KHUZAYMAH BIN BISHR AND IKRIMAH AL-FAYYAZ. [FN#99]



There lived once, in the days of the Caliph Sulayman bin Abd al-Malik [FN#100] a man of the Banu Asad, by name Khuzaymah bin Bishr, who was famed for bounty and abundant wealth and excellence and righteous dealing with his brethren. He continued thus till times grew strait with him and he became in need of the aid of those Moslem brethren on whom he had lavished favour and kindness. So they succoured him a while and then grew weary of him, which when he saw, he went in to his wife who was the daughter of his father's brother, and said to her, "O my cousin, I find a change in my brethren; wherefore I am resolved to keep my house till death come to me." So he shut his door and abode in his home, living on that which he had by him, till it was spent and he knew not what to do. Now Ikrimah al-Raba'í, surnamed Al-Fayyáz, governor of Mesopotamia, [FN#101] had known him, and one day, as he sat in his Audience-chamber, mention was made of Khuzaymah, whereupon quoth Ikrimah, "How is it with him?" And quoth they, "He is in a plight past telling, and hath shut his door and keepeth the house." Ikrimah rejoined, "This cometh but of his excessive generosity: but how is it that Khuzaymah bin Bishr findeth nor comforter nor requiter?" And they replied, "He hath found naught of this." So when it was night, Ikrimah took four thousand dinars and laid them in one purse; then, bidding saddle his beast, he mounted and rode privily to Khuzaymah's house, attended only by one of his pages, carrying the money. When he came to the door, he alighted and taking the purse from the page made him withdraw afar off; after which he went up to the door and knocked. Khuzaymah came out to him, and he gave him the purse, saying, "Better thy case herewith." He took it and finding it heavy put it from his hand and laying hold of the bridle of Ikrimah's horse, asked, "Who art thou? My soul be thy ransom!" Answered Ikrimah, "O man I come not to thee at a time like this desiring that thou shouldst know me." Khuzaymah rejoined, "I will not let thee go till thou make thyself known to me," whereupon Ikrimah said "I am hight Jabir Atharat al-Kiram." [FN#102] Quoth Khuzaymah, "Tell me more." But Ikrimah cried, "No," and fared forth, whilst Khuzaymah went in to his cousin and said to her, "Rejoice for Allah hath sent us speedy relief and wealth; if these be but dirhams, yet are they many. Arise and light the lamp." She said, "I have not wherewithal to light it." So he spent the night handling the coins and felt by their roughness that they were dinars, but could not credit it. Meanwhile Ikrimah returned to his own house and found that his wife had missed him and asked for him, and when they told her of his riding forth, she misdoubted of him, and said to him, "Verily the Wali of Al-Jazirah rideth not abroad after such an hour of the night, unattended and secretly, save to a wife or a mistress." He answered, "Allah knoweth that I went not forth to either of these." "Tell me then wherefore thou wentest forth?" "I went not forth at this hour save that none should know it." "I must needs be told." "Wilt thou keep the matter secret, if I tell thee?" "Yes!" So he told her the state of the case, adding, "Wilt thou have me swear to thee?" Answered she, "No, no, my heart is set at ease and trusteth in that which thou hast told me." As for Khuzaymah, soon as it was day he made his peace with his creditors and set his affairs in order; after which he got him ready and set out for the Court of Sulayman bin Abd al-Malik, who was then sojourning in Palestine. [FN#103] When he came to the royal gate, he sought admission of the chamberlain, who went in and told the Caliph of his presence. Now he was renowned for his beneficence and Sulayman knew of him; so he bade admit him. When he entered, he saluted the Caliph after the usual fashion of saluting [FN#104] and the King asked, "O Khuzaymah, what hath kept thee so long from us?" Answered he, "Evil case," and quoth the Caliph, "What hindered thee from having recourse to us?" Quoth he, "My infirmity, O Commander of the Faithful!" "And why," said Sulayman, "comest thou to us now?" Khuzaymah replied, "Know, O Commander of the Faithful, that I was sitting one night late in my house, when a man knocked at the door and did thus and thus;" and he went on to tell him of all that had passed between Ikrimah and himself from first to last. Sulayman asked, "Knowest thou the man?" and Khuzaymah answered, "No, O Commander of the Faithful, he was reserved [FN#105] and would say naught save, 'I am hight Jabir Atharat al-Kiram.'" When Sulayman heard this, his heart burned within him for anxiety to discover the man, and he said, "If we knew him, truly we would requite him for his generosity." Then he bound for Khuzaymah a banner [FN#106] and made him Governor of Mesopotamia, in the stead of Ikrimah Al-Fayyaz; and he set out for Al-Jazirah. When he drew near the city, Ikrimah and the people of the place came forth to meet him and they saluted each other and went on into the town, where Khuzaymah took up his lodging in the Government-house and bade take security for Ikrimah and that he should be called to account. [FN#107] So an account was taken against him and he was found to be in default for much money; whereupon Khuzaymah required of him payment, but he said, "I have no means of paying aught." Quoth Khuzaymah, "It must be paid;" and quoth Ikrimah, "I have it not; do what thou hast to do." So Khuzaymah ordered him to gaol.