Richard Francis Burton.

The book of the thousand nights and a night; a plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, with introd., explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of the nights (Volume 5) online

. (page 28 of 41)
Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonThe book of the thousand nights and a night; a plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, with introd., explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of the nights (Volume 5) → online text (page 28 of 41)
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Noto fofjm it teas tlje Jour f^unftrclr arrtr ^ebents-secontf Nigljt,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the
man set food before her, the woman said, " Give me meat for the
love of Allah, to whom be Honour and Glory ! " But I answered,
" Not so, by Allah, except thou yield to me thy person." Quoth
she, " Better is death than the wrath and wreak of Allah ; " and she
rose and left the food untouched and went away repeating these
couplets :

Thou, the One, whose grace doth all the world embrace ; * Thine ears have

heard, Thine eyes have seen my case !

Privation and distress have dealt me heavy blows ; * The woes that weary
me no utterance can trace.

1 am like one athirst who eyes the landscape's eye, * Yet may not drink a

draught of streams that rail and race.

My flesh would tempt me by the sight of savoury food * Whose joys shall pass
away and pangs maintain their place.

She then disappeared for two days, when she again came and
knocked at the door ; so I went out to her, and lo ! hunger had
taken away her voice ; but, after a rest she said, " O my brother, I
am worn out with want and know not what to do, for I cannot
show my face to any man but to thee. Say, wilt thou feed me for
the love of Allah Almighty ? " But I answered, " Not so, except
thou yield to me thy person." And she entered my house and sat
down. Now I had no food ready ; but, when the meat was dressed
and I laid it in a saucer, behold, the grace of Almighty Allah
entered into me and I said to myself, " Out on thee ! This woman,
weak of wit and faith, hath refrained from food till she can no

The Blacksmith who could Handle Fire. 273

longer, for stress of hunger ; and, while she refuseth time after time,
thou canst not forbear from disobedience to the Lord ! ' And I
said, "O my God, I repent to Thee of that which my flesh
purposed ! " Then I took the food and carrying it to her, said,
" Eat, for no harm shall betide thee : this is for the love of Allah,
to whom belong Honour and Glory ! " Then she raised her eyes
to heaven and said, " O my God, if this man say sooth, I pray Thee
forbid fire to harm him in this world and the next, for Thou over
all things art Omnipotent and Prevalent in answering the prayer
of the penitent ! " Then I left her and went to put out the fire in
the brasier. 1 Now the season was winter and the weather cold,
and a live coal fell on my body : but by the decree of Allah (to
whom be Honour and Glory !) I felt no pain and it became my
conviction that her prayer had been answered. So I took the coal
in my hand, and it burnt me not; and going in to her, I said,

" Be of good cheer, for Allah hath granted thy prayer ! " And

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

tofjm ft toas tf>* dfour |$unim& anfc &Ebmts - tf)tr& Jitgtjt,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the black-
smith continued : So I went in to her and said," Be of good cheer,
for Allah hath granted thy prayer ! ' Then she dropped the morsel
from her hand and said, " O my God, now that Thou hast shown
me my desire of him and hast granted me my prayer for him,
take Thou my soul, for Thou over all things art Almighty ! " And
straightway He took her soul to Him, the mercy of Allah be upon
her 1 And the tongue of the case extemporised and spake on this
theme :

She prayed : the Lord of grace her prayer obeyed ; * And spared the sinner,

who for sin had prayed :
He showed her all she prayed Him to grant ; * And Death (as prayed she)

her portion made :

1 Arab. " Kinun " ; the usual term is Mankal (pron Mangal) a pan of copper or
brass. Some of -these "chafing-dishes " stand four feet high and are works of art.
Lane (M. E. chapt. iv ) gives an illustration of the simpler kind, together with the
44 Aziki," a smaller pan for heating coffee. See Night dxxxviii.


274 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

Unto his door she came and prayed for food, * And sued his ruth for what hei

misery made :
He leant to error following his lusts, * And hoped to enjoy her as her wants

persuade ;
But he knew little of what Allah willed ; * Nor was Repentance, though

unsought, denayed.
Fate comes to him who flies from Fate, O Lord, And lot and daily bread by

Thee are weighed.

