HISTORY OF AL-HAJJAJ BIN YUSUF AND THE YOUNG SAYYID. [FN#42]



It is related (but Allah is All-knowing) that there was in times of yore a man named 'Abdullah al-Karkhí and he was wont to tell the following tale:--One day I was present in the assembly of Al-Hajjáj the son of Yúsuf the Thakafí [FN#43] what time he was Governor of Kúfah, and the folk around him were seated and for awe of him prostrated and these were the Emirs and Wazirs and the Nabobs and the Chamberlains and the Lords of the Land and the Headmen in command and amongst whom he showed like a rending lion. And behold, there came to him a man young in years and ragged of raiment and of case debased and there was none of blossom upon his cheeks and the World had changed his cuticle and Need had altered his complexion. Presently he salam'd and deprecated and was eloquent in his salutation to the Governor who returned his greeting and looking at him asked, "Who are thou, O young man, and what hast thou to say and what is thine excuse for pushing into the assembly of the Kings even as if, O youth, thou hadst been an invited guest? [FN#44] So say me, who art thou and whose son art thou?" "I am the son of my mother and my father," answered he, and Al-Hajjaj continued, "In what fashion hast thou come hither?"--"In my clothes." "Whence hast thou come?"--"From behind me." Whither art thou intending?"--"Before me." "On what hast thou come?"--"On the ground." "Whence art thou O young man?"--"I am from the city Misr." "Art thou from Cairo?" [FN#45]--"Why asketh thou me, oh Hajjaj?" Whereupon the Lieutenant of Kufah replied, "Verily her ground is gold and her Nile is rare to behold and her women are a toy for the conqueror to enjoy, and her men are nor burghers nor Badawis." Quoth the youth, "I am not of them," and quoth Al-Hajjaj, "Then whence art thou, O young man?"--"I am from the city of Syria." "Then art thou from the stubbornest of places and the feeblest of races." [FN#46] "Wherefore, O Hajjaj?"--For that it is a mixed breed I ween, nor Jew nor Nazarene." "I am not of them." "Then whence art thou, O young man?"--"I am of Khorásán of 'Ajamí-land." "Thou art therefore from a place the fulsomest and of faith the infirmest. Wherefore, O Hajjaj?" "Because flocks and herds are their chums and they are Ajams of the Ajams from whom liberal deed never comes, and their morals and manners none to praise presumes and their speech is gross and weighty, and stingy are their rich and wealthy." "I am not of them." "Then whence art thou, O young man?" "I am from Mosul." "Then art thou from the foulest and filthiest of a Catamite race, whose youth is a scapegrace and whose old age hath the wits of an ass." "I am not of them." "Then whence art thou, O young man?" "I am from the land of Al-Yaman." "Then art thou from a clime other than delectable." "And why so, O Hajjaj?" "For that their noblest make womanly use of Murd [FN#47] or beardless boys and the meanest of them tan hides and the lowest amongst them train baboons to dance, and others are weavers of Burd or woollen plaids." [FN#48] "I am not of them." "Then whence art thou, O young man?" "I am from Meccah." "Then art thou from a mine of captious carping and ignorance and lack of wits and of sleep over-abundant, whereto Allah commissioned a noble Prophet, and him they belied and they rejected: so he went forth unto a folk which loved him and honoured him and made him a conqueror despite the nose of the Meccan churls." "I am not of them." "Then whence art thou, O young man? for verily thou hast been abundant of prate and my heart longeth to cut off thy