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 16) online

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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 16) → online text (page 4 of 40)
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History of the Lovers of Syria. 33

sidered the twain 1 and asked them of their case 2 and they answered,

" We be Such-and-such and we are wandering about to seek our

daughter and her nine-and-thirty maidens." Hereupon she

assigned to them also lodgings and rations for the present. Lastly

appeared the Pirate which had been Shaykh and comrade of the

Forty Thieves also seeking that city, and albeit he was aweary and

perplext yet he ceased not to wander that he might come upon

the damsel who had slain his associates and who had shaved his

beard and had torn out his eye teeth. He also when he heard of

the Hammam without charge and the free coffee-house said in

himself, " Hie thee to that place ! " and as he was entering the

gateway he beheld the image and stood still and fell to speaking

fulsome speech and crying aloud and saying, " By Allah, this

statue is likest to her in stature and size and, by the Almighty, if

I can only lay my hand upon her and seize her I will slaughter

her even as one cutteth a mutton's throat. Ah ! Ah ! an I could

but catch hold of her." As he spake these words the eunuchry

heard him ; so they' seized him and dragged him along and

carried him before the Sultan who no sooner saw him and knew

him than she ordered him to jail. And they imprisoned him for

he had not come to that city save for the shortening of his days

and the lavishing of his life-blood and he knew not what was

predestined to him and in very sooth he deserved all that befel

him. Hereupon the damsel bade bring before her, her father and

her cousin and the Ra'is and the King and the Wazir and the

Pirate (while she still bore herself as one who administered the

Sultanate), and when it became night time all began to converse

one with other and presently quoth she to them, " O folk, let each

\ '

and every who hath a tale solace us with telling it." Hereat
quoth one and all of them, " We wist not a recital nor can we

1 In text " Ishtalaka"=he surmised, discovered (a secret).

2 Tn the Arab. " she knew them," but the careless story-teller forgets the first part of
his own story.


34 Supplemental Nights.

recount one ; " and she rejoined, " I will relate unto you an
adventure." They cried, " O King of the Age, pardon us ! for
how shalt thou rehearse us an history and we sit listening
thereto ? ' n and she replied, " Forasmuch as you have no say to
say, I will speak in your stead that we may shorten this our night."
Then she continued, " There was a merchant man and a wealthy
with a brother which was needy, and the richard had a daughter
while the pauper had a son. But when the poor man died he left
only the boy who sought to marry the girl his cousin : his paternal
uncle, however, refused him maugre that she loved him and she
was beloved of him. Presently there came a party of substantial
merchants who demanded her in wedlock and obtained her and
agreed upon the conditions ; when her sire was minded to marry
her to their man. This was hard upon the damsel and sore
grievous to her so she said : By Allah, I will mate with none
save with my uncle's son. Then she came to him at midnight
leading a she-mule and an ass and bringing somewhat of her
father's moneys and she knocked at the youth's door and he came
out to her and both went forth, he and she, in the outer darkness
of that murky night and the Veiler veiled her way." Now when
the father .and the cousin heard this adventure they threw them-
selves on her neck, 2 and rejoiced in her until the turn came for
her recounting the tale of the merchant-captain and he also
approved her and was solaced by her words. Then, as she related
the history concerning the King and the Wazir, they said, " By
Allah, this indeed is a sweet story and full of light and leading

1 Story-telling being servile work.

* [In the MS. " istanatu la-ha." The translation in the text presupposes the reading
"istanattu" as the loth form of "natt" = he jumped, he leaped. I am inclined to
take it for the 8th form of "sanat," which according to Dozy stands in its 2nd form
" sannat " for " sannat," a transposition of the classical " nassat " =he listened to. The
same word with the same meaning of "listening attentively," recurs in the next
line in the singular, applying to the captain and the following pronoun "la-ha" refers
in both passages to " Hikayah," tale, not to the lady-sultan who reveals herself only
later, when she has concluded her narrative. ST.]

