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his intrepidity and contempt of death. On this last subject he composed the following lines :
I said to myself when I wavered at the sight of the warriors: “Shame upon thee ! “fear not! wert thou to ask the delay of a single day above the term prescribed to thy “ existence, thy request would not be heard; be firm then in the career of death! be firm! “ to obtain an everlasting life is a thing impossible. The robe of existence is not so “precious that the heartless dastard should fold it up (to preserve it). The path of “ death must be trod by every mortal; the inhabitants of the earth must all listen to
his summons. He who dies not young must live in suffering and fall into decrepi“ tude, whilst fate delivers him over to solitary misery. Life is of no use to a man “when he has become an object of contempt (2).”
These verses are inserted in the first section of the Hamasa (3); they would give courage to the greatest coward God ever created, and I know of nothing on the subject to be compared with them; they could only have proceeded from a haughty spirit, ardently aspiring after glory. Katari is counted as one of the Arabian pulpit-orators the most celebrated for precision of thought and elegance of style. It is related that al-Hajjaj said to the brother of Katari : “I shall “ surely put thee to death.”—“Why so ?” replied the other.—“On account “ of thy brother's revolt;” answered al-Hajjaj.— “But I have a letter from the “Commander of the faithful, ordering thee not to punish me for the fault of
my brother.”—“ Produce it.”—“I have with me something stronger than “ that." _“What is it?”'_“ The book of Almighty God, wherein he says: And “ no burdened soul shall bear the burden of another (4).” Al-Hajjaj was struck with his answer, and gave him his liberty. Hosain Ibn Hafsa as-Saadi said of Katari in one of his poems :
“ Thou art he whose loss we cannot support ; though useless thy life, thy death was "a calamity.'
I have marked the pronunciation of the names of his ancestors ; it is therefore unnecessary for me to lengthen this article by indicating the orthography of each, letter by letter; and the persons who copy this work may rely on the genuineness of what we have there marked (5); I have also put the vowel points to all the words in the verses. It is said by some that Katari was not his name, but a surname, and that it is derived from the name of a town situated between al-Bahrain and Oman ; Abû Naâma, being a native of it, received this appellation (6). Some say also that it is the kasaba of Omân; the word kasaba means the capital of a province (lit. the throne of a region).
(1) See M. de Sacy's Hariri, page ov.
(6) The author of the Marasid notices a village called Kutar, on the sea-shore in the province of al-Bahrain, between Omân and al-Okâir.
Abû ’l-Misk (the father of musk) Kåfür (camphor) (1) was the son of Abd Allah and bore the surname of al-Ikhshidi (enfranchised slave of al-Ikhschid). We have already mentioned some circumstances respecting him in the life of Fåtik (vol.II. p. 453). He had been possessed as a slave by a native of Old Cairo, but, in the year 312 (A. D. 924-5), he was sold in that city by his master Mahmûd Ibn Wahb Ibn Abbâs to Abû Bakr Muhammad Ibn Toghj al-Ikhshid, a person whose
life we intend to give. He then rose into such favour with al-Ikhschid that 603 the latter appointed him atâbek ( guardian) (2) of his two sons. When al-Ikh
schid died (A. H. 334, A. D. 946), his eldest son, Abû 'l-Kâsim Anûjûr (the word anûjûr signifies mahmûd (praised in Arabic), obtained the government of Egypt and Syria from the khalif ar-Râdi (3), who issued a written instrument to that effect. Kâfûr continued to administer the state with great ability till the death of Anûjûr. This event took place on Saturday, the 8th—some say the seventh-of Zû ’l-Kaada, A.H. 349 (December, A. D. 960); his body was transported to Jerusalem and interred near that of his father; he was born at Damascus on Thursday, the 9th of Zû 'l-Hijja, A. H. 319 (December, A.D. 931). His brother Abû 'l-Hasan Ali succeeded to the throne; in this prince's reign the Greeks took Aleppo, Missîsa, Tarsûs, and all that territory, whilst Kåfûr continued to act as his faithful guardian and the deputy of his power. Ali died on the 11th of Muharram, A. H. 355 (January, A. D. 966); he was born at Old Cairo on Tuesday, the 25th of Safar, A. H. 326 (January, A. D. 938). From this epoch, Kâfûr assumed the uncontrolled government of the empire, and, when advised to proclaim the son of Abû 'l-Hasan Ali, he answered that so young a boy was not fit to reign. He then rode out escorted by spearmen, and exhibited the pelisses of investiture which had been sent to him from (the court of the khalif in) Iråk ; he published also a document conferring on him an honorary title (as governor of Egypt), and at length, on Tuesday, the 10th of Safar, A. H. 355 (February, A. D. 966), he rode out wearing these pelisses. Abû 'l-Fadl Jaafar Ibn al-Furât (vol. I. page 319) served him in the capacity of vizir. Kâfür loved the society of virtuous men, and treated them with marked honour. He was a negro of a deep black colour, with a smooth shining skin. It has been delivered down that al-Ikhschid purchased him for eighteen pieces of gold (dinars). In the life of the sharif Ibn Tabâtabả (vol. II. p. 46) will be found an anecdote respecting him. When Abû 't-Taiyib al-Mutanabbi (vol. I. p. 102) departed in anger from the court of Saif ad-Dawlat Ibn Hamdân (vol. II. p. 334), he proceeded to Egypt, and celebrated the praises of Kåfør in some kusidas of great beauty. In the month of the latter Jumâda, A. H. 346 (Sept. A. D. 957) he recited to him one of these pieces wherein he says, when describing the horses (which bore him to Egypt):
They went to Kåfür and neglected all other men ; for he who seeks the sea, despiseth the rivulets. They bore us to the (dark) pupil of the eye of the age, and left behind them the white (of the eye) and its corners (4).