And they also tell of


THERE was once, among the children of Israel, a man of the
devout, for piety acclaimed and for continence and asceticism
enfamed, whose prayers were ever granted and who by supplica-
tion obtained whatso he wanted ; and he was a wanderer in the
mountains and was used to pass the night in worship Now
Almighty Allah had subjected to him a cloud which travelled
with him wherever he went, and poured on him its water-
treasures in abundance that he might make his ablutions and
drink. After a long time when things were thus, his fervour some-
what abated, whereupon Allah took the cloud away from him and
ceased to answer his prayers. On this account, great was his grief
and long was his woe, and he ceased not to regret the time of grace
and the miracle vouchsafed to him and to lament and bewail and
bemoan himself, till he saw in a dream one who said to him, " An
thou wouldest have Allah restore to thee thy cloud, seek out a
certain King, in such a town, and beg him to pray for thee : so
will Allah (be He extolled and exalted !) give thee back thy cloud
and bespread it over thee by virtue of his pious prayers." And he
began repeating these couplets :

Wend to that pious prayerful Emir, o Who can with gladness thy con-

dition cheer ;

An he pray Allah, thou shalt win thy wish ; And heavy rain shall drop from
welkin clear.

He stands all Kings above in potent worth ; o Nor to compare with him doth
aught appear :

Tlie Devotee to whom Allah gave a Cloud for Service. 275

Near him thou soon shalt hap upon thy want, And see all joy and gladness

draw thee near :
Then cut the wolds and wilds unfounted till o The goal thou goest for anigh

shalt speer !

So the hermit set out for the town named to him in the dream ;
and, coming thither after long travel, enquired for the King's
palace which was duly shown to him. And behold, at the gate
he found a slave-officer sitting on a great chair and clad in gor-
geous gear; so he stood to him and saluted him; and he returned
his salam and asked him, "What is thy business?" Answered
the devotee, " I am a wronged man, and come to submit my case
to the King." Quoth the officer, " Thou hast no access to him
this day ; for he hath appointed unto petitioners and enquirers one
day in every seven " (naming the day), " on which they may go in
to him ; so wend thy ways in welfare till then." The hermit was
vexed with the King for thus veiling himself from the folk and said
in thought, " How shall this man be a saint of the saints of Allah
(to whom belong Majesty and Might!) and he on this wise?"
Then he went away and awaited the appointed day. Now (quoth
he) when it came, I repaired to the palace, where I found a great
number of folk at the gate, expecting admission ; and I stood with
them, till there came out a Wazir robed in gorgeous raiment and
attended by guards and slaves, who said, " Let those, who have
petitions to present, enter." So I entered with the rest and found
the King seated facing his officers and grandees who were ranged
according to their several ranks and degrees. The Wazir took up
his post and brought forward the petitioners, one by one, till it
came to my turn, when the King looked on me and said, " Wel-
come to the * Lord of the Cloud ' ! Sit thee down till I make
leisure for thee." I was confounded at his words and confessed
his dignity and superiority ; and, when the King had answered
the petitioners and had made an end with them, he rose and dis-
missed his Wazirs and Grandees ; then, taking my hand he led
me to the door of the private palace, where we found a black slave,
splendidly arrayed, with helm on head, and on his right hand and
his left, bows and coats of mail. He rose to the King ; and,
hastening to obey his orders and forestall his wishes, opened the
door. We went in, hand in hand, till we came to a low wicket,
which the King himself opened and led me into a ruinous place of
frightful desolation and thence passed into a chamber, wherein was
naught but a prayer-carpet, an ewer for ablution and some mats of

276 A If Laylah iva Laylah.

palm-leaves. Here the King defied his royal robes and donned a
coarse gown of white wool and a conical bonnet of felt. Then he
sat down and making me sit, called out to his wife, " Ho, such
an one ! " and she answered from within saying, " Here am I.'*
Quoth he, " Knowest thou who is our guest to-day ? " Replied
she, " Yes, it is the ' Lord of the Cloud.' " The King said, " Come
forth : it mattereth not for him." And behold, there entered a
woman, as she were a vision, with a face that beamed like the new

moon ; and she wore a gown and veil of wool. And Shahrazad

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

Nofo fofjen it foas i&e jpour f^tm&rcfc antr ^cbentg^fourtl)

