A TREATISE ON THE ART
AND PRACTICE OF ARAB LOVE
A.J. ARBERRY, LITT.D.,
LUZAC & COMPANY, LTD.
46 GREAT RUSSELL STREET,
LONDON, W.C. 1
- The Signs Of Love
- On Falling In Love While Asleep
- On Falling In Love Through A Description
- On Falling In Love At First Sight
- On Falling In Love After Long Association
- On Falling In Love With A Quality And Thereafter Not Approving Any Other Different
- Of Allusion By Words
- Of Hinting With The Eyes
- Of Correspondence
- Of The Messenger
- Of Concealing The Secret
- Of Divulging The Secret
- Of Compliance
- Of Opposition
- Of The Reproacher
- Of The Helpful Brother
- Of The Spy
- Of The Slanderer
- Of Union
- Of Breaking Off
- Of Fidelity
- Of Betrayal
- Of Separation
- Of Contentment
- Of Wasting Away
- Of Forgetting
- Of Death
- Of The Vileness Of Sinning
- Of The Virtue Of Continence
THE Arabs carrying Islam westwards to the Atlantic Ocean first set foot on Spanish soil during July 710
the leader of the raid, which was to prove the forerunner of long Moslem occupation of the Iberian Peninsula,
was named Tarif, and the promontory on which he landed commemorates his exploit by being called to this day Tarifa.
The main invasion followed a year later; Tariq Ibn Ziyad, a Berber by birth, brought over from the African side of
the narrows a comparatively small army which sufficed to overthrow Roderick the Visigoth and to supplant the Cross
by the Crescent; he gave his name to that famous Rock of Gibraltar (Jabal Tariq, the Mountain of Tariq), which has
been disputed by so many conquerors down the ages, and over which the British flag has fluttered since the early years
of the eighteenth century.
When Ibn Hazm, the author of the book here translated,
was born on 7 November 994, Islam had been established in Andalusia for nearly three hundred years. Since 756 Cordova, his birthplace,
had been the capital of the Umaiyad rulers of this now independent kingdom;' for it was in the far West of the Moslem Empire that the remnant
of the first dynasty of Caliphs found shelter and renewed greatness after being supplanted in Baghdad by their conquerors the Abbasids. The
two centuries which followed the inauguration of the Western Caliphate witnessed the rise of a brilliant civilization and culture which have
left an ineradicable impress on the peninsula, embodied in so many fine Moorish buildings; the Cathedral Mosque of Cordova, founded in 786,
mentioned several times in the pages of this book, was converted into a Christian cathedral by Ferdinand III in 1236, but its familiar name "
La Mesquita " still recalls the purpose for which it was originally erected. It was during Ibn Hazm's own lifetime that the Umaiyad Caliphate
was finally extinguished.
Abu Muhammad `Ali Ibn Muhammad Ibn Sa'id Ibn' Hazm, to give our author his
full name-for the Arabs call a man first after his son, secondly by his own name, and thirdly after his father and his ancestors-belonged to a notable
family converted from Christianity several generations before. His father was a high official in the service of al-Mansur, regent of Hisham II, and of his
son al-Muzaffar; al-Mansur and al-Muzaffar were members of the Banu 'Amir who had succeeded in arrogating to themselves all the power and privileges of the
Caliphate but its name. Being the son of such a man, to whom he always refers as " the late vizier ", Ibn Hazm enjoyed a happy though secluded childhood,
and the advantages of an excellent education; he tells us that most of his early teachers were women. The fall of the Banu 'Amir led soon after to the dismissal
and house-arrest of their faithful minister, who died four years later on 22 June 1012. The Umaiyads were now near their end; Andalusia was in a state of anarchy;
in 1013 the Berber insurgents seized and sacked Cordova, and on 13 July of that year Ibn Hazm fled from the city of his birth and set out upon extensive wanderings,
of which he gives us fascinating glimpses in the pages of this book. In 1 o 16 `Ali Ibn Hammud proclaimed himself Caliph, but did not long survive his usurpation of power.
The next fourteen years were chaotic in the extreme, as Umaiyad and Hammudid pretenders struggled for possession of the precarious throne. In 1030 the citizens of Cordova,
weary of so much disorder, declared the Caliphate to be at an end and set up in its place a sort of republic; but the authority of Cordova had meanwhile dwindled away,
and Andalusia was split between numerous independent principalities. The way was being prepared for the Reconquista. The fall of Granada in 1492 drove the Moslems from
their last foothold in the Iberian Peninsula.
Ibn Hazm's first refuge after his flight from Cordova was Almeria, where he lived quietly and in
comparative security for a time. But in 1016 Khairan, the governor of that city, having made common cause with `Ali Ibn Hammud against the Umaiyad Sulaiman, accused Ibn
Hazm of harbouring Umaiyad sympathies, and after imprisoning him for some months banished him from his province. Our author made a brief stay at Aznalcazar, and then betook
himself to Valencia, where `Abd al-Rahman IV al-Murtada the Umaiyad had just announced his succession to the Caliphate. He served al-Murtada as vizier and marched with his
army to Granada; but the cause he supported was not successful, and he was captured and thrown into prison. However his release was not long delayed; and in February 1019 he
returned to Cordova, after an absence of six years, to find al-Qasim Ibn Hammud in power. In December 1023 the Umaiyads again seized the Caliphate, and Ibn Hazm became vizier
to 'Abd al-Rahman V al-Mustazhir. He had only seven weeks' enjoyment of this turn of fortune, for al-Mustazhir was assassinated and he himself was once again in jail. History
does not record how long his new incarceration lasted; we only know that in 1027 he was in Jativa, where he composed the present book. He appears to have kept clear of politics
for the rest of his days, which ended on 15 August 1064; but he by no means kept clear of trouble, for his religious views were in conflict with the prevalent orthodoxy and his
writings were publicly burnt in Seville during his lifetime.
The Ring of the Dove was Ibn Hazm's only experiment in the field of elegant literature; for he was primarily
interested in theology and law, on which he wrote voluminously. Its survival hangs upon the tenuous thread of a single manuscript, itself in fact an epitome rather than a complete
transcription of the original. This precious codex, which is dated Rajab 738 of the Mohammedan reckoning, or February 1338 of the Christian era, is preserved in the fine Leiden collection,
and was first studied by R. Dozy, the eminent historian of Moslem Spain. In 1914 the Russian savant D. K. Petrof published the text, which was reprinted as it stood, at Damascus in 1931.
The editio princeps was necessarily somewhat defective textually, for the copyist of the manuscript was not very careful; but many improved readings were proposed by a succession of
learned reviewers, prominent among them being I.
Goldziher, C. Brockelmann, W. Marcais and A. R. Nykl. In 1931 an English translation was published by Nykl at Paris; ten years later M. Weisweiler produced an amiable German rendering,
which has had a very considerable success. In 194.9 F. Gabrieli offered an Italian version; and in the same year L. Bercher issued at Algiers a revised edition of the text, accompanied
by an interleaved French translation. Finally in 1952 an elegant Spanish translation was published by E. Garcia Gdmez.
The present writer is profoundly indebted to the labors of these his distinguished predecessors, which have illuminated
most of the obscurities that disfigured Petrof's text. He has been eclectic, he hopes judiciously, in his interpretations of those not infrequent passages where scholars have been in conflict;
and he has taken into his translation a few emendations of his own. He feels reasonably confident, though by no means complacent, that all but a very small number of cruxes have now been resolved.
The extremely interesting and learned introduction with which Nykl prefaced his meritorious but inelegant and somewhat unsatisfactory
rendering disposes of the necessity of covering the same ground again; in brief, that most widely-read and humane scholar has discussed the relationship between The Ring of the Dove and the writings of the
Troubadours, a subject which he has studied further in his excellent Hispano-Arabic Poetry (Baltimore, 194,6). My own intentions are in any case more modest; I have aimed at making an accurate and, I trust,
tolerably readable translation for the perusal of the general public, and not so much for the consideration of experts. I do not propose therefore to adventure into the perilous arena of comparative literature,
and shall confine the remainder of these brief comments to a discursive appreciation of the contents of Ibn Hazm's book.
Arabic literature, which is exceedingly extensive in bulk, does not abound in books of the sort that modern taste finds readable.
The explanation of this paradox is fairly obvious. Before the advent of Islam the Arabs appear to have had no tradition of writing and reading, and their literary instinct was satisfied by the composition
of poetry and proverbial sayings, all transmitted by word of mouth. The fast book to be compiled in Arabia was the Koran; and that, according to native report, was put together by an editor after the death of Mohammed.
Though poetry was regarded as a suspect pursuit by the narrowly orthodox, even they could not deny its value as an instrument of religious propaganda; and since religion in Islam soon became entangled with politics,
the age-old forms of panegyric and satire continued to flourish in the brave new age of faith in action. Meanwhile the requirements of dogma, ritual and law encouraged the growth of a kind of literature which soon found
acceptance as a respectable and indeed a meritorious occupation; wandering scholars made it their care to collect the traditional sayings of Mohammed, carried into remote provinces of the far-flung Moslem empire by
the victorious expeditionaries of the cause. These traditions were in time organized into digests following a set pattern, the arrangement being by topics of ritual and law. In this way the Arabs came to regard the book
as a collection of anecdotes written down in accordance with a premeditated scheme; though some still considered the memory to be a superior medium of transmission to the written word.
Contact with other peoples presently made the Arabs aware of the existence of other literatures. The Persians introduced them to the idea of adab, a
term most difficult to translate; broadly speaking, adab is a form of prose composition whose primary purpose is not religious but secular, and which is intended not merely for instruction but also for enjoyment. It was the
Persians who taught the Arabs to appreciate and to write elegant prose; they also initiated their rude conquerors into the pleasures of amusing fiction, and encouraged them to amorous adventures. From the Greeks the Arabs learned
science and philosophy, the art and the delight of discussion and dialectic. Persians and Greeks together persuaded the austere and somewhat joyless Arabs that concubinage could be an Tsthetic and' intellectual as well as a physical pleasure.
They taught them many other things besides, but these are not relevant to the present subject. Many of these lessons were naturally rejected with horror by the strictly religious, but they left their impress on Arabic literature.
The Arabs had certainly known and appreciated the joys of the flesh, long before Islam persuaded them that these were inferior to the delights of the spirit. So the poets
inform us; and it is significant that poets were the heroes of the numerous desert romances, which now passed into wide circulation. Islam made it increasingly difficult for the situation to develop in which boy meets girl. Love became
a complicated and dangerous exploit; though marriage was of course never difficult; the romantic drama acquired its stock characters and conventional scenes. Moreover the puritanical spirit of Islam, making a virtue out of social necessity,
discovered as much satisfaction in the quest as in the conquest. The idealization of a sort of. Platonic love, in which the lover never achieved union with the beloved, inspired much of the finest poetry of the Arabs; it supplied the mystics
with a favourite theme of meditation, when they substituted the Divine for the human object of the most powerful of man's natural passions.
In The Ring of the Dove we find these various tendencies and influences meeting together, to form a perfect blend of sacred learning and profane delectation.
Ibn Hazm never lets us forget that he is a Moslem, with a reverence for and an expert knowledge of the traditional-Moslem values and sciences. He freely illustrates his discourse with quotations from the Koran, and the Traditions of the
Prophet, these latter supported by all the paraphernalia of what the Arabs called `ilm al-hadith, those chains of transmission " which are considered to guarantee the authenticity of the sayings put into Mohammed's mouth. He contrives to
keep the discussion on a high moral level, though he occasionally takes a plunge into more dangerous depths; he rounds off his book with a pair of erudite and ethically irreproachable chapters (though even these contain a shocking anecdote or two)
which he hoped would conciliate even the most austere spirit. At the same time he tells his stories, many of them autobiographical, in polished prose, embellished with extracts from his I own poetry; which would have been considerably s more extensive,
had they not been drastically pruned by the copyist. In order that he may escape the charge of amusing without instructing, he binds his scattered narratives together with connecting links of theoretical discussion, in which he betrays his acquaintance
with Greek philosophy-and we have yet to appreciate the full extent of Plato's influence on the Arabs-and organizes the whole material into a systematic pattern. He has written not a collection of tales, but a book.
Ibn Hazm's prose, judged by the canons of adab accepted in his day, is of a very high quality; it is learned without becoming frigid, rhetorical without being bombastic, fluent without
degenerating into flatulence. His poetry, of which he appears to have had a considerable conceit, is in truth very mediocre, and we need shed few tears over its cavalier treatment at the hands of the scribe; nevertheless it is not wholly lacking in merit,
and if in translation it comes out somewhat pedestrian and humdrum-and the fault is not entirely the translator's-yet for all that it succeeds to some extent in fulfilling the author's purpose of varying the pitch and pattern of his composition.
The book as a whole is a book in our understanding of the word, and as such belongs to the very rare category of Arabic book which merits translation exactly as it stands.
For the sad but plain truth is that extremely few Arabic books translate well. Apart from that passion for the display of traditional religious learning which animated most Arab writers
and recommended them to their fellows but inevitably set up a barrier between them and the outside world, grammar and philology were also held to be indispensable weapons in the armory of the ambitious author. The Arabs were fiercely proud of the complexities
of "their syntax and the opulence of their vocabulary where learning conflicted with taste, learning generally won the day. Ibn Hazm is therefore surprisingly free of pedantry; it is doubtful whether any other Arab writer so well qualified as he would have resisted,
as he does in one striking passage, the temptation to enumerate all that earlier scholars had said on the derivation of the Arabic word for " passion ". Yet Ibn Hazm was after all only human, and therefore indulges occasionally in poetic images drawn from the technicalities
of grammar and syntax or from the obscurities of scholasticism. As a mirror to the society in which he was brought up he is almost uniquely valuable.
I have tried to translate as faithfully as possible, given the difficulties posed by the task of rendering a Semitic into an Aryan idiom. I do not think that the prose parts of this version need too much
apology; but something ought certainly to be said on behalf of the pieces in metre and rhyme. The first thing to repeat and this is quite honestly not a case of an indifferent workman blaming his tools-is that Ibn Hazm was not a great poet; and as every translator is aware,
there is no more baffling labour than to endeavor to do justice to the mediocre; the result is bound to be mediocre at best, and at worst it may be intolerable. If the translator possesses a sufficient degree of technical dexterity in versifying, he usually finds that indifferent
verse is easier to stomach -when put into metre and rhyme than when dissected into strips of prose. And since his original for his part said what he had to say in rhyme and metre, it seems, at least to my way of thinking, that the interpreter should take the same trouble, for there
is always the off-chance that he may occasionally produce something memorable. Those modern critics who decry the tradition, established in our own literature over several centuries, of rendering classical poetry into the traditional forms of English verse, have yet to prove,
so far at least as Arabic is concerned, that their alternative solution of the problem is either theoretically more sound, or in practice, more successful.
In the Name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate
THUS spoke Abu Muhammad, God forgive him:
No better beginning can there be for my book than that
I should praise Almighty God as He is worthy, and pray for His blessings upon Mohammed His servant and messenger in particular,
and upon all His prophets in general.
And next-may God preserve us and you from bewilderment,
and may He not burden us with more than we can bear; may He of His goodly aid decree for us a guide to lead us into obedience of
His Will, and bestow on us of His assistance some means that will draw us away and turn us from all offences against His commandments!
May He not hand us over to our own weak resolves and feeble powers, the frailty of our physical frame and the confusion of our opinions,
our evil choice, our little discretion, the corruption of our passions! Your letter came down to me from the city of Almeria to my dwelling-place
in the Court of Jativa, in which you gave me joyous news of your well-being: I thanked God for this, and prayed to Him that he should continue it so,
and grant you increase of your prosperity. Thereafter a little while and I beheld you in person, for you yourself sought me out despite the far distance,
the vast sundering of our abodes the one from the other, the remoteness of the place of visitation, the great length of the space to be traversed, and the
terror of the journey; and there were besides other obstacles which might well have diverted the most eager heart, and distracted the most resolute remembrance,
except a man, held firm like you to the cord of loyalty, respecting those ancient dues and strongly-rooted affections, the rights of childish fondness and the
comradeship of youth, a true lover withal for God. Such is the attachment, which God has established between us, and for this we praise Him and give Him thanks.
In the aforesaid letter you expressed ideas exceeding what I was accustomed to find in your
other communications. Then on your arrival you revealed your intention plainly to me, and informed me of your views with that frankness which has always characterized
our relations, that habit of sharing with me your every sweetness and bitterness, your every private thought and public profession. In this you were led by true affection,
the which I doubly reciprocate, desiring no other recompense but to receive a like return. It was upon this theme that I composed the following verses in a long poem addressed to
'Ubaid Allah Ibn `Abd al-Rahman Ibn al-Mughira, great-grandson of the Caliph al-Nasir (God have mercy upon him!), who was a dear friend of mine.
The passions most men boast them of
Are like a desert's noontide haze:
I love thee with a constant love
Unwithering through all my days.
This fondness I profess for thee
Is pure, and in my heart I bear
True love's inscription plain to see,
And all its tale is written there.
Had any passion, thine beside,
At any time my soul possessed,
I would have torn my worthless hide
And plucked that alien from my breast.
There is no other prize I seek:
Thy love is my desire sincere:
Only upon this theme I speak
To capture thy complacent ear.
This if I win, the earth's expanse,
And all mankind, are but as dust,
Yea, the wide world's inhabitants
Are flies that crawl upon its crust.
You charged me--may God exalt you! -to compose for you an essay describing Love, wherein I should set forth
its various meanings, its causes and accidents, and what happens in it and to it, after the way of truth, neither adding anything nor embroidering anything, but only setting down
exactly what I have to tell according to the manner of its occurrence, and mentioning all to the full extent of my recollection and the limit of my capacity. I have accordingly
hastened to fulfill your desire; though but for the wish to comply with your commission I would never have undertaken it at all, being too poverty-stricken to attempt so great a task.
Indeed it behoves us rather, considering the brief duration of our lives, not to expend them save upon those enterprises which we may hope will secure for us a spacious destination and. a fair
homecoming upon the morrow. Yet it is true that Cadi Humam Ibn Ahmad has informed me on the authority of Yahya Ibn Malik, who had it from ` A'idh upon a chain of authority mounting to Abu 'l-Darda',
that the latter said, "Recreate your souls with a little vanity, that it may the better aid them to hold fast to the truth." A righteous and well-approved father of the faith declared, " The man who
has never known how to comport himself as a cavalier will never know how to be truly god fearing." The Prophet is reported to have said, " Rest your souls from time to time: they are apt to rust, in
the same way that steel rusts."
In performing this task with which you have charged me I must perforce relate such things as I 'have personally witnessed, or what
I have discovered by diligent research, or matters communicated to me by reliable informants of my own times. Pray excuse me if I sometimes do no more than hint at the names of the heroes, of my anecdotes,
and do not mention them more explicitly; this is due either to some shame which I do not hold it permissible to uncover, or in order to protect a loving friend or an illustrious man. It will suffice me to name
only those the naming of whom does no harm, and whose mention brings no opprobrium either upon ourselves or them; either because the affair is so notorious that concealment and the avoidance of clear specification
will do the party concerned no good, or for the simple reason that the person being reported on is quite content that his story should be made public, and by no means disapproves of its being bandied about.
I shall be quoting in this essay verses which I have composed myself upon my own observations. Do not take it amiss, my friend, or whoever else
may happen to see this volume, that I am here following the fashion of those who always quote themselves in their stories; such is the way of men who affect the writing of poetry. Moreover my friends make me shy to
write about their adventures after their own private ways and habits; so I have been satisfied to mention here only what has occurred to me, within the terms of reference you have prescribed, in every case attributing
the incident to myself. I have kept in this book to the bounds set by you, limiting myself to things which I have either seen with my own eyes, or I am convinced are true as deriving from trustworthy reporters. Spare me
those tales of Bedouins, and of lovers long ago! Their ways were not our ways, and the stories told of them are too numerous in any case. It is not my practice to wear out anybody's riding-beast but my own; I am not one
of those who deck themselves up in borrowed plumes.
In all this I ask God's forgiveness and succour; there is no Lord beside Him.
I HAVE divided this treatise into thirty chapters. Of these, ten are concerned with the root-principles of Love, the first being the immediately following chapter on the Signs of Love. After this comes a chapter on Those who have fallen in Love while Asleep; then a chapter on Those who have fallen in Love through a Description; next a chapter on Those who have fallen in Love at First Sight; a chapter on Those whose Love has only become True after Long Association; a chapter on Allusion by Words; a chapter on Hinting with the Eyes; a chapter on Correspondence; and lastly (of these first ten) a chapter on the Messenger.
The second section of the book comprises twelve chapters on the accidents of Love, and its praiseworthy and blameworthy attributes. (Here I should remark in parenthesis that Love is in fact an accident, and as such cannot properly be said itself to be susceptible to accidents; Love is an attribute, and attributes may riot be further qualified. I am therefore speaking metaphorically in discussing Love's accidents and attributes, putting the attribute itself in the place of the thing qualified thereby. When we say and feel that one accident is greater or smaller, more beautiful or uglier in reality than another accident,
according to our apprehension of that reality, we recognize that accidents differ from each other, in terms of excess or deficiency, in respect only of their visible and knowable essence; there is no question of numerical quantity or physical partition being relevant to them, seeing that they do not occupy any space.) This section is made up first of a chapter on the Helping Friend, then a chapter on Union, then a chapter on Concealing the Secret, and after that chapters on Revealing and Divulging the Secret, on Compliance, and on Opposition; a chapter on Those who have fallen in Love with a certain Quality and thereafter have not loved any other different to it; and chapters on Fidelity, on Betrayal, on Wasting Away, and on Death.