History of the Lovers of Syria. 3 5

and our lord the Sultan deserveth for this recital whatso he may
require." But when she came to the Pirate he cried, " Wallahi,

our lord the Sultan, this adventure is a grievous, and Allah
upon thee, tell us some other tale ; " whereat all the hearers
rejoined, " By Allah, in very sooth the recital is a pleasing." She
continued to acquaint them with the adventure of the Bird which
invested her with the monarchy and she ended with relating the
matter of the Hammam, at all whereof the audience wondered
and said, " By. Allah, this is a delectable matter and a dainty ; "
but the Pirate cried aloud, " Such story pleaseth me not in any
way for 'tis heavy upon my heart ! " - And Shahrazad was sur-
prised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased saying her
permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, " How sweet
and tasteful is thy tale, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and
delectable ! " Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that

1 would relate to you on the coming night an the Sovran suffer
me to survive ? ' Now when it was the next night and that was

anfc J^tntf)

DUNYAZAD said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou
be other than sleepy finish for us thy tale that we may cut short
the watching of this our latter night ! " She replied : - With
love and good will ! It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the
director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and
of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating that the Pirate cried
out, " This tale is heavy upon my heart ! " Presently the damsel
resumed her speech and said : Wallahi ! it my mother and my
father say sooth this be my sire and that be my cousin and here
standeth the King and there the Wazir and yonder are the Ra'is
and the Pirate, the comrade of the Forty Thieves whose only will
and wish was to dishonour us maidens all. Then she resumed,
addressing the King and his Minister, " These forty Mamelukes

36 Supplemental Nights.

whom you see standing between your hands are the virgin girls
belonging to you." After which she presented the twain with
sumptuous gifts and they took their maidens and with them went
their ways. Next she restored to the Ra is his ship and freighted
it with her good and he set forth in it on his return voyage. But
as regards the Pirate she commanded her attendants to kindle for
him a furious fire and they lit it till it roared and the sparks flew
high in air, after which they pinioned him and cast him into the
flames, where his flesh was melted before his bones. 1 But as con-
cerned her cousin she caused the marriage tie to be tied between
him and the Wazir's daughter and he paid her his first visit on
that same night and then she ordered her father to knit the
wedding knot with the youth on the next night and when this was
done forthwith he went in unto her. After this she committed to
him the Sultanate and he became a Sovran and Sultan in her
stead, and she bade fetch her mother to that city where her cousin
governed and where her father-in-law the Wazir was chief
Councillor of the realm. On this wise it endured for the length of
their lives, and fair to them were the term and the tide and the
age and the time, and they led of lives the joyfullest and a live-
lihood of the perfectest until they were consumed by the world
and died out generation of the generation. 2

1 Here the converse is probably meant, as we have before seen.

2 Scott ends (p. 258) "Years of unusual happiness passed over the heads of the
fortunate adventurers of this history, until death, the dtstroyer of all things, conducted
them to a grave which must one day be the resting-place for ages of us all, till the
receiving (?) angel shall sound his trumpet."




IT is related (but Allah is All-knowing) that there was in times of
yore a man named 'Abdullah al-Karkhf and he was wont to tell
the following tale : One day I was present in the assembly of
Al-Hajjaj the son of Yusuf the Thakaff 2 what time he was

1 Scott (vi. 259-267), "Story of Hyjauje, the tyrannical Governor of Coufeh, and
the Young Syed." For the difference between the " Sayyid " (descendant of Hasan)
and the "Sharif," derived from Husayn, see vol. v. 259. Being of the Holy House
the youth can truly deny that he belongs to any place or race, as will be seen in the