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the
King called to his wife, she came forth from the inner room ; and
her face beamed like the new moon ; and she wore a gown and a
veil of wool. Then said the King, " O my brother, dost thou desire
to hear our story or that we should pray for thee and dismiss thee ?"
Answered the hermit ; " Nay, I wish to hear the tale of you twain,
for that to me were preferable." Said the King, " My forefathers
handed down the throne, one to the other, and it descended from
great one to great one, in unbroken succession, till the last died
and it came to me. Now Allah had made this hateful to me, for I
would fain Jiave gone awandering over earth and left the folk to
their own affairs ; but I feared lest they should fall into confusion
and anarchy and misgovernment so as to swerve from divine law,
and the union of the Faith be broken up. Wherefore, abandoning
my own plans, I took the kingship and appointed to every head of
them a regular stipend ; and donned the royal robes ; and posted
slave-officers at the doors, as a terror to the dishonest and for the
defence of honest folk and the maintenance of law and limitations.
Now when free of this, I entered this place and, doffing my royal
habit, donned these clothes thou seest ; and this my cousin, the
daughter of my father's brother, hath agreed with me to renounce
the world and helpeth me to serve the Lord. So we are wont to
weave these palm-leaves and earn, during the day, a wherewithal
to break our fast at nightfall ; and we have lived on this wise nigh
upon forty years. Abide thou with us (so Allah have mercy on
thee !) till we sell our mats ; and thou shalt sup and sleep with us
this night and on the morrow wend thy ways with that thou wishest,

The Moslem Champion and the Christian Damsel. 277

Inshallah ! " So he tarried with them till the end of the day, when
there came a boy five years old who took the mats they had made
and carrying them to the market, sold them for a carat ; ! and with
this bought bread and beans and returned with them to the King.
The hermit broke his fast and lay down to sleep with them ; but
in the middle of the night, they both arose and fell to praying and
weeping. When daybreak was near, the King said, " O my God,
this Thy servant beseecheth Thee to return him his cloud ; and to
do this Thou art able ; so, O my God, let him see his prayer granted
and restore him his cloud." The Queen amen'd to his orisons and
behold, the cloud grew up in the sky ; whereupon the King gave
the hermit joy and the man took leave of them and went away, the
cloud companying him as of old. And whatsover he required of
Allah after this, in the names of the pious King and Queen, He
granted it without fail and the man made thereon these couplets :

My Lord hath servants fain of piety; o Hearts in the Wisdom-garden

ranging free :
Their bodies' lusts at peace, and motionless o For breasts that bide in purest

Thou seest all silent, awesome of their Lord, o For hidden things unseen and

seen they see.

And they tell a tale of



THE Commander of the Faithful, Omar bin al-Khattdb (whom
Allah accept!), once levied for holy war an army of Moslems, to
encounter the foe before Damascus, and they laid close siege to
one of the Christians' strongholds. Now there were amongst the
Moslems two men, brothers, whom Allah had gifted with fire and
bold daring against the enemy ; so that the commander of the

1 See vol. Hi., p. 239. The system is that of the Roman As and Unciae. Here it would
be the twenty-fourth part of a dinar or miskal ; something under $d. I have already
noted that all Moslem rulers are religiously bound to some handicraft, if it be only
ciaking toothpicks. Mohammed abolished kingship proper as well as priestcraft.

Alf Laylak wa Laylah.

besieged fortress said to his chiefs and braves, " Were but yonder
two Moslems ta'en or slain, I would warrant you against the rest
of their strain." Wherefore they left not to set for them all
manner of toils and snares and ceased not to manoeuvre and lie
in wait and ambush for them, till they took one of them prisoner
and slew the other who died a martyr. They carried the captive
to the Captain of the fort, who looked at him and said, " Verily,
to kill this man were indeed a pity ; but his return to the Moslem
would be a calamity." And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day
and ceased saying her permitted say.

Nofo fofjen ft foas tfje jpour f^unforefc antr Sbebemg - fift|)

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the
enemy carried their Moslem captive before the Captain of the fort,
the Christian looked at him and said, " Verily to kill this man
were a pity indeed ; but his return to the Moslem would be a
calamity. Oh that he might be brought to embrace the Nazarene
Faith and be to us an aid and an arm ! " Quoth one of his
Patrician Knights, "O Emir, I will tempt him to abjure his faith
and on this wise : we know that the Arabs are much addicted to
women, and I have a daughter, a perfect beauty, whom when he
sees, he will be seduced by her." Quoth the Captain, " I give him
into thy charge." So he carried him to his place and clad his
daughter in raiment, such as added to her beauty and loveliness.
Then he brought the Moslem into the room and set before him
food and made the fair girl stand in his presence, as she were a
handmaid obedient to her lord and awaiting his orders that she
might do his bidding. When the Moslem saw the evil sent down
upon him, he commended himself to Allah Almighty and closing
his eyes, applied himself to worship and to reciting the Koran.
Now he had a pleasant voice and a piercing wit ; and the Nazarene
damsel presently loved him with passionate love and pined for
him Vv-ith extreme repine. This lasted seven days, at the end of
which she said to herself, " Would to Heaven he would admit me
into the Faith of Al-Islam ! " And the tongue of her case recited
these couplets :

Wilt turn thy face from heart that 's all thine own, o This heart thy ransom and
this soul thy wonc ?

