[Go back to The Pilgrim and the Old Woman Who Dwelt in the Desert]
There was once in Baghdad a man of rank and rich in money and houses and lands, who was one of the chiefs of the merchants, and God had largely endowed him with worldly goods, but had not vouchsafed him what he longed for of offspring; and there passed over him a long space of time, without his being blessed with children, male or female. His years waxed great, his bones became wasted and his back bent, and weakness and trouble increased on him, and he feared the loss of his wealth and possessions, seeing he had no child, whom he might make his heir and by whom he should be remembered. So he betook himself with supplication to God the Most High, fasting by day and rising by night [to pray]. Moreover, he made vows to God the Living, the Eternal, and visited the pious and was instant in supplication to the Most Migh, till He gave ear to him and accepted his prayer and took pity on his striving and complaining; so that, before many days were past, he lay with one of his women and she became with child by him the same night. She accomplished the months of her pregnancy and casting her burden, bore a male child as he were a piece of the moon; whereupon the merchant, in his gratitude to God, (to whom belong might and majesty,) fulfilled his vows and gave alms and clothed the widow and the orphan.
On the seventh night after the boy's birth, he named him Aboulhusn, and the wet-nurses suckled him and the dry-nurses dandled him and the slaves and servants carried him, till he grew up and throve and learnt the sublime Koran and the ordinances of Islam and the things of the True Faith. Moreover, he learned writing and poetry and mathematics and archery and became the pearl of his age and the goodliest of the folk of his time and his day, fair of face and fluent of tongue, bearing himself with a proud and graceful port and glorying in his symmetry and amorous grace. His cheeks were red and his forehead white and brilliant and the tender down of the whiskers darkened upon his face, even as saith one, describing him:
The Spring of the down on his cheeks to the eye shows clear; And how shall the rose endure, after Spring is here? Dost thou not see that the growth on his cheek, forsooth, A violet is, that forth of its leaves doth peer?
He abode awhile with his father, in the best of case, and the latter rejoiced and delighted in him, till he came to man's estate, when the merchant one day made him sit down before him and said to him, 'O my son, the appointed term draws near; my last hour is at hand and it remains but to meet God (to whom belong might and majesty). I leave thee what shall suffice thee, even to thy son's son, of money and farms and houses and gardens; wherefore, O my son, fear thou God the Most High in [dealing with] that which I leave thee and follow none but those who will help thee [in this].' Not long after, he sickened and died; so his son ordered his funeral, after the goodliest fashion, and burying him, returned to his house and sat mourning for him [many] days and nights, till certain of his friends came in to him and said to him, 'Whoso leaveth the like of thee after him is not dead; indeed, what is past is past and mourning beseemeth none but girls and cloistered women.' And they ceased not from him, till they wrought on him to enter the bath and break off his mourning. Then he forgot his father's injunctions, and his head was turned by his riches; he thought fortune would still abide with him, as it was, and that wealth would never come to an end. So he ate and drank and made merry and took his pleasure and gave gifts of money and raiment and was profuse with gold and gave himself up to eating fowls and breaking the seals of wine-flasks and listening to songs and to the laugh of the wine, as it gurgled from the flagon; nor did he give over this way of life, till his wealth was wasted and the case became straitened [upon him] and he bit his hands [for repentance] and gone was all he had.
In good sooth, he had nothing left, after that which he had squandered, but a slave-girl that his father had bequeathed to him with the rest of his estate: her name was Taweddud and she had no equal in beauty and grace and brightness and symmetry and all perfection. She was past mistress in all manner of arts and accomplishments and endowed with [many] excellences, surpassing all the folk of her age and time. She was grown more notorious than a way-mark, for the versatility of her genius, and outdid the fair both in theory and practice and elegant and flexile grace, more by token that she was five feet high and in conjunction with fair fortune, with strait arched brows, as they were the crescent moon of Shaaban, and eyes like those of gazelles, nose like the point of the sabre and cheeks like blood-red anemones, mouth like Solomon's seal and teeth like necklaces of pearls, navel holding an ounce of benzoin ointment and waist more slender than his body whom love hath wasted and whom concealment [of his passion] hath made sick, and buttocks heavier than two hills of sand; brief, in all she answered to the saying of him who says:
Her fair shape ravisheth, if face to face she did appear, And if she turn, for severance from her she slayeth sheer. Sun-like, full-moon-like, sapling-like, unto her character Estrangement nowise appertains nor cruelty austere. Under the bosom of her shift the garths of Eden are, and the full-moon revolveth still upon her neck-rings' sphere.
She seemed [at once] a rising full moon and a browsing gazelle, a girl of nine and five, putting to shame the moon and the sun, even as saith of her the eloquent and ingenious poet:
The likeness of the full-moon, faring o'er The heavens, five and five and after four; 'Tis not my fault, if she have made of me Its likeness, when it first in heaven doth soar.
White of skin, odoriferous of breath, it seemed as if she were [at once] fashioned of fire and moulded of crystal; rose-red was the cheek of her and perfect her shape and figure; even as saith of her one, describing her:
Scented with sandal and musk, right proudly doth she go, With gold and silver and rose and saffron-colour aglow. A flower in a garden she is, a pearl in an ouch of gold Or an image in chapel set for worship of high and low. Slender and shapely she is; vivacity bids her arise, But the weight of her hips says, "Sit, or softly and slowly go." Whenas her favours I seek and sue for my heart's desire, "Be gracious," her beauty says; but her coquetry answers, "No." Glory to Him who made beauty her portion, and that Of her lover to be the prate of the censurers, heigho!
Indeed, she captivated all who saw her, with the excellence of her beauty and the sweetness of her smile, and transpierced them with the arrows she launched from her eyes; and withal she was eloquent of speech and excellently skilled in poetry.
When Aboulhusn had squandered all his wealth and there remained to him nought but this slave-girl, when [I say] the wretchedness of his plight became manifest to him, he abode three days without tasting food or taking rest in sleep, and Taweddud said to him, 'O my lord, carry me to the Khalif Haroun er Reshid, fifth of the sons of Abbas, and seek of him ten thousand dinars to my price. If he deem me dear at this price, say to him, "O Commander of the Faithful, my slave is worth more than this: do but prove her, and her value will be magnified in thine eyes, for she hath not her equal, and it were unfit that any but thou should possess her." And beware, O my lord, of selling me for less than the sum I have named, for it is but little for the like of me.' (Now Aboulhusn knew not her worth nor that she had no equal in her day.) So he carried her to the Khalif, to whom he repeated what she had bidden him say, and the Khalif said to her, 'What is thy name?' 'Taweddud,' answered she. 'O Taweddud,' asked he, 'in what branches of knowledge dost thou excel?' 'O my lord,' answered she, 'I am versed in syntax and poetry and jurisprudence and exegesis and lexicography and music and the knowledge of the Divine ordinances and in arithmetic and geodesy and the fables of the ancients. I know the sublime Koran [by heart] and have read it according to the seven and the ten and the fourteen [modes]. I know the number of its chapters and verses and sections and words and letters and its halves and fourths and eighths and tenths, the number of acts of adoration, that occur in it, and what there is in it of cancelling and cancelled; also what parts of it were revealed at Medina and what at Mecca and the manner of the different revelations. I know the Holy Traditions, their history and variants and the manner of their recitation and interpretation, together with those of them whose chain of descent is unbroken and those for which it is broken; and I have studied the exact sciences, geometry and philosophy and medicine and logic and rhetoric and composition; and I know many things and am passionately fond of poetry. I can play the lute and know its gamut and notation and so forth. If I sing and dance, I ravish, and if I adorn and perfume myself, I slay. In fine, I have reached a pitch of perfection such as can only be estimated by those who are stablished in knowledge.'
When the Khalif heard her words, he wondered at them and at the eloquence of her speech, seeing the tenderness of her age, and turning to Aboulhusn, said to him, 'I will summon those who shall examine her in all she lays claim to; if she answer [correctly,] I will give thee the price thou askest for her and more; and if not, thou art fitter to [possess] her [than I].' 'With all my heart, O Commander of the Faithful,' replied Aboulhusn. So the Khalif wrote to the Viceroy of Bassora, to send him Ibrahim ben Siyyar the poet, who was the first man of his day in argument and eloquence and poetry and logic, and bade him bring with him readers of the Koran and doctors of the law and physicians and astrologers and sages and geometricians and philosophers; and Ibrahim was more learned than all. In a little while they all arrived at the Khalif's palace, knowing not what was to do, and the latter sent for them to his sitting-chamber and bade them be seated. So they sat down and he bade fetch the damsel Taweddud, who came and unveiling, showed herself, as she were a sparkling star. The Khalif caused set her a stool of gold; and she saluted and speaking with an eloquent tongue, said, 'O Commander of the Faithful, bid the learned men present contend with me in argument.' So he said to them, 'I desire of you that ye dispute with this damsel on the things of her faith and make void her argument, in all she avoucheth;' and they answered, saying, 'We hear and obey God and thee, O Commander of the Faithful.'