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Six Hundred and Eighty-fourth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Khuzaymah, having ordered the imprisonment of Ikrimah Al-Fayyaz, sent to him again to demand payment of the debt; but he replied, "I am not of those who preserve their wealth at the expense of their honour; do what thou wilt." Then Khuzaymah bade load him with irons and kept him in prison a month or more, till confinement began to tell upon him and he became wasted. After this, tidings of his plight travelled to the daughter of his uncle who was troubled with sore concern thereat and, sending for a freedwoman of hers, a woman of abundant judgment, and experience, said to her, "Go forthwith to the Emir Khuzaymah's gate and say, 'I have a counsel for the Emir.' If they ask what it is, add, 'I will not tell it save to himself'; and when thou enterest to him, beg to see him in private and when private ask him, 'What be this deed thou hast done? Hath Jabir Atharat al-Kiram deserved of thee no better reward than to be cast into strait prison and hard bond of irons?'" The woman did as she was bid, and when Khuzaymah heard her words, he cried out at the top of his voice, saying, "Alas, the baseness of it! Was it indeed he?" And she answered, "Yes." Then he bade saddle his beast forthwith and, summoning the honourable men of the city, repaired with them to the prison and opening the door, went in with them to Ikrimah, whom they found sitting in evil case, worn out and wasted with blows and misery. When he looked at Khuzaymah, he was abashed and hung his head; but the other bent down to him and kissed his face; whereupon he raised his head and asked, "What maketh thee do this?" Answered Khuzaymah, "The generosity of thy dealing and the vileness of my requital." And Ikrimah said, "Allah pardon us and thee!" Then Khuzaymah commanded the jailor to strike off Ikrimah's fetters and clap them on his own feet; but Ikrimah said, "What is this thou wilt do?" Quoth the other, "I have a mind to suffer what thou hast suffered." Quoth Ikrimah, "I conjure thee by Allah, do not so!" Then they went out together and returned to Khuzaymah's house, where Ikrimah would have farewelled him and wended his way; but he forbade him and Ikrimah said, "What is thy will of me?" Replied Khuzaymah, "I wish to change thy case, for my shame before the daughter of thine uncle is yet greater than my shame before thee." So he bade clear the bath and entering with Ikrimah, served him there in person and when they went forth be bestowed on him a splendid robe of honour and mounted him and gave him much money. Then he carried him to his house and asked his leave to make his excuses to his wife and obtained her pardon. After this he besought him to accompany him to the Caliph who was then abiding at Ramlah [FN#108] and he agreed. So they journeyed thither, and when they reached the royal quarters the chamberlain went in and acquainted the Caliph Sulayman bin Abd al-Malik with Khuzaymah's arrival, whereat he was troubled and said, "What! is the Governor of Mesopotamia come without our command? This can be only on some grave occasion." Then he bade admit him and said, before saluting him, "What is behind thee, O Khuzaymah?" Replied he, "Good, O Commander of the Faithful." Asked Sulayman, "What bringeth thee?"; and he answered, saying, "I have discovered Jabir Atharat al-Kiram and thought to gladden thee with him, knowing thine excessive desire to know him and thy longing to see him." "Who is he?" quoth the Caliph and quoth Khuzaymah, "He is Ikrimah Al-Fayyaz." So Sulayman called for Ikrimah, who approached and saluted him as Caliph; and the King welcomed him and making him draw near his sitting-place, said to him, "O Ikrimah, thy good deed to him hath brought thee naught but evil," adding, "Now write down in a note thy needs each and every, and that which thou desirest." He did so and the Caliph commanded to do all that he required and that forthwith. Moreover he gave him ten thousand dinars more than he asked for and twenty chests of clothes over and above that he sought, and calling for a spear, bound him a banner and made him Governor over Armenia and Azarbiján [FN#109] and Mesopotamia, saying, "Khuzaymah's case is in thy hands, an thou wilt, continue him in his office, and if thou wilt, degrade him." And Ikrimah said, "Nay, but I restore him to his office, O Commander of the Faithful." Then they went out from him and ceased not to be Governors under Sulayman bin Abd al-Malik all the days of his Caliphate. And they also tell a tale of