The Moslem Champion and the Christian Damsel, 279

I 'm ready home and kin to quit for aye, o And every Faith for that of sword l
disown :

I testify that Allah hath no mate : o This proof is stablished and this truth is

Haply shall deign He union grant with one o Averse, and hearten heart love-
overthrown ;

For ofttimes door erst shut, is opened wide, o And after evil case all good is

At last her patience failed her and her breast was straitened and
she threw herself on the ground before him, saying," I conjure thee
by thy Faith, that thou give ear to my words ! " Asked he, " What
are they?" and she answered, "Expound unto me Al-Islam." So
he expounded to her the tenets of the Faith, and she became a
Moslemah, after which she was circumcised 2 and he taught her to

1 Al-Islam, where salvation is found under the shade of the swords.

2 Moslems like the Classics (Aristotle and others) hold the clitoris (Zambur) to be the
sedes et scaturigo veneris which, says Sonnini, is mere profanity. In the babe it pro-
trudes beyond the labiae and snipping off the head forms female circumcision. This rite
is supposed by Moslems to have been invented by Sarah who so mutilated Hagar for
jealousy and was afterwards ordered by Allah to have herself circumcised at the same
time as Abraham. It is now (or should be) universal in Al-Islam and no Arab would
marry a girl " unpurified " by it. Son of an " uncircumcised " mother (Ibn al-bazra) is
a sore insult. As regards the popular idea that Jewish women were circumcised till the
days of Rabbi Gershom (A.D. 1000) who denounced it as a scandal to the Gentiles, the
learned Prof. H. Graetz informs me, with some indignation, that the rite was never
practised and that the great Rabbi contended only against polygamy. Female circum-
cision, however, is I believe the rule amongst some outlying tribes of Jews. The rite is
the proper complement of male circumcision, evening the sensitiveness of the genitories
by reducing it equally in both sexes : an uncircumcised woman has the venereal orgasm
much sooner and oftener than a circumcised man, and frequent coitus would injure her
health ; hence I believe, despite the learned historian, that it is practised by some
Eastern Jews. "Excision" is universal amongst the negroids of the Upper Nile
(Werne), the Somal and other adjacent tribes. The operator, an old woman, takes
up the instrument, a knife or razor-blade fixed into a wooden handle,, and with three
sweeps cuts off the labia and the head of the clitoris. The parts are then sewn up with
a packneedle and a thread of sheepskin ; and in Dar-For a tin tube is inserted for the
passage of urine. Before marriage the bridegroom trains himself for a month on beef,
honey and milk ; and, if he can open his bride with the natural weapon, he is a sworder
to whom no woman in the tribe can deny herself. If he fail, he tries penetration with
his fingers and by way of last resort whips out his whittle and cuts the parts open. The
sufferings of the first few nights must be severe. The few Somali prostitutes who
practised at Aden always had the labiae and clitoris excised and the skin showing the
scars of coarse sewing. The moral effect of female circumcision is peculiar. While it
diminishes the heat of passion it increases licentiousness, and breeds a debauchery of
mind far worse than bodily unchastity, because accompanied by a peculiar cold cruelty
and a taste for artificial stimulants to " luxury." It is the sexlessness of a spayed canine
imitated by the suggestive brain of humanity.

280 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

pray. Then said she to him, " O my brother, I did but embrace
Al-Islam for thy sake and to win thy favours." Quoth he, "The
law of Al-Islam forbiddeth sexual commerce save after a marriage
before two legal witnesses, and a dowry and a guardian are also
requisite. Now I know not where to find witnesses or friend or
parapherne ; but, an thou can contrive to bring us out of this
place, I may hope to make the land of Al-Islam, and pledge
myself to thee that none other than thou in all Al-Islam shall be
wife to me." Answered she, " I will manage that "; and, calling her
father and mother, said to them, " Indeed this Moslem's heart is
softened and he longeth to enter the faith, so I will grant him that
which he desireth of my person ; but he saith : It befitteth me not
to do this in a town where my brother was slain. Could I but get
outside it my heart would be solaced and I would do that which
is wanted of me. Now there is no harm in letting me go forth
with him to another town, and I will be a surety to you both and
to the Emir for that which ye wish of him." Therefore her father
went to their Captain and told him this, whereat he joyed with
exceeding joy and bade him carry them forth to a village that she
named. So they went out and made the village where they abode
the rest of their day, and when night fell, they got ready for the
march and went their way, even as saith the poet :

