Page images


hùl (5) in Syria. It is said that he conversed with five hundred of the Prophet's companions. The following anecdote is related by himself: Abd al-Malik Ibn Marwan sent me on an embassy to the king of the Greeks; and that prince addressed me a number of questions, to all of which I returned satisfactory answers. It was not customary for ambassadors to make a long stay at his court, but he detained me so many days that I desired impatiently to depart. When on the point of quitting him he said to me: "Are you of a royal family?" to which I replied: "No; I am one of the general class of Arabs." On this he muttered some words and a paper was put in my hand: "When you have given to your master an account of your mission," said he, " present this paper to "him." Having returned to Abd al-Malik, I informed him of the results of my embassy, but I never thought of the paper, and it was only on passing through another part of the palace with the intention of withdrawing, that I recollected it. I immediately went back and presented it to him. When he had perused it he asked me if the Greek sovereign had said any thing to me before he gave me the paper? "Yes," I replied, "he asked me if I was of a royal family, and I "answered that I belonged to the general class of the Arabs." I then retired and had reached the door when I was brought back into the khalif's presence. "Do you know," said he, "what is in this paper?"-"No," said I; on which he told me to read it. It contained these words: I am astonished that a people who have among them a man like this could have chosen any other but him for their ruler. "By "Allah!" I exclaimed, "had I known the contents, I should not have taken charge of it; had he ever seen you, he would not have said such a thing!" "Are you aware," said Abd al-Malik, "why he wrote it."-"I am not.' "It was because he envied me so able a servant as you, and hoped to incite me by this to put you to death." These words, continues as-Shabi, reached at length the ears of the Greek king, who acknowledged that such was really his design.-As-Shâbi once spoke to Omar Ibn Hubaira, the governor of the two Iraks, in favour of some prisoners, and asked him to set them at liberty; but not being able to obtain his consent, he addressed him in these terms: "O emir! • if you have imprisoned them without cause, let your justice deliver them; and 543 "if they be guilty, let your clemency be ample enough to reach them." Ibn Hubaira immediately set them free.-It is stated by Katâda that as-Shabi was born four years before the death of the khalif Omar (which happened A. H. 23),


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

but Khalifa Ibn Khaiyât (6) mentions that al-Hasan al-Basri and he were born in the year 24, and al-Asmâi says that he came into the world at Kûfa, A.H. 17.— As-Shâbi was a thin emaciated man, and he once said, on being asked the cause : "I was straitened for room in my mother's womb." The fact was that she had two sons at a birth, and (Ibn Kutaiba,) the author of the Kitab al-Maârif pretends that she was pregnant with him for two years.—It is related that alHajjaj Ibn Yûsuf ath-Thakafi said to him one day: "How much is your yearly salary?" (kam ataak, according to the vulgar pronunciation), to which as-Shâbi replied (in the same jargon): "Two thousand dinars" (alfain).— Tut!” exclaimed al-Hajjaj, “kam atâuka?" (repeating the question correctly), and as-Shâbi then answered (grammatically): alfâni. "Why," said al-Hajjâj, "did you speak "incorrectly at first ?"—"The emir spoke false grammar," replied he," and I "spoke false grammar; and when he spoke with the right inflexions, I did the "same; for I could not have allowed myself to speak grammatically when the "emir did not." Al-Hajjaj was highly pleased with this answer and made him a present.-As-Shâbi was inclined to pleasantry; he was one day sitting in his house with a female when a person came in and asked: "Which of you two is "as-Shâbi?" To which he replied: "She is the man." He was born in the seventh year of the khalifat of Othman, (A. H. 30, A. D. 650-1); others say, however, in A.H. 20 or A.H. 31; but it is related that he himself mentioned that his birth took place the year in which the town of Jalûlâ was taken, and this occurred A. H. 19 (A. D. 640) (7): he died suddenly, A. H. 104 (A. D. 722-3); other accounts say 103, 106, 107, and 105. His mother was one of the captives made at Jalûlà.-Shabi means belonging to Shab, a branch of the tribe of Hamdan. Al-Jauhari says: "This relative adjective is derived from zû-Shabain "(the double-valleyed), which is a mountain in Yemen, where Hasan Ibn Amr "the Himyarite (8) and his children took up their residence, and where he was "buried. The descendants of that family who inhabit Kûfa are calledthe Shâ"biûn; those in Egypt and Maghrib are styled al-Ushûb; in Syria the name of "Shâbânîûn is given to them, and in Yemen they are known as the people of "Zû Shabain."-Jalûld is the name of a town in the province of Fars, where a famous battle was fought in the time of Muhammad's companions.- As-Shâbi often cited this verse of Miskin ad-Dârimi (9):