2 This masterful administrator of the Caliphate under the early Ommiades is noticed
in vols. iv. 3, and vii. 97. The succession to the Prophet began as mostly happens in
the proceedings of elective governments, republics, and so forth with the choice of a
nobody, " Abubakr the Veridical," a Meccan merchant, whose chief claim was the
glamour of the Apostolate. A more notable personage, and seen under the same
artificial light, was " 'Omar the Justiciary," also a trader of Meccah, who was murdered
for an act of injustice. In Osman nepotism and corruption so prevailed, while distance
began to dim the Apostolic glories, that the blood-thirsty turbulence of the Arab was
aroused and caused the death of the third Caliph by what we should call in modern
phrase "lynching." Ali succeeded, if indeed we can say that he succeeded at all, to
an already divided empire. He was the only one of the four who could be described
as a man of genius, and therefore he had a host of enemies : he was a poet, a sage,
a moralist and even a grammarian ; brave as a lion, strong as a bull, a successful
and experienced captain, yet a complete failure as a King. A mere child in
mundane matters, he ever acted in a worldly sense as he should have avoided
acting, and hence, after a short and disastrous reign, he also was killed. His two sons,
Hasan and Husayn, inherited all the defects and few of the merits of their sire : Hasan
was a pauvre diable, whose chief characteristic was addiction to marriage, and by
poetical justice one of his wives murdered him. Husayn was of stronger mould, but he
fought against the impossible ; for his rival was Mu'awiyah, the Cavour of the Age, the
longest-headed man in Arabia, and against Yezid, who, like Italy of the present day,
flourished and prospered by the artful game which the far-seeing politician, his father,
had bequeathed to his house the Ommiade. The fourth of this dynasty, 'Abd al- Malik
bin Marwan, " the Father of Flies," and his successor, Al-Walid, were happy in being
served thoroughly and unscrupulously by Al-Hajjaj, the ablest of lieutenants, whose
speciality it was to take in hand a revolted province, such as Al-Hija'z, Al-Irdk, or
Khorasan, and to slaughter it into submission ; besides deaths in battle he is computed
to have slain 120,000 men. He was an unflinching preacher of the Divine Right of
Kings and would observe that the Lord says, " Obey Allah an ye can " (conditional),
but as regards royal government " Hearing and obeying " (absolute) ; ergo t all opposition

4 Supplemental Nights.

Governor of Kufah, and the folk around him were seated and for
awe of him prostrated and these were the Emirs and Wazirs and
the Nabobs and the Chamberlains and the Lords of the Land and
the Headmen in command and amongst whom he showed like a
rending lion. And behold, there came to him a man young in
years and ragged of raiment and of case debased and there was
none of blossom upon his cheeks and the World had changed his
cuticle and Need had altered his complexion. Presently he
salam'd and deprecated and was eloquent in his salutation to the
Governor who returned his greeting and looking at him asked,
" Who art thou, O young man, and what hast thou to say and
what is thine excuse for pushing into the assembly of the Kings
even as if, O youth, thou hadst been an invited guest ? * So say

was to be cut down and uprooted. However, despite his most brilliant qualities, his
learning, his high and knightly sense of honour, his insight and his foresight (e.g. in
building Wdsit), he won an immortality of infamy : he was hated by his contemporaries,
he is the subject of silly tale and offensive legend (e.g., that he was born without anus,
which required opening with instruments, and he was suckled by Satan's orders on
blood), and he is still execrated as the tyrant, per excel lentiam, and the oppressor of the
Holy Family the children and grand-children of the Apostle.

The traditional hatred of Al-Hajjaj was envenomed by the accession of the Abbasides,
and this dynasty, the better to distinguish itself from the Ommiades, affected love for
the Holy Family, especially Ali and his descendants, and a fanatical hatred against
their oppressors. The following table from Ibn Khaldun (Introduct. xxii.) shows that
the Caliphs were cousins, which may account for their venomous family feud.

'Abd Manaf.


Abd al-Muttalib.

Abd Shams.


Al- Abbas.



Abdullah. Abu Talib.

I 1

Fatimah mairied Ali.