In the third part of the essay there are six chapters on the misfortunes which enter into Love. These chapters deal respectively with the Reproacher, the Spy, the Slanderer, Breaking Off, Separation, and Forgetting. Two of these six chapters are matched each with a corresponding chapter (of those already mentioned) on an opposite subject: the chapter on the Reproacher is paired with the, chapter on the Helping Friend, and the chapter on Breaking Off complements the chapter on Union. The other four have no contrasting themes in Love's repertory. The chapters on the Spy and the Slanderer have no opposites, except their removal altogether. The real nature of opposites is that when the opposite to a given condition occurs, the original state is removed, however much the schoolmen may have differed in their views of the matter; we would have thrashed the question out thoroughly, but for the fear of dilating at too great length upon a topic not absolutely material to the present book. As for the Chapter on Separation, its true opposite would be contiguity of dwellings; but contiguity is not one of the themes of Love, which we are at present engaged in discussing. And the opposite of the chapter on Forgetting is really Love itself, since forgetting means the removal and non-existence of Love.
Finally come two chapters to terminate the discourse a chapter discussing the Vileness of Sinning, and a chapter on the Virtue of Continence. I have planned the matter thus so that the conclusion of our exposition and the end of our discussion may be an exhortation to obedience to Almighty God, and a recommendation to do good and to eschew evil; which last commandment is indeed a duty imposed upon all believers.
Notwithstanding all, this, in setting out certain of these chapters we have in fact varied the order apportioned in the course of this opening chapter of the treatise. We have arranged them serially from the beginning to the conclusion of the story according to there due right of precedence, their gradations, and their actuality, proceeding methodically from the first degree to the last. We have also placed each pair of opposites side by side; as a result, the proper sequence has been departed from in a few chapters. I ask God's help again.
My actual disposition of the material is therefore as follows. I have placed first and foremost this chapter in the middle of which we now are; it comprises the preliminary excursus, the division of the chapters, and a discourse on the Nature of Love. This is followed by the chapter on the Signs of Love; then the chapter on Those who have fallen in Love through a Description; then the chapter on Those who have fallen in Love at First Sight; then the chapter on Those who have only fallen in Love after Long Association; then the chapter on Those who have fallen in Love with a certain Quality and thereafter have not loved any other different to it; then the chapter on Allusion by Words; then the chapter on Hinting with the Eyes; then the chapter on Correspondence ; then the chapter on the Messenger ; then the chapter on Concealing the Secret; then the chapter on
Divulging the Secret; then the chapter on Compliance; then the chapter on Opposition; then the chapter on the Reproacher; then the chapter on the Helpful Brother; then the chapter on the Spy; then the chapter on the Slanderer; then the chapter on Union; then the chapter on Breaking Off ; then the chapter on Fidelity; then the chapter on Betrayal then the chapter on Separation; then the chapter on Contentment; then the chapter on Wasting Away; then the chapter on Forgetting; then the chapter on Death; then the chapter on the Vileness of Sinning; and lastly the chapter on the Virtue of Continence.
Of the Nature of Love
Of Love--may God exalt you! -the first part is jesting, and the last part is right earnestness. So majestic are its divers aspects, they are too subtle to be described; their reality can only be apprehended by personal experience. Love is neither disapproved by Religion, nor prohibited by the Law; for every heart is in God's hands.
Many rightly guided caliphs and orthodox imams have been lovers. Of those who have lived in our beloved Andalusia I may mention `Abd al-Rahman Ibn Mu'awiya, the lover of Da`ja; al-Hakam Ibn Hisham; `Abd al-Rahman Ibn al-Hakam, whose passion for Tarub the mother of his son `Abd Allah is more famous among men than the very sun itself; Muhammad Ibn `Abd al-Rahman, well-known admirer of Ghizlan who bore him 'Uthman, al-Qasim and al-Mutarrif; and Al-Hakam al-Mustansir, adorer of Subh mother of Hisham al-Mu'aiyad Billah, who refused to interest himself in any other child but hers.
Such instances are extremely numerous; and but for the rightful claims of our rulers upon the respect of all Moslems, so that we ought to recount concerning them only such stories as illustrate martial resolution and the propagation of the faith-and their amours were after all conducted in the privacy of their palaces and in the bosom of their families, so that it would not be at all seemly to report on them-but for this I would certainly have introduced not a few anecdotes illustrating their part in the love-business. As for their men of State and pillars of Empire, their tender romances are indeed innumerable; the most recent instance being the affair we were witnessing only yesterday between al-Muzaffar `Abd al-Malik Ibn Abi 'Amir and Wahid the cheese monger's daughter, a grand passion which so transported that great nobleman that he actually married the girl; she was subsequently ` inherited' by the-grand--vizier `Abd Allah Ibn Maslama after the fall of the `Amirids; and when `Abd Allah in his turn was put to death, she became the consort of a Berber chieftain. I was told of a similar instance too by Abu 'l-`Aish Ibn Maimun al-Qurashi al-Husaini: Nizar Ibn Ma` add, ruler of Egypt, would not look upon his son Mansur Ibn Nizar his successor on the throne, the one who claimed to be a god-for quite a time after he was born, so as to spare the feelings of a certain 'slave-girl with whom he was deeply in love; yet he had no other male issue but this child to inherit his kingdom and keep his memory green.
Of the saints and learned doctors of the faith who lived in past ages and times long ago, some there are whose love lyrics are sufficient testimony to their passion, so that they require no further notice. It will be enough to mention only one name: 'Ubaid Allah Ibn `Abd Allah' Ibn 'Utba Ibn Masud was famous for his tender verses, and he, as we remember, was one of the celebrated Seven Jurists of
Medina. As for Ibn `Abbas, a single sentence once uttered by him amply dispenses with any need for further quotation; he pronounced the weighty judgment, " This man was slain by love: there is therefore no case for blood wit or retaliation."
Concerning the nature of Love men have held various and divergent opinions, which they have debated at great length. For my part I consider Love as a conjunction between scattered parts of souls that have become divided in this physical universe, a union effected within the substance of their original sublime element. I do not share the view advanced by Muhammad Ibn Dawud-God have mercy on his soul! -who followed certain philosophers in declaring that spirits are segmented spheres; rather do I suppose an affinity of their vital forces in the supernal world, which is their everlasting home, and a close approximation in the manner of their constitution. We know the secret of commingling and separation in created things to be simply a process of union and disassociation; every form always cries out for its corresponding form; like is ever at rest with like. Congeneity has a perceptible effect and a visible influence; repulsion of opposites, accord between similar, attractions of like for like these are facts taking place all round us. How much more then should the same factors operate within the soul, whose world is pure and etherial, whose substance is volatile and perfectly poised, whose constituent principle is so disposed as to be intensely sensitive to harmony, inclination, yearning, aversion, passionate desire and antipathy. All this is common knowledge it is immediately observable in the moods which successively control every man, and to which we all accommodate ourselves successfully. Allah Himself says, "It is He that created you of one soul, and fashioned thereof its spouse, that he might find repose in her" (Koran VII I8g). Be it noted that the reason God assigns for man's reposing in woman is that she was made out of him.
If the cause of Love were physical beauty, the consequence would be that no body defective in any shape or form would attract admiration; yet we know of many a man actually preferring the inferior article, though well aware that another is superior, and quite unable to turn his heart away from it. Again, if Love were due to a harmony of characters, no man would love a person who was not of like purpose and in concord with him. We therefore conclude that Love is something within the soul itself.
Sometimes, it is true, Love comes as a result of a definite cause outside the soul, but then it passes away when the cause itself disappears: one who is fond of you because of a certain circumstance will turn his back on you when that motive no longer exists. I have made this point in the verses, which follow.
My love for thee shall aye endure
As now, most perfect and most pure;
It brooks no increase, no decline,
Since it's complete, and wholly thine.
I cannot any cause discover,
Except my will, to be thy lover,
And boldly challenge any man
To name another, if he can.
For sure, when any thing we see
Of its own self sole cause to be,
That being, being of that thing,
Lives ever undiminishing
But when we find its origin
Is other than the thing it's in,
Our losing that which made it be
Annihilates it instantly.
This statement is confirmed by the fact that Love, as we know, is of
various kinds. The noblest sort, of Love is that which exists between persons who love each other in God either because of an identical zeal for
the righteous work upon which they are engaged, or as the result of a harmony in sectarian belief and principles, or by virtue of a common possession
of some noble knowledge. Next to this is the love, which springs from
kinship; then the love of familiarity and the sharing of identical aims; the love of comradeship and acquaintance; the love, which is rooted in a benevolent
regard for one's fellow; the love that results from coveting the loved one's worldly elevation; the love that is based upon a shared secret which both must conceal;
love for the sake of getting enjoyment and satisfying desire; and passionate love, that has no other cause but that union of souls to which we have referred above.
All these varieties of Love come to an end when their causes disappear, and increase or diminish
with them; they are intensified according to the degree of their proximity, and grow languid as their causes draw further and further away. The only exception. is the Love of true
passion, which has the mastery of the soul: this is the love, which passes not away save with death. You will find a man far advanced in years, who swears that he has forgotten love
entirely; yet when you remind him of it, he calls that
love back to mind, and is rejoiced; he is filled with youthful desire; his old emotion returns to him; his yearning is mightily stirred. In none of the other sorts of love does anything
like this happen: that mental preoccupation, that derangement
of the reason, that melancholia, that transformation of settled temperaments, and alteration of natural dispositions, that moodiness, that sighing, and all the other,
symptoms of profound agitation which accompany assionate love.
All this proves that true Love is a spiritual approbation, a fusion of souls. It may be objected, that if Love were as
I have described, it would be exactly equal in both the parties concerned,
since the two parts would be partners in the act of union and the share of each would be the same. To this I reply, that the objection is indeed well-founded;
but the soul of the man who loves not one who loves him is beset on all sides by various accidents which occlude, and veils that encompass it about, those earthy temperaments which now overlay it,
so that his soul does not sense that part which was united with it before it came to occupy its present lodging-place. Had his soul been liberated from these restrictions, the two would have been equal in
their experience of union and love. As for the lover, his soul is indeed free and aware of where that other is that shared with it in ancient proximity; his soul is ever seeking for the other, striving after it,
searching it out, yearning to encounter it again, drawing it to itself if might be as a magnet draws the iron.
The essential force of the magnet, when in contact with the essential force of the iron, is not so strong or so refined as to seek out after the iron,
for all that the iron is of the
self-same kind and element; it is the force of the iron, by virtue of its natural strength, that reaches out after its kind' and is drawn towards it. Movement always takes place from the side of the more powerful. The force of the
iron, when left to itself and not prevented by any
restriction, seeks out what- resembles itself and with single-minded devotion, so to speak, hastens towards it; this it does naturally and necessarily, not out of free choice and set purpose. When you hold back the iron in
your hand it is no longer attracted to the magnet, because the force it possesses is not sufficient to overcome the stronger force holding it back. When the particles of iron are numerous,
one group of these is fully occupied with the other and all are adequately satisfied by their own kind, and do not care to seek after that small portion of their forces standing at a distance from them. When the mass of the magnet
is large, however, and its forces are a match for all the forces lying
within the iron's mass, the iron reverts to its accustomed nature.
Similarly the fire which is latent in the flint, in spite of the force belonging to fire to unite and to summon together its scattered parts wherever they may be,
does not in fact issue from the flint until the latter is struck. When the two masses press and rub closely against each other, the fire is liberated; otherwise it remains latent within the flint, and does not show or manifest itself at all.
My theory is further proved by the fact that you will never find two persons in love with one another without there being some likeness and agreement of natural attributes
between them. This condition must definitely obtain, even if only to a small degree; the more numerous the resemblances, the greater will be their congeneity and the firmer their affection. It is only necessary to look for this, and you will see it
quite plainly on all hands. The Messenger of Allah confirmed the matter when he said, " Spirits are regimented battalions those which know one another associate familiarly together, while those which do not know one another remain at variance." A saint is
reported as having stated, " The spirits of believers know one another."
For the same reason Hippocrates was not distressed when he was told of a man deficient in virtue who was in love with him. The matter being remarked upon, he said,
" He would not have fallen in love with me if I had not accorded with him in some aspect of my character." Plato relates how a certain king threw him in prison unjustly, and he did not cease to argue his case until he proved his innocence,
and the king realised that he had been unjust to him. The minister who had charged himself with conveying Plato's words to the monarch exclaimed, " O king, it has now become evident to you that he is innocent; what more lies between you and him? "
The king answered, " Upon my life, I have nothing against him, except that I feel within myself an inexplicable disgust with him." The minister reported this saying to Plato. The latter remarked, continuing his story, " So I was obliged to search within my soul
and my character for something resembling his soul and his character, which might be a point of correspondence between us. I considered his character, and observed that he loved equity and hated injustice. I diagnosed the same disposition within myself; and no sooner
did I set this point of agreement into motion and confront his soul with this characteristic which he possessed in common with me, than he gave orders for my release." Plato relates that the king then said to his minister, " All the antipathy against him that I formerly
felt within me has now been dissolved."
As for what causes Love in most cases to choose a beautiful form to light upon, it is evident that the soul itself being beautiful, it is affected by all beautiful things, and has a
yearning for perfect symmetrical images whenever it sees any such image, it fixes itself upon it; then, if it discerns behind that image something of its own kind, it becomes united and true love is established. If however the soul does not discover anything of
its own kind behind the image, its affection goes no further than the form, and remains mere carnal desire. Indeed, physical forms have a wonderful faculty of drawing together the scattered parts of men's souls.
I have read in the first book of the Pentateuch how the Prophet Jacob, during the days when he was watching his uncle Laban's sheep, to be a dowry for his uncle's daughter, entered into an engagement
with Laban that he should share with him the offspring of the flock; all the lambs that were of a single colour would belong to Jacob, while every lamb born with a white blaze was to fall to Laban. Now Jacob would lay hold of the tree branches and strip off the bark of a
half, and leave the other half as they were; then he cast all into the water whither the sheep came down to drink. He would contrive to send the pregnant ewes down to drink at that time; and they would give birth in due course half to single-coloured lambs, and half to lambs marked
with a blaze
It is also related that a certain physiognomies had brought before him a black child, whose parents were both white. He examined his features, and saw that the infant undoubtedly belonged to the pair;
then he desired to be acquainted with the place where the parents had lain down together. He was brought into the house where their marriage-bed was, and observed facing the woman's field of vision the picture of a black man painted on the wall. He at once remarked to the father, "
It is on account of this picture that you have had such a son born to you."
The poets of the scholastics frequently touch on this theme in their compositions, addressing the external object of the vision as though it were an inner concept of the mind. The subject is very common in the poetry
of al-Nazzam Ibrahim Ibn Saiyar and of other scholastics; I myself have treated the topic in the verses, which follow.
No other cause of victory
There is, when we defeat the foe,
No other reason that we flee
Before their onset, as I know,
But that the souls of all mankind
In urgently unanimity,
O pearl in human hearts enshrined!
Strive to possess themselves of thee.
And so, where're thou dost precede,
None following lags far behind,
But with thy mounting light to lead
All see the way, and triumph find.
But when to rearward thou dost stand
The warriors emulate thy deed,
And, answering their hearts' command,
Wheel round to join thee with all speed.
I have another poem on the same subject.
Say, art thou of the angels' sphere,
Or sharest thou our human kind?
My dazzled judgment sees not clear;
Bewilderment defeats my mind.'
The vision of my outward eye
A human shape descries in thee;
When inward reason I apply,
I know thy form is heavenly.
Then blessed be God, Who did design
His creatures so symmetrical,
And fashioned thee a light to shine
In natural beauty over all.
Thou the primeval Spirit art,
As I undoubtingly believe,
Which an affinity of heart
Made our souls worthy to receive.
No other proof do we possess
To argue thy mortality,
But that thy visual loveliness
Impinges on our eyes, to see.
Did we not view thy essence clear
Within -this world of space and time,
We would declare in faith sincere
Thou art pure Reason, true, sublime!
One of my friends has called another poem of mine, from which the next extract comes, " The Imaginative Perception ".
All opposites, as thou dost see,
In him subsist combined;
Then how shall such variety
Of Meanings be defined?
O wondrous body that dost lie
Beyond dimensions' range!
O accident, that shalt not die,
Exempt from chance and change!
Thou cuttest through the tangled thread
Of scholars' argument,
And makest, in thy light thus shed,
The truth self-evident.
Precisely the same thing is to be found in the case of Hatred: you will see two persons hating one another for no basic
cause or reason whatsoever, but simply because the one has .a wholly irrational antipathy for the other.
Love-may God exalt you! -is in truth a baffling ailment, and its remedy is in strict accord with the degree to
which it is treated; it is a delightful malady, a most desirable sickness. Whoever is free of it likes not to be immune, and whoever is struck down by it yearns not to recover.
Love represents as glamorous that which a man formerly disdained, and renders easy for him that which he hitherto found hard; so that it even transforms established temperaments and
inborn dispositions, as shall be set forth briefly in its own appropriate chapter, God willing.
Among my acquaintances I once knew a youth who was bogged down in love and stuck fast in its toils passion
had grievously affected him, sickness had worn 1-dm out. Yet his soul found no comfort in praying to Almighty God to remove his afflictions; his tongue was not loosed in any petition for
deliverance. His only prayer was to be united with and to be possessed of the one he loved, despite the enormity of his sufferings and the long protraction of his cares. (What is one to think of the
sick man who desires not to be rid of his sickness?). One day I was seated with him, and felt so distressed at the visible evidence of his miserable condition, his head cast down, his staring eyes,
that I said to him (among other things), " May Allah grant you relief!
" I at once observed in his face the marks of strong displeasure with what I had said. It was with such a situation in mind that I composed the follow verses, part of a long poem.
O rare delight, these pains that break
My heart, dear hope, for thy sweet sake!
Through all the days, in all my woe,
I will not ever let thee go.
If any man should dare to say,
" Thou shalt forget his love one day"
The only answer I will give
Is an eternal negative?
What I have described is all the exact opposite of what Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Qasim Ibn Muhammad al-Qurashi once told me in reference to his own case. (
He is the man better known as al-Shabanisi, a descendant of Imam Hisham
Ibn `Abd al-Rahman Ibn Mu'awiya.) He declared that he had never loved anyone, never grieved to be separated from any friend, and never in all his life transgressed the limits of association and comradeship to penetrate the bounds of love and passionate affection.
THE SIGNS OF LOVE
LOVE has certain signs, which the intelligent man quickly detects, and the shrewd man readily recognizes. Of these the first is the brooding gaze: the eye is the wide gateway of the soul, the scrutinizer of its secrets, conveying its most private thoughts, and giving expression to its deepest-hid feelings. You will see the lover gazing at the beloved unblinkingly; his eyes follow the loved one's every movement, withdrawing as he withdraws, inclining as he inclines, just as the chameleon's stare shifts with the shifting of the sun. I have written a poem on this topic, from which the following may be quoted.
My eye no other place of rest
Discovers, save with thee;
Men say the lodestone is possessed
Of a like property.
To right or left it doth pursue
Thy movements up or down,
As adjectives in grammar do
Accord them with their noun.
The lover will direct his conversation to the beloved, even when he purports however earnestly to address another: the affectation is apparent to anyone with eyes to see. When the loved one speaks, the lover listens with rapt attention to his every word; he marvels at everything the beloved says, however extraordinary and absurd his observations may be; he believes him implicitly even when he is clearly lying, agrees with him though he is obviously in the wrong, testifies on his behalf for all that he may be unjust, follows after him however he may proceed and whatever line of argument he may adopt. The lover hurries to the spot where the beloved is at the moment, endeavors to sit as near him as possible sidles up close to him, lays aside all occupations that might oblige him to leave his company, makes light of any matter however weighty that would demand his parting from him, is very slow to move when he takes his leave of him. I have put this somewhere into verse.
No captive for the gallows bound
With more reluctance quits his cell
Than I thy presence, in profound
Regret to say farewell.
But when, my darling, comes the time
That we may be together, I
Run swiftly as the moon doth climb
The ramparts of the sky.
At last, alas! That sweet delight
Must end anew; I, lingering yet,
Turn slowly, as from heaven's height
The fixed stars creep to set.
Other signs of love are that sudden confusion and excitement betrayed by the lover when he unexpectedly sees the one he loves coming upon him unawares, that agitation which overmasters him on beholding someone who resembles his beloved or, on hearing his name suddenly pronounced. This I have put into verse, as the following extract indicates.
Whene'er my ranging eyes descry
A person clad in red,
My heart is split with agony
And sore discomforted.
His roguish glance, as I conclude,
Has shed such human blood
That now his garments are imbrued
All saffron from the flood.
A man in love will give prodigally to the limit of his capacity, in a
way that formerly he would have refused; as if he were the one receiving the donation, he the one whose happiness is the object in view;
all this in order that he may show off his good points, and make himself desirable. How often has the miser opened his purse strings,
the scowler relaxed his frown, the coward leapt heroically into the fray, the clod suddenly become sharp-witted, the boor turned into the
perfect gentleman, the stinker transformed himself into the elegant dandy, the sloucher smartened up, the decrepit recaptured his lost youth,
the godly gone wild, the self-respecting kicked over the traces-and all because of love!