pate." [FN#49] Hereupon quoth the youth, "An I knew thou couldst slay me I had not worshipped any god save thyself," and quoth Al-Hajjaj, "Woe to thee and who shall stay me from slaying thee?" "To thyself be the woe with measure enow," cried the youth; "He shall hinder thee from killing me who administereth between a man and his heart, [FN#50] and who falseth not his promise." "'Tis He," rejoined Al-Hajjaj, "who directeth me to thy death;" but the Youth retorted, "Allah forfend that He appoint thee to my slaughter; nay rather art thou commissioned by thy Devil, and I take refuge with the Lord form Satan the stoned." "Whence then art thou, O young man?" "I am from Yathrib." [FN#51] "And what be Yathrib?" "It is Tayyibah." "And what be Tayyibah?" "Al-Madinah, the Luminate, the mine of inspiration and explanation and prohibition and licitation, [FN#52] and I am the seed of the Banú Ghálib [FN#53] and the purest scion of the Imam 'Ali bin Abí Talíb (Allah honour his countenance and accept of him!), and all degree and descent [FN#54] must fail save my descent and degree which shall never be cut off until the Day of Doom." Hereupon Al-Hajjaj raged with exceeding rage and ordered the Youth to execution; whereat rose up against him the Lords of the realm and the headman of the reign and sued him by was of intercession and stretched out to him their necks, saying, "Here are our heads before his head and our lives before his life. By Allah, ho thou the Emir, there is naught but that thou accept our impenetration in the matter of this Youth, for he is on no wise deserving of death." Quoth the Governor, "Weary not yourselves for needs must I slay him; and even were an Angel from Heaven cry out 'Kill him not,' I would never hearken to his cry." Quoth the youth, "Thou shalt be baffled [FN#55] O Hajjaj! Who art thou that an Angel from Heaven should cry out to thee 'Kill him not,' for thou art the vilest and meanest of mankind nor hast thou power to find a path to my death." Cried Al-Hajjaj, "By Allah, I will not slay thee except upon a plea I will plead against thee, and convict thee by thy very words." "What is that, O Hajjaj?" asked the Youth, and answered Hajjaj, "I will now question thee, and out of thine own mouth will I convict thee and strike off thy head. [FN#56] Now say me, O young man: - Whereby doth the slave draw near to Allah Almighty?" "By five things, prayer (1), and fasting (2), and alms (3), and pilgrimage (4), and Holy War upon the path of Almighty Allah (5)." "But I draw near to the Lord with the blood of the men who declare that Hasan and Husayn were the sons and successors of the Apostle of Allah. [FN#57] Furthermore, O young man, how can they be born of the Apostle of Almighty Allah when he sayeth, 'Never was Mohammed the father of any man amongst you, but he was the Apostle of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets.'" [FN#58] "Hear thou, O Hajjaj, my answer with another Koranic verse, [FN#59] 'What the Apostle hath given you, take: and what he hath refused you, refuse.' Now Allah Almighty hath forbidden the taking of life, whose destruction is therefore unlawful." "Thou has spoken sooth, O young man, but inform me of what is incumbent on thee every day and every night?" "The five canonical prayers." "And for every year?" "The fast of the month of Ramazan." "And for the whole of thy life?" "One pilgrimage to the Holy House of Allah." "Sooth thou hast said, O young man; now do inform me"--And Sharazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the King suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night and that was

