Page images

were present at his interment. He was buried in the Karâfa, and his tomb is in high repute for the fulfilment of prayers offered up at it: it is stated that a man made the pilgrimage to Mekka, but had forgot to visit the tomb of the blessed Prophet at Medina ; an omission for which he continued to feel the deepest regret: but he at length saw the Prophet in a dream, and was told by him that when he forgot to visit the tomb at Medina, he should visit that of Abd Allah Ibn Ahmad Ibn Tabåtabâ. Of all the holy men, it was he principally who appeared to the inhabitants of Cairo in their dreams (4). It is also related that a person indebted to his kindness recited these verses at his tomb:

Since thy death, the existence of mankind is troubled with care; but during thy life, they were secure from misfortune.


He then had a dream in which Ibn Tabâtabâ appeared to him and said: “I “ heard thy words, but my answer with the accomplishment of thy desires was

intercepted before it reached thee; go, however, to a mosque (5) and make a “prayer of two rakas ; then ask, thy request shall be granted.”— We have already explained the meaning of the word Tabåtabâ (in vol. I. page 115).- The anecdote which we have just related, of Ibn Tabâtabâ’s interview with al-Moizz on that prince's arrival in Egypt, is taken from the work called ad-Dual al-Munkatia 6), but it is in contradiction with dates; for al-Moizz entered Cairo in the month of

Ramadan, A.H. 362 (June, A.D. 973), as we shall again mention in his life, and 367 Ibn Tabàtabà died A. H. 348, as has been already said ; how then can we admit

that a meeting took place between them? I learned the date of his death from our shaikh Zaki 'd-din Abd al-Azim al-Mundiri, whom I consulted also on this anachronism : he replied that the date of Ibn Tabåtaba's death was perfectly certain, and that it was perhaps his son to whom this circumstance happened with al-Moizz; God knoweth best if this conjecture be right or not !() I have since found that the emir al-Mukhtàr al-Musabbihi gives, in his History of Egypt, the same date for Ibn Tabàtabà’s death as that which I received from Zaki 'd-din. He adds also : “He died, after long sufferings, of (an excrescence like) a mul“berry which obstructed his throat, and for which every remedy that they tried was useless. It was a strange and unheard-of malady.”— Since writing the foregoing observations, I read in Ibn Zûlåk's History of Egypt that the sharifs who went to meet al-Moizz were Abů Jaafar Muslim Ibn Obaid Allah al-Husaini (8) and Abů Ismail Ibrahim Ibn Ahmad al-Husaini ar-Rassi ; it was perhaps one of them to whom the circumstance happened (with al-Moizz).

(1) The autograph has ärima. The girl was apparently the daughter of Ibn Tabâtabâ, who, as his genealogy shows, was descended from Hasan, grandson of Muhammad.

(2) See Ibn Khallikan's observations on this anecdote, towards the end of the article.
(3) See vol. I. page 605.
(4) The opinion of the Moslims on the subject of dreams is stated in the first volume.
(6) The autograph has pass.
(6) See vol. I. page 152, note (8).

(7) I am convinced that this anecdote is totally false. Al-Moizz was too prudent to make any declaration of the kind, as it would not only have destroyed his own title and that of his descendants to the khalifate, but have shaken the fidelity of his Berber troops, who only served him from their conviction that he was really descended from the Prophet and the true heir to his authority. I must also observe that, notwithstanding Hajji Khalifa's favourable opinion of the work, the Dual al-Munkatia does not seem to be always a sure guide; some of the anecdotes extracted from it by Ibn Khallikân are totally unworthy of belief.

(8) See vol. I. page 322, note (1).


Abû 'l-Abbas Abd Allah Ibn Tâhir Ibn al-Husain Ibn Musab Ibn Ruzaik Ibn Mahàn al-Khuzai, a prince whose father's life we have given (vol. I. page 649), was gifted with superior abilities, a lofty soul, and great discernment. Al-Màmûn placed in him the highest confidence, and treated him with the utmost consideration, on account of his personal merit and the faithful services which his father and his ancestors had rendered to the Abbaside family. He was governor of Dinawar when Babek al-Khurrami invaded Khorasan with his followers and entered al-Hamrâ, a town in the province of Naisậpûr, where they committed great ravages. Al-Màmûn, on receiving intelligence of this event, wrote to Abd Allah, ordering him to proceed to Khorasân; he set out on the 15th of the first Rabi, A. H. 243 (June, A. D. 828), and waged war with the rebels. In the month of Rajab, A. H. 215 (Aug.-Sept. A. D. 830), he arrived at Naisâpûr, which had suffered much that year from the total want of rain. His entry into the city was accompanied by a heavy shower, on which a cloth-merchant went out to him from his shop and recited these verses :



We were afflicted with drought till thy arrival; but with thee abundance drew near. Two showers came at the same time; so let us welcome the emir (1) and the rain.