Thereupon Taweddud bowed her head and said, 'Which of you is the doctor of the law, the scholar, versed in the interpretation of the Koran and in the Traditions?' Quoth one of them, 'I am the man thou seekest.' 'Then,' said she, 'ask me of what thou wilt.' Quoth the doctor, 'Hast thou read the precious book of God and dost thou know its abrogating and abrogated parts and hast thou meditated its verses and expressions?' 'Yes,' answered she. 'Then,' said he, 'I will proceed to question thee of the obligatory ordinances and the immutable institutions: so tell me of these, O damsel, and who is thy Lord, who thy prophet, and who thy brethren. Also, what is thy [point of] fronting [in prayer], what thine exemplar, what thy path and what thy highway?' 'Allah is my Lord,' replied she, 'and Mohammed (whom God bless and preserve) my prophet and the true-believers are my brethren. The Koran is my exemplar and the Kaabeh my [point of] fronting; the practice of good is my path and the Sunneh my highway.' (Q.) 'With what do we know God the Most High?' (A.) 'With the understanding.' (Q.) 'And what is the understanding?' (A.) 'It is of two kinds, natural and acquired. The first is that which God (to whom belong might and majesty) bestoweth on whom He will of His servants; and the other is that which men acquire by dint of study and fair knowledge.' (Q.) 'Thou hast answered well. Where is the seat of the understanding?' (A.) 'God casteth it in the heart, whence its lustre ascendeth to the brain and there becometh fixed.' (Q.) 'How knowest thou the Prophet of God?' (A.) 'By the reading of God's Holy Book and by signs and proofs and portents and miracles.' (Q.) 'What are the obligatory ordinances and the immutable institutions?' (A.) 'The obligatory ordinances are five in number. (1) Testification that there is no god but God alone, that He hath no partner in divinity and that Mohammed is His servant and His apostle. (2) The scrupulous performance of the enjoined prayers. (3) The payment of the poor-rate. (4) Fasting Ramazan. (5) The performance of the Pilgrimage to God's Holy House [at Mecca] for all to whom it is possible. The immutable institutions are four in number; to wit, night and day and sun and moon, the which build up life and hope, neither knoweth any son of Adam if they will be destroyed on the Day of Judgment.' (Q.) 'What are the obligatory rites of the Faith?' (A.) 'Prayer, almsgiving, fasting, pilgrimage, fighting for the Faith and abstinence from what is forbidden.' (Q.) 'Why dost thou stand up to pray?' (A.) 'To express the devout intent of the slave submitting himself to [or acknowledging] the Divinity.' (Q.) 'What are the conditions precedent of standing up to pray?' (A.) 'Purification, covering the privy parts, the avoidance of soiled clothes, standing on a clean place, fronting [the Kaabeh,] a standing posture, the intent and the magnification of prohibition.' (Q.) 'With what shouldest thou go forth thy house to pray? (A.) 'With an intent of worship.' (Q.) 'With what intent shouldest thou enter the mosque?' (A.) 'With an intent of service.' (Q.) 'Why do we front the Kaabeh?' (A.) 'In obedience to three Divine and one Traditional ordinance.' (Q.) 'What is the commencement, the consecration and the dissolution [end] of prayer?' (A.) 'Purification, the magnification of prohibition and the salutation of the angels [concluding prayer].' (Q.) 'What of him who neglecteth prayer?' (A.) 'It is reported, among the authentic (Traditions of the Prophet, that he said), "He, who neglecteth prayer wilfully and without excuse, hath no part in Islam."' (Q.) 'What is prayer?' (A.) 'Prayer is communion between the slave and his Lord, and in it are ten virtues, to wit, (1) it illumines the heart (2) makes the face shine (3) pleases the Merciful One (4) angers Satan (5) conjures calamity (6) wards off the mischief of enemies (7) multiplies mercy (8) forfends vengeance [or punishment] (9) brings the slave nigh unto [or in favour with] his Lord and (10) restrains from lewdness and iniquity. It is one of the written obligatory ordinances and the pillar of the Faith.' (Q.) 'What is the key of prayer?' (A.) 'Ablution.' (Q.) 'What is the key of ablution?' (A.) 'Nomination.' (Q.) 'That of naming God?' (A.) 'Faith.' (Q.) 'That of Faith?' (A.) 'Trust in God.' (Q.) 'That of trust in God?' (A.) 'Hope.' (Q.) 'That of Hope?' (A.) 'Obedience.' (Q.) 'That of obedience?' (A.) 'The confession of the unity and the acknowledgment of the divinity of God.' (Q.) 'What are the Divine ordinances of ablution?' (A.) 'They are six in number, according to the canon of the Imam Es Shafi Mohammed ben Idris (of whom God accept) to wit, (1) intent to wash the face (2) washing the face (3) washing the hands and elbows (4) wiping part of the head (5) washing the feet and heels and (6) observing the prescribed order of ablution, whose statutes are ten in number, to wit, (1) nomination (2) washing the hands before putting them into the vase (3) rinsing the mouth (4) drawing up water through the nostrils (5) wiping the whole head (6) washing the ears within and without with fresh water (7) separating a thick beard (8) separating the fingers and toes (9) washing the right foot before the left and (10) doing each of these thrice and all in unbroken succession. When the ablution is ended, the devotee should (quoth Es Shafi) say, "I testify that there is no god but God alone, who hath no partner, and that Mohammed is His servant and apostle. O my God, make me of those who repent and are made clean! Glory to Thee, O my God, and in Thy praise I testify that there is no god but Thou! I crave pardon of Thee and repent to Thee!" For it is reported, in the Holy Traditions, that the Prophet (whom God bless and keep) said of this prayer, "Whoso ensueth every ablution with this prayer, the eight gates of Paradise are open to him; he shall enter at which he pleases."' (Q.) 'When a man purposes to make the ablution, what betides him from the angels and the devils?' (A.) 'When a man prepares for ablution, the angels come and stand on his right and the devils on his left hand. If he name God, at the beginning of the ablution, the devils flee from him and the angels hover over him with a pavilion of light, having four ropes, to each an angel glorifying God and craving pardon for him, so long as he remains silent or calls upon the name of God. But if he omit to begin with naming God (to whom belong might and majesty) neither remain silent, the angels depart from him and the devils settle upon him and whisper evil thoughts unto him, till he falls into doubt and comes short in his ablution. For (quoth he on whom be blessing and salvation) "A perfect ablution driveth away the devils and assureth against the tyranny of the Sultan; and he who neglecteth the ablution, if calamity befall him, let him blame none but himself."' (Q.) 'What should a man do, when he awakes from sleep?' (A.) 'He should wash his hands thrice, before putting them into the vessel.' (Q.) 'What are the ordinances, Koranic and Traditional, of complete ablution?' (A.) 'The Koranic ordinances are intent and covering the whole body with water, so that it shall come at every part of the hair and skin. The Traditional, previous partial ablution [as before prayer,] rubbing the body, separating the hair and deferring in words the washing of the feet till the end of the ablution.' (Q.) 'What are the reasons [or occasions] for making the ablution with other than water, and what are the ordinances thereof, Koranic and Traditional?' (A.) 'The reasons are seven in number, to wit, lack of water, fear, need thereto, going astray on a journey, sickness, having the bones [broken and] in splints and wounds. As for its ordinances, the Koranic are four in number, to wit, intent, dust, applying it to the face and to the hands, and the Traditional two, to wit, nomination and preferring the right before the left hand.' (Q.) 'What are the conditions, the essentials [or fundamentals] and the Traditional statutes of prayer?' (A.) 'The conditions are five in number, to wit, (1) purification of the members (2) covering the privy parts (3) observing the proper hours, either of certainty or to the best of one's belief, (4) fronting the Kaabeh and (5) standing on a clean place. The essentials are twelve in number, to wit, (1) intent (2) the magnification of prohibition (3) standing at the proper distance one from another (4) repeating the first chapter of the Koran and also (according to the Shafiyites) saying, "In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate!" a verse thereof (5) bowing the body and tranquillity [or gravity] therein (6) keeping the feet and legs still and in the same position, [whilst the rest of the body moves], and tranquillity therein (7) prostration and tranquillity therein (8) sitting between two prostrations and tranquillity therein (9) repeating the latter profession of the Faith and sitting up therefor (10) invoking benediction on the Prophet (whom God bless and preserve) (11) the first Salutation and (12) the intent of making an end of prayer, [expressed] in words. The Traditional statutes are the call to prayer, the repetition of the words of the latter, raising the hands to either side of the face, whilst pronouncing the magnification of prohibition, pronouncing the magnification before reciting the Fatiheh [First chapter of the Koran], seeking refuge with God, saying "Amen," repeating the (obligatory) chapter [of the Koran] after the Fatiheh, repeating the magnifications during change of posture, saying, "May God hear him who praiseth Him!" and "O our Lord, to Thee be the praise!" uttering aloud the prayers in their places and in like manner, under the breath, those so prescribed, the first testification and sitting up thereto, blessing the Prophet therein, blessing his family in the latter profession [or testification] and the second Salutation.' (Q.) 'On what is the poor-rate taxable?' (A.) 'On gold and silver and camels and oxen and sheep and wheat and barley and millet and beans and pulse and rice and raisins and dates.' (Q.) 'What is the poor-rate on gold ?' (A.) 'Below twenty dinars, nothing; but, on that amount and over, half a dinar for every score.' (Q.) 'On silver?' (A.) 'Under two hundred dirhems, nothing; then, five dirhems on every two hundred.' (Q.) 'On camels?' (A.) 'For every five, an ewe, or for every twenty-five a pregnant camel.' (Q.) 'On sheep?' (A.) 'On forty and over, an ewe for every forty head.' (Q.) 'What are the ordinances of the Fast [of Ramazan]?' (A.) 'The Koranic are intent, abstinence from eating, drinking and copulation and stoppage of vomiting. It is incumbent on all who submit to the Law, save women in their courses and forty days after child-birth; and it becomes obligatory on sight of the new moon or on news of its appearance, brought by a trustworthy person and commending itself as truth to the hearer's heart; and among its requisites is that it be commenced by night. The Traditional ordinances of fasting are, hastening to break the fast, deferring the fore-dawn meal and abstaining from speech, save for good works and for calling on the name of God and reciting the Koran.' (Q.) 'What things vitiate not the fast?' (A.) 'The use of unguents and eye-powders and the dust of the road and the swallowing of one's spittle and the emission of seed in dreams of dalliance or at the sight of a strange woman and cupping and letting blood; none of these things vitiates the fast.' (Q.) 'What are the prayers of the two great [annual] Festivals?' (A.) 'Two one-bow prayers, after the traditional ordinance, without call to prayer or the repetition thereof by the devotee, who shall say, "Prayer is a collector of all folk!" and pronounce the magnification seven times in the first prayer, besides the magnification of prohibition, and in the second, five times, besides that of rising up, (according to the canon of the Imam Es Shafi, on whom God have mercy) and make the profession of the Faith.' (Q.) 'What are the prayers prescribed on the occasion of an eclipse of the sun or moon?' (A.) 'Two one-bow prayers, without call to prayer or repetition thereof by the devotee, who shall make in each two standings up and two inclinations and two prostrations, then sit up and testify and salute.' (Q.) 'What is the ritual of prayer for rain?' (A.) 