« PreviousContinue »
situated in the province of Tihama in Yemen, and called Mertân; it lies in the valley of Wasảa at eleven days' distance south of Mekka. This was the place of his birth and early youth. He attained the age of puberty in A. H. 529 (A. D. 1134-5), and, two years after, he proceeded to Zabid, where he took up his residence and studied jurisprudence during four years in one of the colleges (which existed) there. In A.H. 549 (A.D. 1154-5), he made the pilgrimage, and was dispatched by Kåsim Ibn Hashim Ibn Falita (3), the sovereign of Mekka, as his envoy to Egypt. He entered that country in the month of the first Rabî, A.H. 550 (May, A.D. 1155); the reigning sovereign at that time was al-Fâiz, the son of az-Zafir, who had for vizir as-Sâlih Ibn Ruzzik (vol. I. p. 657). On his first presentation, he recited, in the presence of both, his celebrated kasîda rhyming in m, which we here give :
Now, that my resolves are accomplished and my anxiety is past, let praises be given to the camels for the services they rendered. I shall not deny their right to my gratitude, and I reserve for them a recompense which will cause the bridles (of horses) to envy the honour conferred on the halters (of camels). They brought the glorious term of a distant journey within my sight, so that I beheld the imam of the nations in this age. They went forth at eve from the Kaaba of al-Bathâ and the Haram, to visit the Kaaba of generosity and nobleness. Did the temple know, that on leaving it, I should only pass from one haram (sanctuary) to another (4)? They journeyed to the spot where the pavilion of the khalifate is reared aloft between the opposite qualities of mildness and severity. There the rank of imám shines with holy light, to dissipate the hateful mists of ignorance and tyranny. There the prophetic spirit of Muhammad still survives and shows us signs, declaring the two great truths of justice and of wisdom (5). There stand the trophies of noble deeds, to teach us how to praise the double grandeur of might and generosity. There the tongues of glorious exploits extol the double merit of manly acts and generous feelings. There the triumphant standard of true nobility is borne on high by the two lofty (feelings) of honour and just ambition. Confident of obtaining salvation and the reward of my sincerity in this oath, I swear by al-Fâiz the pure, that he has protected religion, the world, mankind! aided by his vizir as-Salih, the dispeller of afflictions, him who wears a raiment of honour woven by these skilful artisans, the sword and the pen. In his existence the times find that lustre which they wanted ; and, through his beneficence, they who complained of want have disappeared. His noble deeds have given him an empire which might furnish to the very Pleiads a prouder exaltation than their own. I see here such majestic dignity, that though awake, the aspect seems to me a dream. This is a day of my life which never entered into my hopes, and to which my most ardent wishes never aspired. O that the stars would draw near to me! I should form with them a necklace of eulogium; for, in praising you, I deem words insufficient. Here also the vizirate offers (6) to the khalifate its loyal counsels on which no suspicion was ever cast. I behold those marks of attachment which teach us that they are bound together, not by ties of blood, but by mutual esteem. A khalif and his vizir, whose justice extends a protecting shade over Islamism and the nations. Compared with their generosity, the Nile's increase is but a diminished stream; and might not even the copious rains be considered as vanquished ?