Here the poet has attained the acme of perfection. In the month of Shawwål, 347 (Dec.-Jan. A. D. 958-9), he recited to Kâfür the poem rhyming in b, wherein he says :
Whether I wish or not to praise Kåfür, his noble qualities dictate to me and I must write. When a man leaves his family behind and visits Kafür, he again finds himself at home.
The same poem contains the following passage :
On that day of rejoicing every man meets his friend with smiles, but I weep and lament (the absence of) those I love. I sigh for my family and long to meet them, but how far is that distant anka (5) removed from my ardent wishes. If a choice must be made between thee) Abû 'l-Misk and them, thou art sweeter to my heart than they are. The beneficent man is ever beloved, and the land which produces the plant of noble generosity is ever delightful.
It is related that al-Mutanabbi said: “When I went into Kâfür's presence “ with the intention of reciting verses to him, he always laughed on seeing me “ and smiled in my face, but when I repeated to him these lines :
“Since friendship has become a mere deception, I am repaid for my smiles with
smiles; and when I choose a friend, my mind misgives me, for I know he is but a “ man !
“ He never did so again, as long as I remained with him. I was astonished “ at this proof of his sagacity and intelligence.” In the month of Shawwal, A. H. 349 (Nov.-Dec. A. D. 960), al-Mutanabbi recited verses in his presence for the last time, and never went to see him again. The kasida which he repeated to him on this occasion rhymes in b, and contains some passages in which the poet betrays his dissatisfaction. We extract from it the following passage :
When near to thee, my eyes are rejoiced, but that nearness is combined with the remoteness (of those I love). Does it profit me to approach thy person, if that which I desire be refused me? I visit thee seldom, that I may not be burdensome; and I keep silent to spare thee the trouble of a reply. What I want I declare not; thou art gifted with sagacity, and my silence is a sufficient explanation, nay, a plain request. yet I am not one of those who require to be bribed into love, and whose attachment must be strengthened by rewards. I came to confound my calumniators, and my confidence in thy friendship was fully justified ; I came to prove to persons who were hostile to me and went to (praise the princes of the) East, that I, who visited the West, was successful when they failed. Opinions differ, except respecting thee; thou art without a rival, and a lion where other kings are mere wolves. Nay, in this comparison, if the word wolves () were not pointed and the reader took it for flies (13), he would make no mistake. Praise bestowed on other men is falsehood mixed with truth, but that which thou receivest is truth pure from alloy When I obtain proofs of thy friendship, I contemn wealth and look on all other men as dust. Were it not for thee, I had been always a traveller, every day changing town and companions. For me thou art the world ; to that world I am attached ; and, were I to leave thee, I should be obliged to return to thee again.
After reciting this poem, al-Mutanabbi remained a year in Egypt without going to see Kåfør, against whom he was greatly incensed ; he merely rode out in his train to avoid incurring his displeasure. Having then made secret preparations for his departure, and every thing being arranged, he recited, on the ninth of Zů Hijja, A. H. 350 (January, A. D. 962), the kasûda rhyming in d wherein he satirized Kåfør. The next day he left Cairo. This poem ends with the following lines :
Who could teach noble sentiments to this castrated negro ?-his white masters ? or his ancestors who were hunted like wild beasts? or his ear, bleeding under the hands of the coppersmith (6) ? or the price set upon him, when none would give two oboles to purchase him? But so it is! the best of the whites are incapable of honourable deeds; how then could any be expected from black eunuchs ?
He composed many more satires against Kåfùr, all of which are inserted in the collection of his poems. On leaving him he went to Adůd ad-Dawlat, at Shiraz, as we have already related. In a compilation of anecdotes, I read the following relation : “I was at the court of Kåfür al-Ikhshidi, when a man “ came in and prayed for him, saying: May God prolong the days of our mas“6 « ter !' but the word days he pronounced as if it were in the genitive case. “ Some of the company began to converse about this mistake and blamed the 603 “ man for making it, when a person of eminent rank, who happened to be
present, repeated extempore these lines :
• Wonder not if the man who invokes God's blessing on our master commit a fault
For the awe of grammar, or that, struck with confusion, he falter and stammer. • which the prince's aspect inspires is so great, that it renders the man of education • embarrassed in his speech. If it be a fault to put days in the genitive instead of the
accusative, it was not committed through heedlessness; he thus offered a good omen ' to our master; and the belief in omens has been transmitted to us from (Muhammad) • the chief of the human race. He meant to pray that the prince's days should be * days of enjoyment, not days of affliction, and that his life should be free from trou• ble (7).''
The author of these lines was the philologer and historian Abu Ishak Ibrahim Ibn Abd Allah Ibn Muhammad Ibn Hashish al-Jizi, one of Kåfür's kâtibs, and the person who prayed for Kâfür and made the blunder was Abů ’l-Fadl Ibn Sahbås.—The anecdotes told of Kåfør are very numerous : having obtained possession of the sovereign authority after a series of occurrences too long to relate, he continued to hold it till his death. This event took place at Old Cairo, on Tuesday, the 20th of the first Jumâda, A. H. 356 (May, A. D. 967); but some say that he died on a Wednesday, and others place his death in the year 355 or 357; this last