[Go back to The Lovers of Syria; Or, the Heroine]
As Hyjauje (the Ommiad caliph) was was one day seated in his hall of audience, surrounded by his nobles and dependents, tremblingly awaiting his commands, for his countenance resembled that of an enraged lion, there suddenly entered, unceremoniously, into the assembly a beardless youth of noble but sickly aspect, arrayed in tattered garments, for misfortune had changed his original situation, and poverty had withered the freshness of his opening youth. He made the customary obeisance to the governor, who returned his salute, and said, "Who art thou, boy? what hast thou to say, and wherefore hast thou intruded thyself into the company of princes, as if thou wert invited? who art thou, and of whom art thou the son?" "Of my father and mother," replied the youth. "But how earnest thou here?" "In my clothes." "From whence?" "From behind me." "Where art thou going?" "Before me." "Upon what dost thou travel?" "Upon the earth" Hyjauje, vexed at the pertness of the youth, exclaimed, "Quit this trifling, and inform me whence thou comest." "From Egypt." "Art thou from Cairo?" "Why askest thou?" said the boy?" "Because," replied Hyjauje, "her sands are of gold, and her river Nile miraculously fruitful; but her women are wanton, free to every conqueror, and her men unstable." "I am not from thence, but from Damascus," cried the youth." "Then," said Hyjauje, "thou art from a most rebellious place, filled with wretched inhabitants, a wavering race, neither Jews nor Christians." "But I am not from thence," replied the youth, "but from Khorassan." "That is a most impure country," said Hyjauje, "whose religion is worthless, for the inhabitants are of all barbarians the most savage. Plunderers of flocks, they know not mercy, their poor are greedy, and their rich men misers." "I am not of them," cried the youth, "but of Moussul." "Then," exclaimed Hyjauje, "thou art of an unnatural and adulterous race, whose youths are catamites, and whose old men are obstinate as asses." "But I am from Yemen," said the boy. "If so," answered the tyrant, "thou belongest to a comfortless region, where the most honourable profession is robbery, where the middling ranks tan hides, and where a wretched poor spin wool and weave coarse mantles." "But I am from Mecca," said the boy." "Then," replied Hyjauje, "thou comest from a mine of perverseness, stupidity, ignorance, and slothfulness; for from among its people God raised up his prophet, whom they disbelieved, rejected, and forced away to a strange nation, who loved, venerated, and assisted him in spite of the men of Mecca. But whence comest thou, youth? for thy pertness is become troublesome, and my inclination leads me to punish thee for thy impertinence." "Had I been assured that thou durst kill me," cried the youth, "I should not have appeared before thee; but thou canst not." "Woe to thee, rash boy," exclaimed Hyjauje; "who is he that can prevent my executing thee instantly?" "To thee be thy woe," replied the youth: "he can prevent thee who directs man and his inmost thoughts, and who never falsifieth his gracious promises." "He it is," cried the tyrant, "who instigates me to put thee to death." "Withhold thy blaspheming," replied the youth; "it is not God, but Satan that prompts thy mind to my murder, and with God I hope for refuge from the accursed: but know, that I am from the glorious Medina, the seat of religion, virtue, respectability, and honour, descended of the race of Bin Ghalib, and family of Ali, son of Abou Talib, whom God has glorified and approved, and will protect all his posterity, which you would extirpate; but you cannot root it out, for it will flourish even to the last day of the existence of this world."
The tyrant was now overcome with rage, and commanded the youthful Syed to be slain; but his nobles and officers interceded for him, saying, while they bowed their necks before him, "Pardon, pardon; behold our heads and our lives a ransom for his! For God's sake accept our intercession, O ameer, for this youth is not deserving of death." "Forbear your entreaties," exclaimed the tyrant, "for were an angel to cry from Heaven, ‘Do not slay him!' I would not attend." Upon this the young Syed said, "Thou ravest, O Hyjauje; who art thou that an angel should be commissioned for thy sake?" The tyrant, struck with his magnanimity, became calm, and commanding the executioner to release the youth, said, "For the present I forbear, and will not kill thee unless thy answers to my further questions shall deserve it." They then entered on the following dialogue; Hyjauje hoping to entrap him in discourse.
Hyjauje. How can the creature approach the perfection of the Almighty?
Syed. By prayer, by fasting, by the commanded alms, by pilgrimage, and fighting for the cause of God.
H. I serve him by shedding the blood of infidel man. You pretend that Hassan and Houssain, your ancestors, were descendants of the prophet; but how can that be, when God has declared in the Koran Mahummud was not of your obstinate race; but the prophet of God, and last of divine messengers?