The Five Hundred and Twelfth Night,

Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that Al-Hajjaj said, "Now do thou inform me who is the most excellent of the Arabs and the noblest and of blood the purest?"--"The Khoraysh." "And wherefore so?" "For that the Prophets from them proceeded." "And what tribe is the knightliest of the Arabs and the bravest and the firmest in fight?"--"The Banu Háshim." [FN#60] "And wherefore so?" "For that my grandsire the Imám Alí ibn Abí Tálib is of them." "And who is the most generous of the Arabs and most steadfast in the guest-rite?"--"The Banu Tayy." "And wherefore so?" "For that the Hátim of Tayy [FN#61] was one thereof." "And who is the vilest of the Arabs and the meanest and the most miserly, in whom weal is smallest and ill is greatest?" "The Banu Thakíf." [FN#62] "And wherefore so?" "Because thou, O Hajjaj, art of them." Thereupon the Lieutenant of Kufah raged with exceeding rage and ordered the slaughter of the youth; but the Grandees of the State rose up and prayed him for mercy, when he accepted their intercession and pardoned the offender. After which he said to him, "O young man, concerning the kid [FN#63] that is in the firmament, tell me be it male or female?" for he was minded on this wise to cut short his words. The young Sayyid replied, "O Hajjaj, draw me aside its tail so I may inform thee thereanent." [FN#64] "O young man, say me on what pasture best grow the horns of the camel?" "From leaves of stone." "O lack-wit! do stones bear leaves?" "O swollen of lips and little of wits and wisdom, say me do camels have horns?" "Haply thou art a lover fond, O youth?" "Yes! in love drowned." "And whom lovest thou?"--"I love my lord, of whom I hope that he will turn my annoy into joy, and who can save me this day from thee, O Hajjaj." "And dost thou know the Lord?" "Yes, I do." "And whereby hast thou known Him?" "By the book of Him which descended upon His Prophet-Apostle." "And knowest thou the Koran by heart?" "Doth the Koran fly from me that I should learn it by rote?" "Hast thou confirmed knowledge thereof?" "Verily Allah sent down a book confirmed." [FN#65] "Hast thou perused and mastered that which is therein?" "I have." "Then, O young man, if thou have read and learned what it containeth, tell me which verset is the sublimest (1) and which verset is the most imperious (2) and which verset is hopefullest (3) and which verset is fearfullest (4) and which verset is believed by the Jew and the Nazarene (5) and in which verset Allah speaketh purely by himself (6) and which verset alludeth to the Prophets (8) and in which verset be mentioned the People of Paradise (9) and which verset speaketh of the Folk and the Fire (10) and which verset containeth tenfold signs (11) and which verset (12) speaketh of Iblís (whom Allah curse!)." Then quoth the youth, "Listen to my answering, O Hajjaj, with the aid of the Beneficient King. Now the sublimest verset in the Book of Allah Almighty is the Throne verse; [FN#66] and the most imperious is the word of Almighty Allah, 'Verily Allah ordereth justice and well-doing and bestowal of gifts upon kith and kin'; [FN#67] and the justest is the word of the Almighty, 'Whoso shall have wrought a mithkál (nay an atom) of good works shall see it again, and whoso shall have wrought a mithkál (nay an atom) of ill shall again see it'; [FN#68] and the fullest of fear is that spoken by the Almighty, 'Doth not every man of them desire that he enter into the Paradise hight Al-Na'im?' [FN#69] and the fullest of hope is the word of the Almighty, 'Say Me, O My worshippers who have sinned against your own souls, do not despair of Allah's ruth'; [FN#70] and the verset which containeth ten signs is the word of the Lord which saith [FN#71] 'Verily in the Creation of the Heavens and the Earth and in the shifts of Night and Day and in the ships which pass through the sea with what is useful to mankind; and in the rain which Allah sendeth down from Heaven, thereby giving to the earth life after death, and by scattering thereover all the moving creatures, and in the change of the winds, and in the clouds which are made to do service between the Heavens and the Earth are signs for those who understand'; and the verset wherein believe both Jews and Nazarenes is the word of Alimighty Allah, [FN#72] 'The Jews say the Nazarenes are on naught, and the Christians say the Jews are on naught, and both speak the sooth for they are on naught.' And the verset wherein Allah Almighty speaketh purely of Himself is that word of Almighty Allah, [FN#73] 'And I created not Jinn-kind and mankind save to the end that they adore Me'; and the verset which was spoken of the Angels is the word of Almighty Allah which saith, [FN#74] 'Laud to Thee! we have no knowledge save what Thou hast given us to know, and verily Thou art the Knowing, the Wise.' And the verset which speaketh of the Prophets is the word of Almighty Allah that saith [FN#75] 'And We have already sent Apostles before thee: of some We have told thee, and of others We have told thee naught: yet no Apostle had the power to come with a sign unless by the leave of Allah. But when Allah's behest cometh, everything shall be decided with truth; and then perish they who entreated it as a vain thing'; and the verset which speaketh of the Folk and the Fire is the word of Almighty Allah which saith [FN#76] 'O out Lord! Bring us forth from her (the Fire), and, if we return (to our sins), we shall indeed be of the evildoers'; and the verset that speaketh of the People of Paradise is the word of Almighty Allah, [FN#77] 'And they shall say: Laud to the Lord who abated to us grief, and verily our Lord is Gracious, Grateful'; and the verset which speaketh of Iblis (whom Allah Almighty accurse!), if the word of Almighty Allah, [FN#78] 'He said: (I swear) therefore by thy glory, that all of them will I surely lead astray.'" Hereupon Al-Hajjaj exclaimed, "Laud to the Lord and thanksgiving Who giveth wisdom unto whoso He please! Never indeed saw I a youth like this youth upon whom the Almighty hath bestowed wits and wisdom and knowledge for all the tenderness of his age. But say me, who art thou, O young man?" Quoth the youth, "I am of the folk of these things, [FN#79] O Hajjaj." Resumed the Lieutenant, "Inform me concerning the son of Adam what injureth him and what profiteth him?" And the youth replied, "I will, O Hajjaj; do thou and these present who are longing for permanency (and none is permanent save Allah Almighty!) be early the fast to break nor be over late supper to make; and wear light body-clothes in summer and gar heavy the headgear in winter, and guard the brain with what it conserveth and the belly with what it preserveth and begin every meal with salt for it driveth away seventy and two kinds of malady: and whoso breaketh his fast each day with seven raisins red of hue"--And Sharazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the King suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night and that was