'Two one-bow prayers, without call to prayer or repetition; then shall the devotee make the profession and salute. Moreover [the Imam] shall deliver an exhortation and (in place of the magnification, as in the two exhortations of the two great Festivals) ask pardon of God and reverse his mantle and pray and supplicate.' (Q.) 'What are the additional or occasional prayers?' (A.) 'The least is a one-bow prayer and the most eleven.' (Q.) 'What is the forenoon prayer?' (A.) 'At least, two one-bow prayers and at most, twelve.' (Q.) 'What is the service of seclusion?' (A.) 'It is a matter of Traditional ordinance.' (Q.) 'What are its conditions?' (A.) '(1) Expression of intent (2) not leaving the mosque save of necessity (3) not having to do with a woman (4) fasting and (5) abstaining from speech.' (Q.) 'Under what conditions is pilgrimage obligatory?' (A.) 'So a man be of full age and understanding and a true-believer and it be possible to him; and it is obligatory [on all], once before death.' (Q.) 'What are the Koranic statutes of the pilgrimage?'' (A.) '(1) Assumption of the pilgrim's habit (2) station at Arafat (3) compassing [the Kaabeh] (4) running [between Sefa and Merweh] and (5) [previous] shaving or clipping the hair.' (Q.) 'What are the Koranic statutes of the lesser pilgrimage?' (A.) 'Reassuming the pilgrim's habit and compassing and running [as before].' (Q.) 'What are the Koranic ordinances of the assumption of the pilgrim's habit?' (A.) 'Putting off sewn garments, forswearing perfume and ceasing to shave the head or cut the nails and avoiding the killing of game and copulation.' (Q.) 'What are the Traditional statutes of the pilgrimage?' (A.) '(1) The crying out, "Here I am, O our Lord!" (2) the circuitings [about the Kaabeh] of arrival [at] and departure [from Mecca] (3) the passing the night at Muzdelifeh and Mina and (4) the stone-throwing.' (Q.) 'What is the war in defence of the Faith and its essentials?' (A.) 'Its essentials are (1) the descent of the infidels upon us (2) the existence of the Imam (3) a state of [armed] preparation and (4) firmness in meeting the foe. Its ordinance is incital to battle, in that the Most High hath said, "O my Prophet, incite the faithful to battle!"' (Q.) 'What are the ordinances of buying and selling?' (A.) 'The Koranic are (1) offer and acceptance and (2) if the thing sold be a (white) slave, by whom one profiteth, to do one's endeavour to convert him to Islam and (3) to abstain from usury; the Traditional, resiliation and option before separating, after the saying of the Prophet, "The parties to a sale shall have the option [of cancelling or altering the terms of a bargain,] whilst they are yet unseparated."' (Q.) 'What is it forbidden to sell [or exchange] for what?' (A.) 'On this point I mind me of an authentic tradition, reported by Nafi of the Apostle of God, that he forbade the sale of dried dates for fresh and fresh figs for dry and jerked for fresh meat and cream for butter; in fine, of all eatables of one and the same kind, it is unlawful to sell some for other some.' When the professor heard her words and knew that she was keen of wit, ingenious and learned in jurisprudence and the Traditions and the interpretation of the Koran and what not else, he said in himself, 'Needs must I go about with her, that I may overcome her in the assembly of the Commander of the Faithful.' So he said to her, 'O damsel, what is the lexicographical meaning of the word wuzou?' And she answered, 'Cleanliness and freedom from impurities.' (Q.) 'And of prayer?' (A.) 'An invocation of good.' (Q.) 'And of ghusl?' (A.) 'Purification.' (Q.) 'And of fasting?' (A.) 'Abstention.' (Q.) 'And of zekat?' (A.) 'Increase.' (Q.) 'And of pilgrimage?' (A.) 'Visitation [or quest].' (Q.) 'And of jehad?' (A.) '[Endeavour in] repelling.' With this the doctor's arguments were exhausted, so he rose to his feet and said, 'Bear witness against me, O Commander of the Faithful, that this damsel is more learned than I am in the Law. Quoth she, 'I will ask thee somewhat, which do thou answer me speedily, an thou be indeed a learned man.' 'Say on,' quoth he; and she said, 'What are the arrows of the Faith?' 'They are ten in number,' answered he; 'to wit, (1) Testification, that is, religion (2) Prayer, that is, the Covenant (3) Alms, that is, purification (4) Fasting, that is, defensive armour (5) Pilgrimage, that is, the Law (6) Fighting for the Faith, that is, a general duty (7) Enjoining to beneficence and (8) Forbidding from iniquity, both of which are jealousy [for good] (9) The communion of the faithful, that is, sociableness, and (10) Seeking knowledge, that is, the praiseworthy way.' (Q.) 'What are the roots of Islam?' (A.) 'They are four in number, to wit, sincerity of belief, truth of purpose, observance of the limit [prescribed by the Law] and keeping the Covenant.' Then said she, 'I have one more question to ask thee, which if thou answer, [it is well]; else, I will take thy clothes.' Quoth he, 'Speak, O damsel;' and she said, 'What are the branches of Islam?' But he was silent and made no reply; and she said, 'Put off thy clothes, and I will expound them to thee.' Quoth the Khalif, 'Expound them, and I will make him put off his clothes for thee.' 'They are two-and-twenty in number,' answered she, 'to wit, (1) holding fast to the Book of God the Most High (2) taking example by His Apostle (whom God bless and preserve) (3) abstaining from doing evil (4) eating what is lawful and (5) avoiding what is unlawful (6) restoring things wrongfully taken to their owners (7) repentance (8) knowledge of the Law (9) love of [Abraham] the Friend [of God] (10) and of the followers of the Revelation (11) belief in the Apostles (12) fear of apostacy (13) preparation for departure (14) strength of conviction (15) clemency in time of power (16) strength in time of weakness (17) patience under affliction (18) knowledge of God the Most High and (19) of what His Prophet hath made known to us (20) gainsaying Iblis the accursed (21) striving earnestly against the lusts of the soul and gainsaying them and (22) guiltlessness of believing in any other god but God.'
When the Commander of the Faithful heard her words, he bade the doctor put off his clothes and hood; and he did so and went forth, beaten and confounded, from the Khalif's presence. Thereupon arose another man and said to her, 'O damsel, hear a few questions from me.' 'Say on,' quoth she; and he said, 'What are the conditions of valid [purchase by] payment in advance?' 'That the amount [of the thing bought], the kind and the period [of delivery to the purchaser], be [fixed or] known,' replied she. (Q.) 'What are the Koranic canons of eating?' (A.) 'The confession [by the eater] that God the Most High provideth him and giveth him to eat and drink and thanksgiving to Him therefor.' (Q.) 'What is thanksgiving?' (A.) 'The use by the creature of that which God vouchsafeth to him in the manner and to the ends for which He hath created it.' (Q.) 'What are the Traditional canons of eating?' (A.) 'The [preliminary] naming [of God] and washing the hands, sitting on the left buttock, eating with three fingers and eating of that which is chewed.' (Q.) 'What are the civilities of eating?' (A.) 'Taking small mouthfuls and looking little at one's table-companion.' (Q.) 'What are the heart's stays [or articles of faith] and their correlatives?' (A.) 'They are three in number, to wit, (1) holding fast to the Faith, the correlative whereof is the shunning of infidelity, (2) holding fast to the Traditional Law and its correlative, the shunning of innovation [or heresy] and (3) holding fast to obedience and its correlative, the shunning of disobedience.' (Q.) 'What are the conditions of ablution?' (A.) '(1) Submission to the will of God (2) possession of discernment of good and evil [or having attained the age of discretion] (3) purity of the water and (4) absence of legal or material impediments.' (Q.) 'What is belief?' (A.) 'It is divided into nine parts, to wit, (1) belief in the One worshipped (2) belief in the condition of slavery [of the worshipper] (3) belief in one God, to the exclusion of all others (4) belief in the Two Handfuls (5) belief in Providence (6) belief in the Abrogating and (7) in the Abrogated (8) belief in God, His angels and apostles and (9) in fore-ordained Fate, general and particular, its good and ill, sweet and bitter.' (Q.) 'What three things do away other three?' (A.) 'It is told of Sufyan eth Thauri that he said, "Three things do away other three. Making light of the pious doth away the future life, making light of kings doth away [this] life and making light of expenditure doth away wealth."' (Q.) 'What are the keys of the heavens, and how many gates have they?' (A.) 'Quoth God the Most High, "And heaven shall be opened, and it shall be [all] doors," and quoth he whom God bless and keep, "None knoweth the number of the gates of heaven, save He who created it, and there is no son of Adam but hath two gates allotted to him in the skies, one whereby his subsistence cometh down and another where-through his works [good and evil] ascend. The former is not closed, save when his term of life comes to an end, nor the latter, till his soul ascends [for judgment]."' (Q.) 'Tell me of a thing and a half thing and a no-thing.' (A.) 'The thing is the believer, the half thing the hypocrite and the no-thing the infidel.' (Q.) 'Tell me of various kinds of hearts.' (A.) 'There is the whole [or perfect] heart, which is that of [Abraham] the Friend [of God], the sick heart, that of the infidel, the contrite heart, that of the pious, fearful ones, the heart consecrated to God, that of our Lord Mohammed (whom God bless and preserve) and the enlightened [or enlightening] heart, that of those who follow him. The hearts of the learned are of three kinds, to wit, those that are in love with this world, with the next and with their Lord; and it is said that hearts are three, the suspended, that of the infidel, the non-existent [or lost], that of the hypocrite, and the constant [or firm], that of the true-believer. Moreover, it is said that the latter is of three kinds, namely, the heart dilated with light and faith, that wounded with fear of estrangement and that which feareth to be forsaken of God.'
Quoth the second doctor, 'Thou hast said well;' whereupon said she to the Khalif, 'O Commander of the Faithful, he has questioned me, till he is weary, and now I will ask him two questions. If he answer them, it is well, and if not, I will take his clothes and he shall depart in peace.' Quoth the doctor, 'Ask me what thou wilt,' and she said, 'What is religion?' 'Religion,' answered he, 'is confession with the tongue and belief with the heart and doing with the members. Quoth the Prophet, "The believer is not perfect in belief, except five qualities be accomplished in him, namely, trust in God, committal of his affair to Him, submission to His commandment, acquiescence in His decrees and that he do all for His sake; so is he of those who are acceptable to God and who give and withhold for His sake, and he is perfect in belief."' Then said she, 'What is the Koranic ordinance of ordinances and the ordinance which is the preliminary of all ordinances and that of which all others stand in need and that which comprehendeth all others, and what is the Traditional ordinance that entereth into the Koranic, and that whereby the latter is completed?' But he was silent and made no reply; whereupon the Khalif bade her expound and ordered him to doff his clothes and give them to her. 'O doctor,' said she, 'the Koranic ordinance of ordinances is the knowledge of God the Most High; that, which is the preliminary of all others, is the testifying that there is no god but God and that Mohammed is His apostle; that, of which all others have need, is ablution; that, which compriseth all others, is that of [total] ablution from [ceremonial] defilement; the Traditional ordinance, that enters into the Koranic, is the separation of the fingers and the thick beard; and that, wherewith all Koranic ordinances are completed, is circumcision.' Therewith was manifest the insufficiency of the doctor, who rose to his feet and said, 'I call God to witness, O Commander of the Faithful, that this damsel is more learned than I in the Law and what pertains thereto.' So saying, he put off his clothes and went away, defeated.