To judge of a man's prudence, observe him when provoked, not when pleased.

(1) In the printed text the word Ibn has been left out by mistake.

(2) See vol. I. page 567, note (1).

(3) See his life, vol. I. page 568.

(4) See vol. I. page 370.

(5) The life of Mak'hûl and that of az-Zuhri will be given by the author of this work.

(6) His life is given in the first volume, page 492, but by a strange mistake his father's name is written throughout that article Haiyát.

(7) The celebrated battle of Jalûla was fought A. H. 16. See Abû 'l-Fedâ's Annals; Price's Retrospect, vol I. page 124.

(8) This is the prince whom Hamza al-Ispahâni mentions as the immediate predecessor of Zû Shanâtir, the celebrated tyrant of Yemen, who was slain by Zû Nuwâs. (See Schulten's Historia Ioctanidarum, p. 37.) (9) M. de Sacy says, in his Anthologie Grammaticale, p. 399, that this ancient poet's real name was Rabia Ibn Aamir Ibn Onaif; but at-Tabrizi says in his commentary on the Hamasa, p. 744, that according to Abû 'lAla, Miskin's name was Amr


Abû 'l-Fadl al-Abbâs Ibn al-Ahnaf Ibn al-Aswad Ibn Talha Ibn Jarâdin (1 Ibn Kalada Ibn Khudaim (2) Ibn Shihâb Ibn Sâlim Ibn Haiya Ibn Kulaib Ibn Abd Allah Ibn Adi Ibn Hanîfa Ibn Lujaim al-Hanafi al-Yamâmi, a celebrated poet, was gifted with a tender spirit and a subtle wit; all his poems are love pieces, and the diwân of his works does not contain any eulogium. The following verses from one of his kasidas may serve as an example of his pathetic style:

Desist, self-tormentor! thus only can thy woes be healed. Thy eyes have exhausted their tears in weeping; try then to find others shedding copious drops, and with them recruit the last of thine (3). But who would lend thee his eyes that thou mayest weep with them? Were eyes ever lent that their tears might be shed?

The two next lines, extracted from a piece of verse, are also his, but some at- 346 tribute them to Bashshâr Ibn Burd (4); and Abû Ali 'l-Kâli (5) mentions in his Amali that Bashshår said: "A boy of the tribe of Hanifa (6) kept running in "and out of where we were till he at length recited these lines:

[ocr errors]

They who caused me to taste their love now make me weep; they awoke my heart to 'passion, but then their hearts yielded to slumber. They roused me, but when I stood up with the burden which they placed upon me, they sank into repose.'"

The following verses are also his :

[ocr errors]

I prefer love-pains with hope to repose with despair. Did I not love you, I had spared you my reproaches; and you had then been for me as the rest of mortals.

O Saad! thou hast spoken to me of my beloved and increased my folly; speak yet more to me, O Saad! My heart shall never know any love but that I bear her! it is a love without beginning and without end (7).

Since thy rigours cannot be softened unless by the intercession of another, I renounce such love as requires a mediator. I swear that indifference or dislike are not the motives which withhold me from reproaching thee thy cruelty; it was the certainty that all complaints were useless. If I cannot bear my pains in patience, I must yet submit to them though unwilling.