The Five Hundred and Fourteenth Night,

Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the youth continued to Al-Hajjaj: - "And whoso breaketh his fast daily with seven raisins red of hue shall never find in his body aught that irketh him; moreover, whoso each morning eateth on the spittle [FN#80] three ripe dates all the worms in his belly shall be slain and whoso exceedeth in diet of boucan'd meat [FN#81] and fish shall find his strength weakened and his powers of carnal copulation abated; and beware lest thou eat beef [FN#82] by cause that 'tis a disease forsure whereas the soured milk of cows is a remedy secure and clarified butter is a perfect cure: withal is its hide a succor for use and ure. And do thou take to thee, O Hajjaj, the greater Salve." [FN#83] Cried the Lieutenant, "What may be that?" and said the youth in reply, "A bittock of hard bread eaten [FN#84] upon the spittle, for indeed such food consumeth the phlegm and similar humours which be at the mouth of the maw. [FN#85] And let not the blood in the hot bath for it enfeebleth man's force, and gaze not upon the metal pots of the Balnea because such sight breedeth dimness of vision. Also have no connection with woman in the Hammam for its consequence is the palsy; nor do thou lie with her when thou art full or when thou art empty or when thou drunken with wine or when thou art in wrath nor when lying on thy side, for that it occasioneth swelling of the testicle-veins; [FN#86] or when thou art under a fruit-bearing tree. Avoid carnal knowledge of the old woman [FN#87] for that she taketh from thee and giveth not to thee. Moreover let thy signet ring be made of carnelian [FN#88] because it is a guard against poverty; also a look at the Holy Volume every morning increaseth thy daily bread, and to gaze at flowing water whetteth the sight and to look upon the face of children is an act of adoration. And when thou chancest lose thy way, crave aidance of Allah from Satan the Stoned." Hereupon quoth Al-Hajjaj, "Allah hath been copious to thee, O young man, for thou hast drowned me in the depths of thy love, but now inform me, Where is the seat of thy dignified behaviour?"--"The two eyes." "And where is the seat of thy well-doing?"--"My tongue." "And where is the seat of thy hearing?"--"The sensorium of mine ears." "And where is the seat of thy smelling?"--"The sensorium of my nose." "And where is the seat of thy taste?"--"My palate." "And where is the seat of thy gladness?"--"My heart." "And where is the seat of thy wrath?"--"My liver." "And where is the seat of thy laughing?"--"My spleen." [FN#89] "And where is the seat of thy bodily strenght?"--"My two shoulders." "And where is that of thy weakness?"--"My two calves." Hereupon Al-Hajjaj exclaimed, "Laud to the Lord and thanksgiving; for indeed, O young man, I see that thou knowest everything. So tell me somewhat concerning husbandry?"--"The best of corn is the thickest of cob and the grossest of grain and the fullest sized of shock." [FN#90] "And what sayest thou concerning palm-trees?"--"The most excellent is that which the greatest of gathering doth own and whose height is low grown and within whose meat is the smallest stone." "And what dost thou say anent the vine?"--"The most noble is that which is stout of stem and big of bunch." "And what sayest thou concerning the Heavens?"--"This is the furthest extent of man's sight and the dwelling-place of the Sun and Moon and all the Stars that give light, raised on high without columns pight and overshadowing the numbers beneath its height." "And what dost thou say concerning the Earth?"--"It is wide dispread in length and breadth." "And what dost thou say anent the rain?"--"The most excellent is that which filleth the pits and pools and which overfloweth into the wadys and the rivers." Hereupon quoth Al-Hajjaj, "O young man inform me what women be the best"--And Sharazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the King suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night and that was