Then turned she to the rest of the learned men present and said, 'O masters, which of you is the reader, versed in the seven readings and in syntax and lexicography?' Thereupon the professor arose and seating himself before her, said, 'Hast thou read the Book of God the Most High and made thyself throughly acquainted with its verses and its various parts, abrogating and abrogated, equivocal and unequivocal, Meccan and Medinan? Dost thou understand its interpretation and hast thou studied it, according to the various versions and readings?' 'Yes,' answered she; and he said, 'What, then, is the number of its chapters, how many are Meccan and how many Medinan? How many verses and decades does it contain, how many words and how many letters and how many acts of prostration and how many prophets and birds are mentioned in it?' 'It contains a hundred and fourteen chapters,' replied she, 'whereof threescore and ten were revealed at Mecca and forty and four at Medina, six thousand three hundred and thirty-six verses, six hundred and twenty-one decades, seventy-nine thousand four hundred and thirty-nine words and three hundred and twenty- three thousand and six hundred and seventy letters; and to the reader thereof, for every letter, accrue ten benefits. The acts of prostration it contains are fourteen in number, and five-and-twenty prophets are named therein, to wit, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Elisha, Jonah, Lot, Salih, Houd, Shuaib, David, Solomon, Dhoulkifl, Idris, Elias, Yehya, Zacharias, Job, Moses, Aaron, Jesus and Mohammed, the peace of God and His blessing be on them all! Moreover, nine birds [or flying things] are mentioned in the Koran, namely, the gnat, the bee, the fly, the ant, the hoopoe, the crow, the locust, the bustard and the bird of Jesus (on whom be peace), to wit, the bat.' (Q.) 'Which is the most excellent chapter of the Koran?' (A.) 'That of the Cow.' (Q.) 'Which is the most magnificent verse?' (A.) 'That of the Throne; it has fifty words, in each fifty blessings.' (Q.) 'What verse hath in it nine signs [or wonders]?' (A.) 'That in which quoth God the Most High, "Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of night and day and the ship that runneth in the sea with what profiteth mankind and in what God sendeth down from heaven of water and quickeneth therewith the earth, after its dearth, and spreadeth abroad therein all manner cattle, and the shifting of the winds and the clouds, pressed into service betwixt heaven and earth, are signs for folk who understand."' (Q.) 'Which is the most just?' (A.) 'That in which God saith, "Verily, God commandeth to justice and beneficence and giving to those that are near unto us and forbiddeth from profligacy and iniquity and oppression."' (Q.) 'Which is the most yearnful?' (A.) 'That in which quoth God, "Shall every man of them yearn to enter a garden of delight?"' (Q.) 'Which is the most hopeful?' (A.) 'That in which quoth God the Most High, "Say, 'O ye my servants, that have transgressed against your own souls, despair not of the mercy of God! Indeed, God forgiveth sins, all of them, for He is the Forgiving, the Compassionate.'"' (Q.) 'By what version dost thou read?' (A.) 'By that of the people of Paradise, to wit, the version of Nafi.' (Q.) 'In which verse doth God make prophets lie?' (A.) 'In that wherein He saith, "They [the brothers of Joseph] brought lying blood upon his shirt."' (Q.) 'In which doth He make infidels speak the truth?' (A.) 'In that wherein He saith, "The Jews say, 'The Nazarenes are [grounded] on nought,' and the Nazarenes say, 'The Jews are [grounded] on nought;' and [yet] they [both] read the Scripture." And [in this] both speak the truth.' (Q.) 'In which doth God speak in His own person [in the singular]?' (A.) 'In that in which He saith, "Neither have I created Jinn and men, but that they should worship."' (Q.) 'In which do the angels speak?' (A.) 'In that which saith, "We celebrate Thy praises and hallow Thee."' (Q.) 'What sayst thou of the formula, "I seek refuge with God from Satan the Stoned"?' (A.) 'It is obligatory, by commandment of God, on all who read the Koran, as appears by His saying, "When thou readest the Koran, seek refuge with God from Satan the Stoned."' (Q.) 'What are the words and variants of the formula?' (A.) 'Some say, "I take refuge with God the All-hearing and knowing, etc.," and others, "With God the Strong;" but the best is that of which the noble Koran and the Traditions speak. The Prophet was used, whenas he was about to open the Koran, to say, "I take refuge with God from Satan the Stoned." And quoth a Tradition, reported by Nafi on the authority of his [adopted] father, "The apostle of God used, when he rose in the night to pray, to say aloud, 'God is Most Great, with [all] greatness! Praise be to God abundantly! Glory to God morning and evening!' Then would he say, 'I seek refuge with God from Satan the Stoned and from the instigations of the Devils and their evil suggestions."' And it is told of Ibn Abbas (of whom God accept) that he said, "The first time Gabriel came down to the Prophet [with a portion of the Koran,] he taught him [the formula of] seeking refuge, saying, 'O Mohammed, say, "I seek refuge with God the All-hearing and knowing;" then say, "In the name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful!" And read, in the name of thy Lord who created men from clotted blood.'"' (Q.) 'What sayst thou of the verse, "In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful"? Is it one of the verses of the Koran?' (A.) 'Yes; it is a verse of "The ant" and occurs also [at the head of the first and] between every two [following] chapters; and there is much difference of opinion, respecting this, among the learned.' (Q.) 'Why is not the formula written at the head of the chapter of Immunity?' (A.) 'When this chapter was revealed for the dissolution of the alliance between the Prophet and the idolaters, the former sent Ali ibn Abi Talib (whose face God honour) therewith [from Medina to Mecca] at the season of the greater pilgrimage; and he read the chapter to them, but did not read "In the name, etc."' (Q.) 'What of the excellence of the formula and the blessing that attaches to it?' (A.) 'It is told of the Prophet that he said, "Never is 'In the name, etc.' pronounced over aught, but there is a blessing in it;" and it is reported, on his authority, that the Lord of Glory swore by His glory that never should the formula be pronounced over a sick person, but he should be healed of his sickness. Moreover, it is said that, when God created the empyreal heaven, it was agitated with an exceeding agitation; but He wrote on it, "In the name, etc.," and its agitation subsided. When the formula was first revealed to the Prophet, he said, "I am safe from three things, earthquake and metamorphosis and drowning;" and indeed its virtues are great and its blessings too many to enumerate. It is told of the Prophet that he said, "There will be brought before God, on the judgment day, a man with whom He shall reckon and finding no good deed to his account, shall order him to the fire; but the man will say, 'O my God, Thou hast not dealt justly by me!' Then shall God (to whom belong might and majesty) say, 'How so?' and the man will answer, saying, 'O Lord, for that Thou callest Thyself the Compassionate, the Merciful, yet wilt Thou punish me with the fire!' And God (extolled be His majesty) shall say, 'I did indeed name myself the Compassionate, the Merciful. Carry My servant to Paradise, of My mercy, for I am the most Merciful of those that have mercy.'"' (Q.) 'What was the origin of the use of the formula?' (A.) 'When God revealed the Koran, they wrote, "In Thy name, O my God!"; when He revealed the words, "Say, pray ye to God or pray ye to the Compassionate, what days ye pray, for to Him [belong] the most fair names," they wrote, "In the name of God, the Compassionate;" and when He revealed the words, "Your God is one God, there is no god but He, the Compassionate, the Merciful," they wrote, "In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful!"' (Q.) 'Did God reveal the Koran all at once or at intervals?' (A.) 'Gabriel the Faithful [Spirit] (on whom be peace) descended with it from the Lord of the Worlds upon His Prophet Mohammed, Prince of the Apostles and seal of the Prophets, by detached verses, containing commandment and prohibition, promise and menace, anecdotes and similitudes, as the occasion called for it, in the course of twenty years.' (Q.) 'Which chapter was first revealed?' (A.) 'According to Ibn Abbas, that of the Clot of Blood, and according to Jabir ben Abdallah, that of the Covered [with a cloak].' (Q.) 'Which verse was the last revealed?' (A.) 'That of Usury, and it is said [also], the verse, "When there cometh God's succour and victory."' (Q.) 'Tell me the names of the Companions who collected the Koran, in the lifetime of the Apostle of God.' (A.) 'They were four in number, to wit, Ubaï ibn Kaab, Zeid ibn Thabit, Abou Ubeideh Aamir ben Jerrah and Othman ben Affan, may God accept of them all!' (Q.) 'Who are the readers, from whom the [accepted] reading of the Koran is taken?' (A.) 'They are four in number, namely, Abdallah ben Mesoud, Ubaï ben Kaab, Maadh ben Jebel and Salim ben Abdallah.' (Q.) 'What sayst thou of the words of the Most High, "That which is sacrificed to stones"?' (A.) 'The stones are idols, which are set up and worshipped, instead of God the Most High, and [from this] we seek refuge with Him.' (Q.) 'What sayst thou of the words of the Most High, "[Quoth Jesus] Thou knowest what is in my soul, and I know not what is in Thy soul"?' (A.) 'They mean "Thou [God] knowest the truth of me and what is in me and I [Jesus] know not what is in Thee;" and the proof of this are his words, "Thou [God] art He that knoweth the hidden things;" and it is said, also, "Thou [God] knowest my essence, but I [man] know not Thine essence."' (Q.) 'What sayst thou of the words of the Most High, "O ye that believe, deny not yourselves the good things that God hath made lawful to you!"?' (A.) 'My master (on whom God have mercy) told me that Ez Zuhak said, "There was a people of the true-believers who said, 'We will dock our yards and don sackcloth;' whereupon this verse was revealed." But El Cutadeh says that it was revealed on account of sundry Companions of the Apostle of God, Ali ibn Abi Talib and Othman ben Musaab and others, who said, "We will dock ourselves and don hair [cloth] and make us monks."' (Q.) 'What sayst thou of the words of the Most High, "And God took Abraham to friend"?' (A.) 'The friend [of God] is the needy, the poor, and (according to another saying) he is the lover, he who is absorbed in the love of God the Most High and in whose exclusive devotion there is no falling away.'
When the professor saw her pass on in speech with the passing of the clouds and that she stayed not in answering, he rose to his feet and said, 'I take God to witness, O Commander of the Faithful, that this damsel is more learned than I in Koranic exegesis and what pertains thereto.' Then said she, 'I will ask thee one question, which if thou answer, it is well: but if thou answer not, I will strip off thy clothes.' 'Ask on,' quoth the Khalif; and she said, 'Which verse of the Koran has in it three-and-twenty Kafs, which sixteen Mims, which a hundred and forty Ains, and which section lacks the formula, "To whom [God] belong might and majesty"?' He could not answer, and she said to him, 'Put off thy clothes.' So he doffed them, and she said, 'O Commander of the Faithful, the verse of the sixteen Mims is in the chapter Houd and is the saying of the Most High, "It was said, 'O Noah, go down in peace from us, and blessing upon thee!'"; that of the three-and-twenty Kafs is the verse called of the Faith, in the chapter of the Cow; that of the hundred and forty Ains is in the chapter of El Aaraf, "And Moses chose seventy men of his tribe to [attend] our appointed time; to each man a pair of eyes." And the set portion which lacks the formula, "To whom [God] belong might and majesty," is that which comprises the chapters "The Hour draweth nigh and the Moon is cloven in twain," "The Compassionate" and "The Event."' And the professor departed in confusion.