All these signs are to be observed even before the fire of Love is
properly kindled, ere its conflagration truly bursts forth, its blaze waxes fierce, its flames leap up. But when the fire really takes a
hold and is firmly established, then you will see the secret whispering, the unconcealed turning away from all present but the beloved.
I have some verses in which I have contrived to bring together many of these signs, and will now quote from these.
I love to hear when men converse
And in the midst his name rehearse;
The air I breathe seems redolent
That moment with the amber's scent,
But when he speaketh, I give ear
Unto no other sitting near,
But lean to catch delightedly
His pretty talk and coquetry,
Nor yet, though my companion there
The Prince of All the Faithful were,
Permit my mind to be removed
On his account from my beloved.
And if, through dire compulsion, I
Stand up at last to say good-bye,
Still glancing fondly at my sweet
I stumble, as on wounded feet;
My eyes upon his features play
The while my body drifts away,
As one the billows tumble o'er
Yet gazes, drowning, on the shore.
When I recall how distant he
Now is, I choke in sorrow's sea,
Weary as one who sinks, to expire
In some deep bog, or raging fire.
Yet, if thou sayest, " Canst thou still
Aspire to heaven? " " That I will ",
I answer boldly, " and I know
The stairs that to its summit go! "
Other outward signs and tokens of love are the following, which are apparent to all having eyes in their heads: abundant and exceeding cheerfulness at finding oneself with the beloved in a narrow space, and a corresponding depression on being together in a wide expanse; to engage in a playful tug-of-war for anything the one or the other lays hold of; much clandestine winking; leaning sideways and supporting oneself against the object of one's affection; endeavoring to touch his hand, and whatever other part of his body one can reach, while engaged in conversation ; and drinking the remainder of what the beloved has left in his cup, seeking out the very spot against which his lips were pressed.
There are also contrary signs that occur according to casual provocations and accidental incitements, and a variety of motivating causes and stimulating thoughts. Opposites are of course likes, in reality; when things reach the limit of contrariety, and stand at the furthest bounds of divergence, they come to resemble one another. This is decreed by God's omnipotent power, in a manner that baffles entirely the human imagination. Thus, when ice is pressed a long time in the hand, it finally produces the same effect as fire. We find that extreme joy and extreme sorrow kill equally; excessive and violent laughter sends the tears coursing from the eyes. It is a very common phenomenon in the world about us. Similarly with lovers: when they love each other with an equal ardour, and their mutual affection is intensely strong, they will turn against one another without any valid reason, each purposely contradicting the other in whatever he may say; they quarrel violently over the smallest things, each picking up every word that the other lets fall and willfully misinterpreting it. All these devices are aimed at testing and proving what each is seeking in the other.
Now the difference between this sham, and real aversion and contrariness born of deep-seated hatred and inveterate contention, is that lovers are very quickly reconciled
after their disputes. You will see a pair of lovers seeming to have reached the extreme limit of contrariety, to the point that you would reckon not to be mended even in the instance of a person of most tranquil spirit, wholly exempt from rancour, save after a long interval, and wholly irreparable in the case of a quarrelsome man; yet in next to no time you will observe them to have become the best of friends once more; silenced are those mutual reproaches, vanished that disharmony; forthwith they are laughing again and playfully sporting together. The same scene may be enacted several times at a single session. When you see a pair of lovers behaving in such a fashion, let no doubt enter your mind, no uncertainty invade your thoughts; you may be sure without hesitation, and convinced as by an unshakable certainty, that there lies between them a deep and hidden secret-the secret of true love. Take this then for a sure test, a universally valid experiment: it is the product only of an equal partnership in love, and a true concord of hearts. I myself have observed it frequently.
Another sign is when you find the lover almost entreating to hear the loved one's name pronounced, taking an extreme delight in speaking about him, so that the subject is a positive obsession with him; nothing so much rejoices him, and he is not in the least restrained by the fear that someone listening may realise what he is about, and someone present will understand his true motives. Love for a thing renders you blind and deaf. If the lover could so contrive, that in the place where he happens to be there should be no talk of anything but his beloved, he would never leave that spot for any other in the whole world.
It can happen that a man sincerely affected by love will start to eat his meal with an excellent appetite; yet the instant the recollection of his loved one is excited, the food sticks in his throat and chokes his gullet. It is the same if he is drinking, or talking he begins to converse with you gaily enough, and then all at once he is invaded by a chance thought of his dear one. You will notice the change in his manner of speaking, the instantaneous failure of his conversational powers; the sure signs are his long silences, the way he stares at the ground, his extreme taciturnity. One moment he is all smiles, lightly gesticulating; the next, and he has become completely boxed up, sluggish, distrait, rigid, too weary to utter a single word, irritated by the most innocent question.
Love's signs also include a fondness for solitude and a pleasure in being alone, as well as a wasting of the body not accompanied by any fever or ache preventing free activity and liberty of movement. The walk is also an unerring indication and never-deceiving sign of an inward lassitude of spirit. Sleeplessness too is a common affliction of lovers; the poets have described this condition frequently, relating how they watch the stars, and giving an account of the night's interminable length. I too have some verses on this topic, in which I also touch on the guarding of Love's secret, and mention the signs from which it may be prognosticated.
The clouds, when they my tears discerned,
A lesson from my weeping learned
And covered all the parched domain
With deluges of flooding rain.
And has the night because of thee
Now come to share my misery,
Or will it succour bring, perchance,
To this my weary vigilance?
For if the shadows of the night
Will ne'er disperse, and turn to light,
Until my eyes, pressed down by woes,
At last in weary slumber close;
I do not think that any way
Remains, to lead me back to day,
But still augmenting sleeplessness
My every moment shall oppress.
And now dark clouds o'erspread the
And hide the starlight from my eyes,
Concealing from my anxious gaze
The comfort of their fitful blaze.
Such inward torment of the mind,
Thee loving, dearest heart, I find,
Surmise alone can fully guess
And advertize my soul's distress.
Another poem of mine-I quote an extract-deals with the same notion.
I am the shepherd of the skies,
Deputed to preserve
The planets as they sink and rise,
The stars that do not swerve.
Those, as they swing their lamps above
Our earth, by night possessed,
Are like the kindled fires of love
Within my darkling breast.
Or I am now the gardener
Of some green mead, methinks,
And through the grasses, here and there,
A white narcissus winks.
Were Ptolemy alive to-day,
And did he know of me,
" Thou art the maestro ", he would say,
" Of all astronomy! "
A thing is sometimes mentioned on account of that which causes it to occur. In the verses I have just cited, I have compared two pairs of things with each other in one and the same stanza, the second of the poem beginning " Those, as they swing their lamps above this is considered very unusual in poetry. However, I can also quote an even more perfect example of virtuosity from my own works-the likening of three, and even four pairs of things in a single stanza; both these feats have been accomplished in the piece here following.
Still yearning, and disquieted,
Still sleepless tossing on his bed,
Wits drunken and disorderly
With the coarse wine of calumny;
He shows to thee in one brief hour
Marvels defeating reason's power
Now hostile, now the friend sincere,
Now running off, now pressing near
As if this passion, this reproof,
To be complacent, or aloof,
Were stars conjoining, or in flight,
Fortune's benevolence, or spite.
After so long refusal, he
Took pity on my love, and me,
And I, who envied others' chance,
Am target now for envy's glance.
Together in a garden gay
With bloom we passed our happy day,
The while the bright and whispering flowers
Gave thanks to God for morning's showers
As if the matin rains, indeed,
The clouds, and that sweet-scented mead,
Were dropping tears, and eyes bedewed,
And cheeks with roses all imbued.
Let none find fault with me or object to my use of the term "conjoining ", for those who have knowledge of the stars speak of the meeting of two stars in a single degree as a " conjunction ".
I have not yet exhausted my repertoire, but can cite a still more perfect example, the likening of five pairs of things in a single stanza, as in my next quotation.
She sat there privily with me,
And wine besides, to make us three,
While night profound o'ershadowing
Stretched out its long and stealthy wing.
A damsel fair-I would prefer
To die, than not live close with her;
And is it such a dreadful crime
To wish to live this little time?
It was as if myself, and she,
The cup, the wine, the obscurity,
Were earth, and raindrops, and pearls set
Upon a thread, and gold, and jet.
That is a point beyond which it is impossible for anyone to go; neither prosody nor the structure of words will tolerate more than five comparisons in the same stanza.
Trepidation overtakes lovers in two situations. The first is when the lover hopes to meet the beloved, and then some obstacle intervenes to prevent it. I know a man whose loved one had promised to visit hi; thereafter I never saw him but that he was coming and going the whole time, quite unable to be still or to remain in one place; now he would advance, anon he would retire; joy had made him positively nimble and spritely, though formerly he was exceedingly grave and sedate. I have some verses on the subject of awaiting the visit of the beloved.
I waited still, until night came
Upon me, hoping yet
To meet thee, O my quest, and aim
On which my heart is set!
Then I, who never any day
Despaired, though long the night,
At last to dark despair gave way
When dark o'ercame my light.
Moreover I a proof will cite
That cannot tell a lie;
The like such problems solve aright
As reason else defy:
To wit, if thou shouldst ever deign
One night to visit me,
No longer darkness would remain,
But light eternally.
The second cause of trepidation is when a quarrel breaks out between the loving couple, in the course of which reproaches fly about, the true grounds whereof only a detailed explanation can make clear. Then the lover's agitation becomes violent indeed, and continues until the matter comes completely into the open; when either the burden under which he has been struggling is lifted, if he has cause to hope for forgiveness, or his trepidation converts into sorrow and despair, if he is fearful that the beloved will thenceforward banish him. The lover may however submit humbly to the loved one's cruelty, as shall be expounded hereafter in its proper context, God willing.
Among the accidents of Love may be mentioned an extreme impatience under affliction, such a paroxysm of emotion as completely overwhelms the lover and leaves him speechless, as when he sees his beloved turning from him in undisguised aversion. I have a line or two referring to this.
Fair fortitude imprisoned lies,
And tears flow freely from the eyes.
Another sign of Love is that you will see the lover loving his beloved's kith and kin and the intimate ones of his household, to such an extent that they are nearer and dearer to him than his own folk, himself, and all his familiar friends.
Weeping is a well-known sign of Love; except that men differ very greatly from one another in this particular. Some are ready weepers; their tear-ducts are always overflowing, and their eyes respond immediately to their emotions, the tears rolling down at a moment's notice. Others are dry-eyed and barren of tears; to this category I myself belong. This is the result of my habit of eating frankincense to abate the palpitation from which I have suffered since childhood. I will be afflicted by some shocking blow, and at once feel my heart to be splitting and breaking into fragments; I have a choking sensation in my heart more bitter than colocynth, that prevents me from getting my words out properly, and sometimes well nigh suffocates me. My eyes therefore respond to my feelings but rarely, and then my tears are exceedingly sparse.
Writing the above paragraph has put me in mind of a certain day when I, with my companion Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Ishaq, was bidding farewell to our dear friend Abu `Amin Muhammad Ibn 'Amir (God have him in His mercy!) prior to his departure for the East on that journey after which we were never to see him again. Abu Bakr, as he said good-bye, began to weep, and cited the following verses to illustrate his grief.
When thou on Wasit field didst lie
Felled to the dust, what eye
Grudged its last tears on thee to shed,
Was dry indeed and dead.
The stanza is taken from an elegy on Yazid Ibn `Umar Ibn Hubaira (God have mercy on his soul!). We were standing on the seashore at Malaga, and I began to feel more and more distressed and heartbroken, yet my eyes would not come to my aid. Then I said, in response to the verses quoted by Abu Bakr:
The heart that shed not, still the Stoic,
Its fortitude heroic,
When thou wast gone, and it alone
That heart was made of stone!
I also have an ode, composed before reaching puberty, in which I follow the usual conventions observed by those who treat this theme; I will quote the opening lines.
The sign of sorrow is a flame
That strikes the heart, and burns the same,
As too the tears that freely go
Adown the cheeks in ceaseless flow.
For when the man by Love possessed
Conceals the secret of his breast,
His tears the guarded truth betray
And bare it to the light of day.
So, when the tear-ducts overfill
The eyelids, and their torrent spill,
Be sure, if thou observant art,
Love's painful sickness rends that heart.
It will happen in Love that the lovers have evil thoughts of one another; each suspects every word the partner utters, and misconstrues it willfully; which is the origin of those reproaches which lovers often level each against each. I have an acquaintance who is normally the most unsuspicious man in the world, extremely broad-minded, possessed of great patience and untold tolerance, indulgent to a fault; yet when he is in love, he cannot endure the slightest thing between him and the object of his affection; let the least difference arise between them, and he will forthwith utter all kinds of reproaches and give voice to every manner of mistrust. I have put this situation into verse.
I have a dark, suspicious mind,
And nothing negligible find
Thou doest; despicable they,
Who do despise Love's least affray-!
They will not see, until too late,
The roots of rupture and of hate,
Forgetting, to their own despite,
A spark may set a town alight.
Things of the greatest moment in
The humblest origins begin;
Witness the date-tree, hugely grown
To heaven from a little stone.
You will see the lover, when unsure of the constancy of his loved one's feelings for him, perpetually on his guard in a way that he never troubled to be before; he polishes his language, he refines his gestures and his glances, particularly if he has the misfortune and mischance to be in love with one given to making unjust accusations, or of a quarrelsome disposition.
Another sign of Love is the way the lover pays attention to the beloved; remembering everything that falls from his lips; searching out all the news about him, so that nothing small or great that happens to him may escape his knowledge; in short, following closely his every movement. Upon my life, sometimes you will see a complete dolt under these circumstances become most keen, a careless fellow turn exceedingly quick-witted.
I was seated one day at Almeria, with a knot of other people, in the shop of Ismail Ibn Yunus, the Hebrew physician who was also a shrewd and clever physiognomist. Mujahid Ibn al-Hasin al-Qaisi said to him, pointing to a certain man named Hatim-he was familiarly known as Abu 'l-Baga'-who was withdrawn apart from the rest of us, " What do you say about his man? " He looked at him for a brief moment, and then said, "He is passionately in love ". Mujahid exclaimed, " You are right; what made you say this? " Ismail answered, " Because of an extreme confusion apparent in his face. Simply that; otherwise all the rest of his movements are unremarkable. I knew from his that he is in love, and not suffering from any mental disorder."
OF FALLING IN LOVE WHILE ASLEEP
EVERY love affair must necessarily have some original cause. I shall now begin with the most unlikely of all causes of love, so that the discourse may proceed in due order, starting as ever with the simplest and easiest example. Love indeed is sometimes caused by things so strange, that but for having myself observed them I would not have mentioned them at all.
Now here is an instance from my own experience. One day I visited our friend Abu '1-Sari 'Ammar Ibn Ziyad, the freedman of al-Mu'aiyad, and found him deep in thought and much preoccupied. I asked him what was amiss; for a while he refused to explain, but then he said, "An extraordinary thing has happened to me, the like of which I have never heard." "What is that? I enquired. " Last night ", he answered, " I saw in a dream a young maiden, and on awaking I found that I had completely lost my heart to her, and that I was madly in love with her. Now I am in the most difficult straits possible, with this passion I have conceived for her." He continued cast down and afflicted for more than a month; nothing would cheer him up, so profound was his emotion. At last I scolded him, saying, " It is a vast mistake to occupy your soul with something unreal, and to attach your fantasy to a non-existent being. Do you know who she is? " " No, by Allah! " he replied. " Really ", I went on, " you have very little judgment, --and your discretion must be affected, if you axe actually in love with a person whom you have never seen, someone moreover who was never created and does not exist in the world at all. If you had fallen for one of those pictures they paint on the walls of the public
baths, I would have found it easier to excuse you." So I continued, until at last by making a great effort he forgot his trouble. Now my opinion is that his case is to be explained as a pure fantasy of the mind, a nightmare illusion, and falls into the category of wishful thinking and mental hallucination. I have expressed this situation actually in verse.
Ah, would I knew who she might be,
And how she walked by night!
Was she the moon that shone on me,
The sun's uprising light?
A mere conjecture of the mind
By cogitation wrought?
An image that the soul designed,
Revealed to me by thought?
A picture that my spirit drew,
My hopes to realize,
And that my sight imagined to
Perceive in fleshly guise?
Or was she nothing of all these,
But just an accident
Contrived for me by Fate's decrees
With murderous intent?
OF FALLING IN LOVE THROUGH A DESCRIPTION
ONE of the strangest origins of passion is when a man falls in love through merely hearing the description of the other party, without ever having set eyes on the beloved. In such a case he will progress through all the accustomed stages of love; there will be the sending to and fro of messengers; the exchange of letters, the anxiety, the deep emotion, the sleeplessness; and all this without actual sight of the object of affection. Stories, descriptions of beautiful qualities, and the reporting of news about the fair one have a manifest effect on the soul; to hear a girl's voice singing behind a wall may well move the heart to love, and preoccupy the mind.
All this has occurred to more than one man. In my opinion, however, such a love is a tumbledown building without any foundations. If a man's thoughts are absorbed by passionate regard for one whom he has never seen, the inevitable result is that whenever he is alone with his own reflections, he will represent to himself a purely imaginary picture of the person whose identity he keeps constantly before his mind; no other being than this takes shape in his fantasy; he is completely carried away by his imagination, and
visualizes and dreams of her only. Then, if some day he actually sees the object of his fanciful passion, either his love is confirmed, or it is wholly nullified. Both these alternatives have actually happened and been known.
This kind of romance usually takes place between veiled ladies of guarded palaces and aristocratic households and their male kinsfolk; the love of women is more stable in these cases than that of men, because women are weak creatures and their natures swiftly respond to this sort of attraction, which easily masters them completely. I have described this type of love in verse.
O thou who chidest me
Because my heart has been
Entranced by passion utterly
For one I have not seen
Thou dost exaggerate
In all that thou dost speak
Upon my passion, and dost state
My love is poor and weak.
For say: what do men know
Of Paradise above,
Save they have heard that it is so
And what they hear they love?
I also have some lines on the theme of admiring the beauty of a singing voice, without ever having seen the singer.
Love's soldiery assailed mine ear
And now do occupy
My heart; their triumph doth appear
In my submissive eye.
In the lines which follow I describe the situation of truth belying conjecture, when the lover actually claps eyes on his beloved.
They spoke in glowing terms of thee,
But when at last I chanced to see
That they described, at once I knew
Their words were nonsense and untrue.
Such is the drum: in origin
'Tis nothing but an empty skin,
But when the drummer beats its hide
A man is scared, and terrified!
I have also stated the converse case.
So, too, the stories men recite
To picture the supreme delight
Of Paradise, fall short by far
Of those its actual pleasures are.
These conditions also obtain in the relations between friends and comrades, as I shall show in a personal reminiscence. There was once a strong bond of affection between myself and a member of a noble family; we corresponded frequently, but had never set eyes on one another. Then Allah granted me the boon of meeting him; and but a few days elapsed when a violent aversion and strong antipathy arose between us, that has continued uninterruptedly down to to the present day. I have put this incident into verse, and will quote a line or two.
Thou didst convert my loving dream
To loathing, and to hate extreme
So copyists have oft times slipped
And quite transformed a manuscript
The opposite transpired in the case of my relations with Abu `Amin Ibn Abi `Amin (God keep him in His mercy!). Once I truly detested him, and he fully reciprocated my feelings; this was before I had seen .him, and he me. The root of the matter was a slanderous report, which had been carried to each of us about the other, aggravated by an aversion existing between our respective fathers that sprung from their mutual rivalry in the race for preferment at Court and worldly promotion. Then Allah so ordained that we should come together; thereafter he became my dearest friend, and I his likewise, until the day that death parted us. The following verses were written by me to commemorate this friendship.
He was a brother, whom I gained
By meeting, and thereby obtained
A truly noble treasure;
His friendship was not wished by me,
And I supposed his company
Would yield me little pleasure
But he, who was my erstwhile foe,
Became my friend, he, whom I so
Abhorred, my heart's sweet rapture;
And having ever sought to fly
From meeting him, thereafter I
Sought ever him to capture.
As for Abu Shakir 'Abd al-Rahman Ibn Muhammad al-Qabri, he was my friend for a long while before I ever saw him; then we met, and our love was confirmed; and it has continued without interruption right down to the present time.
OF FALLING IN LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
OFTEN it happens that Love fastens itself to the heart as the result of a single glance. This variety of Love is divided into two classes.
The first class is the contrary of what we have just been describing, in that a man will fall head over heels in love with a mere form, without knowing who that person may be, what her name- is, or where she lives. This has happened to more than one man.