The Five Hundred and Sixteenth Night,

Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that Al-Hajjaj said, "O young man, inform me what women be the best and the most enjoyable." [FN#91]--"One in winning ways excelling and in comeliness exceeding and in speech killing: one whose brow glanceth marvellous bright to whoso filleth his eyes with her sight and to whom she bequeatheth sorrow and blight; one whose breasts are small whilst her hips are large and her cheeks are rosy red and her eyes are deeply black and he lips are full-formed; one who if she look upon the heavens even the rocks will be robed in green, and if she look upon the earth her lips [FN#92] unpierced pearls shall rain; one the dews of whose mouth are the sweetest of waters; one who in beauty hath no peer nor is there any loveliness can with hers compare: the coolth of the eyes to great and small; in fine, one whose praises certain of the poets have sung in these harmonious couplets, [FN#93]

'A fair one to idolaters if she herself should show, * They'd leave their idols and her face for only Lord would know.
If in the Eastward she appeared unto a monk, for once * He'd cease from turning to the West and to the East bend low;
And into the briny sea one day she chanced to spit, * Assuredly the salt sea's floods straight fresh and sweet would grow.'"

Hereupon quoth Al-Hajjaj, "Thou hast said well and hast spoken fair, O young man; and now what canst thou declare concerning a maiden of ten years old?" Quoth the youth, "She is a joy to behold." "And a damsel of twenty years old?"--"a coolth to eyes manifold." "And a woman thirty of age?"--"One who the hearts of enjoyers can engage." "And in her fortieth year?"--"Fat, fresh and fair doth she appear." "And of the half century?"--"The mother of men and maids in plenty." "And a crone of three score?"--"Men ask of her never more." "And when three score and ten?"--"An old trot and remnant of men." "And one who reacheth four score?"--"Unfit for the world and for the faith forlore." "And one of ninety?"--"Ask not of whoso in Jahím be." [FN#94] "And a woman who to an hundredth hath owned?"--"I take refuge with Allah from Satan the Stoned." Then Al-Hajjaj laughed aloud and said, "O young man, I desire of thee even as thou describest womankind in prose so thou show me their conditions in verse;" and the Sayyid, having answered, "Hearkening and obedience, O Hajjaj," fell to improvising these couplets, [FN#95]

"When a maid owns to ten her new breasts arise * And like diver's pearl with fair neck she hies:
The damsel of twenty defies compare * 'Tis she whose disport we desire and prize:
She of thirty hath healing on cheeks of her; * She's a pleasure, a plant whose sap never dries:
If on her in the forties thou happily hap * She's best of her sex, hail to him with her lies!
She of fifty (pray Allah be copious to her!) * With wit, craft and wisdom her children supplies.
The dame of sixty hath lost some force * Whose remnants are easy to ravenous eyes:
At three score ten few shall seek her house * Age-threadbare made till afresh she rise:
The fourscore dame hath a bunchy back * From mischievous eld whom perforce Love flies:
And the crone of ninety hath palsied head * And lies wakeful o' nights and in watchful guise;
And with ten years added would Heaven she bide * Shrouded in sea with a shark for guide!"

Hereupon Al-Hajjaj laughed aloud and all who were with him in assembly; and presently he resumed, "O youth, tell me concerning the first man who spake in verse [FN#96] and that was our common sire, Adam (The Peace be upon him!), what time Kábil [FN#97] slew Hábil his brother when her forefather improvised these lines,

'Changed I see my country and all thereon; * Earth is now a blackavice, ugly grown:
The hue and flavour of food is fled * And cheer is fainting from fair face flown.
An thou, O Abel, be slain this day * Thy death I bemourn with heart torn and lone.
Weep these eyes and 'sooth they have right to weep * Their tears are as rills flowing hills adown.
Kábil slew Hábil--did his brother dead; * Oh my woe for that lovely face, ochone!'" [FN#98]

Hereat Al-Hajjaj asked, "O young man, what drove our ancestor to poetry?" whereto answered youth--And Sharazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the King suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night and that was