Then came forward the skilled physician and said to her, 'We have done with theology and come now to physiology. Tell me, therefore, how is man made, how many veins, bones and vertebræ are there in his body, which is the chief vein and why Adam was named Adam?' 'Adam was called Adam,' answered she, 'because of the udmeh, to wit, the tawny colour of his complexion and also (it is said) because he was created of the adim of the earth, that is to say, of the soil of its surface. His breast was made of the earth of the Kaabeh, his head of earth from the East and his legs of earth from the West. There were created for him seven doors [or openings] in his head, to wit, the eyes, the ears, the nostrils and the mouth, and two passages, the urethra and the anus. The eyes were made the seat of the sense of sight, the ears of that of hearing, the nostrils of that of smell, the mouth of that of taste and the tongue to speak forth what is in the innermost heart of man. Adam was originally created of four elements combined, water, earth, fire and air. The yellow bile is the humour of fire, being hot and dry, the black bile that of earth, being cold and dry, the phlegm that of water, being cold and moist, and the blood that of air, being hot and moist. There are in man three hundred and threescore veins, two hundred and forty bones and three souls [or natures], the animal, the rational and the essential or [natural], to each of which is allotted a separate function. Moreover, God made him a heart and spleen and lungs and six guts and a liver and two kidneys and marrow [or brain] and buttocks and bones and skin and five senses, hearing, seeing, smell, taste and touch. The heart He set on the left side of the breast and made the stomach the exemplar [or governor] thereof. He appointed the lungs for a ventilator to the heart and set the liver on the right side, opposite thereto. Moreover, He made, besides this, the midriff and the intestines and set up the bones of the breast and ribbed them with the ribs.' (Q.) 'How many ventricles are there in a man's head?' (A.) 'Three, which contain five faculties, styled the intrinsic senses, i.e. common sense, fancy, thought, apperception and memory.' (Q.) 'Describe to me the scheme of the bones.' (A.) 'It consists of two hundred and forty bones, which are divided into three parts, the head, the trunk and the extremities. The head is divided into skull and face. The skull is constructed of eight bones, and to it are attached the teeth, two-and- thirty in number, and the hyoïd bone, one. The trunk is divided into spinal column, breast and basin. The spinal column is made up of four-and-twenty bones, called vertebræ, the breast of the breastbone and the ribs, which are four-and-twenty in number, twelve on each side, and the basin of the hips, the sacrum and the coccyx. The extremities are divided into arms and legs. The arms are again divided into shoulder, comprising shoulder-blades and collar-bone, the upper- arm, one bone, the fore-arm, composed of two bones, the radius and the ulna, and the hand, consisting of the wrist, the metacarpus and the fingers. The wrist is composed of eight bones, ranked in two rows, each comprising four bones; the metacarpus of five and the fingers, which are five in number, of three bones each, called the phalanges, except the thumb, which has but two. The lower extremities are divided into thigh, one bone, leg, composed of three bones, the tibia, the fibula and the kneepan, and the foot, divided like the hand, with the exception of the wrist, which is composed of seven bones, ranged in two rows, two in one and five in the other.' (Q.) 'Which is the root of the veins?' (A.) 'The aorta from which they ramify, and they are many, none knoweth the tale of them save He who created them; but, as I have before observed, it is said that they are three hundred and threescore in number. Moreover, God hath appointed the tongue to interpret [for the thought], the eyes to serve as lanterns, the nostrils to smell with, and the hands for prehensors. The liver is the seat of pity, the spleen of laughter and the kidneys of craft; the lungs are the ventilators, the stomach the storehouse and the heart the pillar [or mainstay] of the body. When the heart is sound, the whole body is sound, and when the heart is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt.' (Q.) 'What are the outward signs and symptoms of disease in the members of the body, both internal and external?' (A.) 'A physician, who is a man of understanding, looks into the state of the body and is guided by the feel of the hands, according as they are firm [or flabby], hot or cool, moist or dry. Internal disorders are also indicated by external symptoms, such as yellowness of the [whites of the] eyes, which denotes jaundice, and bending of the back, which denotes disease of the lungs.' (Q.) 'What are the internal symptoms of disease?' (A.) 'The science of the diagnosis of disease by internal symptoms is founded upon six canons, to wit, (1) the actions [of the patient] (2) what is evacuated from his body (3) the nature and (4) site of the pain he feels (5) swelling and (6) the effluvia given off by his body.' (Q.) 'How cometh hurt to the head?' (A.) 'By the introduction of food upon food, before the first be digested, and by satiety upon satiety; this it is that wasteth peoples. He who will live long, let him be early with the morning-meal and not late with the evening-meal; let him be sparing of commerce with women and chary of cupping and blood-letting and make of his belly three parts, one for food, one for drink and the third for air; for that a man's intestines are eighteen spans in length and it befits that he appoint six for food, six for drink, and six for air. If he walk, let him go gently; it will be wholesomer for him and better for his body and more in accordance with the saying of God the Most High, "Walk not boisterously [or proudly] upon the earth."' (Q.) 'What are the symptoms of yellow bile and what is to be feared there-from?' (A.) 'The symptoms are, sallow complexion and dryness and bitter taste in the mouth, failure of the appetite, and rapid pulse; and the patient has to fear high fever and delirium and prickly heat and jaundice and tumour and ulceration of the bowels and excessive thirst.' (Q.) 'What are the symptoms of black bile and what has the patient to fear from it, if it get the mastery of the body?' (A.) 'The symptoms are deceptive appetite and great mental disquiet and care and anxiety; and it behoves that it be evacuated, else it will generate melancholy and leprosy and cancer and disease of the spleen and ulceration of the bowels.' (Q.) 'Into how many branches is the art of medicine divided?' (A.) 'Into two: the art of diagnosing diseases and that of restoring the diseased body to health.' (Q.) 'When is the drinking of medicine more efficacious than otherwhen?' (A.) 'When the sap runs in the wood and the grape thickens in the cluster and the auspicious planets are in the ascendant, then comes in the season of the efficacy of drinking medicine and the doing away of disease.' (Q.) 'What time is it, when, if a man drink from a new vessel, the drink is wholesomer and more digestible to him than at another time, and there ascends to him a pleasant and penetrating fragrance?' (A.) 'When he waits awhile after eating, as quoth the poet:
I rede thee drink not after food in haste, but tarry still; Else with a halter wilt thou lead thy body into ill. Yea, wait a little after thou hast eaten, brother mine; Then drink, and peradventure thus shalt thou attain unto thy will.'
(Q.) 'What food is it that giveth not rise to ailments?' (A.) 'That which is not eaten but after hunger, and when it is eaten, the ribs are not filled with it, even as saith Galen the physician, "Whoso will take in food, let him go slowly and he shall not go wrong." To end with the saying of the Prophet, (whom God bless and preserve,) "The stomach is the home of disease, and abstinence is the beginning of cure, for the origin of every disease is indigestion, that is to say, corruption of the meat in the stomach."' (Q.) 'What sayst thou of the bath?' (A.) 'Let not the full man enter it. Quoth the Prophet, "The bath is the delight of the house, for that it cleanseth the body and calleth to mind the fire [of hell]."' (Q.) 'What waters are best for bathing?' (A.) 'Those whose waters are sweet and plains wide and whose air is pleasant and wholesome, its climate [or seasons] being fair, autumn and summer and winter and spring.' (Q.) 'What kind of food is the most excellent?' (A.) 'That which women make and which has not cost overmuch trouble and which is readily digested. The most excellent of food is brewis, according to the saying of the Prophet, "Brewis excels other food, even as Aaïsheh excels other women."' (Q.) 'What kind of seasoning is most excellent?' (A.) 'Flesh meat (quoth the Prophet) is the most excellent of seasonings; for that it is the delight of this world and the next.' (Q.) 'What kind of meat is the most excellent?' (A.) 'Mutton; but jerked meat is to be avoided, for there is no profit in it.' (Q.) 'What of fruits?' (A.) 'Eat them in their prime and leave them when their season is past.' (Q.) 'What sayst thou of drinking water?' (A.) 'Drink it not in large quantities nor by gulps, or it will give thee the headache and cause divers kinds of harm; neither drink it immediately after the bath nor after copulation or eating (except it be after the lapse of fifteen minutes for a young and forty for an old man) or waking from sleep.' (Q.) 'What of drinking wine?' (A.) 'Doth not the prohibition suffice thee in the Book of God the Most High, where He saith, "Verily, wine and casting lots and idols and divining arrows are an abomination of the fashion of the Devil: shun them, so surely shall ye thrive." And again, "If they ask thee of wine and casting lots, say, 'In them are great sin and advantages to mankind, but the sin of them is greater than the advantage.'" Quoth the poet:
O wine-bibber, art not ashamed and afraid To drink of a thing that thy Maker forbade? Come, put the cup from thee and mell with it not, For wine and its drinker God still doth upbraid.
And quoth another:
I drank the sweet sin till my wit went astray: 'Tis ill drinking of that which doth reason away.
As for the useful qualities that are therein, it disperses gravel from the kidneys and strengthens the bowels, banishes care, moves to generosity and preserves health and digestion. It assains the body, expels disease from the joints, purifies the frame of corrupt humours, engenders cheerfulness and gladdens and keeps up the natural heat. It contracts the bladder, strengthens the liver and removes obstructions, reddens the face, clears away cobwebs from the brain and defers gray hairs. In short, had not God (to whom belong might and majesty) forbidden it, there were not on the face of the earth aught fit to stand in its place. As for drawing lots, it is a game of hazard.' (Q.) 'What wine is the best?' (A.) 'That which is pressed from white grapes and ferments fourscore days or more: it resembleth not water and indeed there is nothing on the surface of the earth like unto it.' (Q.) 'What of cupping?' (A.) 'It is for him who is [over] full of blood and has no defect therein. Whoso will be cupped, let it be at the wane of the moon, on a day without cloud or wind or rain and the seventeenth of the month. If it fall on a Tuesday, it will be the more efficacious, and nothing is more salutary for the brain and eyes and for clearing the memory than cupping.' (Q.) 'What is the best time for cupping?' (A.) 'One should be cupped fasting, for this fortifies the wit and the memory. It is reported of the Prophet that, when any one complained to him of a pain in the head or legs, he would bid him be cupped and not eat salt [meat] fasting, for it engendered scurvy, neither eat sour milk immediately after [cupping].' (Q.) 'When is cupping to be avoided?' (A.) 'On Wednesdays and Saturdays, and let him who is cupped on these days blame none but himself. Moreover, one should not be cupped in very hot nor in very cold weather; and the best season for cupping is Spring.' (Q.) 'Tell me of copulation.'