Harb. Abu '1-Aus.
Abu Sufyan. Al-Hakim.

Mu'awiyah. Marwan.
(1st Ommiade.)

I i

. Al-Hasan. Al-Husayn.

(ist Abbaside.)

1 [The word here translated "invited guest" reads in the MS. "Mad'ur." In this
form it is no dictionary word, but under the root "D'r" I find in the Muhit:

History of A I- Hajjaj bin Yusuf and the Young Sayyid, 4 1

me, who art thou and whose son art thou ? " " I am the son of my
mother and my father," answered he, and Al-Hajjaj continued,
"In what fashion hast thou come hither?" "In my clothes."
(<) "Whence hast thou come ? <: "From behind me."
( i ) " Whither art thou intending ? " " Before me." ( < ) " On
what hast thou come ? " c< On the ground." ( < ) " Whence art
thou, O young man ?" " I am from the city Misr." ( < ) "Art
thou from Cairo ? " J " Why askest thou me, O Hajjaj ? "
Whereupon the Lieutenant of Kufah replied, " Verily her ground
is gold and her Nile is rare to behold and her women are a toy
for the conqueror to enjoy, and her men are nor burghers nor
Badawis." Quoth the youth, " I am not of them," and quoth
Al-Hajjaj, "Then whence art thou, O young man?" "I am
from the city of Syria." (<i) " Then art thou from the stubbornest
of places and of the feeblest of races." 2 " Wherefore, O Hajjaj ? "
" For that it is a mixed breed I ween, nor Jew nor Nazarene."
" I am not of them." (d) Then whence art thou, O young
man?" "I am of Khordsdn of 'Ajami'-land." (<) "Thou art
therefore from a place the fulsomest and of faith the infirmest."
" Wherefore, O Hajjaj ? " (<i) " Because flocks and herds are
their chums and they are Ajams of the Ajams from whom liberal
deed never comes, and their morals and manners none to praise
presumes and their speech is gross and weighty, and stingy are
their rich and wealthy." " I am not of them." " Then whence
art thou, O young man ? " " I am from Mosul." (i) Then art

" wa 'l-'aniatu takiilu fulanun da'irun ya'nf ghalfzun jafin " = the common people say
such a one is " da'ir," i.e., rude, churlish. " Mad'vir " may be a synonym and rendered
accordingly : as though thou wert a boor or clown. ST.]

1 A neat specimen of the figure anachronism. Al-Hajjaj died in A.H. 95 ( = A.D 714),
and Cairo was built in A.H. 358 (= A.D. 968).

2 Perfectly true even in the present day. The city was famed for intelligence and
sanguinary fanaticism ; and no stranger in disguise could pass through it without detection
This ended with the massacre of 1840, which brought a new era into the Moslem East.
The men are, as a rule, fine-looking, but they seem to be all show : we had a corps of
them in the old Bash-Buzuks, who, after a month or two in camp, seemed to have
passed suddenly from youth into old age.

42 Supplemental Nights.

thou from the foulest and filthiest of a Catamite race, whose youth
is a scapegrace and whose old age hath wits as the wits of an
ass." " I am not of them." Q) Then whence art thou, O young
man ? " "I am from the land of Al-Yaman." (<) " Then art
thou from a clime other than delectable. And why so, O
Hajjaj ? " (<) " For that their noblest make womanly use of
Murd * or beardless boys and the meanest of them tan hides
and the lowest amongst them train baboons to dance, and others
are weavers of Burd or woollen plaids." z " I am not of them."
(d) Then whence art thou, O young man ? " " I am from Meccah."
(d) Then art thou from a mine of captious carping and ignorance
and lack of wits and of sleep over-abundant, whereto Allah com-
missioned a noble Prophet, and him they belied and they rejected :
so he went forth unto a folk which loved him and honoured him
and made him a conqueror despite the nose of the Meccan churls."
" I am not of them." (<) Then whence art thou, O young
man ? for verily thou hast been abundant of prate and my heart
longeth to cut off thy pate." 3 Hereupon quoth the youth, " An
I knew thou couldst slay me I had not worshipped any god save
thyself," and quoth Al-Hajjaj, " Woe to thee, and who shall stay
me from slaying thee ? " " To thyself be the woe with measure
enow," cried the youth ; st He shall hinder thee from killing me
who administereth between a man and his heart, 4 and who falseth