The Five Hundred and Eighteenth Night,

Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the youth replied, "He was driven to poetry by Iblis (whom Allah accurse!) when he spake in this verse,

'Thou bewailest the land and all thereon * And scant was the breadth of Eden didst own,
Where thou was girded by every good * O' life and in rest ever wont to wone:
But ne'er ceased my wiles and my guile until * The wind o'erthrew thee by folly blown.'" [FN#99]

Whereupon quoth Al-Hajjaj, "O young man, inform me concerning the first couplet of verse spoken by the Arab in praise of munificence;" and quoth the youth, "O Hajjaj, the first Arabic distich known to me was spoken by Hátim of Tayy, and 'twas as follows,

'And the guest I greet ere from me he go * Before wife and weans in my weal and woe.'"

Then cried Al-Hajjaj, "Thou hast said well and hast spoken fair, O young man; and thy due is incumbent upon us for that thou hast drowned us in the deeps of thy wisdom." Presently the Lieutenant of Kufah turning towards one of his eunuchs said, "Bring me at this very moment a purse containing ten thousand dirhams [FN#100] upon a charger of red gold and a suit of the rarest of my raiment and a blood mare the noblest steed of my steeds with a saddle of gold and a haubergeon; [FN#101] and a lance of full length and a handmaid the handsomest of my slave-girls." The attendant disappeared for a while, and presently brought all this between the hands of Al-Hajjaj, who said, "O young man, this damsel is the fairest of my chattels, and this be the purse on a charger of gold, and this mare is the purest in blood of my steeds together with her housings, so do thou take whatever thou desirest thereof, either the mare with all upon her or the purse of gold or the concubine," presently saying to himself, "If the young man prefer the purse, 'twill prove he loveth the world and I will slay him, also if he choose the girl, he lusteth after womankind, and I will do him die: but if he take the mare and her furniture, he will show himself the brave of braves, and he meriteth not destruction at my hands." Then the youth came forward and took the mare and her appointments. Now the damsel was standing by the young Sayyid, and she winked at him with her eye as one saying, "Do thou choose me and leave all the rest;" whereupon he began to improvise the following couplets,

"The jingling bridle at Bayard's neck * Is dearer to me than what sign thou deign:
I fear when I fall into strait and fare * Abroad, no comrade in thee to gain:
I fear when lain on my couch and long * My sickness, thou prove thee nor fond nor fain:
I fear me that time groweth scant my good * And my hand be strait thou shalt work me bane:
A helpmate I want shall do what do I * And bear patient the pasture of barren plain." [FN#102]

Presently the handmaid answered his verse with the following couplets,

"Forfend me, Allah, from all thou say'st * Though my left with my right thou shalt hew in twain.
A husband's honour my works shall keep * And I'll wone content with his smallest gain:
Didst know me well and my nature weet * Thou hadst found me mate of the meekest strain.
Nor all of women are like to sight * Nor all of men are of similar grain.
The charge of a mate to the good belongs; * Let this oath by Allah belief obtain."

Hearing these words Al-Hajjaj exclaimed, "Woe to thee, O damsel, dost thou answer him in his verse? and do thou O young man, take the whole, and may Allah give thee no blessing therein." [FN#103] Answered by the young Sayyid, "Here with them, O Hajjaj, inasmuch as thou hast given them to me, I will not oppose the order of Allah through thee, but another time there is no union between us twain, me and thee, as there hath been this day." Now the city of Al-Hajjaj had two gates--the door of Destruction and the door of Salvation; and when the youth asked him, "O Hajjaj, shall I go forth from this or from that?" the Lieutenant of Kufah cried, "Issue by this outlet," and showed him the Gate of Safety. Then the youth took all the presents and fared forth by the passage which had been shown him, and went his ways and was seen no more. Hereupon the Grandees of the kingdom said to Al-Hajjaj, "O our lord, how hast thou given to him these gifts and he hath on nowise thanked thee, nor wished thee well [FN#104] for they favours, and yet hast thou pointed out to him the Gate of Salvation?" Hereupon he replied, "Verily, the youth asked direction of me, and it becometh the director to be trustworthy and no traitor (Allah's curse be upon him who betrayeth!), and this youth meriteth naught save mercy by reason of his learning." [FN#105]



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