Page images

We have lost Abû Amr, and none like him survives ! O how the strokes of misfortune stun him who is afflicted ! Thou hast departed and left a void among us which we can never hope to see filled up; but thy loss procures us one advantage — every new misfortune will find us insensible to affliction.

Some say, however, that this elegy was composed by him on Yahya Ibn Ziàd Ibn Obaid Allah Ibn Abd Allah Ibn Abd al-Madàn (15) al-Ilàrithi al-Küsi, a poet of celebrity and a maternal cousin of as-Sassàh, the first Abbâside khalif. Others again mention that Ibn al-Mukaffà composed it on Abd al-Karim Ibn Abi ’l-Aujà (16), but the first opinion is that generally held. These verses have 540 been also attributed to Muhammad, the son of Abd Allah Ibn al-Mukaffà. I shall now observe that if this elegy was made on Abû Amr Ibn al-Alà, it could not have been composed by Abd Allah Ibn al-Mukaffà, for he died before Abû Amr; but it is possible that it was written by his son, and it is generally believed to refer to Abû Amr.—Although Abû Amr be merely a surname, I have placed Abû Amr Ibn al-Alà's life under this letter for the reason already stated in the life of Abu Bakr Ibn Abd ar-Rahman (vol. I. p. 263), and to that article I shall therefore refer the reader.- As for the Abd al-Wahhåb of whom mention has been made in this notice, we may here state that he was the son of the Ibrahim, generally denominated al-Imam, whose name occurs in the life of his father Muhammad Ibn Ali Ibn Abd Allah Ibn al-Abbâs (17). Abd al-Wahhab was governor of Syria in the name of his uncle al-Mansûr, but this prince felt so apprehensive of his ulterior projects that, when he lay at the point of death near the Well of Maimůn, at the gate of Mekka, he said to his chamberlain ar-Rabi Ibn Yûnus (vol. I. p. 521): “ The only person (whose intentions) I fear is the

governor of Syria, Abd al-Wahhàb, the son of Ibrahîm the Imâm!” ” He then raised his hands towards heaven and exclaimed : “Almighty God! deliver me from Abd al-Wahhâb!”—“When al-Mansûr expired,” said ar-Rabi Ibn Yûnus, “ I lowered his body into the grave, and I had just placed the tombstone over it, “ when I heard a voice from the interior of it pronounce these words : ‘Abd “ al-Wabhåb is dead, and the prayer is fulfilled. I was struck with terror at “ this occurrence, and six or seven days afterwards, intelligence was brought of “ Abd al-Wahhab's death.” It is Ibn Badrûn who relates this anecdote in his commentary on the kasida of Ibn Abdûn, which begins with these words:

After (inflicting the reality (of misfortune), time still torments (us) with the traces of it.

He introduces the story when explaining the following verse :

Time struck with dread each Mâmûn (tulus) and Mutamin (securus), and it betrayed each Mansûr (rictor) and Muntasir (adjutus) (18.

(1) It was Ali Ibn Abi Talib who laid down the first principles of Arabic grammar. - See vol. I. page 666, note (7)

(2) His life is given in this work.

(3) Hajji Khalifa notices a number of works bearing this title. I suspect that it was the one by al-Mubarrad from which the following extract is taken.

(4) The Arabic words translated literally would run thus: Pro fætu,albedo servi aut ancillæ 'detur .
(8) Literally: Pro fætu, servus aut ancilla.
(6) See vol. I. Introduction, page xxvi.

(7) The second form of the verb rahaba does not signify to frighten, and al-Asmâi seems merely to have intended to obtain Abû ’l-Ala's opinion on the subject, by hazarding a conjectural signification.

(8) He probably alludes to al-Hajjaj Ibn Yûsuf vol. I. p. 336,, who died A. H. 95, and was considered as one of the most elegant and correct speakers of the age. Abû 'l-Alå abstains from uttering his name, to avoid the necessity of saying after it, Radia Allah anhừ (May Gol show favour to him, which formula is always pronounced when the name of a deceased Moslim is mentioned.

(9) See vol. I. page 299.
(10) His life will be found in this volume.
(11) That is: Let them pronounce the word right, but not attempt to correct it in the written copy.
(12) See M. de Sacy's Chrestomathie, vol. II. page 471.
(13) Further notice is taken of Abd al-Wahhåb at the end of this article.
(14) See vol. I. page 431.

(18) It appears from the Kamus that al-Madàn was the name of an idol. — See also Pocock's Specimen, second edition, page 104.

.العوجا The autograph has (16)

(17) See also pages 102, 103 of this volume.

(18) The Mamún ere mentioned the khalif. His brother Mutumin was designed as his successor by ar-Rashid, but this nomination al-Mâmûn set aside on the death of al-Amin. Mansur was the second Abbaside khalif, and Muntasir was the son and successor of al-Mutawakkil.


