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"66 million of dirhems and leave two to thy father.'”—The same anecdote, with some slight variations, is related by al-Jihshiâri in his History of the Vizirs : thus he states that the sum lent was one million of dirhems; that the occurrence took place in the reign of al-Mahdi ; that Yahya was farming the revenues of the province of Fars when he lost his money by the bankruptcy; and that al-Mahdi, who was angry with him, had told the person commissioned to make him pay in his receipts to government, that if he did not receive the amount before sunset, he should bring him Yahya's head.-" It was thus,” continued al-Fadl, “ that I “ learned generosity and abruptness of manner from Omára (11).” Omâra Ibn Hamza descended from Ikrima the mawla of Ibn Abbâs (vol. II. p. 207), and was himself a mawla and kâtib to Abû Jaafar al-Mansûr. He was basty, proud, generous, eloquent, and one-eyed. Al
Mansur and his son al-Mahdi admitted him to their convivial parties, and bore with his strange humours on account of his merit, his elegant language, and faithful services. He had been employed by them in the highest posts of the (financial) administration. A collection of epistles was left by him, and one of them,called Risdla tal-Khamis (the Thursday epistle), was usually read to the members of the Abbaside family.-It is related that al-Fadl’s chamberlain went in to him one day and said : “ There is a man at the door who “claims relationship with thee.”'_“Let him come in,” said al-Fadl; and the stranger was introduced. He was still young and well-looking, but miserably dressed. When he made his salutation, al-Fadl signed to him to be seated, and he sat down. Al-Fadl waited for some time, and at length asked him what he wanted.—“ The shabbiness of my dress,” replied the other, “ will in“ form thee.”-_“That is true; but how art thou related to me?”_“I was born " about the time of thy birth, I lived in thy neighbourhood, and my name is “ derived from thine.”—“As for the neighbourhood, that may be,” said al-Fadl, " and the names may be similar, but who told thee of our births ?”—“It was my “ mother; when she brought me forth, a person said to her : ‘On this very night
* Yahya Ibn Khalid has got a son to whom they have given the name of al"« « Fadl.' My mother therefore testified her respect for thy name by bestowing “ it on me, but she gave it the diminutive form of Fudail (little Fadl) to indicate
my inferiority.” Al-Fadl smiled and asked him his age. “ Thirty-five years.” _“True; that is the age I count myself to be. What has become of thy “ mother?” -“She is dead." -“ And what hindered thee from coming to me long before this?”—“ I could not induce myself to do so, because I felt that
my ignorance and youth were obstacles to my entering into the society of “ princes; but as this desire had clung to my heart since many years, I made “ such studies as might qualify me to meet thee, and this I at length decided to " do.”—“What art thou good for?”—“For business of any kind, important “ or trifling.” Jaafar immediately ordered his attendant to give the man one thousand dirhems for each year of his age, and ten thousand more to defray his personal expenses till such time as he could be placed. To this he added the present of a noble horse.—When ar-Rashid put Jaafar to death, as we have already related (vol. I. p. 310), he arrested his father Yahya, and his brother al-Fadl, who were then living in the palace. On setting out for ar-Rakka, he took them both with him, and kept all the members of the Barmekide family in custody, with the exception of Yahya. When they reached ar-Rakka,
ar-Rashid sent to inform Yahya that the might take up his residence in that city 573 or wherever he pleased. Yahya replied that he preferred being with his son,
and the khalif then sent to ask him if he would like to dwell in a prison. Yahya declared that he would, and from that time he was kept with al-Fadl in confinement. At first, they were allowed some liberty, but subsequently they experienced alternations of rigour and relaxation, according to the nature of the reports which reached ar-Rashid concerning them. He then confiscated the
every member of the family.- It is said that Masrûr the eunuch was sent by him to the prison, and that he told the guardian to bring al-Fadl before him. When he was brought out, he addressed him thus : “ The Commander of the faithful " sends me to say that he ordered thee to make a true statement of thy property, “ and that thou didst pretend to do so, but he is assured that thou hast still great “ wealth in reserve; and his orders to me are, that, if thou dost not inform me " where the money is, I am to give thee two hundred strokes of a whip. I “ should therefore advise thee not to prefer thy riches to thyself.” On this alFadl looked up at him and said : “ By Allah! I made no false statements, and
were the choice offered to me of being sent out of the world or of receiving a “ single stroke of a whip, I should prefer the former alternative; that, the Com“ mander of the faithful well knoweth, and thou also knowest full well that we “ maintained our reputation at the expense of our wealth; how then could we “ now shield our wealth at the expense of our bodies? If thou hast really got any “ orders, let them be executed.” On this, Masrûr produced some whips which he brought with him rolled up in a napkin, and ordered his servants to inflict on alFadl two hundred stripes. They struck him with all their force, using no moderation in their blows, so that they nearly killed him. There was in that place a man skilled in treating (wounds), who was called in to attend al-Fadl. When he saw him, he observed that fifty strokes had been inflicted on him, and when the others declared that two hundred had been given, he asserted that his back bore the traces of fifty and not more. He then told al-Fadl that he must lie down on his back on a reed-mat, so that they might tread on his breast. Al-Fadl shuddered at the proposal, but having at length given his consent, they placed him on his back. The operator then trod on him, after which he took him by the arms and dragged him along the mat, by which means a great quantity of flesh was torn off the back. He then proceeded to dress the wounds, and continued his services regularly, till one day, when, on examining them, he immediately prostrated himself in thanksgiving to God. They asked him what was the matter, and he replied that the patient was saved, because new flesh was forming. He then said : “ Did I not say that he had received fifty strokes? Well, by Allah! one thousand “ strokes could not have left worse marks; but I merely said so that he might take
courage, and thus aid my efforts to cure him.” Al-Fadl, on his recovery, borrowed ten thousand dirhems from a friend and sent them to the doctor, who returned them. Thinking that he had offered too little, he borrowed ten thousand more, but the man refused them and said: “I cannot accept a salary for curing “ the greatest among the generous; were it even twenty thousand dinars, I should “ refuse them.” When this was told to al-Fadl, he declared that such an act of generosity surpassed all that he himself had done during the whole course of his life. For he had learned that the doctor was poor and in great distress.The following verses, which, I believe, are by Abû ’l-Atâhiya, were frequently recited by al-Fadl in his prison :
We address our complaints to God in our sufferings, for it is his hand which removeth pain and affliction. We have quitted the world, and yet we exist therein; we are not of the living, neither are we of the dead. When the gaoler happens to enter our cell, we wonder and exclaim : “ This man has come from the world !”
