Page images
PDF
EPUB

Saad Abd al-Karim as-Samani. In committing to memory the text of each Tradition, he never neglected learning by heart the isnád (1) from which it derived its authority; he was, indeed, a pious and conscientious hâfiz. In the year 520 (A. D. 1126) he heard the disciples of al-Barmaki, at-Tanukhi (2), and al-Jauhari (3) deliver Traditions at Baghdad; after which he proceeded to Khorasån and visited Naisàpůr, Herât, Ispahản, and Persian Irâk; at that time, he made his extracts from different authors and composed his own instructive works. Ile discussed with great eloquence the traditional information which he had collected, and he displayed a most happy talent in compiling and drawing up the materials of his works. He composed a great (biographical) history of Damascus in eighty volumes, containing most curious information, and written on the plan of (the Khatib's) History of Baghdad. I was one day with my master Abd al-Azim al-Mundiri, the chief hafiz of Egypt, (may God prolong his days for our instruction !) (4) and the conversation happening to fall on this history, he brought me out a volume of it, and spoke longly on its merits and excellence : “ I cannot but think,” said he, “that the author must have made the resolution “of composing this history on the very day in which his intelligence could form “ a reasonable conception, and that he began from that moment to collect the “ materials; for the ordinary life of a man, passed in study and devoted to the

subject, would be insufficient for the task of assembling so much information “as that book contains.” This observation is perfectly true, and its correctness will be admitted by every person who examines the work; for how could any man find time enough to compose one like it? and it must be also taken into consideration that the published text consists of passages selected, after verification, from an immense mass of written notes. He composed some other good and instructive works, and a considerable quantity of poetry (5), of which we may give the following passage:

The science of Traditions forms an important part of knowledge, and its fairest branch is that of well-authenticated statements. But the most useful, in my opinion, and the finest consists in instructive information conveyed by (6) dictation. You will find that nothing gives more certitude to science than its utterance from the lips of men. Be ardent, then, my friend! in its acquisition, and receive it with untiring zeal from the mouths of men. Take it not from books, or the faults of the copyists will overwhelm you with vexation.

The following piece also is attributed to him :

Alas, my heart! grey hairs have come ! what mean thy youthful passions and those verses expressive of thy love? My youth has fled; it seems as if that time had never been! Hoary age has come; I feel as if it had always been my companion! Preoccupied by my thoughts, the strokes of fate fell upon me unawares. O that I knew with whom I shall be classed on the day of judgment), and what may be the lot which God will declare to be mine for all eternity.

In the original Arabic) of this last piece, the poet imposed on himself the unnecessary obligation of making the two last syllables of each verse rhyme together. The second verse is taken, with very slight alteration, as may be seen, from a poem of Ali Ibn Jabala al-Akawwak (7), where he says:

Youth, as if it had never been ; and hoary age as if it had never ceased to be.

The hafiz Ibn Asakir was born on the first of Muharram, A. H. 499 (Sept. A. D. 1105), and he died at Damascus on the eve of Monday, the 21st of Rajab, A.H. 571 (February, A.D. 1176). He was buried in the cemetery at the Lesser Gate (al-Bâb as-Saghir), near the spot where his father and other members of bis family were interred. Funeral prayers were said over him by the shaikh Kutb ad-din Masad) an-Naisa půri (8), and the sultan Salâh ad-din was present at the ceremony.— His son Abû Muhammad al-Kasim, surnamed Bahà ad-din (splendour of religion), who was also a hâfiz, died at Damascus on the 9th of Safàr, A. H. 600 (Oct. A.D. 1203), and was buried the same day outside the gate called Båb an-Nasr. His birth took place in that city on the eve of the 15th of the latter Jumada, A. H. 527 (April, A. D. 1133). — His brother Hibat Allah Ibn alHasan Ibn Hibat Allah, surnamed Såin ad-din (custodiens fulem, was a learned jurisconsult and traditionist; he died at Damascus on Sunday, the 23rd of Shaabàn, A. H. 563 (June, A.D. 1168), and was buried, the next morning, at the Lesser-Gate Cemetery. According to the statement of his brother the hafiz, he was born on one of the first ten days of the month of Rajab, A. H. 488 (July, A. D. 1095); he went to Baghdad, A. II. 520 (A. D. 1126), and after studying under Asaad al-Mibani (vol. I. p. 189) and Ibn Barhân (vol. I.

he returned to Damascus and gave lessons in the western Maksùra (9) of the Great Mosque. He gave also opinions, as a musti, on points of law, and taught the Traditions.

p. 80),

(1) See vol. I. Introduction, p. xxii.
2) The life of Abû 'l-Kâsim Ali at-Tanukhi will be found in this volume.

3 Abû Muhammad al-Hasan Ibn Ali Ibn al-Hasan Ibn Muhammad, surnamed al-Jauhari, was the first hafi: vims of the age in Irak, and resided in Shiraz, but removed afterwards to Baghdad. Born A. H. 364 (A.D. 974-8); died A. H. 454 (A.D. 1062. – Nujum.)

(4) The autograph which contains this passage was written at Cairo, A. II. 633. Abd al-Azim al-Mundiri died the ensuing year. See vol. I. p. 89.

(3) The text has a combos yeu literally, in French: pas mal de vers. (6) The autograph has į not

. 17 The life of al-Akawwak is given in this work. (8 His life is given by our author.

