AL-RASHID AND THE BARMECIDES [FN#269]



It is said that the most wondrous of matters which happened to Al-Rashid was this.  his brother Al-Hádí, [FN#270] when he succeeded to the Caliphate, enquired of a seal-ring of great price, which had belonged to his father Al-Mahdi, [FN#271] and it reached him that Al-Rashid had taken it.  So he required it of him, but he refused to give it up, and Al-Hadi insisted upon him, yet he still denied the seal-ring of the Caliphate.  Now this was on Tigris-bridge, and he threw the ring into the river. [FN#272]  When Al-Hadi died and Al-Rashid succeeded to the Caliphate, he went in person to that very place with a seal-ring of lead, which he cast into the stream at the same stead, and bade the divers seek it.  So the duckers did his bidding and brought up the first ring, and this was counted an omen of Al-Rashid’s good fortune and of the continuance of his reign. [FN#273]  When Al-Rashid come to the throne, he invested Ja’afar bin Yahyá bin Khálid al-Barmaki [FN#274] with the Wazirate.  Now Ja’afar was eminently noted for generosity and munificence, and the histories of him to this purport are renowned and have been documented.  None of the Wazirs rose to the rank and favour whereto he attained with Al-Rashid, who was wont to call him brother [FN#275] and used to carry him with him into his house.  The period of his Wazirate was nineteen [FN#276] years, and Yahya one day said to his son Ja’afar, “O my son, as long as thy reed trembleth, [FN#277] water it with kindness.”  Men differ concerning the reason of Ja’afar’s slaughter, but the better opinion of it is follows.  Al-Rashid could not bear to be parted from Ja’afar nor from his own sister ’Abbásah, daughter of Al-Mahdi, a single hour, and she was the loveliest woman of her day; so he said to Ja’afar, “I will marry thee to her, that it may be lawful to thee to look upon her, but thou shalt not touch her.”  After this time the twain used to be present in Al-Rashid’s sitting chamber.  Now the Caliph would get up bytimes and leave the chamber, and they being filled with wine as well as being young, Ja’afar would rise to her and know her carnally. [FN#278]  She conceived by him and bare a handsome boy; and, fearing Al-Rashid, she dispatched the new-born child by one of her confidants to Meccah the Magnified (May Allah Almighty greaten it in honor and increase it in venerance and nobility and magnification!).  the affair abode concealed till there befel a brabble between Abbasah and one of her hand-maidens whereupon the slave-girl discovered the affair of the child to Al-Rashid and acquainted him with its abiding-place.  So, when the Caliph pilgrimaged, he sent one who brought him the boy and found the matter true, where he caused befel the Barmecides whatso befel. [FN#279]



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