Our friend Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Ishaq informed me, quoting a trustworthy authority whose name has escaped me-though I think it was Judge Ibn al-Hadhdha' that the poet Yusuf Ibn Harun, better known as al-Ramadi, was one day passing the Gate of the Perfumers at Cordova, a place where ladies were wont to congregate, when he espied a young girl who, as he said, "entirely captured my heart, so that all my limbs were penetrated by the love of her ". He therefore turned aside from going to the mosque and set himself instead to following her, while she for her part set off towards the bridge, which she then crossed and came to the place known as al-Rabad. When she reached the mausolea of the Banu Marwan (God have mercy on their souls!) that are erected over their graves in the cemetery of al-Rabad, beyond' the river, she observed him to have gone apart from the rest of the people and to be preoccupied solely with her. She accordingly went up to him and said, " Why are you walking behind me?" He told her how sorely smitten he was with her, and she replied, "Have done with that! Do not seek to expose me to shame; you have no prospect of achieving your purpose, and there is no way to you're gratifying your desire. -" He countered, " I am satisfied merely to look at you." " That is permitted to you ", she replied. Then he asked her, " My lady, are you a freewoman, or are you a slave? " " I am a slave ", she answered. "And what is your name?" he enquired. " Khalwa ", she told him. "And to whom do you belong? " He asked next. To this she retorted, " By Allah, you are likelier to know what inhabits the Seventh Heaven, than the answer to that question. Seek not the impossible! " " My lady ", he begged, " Where may I see you again? " " Where you saw me to-day", she replied, " at the same hour, every Friday." Then she added, " Will you go off now, or shall I? " " Do you go off, in Allah's protection! " he replied. So she went off in the direction of the bridge; and he could not follow her, because she kept looking round to see if he was accompanying her or not. When she had passed the gate of the bridge, he came after her but could find no trace of her whatsoever. "'And by Allah ", said Abu `Umar (that is to say, Yusuf Ibn Harun), recounting the story of his adventure, " I have frequented the Perfumers' Gate and al-Rabad the whole time from then till now, but
I have never come upon any further news of her. I know not whether the heavens have devoured her, or whether the earth has swallowed her up; and the feeling I have in my heart on her account is hotter than burning coals." This is the Khalwa whose name he
celebrates in his love lyrics. Thereafter he had news of her after he journeyed to Saragossa for her sake, but that is a long story.
This sort of thing happens frequently enough; I have a poem on the subject, from which I here quote.
Against my heart mine eye designed
Great wrong, and anguish to my mind,
Which sin my spirit to requite
Hath loosed these tears against my sight.
How shall mine eye behold in fact
This justice that my tears exact,
Seeing that in their flood profound
My weeping eye is wholly drowned?
Since I had never seen her yet
I could not know her, when we met;
The final thing of her I knew
Was what I saw at that first view.
The second class of the variety of Love now under discussion is the contrary of what we shall be describing in the chapter next following, if Allah wills. This is for a map to form an attachment at first sight with a young lady whose name, place of abode and origin are known to him. The difference here is the speed or tardiness with which the affair passes off. When a man falls in love at first sight, and forms a sudden attachment as the result of a fleeting glance, that proves him to be little steadfast, and proclaims that he will as suddenly forget his romantic adventure; it testifies to his fickleness and inconstancy. So, it is with all things; the quicker they grow, the quicker they decay; while on the other hand slow produced is slow consumed.
A young fellow I know, the son of a clerk, was one day observed by a lady of noble birth, high position and strict seclusion; she saw him passing by, while peeping out from a place of vantage in her home, and conceived an attachment for him which he reciprocated. They exchanged epistles for a time, by ways more delicate than the edge of a fine-ground sword; and were it not that I purpose not in this essay to uncover such ruses and make mention of such subterfuges, I could have set down here such things as I am certain would have confounded the shrewdest and astonished the most intelligent of men. I pray that God in His great bounty will draw over us and all good Moslems the curtain of His mercy. He is indeed sufficient for our needs.
OF FALLING IN LOVE AFTER LONG ASSOCIATION
SOME men there are whose love only becomes true after long converse, much contemplation, and extended familiarity. Such a one is likely to persist and to be steadfast in his affection, untouched by the passage of time what enters with difficulty goes not out easily. That is my own way in these matters, and it is confirmed by Holy Tradition. For God, as we are informed by our teachers, when He commanded the Spirit to enter Adam's body, that was like an earthen vessel-and the Spirit was afraid, and sorely distressed -said to it, "Enter in unwillingly, and come forth again unwillingly! "
I have myself seen a man of this description who, whenever he sensed within himself the beginnings of a passionate attachment, or conceived a penchant for some form whose beauty he admired, at once employed the device of shunning that person and giving up all association with him, lest his feelings become more intense and the affair get beyond his control, and he find himself completely stampeded. This proves how closely Love cleaves to such people's hearts, and once it lays hold of them never looses its grip. I have a poem on this subject, and will quote an extract.
I am resolved to keep afar
Wherever Love's attractions are;
The man of sense, as I detect,
Is ever shrewd and circumspect.
I have observed that love begins
When some poor fellow for his sins,
Thinks, it is thrilling, ever so,
To gaze on cheeks where roses glow.
But while he sports so joyfully
With not a care to mar his glee,
The links are forging, one by one,
And he's enchained, before he's done.
So there he is, deluded fool;
Stepping benignly in the pool
He slips, and ere he can look round
He's swept along the flood, and drowned.
I indeed marvel profoundly at all those who pretend to fall in love at first sight; I cannot easily prevail upon myself to believe their claim, and prefer to consider such love as merely a kind of lust. As for thinking that that sort of attachment can really possess the inmost heart, and penetrate the veil of the soul's recess, that I cannot under any circumstances credit. Love has never truly gripped my bowels, save after a long lapse of time, and constant companionship with the person concerned, sharing with him all that
while my every occupation, be it earnest or frivolous. So I am alike in consolation and in passion; I have never in my life forgotten any romance, and my nostalgia for every former attachment is such that I well nigh choke when I drink, and suffocate when I eat. The man who is not so constituted quickly finds complete relief and is at rest again; I have never wearied of anything once I have known it, and neither have I hastened to feel at home with it on first acquaintance. Similarly I have never longed for a change for change's sake, in any of the things that I have possessed; I am speaking here not only of friends and comrades, but' also of all the other things a man uses-clothes, riding-beast, food, and so on. Life holds no joy for me, and I do nothing but hang my head and feel utterly cast down, ever since I first tasted the bitterness of being-separated from those I love. It is an anguish that constantly revisits me, an agony of grief that ceases not for a moment to assail me. My remembrance of past happiness has abated for me every joy that I may look for in the future. I am a dead man, though counted among the living, slain by sorrow and buried by sadness, entombed while yet a dweller on the face of this mortal earth. Allah be praised, whatever be the circumstances that befall us; there is indeed no other God but He!
I have meditated upon this theme in verse as follows.
True love is not a flower
That springeth in an hour;
Its flint will not strike fire
At casual desire.
Love is an infant rare
Begotten, slow to bear;
Its lime must mingle long
Before its base is strong.
And then not soon will it
Be undermined, and split;
Firm will its structure stand,
Its fabric still expand.
This truth is readily
Confirmed, because we see
That things too quickly grown
Are swiftly overthrown.
Mine is a stubborn soil
To plough with arduous toil,
To tiller and to seed.
But once the roots begin
To strike and thrive therein,
Come bounteous rain, come drought,
The lusty stem will sprout.
Now let no man think or imagine that what I have here said is contrary to my statement, inscribed in the exordium of this treatise, that Love is a union of souls effected within the substance of their supernal world. On the contrary, my present remarks confirm that assertion. For we know that in this lower world the soul is shrouded in many veils, that it is overtaken By divers accidents, that it is encompassed by all those earthy, mundane instincts; in consequence many of true attributes are obscured. And although all these obstacles do not preclude the soul entirely from achieving union with its fellow-soul, nevertheless they undoubtedly stand in the way of that union, which may therefore only be truly realized after long and careful preparation and making ready. The soul must first be made aware of its points of resemblance and concord with its fellow-soul; it must confront its own hidden temperaments with the corresponding temperaments of the beloved. Then and then only will veritable union be consummated, and that without further let or hindrance.
As for what transpires at first blush as a result of certain accidental circumstances-physical admiration, and visual enchantment which does not go beyond mere external forms-and this is the very secret and meaning of carnal desire; when carnal desire moreover becomes so overflowing that it surpasses these bounds, and when such an overflow coincides with a spiritual union, in which the natural instincts share equally with the soul; the resulting phenomenon is called passionate love. Herein lies the root of the error, which misleads a man into asserting that he loves two persons, or is passionately enamored of two entirely different individuals. All this is to be explained as springing out of carnal' desire, as we have just described; it is called love only metaphorically, and not in the true meaning of the term. As for the true lover, his yearning of the soul is so excessive as to divert him from all his religious and mundane occupations; how then should he have room to busy himself with a second love affair?
I have put this point into verse.
He lies, and perjures all that's true;
Who swears he is in love with two
He shares in falsehood equally
With that damned miscreant, Manichee.
The heart has not sufficient place
To hold two sweets in one embrace,
Nor may the second love affair
Claim with the first an equal share.
For as the Reason is unique
It cannot know, though it may seek,
Another Power to create
Besides the All Compassionate.
And so the Heart, that's likewise one,
Is constituted to love none
Except that single darling dear,
Be he afar or be he near.
The man who claims a dual love
Is thus, as these examples prove,
A doubtful follower of Love's laws,
A traitor to Religion's cause.
And by that selfsame reasoning
True Faith is too a single thing;
He who a second serves as well
Condemns himself an infidel.
I know a certain young man who is rich, of noble birth, and of the finest education, and who made a practice of purchasing slave-girls. The girl would be o begin with innocent of any regard for him; still worse, she would positively dislike him, for indeed his ways were not very engaging, with that perpetual scowl which never left his face, particularly when he was with women; yet within a very short time he had mastered her to his will. Thereupon her -aversion would be changed into excessive love, extreme affection, and quite shameless infatuation; whereas formerly she was irritated to be in his company, now she could not endure to be parted from him. The same thing happened with a remarkable number of the girls. A friend of mine asked him once how he explained his success; in a detailed reply he ascribed it to his unusual dexterity in lovemaking.
This example-and I could quote others-proves that when a spiritual concord is once established, love is immediately engendered. Physical contact completes -the circuit and thus enables the current of love to flow freely into the soul.
OF FALLING IN LOVE WITH A QUALITY AND THEREAFTER NOT APPROVING ANY OTHER DIFFERENT
KNOW now-may God exalt you! -that Love exercises an effective authority, a decisive sovereignty over the soul; its commands cannot be opposed, its ordinances may not be flouted, its rule is not to be transgressed; it demands unwavering obedience, and against its dominion there is no appeal. Love untwists the firmest plaits, and looses the tightest strands it dissolves that which is most solid, undoes that which is most firm; it penetrates the deepest recesses of the heart, and makes lawful things most strictly forbidden.
I have known many men whose discrimination was beyond suspicion, men not to be feared deficient in knowledge, or wanting in taste, or lacking discernment, and who nevertheless described their loved ones as possessing certain qualities not by any means
admired by the general run of mankind, or approved according to the accepted canons of beauty. Yet those qualities had become an obsession with them, the sole object of their passion, and the very last word (as they thought) in elegance. Thereafter their loved ones vanished, either into oblivion, or by separation, or jilting, or through some other accident to which love is always liable; but those men never lost their admiration for the curious qualities which provoked their approval of them, neither did they ever afterwards cease to prefer these above other attributes that are in.-reality superior to them. They had no inclination whatsoever for any qualities besides these; indeed, the very features which the rest of mankind deem most excellent were shunned and despised by them. So they continued until the day of their death; all their lives were spent in sighing regretfully for the loved ones they had lost, and taking joyous delight in their remembered companionship. I do not consider, that this was any kind of affectation on their part; on the contrary, it was their true and natural disposition to admire such eccentric qualities; they chose them unreservedly, they thought none other worthy of regard, and in the very depths of their souls they did not believe otherwise.
I know a man whose loved one was somewhat short of neck; thereafter he never admired anyone, man or girl, whose neck was long and slender. I also know a man whose first attachment was with a girl inclined to be petite; he never fell in love with a tall woman after that. A third man I know was madly enamoured of a girl whose mouth was a trifle wide; lie thought small mouths positively disgusting, he abused them roundly, and clearly felt an authentic aversion in regard to them. Now the men of whom I have been speaking are by no means under-endowed knowledge and culture; on the contrary they are men of the keenest perception, truly worthy to be described as intelligent and understanding.
Let me add a personal touch. In my youth I loved a slave-girl who happened to be a blonde; from that time I have never admired brunettes, not though their lark tresses set off a face as resplendent as the sun, or the very image of beauty itself. I find this taste to have become a part of my whole make-up and constitution since those early days; my soul will not suffer me to acquire any other, or to love any type but that. This very same thing happened to my father also God be pleased with him!), and he remained faithful his first preference until the term of his earthly life was done.
All the Caliphs of the Banu Marwan (God have mercy on their souls!), and especially the sons of al-Nasir, were without variation or exception disposed by nature to prefer blondes. I have myself seen them, and known others who had seen their forebears, from the days of al-Nasir's reign down to the present day; every one of them has been fair-haired, taking after, their mothers, so that this has become a hereditary trait with them; all but Sulaiman al-Zafir (God have mercy on him!), whom I remember to have had black ringlets and a black beard. As for al-Nasir and al-Hakam al-Mustansir (may God be pleased with them!), I have been informed by my late father, the vizier, as well as by others, that both of them were blond and blue-eyed. The same is true of Hisham al-Mu'aiyad, Muhammad al-Mahdi, and `Abd al-Rahman al-Murtada (may God be merciful to them all!); I saw them myself many times, and had the honour of being received by them, and I remarked that they all had fair hair and blue eyes. Their sons, their brothers, and all their near kinsmen possessed the selfsame characteristics. I know not whether this was due to a predilection innate in them all, or whether it was in consequence of a family tradition handed down from their ancestors, and which they followed in their turn. This
comes out clearly in the poetry of `Abd al-Malik Ibn Marwan Ibn `Abd al-Rahman Ibn Marwan, the descendant of the Caliph al-Nasir, better known as al-Taliq; he was the greatest poet of Andalusia in those times, and in most of his love lyrics he serenades blondes. I have seen him personally, and sat in his company.
It is not so remarkable that a man who has once fallen in love with an ill-favored wench should not carry that foible with him for the rest of his amatory career; it is one of those things that are always liable to happen. Neither is it astonishing that a man should prefer the inferior article, when such an eccentricity is part of his inborn nature. What is truly amazing, is that a man formerly accustomed to see things with the eye of truth should suddenly be overcome by a casual passion, after he has been out about in society a long time, and that this accident of caprice should so completely transform him from his previous habits as to become a second nature with him, entirely displacing his first. In such extraordinary cases he will know well enough the superiority of his former disposition, but when he comes back to his senses he finds that his soul now refuses to have anything to do with any but the baser sort of goods. Marvelous indeed is the mighty domination, the splendid tyranny of the human passion. Such a man is a sincere and devoted lover, and not he who apes the manners of folk with whom he has no connexion whatever, and pretends to a character which belongs to him not at all. The latter sort of man asserts indeed that he chooses at will whom he will love; but if love had really taken possession of his powers of discernment, if love had extirpated his native reason and swept away his natural discretion, then love would have so dominated his soul that he would no longer be free to pick and choose, as he so boasts to do.
I have a poem or two on this theme also.
I know a youth that loved a lass
Whose neck was short and somewhat stout;
And now, when long-necked maidens pass,
He thinks them jinn's, without a doubt.
He is content, to justify
His claim that he has chosen well,
Upon a logic to rely
That has some substance, truth to tell.
Thus he would argue: " The wild cow
Is famed in proverb and in song,
And no man lives, but will allow
Beauty doth to the cow belong.
"Now never was the wild cow born
Whose neck was long and angular;
And are not camels held inn scorn
Because their necks stick out so far?"
I know another lad who loved
A most uncommon wide-mouthed dame
He said, " Her loveliness is proved
By the gazelle, whose mouth's the same."
And still a third young chap I know
Whose well-beloved was unco small;
" Tall women ", he would say, " are so
Stuck up-they're devils, one and all."
Another poem of mine is worth quoting here.
They blame the girl of whom I'm fond
Because her lovely hair is blond:
"But that's exactly", I reply,
"What makes her pretty, to my eye!"
They criticize the colour bright
Of glittering gold, and shimmering light,
And they are crazy so to do,
And stupid, and erroneous, too.
Is there just a cause to crab, think you,
The tender-sweet narcissus' hue,
Or is the twinkle of a star
So hateful to behold afar?
Of all God's creatures, I declare
That man of wisdom has least share
Who chooses, in his darkened soul,
To love a body black as coal.
Black is the hue, the Scriptures tell,
Of the inhabitants of Hell;
Black is the robe the mourner dons,
And mothers who have lost their sons.
Moreover, since from Khorasan
The black Abbasid banners ran,
The souls of men know, to their cost,
The cause of righteousness is lost.
OF ALLUSION BY WORDS
WHATEVER it may be that one is seeking after, one must inevitably contrive some means of coming in to it, some expedient whereby one may achieve access to and attainment of it. There is but one person uniquely able to create without intermediary; the Prime Omniscient Himself, be He ever exalted and extolled!
The first device employed by those who seek union, being lovers, in order to disclose their feelings to the object of their passion, is allusion by means of words. Either they will quote a verse of poetry, or despatch an allegory, or rhyme a riddle, or propose an enigma, or use heightened language. Men vary in their methods according to the degree of their perspicacity, or the amount of aversion or sympathy, wit or dullness, which they remark in their loved ones. I know a man who commenced his declaration of love by quoting to his lady some verses of my own composition. This and the like are the shifts resorted to in the first stages of the love-quest. If the lover detects some sign of sympathy and encouragement, he then proceeds further. When he observes one or other of the characteristics we have described, while in the actual course of quoting some such verses, or hinting obliquely at the meaning he wishes to convey in the manner we have defined, then as he waits for his reply, whether it is to be given verbally, or by a grimace, or a gesture, he finds himself in a truly fearful situation, torn between hope and despair; and though the interval may be brief, enough, yet in that instant he becomes aware if his ambition is attainable, or if it must be abandoned.
There is another variety of verbal allusion, which is only to be brought into play when an accord has been reached, and the lover knows that his sentiments are reciprocated. Then it is that the complaints begin, the assignations, the reproaches, the plighting of eternal troths. All this is accomplished by means of verbal allusions, which to the uninitiated hearer appear to convey a meaning quite other to that intended by the lovers; he replies in terms entirely different from the true purport of the exchanges, following the impression which his imagination forms on the basis of what his ears have picked up. Meanwhile each of the loving pair has understood his partner's meaning perfectly, and answered in a manner not to be comprehended by any but the two of them; unless indeed the listener is endowed with a penetrating sensibility, assisted by a sharp wit and reinforced by long experience. Especially is this the case if the intelligent bystander has some sense of what the lovers are hinting at; rarely indeed does this escape the detection of the trained observer. In that event, no single detail of what the lovers are intending remains hidden from him.
I know of a youth and a girl who were very much in love with each other. In the course of one of his interviews with her, the young man made a slightly improper suggestion. At this the girl exclaimed, " By Allah! I shall make a public complaint against you, and I shall put you to shame privately." Some days later the girl found herself in a company of great princes and the leading statesmen of the realm; present also were a great number of women and of servants, against whom it would be well to be on one's guard. The youth in question was in the concourse too, for he was in the entourage of the
master of ceremonies. Other singing girls besides her were in attendance. When it came to her turn to sing, she tuned her lute and began to chant the words of an ancient song.
Sweet fawn adorable,
Fair as the moon at full,
Or like the sun, that through
Dark clouds shines out to view
With that so languid glance
He did my heart entrance,
With that lithe stature, he
As slender as a tree.
I yielded to his whim,
I humbled me to him,
As lovesick suitor still
Obeys his darling's will.
Let me thy ransom be!
Embrace me lawfully
I would not give my charms
Into licentious arms.
I myself have known this situation, and put it into verse.
Harsh words of bitter blame
And false complaining came
From one most cruel, who
Was judge, and plaintiff too!
She laid her nameless charge
Before the world at large,
But none knew her intent
Save him, whose hurt she meant.
OF HINTING WITH THE EYES
AFTER verbal allusion, when once the lover's advance has been accepted and an accord established, the next following step consists in hinting with the glances of the eyes. Glances play an honourable part in this phase, and achieve remarkable results. By means of a glance the lover can be dismissed, admitted, promised, threatened, upbraided, cheered, commanded, forbidden; a glance will lash the ignoble, and give warning of the presence of spies; a glance may convey laughter and sorrow, ask a question and make a
response, refuse and give-in short, each, one of these various moods and intentions has its own particular kind of glance, which cannot be precisely realized except by ocular demonstration. Only a small fraction of the entire repertory is capable of being sketched out and described, and I will therefore attempt to describe here no more than the most elementary of these forms of expression.
To make a signal with the corner of the eye is to, forbid the lover something; to droop the eye is an indication of consent; to prolong the gaze is a sign of suffering and distress; to break off the gaze is a mark of relief; to make signs of closing the eyes is an indicated threat. To turn the pupil of the eye in a certain direction and then to turn it back swiftly, calls attention to the presence of a person so indicated. A clandestine signal with the corner of both eyes is a question; to turn the pupil rapidly from the middle of the eye to the interior angle is a demonstration of refusal; to flutter the pupils of both eyes this way and that is a general prohibition. The rest of these signals can only be understood by actually seeing them demonstrated.