1 In text " Yasta'amiluna al-Mrd," which may have a number of meanings, e.g.
"work frowardness" (Maradd), or " work the fruit of the tree Arak " (Marad = wild
capparis) and so forth. I have chosen the word mainly because "Murd" rhymes to
"Burd." The people of Al-Yaman are still deep in the Sotadic Zone and practice;
this they owe partly to a long colonization of the " "Ajam," or Persians. See my
Terminal Essay, " Pederasty," p. 205.

2 "Burd," plur. of "Burdah" = mantle or woollen plaid of striped stuff: vol. 711.95.
They are still woven in Arabia, but they are mostly white.

3 So in Tabari (vol. iii. 127) Al-Hajjaj sees a man of haughty mien (Abd al-Rahman
bin Abdullah), and exclaims, " Regarde comme il esf orgueilleux : par Dieu, faurais
en-vie de tui couper la tte ! "

4 [The phrase is Koranic (viii. 24) : " Wa 'lamu anna 'llaha yahulu bayna '1-mari
wa kalbi-hi," which Rodwell translates : Know that God cometh in between man and
his own heart. ST.]

History of Al-Hajjaj bin Yusuf and the Young Sayyid. 43

not his promise." " 'Tis He," rejoined Al-Hajjaj, " who directeth
me to thy death ;" but the Youth retorted, " Allah forfend that
He appoint thee to my slaughter ; nay rather art thou com-
missioned by thy Devil, and I take refuge with the Lord from
Satan the stoned." (<) Whence then art thou, O young man ? "
' I am from Yathrib." l (<) And what be Yathrib ? " " It is
Tayyibah." (<) " And what be Tayyibah ? " " Al-Madinah, the
Luminate, the mine of inspiration and explanation and prohibition
and licitation, 2 and I am the seed of the Banii Ghalib 3 and the
purest scion of the Imam 'AH ibn Abi Tah'b (Allah honour his
countenance and accept of him!), and all degree and descent 4
must fail save my descent and degree which shall never be cut
off until the Day of Doom." Hereupon Al-Hajjaj raged with
exceeding rage and ordered the Youth to execution ; whereat rose
up against him the Lords of the realm and the headmen of the
reign and sued him by way of intercession and stretched out to
him their necks, saying, " Here are our heads before his head
and our lives before his life. By Allah, ho thou the Emir, there
is naught but that thou accept our impetration in the matter of
this Youth, for he is on no wise deserving of death." Quoth

1 '' Yathrib," the classical name 'lorpwnra, one of the multifarious titles of what is called
in full "Madlnat al-Nabi," City of the Prophet, and vulgarly, Al-Madinah, the City.
"Tayyibah,'^ the good, sweet, or lawful : " Al.Munawwarah" = the enlightened, t,e.
by the light of The Faith and the column of (odylic) flame supposed to be based upon the
Prophet's tomb. For more, see my Pilgrimage, ii. 162. I may note how ridiculously the
story-teller displays ignorance in Al-Hajjaj, who knew the Moslem's Holy Land by heart.

2 In text " Taawil," = the commentary or explanation of Moslem Holy Writ:
" Tanzfl "= coming down, revelation of the Koran: " Tahrim " = rendering any
action " haram " or unlawful, and " Tahlil " = the converse, making word or deed
canonically legal. Those are well-known theological terms.