At this Taweddud hung her head, for shame and confusion before the Khalif; then said, 'By Allah, O Commander of the Faithful, it is not that I am at fault, but that I am ashamed, though, indeed, the answer is on the tip of my tongue.' 'Speak, O damsel,' said the Khalif; whereupon quoth she, 'Copulation hath in it many and exceeding virtues and praiseworthy qualities, amongst which are, that it lightens a body full of black bile and calms the heat of love and engenders affection and dilates the heart and dispels sadness; and the excess of it is more harmful in summer and autumn than in spring and winter.' (Q.) 'What are its good effects?' (A.) 'It doth away trouble and disquiet, calms love and chagrin and is good for ulcers in a cold and dry humour; but excess of it weakens the sight and engenders pains in the legs and head and back: and beware, beware of having to do with old women, for they are deadly. Quoth the Imam Ali, (whose face God honour), "Four things kill and ruin the body: bathing on a full stomach, eating salt meat, copulation on a plethora [of blood] and lying with an ailing woman; for she will weaken thy strength and infect thy body with sickness; and an old woman is deadly poison." And quoth one of them, "Beware of taking an old woman to wife, though she be richer in goods than Caroun."' (Q.) 'What is the best copulation?' (A.) 'If the woman be young, well-shaped, fair of face, swelling-breasted and of honourable extraction, she will add to thee strength and health of body; and let her be even as saith the poet, describing her:
Even by thy looks, I trow, she knows what thou desir'st, By instinct, without sign or setting forth of sense; And when thou dost behold her all-surpassing grace, Her charms enable thee with gardens to dispense.'
(Q.) 'At what time is copulation good?' (A.) 'If by day, after the morning-meal, and if by night, after food digested.' (Q.) 'What are the most excellent fruits?' (A.) 'The pomegranate and the citron.' (Q.) 'Which is the most excellent of vegetables?' (A.) 'The endive.' (Q.) 'Which of sweet-scented flowers?' (A.) 'The rose and the violet.' (Q.) 'How is sperma hominis secreted?' (A.) 'There is in man a vein that feeds all the other veins. Water [or blood] is collected from the three hundred and threescore veins and enters, in the form of red blood, the left testicle, where it is decocted, by the heat of man's temperament, into a thick, white liquid, whose odour is as that of the palm-spathe.' (Q.) 'What bird [or flying thing] is it that emits seed and menstruates?' (A.) 'The bat, that is, the rere-mouse.' (Q.) 'What is that which, when it is shut out [from the air], lives, and when it smells the air, dies?' (A.) 'The fish.' (Q.) 'What serpent lays eggs?' (A.) 'The dragon.'
With this the physician was silent, being weary with much questioning, and Taweddud said to the Khalif, 'O Commander of the Faithful, he hath questioned me till he is weary, and now I will ask him one question, which if he answer not, I will take his clothes as lawful prize.' 'Ask on,' quoth the Khalif. So she said to the physician, 'What is that which resembles the earth in [plane] roundness, whose resting-place and spine are hidden, little of value and estimation, narrow-chested, its throat shackled, though it be no thief nor runaway slave, thrust through and through, though not in fight, and wounded, though not in battle; time eats its vigour and water wastes it away; now it is beaten without a fault and now made to serve without stint; united after separation, submissive, but not to him who caresses it, pregnant without a child in its belly, drooping, yet not leaning on its side, becoming dirty yet purifying itself, cleaving to [its mate], yet changing, copulating without a yard, wrestling without arms, resting and taking its ease, bitten, yet not crying out, [now] more complaisant than a boon-companion and [anon] more troublesome than summer-heat, leaving its wife by night and clipping her by day and having its abode in the corners of the mansions of the noble?' The physician was silent and his colour changed and he bowed his head awhile in perplexity and made no reply; whereupon she said to him, 'O physician, speak or put off thy clothes.' At this, he rose and said, 'O Commander of the Faithful, bear witness against me that this damsel is more learned than I in medicine and what else and that I cannot cope with her.' And he put off his clothes and fled forth. Quoth the Khalif to Taweddud, 'Expound to us thy riddle,' and she replied, 'O Commander of the Faithful, it is the button and the button loop.'
Then said she, 'Let him of you who is an astronomer come forward.' So the astronomer came forward and sat down before her. When she saw him, she laughed and said, 'Art thou the astronomer, the mathematician, the scribe?' 'Yes,' answered he. 'Ask of what thou wilt,' quoth she; 'success rests with God.' So he said, 'Tell me of the sun and its rising and setting?' And she replied, 'The sun rises in the Eastern hemisphere and sets in the Western, and each hemisphere comprises ninescore degrees. Quoth God the Most High, "Verily, I swear by the Lord of the places of the sunrise and of the sunsetting." And again, "He it is who appointed the sun for a splendour and the moon for a light and ordained to her mansions, that ye might know the number of the years and the reckoning." The moon is Sultan of the night and the sun Sultan of the day, and they vie with one another in their courses and follow each other in uninterrupted succession. Quoth God the Most High, "It befits not that the sun overtake the moon nor that the night prevent the day, but each glides in [its own] sphere."' (Q.) 'When the day cometh, what becomes of the night, and what of the day, when the night cometh?' (A.) 'He maketh the night to enter into the day and the day into the night.' (Q.) 'Enumerate to me the mansions of the moon.' (A.) 'They are eight-and-twenty in number, to wit, Sheretan, Butain, Thureya, Deberan, Hecaäh, Henaäh, Dhiraa, Nethreh, Terf, Jebheh, Zubreh, Serfeh, Awwaa, Simak and Ghefr, Zubaniya, Iklil, Kelb, Shauleh, Naaïm, Beldeh, Saad edh Dhabih, Saad el Bulaa, Saad el Akhbiyeh, Saad es Suwoud, Fergh the Former and Fergh the Latter and Rishaa. They are disposed in the order of the letters of the alphabet, according to their numerical power, and there are in them secret virtues which none knoweth save God (glorified and exalted be He) and those who are firmly stablished in science. They are divided among the twelve signs of the Zodiac, in the ratio of two mansions and a third of a mansion to each sign. Thus Sheretan, Butain and one-third of Thureya belong to Aries, the other two- thirds of Thureya, Deberan and two thirds of Hecaäh to Taurus, the other third of Hecaäh, Henaäh and Dhiraa to Gemini, Nethreh, Terf, and a third of Jebheh to Cancer, the other two-thirds of Jebheh, Zubreh and two-thirds of Serfeh to Leo, the other third of Serfeh, Awwaa and Simak to Virgo, Ghefr, Zubaniya and one-third of Iklil to Libra, the other two-thirds of Iklil, Kelb and two- thirds of Shauleh to Scorpio, the other third of Shauleh, Naaïm and Beldeh to Sagittarius, Saad edh Dhabih, Saad el Bulaa and one-third of Saad es Suwoud to Capricorn, the other two-thirds of Saad es Suwoud, Saad el Akbiyeh and two-thirds of Fergh the Former to Aquarius, the other third of Fergh the Former, Fergh the Latter and Rishaa to Pisces.' (Q.) 'Tell me of the planets and their natures, also of their sojourn in the signs of the Zodiac, their aspects, favourable and sinister, their houses, ascendants and descendants.' (A.) 'The sitting is narrow [for so comprehensive a matter], but they are seven in number, to wit, the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The sun is hot and dry, sinister in conjunction, favourable in opposition, and abides thirty days in each sign. The moon is cold and moist, favourable of aspect, and abides two days in each sign and a third of another day. Mercury is of a mixed nature, favourable [in conjunction] with the favourable and sinister [in conjunction] with the sinister [asterisms], and abides in each sign seventeen and a half days. Venus is temperate, favourable and abides in each sign five-and-twenty days. Mars is sinister and abides in each sign ten months. Jupiter is favourable and abides in each sign a year. Saturn is cold and dry and sinister and abides in each sign thirty months. The house of the sun is Leo, its ascendant is Aries and its descendant Aquarius. The moon's house is Cancer, its ascendant Taurus, its descendant Scorpio and its sinister aspect Capricorn. Saturn's house is Capricorn and Aquarius, its ascendant Libra, its descendant Aries and its sinister aspects Cancer and Leo. Jupiter's house is Pisces and Sagittarius, its ascendant Cancer, its descendant Capricorn and its sinister aspects Gemini and Leo. Venus's house is Taurus, its ascendant Pisces, its descendant Libra and its sinister aspects Aries and Scorpio. Mercury's house is Gemini and Virgo, its ascendant Virgo, its descendant Pisces and its sinister aspect Taurus. Mars's house is Aries and Scorpio, its ascendant Capricorn, its descendant Cancer and its sinister aspect Libra.'
When the astronomer saw her acuteness and skill and heard her fair answers, he bethought him for a device to confound her before the Commander of the Faithful and said to her, 'O damsel, will rain fall this month?' At this she bowed her head and pondered so long, that the Khalif thought her at a loss for an answer and the astronomer said to her, 'Why dost thou not speak?' Quoth she, 'I will not speak except the Commander of the Faithful give me leave.' The Khalif laughed and said, 'How so?' Said she, 'I would have thee give me a sword, that I may strike off his head, for he is an infidel.' At this the Khalif and those about him laughed, and she said, 'O astronomer, there are five things that none knoweth save God the Most High;' and she repeated the following verse: 'Verily, with God is the knowledge of the hour; He sendeth down the rain and knoweth what is in the wombs. None knoweth what the morrow shall bring forth for him nor in what land he shall die. Verily, God is the All-wise, the All-knowing.'