You should realize that the eye takes the place of a messenger, and that with its aid all the beloved's intention can be apprehended. The four senses besides are also gateways of the heart, and passages giving admission to the soul; the eye is however the most eloquent, the most expressive, and the most efficient of them all. The eye is the true outrider and faithful guide of the soul; it is the soul's well-polished mirror, by means of which it comprehends all truths, attains all qualities, and understands all sensible phenomena. It is a well-known saying that hearing of a thing is not like seeing it; this was already remarked by Poleron, the master of physiognomy, who established the eye as the most reliable basis for forming judgment.
Here, if you will, is a sufficient proof of the eye's power of perception. When the eye's rays encounter some clear, well-polished object-be it burnished steel or glass or water, a brilliant stone, or any other polished and gleaming substance having lustre, glitter and sparkle-whose edges terminate in a coarse, opaque, impenetrable, dull material, those rays of the eye are reflected back, and the observer then beholds himself and obtains an ocular vision of his own person. This is what you see when you look into a mirror; in that situation you are as it were looking at yourself through the eyes of another.
A visual demonstration of this may be contrived in the following manner. Take two large mirrors, and hold one of them in your right hand, behind your head, and the other in your left hand, in front of your face; then turn the one or the other obliquely, so that the two meet confronting each other. You will now see your neck and the whole of your backward parts. This is due to the reflection of the eye's radiation against the radiation of the mirror behind you; the eye cannot find any passage through the mirror in front of you, and when it also fails to discover an outlet behind the second mirror, its radiation is diverted to the body confronting it. Though Salih, the pupil of Abu Ishaq al-Nazzam, held a contrary view on the nature of perception to this which I have advanced, his theory is in fact rubbish, and has not been accepted by anyone
Even if all this were not due to any superior virtue in the eye itself, yet the fact remains that the substance of the eye is the loftiest and most sublime of all substances. For the eye possesses the property of light, and by it alone may colours by perceived; no other organ surpasses it in range and extent, since by the eye the bodies of the stars themselves in their distant spheres may be observed, and the heavens seen for all their tremendous
elevation and remoteness. This is simply because the eye is united in the nature of its constitution with the mirror of which we have been speaking. It perceives those things, and reaches then as in a single bound, needing not to traverse the intervening distance by stages, or to alight at halting-places en route. The eye does not travel through space by laboured movements.
These properties belong to none of the other senses. The taste and the touch, for instance, perceive objects only when they are in, their neighborhood, and the hearing and the smell apprehend them solely if they are close by. As proof of that immediate perception of which we have spoken, consider how you see an object that produces a sound before you hear the sound itself, for all that you may try to see and hear that thing simultaneously. If ocular and aural perception were one and the same, the eye would not outstrip the ear.
NOW that the lovers are fairly intermingled in their relations, they will begin to correspond in writing. Letters assuredly tell their own tale. Some men I have seen, that were given to correspondence, who made all haste to tear their letters up, to dissolve them in water, and to rub out all trace of them. Many a shameful exposure has been occasioned by a letter, as I have remarked in verse.
It grieves me mightily, to tear
Thy letter up this day, my dear;
But there is nothing, that I swear,
Can ever break my love sincere.
For I would rather see this ink
Erased, and that our love endure;
The branch will always sprout, I think,
If but the trunk remains secure.
Too oft a letter sent in haste
Has been the death of him, who penned,
But guessed not, while his fingers traced
The missive, what would be its end.
The letter should be designed after the most elegant pattern, and should be as pretty as can be contrived. For by my life, the letter is sometimes the lover's tongue, either because he is faltering in speech, or bashful, or awe-struck. Indeed, the very delivery of the letter to his loved one, and the knowledge that it is at that moment in the beloved's hands, will provoke in the lover a wonderful joy, that is a consoling substitute for an actual sight of the object of his affection; while the receiving of the reply, and gazing fondly upon it, delight him fully as much as a lovers' meeting. It is on this account that you will see the passionate swain laying the letter upon his eyes, or against his heart, fondling it and kissing it. I have myself known a lover who was certainly not ignorant of what and how he should speak, a man of fine eloquence, well able to express
his thoughts in the language of the tongue, of penetrating insight, and minute comprehension of subtle truths, -and who nevertheless did not abandon the device of correspondence, for all that he lived close by his beloved and could readily come to her, and be with her as often as he chose: he told me that he savoured in correspondence many different varieties of delight. I have also been told of a base and worthless fellow who put his sweetheart's letters to a particularly disgusting use, that was in fact a horrible sort of sensuality, a foul type of lechery.
As for watering the ink of the love-letter with one's tears, I know of a man who did this regularly, and his beloved repaid him by watering the ink of her missives with her saliva. I have some verses which refer to this sort of practice.
I wrote a letter to my love
She sent me a reply thereto
That stilled the agitation of
My heart, then stirred it up anew.
I watered every word I penned
With tears o'erflowing from my eyes,
As lovers will, who do intend
In love no treacherous surprise.
And still the tears flowed down apace,
And washed the careful lines away
O wicked waters, to efface
The lovely things I strove to say!
Behold, where first I set my pen
The tears have made my writing plain,
But as I came to close, ah! then
The script is vanished in their rain.
I once saw a' letter written by a lover to his beloved he had cut his hand with a knife, and as the blood gushed forth he used it for ink, and wrote the entire letter with it. I saw the same letter after the blood had dried, and would have sworn that it was written with a tincture of resin.
OF THE MESSENGER
THE next scene in the love-play, now that confidence prevails and complete sympathy has been established, is the introduction of the Messenger. He needs to be sought and chosen with great care, so that he shall be both a good and an energetic man; he is the proof of the lover's intelligence, for in his hands (under God's Providence) rest the life and death of the lover, his honour and his disgrace.
The Messenger should be presentable, quick-witted, able to take a hint and to read between the lines, possessed of initiative and the ability to supply out of his own understanding things which may have been overlooked by his principal; he must also convey to his employer all that he observes with complete accuracy; he ought to be able to keep secrets and preserve trusts; he must be loyal, cheerful and a sincere well-wisher. Should he be wanting in these qualities, the harm he will do to the lover for whom he is acting will be in strict proportion to his own shortcomings. I have put all this in verse
The messenger is like a blade
In thy right hand; pick to thy like
Thy sword, and when thy choice is made
Polish it well, ere thou dost strike.
Whoever ventures to rely
On a blunt weapon, is a fool;
The price he pays is pretty high
For trusting such a useless tool.
Lovers for the most part employ as their messengers to the beloved either a humble and insignificant fellow to whom nobody will pay much attention, because of his youthfulness or his scruffy look or untidy appearance; or a very respectable person to whom no sort of suspicion will attach on account of his show of piety, or because he is of advanced years. Women too are frequently used, especially those who hobble along on sticks, and carry rosaries, and are wrapped up in a pair of red cloaks. I remember how at Cordova young women had been put on their guard against such types, wherever they might happen to see them. Women plying a trade or profession, which gives them ready access to people, are popular with lovers-the lady doctor for instance, or the blood-letter, the peddler, the broker, the coiffeuse, the professional mourner, the singer, the soothsayer, the schoolmistress, the errand girl, the spinner, the weaver, and the like. It is also found convenient to employ a person who is closely related to the beloved, and who will therefore not be grudged admittance.
How many an inaccessible maiden has proved approachable by using messengers like these! How often have apparently insurmountable difficulties been easily overcome, and the one who seemed so far off proved close at hand, the one most refractory been readily tamed! How many disagreeable surprises have befallen well-protected veils, thick curtains, close guarded boudoirs, and stoutly fashioned doors, at the hands of suchlike persons! But for my desire to call attention to them, I would never have mentioned these types at all; but I felt bound to do so, in order that others may have their eyes open,
and not readily trust in any of their sort. Happy is the man who takes warning by another's experience, even if he be his enemy! I pray that Allah may cover us and all good Moslems with the veil of His protection, and never suffer the shadow of His preservation to pass away from any one of us.
I know of a pair of lovers whose messenger was a well-trained dove; the letter would be fastened to its wing. On this topic I have the following verses.
Old Noah chose a dove, to be
His faithful messenger, and he
Was not confounded so to choose:
She brought him back the best of news.
So I am trusting to this dove
My messages to thee, my love,
And so I send her forth, to bring
My letters safely in her wing.
OF CONCEALING THE SECRET
ONE of the attributes of Love is holding the tongue; the lover will deny everything if interrogated, affect a great show of fortitude, and make it appear that he is extremely continent and a confirmed bachelor. For all that the subtle secret will out. The flames of passion raging in his breast will be glimpsed in his gestures and in the expression of his eyes; they will creep slowly but surely into the open, like fire among coals or water through dry clay. It is possible in the early stages to delude those lacking in finer sensibility; once Love has firmly established itself, however, that is entirely out of the question.
Sometimes the reason for such reticence is the lover's desire to avoid branding himself with that mark in the eyes of his fellows; he professes that philandering is a sign of frivolity, and therefore (he says) he flees from love and will have naught of it. But this is not at all the right line of approach; it is sufficient for a good Moslem to abstain from those things which Allah has forbidden, and which, if he choose to do, he will find charged to his account on the Day of Resurrection. But to admire beauty, and to be mastered by love that is a natural thing, and comes not within the range of Divine commandment and prohibition; all hearts are in God's hands, to dispose them what way He will, and all that is required of them is that they should know and consider the difference between right and wrong, and believe firmly what is true. Love itself is an inborn disposition; man can only control those motions of his members, which he has acquired by deliberate effort. I have put this all in verse
Men who nothing know of love
For thy sake do me reprove
Let them scold, or silent be,
It is all the same to me.
"Shame on thee!" I hear them say,
" To put all reserve away,
While men gaze on thee in awe
As a zealot for the Law."
"What you charge", I say, "to me
Is indeed hypocrisy
Patent; and, if I may boast,
I hate hypocrites the most.
"And yet, when was loving banned?
Did Mohammed so command,
Or is man forbidden it
By the words of Holy Writ?
"O, since I have nothing wrought
Save what Faith declares I ought,
Nothing I should face with gloom
On the dreadful Day of Doom;
"Naught I care for others' blame
Who declare my love a shame;
Let them whisper, let them shout,
I can face their scandal out.
"Shall a man be judged, think you,
Save for what he willed to do,
Or have charged against his head
Words that he has never said?"
I know a man who was tried in a very similar way. Passion had lodged itself in his breast, and he strove to deny it; but in the end the matter became so obviously serious that everyone divined it in his behaviour, whether he happened previously to be aware of it or not. Yet whenever anyone alluded to his trouble, he rounded on him abusively and drove him away; so that if one of his comrades desired to stand in well with him, he let him imagine that he believed his denials, and thought anyone a liar who had a contrary opinion. This would please him mightily. Now I recall that one day I happened upon him when he was seated with someone who kept hinting at his inward feelings all these suggestions my friend denied strenuously. Just at that moment, the very person he was suspected of having a crush on chanced to pass by; no sooner did his eyes light on his beloved, than he became all confused; his former sangfroid entirely deserted him; he grew pale, and his well-turned phrases lapsed into incoherency. His interlocutor thereupon broke off the argument, and he invited him to resume the previous discussion. Someone remarked, "Actions speak louder than words! " " Think what you please ", the poor fellow retorted. " Excuse me or blame me as you will, it is all the same." This is how I have versified the topic.
He liveth but by grace of Death,
Compassionate to see
The fearful pains he suffereth
In passion's agony.
I have another poem on the same subject.
The tears of passion flow
And flow again;
The veil, of love, I know,
Is rent in twain.
My heart, as she floats past,
Is fluttering yet
Like a poor partridge, fast
Trapped in the net.
O my companions true,
Come, counsel me
So all good comrades do
Advice is free.
How long, how long must I
This secret hide
Which I cannot deny,
Nor lay aside?
This however only happens when the instinct for concealment and self-protection conflicts with and overcomes the lover's natural disposition; the victim, caught between two raging fires, feels utterly bewildered.
Sometimes the reason for concealment is- that the lover wishes to spare his beloved; then it is a proof of loyalty, a mark of true nobility of character. I have put this point in verse.
All they that know me, know in truth
I am a poor and lovelorn youth,
Cast down and weary, full of care
For whom? Ah, none can this declare.
When they behold me face to face,
They feel quite certain of my case,
Which when they would more clearly state
They can no more than speculate.
My love is like a written screed;
The characters seem plain, indeed,
But when the reader seeks to know
What they portend, that does not show.
Or like the cooing of a dove
Within the thicket is my love
He modulates with perfect art
The sweet outpourings of his heart.
We listen spellbound and intent
To his delightful argument;
But though the melody is clear,
Its meaning quite escapes the ear.
"For Allah's sake", they plead with me,
" Name thou her name to us, that we
May we apprised what passion deep,
For whom, has robbed thee of thy sleep."
No, no; before I tamely yield
The secret they would have revealed
I'd sooner see my reason go,
And plunge into the depths of woe.
So they are buffeted about
By wild conjecture, wilder doubt,
Not knowing whether what they know,
Or what they think they think is so.
I have another little poem on concealing the secret.
There is a place wherein I hide
My secret; ' there if living man
Will shelter, Fate may be defied,
Death dared, "Come catch me, if you can!"
I slay my secret: ask you why?
A secret that would live must die
Precisely as the love-sick boy
Finds in his grief his greatest joy.
Sometimes, again, the reason for discretion is that the lover would protect himself against the consequences of his secret's disclosure, on account of the illustrious rank of his beloved.
A certain poet in Cordova composed a love-poem in which he celebrated' the charms of Subh, the mother of al-Mu'aiyad (God have mercy on his soul!). A slave-E brought before al-Mansur Muhammad Ibn Abi `Amin with a view to his purchasing her, chose this very song to sing to him: he promptly ordered her to be executed. It was for the same reason that Ahmad Ibn Mughith was put to death, the Mughith clan exterminated, and proclamation issued that not one of their numbers should ever be taken into the royal service-a decree which resulted in their utter destruction, and the entire wiping out of the house, none surviving but a wretched handful of outcaste fugitives. This was all because Ahmad Ibn Mughith composed a love lyric in honour of a Caliph's daughter. Such instances are numerous.
It is related of al-Hasan Ibn Hani' that he was deeply smitten by Muhammad Ibn Harun, better known as Ibn Zubaida. The latter had an inkling of the situation, and upbraided the poet for gazing at him so intently. It is reported that al-Hasan remarked, that he would never have ventured to concentrate his gaze on Muhammad so long, if it had not been for the fact that the latter was overcome by his potations.
Sometimes the reason for concealment is so that the beloved may not take fright, or be made off with. I know of a man whose beloved was completely friendly and at ease with him; but if he had disclosed by the least gesture that he was in love, the beloved would have become as remote from him as the Pleiades, whose stars hang so high in heaven. It is a sort of statesmanship that is required in such cases; the party concerned was enjoying the pleasure of his loved one's company intensely and to the last degree, but if he had so much as hinted at his inner feelings he would have attained but a miserable fraction of the beloved's favour, and endured into the bargain all the arrogance and caprice of which love is capable. He would have been denied that confidence of the heart's mastery; all the joy would have gone out of his romance; his little idyll would have given place to affectation and unjust accusation. Where formerly he was treated as a brother and an equal, now he would have been regarded as a slave and a prisoner. And had he divulged his sentiments further, to such a point that the beloved's circle of intimates came to know of it, he would never have seen the object of his affection again, save perchance in a dream; everything would have been over between them; the final result would have been his own great discomfiture.
Finally, sometimes the reason for concealment is an overpowering shyness from which some men suffer; or because the lover observes that his beloved is turning away from his and shunning his advances, and being of a proud spirit he hides his feelings so that no enemy may gloat over him, and so as to show them, and his beloved, how lightly he regards the whole business.
OF DIVULGING THE SECRET
SOMETIMES it happens in Love that the secret is divulged. This is one of the most deplorable accidents that can befall a romance: its causes are various. It may be that a man resorts to this action merely because he is ambitious to dress himself up in the lover's guise, and so be enrolled in their ranks. This is a contemptible deceit, a disgusting effrontery, a most counter feit pretence to love.
Disclosure is sometimes due to loves overpowering mastery; publicity prevails over modesty. In such a case a man is quite unable to control himself or regulate his actions. This is one of the furthest extremes which passionate love can reach; it then so strictly dominates the reason, that the mind represents beauty in the shape of ugliness, and ugliness in the form of beauty good is thought to be evil, and evil good. How many a man of the severest respectability, veiled as it were in the closest veil and shrouded in the most impenetrable curtains, has seen his robe of modesty ripped off by love, his heart's shrine violated, his holy of holies desecrated, so that his respectability has been turned into notoriety, his quiet retirement changed so that he is a public laughing-stock! To be a scandal is then his fondest ambition; he will commit actions which, if they had been so much as pictured to him hitherto, he would have shivered all over at their very mention, and prayed long and earnestly to be delivered from them. What was formerly hard has now become smooth, what was once most grave now seems to him of no account, what was difficult suddenly proves easy.
I once knew a youth, the scion of a noble house and one of my most aristocratic friends, who was smitten with love for a cloistered girl. He became quite crazy for her, and his love of her cut him off from many of his most virtuous pursuits; the signs of his infatuation were evident to all having eyes to see. In the end she felt constrained to chide him for the manifest follies into which passion was leading him.
Musa Ibn 'Asim Ibn `Amr told me the following story. " I was once with my father Abu 'l-Path (God have mercy upon him!), writing a letter for him at his behest. Suddenly my eyes caught a glimpse of a slave girl with whom I was infatuated; unable to master myself, I threw the letter away and started after her. My father was dumbstruck, and thought that something serious had happened to me. Then my reason returned to me; wiping my face, I came back and begged pardon, saying that I had been overcome by a haemorrhage of the nose! "
You should know that this kind of behaviour is enough to scare the beloved away; it is a poor way of managing things, and betrays incompetent statesmanship. In every enterprise there is a proper way to begin, and an appropriate course to follow after; the venturer who transgresses the norm or strays from the right path brings all his labours back on his own head; his toil is to no purpose, his weariness is in vain, his searching's are superfluous. The more he swerves from the straight course, the futher he deviates from it and perseveres along the wrong turning, the more remote will he become from the object of his quest. I have a piece of poetry on this, from which I will venture to quote.
When difficulties challenge thee
Confront them not too jestingly,
Nor, when upon an easy quest,
Let all thy effort be expressed.
Time has a wide variety
Of knavish tricks, and Destiny
A thousand oscillating moods
And infinite vicissitudes.
However Fate may play his game,
Adjust thy style to suit the same;
Against a little little strive,
Match much with much, to keep alive
Hast thou not seen, and learned by it,
How, when a: lamp is freshly lit,
The flame burns feebly, and one puff
To put it out is quite enough?
But when the wick is well alight
And blazing broadly through the night,
To puff and puff will only go
To fan it into fiercer glow.
I was once acquainted with a man of Cordova, the son of one of the principal clerks in the civil service his name was Ahmad Ibn Fath-and I had always known him as most circumspect, a keen student of science and letters; in reserve he excelled all his companions, in quiet dignity he was supreme. He was never to be seen anywhere but in the most virtuous circles, and the parties he attended were always strictly respectable; in short; his behaviour was most praiseworthy, his conduct beyond reproach; he went his own way, and kept himself to himself. Then the fates decreed that we should be far sundered. The first news that came to me, after I had taken up residence in Jativa, was that he had cast off all restraint on falling in love with a certain goldsmith's son called Ibrahim Ibn Ahmad. I knew this young man, well enough to be aware that his qualities did not merit his being loved by a person of a good family, in a prominent position, and possessed of broad estates and an ample patrimony. Then I had it confirmed that my friend had uncovered his head, shown his face abroad, cast off his head-rope, bared his countenance, rolled up his sleeves-in a word, that he had given himself over to the lusts of the flesh. He had become the talk of the town; all tongues wagged of his adventure; his name was banded through' the countryside, and the scandalmongers ran everywhere with tales of his amazing escapade. All that he had achieved was that the veil of his private feelings had been stripped off, his secret had been divulged, his name besmirched, his reputation blackened; the object of his passion had run away from him altogether, and forbidden him ever to see him again. Yet he might well have spared himself these troubles; he could easily have escaped, and kept far away from it all. If indeed he had only
concealed his deep secret and hidden his heart's afflictions, he might have continued to wear the robe of well-being, and the garment of his respectability would never have become threadbare; he could still have nourished his hopes, and found ample consolation in meeting and conversing and sitting with the one for whom he was so badly smitten. But alas, the cord of his excuses was snapped; the evidence against him was overwhelming, and the only argument that might be urged in his favour was that his judgment was deranged, his reason affected by his shattering experience. That would certainly have been a valid excuse. But if only a fraction of his understanding remained intact, if the merest fragment of his mind was still unimpaired, then he was gravely at fault in acting in a manner which he was well aware would grievously affront and distress his well-beloved. That is not how true lovers behave, as we shall explain fully in the chapter on Compliance, God willing.
There remains yet a third reason for disclosing the secret: this is condemned by all right-minded men as a despicable motive and a base manner of conduct. The lover sees that his beloved has betrayed him, or grown tired of him, or dislikes him; and the only way he can find to get even with him is to disclose everything and make the affair notorious-a shift which indeed harms him far more than the person he seeks to injure. This is a most shocking disgrace and a most foul shame; it is the strongest possible proof that the one so behaving is entirely bereft of reason, and no more in his right mind.
Sometimes disclosure occurs as the result of gossip and rumours to which the lover pays insufficient heed; he is quite content for his secret to be discovered, either out of conceit, or because he thinks in that way to attain some part of his ambition. I actually saw this trick done by a friend of mine, a general's son.
