THE CALIPH AL-HAKIM [FN#123] AND THE MERCHANT



The Caliph Al-Hákim bi-Amri’llah was riding out in state procession one day, when he passed along a garden, wherein he saw a man, surrounded by negro-slaves and eunuchs.  He asked him for a draught of water, and the man gave him to drink, saying, “Belike, the Commander of the Faithful will honour me by alighting in this my garden.”  So the Caliph dismounted and with his suite entered the garden; whereupon the said man brought out to them an hundred rugs and an hundred leather mats and an hundred cushions; and set before them an hundred dishes of fruits, an hundred bowls of sweetmeats and an hundred jars of sugared sherbets; at which the Caliph marvelled with much amaze and said to his host, “O man, verily this thy case is wondrous: didst thou know of our coming and make this preparation for us?”  He replied, “No by Allah, O Commander of the Faithful, I knew not of thy coming and I am a merchant of the rest of thy subjects; but I have an hundred concubines; so, when the Commander of the Faithful honoured me by alighting with me, I sent to each of them, bidding her send me her morning-meal in the garden.  So they sent me each of her furniture and the surplus of her meat and drink: and every day each sendeth me a dish of meat and another of cooling marinades, also a platter of fruits and a bowl of sweetmeats and a jar of sherbet.  This is my noon-day dinner, nor have I added aught thereto for thee.”  Then the Commander of the Faithful, Al-Hakim bi-Amri’llah prostrated himself in thanksgiving to the Almighty (extolled and exalted be His name!) and said, “Praise be Allah, who hath been so bountiful to one of our lieges, that he entertaineth the Caliph and his host, without making ready for them; nay, he feedeth them with the surplusage of his day’s provision!”  Then he sent for all the dirhams in the treasury, that had been struck that year (and they were in number three thousand and seven hundred thousand); nor did he mount until the money came, when he gave it to the merchant, saying, “Use this as thy state may require; and thy generosity deserveth more than this.”  Then he took horse and rode away.  And I have heard a story concerning




Prev Next