AL-MAAMUN AND ZUBAYDAH [FN#282]



It is said that Al-Maamún [FN#283] came one day upon Zubaydah, mother of Al-Amín, [FN#284] and saw her moving her lips and muttering somewhat he understood not; so he said to her, “O mother mine, art thou cursing me because I slew thy son and spoiled him of his realm?”  Said she, “Not so, by Allah, O Commander of the Faithful!” and quoth he, “What then was it thou saidest?”  Quoth she, “Let the Prince of True Believers excuse me.”  But he was urgent with her, saying, “There is no help but that thou tell it.”  And she replied, “I said, Allah confound importunity!”  He asked, “How so?” and she answered, “I played one day at chess with the Commander of the Faithful, Harun al-Rashid, and he imposed on me the condition of forfeits. [FN#285]  He won and made me doff my dress and walk around the palace, stark naked; so I did this, and I felt incensed against him.  Then we fell to playing and I won; whereat I made him go to the kitchen and lie with the foulest and fulsomest wench of the wenches thereof; but I found not a slave-girl fouler and filthier than they mother; [FN#286] so I so bade him tumble her.  He did my bidding and she conceived by him of thee, and thus was I the cause of the slaying of my son and the spoiling of him of his realm.”  When Al-Maamún heard this, he turned away, saying, “Allah curse the importunate!” that is, himself, who had importuned her till she acquainted him with that affair.



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