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IBN KULAIB AL-IARRANI.
Abû ’l-Faraj Abd al-Munim Ibn Abi 'l-Fath Abd al-Wahhàb Ibn Saad Ibn Sadaka Ibn al-Hasin (1) Ibn Kulaib al-Harrâni, surnamed Shams ad-din (the sun of religion), was a merchant and a member of the sect of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal. His family belonged to Harrân, but he himself was born in Baghdad and made his residence in that city. As he knew a quantity of Traditions supported by the highest authorities, persons came from all parts to learn them from him, and he became the link which connected the rising generation of Traditionists with the past. By his extensive acquirements in the Traditions, and by the number of masters from whom he had received them, he surpassed all his contemporaries. He was born in the month of Safar, A. H. 505 (August-Sept., A. D. 1111), and he died at Baghdad on the eve of Monday, the 27th of the first Rabi, A. H. 596 (January, A.D. 1200). The next morning, he was buried near the spot where his father and family were interred, in the cemetery called after Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, and situated at the Harb Gate. He preserved the vigour of his mind and all his bodily faculties till the last. In the course of his life he had no less than one hundred and forty-eight concubines.
(1) This name is so indistinctly written in the autograph, that it is illegible.
THE KATIB ABD AL-HAMID.
Abu Ghâlib Abd al-Hamid Ibn Yahya Ibn Saad, a mawla to the tribe of Aamir Ibn Luwai Ibn Ghalib, was a kátib so highly celebrated for the elegance of his style that his talent became proverbial: “Epistolary writing,” it was said, “began " with Abd al-Hamid and finished with Ibn al-Amid.” It was not only as a kåtib that he possessed abilities; he was also a perfect master of the belles-lettres and of all the branches of science. Syria was his native place, but when he commenced life as a boys' teacher, he travelled from one country to another.Writers of epistles copied his style and followed closely in his footsteps; and it was he who first smoothed the way to the introduction of eloquence into letterwriting. His collected epistles fill nearly one thousand leaves (two thousand pages'. It was also he who first lengthened the epistle and employed complimentary eulogiums in certain parts of it, which improvement was adopted by his successors. He was kůlib, or secretary, to Marwân Ibn Muhammad al-Jaadi, the last of the Omaiyide sovereigns. Marwân one day received from a provincial administrator the present of a black slave; displeased with the exiguity of the gift, this prince ordered his secretary to write a short letter to that aâmil, blaming him for his conduct, and Abu Ghâlib wrote these words: “Hadst thou “ found a worse colour than black and a number less than unity, thou wouldst
“have sent them. Adieu!” A saying of his was: “The pen is a tree the 427 “ fruits of which are words, and reflexion is a sea the pearls of which are wis
“dom.” Ibrahim Ibn al-Abbâs as-Sůli once said of him, on hearing his name mentioned : “Language was his element; I never wished to possess the language “ of any kâtib so ardently as I wished for his.” In one of his epistles Abu Ghàlib says:
“ Mankind are of various classes and different characters; some are “ precious jewels, not to be sold for any price; and others so liable to be sus
pected, that no one would buy them (1).” A letter in which he recommends the bearer to a man in power is thus worded : “The person who delivers you “ this letter has the same right to your benevolence as to mine; having judged “ you the only one on whom to place his hopes, and me the only one to assist him “ in his project; I here fulfil his wish, do you realise his expectations." He said also : “ The best style is that whereof the words are exalted and the
thoughts original (2).” The following verse was often repeated by him:
When kâtibs are insulted (3), their inkhorns become bows, and their pens, arrows.
He accompanied Marwan Ibn al-Hakam in his last campaign and was present at all his battles; of these events we have taken some notice in the life of Abù Muslim (see page 105). It is related that when Marwan was reduced to the conviction that his power was drawing to an end, he said to Abû Ghålib : “ It is necessary for me that you side with the
appear to desert me; their “ admiration for you as a learned scholar and the necessity which they lie under “ of having a kâtib like you, will induce them to place confidence in you.
“ Then you may perhaps be able to do me service whilst I yet live; and, in case " of my death, you will certainly be the means of protecting my harem from 66 dishonour.' To this, Abû Ghålib replied : “ The course which
advise me to take is the most advantageous one for you, and the most dishonourable " for me; my opinion is, that we must bear with patience till Almighty God “ favour us with success; and if he do not, let us die together.” He then recited this line :
I am to conceal fidelity in my heart and bear the exterior of a traitor; but where shall I find an excuse (4) sufficiently clear to satisfy all men.