This kasîda was highly admired by them, and procured a large donation for the author. He remained in Egypt, in the enjoyment of ease and honours,
till the month of Shawwal, A.H. 550 (December, A.D. 1155), when he returned to Mekka, and, in the month of Safar, A.H. 551 (April, A.D. 1156), he proceeded from thence to Zabid. That same year he made the pilgrimage, and was again sent as an envoy to Egypt by Kasim, the sovereign of Mekka. He then settled at Cairo and never left it after. I have read, however, in the work designed by him as a history of Yemen, that he left his native place in the month of Shaabân, A. H. 552. He belonged to the Shafite sect, and was zealously attached to the doctrines of the Sunna ; as an accomplished scholar and a poet his talents were pre-eminent, and in society his conversation was most instructive. The vizir as-Sâlih, his sons, and the rest of the family treated him with the very utmost favour, and although their religious opinions differed from his, they made him their constant companion on account of his social qualities. He composed a great number of eulogiums on as-Sâlih and his sons. We have already men
525 tioned something of him in the lives of Shâwar and as-Sålih (vol. I. pp. 610 and 659), where we have noticed also the elegy which he wrote on the death of that vizir. A close intimacy subsisted between him and al-Kâmil, the son of Shâwar, but it was broken off by the latter when his father was raised to the vizirate. On this occasion, the poet addressed to him the following lines :
If fortune leave thee not in peace, make war against her; and if your nearest friends serve thee not, remove to afar. Despise not the wiles of the feeble; serpents have been sometimes killed by the envenomed sting of the scorpion. In days of old, a hoopoe shook the throne of Balkis (7), and, before that, a rat destroyed the dike of Marib (8). Since life is the most precious of our riches, spend it not without necessity. The vicissitudes of night and day form a field of battle where the troops of misfortune assail us in unwonted ways. The faithlessness of youth afflicts me not; I am accustomed to this defect in all my companions. The young man's deceit lies in his promises and their fulfilment, and that of the sword is when its edge rebounds harmless off the foe.
In this poem
is contained the following passage :
Since my mouth is the mine from which those jewels are taken, preserve it from kiss · ing the hands of the charitable. I have seen men banquetting at thy house, whilst I VOL. II.
had no other companions but the mourners. I withdrew when your excellency preferred them to me; the lion scorns to let the foxes precede hím. Tell me how they fill the place which I once held as thy preferred lieutenant? Those were the nights in which I sung your praises to the company, who listened in respectful silence, and nodded their
approbation (9). On the fall of the (Fatimite) dynasty and the establishment of the sultan Salâh ad-din's authority, Omara, who was still in the country, composed some poems in honour of that prince and of other members of the (Aiyabite) family, all of which are still to be found in the collection of his poetical works. He addressed 10 Salâh ad-din also a kasida, wherein he painted his situation and the misery to which he had been reduced. This piece, which he entitled : Shikâya tal-Mutazallim wa Nikåya tal-Mutaállim (complaint of the oppressed and pains of the afflicted) is embellished with all the graces of composition. He wrote also a long poem, rhyming in l, wherein he deplores the fate of the People of the Palace (the Fatimite family) on the ruin of their power; like most of his pieces, it is beautifully written. “He then embarked in some proceedings connected with a conspiracy got up by eight of the principal officers of the city, who, being devoted partisans of the Egyptians (the Fatimites), had conceived the design of restoring them to the throne. But the sultan Salah ad-din discovered the plot and had them all strangled, including the jurisconsult. This execution took place at Cairo on Saturday, 2nd of Ramadàn, A.H. 569 (April, A.D. 1174); they had been arrested on Sunday, the 26th of Shaabản of that year. Omâra tal-Yamani left a number of works, and, amongst them, a history of Yemen furnishing much important information, and a treatise called an-Nukat al-Asriya fi Akhbâr il-Wuzard il-Misriya (contemporary anecdotes respecting the vizirs of Egypt) (10). The kåtib Imad ad-din al-Ispahầni says of him in the Kharida : “His body was exposed on a cross “ with those of the other persons who had been accused of plotting against him” -meaning against the sultan Salah ad-din—"and of inviting the Franks (the “ crusaders) by letter to come and assist in placing the son of al-Aadid on the " throne. But they had received among them a man belonging to the army, “ who was not a native of Egypt, and this person went to Salåh ad-din and in“ formed him of what was going on. The prince had them brought before him, " and they sought not to deny the accusation, neither did they consider their “ conduct as a thing to be denied; he therefore cut short the path of Omara's “life and replaced his flourishing existence by destruction. This affair was “ marked by some peculiar circumstances; the first, that he was accused of com“posing a kasida which contained this verse :
* This religion (Islamism) took its origin with a man who aspired to be called the lord 526 • of nations.'
