the Ansaris." So we rose and went, till we entered
their assembly, when I salam'd to them and they returned my
greeting civilly. Then quoth I, "O assembly, what say ye of
Otbah and his father ? " : and they replied, " They are of the
princes of the Arabs." I continued, " Know that he is smitten
with the calamity of love and I desire your furtherance to Al-
Samawah." And they said, "To hear is to obey." So they
mounted with us, the whole party, and we rode till we drew
near the place of the Banu Sulaym. Now when Ghitrif heard
of our being near, he hastened forth to meet us, saying, " Long
life to you, O nobles ! " ; whereto we replied, " And to thee also !
Behold we are thy guests." Quoth he, "Ye have lighted down
at a most hospitable abode and ample ; " and alighting he cried
out, " Ho, all ye slaves, come down ! " So they came down and
spread skin-rugs and cushions and slaughtered sheep and cattle ;
but we said, " We will not taste of thy food, till thou have accom-
plished our need." He asked, " And what is your need ? " ; and
we answered, "We demand thy noble daughter in marriage for
Otbah bin Hubab bin Mundhir the illustrious and well-born."
" O my brethren," said he, " she whom you demand is owner of
herself, and I will go in to her and tell her." So he rose in wrath 2
and went in to Rayya, who said to him, " O my papa, why do I
see thee show anger ? " And he replied, saying, " Certain of the
Ansaris have come upon me to demand thy hand of me in marriage."
Quoth she, " They are noble chiefs ; the Prophet, on whom be the
choicest blessings and peace, intercedeth for them with Allah.
For whom among them do they ask me ? " Quoth he, " For a
youth known as Otbah bin al-Hubab ; " and she said, " I have
heard of Otbah that he performeth what he promiseth and findeth
what he seeketh." Ghitrif cried, " I swear that I will never marry
thee to him ; no, never, for there hath been reported to me some-
what of thy converse with him." Said she, "What was that?

1 Arab. " Am'am-ak "= before thee (in space) ; from the same root as Imam = antistes
leader of prayer ; and conducing to perpetual puns, e.g. " You are Imdtn-i (my leader) and
therefore should be Amam-i" (in advance of me).

2 He was angry, as presently appears, because he had heard of certain love passages
between the two and this in Arabia is a dishonour to the family.

Otbah and Rayya. 95

But in any case, I swear that the Ansaris shall not be uncivilly
rejected; wherefore do thou offer them a fair excuse." "How
so ? " " Make the dowry heavy to them and they will desist."
"Thou sayst well," said he, and going out in haste, told the
Ansaris, "The damsel of the tribe 1 consenteth ; but she requireth
a dowry worthy herself. Who engageth for this ? " " I," answered
I. Then said he, " I require for her a thousand bracelets of red
gold and five thousand dirhams of the coinage of Hajar 2 and a
hundred pieces of woollen cloth and striped stuffs 3 of Al-Yaman
and five bladders of ambergris." Said I, " Thou shalt have that
much ; dost thou consent ? " ; and he said, " I do consent." So I
despatched to Al-Medinah the Illumined 4 a party of the Ansaris,
who brought all for which I had become surety ; whereupon they
slaughtered sheep and cattle and the folk assembled to eat of the
food. We abode thus forty days when Ghitrif said to us, " Take
your bride." So we sat her in a dromedary-litter and her father
equipped her with thirty camel-loads of things of price ; after
which we farewelled him and journeyed till we came within a
day's journey of Al-Medinah the Illumined, when there fell upon
us horsemen, with intent to plunder, and methinks they were of
the Banu Sulaym, Otbah drove at them and slew of them much
people, but fell back, wounded by a lance-thrust, and presently
dropped to the earth. Then there came to us succour of the
country people, who drove away the highwaymen ; but Otbah's
days were ended. So we said, " Alas for Otbah, oh ! ; " and the

1 Euphemy for " my daughter."

1 The Badawin call a sound dollar " Kirsh hajar" or " Riyal hajar " (a stone dollar ;
but the word is spelt with the greater K).

3 Arab. Burdah and Habarah. The former often translated mantle is a thick woollen
stuff, brown or gray, woven oblong and used like a plaid by day and by night. Moham-
med's Burdah woven in, his Harem and given to the poet, Ka'ab, was 7^ ft. long by 4^ :
it is still in the upper Serraglio of Stambul. In early days the stuff was mostly striped ;
now it is either plain or with lines so narrow that it looks like one colour. The Habarah
is a Burd made in Al-Yaman and not to be confounded with the Egyptian mantilla of
like name (Lane, M. E. chapt. iii).