All his poetry is good. He was the maternal uncle of Ibrahim Ibn al-Abbâs as-Suli, as we have already mentioned (vol. I. page 23). His death took place at Baghdad in the year 192 (A. D. 807-8); but the following anecdote on the subject is given on good authority by Omar Ibn Shabba: “Ibrahim al-Mausili, sur"named an-Nadim, died in the year 188, on the same day as al-Kisâi the gramma“rian, al-Abbâs Ibn al-Ahnaf and Hushaima al-Khammâra; (the khalif) ar-Rashid, who had been informed of the circumstance, ordered (his son) al-Mâmûn "to say the funeral prayers over them, and the corpses were therefore placed in a line before him. He asked whose body was that which was nearest to him, and on learning that it was Ibrahim al-Mausili's, he ordered it to be " removed and that of al-Abbâs Ibn al-Ahnaf to be put in the first place. When "he had finished the prayer and was returning home, Hashim Ibn Abd Allah Ibn " Malik al-Khuzai went up to him and said: 'My lord! why did you honour "al-Abbas Ibn al-Ahnaf with the first place? To which he replied by repeat"these verses:




'Some persons accused thee and said that it was thou who caused my pains and afflictions; but I denied the truth of their words, so that their suspicions might be turned away from thee to another :-I like the lover who refuses (to reveal the name of his beloved).'

"Al-Mamûn then said: Can you recollect them?' and Hâshim replied: "I can,' and then repeated them. "Well,' said the prince, is not the author "of such verses worthy of the first rank?'-' He is, my lord.'"-I must observe that this anecdote is in contradiction with what we shall say farther on, in the life of al-Kisài. as we there mention that he died at Rai (not at Baghdad); besides which, much incertitude prevails respecting the year of his death, and

moreover, the death of

Abu Bakr as-Sûli says:

He was a friend of mine, Here as-Sûli remarks that

al-Abbâs has been placed by some in the year 192. "Aûn Ibn Muhammad informed me that his father 347 “said to him: 'I saw al-Abbas Ibn al-Ahnaf at Baghdad after the death of ar"Rashid, and his dwelling was near the Syrian gate. " and he died before he reached his sixtieth year.'" he must have died later than the year 192, since ar-Rashid's death took place at Tûs on the third of the latter Jumada, 193 (24th March, A. D. 809).—AlAhnaf, the father of al-Abbâs, died A. H. 150 (A. D. 767), and was buried at Basra. Al-Masudi, in his Muruj ad-Dahab, gives the following anecdote on the authority of some natives of Basra: "We set out," said they, "to perform the pilgrimage, and on our way we saw a boy standing by the side of the road, "who called out to us to know if any of us were natives of Basra. On this we went over to him and asked what he wanted; to which he made answer: My master wishes to give you his dying injunctions.' We then turned off from "the road and followed him till, at some distance, we found a man lying under "a tree and unable to give us any answer. We seated ourselves around him, "and being at length aware of our presence, he looked up at us, but his weak"ness was so great that he could hardly raise his eyes. He then recited these



[ocr errors][merged small]

Alas! a stranger, lonely and far from home, is here weeping in affliction! With ⚫ each fresh burst of grief, illness draweth closer to his enfeebled body!'

"He then swooned away, and we remained sitting about him for a long time, "till he at length came to himself. At that moment a raven perched on the 66 top of the tree and croaked aloud, on which he opened his eyes and listened "to its cry. The boy then pronounced these lines:

The heart receiveth yet a deeper wound from the cry of that bird which lamenteth on its branch. The same misfortune which has worn us down afflicteth him and he grieveth! each of us are grieving for the loss of a true friend!'

"The sick man then heaved a deep sigh and breathed his last, and we did "not leave his corpse till we had washed it and shrouded it and said over it the "funeral prayer. When we had buried him, we asked the boy who it was, "and he said: 'It is al-Abbas Ibn al-Ahnaf.' God best knoweth if this relation be true.-Hanafi means belonging to the tribe of Hanifa, who was the



« PreviousContinue »