The foregoing anecdote is related by Abù ’l-Ilasan al-Masûdi in his Murûj adDahab (meadows of gold). Abu Ghalib Abd al-Hamid was then slain with Marwan on Monday, the 13th of Zû 'l-Ilijja, A.H. 132 (July, A.D.750) (see p.105), at Bûsir, a village in the province of al-Faiyùm, in Egypt.— I find among my rough notes the following passage in my own handwriting : “On the death of Marwân Ibn “Muhammad the Omaiyide, Abd al-Ilamid sought for concealment in Mesopo
tamia, but, being betrayed, he was arrested and sent by Abû ’l-Abbâs”— the khalif as-Saffåh, I should think—" to Abd al-Jabbâr Ibn Abd ar-Rahman, the “commander of the police guards, who caused a tray to be heated in the fire and “then placed on the prisoner's head till he expired. Abd al-Hamid was a native “ of al-Anbår, but he dwelt at ar-Rakka. His master in penmanship was
Sâlim, the mawla of Hisham Ibn Abd al-Malik.”— His son Ismail was an able kâtib and is counted amongst the most famous of them.— Yakûb Ibn Dawûd, the vizir to al-Mahdi, and whose life we intend to give, was at first a kåtib in Abd alHamid's office and under his orders; it was from him he learned his business.When Marwan was flying before the army of his adversary, he reached Bůsir and asked what was the name of the place. On being informed that it was Basir, he said : “ Ila 'llah il-Masir (it is now that we must appearbefore God !)” (5) He was slain in that place, as is well known.— Ibrahim Ibn Jabala related as follows: “The kâtib Abd al-Hamid perceived me writing a very bad hand, on “ which he said to me: “Do you wish your writing to be good ?'-- Yes,' I
replied.—Then,' said he, ‘let the stem of your reed-pen be long and thick, “ let its point be fine, and cut it sloping towards the right hand.'- I followed “his advice, and my writing became good.”
بتاع and تباع word is more or less altered. In the printed test read
(1) As the merit of this passage consists principally in alliteration and parallelism, it disappears in the translation. None of the manuscripts, except the autograph, gives the text of it correctly; nearly every
read All the manuscripts except the autograph are wrong.
خرج For (3)
.بعذر read بغدر For
(5) Busir sounds somewhat like Bus Sir, which words mean calamity in the result. Marwan augured evil from the name.
ABD AL-MUIISIN IBN GHALBUN AS-SURI.
Abû Muhammad Abd al-Muhsin Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Ghalib Ibn Ghalbûn as-Sûri (a native of Tyre) was a good poet, a talented scholar, and one of the ornaments of Syria. His verses, equally remarkable for elegance of style, beauty of thought, charm of expression, and pleasing regularity of imagery, form a diwân of masterpieces. One of his poems contains the following fine passage:
Is it to punish (my indiscretion) or to compel me to pay a tribute (of admiration) that the image of her charms never leaves my sight (1). Her glances and her stature possess the qualities of the sword and of the spear (sharpness and slenderness). The water of youth is in her face, mixed with the fire (carnation of her cheeks. One morning she came to me and said: “ Take your choice—my aversion or my absence; I can offer no “other conditions." I replied, whilst my tears flowed in a torrent, like the rushing of the pilgrims through the pass of al-Mazamain (2): “Do not so; if the time for your “aversion or absence come, my death comes also!" In pronouncing these words I seemed to have given her the order to retire, for she arose and hastened to leave me. She then set out with the caravan may their camels be overwhelmed with fatigue wherever they first alight! (then I may be able to overtake them.) The vicissitudes of fortune showed me my life under two aspects; I marked my days with black, and I passed them in lingering agony; each day was for me equal to two nights of affliction. Who then can make me understand the difference between gold and silver ? both are to me unknown, so long is it since I saw them, whilst I sought my livelihood by my poetic talent, the worst of menial trades! Such was my case till Ali Ibn al-Husain came (to my assistance), and to-day (for lustre and exaltation) poetry holds the third rank, being only surpassed by Sirius and Canopus (3).
The kasida from which these verses are taken was composed by Abd al-Muhsin on Ali Ibn al-Ilusain, the father of the vizir Abû 'l-Kasim Ibn al-Maghribi. Respecting this piece, which is of considerable length and great merit, the following curious anecdote is told: There was in the city of Askalon a man of high rank, called Zù 'l-Mankabatain (the possessor of the two merits), to whom a certain poet went one day and recited this piece in his praise; on coming to that part of it where the eulogium is generally introduced, he added :
You are the possessor of every merit; why then confine yourself to two ?
The râis listened with attention to the verses, and expressed his admiration, after which he gave a considerable reward to the poet; but when the latter withdrew, one of the persons present observed to him, that the poem he had just heard was by Abd al-Muhsin.—“I am aware of that,” replied the râis, “and I know it by heart.” He then recited it, on which the other said to him: “What induced you then to treat that fellow with so much attention and “ reward him so generously?” To this the rdis answered: “I did it solely on " account of that verse, which he inserted in the poem, namely: You are the pos
sessor of every merit, etc.; it is not Abd al-Muhsin's, and I am perfectly con" vinced that it could have been made on me only, and it is really very fine."--We shall now give another passage of Abd al-Muhsin's poetry, but must observe that ath-Thaalibi, in his continuation of the Yatima, attributes it to Abû ’l-Faraj Ibn Abi Hasin Ali Ibn Abd al-Malik, a native of Rakka (4), and whose father had 429 been kâdi of Aleppo; but as these very verses are to be found in Abd al-Muhsin's diwán, and as ath-Thaklibi sometimes falls into mistakes, attributing pieces to the wrong author, this may perhaps be one of his blunders; the lines are as
I stopped at (an avaricious) friend's, who suffered as much from my visit as I did from hunger; and I passed the night with him as a guest; such was the decree of fate, so , often unjust to the man of noble mind. His reason was troubled by the uneasiness my presence caused him, and he had not well recovered, when he addressed me in these terms : “ Why do you travel abroad ?" To which I answered: “ The Prophet, whose “ words always furnish good counsel and lead to prosperity, has said: • Travel; you " will get rich.'” To this my host replied: “But he ended his saying thus: fast; you “ will enjoy good health."