4 Every Eastern city has its special title. Al-Medinah in entitled " Al-Munawwarah "
(the Illumined) from the blinding light which surrounds the Prophet's tomb and which
does not show to eyes profane (Pilgrimage ii. 3). I presume that the idea arose from
the huge lamps of " The Garden." I have noted that Mohammed's coffin suspended by
magnets is an idea unknown to Moslems, but we find the fancy in Al-Harawi related of
St. Peter, " Simon Cephas (the rock) is in the City of Great Rome, in its largest
church within a silver ark hanging by chains from the ceiling." (Lee, Ibn Batutah,
p. 161).

96 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

damsel hearing it cast herself down from the camel and throwing
herself upon him, cried out grievously and repeated these
couplets :

Patient I seemed, yet Patience shown by me" Was but self-guiling till tty

sight I see :
Had my soul done as due my life had gone, o Had fled before mankind

forestalling thee :
Then, after me and thee none shall to friend Be just, nor any soul with

soul agree.

Then she sobbed a single sob and gave up the ghost. We dug
one grave for them and laid them in the earth, and I returned
to the dwellings of my people, where I abode seven years. Then
I betook me again to Al-Hijaz and entering Al-Medinah the
Illumined for pious visitation said in my mind, " By Allah, I will
go again to Otbah's tomb ! " So I repaired thither, and, behold,
over the grave was a tall tree, on which hung fillets of red and
green and yellow stuffs. 1 So I asked the people of the place,
" How be this tree called ? " ; and they answered, " The tree of
the Bride and the Bridegroom." I abode by the tomb a day and
a night, then went my way ; and this is all I know of Otbah.
Almighty Allah have mercy upon him ! And they also tell this
tale of


IT is related that Hind daughter of Al-Nu'man was the fairest
woman of her day, and her beauty and loveliness were reported to
Al-Hajjaj, who sought her in marriage and lavished much treasure
on her. So he took her to wife, engaging to give her a dowry of
two hundred thousand dirhams in case of divorce, and when he
went into her, he abode with her a long time, One day after this.

1 Here the fillets are hung instead of the normal rag-strips to denote an honoured
tomb. Lane (iii. 242) and many others are puzzled about the use of these articles. In
many cases they are suspended to trees in order to transfer sickness from the body to
the tree and whoever shall touch it. The Sawahili people term such articles a Keti {seat
or vehicle) for the mysterious haunter of the tree who prefers occupying it to the patient's
person. Briefly the custom still popular throughout Arabia, is African and Fetish.

2 Al-Mas'udi (chap, xcv.), mentions a Hind bint Asma and tells a facetious story
of her and the " enemy of Allah," the poet Jarir.

Hind Daughter of Al-Nttman and Al-Hajjaj. 97

he went in to her and found her looking at her face in the mirror
and saying:

Hind is an Arab filly purest bred, o Which hath been covered by a

mongrel mule ;
An colt of horse she throw by Allah ! well ; o If mule^ it but results from

mulish rule. 1

When Al-Hajjaj heard this, he turned back and went his way,
unseen of Hind ; and, being minded to put her away, he sent
Abdullah bin Tahir to her, to divorce her. So Abdullah went in to
her and said to her, " Al-Hajjaj Abu Mohammed saith to thee :
Here be the two hundred thousand dirhams of thy contingent
dowry he oweth thee ; and he hath deputed me to divorce thee."
Replied she, " O Ibn Tahir, I gladly agree to this ; for know that
I never for one day took pleasure in him , so, if we separate, by
Allah, I shall never regret him, and these two hundred thousand
dirhams I give to thee as a reward for the glad tidings thou
bringest me of my release from yonder dog of the Thakafites." 2
After this, the Commander of the Faithful, Abd al-Malik bin

1 Here the old Shiah hatred of the energetic conqueror of Oman crops out again.
Hind's song is that of Maysum concerning her husband Mu'awiyah which Mrs. Godfrey
Clark ('I lam-en -Nas, p. 108) thus translates:

A hut that the winds make tremble

Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonA plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, now entituled The book of the thousand nights and a night : with introduction, explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men, and a terminal essay upon the history of The nights (Volume 7) → online text (page 10 of 40)