I have read in some Bedouin tale that their womenfolk do not feel satisfied and convinced that a man is really in love with them, until his romantic feelings become public-knowledge and are completely divulged; he must advertise and broadcast his attachment, and sing their praises for all to hear. I know not what to make of that, considering they have such a reputation for chastity: what chastity does a woman in fact possess, if her greatest desire and joy is to be notorious after this fashion?
ONE of the wonderful things that occur in Love is the way the lover submits to the beloved, and adjusts his own character by main force to that of his loved one. Often and often you will see a man stubborn by disposition, intractable, jibbing at all control, determined, arrogant, always ready to take umbrage; yet no sooner let him sniff the soft air of love, plunge into its waves, and swim in its sea, than his stubbornness will have suddenly changed to docility, his intractability' to gentleness, his determination to easy-going, his arrogance to submission. I have some verses on this.
Shall I be granted, friend,
To come once more to thee,
Or will there be an end
Of changeful destiny?
The sword (O strange to tell!)
Is now the baton's page,
The captive, tame gazelle
A lion full of rage
These verses tell the same story.
Though thou scoldest me, yet I
Am the cheapest man to die,
Slipping swiftly like false gold
Through the tester's fingers rolled.
Yet what joy it is for me
To be slain for loving thee!
Marvel, then, at one who dies
Smiling pleasure from his eyes.
I have still another trifle on this topic.
Were thy features shining fair
Viewed by critics Persian,
Little would they reck of their
Mobedh and their Hormosan!
Sometimes the beloved is unsympathetic to the manifesting of complaints, and is too impatient to listen to tales of suffering. In those circumstances you will see the lover concealing his grief, suppressing his despair, and hiding his sickness. The beloved heaps unjust accusations on his head; and he is full of apologies for every fault he is supposed to have committed, and confesses crimes of which he is wholly innocent, simply to submit to what his loved one says and to avoid resisting the charges. I know a man who was afflicted in just this way; his beloved was continually leveling accusations against him, though he was entirely blameless; he was evermore being reproached and scolded, yet he was as pure as driven snow. Let me quote here some verses which I addressed- once to one of my comrades; though they do not exactly fit this context, still they come very near to the topic under' discussion.
Once thou wouldst greet me with a smile,
Delighted at my near approach,
And if I turned from thee awhile
Thy features registered reproach.
My nature is not so averse
To listen to a little blame
White hairs are ugly, but no worse,
Yet they are always called a shame.
A man, when looking in the glass,
May think himself uncommon plain;
But moles and spots for beauty pass,
And do not need to give such pain.
They are an ornament, when few,
And only count for ugliness
When they exceed a measure due
And who has ever praised excess?
A little later in the same poem I have the following verse.
O come thou to his succour, then;
By so great cares his soul is gripped
That lo, he moves to tears the pen,
The ink, the paper, and the script!
Let no man say that the patience displayed by the lover when the beloved humiliates him is a sign of pusillanimity: that would be a grave error. We know that the beloved is not to be regarded as a match or an equal to the lover, that the injury inflicted by him on the lover should be repaid in kind. The beloved's 'insults and affronts are not such as a man need regard as dishonoring him; the memory of them is not preserved down the ages; neither do they occur in the Courts of Caliphs and the salons of the great, where endurance of an insult would imply humiliation, and submission would lead to utter contempt.
Sometimes you will see a man infatuated with his slave-girl, his own legal property, and there is nothing to prevent him from having his way with her if he so desires; what point would there be then in his revenging himself on her? No; the real grounds for being angered by insults are entirely different; anger is fully
justified when the insults are offered as between men of high rank, whose every breath is studied, whose every word is examined closely for its meaning, and given a most profound significance. For such men do not utter words at random, or let fall remarks negligently; but as for the beloved, she is at one time an unbending lance, at another a pliant twig, now cruel, now complaisant, just as the mood takes her and for no valid reason. On this theme I can quote an apposite poem of mine.
It is not just to disapprove
A meek servility in love
For Love the proudest men abase
Themselves, and feel it no disgrace.
Then do not marvel so at me
And my profound humility;
Ere I was overthrown, this state
Proud Caliphs did humiliate.
No peer is the beloved one,
No parfit knight, no champion,
That it should shame to thee procure,
Her hateful insults to endure:
An apple falling from the tree
Struck and a trifle injured thee
Would it be triumph worth thy pain
To cut the apple into twain?
Abu Dulaf the stationer told me the following story, which he heard from the philosopher Maslama Ibn Ahmad, better known as al-Majriti. In the mosque which lies to the east of the Quraish cemetery in Cordova, opposite the house of the vizier Abu `Umar Ahmad In' Muhammad Ibn Hudair (God have mercy upon him!)-in this mosque Muqaddam Ibn al-Asfar was always to be seen hanging about during his salad days, because of a romantic attachment which he had formed for 'Ajib, the page-boy of the afore-mentioned Abu `Umar. He gave up attending prayers at the Masrur mosque (near where he lived), and came to this mosque night and day on account of 'Ajib. He was arrested more than once by the guard at night, when he was departing from the mosque after praying the second evening prayer; he had done nothing but' sit and stare at the page-boy until the latter, angry and infuriated, went up to him and struck him some hard blows, slapping his cheeks and punching him in the eye. Yet the young man was delighted at this and exclaimed, " By Allah! This is what I have dreamed of; now I am happy." Then he would walk alongside of 'Ajib for some minutes. Abu Dulaf added that he had been, told this story by Maslama several times in the presence of 'Ajib himself, when observing the high position, influence and prosperity to which Muqaddam Ibn al-Asfar had attained; the latter had indeed become most powerful; he was on extremely intimate terms with al-Muzaffar Ibn Abi `Amin, and enjoyed friendly relations with al-Muzaffar's mother and family; he built a number of mosques and drinking-fountains, and established not a few charitable foundations; besides all which he busied himself with all the various kinds of benevolent and other activities, with which men in authority like to concern themselves.
Here is an even more outrageous example. Sa'id Ibn Mundhir Ibn Sa'id, who used to lead the prayers in the cathedral mosque of Cordova during the days of al-Hakam al-Mustansir Billah (God be merciful to his soul Q, had a slave-girl with whom he was
deeply in love. He, offered to manumit and marry her, to which she scornfully replied-and I should mention that he had a fine long beard-" I think your beard is dreadfully long; trim it up, and then you shall have your wish." He thereupon laid a pair of scissors to his beard, until it looked somewhat more gallant; then he summoned witnesses, and invited them to testify that he had set the girl free. But when in due course he proposed to her, she would not accept him. Among those present was his brother Hakam Ibn Mundhir, who promptly said to the assembled company, " Now I am going to propose marriage to her." He did so, and she consented; and he married her then and there. Sa'id acquiesced in this frightful insult; for all that he was a man known for his abstinence, piety and religious zeal. I myself met this same Sa'id; he was slain by the Berbers, on the day when they stormed and sacked Cordova. His brother Hakam was the head of the Mu'tazilites of Andalusia, their leader, professor and chief schoolman, as well as the most famous among them for his piety; at the same time he was a poet, a physician and a lawyer. His brother `Abd al-Malik Ibn Mundhir was also suspected of belonging to the same sect; in the days of al-Hakam (God be well pleased with him!) he was in charge of the Office for the Defence of the Oppressed, but was crucified by al-Mansur Ibn Abi 'Amir on the charge, preferred against him, and a whole group of Cordovan lawyers and judges, of secretly swearing allegiance to `Abd al-Rahman Ibn `Ubaid Allah, grandson of Caliph al-Nasir (God be well pleased with them!) as lawful Caliph. `Abd a1-Rahman himself was executed, `Abd al-Malik Ibn Mundhir was crucified, and the entire faction accused of the conspiracy were liquidated. The father of these three brothers, the Lord Chief Justice Mundhir Ibn Sa'id, came under the same suspicion of holding Mu'tazilite opinions; he was a most eloquent preacher, profoundly learned in every branch of knowledge, of the utmost piety, and withal the wittiest and most amusing of men. The son Hakam aforementioned is still living at the time of writing this epistle; he is now very advanced in years, and quite blind.
A wonderful example of how the lover will submit to the beloved is provided by a man I knew who lay awake for many nights, endured extreme suffering, and had his heart tom asunder by the deepest emotions, until he finally overcame his, beloved's resistance, who thereafter refused him nothing and could no more resist his advances. Yet when the lover observed that the beloved felt a certain antipathy towards his intentions he forthwith discontinued relations, not out of chastity or fear but solely in order to accord with the beloved's wishes. For all the intensity of his feelings, he could not bring himself to do anything for which he had seen the beloved had no enthusiasm. I know another man who acted in the same way, and then repented on discovering that his beloved had betrayed; him. I have put this situation into verse.
Seize the opportunity
As it opens up to thee;
Swiftly as the lightnings dart.
Ah, the many things that I
Might; have done, but let slip by,
And the intervening years
Brought me naught but bitter tears.
Whatsoever treasure thou
Findest, pounce upon it now
Wait no instant: swoop to day
Like a falcon on thy prey.
This very same thing happened to Abu 'l-Muzaffar `Abd al-Rahman Ibn Ahmad Ibn Mahmud, our good friend: I quoted to him some verses of mine which he leapt upon with the greatest joy and carried off with him, to be his guiding star ever after.
When I was living in the old city at Cordova I one day met Abu `Abd Allah Muhammad Ibn Kulaib of Kairouan, a man with an exceedingly long tongue, well sharpened to enquire on every manner of subject. The topic of Love and its various aspects was under discussion, and he put the following question to me " If a person with whom I am in love is averse to meeting me, and avoids me whenever I try to make an approach, what should I do? " I replied, " My opinion is that you should endeavor to bring relief to your own soul by meeting the beloved, even if the beloved is averse to meeting you." He retorted, " I do not agree; I prefer that the beloved should have his will and desire, rather than I mine. I would endure and endure, even if it meant death for me." " I would only have fallen in love ", I countered, " for my personal satisfaction and aesthetic pleasure. I should therefore follow my own analogy, guide myself by my personal principles, and pursue my habitual path, seeking quite deliberately my own enjoyment." " That is a cruel logic ", he exclaimed. " Far worse than death is that for the sake of which you desire death, and far dearer than life is that for the sake of which you would gladly lay down your life." " But ", I said, " you would be laying down your life not by choice but under compulsion. If it were possible for you not to lay down your life, you would not have done so. To give up meeting the beloved voluntarily would certainly be most reprehensible, since you would thereby do violence to yourself and bring your own soul to its doom." Thereupon he cried out, "You are a born dialectician, and dialectics have no particular relevance to Love. "In that case", I said, " the lover will certainly be unfortunate." "And what misfortune is there he ended, " that is greater than Love?"
SOMETIMES the lover follows his own lust, and lets himself go completely. He is cured of his sickness at the hands of the beloved, and is resolved to have his pleasure of the other at all costs, whether the beloved be angry or consent. If the lover is assisted in this by circumstance, if his heart remains steadfast and the fates favour him, he will drain the cup of his joy to the last drop; his sorrows will depart, his cares will be at an end: he will see the fulfillment of his hopes, and attain all *his desire. I have myself seen lovers who comported themselves after this fashion: the following verses of mine describe the situation.
When I have had my will
And slaked my soul's desire
Of some sweet fawn, who still
Consumed my heart with fire;
I reek not if she be
Reluctant to consent,
Nor care if she agree
But all malevolent.
Where'er the water may
Be found, I'll seize the same
And sprinkle with its spray
My tamarisk aflame.
OR THE REPROACHER
LOVE has its various misfortunes: of these the firs is the Reproacher.
Of reproachers there are divers kinds. The original sort is a friend, between whom and yourself the burden of cautiousness has been let drop: his reproach is better than many abettings. It consists of incitements and prohibitions; therein and thereby the soul is wonderfully stimulated and remarkably strengthened; its properties are at once purposeful and efficacious, and healing to those sore wounded by passionate desire. Especially is this the case if the friend is gentle in his speech, and skilled at matching his words to his intentions; if he is aware of the times when the negative should be emphasized, and the occasions on which it is better to concentrate on positive injunctions; and if he is apprised of the hours wherein both approaches ought to be combined; all according to the degree of tractability or obdurateness, response or rebellion which he observes in the lover.
The second type of reproacher is the thoroughgoing scolder, who never lets up reprimanding the lover. That is a tough business, and a heavy burden to bear.
I myself once had a like experience, very similar to what we are here discussing though not strictly in the same type of situation. Our mutual friend Abu '1-Sari 'Ammar Ibn Ziyad reproached me frequently about a certain course I was pursuing, and seconded the efforts of others who had reprimanded me on the selfsame score; yet I had always thought that he would take my side whatever I did, whether I was acting rightly or wrongly, because of the firm friendship and true brotherhood uniting us.
I have seen a lover so violent in his emotions, and so overwhelmingly infatuated, that he loved to be reproached more than anything in the world, in order that he might show his reproacher how stubbornly he could rebel against his scoldings. He took a positive delight in opposing him, in provoking him to resistance and doubled reproof, and then in triumphing over him; his joy was like that of a king who puts his enemies to flight, or a skilled debater who triumphs over his opponent. Sometimes this motive inspires a lover to provoke the reproacher to reprimand him; he will do things, which oblige the censor to begin his faultfinding. I have some verses on this topic.
To hear myself reproached and blamed
Of all things this I love most fair,
For then perchance her name is named
Whose mention bids me not despair.
I quaff reproach, as though a cup
I drain with purest wine replete,
And after, having drunk it up,
Devour my mistress' name for sweet.
OF THE HELPFUL BROTHER
ONE of the things devoutly to be desired in Love is that Almighty God shall bestow upon a man a sincere friend, one moreover who is agreeable in speech, of amply abundant means, adroit in laying hold of an affair and shrewd in coming through it, masterly in setting forth an argument, sharp of tongue, of splendid magnanimity, widely learned, little apt to contradict, mighty in succour, strong to endure, patient in the face of impudence, broadly complaisant, a grand confederate, evenly matched, of praiseworthy character, innocent of all injustice, determined to be of help, loathing estrangement, noble in all his undertakings, averse to secret wickedness, profound in his conceptions, understanding his friend's desires, of virtuous habits, high-born, absolutely discreet, abounding in good works, truly trustworthy, incapable of treachery, of a generous spirit, of penetrating sensibility, accurate in intuition, wholly dependable, a perfect shield, renowned for his fidelity, of manifest constancy, steady in temper, ready with good counsel, sure in his affection, easy to lead on, having a lively faith, truthful in all that he utters, of a gay heart, strictly chaste, wide in prowess, endowed with fortitude, accustomed to sincerity, a stranger to revulsion, a haven of rest in times of trouble, ready to share the privacy of his friend's poverty and to partake of all its most intimate secrets.
In such a friend the lover may truly find his greatest repose. But where is such a man to be found? If you are able to lay your hands upon him, grapple him to you as a miser hugs his gold, and grasp him tightly as a niggard grips his silver. Guard him with all that you possess, sparing neither your inheritance nor your hard-earned wealth; for having him, your joy will be complete, your sorrows will be dispersed, the long hours will go by swiftly, and all your affairs will pass agreeably. With such a comrade no man will lack for goodly help and fair counsel. Therefore do kings take unto themselves ministers and courtiers that they may lighten for them somewhat of their heavy burden, and the crushing load they carry on their shoulders; that they may derive riches from their counsels, and reinforcement from their competency. Otherwise it is not within the power of human nature to withstand all the shocks that assail it, except a man seek succour of a kindred spirit, one resembling him in kind.
Some lovers there are who, missing this quality in their friends, and having little confidence in them because of their experience of mankind-for the one to whom the lover's secret is entrusted will generally act in one of two ways: either he will mock his opinion, or he will publish his secret therefore prefer solitude to society, and go apart from their fellows into desolate places, communing with the air and conversing with the earth; in which conduct they discover relief, as the sick man in his sighing, and the sorrowful man in his sobbing. For when cares crowd thickly into the; heart, the heart can no more contain them; and if it gives not vent to them with the tongue, and finds not relief in lamentation, the sufferer perishes of grief and dies of sorrow.
I have never seen anything to equal the helpfulness of women in this respect. They are far more forward than men in keeping love's secret, in counseling each other to be discreet, and in co-operating to conceal it whenever they happen to know of any such affair. I have never in my life known a woman to reveal the secret of a loving couple, without that she was hated, loathed and unanimously condemned by all her sisters. Old women excel young girls in this particular the latter sometimes do disclose what they know out of jealousy (though that happens indeed rarely), whereas the former have despaired of further romances, and are therefore now anxious solely for the welfare of others.
I know of a wealthy woman who possessed many slave-girls and servants. It was rumoured that one of her maids was in love with a young gentleman of the family, and that he reciprocated her sentiments; it was further reported that they were behaving disgracefully. A friend remarked to the mistress, " Your maid so-and-so knows all about the affair, and is intimate with every detail. The mistress thereupon laid hold of the maid-and she was very cruel in punishing her servants-and let her sample such a variety of blows and pummeling's as even the toughest man could not have endured, hoping that the girl would disclose to her something of the matter that had been mentioned to her; but she betrayed nothing whatsoever.
I also know of a great lady, able to recite the Koran from end to end, pious, and devoted to good works. She happened to obtain possession of a letter written by a boy to his ladylove; the boy was the property of a different household. The grand lady let the young man know that she was aware of the romance he sought to deny everything, but that was impossible. She then said to him, " What ails you? Who has ever been immune from love? Don't worry about this; by Allah, I will never apprise anyone of your secret.' If I could only buy her for you out of my property, even if it took all that I possess, I would gladly place her at your disposal, somewhere that you could come to her without anyone being the wiser."
You will sometimes see a virtuous, elderly lady, having given up all hope of men, whose fondest occupation and she has the greatest confidence that this will prove acceptable to God) is to contrive to marry off an orphan girl; she will lend her clothes and her jewels to an impoverished bride.
As for the reason why this instinct is so deeply rooted in women, I see no other explanation than that they have nothing else to fill their minds, except loving union and what brings it about, flirting and how it is done, intimacy and the various ways of achieving it. This is their sole occupation, and they were created for nothing else. Men on the other hand are divided in their interests; some seek to amass a fortune, some aspire to the company of kings, some pursue knowledge, some look after their families, some venture on arduous journeys, some hunt, some ply divers crafts, some go forth to the wars, some confront armed rebellions, some brave fearful perils, some cultivate the soil. All these different occupations diminish leisure, and divert men from the paths of idleness.
I have read in the biographies of the kings of the negroes, that those monarchs assign their womenfolk to the care of a trusty henchman, who allots to each her task of wool spinning, so that their whole time is fully employed. For they say that when a woman remains without any occupation, she hankers after men and yearns for the marriagebed.
I have myself observed women, and got to know their secrets to an extent almost unparalleled; for I was reared in their bosoms, and brought up among them, not knowing any other society. I never sat with men until I was already a youth, and my beard had begun to sprout. Women taught me the Koran, they recited to me much poetry, they trained me in calligraphy; my only care and mental exercise, since first I began to understand anything, even from the days of earliest childhood, has been to study the affairs of females, to investigate their histories, and to acquire all the knowledge I could about them. I forget nothing of what I have seen them do. This all springs from a profound jealousy innate in me, and a deep instinctive suspicion of women's ways. I have thus discovered not a little of their habits and motives. All this shall be set forth at length in the appropriate chapters, God willing.
OF THE SPY
ANOTHER of the misfortunes of Love is the Spy: he is truly an inward fever, a persistent delirium, a haunting obsession. Spies are of various kinds.
The first type of spy is the bore who squats himself down without malice prepense in a spot where a man is apt to meet with his beloved, and where the two intend to disclose something of their secret and to reveal their passion, amiably conversing alone. Such a kind of spy will occasion the lover more disquiet than a more serious type: even though he may take himself off quickly enough, all the same he is an obstacle preventing the realization of desire, and frustrating the most ample hopes.
One day I saw a pair of lovers in a place where they supposed themselves to be alone; they addressed themselves to their tender protests, and made ready to exploit their sweet solitude. But the spot which they had chosen for their interview was not a private sanctuary, and it was not long before the tiresome intruder appeared on the scene. Observing me, he at once turned aside and sat down next to me, remaining with me a long time. If you could only have seen the young lover, and the mixture of evident despair and anger on his face, you would have witnessed a truly wonderful spectacle. I have commemorated the scene in some verses, of which the following is an extract.
He sits, the while the hours go by,
A boring presence at the best,
And drools on matters wherein I
Have not the slightest interest.
Ridwa, and Yadhbul, and Shamam,
Samman, and mighty Lebanon,
The mount of Hazn, and of Lukam
He far outweighs them, every one.
Then there is the spy who has discovered an inkling of what the loving pair are about, and has some suspicion of what is going on; he desires to ferret out the whole truth of the case, and therefore hangs about and squats for hours on end, watching their movements, eyeing their expressions, counting their very breaths. Such a man is more pestilential than the mange. I know of a young fellow who had every intention of manhandling a spy of this sort. These verses of mine illustrate the type.
He comes, not every other while
But constantly, with purpose vile
What greater headache can there be
Than such unwelcome company?
He perseveres to such excess
In leis absurd attentiveness,
That we are known throughout the town
As Messrs Adjective and Noun!