I have since discovered that these verses are by Sâlih Ibn Abd al-Kaddûs ;
they form part of a poem which he composed when in prison. Some, however, attribute them to Ali Ibn al-Khalil, who, having been suspected of atheism at
the same time as Sâlih, was imprisoned along with him by the order of the khalif $74 al-Mahdi.—The praises of the Barmekides were celebrated by all the contempo
rary poets. Marwan Ibn Abi Hafsa, or Abû ’l-Hajná as some say, composed the following lines on al-Fadl :
The power of doing good and of harming is in the hands of princes, but the Barmekides do good and harm not. If punishment is to be inflicted, that duty is imposed on others; but to them all good is justly attributed. When thou knowest not the origin and ancestry of a man, examine his acts; when the roots are swollen with moisture (12), the sprouts flourish and the crop is abundant.
Al-Attâbi (13) the poet incurred the displeasure of ar-Rashid, but was pardoned through al-Fadl's intercession. On this occasion he pronounced these lines :
I was cast into the abyss of death, from which neither counsel nor artifice could
But your words ceased not in my favour till you snatched my life from the
grasp of fate.
Abû Nuwas praised him also in a kasida wherein he said :
I shall complain to al-Fadl, the son of Yahya, the son of Khålid, of the pains of love; perhaps he may unite me to my mistress.
On its being remarked to the poet that he was wrong in addressing such a strange request to al-Fadl, he replied that he meant a union of preference (and affection), not a union of the persons. Al-Mutanabbi imitated this where he says:
Perhaps the emir may see my abasement, and intercede with her who made me an example of (unrequited) love.
A certain poet composed one single line on al-Fadl, which was this :
What we have all experienced from al-Fadl's generosity has converted the human race into (grateful) poets.
Fault having been found with this verse because it was isolated, al-Ozâfir Ibn Ward Ibn Saad al-Kummi composed the following to match it :
He taught the most unprolific geniuses amongst us how to compose in verse, and the avaricious how to show generosity.
This line was much admired.— The affection of al-Fadl for his father was extreme : it is related that, when they were in prison and unable to procure warm water, which however was necessary for his father, as he could not make use of cold water in winter, al-Fadl took the copper ewer which contained the water for their use and applied it to his stomach, that he might thus, in some measuré, diminish its coldness and render it fit for his father's use. The anecdotes told of al-Fadl are very numerous. He was born on the 22nd of Zû’l-Hijja, A. H. 147 (February, A.D. 765), but at-Tabari says, in his History, towards the commencement of his chapter on the reign of Hârûn ar-Rashid : “ The birth of “ al-Fadl Ibn Yahya took place in the year 148.”—God best knows the truth! -He died in prison, at ar-Rakka, on a Friday morning in the month of al-Muharram, A.H. 193 (Oct.-Nov., A.D. 808); some say, in the month of Ramadan, A. H. 192. :
When ar-Rashid was informed of his death, he said : “My fate is near unto his;" and so it proved, for he expired at Tûs, on the eve of Saturday, the 3rd of the latter Jumâda, A. H. 193 (March, A. D. 809); some state, bowever, that he died on the 15th of the month, and others, that he breathed his last on the eve of Thursday, the 15th of the first Jumada; but Ibn al-Labbân al-Faradi (14) mentions that his death occurred in the month of the latter Rabi; 575 they all agree, bowever, as to the year. We have already stated that al-Fadl and ar-Rashid were born about the same time.-On the death of ar-Rashid, his sons, Muhammad al-Amin and (Abd Jaafar) al-Mansûr the governor of Khorasan, were established as his successors in the khalifat.
(1) By the Moslim law, foster-brothers and foster-sisters are assimilated in most respects to real brothers and real sisters.
(2) Ibn al-Athir, the historian, does not fail to remark, in his Kamil, that, as long as al-Khaizurån lived, ar-Rashid did not attempt to deprive al-Fadl of the vizirate; but, the very year in which she died, he put that project into execution.
(3) See vol. I. page 355, note (24).
(4) Al-Masadi says, in his Murdj ad-Dahab: “The grandee entrusted with the guardianship (sidána) of " this temple (the Nabehar at Balkh) was entitled al-Barmak (the Barmek).”
(8) See vol. II. page 137.
(6) This town lay in Adarbaiján. A manuscript has here Nahrawan, which seems preferable, this place being situated in Iråk.
(7) See vol. I. page 159.