(9) Every great mosque has a large pew (maksura) on the left side of the mihrab for the chaunters, and another on the right side for the sultan, if it be an imperial mosque. It must have been in the sultan's Maksùra, that Hibat Allah gave his lessons.

AS-SIMSIMANI.

Abù 'l-Hasan Ali Ibn Abd Allah Ibn Abd al-Ghaflàr as-Simsimani was celebrated for his abilities as a philologer, and the books on literary subjects which contain notes in his handwriting are sought after with avidity. All I know respecting his personal history is, that he received lessons from Abù Bakr Ibn Shàdàn and Abû 'l-Fadl Ibn al-Màmûn. His veracity as a transmitter of traditional information was generally acknowledged. — The Khatib mentions him in the History of Baghdad and says: “I took notes when he dictated his “ lessons; he wrote a great deal, and his penmanship was extremely elegant and " correct.

He commenced his career as a professor at Baghdad by transmitting orally to his pupils the pieces of general literature which he had received in “ the same manner from his own masters, and by instructing them in a portion “ of the same science which had been already committed to writing (1). The

greater part of his books were written out by himself, and, on his death, they

came into the possession of the learned scholar Ibn Dinar al-Wasiti, but “most of them were destroyed by an inundation.” He died on Wednesday, the 4th of Muharram, A. H. /15 (March, A. D. 1024).— I did not know the origin of the surname Simsimani, till I found the following passage in al-Ilariri’s Durra

66

say

66

[ocr errors]

tal-Ghawâss : “When they (the vulgar) wish to employ the relative adjectives “ derived from fâkiha (fruit), bâkillå (greens), and simsim (sesame), they fakihậni fruiterer), bakillâni (greengrocer), and simsimâni (seller of sesame); but

they are wrong. He then points out the nature of the fault, and continues: “The proper form of locution is simsimi, to designate a seller of sesame; he then adds further observations with which he concludes his dissertation. When I met this passage, I became aware that Abù ’l-Hasan's surname Simsimâni was derived from simsim, and that it was a word employed conventionally by the vulgar.

(1) The Arabic says simply: by relating, and by teaching to read literature.

THE SHARIF AL-MURTADA.

The sharif Abù 'l-Kasim Ali, surnamed al-Murtada (gratum habitus), and nakib, or chief, of that class of Moslims who drew their descent from Ali Ibn Abi Tålib, was the brother of the sharif ar-Rida, whose life we shall give, and the son of at-Tahir Zù 'l-Manakib, the son of Abù Ahmad al-Husain, the son of Musa, the son of Muhammad, the son of Ibrahim, the son of Mûsa al-Kazim, the son of Jaafar as-Sàdik, the son of Muhammad al-Bâkir, the son of Ali Zain al-Aabidin, the son of al-Husain, the son of Ali, the son of Abi Tålib. He possessed the highest abilities in scholastic theology, general literature, and poetry, and is author of some works on the system of doctrine held by the Shiites; he composed also a discourse on the fundamentals of the Moslim religion, and a great quantity of poetry, which has been collected into a diwán. In describing the taif, or image of the beloved seen by the lover in his dreams (1), he displays great talent, and he recurs to the subject very frequently. It is a controverted, point whether the book entitled Nahj al-Balågha (high-road of precision in dis

course), and containing a collection of sayings by the imâm Ali Ibn Abi Tålib, was 466 compiled by al-Murtada or by his brother ar-Rida: it has been even stated that

these sayings were never uttered by Ali, and that the person who collected them and attributed them to that imâm was himself the author of them: of this God is the best judge! He wrote also a work under the title of al-Ghurar wa 'd-Durar (stars and pearls), consisting of discourses which he had pronounced at assemblies presided by himself; they embrace a variety of subjects connected with general literature, and contain observations on points of grammar, philology, etc.

It is an instructive work and indicates not only the great talent of the author, but his extensive information in the sciences. Ibn Bassâm speaks of him towards the end of the Dakhira : “ This sharif,” says he, “was generally considered as the

greatest imâm of Irâk; to him the learned of that country had recourse, and “ from him its great men received instruction. He was the master of its schools, “ and the possessor of the rare (information) and the familiar (knowledge) there

subsisting He was one of those whose reputation spread abroad, whose name gained publicity for his verses, whose virtues and deeds found praise in the

sight of God. Add to this, his compositions on religious subjects and his “ works on the principles of Moslim science; treatises which declare him a “ branch of that (noble) stem and a member of that illustrious (family, the) “house (of Ali).” He gives also some pieces of verse by al-Murtada, one of which is as follows:

She granted me favours with reluctance in my waking hours, but when I slept, she bestowed them in abundance (2). Then we met, and I enjoyed my wishes; it was happiness unalloyed, had it not been all a dream. Since night is then the time of lovers' meetings, night is surely better than day (3).

This thought is borrowed from the lines of Abû Tammâm at-Tâi, in which

he says:

My imagination called on her to visit my sleeping hours, and she came in secret and unseen. O what a meeting is that wherein the souls enjoy delight whilst the bodies are not aware! Such interviews as these have for us but one defect-we are then under the influence of a dream.

Another of al-Murtada's pieces is the following:

My two dearest friends! chief ornaments of the tribe of Kais ! love subdues man's character to mildness. Let me turn my thoughts towards you, so that I may for a moment forget my cares; 'tis thus you will delight me: and let me quench my thirst with repeated draughts from the cup which my tears have filled. Let sleep not approach my eyelids; 1 bestow it upon lovers (who require it).

33

VOL. II.

« PreviousContinue »