Quoth the astronomer, 'Thou hast said well, and by Allah, I thought but to try thee.' 'Know,' rejoined she, 'that the almanack-makers have certain signs and tokens, referring to the planets, relative to the coming in of the year, and in which are tribulations for the folk.' (Q.) 'What are they?' (A.) 'Each day hath a planet that rules it. So, if the first day of the year fall on a Sunday, that day is the sun's and this portends (though God alone is All-knowing) oppression of kings and sultans and governors and much miasma and lack of rain and that the folk will be in great disorder and the grain-crop will be good, except lentils, which will perish, and the vines will rot and flax will be dear and wheat cheap from the beginning of Toubeh to the end of Beremhat. Moreover, in this year there will be much fighting among kings, and there shall be great plenty of good in this year.' (Q.) 'What if the first day fall on Monday?' (A.) 'That day belongs to the moon and portends righteousness in administrators and deputies and that it will be a year of much rain and grain-crops will be good, but linseed will decay and wheat will be cheap in the month Keyehk; also that plagues will be rife and that half the sheep and goats will die, that grapes will be plentiful and honey scarce and cotton cheap.' (Q.) 'What if it fall on Tuesday?' (A.) 'That is Mars's day and portends death of great men and much destruction and outpouring of blood and dearness of grain, lack of rain and scarcity of fish, which will anon be in excess and anon fail [altogether]. In this year, lentils and honey will be cheap and linseed dear and only barley will thrive, to the exception of all other grain: great will be the fighting among kings and death will be in the blood and there will be much mortality among asses.' (Q.) 'What if it fall on Wednesday?' (A.) 'That is Mercury's day and portends great anarchy among the folk and much enmity and rotting of some of the green crops and moderate rains; also that there will be great mortality among cattle and infants and much fighting by sea, that wheat will be dear from Burmoudeh to Misra and other grains cheap: thunder and lightning will abound and honey will be dear, palm-trees will thrive and bear apace and flax and cotton will be plentiful, but radishes and onions will be dear.' (Q.) 'What if it fall on Thursday?' (A.) 'That is Jupiter's day and portends equity in viziers and righteousness in Cadis and fakirs and the ministers of religion and that good will be plentiful: rain and fruits and trees and grain and fish will abound and flax, cotton, honey and grapes be cheap.' (Q.) 'What if it fall on Friday?' (A.) 'That day belongs to Venus and portends oppression in the chiefs of the Jinn and talk of forgery and calumny; there will be much dew, the autumn crops will be good in the land and there will be cheapness in one town and not in another: lewdness will be rife by land and sea, linseed will be dear, also wheat, in Hatour, but cheap in Amshir: honey will be dear and grapes and melons will rot.' (Q.) 'What if it fall on Saturday?' (A.) 'That is Saturn's day and portends the preferment of slaves and Greeks and those in whom there is no good, neither in their neighbourhood; there will be great drought and scarcity; clouds will abound and death will be rife among mankind and woe to the people of Egypt and Syria from the oppression of the Sultan and failure of blessing upon the green crops and rotting of grain.'
With this, the astronomer hung his head, [being at an end of his questions], and she said to him, 'O astronomer, I will ask thee one question, which if thou answer not, I will take thy clothes.' 'Ask on,' replied he. Quoth she, 'Where is Saturn's dwelling place?' And he answered, 'In the seventh heaven.' (Q.) 'And that of Jupiter?' (A.) 'In the sixth heaven.' (Q.) 'And that of Mars?' (A.) 'In the fifth heaven.' (Q.) 'And that of the sun?' (A.) 'In the fourth heaven.' (Q.) 'And that of Venus?' (A.) 'In the third heaven.' (Q.) 'And that of Mercury?' (A.) 'In the second heaven.' (Q.) 'And that of the moon?' (A.) 'In the first heaven.' Quoth she, 'Well answered; but I have one more question to ask thee. Into how many parts are the stars divided?' But he was silent and answered nothing; and she said to him, 'Put off thy clothes.' So he put them off and she took them; after which the Khalif said to her, 'Tell us the answer to thy question.' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' answered she, 'the stars are divided into three parts, one whereof is hung in the sky of the earth, as it were lamps, to give light to the earth, another suspended in the air, to give light to the seas and that which is therein, and the third is used to transfix the demons withal, when they draw near by stealth to [listen to the talk of the angels in] heaven. Quoth God the Most High, "Verily, we have decked the sky of the earth with lamps and have appointed them for projectiles against the demons."' Quoth the astronomer, 'I have one more question to ask, which if she answer, I will avow myself beaten.' 'Say on,' answered she. Then said he, 'What four incompatible things are based upon other four incompatibles?' 'The four elements,' replied she; 'for of heat God created fire, which is by nature hot and dry; of dryness, earth, which is cold and dry; of cold, water, which is cold and moist; of moisture, air, which is hot and moist. Moreover, He created twelve signs of the Zodiac, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces and appointed them of four [several] humours, three, Aries, Leo and Sagittarius, fiery, Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn, earthy, Gemini, Libra and Aquarius, airy, and Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces, watery.' With this, the astronomer rose, and saying, 'Bear witness against me that she is more learned than I,' went away beaten.
Then said the Khalif, 'Where is the philosopher?' whereupon one came forward and said to Taweddud, 'What is Time?' 'Time,' answered she, 'is a name applied to the [lapse of the] hours of the day and night, which are but the measures of the courses of the sun and moon in their several orbits, even as God the Most High telleth us, when he saith, "And a sign to them [is] the night, from which we strip off the day, and behold, they are in darkness, and the sun runneth to a fixed abode, [appointed] to it; this is the ordinance of the Sublime, the All-knowing."' (Q.) 'How comes unbelief to the son of Adam?' (A.) 'It is reported of the Prophet that he said, "Unbelief runs in a man, as the blood runs in the veins, when he reviles the world and Time and night and the hour." And again, "Let none of you revile Time, for Time is God; neither the world, for it saith, 'May God not help him that reviles me!' neither the hour, for 'Verily, the hour cometh, without doubt;' neither the earth, for it is a portent, according to the saying of the Most High, 'From it we created you, to it we will return you and from it we will bring you forth yet again.'"' (Q.) 'What are the five that ate and drank, yet came not out of loins nor belly?' (A.) 'Adam and Simeon and Salih's she-camel and Ishmael's ram and the bird that Abou Bekr the Truth-teller saw in the cave.' (Q.) 'Tell me of five that are in Paradise and are neither mortals, Jinn nor angels?' (A.) 'Jacob's wolf and the Seven Sleepers' dog and Esdras's ass and Salih's camel and the Prophet's mule.' (Q.) 'What man prayed a prayer neither on earth nor in heaven?' (A.) 'Solomon [son of David], when he prayed on his carpet, borne by the wind.' (Q.) 'A man once looked at a handmaid in the morning, and she was unlawful to him; but, at noonday, she became lawful to him. By mid-afternoon, she was again unlawful, but at sundown, she was lawful to him. At evensong, she was a third time unlawful, but by daybreak, she became once more lawful to him.' (A.) 'This was a man who looked at another's handmaid in the morning, and she was then unlawful to him, but at midday he bought her, and she became lawful to him. At mid-afternoon he enfranchised her, and she became unlawful to him, but at sundown he married her and she was again lawful to him. At evensong, he divorced her and she was then a third time unlawful to him, but, next morning, at daybreak, he took her back, and she became once more lawful to him.' (Q.) 'Tell me what tomb fared on with him that lay buried therein?' (A.) 'The whale, when it had swallowed Jonah.' (Q.) 'What spot of ground is it, upon which the sun shone once, but will never again shine till the Day of Judgment?' (A.) 'The bottom of the Red Sea, when Moses smote it with his staff, and the sea clove asunder in twelve places, according to the number of the tribes; then the sun shone on the bottom and will do so never again till the Day of Judgment.' (Q.) 'What was the first skirt that trailed upon the surface of the earth?' (A.) 'That of Hagar, out of shame before Sarah, and it became a custom among the Arabs.' (Q.) 'What is that which breathes without life?' (A.) 'Quoth God the Most High, "By the morning, when it breathes!"' (Q.) 'A number of pigeons came to a high tree and lighted, some on the tree and others under it. Said those on the tree to those on the ground, "If one of you come up to us, ye will be a third part of us [all] in number; and if one of us descend to you, we shall be like unto you in number." How many pigeons were there in all?' (A.) 'Twelve: seven alighted on the tree and five beneath.'
With this the philosopher put off his clothes and fled forth: whereupon she turned to those present and said, 'Which of you is the rhetorician that can discourse of all kinds of knowledge?' There came forward Ibrahim ben Siyyar and said to her, 'Think me not like the rest.' Quoth she, 'It is the more sure to me that thou wilt be beaten, for that thou art a boaster, and God will help me against thee, that I may strip thee of thy clothes. So, if thou sentest one to fetch thee wherewithal to clothe thyself, it would be well for thee.' 'By Allah,' cried he, 'I will assuredly conquer thee and make thee a byword among the folk, generation after generation!' 'Do penance [in advance] for thy [void] oath,' rejoined she. Then said he, 'What five things did God create, before He made man?' And she replied, 'Water and earth and light and darkness and the fruits [of the earth].' (Q.) 'What did God create with the hand of omnipotence?' (A.) 'The empyreal heaven and the tree Touba and Adam and the garden of Eden; these God created with the hand of His omnipotence; but to all other created things He said, "Be,"--and they were.' (Q.) 'Who is thy father in Islam?' (A.) 'Mohammed, whom God bless and preserve!' (Q.) 'Who was the father [in Islam] of Mohammed?' (A.) 'Abraham the Friend of God.' (Q.) 'What is the Faith of Islam?' (A.) 'The professing that there is no god but God and that Mohammed is the apostle of God.' (Q.) 'What is thy first and thy last?' (A.) 'My first is troubled water and my last filthy carrion. The first of me is dust and the last dust. Quoth the poet:
Created wast thou of the dust and didst a man become, Ready in question and reply and fluent in debate. Then to the dust return'dst anon and didst become of it, For that, in very deed, of dust at first thou wast create.'
(Q.) 'What thing was it, whose first [state] was wood and its last life?' (A.) 'Moses' rod, when he cast it on the ground and it became, by permission of God, a writhing serpent.' (Q.) 'What is the meaning of the verse in the Koran, "And I have other need [or occasion] for it"?' (A.) 'He [Moses] was wont to plant his staff in the ground, and it would flower and fruit and shade him from the heat and the cold. Moreover, it would carry him, when he was weary, and guard his sheep from the wild beasts, whilst he slept.' (Q.) 'What woman was born of a man alone and what man of a woman alone?' (A.) 'Eve of Adam and Jesus of Mary.' (Q.) 'What fire eats and drinks, what fire eats but drinks not, what fire drinks but eats not and what other neither eats nor drinks?' (A.) 'Hellfire eats and drinks, the fire of the world eats but drinks not, the fire of the sun drinks but eats not, and that of the moon neither eats nor drinks.' (Q.) 'Which is the open [door] and which the shut [door]?' (A.) 'The Traditional Ordinances are the open, the Koranic the shut [door].' (Q.) 'Of what does the poet speak, when he says:
A dweller in the sepulchre, at 's head his victual lies; Whenas he tastes thereof, he speaks and questions and replies. He rises up and walks and talks, yet silent is the while, And turns anon unto the tomb wherefrom he did arise. No living one is he, that hath a title to respect, Nor dead, that folk should say of him, "God's mercy him comprise!"?'
(A.) 'The pen.' (Q.) 'What does the poet refer to in these verses:
Two breasts in one it hath; its blood is eath and quick of flow, Wide-mouthed, though all the rest be black, its ears are white as snow. It hath an idol like a cock, that doth its belly peck, And half a dirhem is its worth, if thou its price wouldst know?'
