Home - FAQ - Images - Bibliography | complete versions by Burton - Dixon - Lang - Payne - Scott

Burton: Generous Dealing of Yahya Son of Khálid with a Man Who Forged a Letter in his Name

[Go back to Generous Dealing of Yahya Bin Khálid The Barmecide with Mansur]

There was between Yáhyá bin Khálid and Abdullah bin Málik al- Khuzá'i, an enmity which they kept secret; the reason of the hatred being that Harun al-Rashid loved Abdullah with exceeding love, so that Yahya and his sons were wont to say that he had bewitched the Commander of the Faithful. And thus they abode a long while, with rancour in their hearts, till it fell out that the Caliph invested Abdullah with the government of Armenia and despatched him thither. Now soon after he had settled himself in his seat of government, there came to him one of the people of Irak, a man of good breeding and excellent parts and abundant cleverness; but he had lost his money and wasted his wealth and his estate was come to ill case; so he forged a letter to Abdullah bin Malik in the name of Yahya bin Khálid and set out therewith for Armenia. Now when he came to the Governor's gate, he gave the letter to one of the Chamberlains, who took it and carried it to his master. Abdullah opened it and read it and, considering it attentively, knew it to be forged; so he sent for the man, who presented himself before him and called down blessings upon him and praised him and those of his court. Quoth Abdullah to him, "What moved thee to weary thyself on this wise and bring me a forged letter? But be of good heart; for we will not disappoint thy travail." Replied the other, "Allah prolong the life of our lord the Wazir! If my coming annoy thee, cast not about for a pretext to repel me, for Allah's earth is wide and He who giveth daily bread still liveth. Indeed, the letter I bring thee from Yahya bin Khalid is true and no forgery." Quoth Abdullah, "I will write a letter to my agent at Baghdad and command him enquire concerning this same letter. If it be true, as thou sayest, and genuine and not forged by thee, I will bestow on thee the Emirship of one of my cities; or, if thou prefer a present, I will give thee two hundred thousand dirhams, besides horses and camels of price and a robe of honour. But, if the letter prove a forgery, I will order thou be beaten with two hundred blows of a stick and thy beard be shaven." So Abdullah bade confine him in a chamber and furnish him therein with all he needed, till his case should be made manifest. Then he despatched a letter to his agent at Baghdad, to the following effect: "There is come to me a man with a letter purporting to be from Yahya bin Khálid. Now I have my suspicions of this letter: therefore delay thou not in the matter, but go thyself and look carefully into the case and let me have an answer with all speed, in order that we may know what is true and what is untrue." When the letter reached Baghdad, the agent mounted at once,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Seventh Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the agent of Abdullah, son of Malik al-Khuza'i, on receipt of the letter at Baghdad, mounted at once and repaired to the house of Yahya bin Khálid, whom he found sitting with his officers and boon- companions. After the usual salute he gave him the letter and Yahya read it and said to the agent, "Come back to me tomorrow for my written answer." Now when the agent had gone away, Yahya turned to his companions and said, "What doth he deserve who forgeth a letter in my name and carrieth it to my foe?" They answered all and each, saying this and that, and every one proposing some kind of punishment; but Yahya said, "Ye err in that ye say and this your counsel is of the baseness of your spirits and the meanness of your minds. Ye all know the close favour of Abdullah with the Caliph and ye weet of what is between him and us of anger and enmity; and now Almighty Allah hath made this man the means of reconciliation between us; and hath fitted him for such purpose and hath appointed him to quench the fire of ire in our hearts, which hath been growing these twenty years; and by his means our differences shall be adjusted. Wherefore it behoveth me to requite such man by verifying his assertion and amending his estate; so I will write him a letter to Abdullah son of Malik, praying that he may use him with increase of honour and continue to him his liberality." Now when his companions heard what he said, they called down blessings on him and marvelled at his generosity and the greatness of his magnanimity. Then he called for paper and ink and wrote Abdullah a letter in his own hand, to the following effect: "In the name of Allah, the Compassionating' the Compassionate! Of a truth thy letter hath reached me (Allah give thee long life!) and I am glad to hear of thy safety and am pleased to be assured of thine immunity and prosperity. It was thy thought that a certain worthy man had forged a letter in my name and that he was not the bearer of any message from the same; but the case is not so, for the letter I myself wrote, and it was no forgery; and I hope, of thy courtesy and consideration and the nobility of thy nature, that thou wilt gratify this generous and excellent man of his hope and wish, and honour him with the honour he deserveth and bring him to his desire and make him the special-object of thy favour and munificence. Whatso thou dost with him, it is to me that thou dost the kindness, and I am thankful to thee accordingly." Then he superscribed the letter and after sealing it, delivered it to the agent, who despatched it to Abdullah. Now when the Governor read it, he was charmed with its contents, and sending for the man, said to him, "Whichever of the two promised boons is the more acceptable to thee that will I give thee." The man replied, "The money gift were more acceptable to me than aught else," whereupon Abdullah ordered him two hundred thousand dirhams and ten Arab horses, five with housings of silk and other five with richly ornamented saddles, used in state processions; besides twenty chests of clothes and ten mounted white slaves and a proportionate quantity of jewels of price. Moreover, he bestowed on him a dress of honour and sent him to Baghdad in great splendour. So when he came thither, he repaired to the door of Yahya's house, before he went to his own folk, and craved permission to enter and have audience. The Chamberlain went in to Yahya and said to him, "O my lord, there is one at the door who craveth speech of thee; and he is a man of apparent wealth, courteous in manner, comely of aspect and attended by many servants." Then Yahya bade admit him; and, when he entered and kissed the ground before him, Yahya asked him, "Who art thou?" He answered, "Hear me, O my lord, I am he who was done dead by the tyranny of fortune, but thou didst raise me to life again from the grave of calamities and exalt me to the paradise of my desires. I am the man who forged a letter in thy name and carried it to Abdullah bin Malik al-Khuza'i." Yahya asked, "How hath he dealt with thee and what did he give thee?"; and the man answered, "He hath given me, thanks to thy hand and thy great liberality and benevolence and to thy comprehensive kindness and lofty magnanimity and thine all-embracing generosity, that which hath made me a wealthy man and he hath distinguished me with his gifts and favours. And now I have brought all that he gave me and here it is at thy door; for it is thine to decide and the command is in thy hand." Rejoined Yahya, "Thou hast done me better service than I did thee and I owe thee a heavy debt of gratitude and every gift the white hand can give, for that thou hast changed into love and amity the hate and enmity that were between me and a man whom I respect and esteem. Wherefore I will give thee the like of what Abdullah bin Malik gave thee." Then he ordered him money and horses and chests of apparel, such as Abdullah had given him; and thus that man's fortune was restored to him by the munificence of these two generous ones. And folk also relate the tale of the...

[Go to Caliph Al-Maamum and the Strange Scholar]


Burton, Richard (1821-1890). The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night. London. 1885-1888. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Gutenberg Vol. V. Gutenberg Vol. V. Gutenberg Vol. VII. Gutenberg Vol. VIII. Gutenberg Vol. IX. Gutenberg Vol. X. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version.


1001 Nights Hypertext. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. The texts presented here are in the public domain. Thanks to Gene Perry for his excellent help in preparing the texts for the web. Page last updated: January 1, 2005 10:46 PM


powered by FreeFind