Such is the statement set forth in as-Salâmi's History of Khorasan, but atTabari says in his Annals: “Abd Allah the son of Tàhir was at Dinawar in the

year 213, at the time of his brother Talha's death.” — We have spoken of Talha in the life of his father Tâhir (vol. I. pp. 649,654).—“The kâdi Yahya Ibn “ Aktham was then sent to him by al-Mâmûn with a message of condolence and " with directions to felicitate him on his elevation to the government of Khora“ sån.”—Farther on, however, when giving an account of Talha's administration, he makes a different statement : “At the time of Tahir's death,” says he, “ Abd Allah was at Rakka, combatting Nasr Ibn Shabath (2), and al-Mâmûn “conferred upon him the government of all the provinces held by his father, " and granted him that of Syria besides. Abd Allah then sent his brother Talha “ to Khorasân.” The same author says again, under the year 213 : “ Al-Mà“mûn now appointed his brother al-Motasim to the government of Syria and

Egypt, and he nominated his own son al-Abbås as ruler over Mesopotamia, “ the northern frontiers of that province and those of Syria (ath-Thughûr wa 'l

Awdsim). He gave to each of them five hundred thousand dinars, and to Abd “ Allah Ibn Tâhir a similar sum. It is said that he never gave away as much money (

in a single day as he had done in that (3)."— The poet Abû Tammām at-Tâi set out from Irak with the design of paying his court to Abd Allah, and, on reaching Kůmis after a long and fatiguing journey, he pronounced these


verses :


We arrived at Kumis, worn away by our journey and the fatiguing pace of our camels, now no longer restive. My companions then said: “Dost thou mean to lead us (ta earth's farthest limits,) to the place of sunrise ?”—“No," I replied; “ but to the point “where the sun of generosity riseth over the world.”

[ocr errors]

I may here observe, before going farther, that Abû Tammâm has stolen the idea and the very words of these verses from a piece by Muslim Ibn al-Walid al-Ansari (4), in which he says :

My companions hastened forward on their journey, and the horses lent heavily on the bit: "Dost thou intend," said they, “to lead us to the place of sunset?"-"No,"I replied, “but to the spot where liberality riseth over the world."

When Abû Tammâm arrived at his journey's end, he waited on Abd Alla h and recited to him his splendid kasîda rhyming in B, wherein he says :

These riders, worn away with fatigue and thin as the points of spears, toiled through the darkness which invaded the earth; and the beasts that bore them were emaciated like them. They came on a business which it was theirs to commence, and another's to finish (5)

The following verse also is contained in the same magnificent kasîda :

But Abd Allah struck (6) terror into the night, and, through dread of his vengeance, it ceased to assail us; the very scorpions (7) which crawl forth at night did not dare to stir.

It was in this journey that Abû Tammâm composed the Hamåsa; for, on arriving at Hamadàn, the winter had set in, and, as the cold is excessively severe in that country, the snow blocked

up the road, and obliged him to stop and await the thaw. During his stay, he resided with one of the most eminent men of the place, who possessed a library in which were some collections of poems composed by the Arabs of the desert and other authors. Having then sufficient leisure, he perused those works and selected from them the passages out of which he formed his Hamása. - Abd Allah was versed in the belles-lettres and possessed an elegant taste; he was also a good musician and composed the airs of a great number of songs, inserted as his in the Kitâb al-Aghầni ; they are very beautiful and have been transmitted down unaltered by the persons who make music their profession. Some fine verses and charming letters of his are still preserved. One of his pieces is as follows:

We are a people who yield to the force of large and brilliant eyes, and yet (armour of) iron yields to our (blows in war). Submissive to these gazelles, we are vanquished by their glances; we who with our spears vanquish lions. We subdue the beasts of chace, but are ourselves subdued by fair maidens with modest eyes and cheeks unprofaned by public gaze. The lions dread our anger, but we dread the anger of a fawn(-like nymph), when she seems displeased. Behold us freemen in the day of battle, but in peace slaves to the fair.

These verses have been attributed to Asram Ibn Humaid, a person in whose honour al

Mutanabbi composed some of his poems; but God best knows who was their author.- One of Abd Allah's most remarkable pieces is the following:

Forgive my fault and merit my deepest gratitude; the recompense of my thanks shall not be withheld from thee. Oblige me not to find an excuse for my conduct; I may perhaps be unsuccessful.

One of his sayings was, that a well-filled purse and a glorious reputation are

never found together (8). A paper was one day put into his hands, in which it 369 was represented to him that a number of persons went out of the city on a party

of pleasure, and that they had taken with them a young boy. On reading the complaint, he wrote above it these words : “What mode of legal proceedings “ can be taken against young men who go out to amuse themselves, and satisfy " their inclinations as far as lies in their power? And the boy may be a son to

one of them or a relation of some of them (9).” Abd Allah held for some time, but at different periods, the governments of Syria and of Egypt. When in the latter country, he was spoken of in these terms by a poet :

People say that Egypt is a distant land, but for me it is not distant since the son of Tahir is there. Farther from us than Egypt are some men that you see here present, but whose favours you never see. They are dead to every virtue, and a visit to them in hopes of a generous gift is as a visit made to those whose dwelling is the tomb.

These verses are also attributed, but I do not know on what grounds, to Aůf Ibn Muhallim as-Shaibâni (10). Abd Allah entered Old Cairo A. H. 211 (A. D. 826), but left it towards the end of the same year, and in the month of Zû 'lKaada he arrived at Baghdad. During his absence, he confided the government of the province to his lieutenants. In A.H. 213, he was replaced by Abû Ishak the son of Harûn ar-Rashid, who was afterwards khalif under the title of alMotasim. Al-Farghầni says in his History that Abd Allah Ibn Tâhir succeeded in the government of Egypt to Obaid Allah Ibn as-Sari Ibn al-Hakam (11); the latter left the country in the month of Safar, A. H. 211, and Abd Allah on the 25th of Rajab, 212, when he proceeded to Irak, after leaving the government of the country to his lieutenants; they remained in authority till the appointment of al-Motâsim. The vizir Abû 'l-Kâsim al-Maghribi (12) says in his Adab al-Khawâss that the Abdalawi (or Abdallian) melon which grows in Egypt was so called after Abd Allah Ibn Tahir. This species of melon is not found in any other country, and it was perhaps named after him because he was fond of it or was the first who cultivated it there. Abd Allah and his family belonged to the tribe of Khuzaa by right of adoption; their grandfather Ruzaik having been

« PreviousContinue »