3 The Band Ghalib, whose eponymous forefather was Ghalib, son of Fihr, the well-
known ancestor of Mohammed.

4 In text " Hasab wa Nasab." It is told of Al-Mu'izz. bi Dmi'llah, first Fatimite
Caliph raised to the throne of Egypt, that he came forward to the elective assembly
and drew his sword halfway out of the scabbard and exclaimed, " Haza Nasabi" (this
is my genealogy) ; and then cast handfuls of gold amongst the crowd, crying, " Haza
Hasabf" (such is my title to reign.) This is as good as the traditional saying of
Napoleon the Great at his first assuming the iron crown "God gave her to me : woe
for whoso toucheth her' f.he crown).

44 Supplemental Nights.

the Governor, " Weary not yourselves for needs must I slay him ;
and even were an Angel from Heaven to cry out ' Kill him not,'
I would never hearken to his cry." Quoth the youth, "Thou
shalt be baffled O Hajjaj ! Who art thou that an Angel from
Heaven should cry out to thee ' Kill him not,' for thou art of the
vilest and meanest of mankind nor hast thou power to find a path
to my death." Cried Al-Hajjaj, " By Allah, I will not slay thee
except upon a plea I will plead against thee, and convict thee by
thy very words." " What is that, O Hajjaj ? " asked the Youth, and
answered Hajjaj, " I will now question thee, and out of thine own
mouth will I convict thee and strike off thy head. 2 Now say me,
O young man : Whereby doth the slave draw near to Allah
Almighty?" " By five things, prayer (i), and fasting (2), and
alms (3), and pilgrimage (4), and Holy War upon the path of
Almighty Allah (5)." "But I draw near to the Lord with the
blood of the men who declare that Hasan and Husayn were the
sons and successors of the Apostle of Allah. 3 Furthermore, O
young man, how can they be born of the Apostle of Almighty
Allah when he sayeth, ' Never was Mohammed the father of any
man amongst you, but he was the Apostle of Allah and the Seal
of the Prophets.' " 4 " Hear thou, O Hajjaj, my answer with
another Koranic verse, 5 'What the Apostle hath given you, take :

1 [In MS. "takhsa-u," a curious word of venerable yet green old age, used in the
active form with both transitive and intransitive meaning : to drive away (a dog, etc.)i
and to be driven away. In the Koran (xxiii. no) we find the imper. " ikhsau "= be ye
driven away, and in two other places (ii. 61, vii. 166), the nomen agentis "khasi" =
"scouted " occurs, as applied to the apes into which the Sabbath-breaking Jews were
transformed. In the popular language of the present day it has become equivalent
with " khaba," to be disappointed, and may here be translated: thou wilt fail
ignbminiously. ST.]

2 Scott introduces (p. 262), "the tyrant, struck with his magnanimity, became calm,
and commanding the executioner to release the youth, said, For the present I forbear,
and will not kill thee unless thy answers to my further questions shall deserve it They
then entered on the following dialogue : Hyjauwje hoping to entrap him in discourse.

3 See the dialogue on this subject between Al-Hajjaj and Yahyd ibn Yamar in Ibn
Khallikan, iv. 60.

4 Surah xxxiii. (The Confederates), v. 40, which ends, " And Allah knoweth all things."
9 Surah lix. (The Emigration), v. 40: the full quotation would be, "The spoil,

History of Al-Hajjaj bin Yusuf and the Young Sayy id. 45

and what he hath refused you, refuse.' Now Allah Almighty
hath forbidden the taking of life, whose destruction is therefore
unlawful." Q) "Thou hast spoken sooth, O young man, but
inform me of what is incumbent on thee every day and every
night ? " The five canonical prayers." (i) " And for every
year?" The fast of the month Ramazan." (<) "And for the
whole of thy life ? " " One pilgrimage to the Holy House of
Allah." (,j) " Sooth thou hast said, O young man ; now do thou
inform me" - And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of

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 16) → online text (page 4 of 40)