(A.) 'The inkhorn.' (Q.) 'And in these:
Say to men of wit and learning and to doctors everywhere, Skilled to find the hidden meanings riddles and enigmas bear, Come expound to me what is it that ye see a bird produce, 'Mongst the Arabs and barbarians and wherever else ye fare; Neither flesh nor blood, I warrant, hath the thing whereof I speak; Neither down nor feathers, birdwise, for a garment doth it wear. Boiled it is and likewise roasted, eaten hot and eaten cold; Yea, to boot, and when 'tis buried in the glowing embers' flare, Colours twain in it are noted, one as silver clear and white, And the other lucent yellow, gold therewith may not compare. Living can it not be reckoned, neither may we count it dead: Tell me, then, what is this wonder, rarity of all things rare?'
(A.) 'Thou makest long the questioning of an egg worth a doit.' (Q.) 'How many words [or times] did God speak to Moses?' (A.) 'It is related of the Prophet that he said, "God spoke to Moses fifteen hundred and fifteen words [or times]."' (Q.) 'Tell me of fourteen things that speak to the Lord of the Worlds?' (A.) 'The seven heavens and the seven earths, when they say, "We come, obedient."' (Q.) 'How was Adam created?' (A.) 'God created Adam of clay: the clay He made of foam and the foam of the sea, the sea of darkness, darkness of light, light of a fish, the fish of a rock, the rock of a ruby, the ruby of water, and the water He created by the exertion of His omnipotent will, according to His saying (exalted be His name!), "His commandment is only when He willeth aught, that He say, 'Be,' --and it is."' (Q.) 'What is meant by the poet in the following verses:
A things sans mouth or maw that eats in wondrous wise; On trees and beasts it feeds and all beneath the skies. Give it to eat, it thrives and flourishes amain; But give it not to drink of water, or it dies?'
(A.) 'Fire.' (Q.) 'And in these:
Two lovers, that are still estopped from all delight: Embracing, each with each, they pass the livelong night. They guarantee the folk from all calamity, And with the risen sun they're torn apart forthright?'
(A.) 'The leaves of a gate.' (Q.) 'Tell me of the gates of Hell?' (A.) 'They are seven in number and their names are comprised in the following verses:
Jehennem first, then Leza comes and eke Hetim as well; Then must thou count Saïr, and fifth comes Seker, sooth to tell: Sixth comes Jehim and last of all, Hawiyeh; thus thou hast, In compass brief of doggrel rhyme, the seven rooms of Hell.'
(Q.) 'To what does the poet refer in these verses:
A pair of ringlets long she hath, that trail for aye Behind her, as she comes and goes upon her way, And eye that never knows the taste of sleep nor sheds A tear, for none it hath for shedding, sooth to say; Nor wears it aught of clothes, from year to ended year; Yet in all manner wede it doth the folk array?'
(A.) 'A needle.' (Q.) 'What is the length and breadth of the bridge Es Sirat?' (A.) 'Its length is three thousand years' journey, a thousand in descent, a thousand level and a thousand in ascent: it is sharper than a sword and finer than a hair.' (Q.) 'How many intercessions [with God] hath the Prophet [for each soul]?' (A.) 'Three.' (Q.) 'Was Abou Bekr the first that embraced Islam?' (A.) 'Yes.' (Q.) 'Yet Ali became a Muslim before him?' (A.) 'All came to the Prophet, when he was a boy of seven years old, for God vouchsafed him the knowledge of the truth in his tender youth, so that he never prostrated himself to idols.' (Q.) 'Which is the more excellent, Ali or Abbas?'
Now she knew that, in propounding this question, Ibrahim was laying a trap for her; for, if she said, 'Ali is the more excellent,' she would fall in disgrace with the Khalif; so she bowed her head awhile, now reddening, now paling, then said, 'Thou askest me of two excellent men, each having [his own especial] excellence. Let us return to what we were about.' When the Khalif heard her reply, he rose to his feet and said, 'By the Lord of the Kaabeh, thou hast said well, O Taweddud!' Then said Ibrahim, 'What means the poet, when he says:
Slender of skirts and slim of shape and sweet of taste it is, Most like unto the spear, except it lacks of the spontoon. In all the countries of the world the folk make use of it, And eaten 'tis in Ramazan, after mid-afternoon?'
She answered, 'The sugar-cane;' and he said, 'Tell me of many things.' 'What are they?' asked she; and he said, 'What is sweeter than honey, what is sharper than the sword, what is swifter than poison, what is the delight of a moment and what the contentment of three days, what is the pleasantest of days, what is the joy of a week, what is the debt that the worst payer denieth not, what is the prison of the tomb, what is the joy of the heart, what is the snare of the soul, what is death in life, what is the malady that may not be healed, what is the reproach that may not be done away, what is the beast that harbours not in cultivated fields, but lodges in waste places and hates mankind and hath in it somewhat of the make of seven strong beasts?' Quoth she, 'Hear what I shall say in answer; then put off thy clothes, that I may expound to thee.' Then the Khalif said, 'Expound, and he shall put off his clothes.' So she said, 'That, which is sweeter than honey, is the love of pious children to their parents; that, which is sharper than the sword, is the tongue; that, which is swifter than poison, is the evil eye; the delight of a moment is coition and the contentment of three days is the depilatory for women; the pleasantest of days is that of profit on merchandise; the joy of a week is the bride; the debt, which the worst payer denieth not, is death; the prison of the tomb is an ill son; the joy of the heart is a woman obedient to her husband, (and it is said also that, when fleshmeat descends upon the heart, it rejoiceth therein); the snare [or vexation] of the soul is a disobedient slave; death in life is poverty; the malady, that may not be healed, is an ill nature and the reproach, that may not be done away, is an ill daughter; lastly, the beast that harbours not in cultivated fields, but lodges in waste places and hates mankind and hath in it somewhat of the make of seven strong beasts, is the locust, whose head is as the head of the horse, its neck as the neck of the bull, its wings as the wings of the vulture, its feet as the feet of the camel, its tail as the tail of the serpent, its body as the body of the scorpion and its horns as the horns of the gazelle.'
The Khalif was astounded at her quickness and understanding and said to Ibrahim, 'Put off thy clothes.' So he rose and said, 'I call all who are present in this assembly to witness that she is more learned than I and all the learned men.' And he put off his clothes and gave them to her, saying, 'Take them and may God not bless them to thee!' The Khalif ordered him fresh clothes and said to Taweddud, 'There is one thing left of that for which thou didst engage, namely, chess.' And he sent for professors of chess and draughts and backgammon. The chess-player sat down before her, and they set the pieces, and he moved and she moved; but, every move he made she speedily countered, till she beat him and he found himself check-mated. Quoth he, 'I did but lead thee on, that thou mightest think thyself skilful; but set up again, and I will show thee.' So they placed the pieces a second time, and he said to himself, 'Open thine eyes, or she will beat thee.' And he fell to moving no piece, save after calculation, and ceased not to play, till she said, 'Check-mate.' When he saw this, he was confounded at her quickness and skill; but she laughed and said, 'O master, I will make a wager with thee on this third game. I will give thee the queen and the right-hand rook and the left-hand knight; if thou beat me, take my clothes, and if I beat thee, I will take thine.' 'I agree to this,' replied he, and they replaced the pieces, she giving him the queen, rook and knight. Then said she, 'Move, O master.' So he moved, saying in himself, 'I cannot but win, with such an advantage,' and made a combination; but she moved on, little by little, till she made one of her pawns a queen and pushing up to him pawns and other pieces, to take off his attention, set one in his way and tempted him with it. Accordingly, he took it and she said to him, 'The measure is meted out and the equilibrium established. Eat, O man, till thou pass repletion; nought shall be thy ruin but greediness. Knowest thou not that I did but tempt thee, that I might beguile thee? See: this is check-mate: put off thy clothes.' 'Leave me my trousers,' quoth he, 'so God requite thee;' and he swore by Allah that he would contend with none, so long as Taweddud abode at the Court of Baghdad. Then he took off his clothes and gave them to her and went away.
Then came the backgammon-player, and she said to him, 'If I beat thee, what wilt thou give me?' Quoth he, 'I will give thee ten suits of brocade of Constantinople, figured with gold, and ten suits of velvet and a thousand dinars, and if I beat thee, I ask nothing but that thou write me an acknowledgment thereof.' 'To it, then,' replied she, 'and do thy best.' So they played, and he lost and went away, jabbering in the Frank jargon and saying, 'By the bounty of the Commander of the Faithful, there is not her like in all the world!' Then the Khalif summoned players on instruments of music and said to her, 'Dost thou know aught of music?' 'Yes,' answered she. So he bade bring a peeled and polished lute, whose owner [or maker] was ground down by exile [or estrangement from the beloved] and of which quoth one, describing it:
God watered a land and straight a tree sprang up on its root: It cast forth branches and throve and flourished with many a shoot. The birds, when the wood was green, sang o'er it, and when it was dry, Fair women sang to it in turn, for lo, 'twas a minstrel's lute!
So they brought a bag of red satin, with tassels of saffron-coloured silk: and she opened the bag, and took out a lute, on which were graven the following verses:
Full many a tender branch a lute for singing-girl has grown, Wherewith at banquets to her mates she makes melodious moan. She sings; it follows on her song, as 'twere to teach her how Heart's troubles in clear perfect speech of music to make known.
She laid her lute in her lap and letting her breasts hang over it, bent to it as bends a mother, suckling her child; then preluded in twelve different modes, till the whole assembly was agitated with delight, and sang the following verses:
Leave your estrangement, I pray, and bid your cruelty hold, For, by your life, my heart will never for you be consoled. Have pity on one who weeps, afflicted and ever sad, A slave of passion, who burns for thee with longings untold.
The Khalif was ravished and exclaimed, 'May God bless thee and receive him who taught thee into His mercy!' Whereupon she rose and kissed the earth before him. Then he sent for money and paid her master Aboulhusn a hundred thousand dinars to her price; after which he said to her, 'O Taweddud, ask a boon of me.' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' replied she, 'I ask of thee that thou restore me to my lord who sold me to thee.' 'It is well,' answered the Khalif and restored her to her master and gave her five thousand dinars for herself. Moreover, he appointed Aboulhusn one of his boon-companions and assigned him a monthly stipend of a thousand dinars so long as he should live, and he abode with the damsel Taweddud in all delight of life.
Marvel then, O King, at the eloquence of this damsel and the greatness of her learning and understanding and her perfect excellence in all branches of knowledge, and consider the generosity of the Khalif Haroun er Reshid, in that he gave her master this money and said to her, 'Ask a boon of me;' and she besought him to restore her to her lord. So he restored her to him and gave her five thousand dinars for herself and made him one of his boon-companions. Where is such generosity to be found after the Abbaside Khalifs, may God the Most High have mercy upon them all!
[Go to The Angel of Death With the Proud King and the Devout Man]
Payne, John (1842-1916). The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night. London. 1901. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version. Wollamshram Vol. V. Wollamshram Vol. VI. Wollamshram Vol. VII. Wollamshram Vol. VIII. Wollamshram Vol. IX. Please consult the Wollamshram 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