S. Hear the answer to that in the verse following it. "Hath not a prophet come unto you of your own nation? Receive him, and from what he hath forbidden be forbidden." Surely, then, God hath forbidden the shedding of the blood of him whom he sanctified.
H. Thou hast spoken justly, young man; but inform me what God hath daily and nightly commanded us as obligatory to do?
S. To pray five times.
H. What to observe in each year?
S. To keep the month of Ramzaun as a fast.
H. What to perform in the course of life?
S. To make a pilgrimage to Mecca, the temple of God.
H. Truly said; but what hath mostly dignified and enlightened Arabia?
S. The tribe of Koreish.
S. Because of our holy prophet's being a member of it.
H. Who were the most skilful in horsemanship in all Arabia, the most valiant, and of best conduct in war?
S. The tribe of Hashim.
H. Why think you so?
S. Because my grandfather Imaum Ali, son of Abou Talib, was one of it.
H. What tribe of Arabs is most famous for benevolence, and celebrated for liberality?
S. The family of Tai.
S. Because Hatim belonged to it.
H. Which of the tribes have been most disgraceful to Arabia, and most oppressive to its inhabitants?
S. The tribe of Sukkeef.
H. Why so?
S. Because thou belongest to it.
The tyrant could scarcely now contain his anger; but said, hoping to cut the youth off from reply, "Tell me, is the Capricorn of the heavens male or female?" To which he answered, "Shew me its tail, that I may inform thee." The tyrant laughed, and continued his questions as follows:
H. Wert thou ever in love?
S. Yes, completely immersed in it.
H. With whom?
S. With my God, who will, I trust, pardon me for my errors, and deliver me from thee this day.
H. Knowest thou thy God?
H. By what means?
S. By the scriptures, which he caused to descend to his prophet.
H. Dost thou guard the Koran?
S. Does it fly from me, that I should guard it?
H. What dost thou learn from it?
S. That God commanded its rules to be obeyed.
H. Hast thou read and understood it?
H. If so, tell me, first, What passage in it is most sublime. Secondly, Which most commanding. Thirdly, Which most just. Fourthly, Which most alarming. Fifthly, Which most encouraging. Sixthly, That which Jews and Christians both believe in. Seventhly, That in which God has spoken purely of himself; that where he speaks of the angels; that in which he mentions the prophets; that where he alludes to those destined to Paradise; and that in which he speaks of those devoted to hell; that which includes ten points; and that which Eblis the accursed delivered.
S. By God's help I will answer thee. The most sublime passage is the Koorsee: the most commanding, "God insisteth on justice:" the most just, "Whoever diminishes the least of a measure, God will requite him doubly, and the same to whoever addeth the least:" the most alarming, "All expect to enter Paradise:" the most encouraging, "O my servants, who have mortified yourselves, despair not of the mercy of God!" that in which are ten points, "God created the heavens and the earth, the revolutions of night and day; also, the firmament over the waters that it might profit man:" that which is believed alike by jews and christians, "The Jew saith that the Christian is in error, and the Christian saith that the Jew is mistaken, they both believe so; and both are in error:" that in which God hath spoken purely of himself, "I have not created genii and men but to worship me:" that in which he speaks of the angels, "They said, we have no knowledge, but what thou hast taught us; for thou only art wise and all-knowing:" that which speaks of the prophets, "How could we deliver you a verse without the order of God, on whom the faithful will rely:" that which mentions the devoted to hell, "God hath cast us down from heaven, for we were transgressors:" that which describes the blessed, "Praised be God, who hath divested us of all sorrow, for our Lord is merciful and gracious:" that which satan spoke, "None will profit by thy mercy but thy servants the blessed."
Hyjauje involuntarily exclaimed, "Praised be God, who giveth wisdom to whom it pleaseth him; but I have found none so learned of such tender age." Having thus spoken, he put many other questions to the youth in every science, and he answered them so readily that the tyrant was overcome with admiration, and offered him a residence at his court; but the young man declined it, and requested his dismission, which he granted, conferring upon him a beautiful female slave richly habited, a thousand pieces of gold, and a steed elegantly caparisoned. The courtiers were astonished at the bounty of the tyrant, which he perceiving, said, "Be not surprised, for the advice he hath given me was worthy of reward, and ‘Cursed is he who doth not requite a sincere adviser,' declareth our sacred Koran."
[Go to Ins Alwujjood and Wird Al Ikmaun, Daughter of Ibrahim, Vizier to Sultan Shamikh]
Scott, Jonathan (1754-1829). The Arabian Nights Entertainments. London: Pickering and Chatto, 1890. 4 Volumes. Project Gutenberg.
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