“ It is possible that this verse was attributed to him falsely, but nevertheless “ the jurisconsults of Egypt declared that he merited death, and they importuned “ Salâh ad-din to make an example of him. The second, that he was engaged “ in an affair in which failure is never pardoned, neither is any respect shown to
a literary man, were he even the star of learning in the heavens of poetry and
prose (11). The third, that he had satirised an emir who counted this as one " of his crimes; so destruction came upon him whilst in the midst of his sins.” Towards the end of the same article, he says: “A strange thing it was that “Omara, who had refused to attach himself to the doctrines of these people (the “ Fatimites) when they yet held their station, should have been so completely “blinded by fate as to wish to take their part and restore them to power; an un
dertaking which cost him his life.” Here the writer alludes to some verses which were addressed by as-Sâlih Ibn Ruzzik to Omara, pressing him to become a Shiite. They are given by Imâd ad-dîn in the same page where he makes this observation (12).—Madhiji means descended from Madhij; the real name of Madhij was Màlik, the son of Odud Ibn Zaid Ibn Yashjub; he was so denominated because he was born at a red hill in Yemen called Madhij, but other reasons have also been given.
(1) Imåd ad-din gives him the surname of Abû Hamza. (2) See vol. I. page 106.
(3) Ibn Khallikân has fallen into a mistake. This emir's name was Kasim Ibn Abi Falità. He becam sovereign of Mekka on the death of his father Abu Falita in A. H. 527 (A. D. 1132–3), and was murdered in A.H. 586 (A.D. 1161) by an assassin (hashishiya) who, according to common report, had been employed by al-Aådid, the sovereign of Egypt, to commit that deed.-(Ibn Khaldùn; No. 2402 C, fol. 45 verso).
(4) See vol. I. page 18, note (4).
(8) See M. de Sacy's Mémoire sur divers événements de l'histoire des Arabes avant Mahomet, in the Mémoires de l'Académie des Inscriptions, tom. 48.
.حكم read باس In this verse for (5)
(9) Literally: Their talk was a sign of the eyebrow.
(10) A copy of this work, apparently corrected by the author, is in the Bib. du Roi, ancien fonds No. 810. He has inserted in it a number of his own poems, and he gives an account of bis intercourse with the vizirs Shâwar and as-Salih.
(11) As the style of Imád ad-din is more remarkable for sounding phrases than for sense, it cannot be expected that he should be more intelligible in English than in Arabic.
(12) See MS. No. 1414, fol. 261 verso. As-Salih offered him a large sum to induce him to become a Shiite.
OMAR IBN ABI RABIA.
Abû 'l-Khattab Omar Ibn Abd Allah Ibn Abi Rabia Ibn al-Moghaira Ibn Abd Allah Ibn Omar Ibn Makhzûm Ibn Yakaza Ibn Murra al-Makhzûmi, the best poet ever produced by the tribe of Koraish, is celebrated for his amatory pieces, repartees, adventures, and disorderly life; of these, some stories are told which are well known (1). The person whom he courted in his verses was ath-Thuraya, the daughter of Ali Ibn Abd Allah Ibn al-Harith Ibn Omaiya al-Asghar (the less) (2) Ibn Abd Shams Ibn Abd Manâf, a member of the Omaiyide family. AsSuhaili
says, in his ar-Raud al-Onuf (3) that she was the daughter of Abd Allah, without mentioning Ali; he then adds : “Kutaila, the daughter of an-Nadr, was “ her grandmother, being the wife of al-Harith Ibn Omaiya and the mother “ of Abd Allah, the father of ath-Thuraiya.” This Kutaila was the same who, after the battle of Badr, recited to the Prophet the verses rhyming in k, when he had put to death her father an-Nadr Ibn al-Harith Ibn Alkama Ibn Kalada Ibn Abd Manaf Ibn Abd ad-Dår Ibn Kusai, surnamed al-Abdari (after his ancestor Abd ad-Dår). Some say that an-Nadr was her brother. Amongst the verses which she recited were these :
O Muhammad, son of the noblest of her race by a generous sire! it had not harmed thee to pardon; the hero, though roused to anger, sometimes pardons. An-Nadr would have been thy best mediator, hadst thou left him (alive); and he was the worthiest of liberty, were captives to be set free.
On this the Prophet said: “Had I heard her verses before I put him to death, “I should not have done so." This an-Nadr bore a violent enmity to the Pro