Next there is the spy who watches over the beloved. There is no other way of dealing with him, but to conciliate him; if he can be won over, then that is the very acme of delight. This is the spy commonly mentioned by the poets in their verses.
I have observed a man who was so adroit in his efforts to conciliate a spy, that in the end the spy spied on his behalf; he feigned inattention when inattention was called for, he defended him from all danger, and in every way exerted himself in his interests. This too I have put into verse.
Many a time and oft a spy
Was posted o'er the lady I
Aspired to win, by every art
Resolved to keep us two apart.
But presently my gentle way
So mastered him beneath my sway
That soon my worst presentiments
Were changed to careless confidence.
He was a sword unsheathed and bare,
Ready to slay me then and there;
But now he has become my friend,
And to his kindness ne'er an end.
Here is a stanza from another poem on the same subject.
He was an arrow poised for death,
But now he is my life and breath;
He was rank poison in my throat,
But now my only antidote.
I know of a man who set a spy to watch over a person about whom he was anxious, and had every confidence in the spy's loyalty; as things turned out he proved his greatest bane and the source of all his calamity.
If there proves to be no strategem whereby the spy may be overcome, no way in which he can be con ciliated, then the only hope that remains is to be able now and again to signal surreptitiously with the eyes or the eyebrows and to make subtle allusions in speaking: that is enjoyment of a kind, and secures for the passionate lover some temporary satisfaction. I have a poem on this theme, which begins as follows.
There is a spy, who watches o'er
My darling mistress evermore;
To his employer he is true,
And faithful to his compact, too.
Later in the same poem these two stanzas occur.
He cuts my every path that leads
To satisfying my heart's needs,
And so a work accomplishes
Else wrought by dire calamities.
It is as though a demon lives
Within his heart, that all perceives,
And in his either eye one dwells
Who every least adventure tells.
The following stanza also belongs to the same set of verses.
Two watchful spies appointed be
To overlook all men but me
God, sitting on His heavenly throne,
Assigns a third to me alone.
The most disgusting kind of spy is the man who has been tried in love long ago, and suffered its misfortunes over many years, and then, after having known its manifestations very fully, has now detached himself from it: he is therefore desirous in the extreme to protect the person over whom he is watching from the calamities of love. God be praised, what a splendid spy he makes, and what mischief stands poised to fall upon lovers through his instrumentality! These verses of mine suit that topic.
A spy that too long knew
The mischief love can do
He drank of passion deep,
And was denied his sleep;
Encountered in desire
Sharp pains, and torment dire
Love well nigh proved his doom
And laid him in the tomb.
All tricks he knew in truth
Of love-afflicted youth,
Scorned not to try each ruse,
Each wink and word to use.
Then, after all his pains,
Calls passion to its face
A shame and a disgrace.
And now, o'er her whom I
Adore he's set to spy,
His charge, to keep apart
From her my lovesick heart.
Ah, what calamitous
Afflictions light on us,
And what misfortunes fell
Have come with us to dwell!
One of the most curious examples of spying I ever recall is the following. I know two lovers who are both in love with the same person, and conduct themselves in identical fashion; each of them, as I have observed, spies upon the other. On this subject I have also composed a short poem.
Two lovers madly smitten,
And by the same love bitten;
Each turns against the other,
Each wrestles with his brother.
The dog beside the manger
Comports himself no stranger
Too sick to eat, too greedy
To entertain the needy.
OF THE SLANDERER
ANOTHER of the misfortunes of Love is the Slanderer he is of two kinds.
The first sort of slanderer desires simply to part the loving couple. He is the less mischievous of the two; but for all that he is a deadly poison, a bitter colocynth, an imminent doom and an impending calamity. Sometimes his embroideries are ineffective. Generally the slanderer addresses himself to the beloved; the lover, poor fellow-" the choking throat can't sing a note ", and " whom rage destroys knows little joys "he is far too occupied with his own troubles to listen to what the slanderer has to say. Slanderers are well aware of this, and therefore direct their efforts only towards those whose minds are free of other cares, and who are therefore ready to pounce with the fury of a mighty *potentate, prepared to find fault at the least provocation.
Slanderers have various methods of tale bearing. For instance, they will inform the beloved that the lover is not concealing the secret. That is a difficult situation to deal with, and slow to remedy unless it so happens by coincidence that the beloved resists the lover's advances-a circumstance which in any case makes aversion inevitable. There is no relief for the beloved when such rumours are about, unless the fates take a hand by acquainting her of something of the lover's secret feelings, and then only if the beloved is intelligent and has a modicum of discretion; she will in that case defer judgment on the lover. When the beloved discovers, after behaving with due aloofness and reserve, that the slanderer's story' was a lie, and that the lover has in fact not divulged the secret at all, she of course realises that the tale was a fabrication from beginning to end, and all her dark doubts vanish.
I once saw this very drama enacted between a pair of lovers. The beloved was very watchful, and excessively discreet; but many slanderous tales were carried about, and in the end the marks of these were evident in the beloved's countenance. He spoke of " a love that never was in truth "; he became a prey to conjectures and, ugly thoughts, and was so dumbfounded and distraught that, he could no longer bottle up his feelings; finally he disclosed what had been reported to him. If you could have been present at the scene when the lover offered his excuses, you would have realized that passion is indeed a tyrant who must be obeyed, an edifice most strongly bound together, a lance exceeding sharp and penetrating. His apologies were a pretty mixture of groveling, confession, denial, penitence, and unconditional surrender. So after a certain amount of pother all was well once more between the happy pair.
Sometimes the slanderer alleges that the love which the lover is protesting is not true, and that his real purpose is to relieve himself and gratify his sensual impulses. This is a kind of slander which, while serious enough when whispered abroad, is nevertheless easier to deal with than the preceding variety. The state of the lover is quite different from that of the mere pleasure-seeker; the evidences of emotion are wholly at variance in the two cases. This topic has however been discussed amply enough in the chapter on Compliance.
Sometimes the slanderer reports that the lover is divided in his affections: this is a consuming fire, and an ache pervading all the members. When the purveyor of such a story happens to be dealing with a youthful lover who is handsome, graceful, desirable, inclined to sensual pleasures, and of a worldly disposition, while the beloved is a lady of illustrious position and high rank, the likeliest thing imaginable is that she will endeavour to destroy her suitor, and to be the instrument of his death. How many a fair young lover has been struck down on this account, or been given poison to drink, or had his belly ripped up, all for a like cause! Such was the end of Marwan Ibn Ahmad Ibn Hudair, the father of Ahmad the ascetic and of Musa and `Abd al-Rahman, better known as the sons of Lubna: he met his doom at the hands of his slave-girl Qatr al-Nada. This was my motive in writing a cautionary poem for a comrade of mine, from which I will quote.
Will a man, except he's blind,
Put his trust in womankind?
What a stupid he must be
So to court catastrophe!
Ah, how many fools have come
To the murky pool of doom,
Thought it clean, and wholesome too,
And sucked up the deadly brew!
The second sort of slanderer labours to part the lovers in order that he may enjoy unique possession of the beloved, and have her for himself. This is the most difficult, deadly and decisive kind of all, because of the strenuous efforts the slanderer will make in view of the personal advantage he looks to gain.
There is yet a third class of slanderer: the man who traduces lover and beloved alike, and so reveals the secrets of both. Such a type may be disregarded, if the lover is co-operative. I have put this matter into a poem.
I marvel at the slanderer
Who seeks to worm our secret out:
He only has our news to bear,
And nothing else to blab about.
Why should he worry at my gloom,
Or trouble if I faint and fret?
Myself the pomegranate consume
The children's teeth on edge are set!
Here I find myself obliged to set down some observations closely analogous to the subject now under discussion, even though they may be slightly off the point. I would like to say a few words of explanation about tale bearing and backbiting. In talking, one thing always leads on to another, as we envisaged at the beginning of this essay.
There are no people on earth worse than slanderers and backbiters. Backbiting is a characteristic proving' the tree to be rotten, and the branch diseased; it shows that the nature itself is corrupt, and that the upbringing is also depraved. The born backbiter must needs lie; for backbiting is one of the branches, one of the authentic species of lying. Every backbiter is a liar.
I have never loved a liar. Though I am ready to be indulgent, and to be friendly with every man whatever his fault, even if it be a grave fault, committing his case to the tender mercy of his Creator and liking him for his good points, I cannot stomach anyone whom I know to be in the habit of lying: that for me wipes out all his virtues, destroys his merits, and discounts any worth there may be in him. I look for no good in such a man whatsoever. Of every other sin a man may repent every other vice can be concealed and abandoned; but as for telling a lie, there is no turning back from that, and that can never be hidden, wherever it may be. I have not seen in all my life, neither have I heard from any man, a case of a liar who eschewed lying and did not return to the habit again. I have never taken the initiative in breaking off relations with an acquaintance, except when I have detected him in a lie; in such a case it is I who take the first step, and go out of my way to avoid and to forsake him. Lying is a mark which I have never seen on any man, without his being suspected of having some dark fissure in his soul, and diagnosed as suffering from some frightful spiritual deformity. I pray that God may never abandon us, nor deny us the protection of His grace!
A wise man of old has said, "Make friends with whom you will, but avoid three sorts of men-the fool, who desiring' to help you only harms you; the weary, because in the hour when you rely upon him most, on account of the long and firm friendship between you, in that very hour he lets you down; and the liar, since the more you believe in him the more surely he will do you a dirty trick when you least expect it."
The Prophet of Allah is reported to have said, " To keep one's covenant is a part of faith"; and again," No man is a believer in the complete sense of the word, so long as he had not given up lying even in jest." I received these two Traditions from Abu `Umar Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn `Ali Ibn Rifa'a, who had them from `Ali Ibn `Abd al-`Aziz, from Abu 'Ubaid al-Qasim Ibn Sallam, from his teachers. The second of them has the ultimate authority of `Umar Ibn al-Khattab, and of his son `Abd Allah (God be well pleased with them both).
Allah says, "O ye who believe, why say ye that which ye do not? Hateful it is to God, that ye should say that which ye do not " (Koran LXI 3).
The Prophet of Allah was once asked, " May a believer be a miser? "He replied, "Yes." "And may a believer be a coward?" "Yes." "And may a believer be a liar?" "No." I received this Tradition from Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Sa'id, who had it from 'Ubaid Allah Ibn Yahya, from his father, from Malik Ibn Anas, from Safwan Ibn Sulaim. By the same chain of authorities I am informed that the Prophet of Allah also said, "There is no good in lying ": this dictum was likewise issued in answer to a question. Another Tradition, which I have on the same chain up to Malik, reporting in this case from Ibn Masud, quotes the Prophet of Allah as saying, "A man will go on lying, and making one black spot after another on his heart, until his heart is wholly black, and his name will be inscribed in God's book as one of the liars." This chain, depending upon Ibn Masud, quotes the Prophet of Allah further as saying, " Practise truthfulness; for truthfulness leads on to piety, and piety leads on to Paradise. And beware of lying; for lying leads on to sinfulness, and sinfulness leads on to Hell."
It is said that a man came to the Prophet of Allah and said to him, "O Prophet of Allah, I have three besetting sins-drink, fornication, and lying. Command me which of these I should give up." The Prophet of Allah said, " Give up lying." The man departed from him, and then desired to commit fornication; but he thought a while and then said to himself, " I will come to the Prophet of Allah, and he will say to me, `Hast thou fornicated?' And if I admit it, he will punish me as the law requires; but if I deny it, I shall break my pledge. I will therefore give up this sin." Thereafter he was tempted in the same way to drink, and reasoned after the same manner. Finally he returned to the Prophet of Allah and said, "0 Prophet of Allah, I have given up all three sins." Lying is thus seen to be the root of every abomination, and to comprise all evil; it attracts the hatred of Almighty God.
We have Abu Bakr al-Siddiq's authority for the statement that the Prophet of Allah said, " That man is without faith, in whom faith cannot be placed." Ilm Masudd is the ultimate source of the Prophet of Allah's saying, " The believer is liable to all innate dispositions, except treachery and lying." The Prophet of Allah further declared, " Three qualities there are which, if they dwell with a man, that man is a hypocrite: to promise and not to fulfill, to lie when speaking, and to betray when trust is placed in him."
What is unbelief, if it is not lying against Almighty God? Truth belongs to God, and God loves truth; by truth the heavens and the earth stand fast.
I have never seen any man more shameful than a liar. Empires do not perish, kingdoms are not destroyed, blood is not shed unjustly, honour is not violated, except through backbiting and lying. It is backbiting, which exacerbates hatred and deadly rancour. The lot of the back-biter is nothing but hatred and shame and humiliation; he deserves to be looked down upon by the person to whom he carries his filth-and all the more by others-as one looks down upon a cur.
Almighty God says, " Woe unto every slanderous defamer! " (Koran CIV I). Again Allah says, " O ye who believe, if there cometh unto you a sinful man bearing tidings, do ye make the matter clear " (Koran XLIX 6). Here God calls the talebearer a sinful man. Allah also says, "Obey thou not the contemptible, back-biting perjurer, who goeth about with slander, and is a hinderer of good, being a transgressor, a criminal, a low-born churl withal " (Koran LXVIII 10-13)
The Prophet of Allah said, " No calumniator shall enter Paradise." He also said, " Beware of the three babblers! " By this last saying he meant the talebearer, the man who receives tales, and the man who issues them.
Al-Ahnaf said, " The trustworthy man does not carry reports about, and the double-faced man deserves to be held in no regard by God." Such is the burden of vileness and depravity with which he is loaded.
A comrade once carried a lying report about me to Abu Ishaq Ibrahim Ibn `Isa al-Thaqafi, the well-known poet (God have mercy on his soul!), just as a joke. But the poet, being very imaginative, believed the story, which enraged him. I should add that both the talebearer and the poet were good friends of mine; the former was not really a backbiter at all, but he was a great jester and loved practical jokes. I therefore sent to Abu Ishaq, who was much troubled by the report, an epistle in verse, which included the following lines.
Take not as substitute for truth
A story thou hast heard men tell,
When thou canst not determine well
By what thou knowest where is Booth.
So might a man in too great haste,
Beholding a mirage, pour out
The precious drops he totes about,
And perish in the howling waste.
I also addressed a poem to my friend the talebearer, containing these stanzas.
Treat not in jest of earnest things,
Like some psychologist, who brings
Corruption to the very soul
He tends, that else is sane and whole.
The man whose sharpest weapon is
The hawking of mendacities
Is like the bustard, whose defence
Is broadly based on excrements.
I once had a friend, but so many lies were carried to him about me that at last the campaign had its effect on him; the marks were apparent in his expression and his glance. Now it is my nature to act with great deliberation, to watch with patience, and to be as conciliatory as is humanly possible. I found in quiet submission a way to restore our friendship, and then sent him a poem, from which I will quote just one stanza.
In marksmanship I have a way
Which, had it seen the light of day;
Wahriz could scarce have claimed to be
The champion of archery.
'Ubaid Allah Ibn Yahya al-Jaziri, who transmits by heart his uncle's famous elegant essays, was a natural liar. The habit has so dominated him and overmastered his reason, that in the end it has become as much his constant companion as hope is to the human breast. He will reinforce his lying tales with the most solemn oaths, which he is ready to shout from the housetops. So he has become more false than a mirage in the desert, being a complete addict to lies, which he seems to love with a passionate devotion; so much so that he will go on telling his stories to people even though he knows quite well that they do not believe him; that little detail does not put him off in the slightest, he still carries on with his falsehoods.
This is the man to whom I addressed the following verses.
All thou didst strive to keep concealed
Stands now uncovered and revealed
Report, and what myself could see,
Have proven thy malignity.
So circumstance is often shown
By other circumstance alone,
And tribunals take pregnancy
As witness to adultery.
Here is an extract from another short poem I composed in his honour.
He tells more falsehoods, all in all,
Than mirror, mirror on the wall:
He strikes more swiftly friends apart
Than Indian sabres split the heart.
I think that Fate and sundering Time
Are his disciples in the crime
All practise to one common end
Of separating friend from friend.
I honored him
with a third effusion, a full-length ballad from which I will here quote no more than five stanzas.
He is more lying than a waste
Of good opinion worst misplaced,
More hateful than a load of debt
And poverty oppressing yet.
The Lord's Commandments on his ear
Fall with less chance that he may hear,
And are unlikelier to impress
Than protests the compassionless.
In him unite, to grace his fame,
All ignominy and all shame,
Which leave no room for any worse
That men may vilify and curse.
He is more odious than reproof
To one who feigns to be aloof
From censure, and he strikes the bone
More chill than Salim's frozen stone.
More loathed is he, than to be rent
From the beloved, and banishment,
And spying eyes, to mind perplexed,
And heart athirst, and spirit vexed.
But he who rouses a
heedless brother, or counsels a friend, or protects a fellow Moslem,
or lays information concerning a malefactor, or re orts about an enemy, and in doing so does not lie, and is not proved a
liar, and intends not to rouse rancour or ill-will, such a man cannot
be called a tale-bearer. Have the weak ever perished, or the feeble-minded ever come to ruin for any other reason than that they were unable to distinguish' well between the true counselor and the back-biter? For these attributes are very close to each other on the surface, but inwardly lie far apart: the one is a disease, the other a cure. To the sagacious man the distinction between the two will not be hidden.
The authentic talebearer is one whose purveying of tales is not approved by the canons of religion, whose purpose is to part friends and provoke strife between comrades, to stir up trouble, to create commotion, to embellish and adorn a tale. If a man fears to embark upon the course of good counsel, lest he fall into the ways of back-biting, and has insufficient confidence in his own perspicacity and the accuracy of his personal judgment when involved in worldly affairs and in commerce with his fellows, then let him take his religion as a guide, and as a lamp to lighten his path, following after it wherever it may lead him on, and halting whenever it bids him halt. The light of his faith will be a sure guarantee that he will see the road ahead, a valid assurance that he will reach his goal, a certain pledge of success and salvation. The Divine Lawgiver, and He Who sent down His Messenger to mankind, He Who dispenseth all commandments and all forbiddings-surely He knows better the path of truth, and is more fully apprised of the happy issue and of deliverance at the end, than any mortal man who boasteth to look into his own soul, and delveth into his mind's conjectures according to his own imperfect reasoning.
ONE of the significant aspects of Love is Union. This is a lofty fortune, an exalted-rank, a sublime degree, a lucky star; nay more, it is life renewed, pleasure supreme, joy everlasting, and a grand mercy from Allah.
Were it not that this world below is a transitory abode of trial and trouble, and Paradise a home where virtue receives its reward, secure from all annoyances, I would have said that union with the beloved is that pure happiness which is without alloy, and gladness unsullied by sorrow, the perfect realization of hopes and the complete fulfillment of one's dreams.
I have tested all manner of pleasures, and known every variety of joy; and I have found that neither intimacy with princes, nor wealth acquired, nor finding after lacking, nor returning after long absence, nor security after fear and repose in a safe refuge none of these things so powerfully affects the soul as union with the beloved, especially if it come after long denial and continual banishment. For then the flame of passion waxes exceeding hot, and the furnace of yearning blazes up, and the fire of eager hope rages ever more fiercely. The fresh springing of herbs after the rains, the glitter of flowers when the night clouds have rolled away in the hushed hour between dawn and sunrise, the plashing of waters as they run through the stalks of golden blossoms, the exquisite beauty of white castles encompassed by verdant meadows not lovelier is any of these than union with the well-beloved, whose character is virtuous, and laudable her disposition, whose attributes are evenly matched in perfect beauty. Truly that is a miracle of wonder surpassing the tongues of the eloquent, and far beyond the range of the most cunning speech to describe: the mind reels before it, and the intellect stands abashed.
I have tried to express this in a poem.
Men sometimes come and question me
How many years my age may be,
Seeing my temples silver now
And flecks of snow upon my brow.
This is the answer that I give
"When I count up the life I live
Applying all my reason's power,
I make the total just one hour."
"And how", my questioner replies
In accents of amazed surprise,
"Mak'st thou this sum, which seems to me
Beyond all credibility?"
"One day", I answer," she I love
All other earthly things above
Lay in my arms, and like a thought
Her lips with mine I swiftly sought.
"And though the years before I die
Stretch out interminably, I
Shall only count my life in truth
As that brief hour of happy youth."
Assignations and trysts are among the pleasurable phases of union. Realization of a long-awaited promise plucks at the heart's strings in a most exquisite way.
There are two aspects of this situation. The first is the promise that the lover shall visit the beloved. I have a short poem on this topic, from which I will quote two stanzas.
I whispered with the moon all night
The while she tarried, and it seemed
That in the radiance of its light
Some glimmer of her beauty gleamed.
And I was faithful to my troth,
And love was joined, and life was gay;
Sweet union laughed upon us both,
And dark estrangement slunk away.
The second aspect of this situation is when the lover is awaiting the promise that he may visit his beloved. Indeed, the preludes to union and the first stages of its fulfillment stir the depths of the heart in a manner quite unlike any other experience.
I know a man who was sore smitten with desire for a maiden inhabiting a residence close neighboring his own. He could come to her whenever he wished without let or hindrance; but no way was open to him to do more than gaze upon her and converse with her, for hours on end, by night if he liked or by day. At last the fates conspired to secure him some response, and made it possible for him to realize a measure of happiness, and that after he had quite despaired because of the weary time he had been waiting. I remember well how crazy and wellnigh delirious he was with delight; his speech was barely coherent, so overcome was he by joy. I commemorated the scene in the following poem.