Abû Othman Amr Ibn Bahr Ibn Mahbûb al-Kinâni al-Laithi, generally known by the surname of al-Jahiz and a native of Basra, was a man celebrated for his learning and author of numerous works on every branch of science. He conposed a discourse on the fundamentals of religion, and an offset of the Motazilite sect was called al-Jähiziya after him. He had been a disciple of Abu Ishak Ibrahîm Ibn Saiyâr al-Balkhi, surnamed an-Nazzâm (1), and was maternal uncle to Yamůt Ibn al-Muzarrà, a person whose life we shall give. One of his finest and most instructive works is the Kitâb al-Haiwân (book of animals), as it contains every sort of curious information. The same may be said of his Kitab al-Bayân wa 't-Tabaiyun ( distinction and exposition ) (2). His productions are extremely numerous, and his talents are fully recognised ; but he was deformed in person, and the prominence of his eyes, which seemed to be starting out of his head, procured him the surnames of al-Jähiz (the starer) and al-Hadaki (goggle-eye). Amongst the anecdotes concerning him, is the following, related by himself : “I was mentioned to al-Mutawakkil as a proper person to instruct one of his

sons ; but, on seeing me, he disliked my looks and dismissed me with a pre“sent of ten thousand dirhems. On leaving the palace, I met with Muhammad “ Ibn Ibrahim (3), who was on the point of returning to Madina-tas-Salâm

(Baghdad), and he proposed to me that I should accompany him in his barge. " I should remark that we were then at Sarra man Râa. I embarked with “bim, and, on reaching the mouth of the canal al-Kâtůl (4), a curtained tent

was set up and he called for music, on which a female lute-player com“ menced singing an air, of which the words were :

Our days are passed in quarrels and reproaches; our time is spent in anger. Can it it be that such an affliction is peculiar to me alone, or is it common to every lover ?'

[ocr errors]

“She then stopped, and he told a female guitar-player to begin. The “ words she sung were :

[ocr errors]

Show pity to true lovers ! I see no one to assist them; how often do they part! how 541 often are they severed! how often do they separate! how great must be their pa• tience !'

“ Here the lute-player said to her :

And then what must they do?'

" To which the other female answered :

• 'Tis this they have to do—'

“ She then struck her hand through the curtain, and, coming out at the “ rent she thus made, she appeared to us like a half-moon (5) and threw herself 66 into the water. A

young page who was standing behind Muhammad, with a “ fly-flap in his hand, and who resembled her in beauty, went over to the place “ where she fell in, and saw her borne away under the water, on which he

recited this verse :

• 'Tis thou who drownest me (6) after meeting with thy fate! O that thou couldst • know it!'

[ocr errors]

“ He then sprung in after her, and the rowers having turned the barge “round, perceived them sinking and clasped in each other's arms. They were “ never seen after. Muhammad was greatly shocked at the circumstance, but “ he at length said to me: '0 Abů Amr ! tell me some story which may dimi“nish my grief for the death of that unfortunate couple, or else I shall send “othee to join them !' I immediately recollected an occurrence which hap

pened to Yazid Ibn Abd al-Malik, and I related as follows: The khalif Yazid “ Ibn Abd al-Malik was holding a public sitting for the redressing of grievances, “ and amongst the memorials which passed under his examination, he found one “ containing these words: If it be the pleasure of the Commander of the “ faithful, he will have such and such a slave-girl of his brought out to me,

so that she may sing me three airs.' On reading this note, Yazid was seized “ with anger, and he sent out a person with orders to bring in the writer's head, “ but he then dispatched another messenger after the first, with directions to bring in the individual himself. When the man appeared before him,

the “ khalif addressed him thus: "What induced thee to do what thou hast done?'

My confidence in thy mildness,' replied the man, "and my trust in thy " indulgence. Here the prince ordered all the assembly to withdraw, not


[ocr errors]

" excepting the members of the Omaiyide family, and the girl was brought in " with a lute in her hand. The youth then said to her : “Sing these words :

Gently, O Fatimal moderate thy disdain ! if thou hast resolved to sever our attach* ment, yet be gentle (7).

“ When she had sung it, Yazid said to him : ‘Speak ;' and the other said :

[ocr errors]

* The lightning gleamed in the direction of Najd, and I said: 0 lightning! I am too ' much engaged to watch thee (8).'

66 And she

sung it. Yazid then said to him: “Speak;' and he said: “Order “me a pint of wine;' and it was brought to him. He had hardly drunk it

off, when he sprung up, and, having climbed to the top of the dome under “ which Yazid was sitting, he threw himself down and dashed out his brains. " • We belong to God,' exclaimed Yazid (horror-struck, and unto him we must “ return! See that madman! he was silly enough to think that if I brought “out my slave-girl to him, I should take her back again into my own pos" ó session. Pages! lead her out and bear her to his family, if he have a

family; and if not, sell her and let the price be distributed as alms in his " name.' They immediately departed with her for the man's family, but, on “ crossing the court of the palace, she saw an excavation prepared for pre

serving the rain-waters, on which she burst from their hands, and recited "6 this line :


[ocr errors]

Those that die of love, let them die thus; there is no good in love without death.


" And throwing herself head foremost into the cistern, she died on the spot. “Muhammad received some distraction from this narration, and he made me a

large present." The following anecdote is related by Abû 'l-Kâsim as-Siràfi: “We went to the assembly held by the lord vizir Abû ’l-Fadl Ibn al

Amid, and, the name of al-Jahiz happening to be mentioned, a person pre“ sent depreciated his abilities and spoke of him slightingly. The vizir made

no observation, and, when the man had retired, I said to him : ‘My lord!

'why did you not reply to that fellow, you who are accustomed to refute the “6 assertions of persons like him?' To this the vizir replied : 'I thought any

« PreviousContinue »