"The time of parting," cry they, "draweth nigh": o "How oft this parting-
threat ? " I but reply :

I've naught to do but cross the wild and wold c And, mile by mile, o'er fount-
less wastes to fly,

If the beloved seek another land * Sons of the road, whereso they wend,
wend I. ,

I make desire direct me to their side, c The guide to show me where the way
doth lie.

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

Koto toijen it teas tije Jfour ^untfrett anfc Jbcbentp-sixt!)

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
prisoner and the lady abode in the village the rest of their day
and, when night fell, made ready for the march and went upon
their way ; and travelled all night without stay or delay. The

The Moslem Champion and the Christian Damsel. 281

young Moslem, mounting a swift blood-horse and taking up the
maiden behind him, ceased not devouring the ground till it was
bright morning, when he turned aside with her from the highway
and, alighting, they made the Wuzu-ablution and prayed the dawn-
prayer. Now as they were thus engaged behold, they heard the
clank of swords and clink of bridles and men's voices and tramp
of horse ; whereupon he said to her, " Ho, such an one, the
Nazarenes are after us ! What shall we do ?: the horse is so jaded
and broken down that he cannot stir another step." Exclaimed
she, " Woe to thee ! art thou then afraid and affrighted ?" " Yes,"
answered he ; and she said, " What didst thou tell me of the
power of thy Lord and His readiness to succour those who succour
seek ? Come, let us humble ourselves before Him and beseech
Him : haply He shall grant us His succour and endue us with His
grace, extolled and exalted be He !" Quoth he, " By Allah, thou
sayst well !" So they began humbling themselves and supplicating
Almighty Allah and he recited these couplets :

Indeed I hourly need thy choicest aid, * And should, though crown were

placed upon my head :
Thou art my chiefest want, and if my hand * Won what it wisheth, all my

wants were sped.
Thou hast not anything withholdest Thou; * Like pouring rain Thy grace is

showered :
I'm shut therefrom by sins of me, yet Thou, * O Clement, deignest pardon-light

to shed.
O Care-Dispeller, deign dispel my grief! * None can, save Thou, dispel a grief

so dread.

Whilst he was praying and she was saying, " Amen," and the
thunder of horse-tramp nearing them, lo ! the brave heard the
voice of his dead brother, the martyr, speaking and saying, "O my
brother, fear not, nor grieve ! for the host whose approach thou
hearest is the host of Allah and his Angels, whom He hath sent
to serve as witnesses to your marriage. Of a truth Allah hath
made His Angels glorify you and He bestoweth on you the meed
of the meritorious and the martyrs ; and He hath rolled up the
earth for you as it were a rug so that, by morning, you will be in
the mountains of Al-Medinah. And thou, when thou foregatherest
with Omar bin al-Khattab (of whom Allah accept !) give him my
salutation and say to him : Allah abundantly requite thee for Al-
Islam, because thou hast counselled faithfully and hast striven dili-
gently." Thereupon the Angels lifted up their voices in salutation

282 Alf Laylah wa Laylaii.

to him and his bride, saying, " Verily, Almighty Allah appointed
her in marriage to thee two thousand years before the creation of
your father Adam (with whom be peace evermore !)." Then joy
and gladness and peace and happiness came upon the twain ; con-
fidence was confirmed and established was the guidance of the
pious pair. So when dawn appeared, they prayed the accustomed
prayer and fared forward. Now it was the wont of Omar son
of Al-Khattab (Allah accept him !) to rise for morning-prayer
in the darkness before dawn and at times he would stand in the
prayer-niche with two men behind him, and begin reciting the
Chapter entitled " Cattle ' n or that entitled Women ; 2 whereupon
the sleeper awoke and he who was making his Wuzu-ablution
accomplished it and he who was afar came to prayer ; nor had he
made an end of the first bow, ere the mosque was full of folk ;
then he would pray his second bow quickly, repeating a short
chapter. But, on that morning he hurried over both first and
second inclinations, repeating in each a short chapter ; then, after

Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonThe book of the thousand nights and a night; a plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, with introd., explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of the nights (Volume 5) → online text (page 28 of 41)