Had I wooed half as fervently
God's pardon, as that lovely maid,
My Lord would have forgiven me
However sore I disobeyed.
Prayed I with equal earnestness
The desert lion to assuage
His wrath, as her my suit to bless,
No man need dread his baffled rage.
Long she denied my heart's desire,
Then ah! So ardent kisses pressed
Upon my lips, that all the fire
Of love rekindled in my breast.
So might some traveller athirst
Discovering waters after dearth
Drink, till the great potations burst
His lungs, then lifeless sink to earth.
I also wrote a second poem on the same subject, beginning in this fashion.
Love fluttered and was gone
Like breath within my bone:
I pricked my eyes to view
Like horse to the hulloo.
I had a mistress fair:
She fled me everywhere,
Yet sometimes stealthily
She gave her lips to me.
I laid my lips on those,
And thought to find repose,
But felt within my breast
New pain and more unrest.
My heart did withered lie
Like herbage parched and dry
Whereon some casual hand
Will toss a flaming brand.
Later in this effusion the following stanza occurs.
Ha, thou has had thy day,
Proud jewel of Cathay!
My ruby I acclaim,
My Andalusian flame.
I know of a young slave-girl who was ardently passionate for a certain youth, the son of a noble household, but he was ignorant of her sentiments. Great was her sorrow, and long her despair, so that she pined and wasted away for the love of him. He in all the pride of youthful indifference was quite unconscious of her suffering, which she was prevented from revealing to him by maidenly modesty; for she was a virgin unspotted, and moreover respected him too highly to surprise him with a declaration which for all she knew he might not find to his liking. As time went on, however, and the girl felt more and more certain of the state of her heart, she at last complained of her plight to a sagacious woman who enjoyed her confidence, for she was her old nurse. The latter said to her, " Hint at your feelings to him in verse." The girl did as she was advised, and that time after time; but the youth paid no attention whatsoever. It was not that he lacked intelligence and wit; quite the contrary; but he had no suspicion of her intention, that his imagination should be alert to look for hidden meanings in her words. Finally the girl's endurance was at an end; her emotions were insupportable. One night she w seated with him Me-a-tete; and God knows that he was most chaste and self-disciplined, very far indeed from committing any impropriety. Finding that she could no longer control her feelings, when she stood up to leave him she suddenly turned and kissed him on the mouth, then, without uttering a single word, coquettishly swaying she withdrew. I have tried to picture the scene in a poem.
As she withdrew, the lissom maid,
This way and that she gently swayed
As a narcissus 'neath the trees
Swings on its stem before the breeze.
Deep in his heart the lover hears
The pendants hanging from her ears
Ring out a tender melody
"I love thee dearly: lov'st thou me?"
I pictured in her poise and grace
A dove that goes with perfect pace;
Not over slow he seems to move,
Nor undue hasty, to reprove.
The young man was stupefied, confused, quite overcome; his heart was deeply stirred; his spirit was overwhelmed by conflicting emotions. Hardly was she out of his sight when he found himself caught in the toils of destruction; his breast was all afire; he sighed and sighed. A multitude of fears assailed him; he was a prey to every apprehension; sleep deserted him, and all through the long night he tossed and turned unable to close his eyes. Such was the beginning of a love between them, which continued many moons, until the cruel hand of separation broke the cords of their perfect union. There you may say was a very Devil's trick, an incitement to passion no man could have withstood, unless he were under the protection of Allah the All-Powerful.
Some say that union too long enjoyed is fatal to love. That is a vile doctrine, advanced only by those who quickly tire of a sweet romance. On the contrary, the longer the union lasts the firmer the attachment becomes. Speaking for myself, I have never drunk deep of the waters of amorous union without my thirst raging all the more fiercely: such is the predicament of one who seeks to cure himself by applying as remedy the very sickness from which he is suffering the respite is immediate, but soon gone. I have reached, in mastery of those I have loved, the furthest attainable goals, beyond which no man may aim to achieve, and yet I have ever found myself desirous for more. I have enjoyed such exquisite pleasure a long while, and never experienced weariness nor been overtaken by lassitude.
One day I was seated in close company with a certain person I loved, and wherever I turned my thoughts, speculating on the many varieties of union, I found none that fell not short of my desire; all failed to satisfy my passion; not any accorded me fulfillment of even the least of my dreams. The nearer I approached my goal, the further my goal eluded me: the flintstone of yearning passion kindled the fire of anguish within my breast. I immortalized that interview in the following stanzas.
Come, bring a knife and cleave apart
This solitude within my heart,
Then lay my love within the tear,
And stitch it up with tender care.
And with the morn I pray she shall
Look for no other place to dwell,
But fondly keep this little room
Her own, until the Day of Doom.
Here let her live, so long as I
Draw breath, and when I come to die
My heart for comfort may she crave
In the dark silence of the grave.
There is no situation in all the world that can compare with the happy state in which a pair o lovers find themselves, when they have none to spy upon them, when they are secure from slanderers and safe from separation, when they have no desire to turn away one from the other, and are far indeed from growing weary, when they are spared the attentions of reprovers, when their natures are perfectly attuned and they love each other with equal ardour, when Allah has bestowed on them abundant subsistence, complete tranquillity, and a season of peace, when their union is lawful, and blessed by Allah's approval, and when their association endures long and unbroken even to the day of death, which day none can thrust away nor escape. But that is a grace none has ever fully enjoyed, a need of the soul not granted to all who seek it. Were it not for the fact that this state is ever accompanied by the dread of sudden destined calamities, ordained in the hidden pandects of Allah, such as parting unpremeditated, or death ravishing the one or the other while yet in the flower of youth-were it not for these and like circumstances I would have said that union such as I have described is a state remote from all misfortune, secure against the intrusion of any catastrophe.
I have known men who have enjoyed all the aforementioned advantages in full, save that they had the single misfortune to find that the object of their affection was of a froward disposition, and coquettish in the consciousness that she was adored. Their life together was therefore never truly happy; not a day dawned without some dispute flaring up between them. Moreover both partners (as I have observed) suffered from the same defect of character, because each was confident of the other's love: and so they continued, until separation drew nigh to them and they were parted by death, that is the invariable rule of this transient world. I have expressed this matter in verse.
How can I thus unjustly blame
The mischief separation wreaks?
My loved one's ways are all the same
She ever separation seeks.
It would have been sufficient woe
Passion inflicted on my like
How shall I bear this double blow
Passion and separation strike?
It is related that Ziyad Ibn Abi Sufyan said one day to his courtiers, " What man enjoys the most blissful life? " " The Prince of the Faithful ", they replied. " But what of the trouble he suffers at the hands of the uraish? " " Then thou ", the courtiers suggested. " But what ", said Ziyad, " of the troubles I suffer at the hands of the Kharijis and at the outposts of the empire?" They said, "Then who is that man, 0 Prince? " He answered, " A good Moslem, married to a good Moslem wife, with sufficient means to provide for the two of them, satisfied with her and she with him, not knowing me, and I not knowing him."
Is there any lovely thing provoking the admiration of all creatures, that gladdens the heart, captivates the senses, charms the soul, dominates the passion, ravishes the reason, and snatches away the mind, comparable with the anxiety of the lover over the beloved? I have witnessed many situations of this sort; and indeed it is a wonderful spectacle, evoking the most tender compassion, especially if the romance be clandestine. If you could see the beloved subtly alluding when she is questioned as to the cause of her being angry with the lover, and his perplexity as he tries to extricate himself from his mishap by offering excuses, and how she willfully misinterprets him, and he contrives to invent some meaning in her words which he can offer to the bystanders-if you could be present at such a scene, you would truly behold a marvel, and a secret delight all other pleasures surpassing. I personally have never witnessed anything that so powerfully stirs the heart, so deeply plunges into its very life, and so subtly penetrates its vital spots.
Lovers in union have such plausible excuses to offer that baffle the sharpest intellects and defeat the most powerful minds. I have seen this on a number of occasions, and composed this poem to illustrate the point.
If one really tries
Truth to mix with lies,
With the fool the two
Pass for one, and true.
Yet between the twain
Is distinction plain,
And the man of sense
Notes their difference.
Silver fused with gold
Readily is sold
"Pure, without alloy"
To the foolish boy.
But if you prefer,
Try the jeweller
He will tell for sure
Counterfeit from pure.
I know a boy and a girl who were extremely fond of each other. When intruders were present, they would recline together with one of those large cushions between them against which important personages are invited to rest their backs on the divan. Their heads would meet behind the cushion, and each would be kissing the other without being seen. To all appearances they would be stretched out in this way simply because they were weary. Their equally reciprocated love assumed vast proportions, so that the youth sometimes comported himself with arrogance towards the girl. On this topic I have the following stanzas.
Time's tale is full
To ear and speech
Mounts that prefer
The boot and spur,
And givers who
Their askers woo.
The captive glowers,
The captor cowers
The slain assails,
The slayer pales.
But ne'er till now
I heard of how
Fond hope may thrill
To yearner's will.
Methinks there is
One rule in this
What agents say!
I have been told by a woman in whom I have every confidence that she once saw a youth and a maiden, each excessively passionate for the other, who were come together joyously in a certain spot. The youth had in his hand a knife, with which he was cutting some fruit; he pressed with it too hard, and inflicted a light wound on his thumb, which began to bleed. Now the girl was wearing a silk jacket of gold tissue, very costly; she with a quick turn of her hand tore off a strip of the precious material, and bound up the boy's thumb with it. For a lover to act like this is a small matter, compared with his proper obligations; it is a bounden duty, a law requiring his obedience. And indeed how should it be otherwise, seeing that he has devoted his life and bestowed his soul as an offering to the beloved, and how can he refuse anything after yielding these?
I once knew the daughter of Zakariya' Ibn Yahya al-Taminu, better known as Ibn Bartal; she was the niece of the Chief Justice of Cordova, Muhammad Ibn Yahya, whose brother, the vizier-general, was killed by Ghalib together with two other commanders in the celebrated Battle of the Border (the names of these commanders were Marwan Ibn Ahmad Ibn Shahid, and Yusuf Ibn Sa'id al-'Akki). Now this lady was married to Yahya Ibn Muhammad, whose grandfather was the vizier Yahya Ibn Ishaq; her husband was surprised by death while the couple were still in the bloom of their joy and the flower of their happiness. She was so overcome by grief, that on the night he died she slept with him under a single blanket; so she took her last fond'; farewell of him, and of the union which had brought her so much gladness. Her sorrow did not depart from her thereafter, even up to the day of her death.
Union surreptitiously snatched, hoodwinking the spies, in which precautions are taken against intruders, such as smothered laughter, admonitory coughing, gesturing with the hands, pressing against one another's sides, touching hands and feet-all this affects the soul most deliciously. I have these verses on the matter.
Secret union yields a pleasure
Far beyond the common measure
From a steady match extracted,
Union openly enacted.
Mingled with its joy delightful
Is a caution truly frightful,
Such as his whose march embraces
Solid rock and sandy places.
I was told by a comrade, a most trustworthy man who comes from one of the best families, that he was smitten when a boy with a violent passion for a slave-girl attached to a house belonging to his people. He was strictly barred from coming to her, and was at the same time quite crazy for her. " One day ", he told me, "we went on an excursion to one of our estates in the plain to the west of Cordova; one of my uncles was accompanying us. We sauntered through the orchards until we were far away from human habitation, and stretched at our ease by the banks of streams. Suddenly the sky clouded over, and rain began to fall. We had not sufficient coverings with us to protect the whole party; and so my uncle ordered a servant to bring a wrap, threw it over me, and then told the girl to cover herself up with me. Picture me, as you will, enjoying full possession under the very eyes of the multitude, and they entirely unaware! Blissful reunion that was virtually a privacy, happy party that was indistinguishable from a tete-a-fete! By Allah, I have never forgotten that day." I can still see him as he told me the story, laughing in every limb and positively quivering with merriment, despite the long interval, which had passed since the adventure took place. I wrote this stanza to sum up the escapade.
The meadows laughed for joy,
The clouds wept many a tear,
As when a lovesick boy
Beholds his darling near.
A novel instance of union is well illustrated by a story I was told by one of my friends. He had a passion for a certain girl living in a nearby apartment; between his apartment and hers there was a vantage point from which the one could look out on the other. She used to stand and wait for him in that place, there being some little distance between them, and greet him with her hand wrapped in her blouse. He asked her one-day why she did this, and she replied, " Possibly an inkling may be gained of what we are about, and then some other person may wait for you here instead of me and wave to you; and you might return the greeting, and so our friend's suspicions would be confirmed. So let this be the token between us; if you see a bare hand signalling a greeting in your direction, be sure that it is not my hand, and do not reply."
Sometimes union is found to be so pleasurable, and the lovers' hearts are in such perfect concord, that they act quite recklessly, paying no heed to any who may
Reprove them, taking no care to conceal their attachment from any guardian, and troubling not at all if the talebearer be at work. Indeed in such circumstances a reproach act as a positive incitement.
I will conclude this chapter by quoting a few verses, which I have composed on the subject of union.
How often I have fluttered round
And what all moths discover, found
The sweet incitements of desire
Would unto Union go,
As nightbound wayfarers aspire
Towards the campfire's glow.
Oft union with my love assuaged
Love's flames that in my bowels raged,
As dying men by drought accursed
In living waters slake their thirst.
Fix not thy glance, nor gaze agape
For ever on one lovely shape,
For Beauty is unlimited
Through all the world her boundaries spread.
Finally I quote an extract from a longer poem.
O is there any who will pay
Blood-wit for him that Love doth slay,
Or their redeeming ransom bring
Whom passion is imprisoning.
Or has my destiny in store
That I may come to her once more,
And live again the day we spent
Beside the stream in merriment?
All day those waters sweet at will
I swam, and yet I thirsted still:
O passing strange, my limbs to drench
Yet not my raging thirst to quench!
Dear mistress, I am wasted so
By Love's consuming pains, that lo,
My sick-bed visitors descry
No sign at all where I may lie.
How then, where others failed indeed
To see a way, did Love succeed
This anguished sufferer to find
Invisible to all mankind?
My doctor, who would cure my ails,
Grows weary of the task, and fails,
While even those who envied me
Feel pity for my malady.
OF BREAKING OFF
AMONG the misfortunes of Love there is also to be counted Breaking Off. This is of various sorts. The first variety is that breaking off which common caution requires when a spy is present: this is indeed more delicious than any union, and were it not for the fact that the outward meaning of the expression, and the rules of nomenclature, oblige me to introduce it in the present chapter I would have put it off to elsewhere, feeling it to be too sublime to be inscribed here.
In the circumstances now under discussion you will see the beloved drawing away from the lover, addressing her observations to another person, and employing the most refined allusions, lest her purpose be already suspected and her intentions gravely doubted. You will also see the lover acting in the same way, except that he is more under the influence of his natural instincts, more drawn on by his passion despite himself; and so he appears even while drawing away to be advancing, speaking though ostensibly silent, his eyes turned in one direction and his heart in another.
The shrewd and intelligent man discovers the inward meaning of the lovers' talk through the exercise of his imaginative faculty, and is therefore aware that the secret intention of their conversation is quite different from its apparent purport, advertisement being not at all the same thing as sober fact. This then makes a
Most exciting spectacle, a scene at once stirring and inspiring, arousing the deepest emotions and evoking all the instincts of chivalry.
Here I should like to quote some verses of mine, which touch on these things a little, even though the actual topics with which they deal are sometimes beside the present point; but I have already bargained with you over this kind of irrelevancy.
Abu 'l-`Abbas insults his name,
But of his nature does not wot:
So might the fish the ostrich blame
For having thirst, which he has not.
How oft have I obliged a friend,
Not over willing to that end
Nor yet reluctant so to do,
But having other aims in view.
Here is an extract from a long poem of mine, which comprises a variety of wise aphorisms and rules of natural behaviour.
I keep the joy within my heart
For those I count my friends apart,
And bare my fangs to smile on those
I reckon my especial foes.
The colocynth's disgusting juice
Is taken for its healing use,
And honey pure, although endued
With sweeter properties, eschewed.
So in like case, when need dictates
The very thing my spirit hates
I make it do, and turn my lust
From what I would to what I must.
The jewels hidden in the deeps,
And all the pearls that ocean keeps
In its dark dungeon, none may gain
Except he dive, and dive again.
I strive to drag my soul away
From where its natural instincts lay,
When I am sure another route
Would sooner lead to my pursuit.
So Allah abrogated laws
That served our forefathers, because
His newer revelation brought
Men nearer to the good He sought.
I suit my manners to the crowd
And do the things by them allowed,
While keeping still intact and whole
The pristine virtue of my soul.
So water changes colour to
Accord it with the vessel's hue,
Although its element for sure
Is wonderfully white and pure.
The following stanza also comes from the same composition.
They fit together, hand in glove,
My faculties, and those I love
By these and those alike live I,
Because of both I fear to die.
Later in the ballad these verses occur.
I am not one whom cheerfulness
And affability impress,
And neither cold aloofness aught
Determines what is in my thought.
Within my soul I purpose then
To keep my distance from such men,
But outwardly I smile, and bow,
And cry, "Thrice welcome to you now!"
I have observed the fire of war,
That spreads destruction wide and far,
When first its tinder bursts aflame
Seems nothing but a jest, a game.
The speckled serpent looks to be
A beautiful embroidery,
But underneath the woven thread
Dire poison lurks, to strike men dead.
The scimitar's refulgent blade
Is most attractively arrayed,
Yet, flourished by a cunning arm,
Its steel inflicteth mortal harm.
And so I count humility
Renown pre-eminent to be,
When it procureth for a man
Complete fulfillment of his, plan.
The proudest warrior, when he must,
Will rub his forehead in the dust,
That on the morrow he may rise
High-honoured in the sultan's eyes.
Submission leading on to fame
I reckon this a nobler aim
Than too quick glory to attain
With mean abasement in its train.
To oft the overladen board
Has won starvation as reward,
And self-denial sometimes brings
Abundance of delicious things.
No spirit ever tasted fame
That thought humility a shame,
Nor that sweet savour of repose
Which only he who labours knows.
To win to waters far away
When thirsting through the livelong day
Is more delightful and more sweet
Than sitting lazily replete.
Later still I proceed thus.
All things created, when well viewed,
Some portion manifest of good;
So if the best should be denied,
With what is well be satisfied.
Yet drink not of the muddy stream
Save in extremity extreme,
And when the whole round world contains
No other reservoir but drains.
And never let those lips of thine,
Though parched, approach the brackish brine;
Salt chokes the throat; far seemlier then
Is thirst endured to honest men.
These two stanzas from the same poem are quotable.
Take of her favours what may be
With ease enjoyed, contenting thee
Thereat, nor striving to attain
What only violence can-gain.
She is not bound to thee by bill
Of sale, to serve thee at thy will,
Nor, if thou win her, shall she prove
Possessed of a fond parent's love.
Here are another two stanzas.
Despair not ever to arrive
Where far-fetched cunning may contrive
To bring thee: much before thee lies
To win the hard and distant prize.
Trust not the darkness of the night,
For dawn shall soon be breaking bright;
And be not dazzled by the sun
Its orb goes down on everyone.
Finally I will cite three more stanzas from this same masterpiece.
So persevere with steady force,
For waters flowing on their course
By sheer persistency alone
Wear down at last the granite stone.
Strive on, strive ever; slacken not,
And reckon little all the lot
Thou hast accomplished; drizzle rates
No deluge, yet it penetrates.
The man who trains himself to sup
On poison, finds it fills him up,
And in the end it does him good
As much as any well-tried food.
Then there is the breaking off which is provoked by coquettishness; it is more delicious than many a union. Consequently it never occurs except when both lovers have complete confidence in one another, and each is firmly convinced of the other's sincere loyalty. It is then that the beloved feigns to shun the lover, in order to prove the lover's patience, and that the sun may not be uninterruptedly shining on their romance. At such a time the lover despairs, if he is the victim of a grand passion, not so much on account of what has already happened, but because he fears that matters may develop and assume graver proportions, the break between himself and his beloved leading on to other ruptures; or he may also be afraid of that other great catastrophe, the beloved's growing weary of the attachment. I myself experienced in my youth a breaking off of this kind, in my relations with a very intimate friend. The rupture soon healed, but then it returned. When this happened frequently, I extemporised a poem as a sort of joke, inserting after each couplet of my original composition a couplet taken from the beginning stanzas of the Suspended Ode of Tarafa Ibn al-'Abd, which I had studied with commentary at the feet of Abu Sa'id al-Fata al Ja`fari, transmitting from Abu Bakr al-Muqri', from Abu Jafar al-Nahhas (God. have mercy on their souls!), in the Cathedral Mosque of Cordova.
I called to mind the love I bore
For her, my heart's adored of yore,
That seems like Khaula's traces now
Wind-swept on Thahmad's rocky brow.
My memory of that firm bond
She pledged with me (and I so fond)
Still lasts as clear as the blue band
Tattooed upon an Arab's hand.
And there I paused, not knowing true
If she would come to me anew,
Yet not despairing, and I wept
Until the morn, nor ever slept.
Then long my kinsfolk chided me
And made reproach abundantly;
"Nay, perish not of grief", they cried,"
But be with courage fortified."
The divers moods and rages of
That fickle lady whom I love
Are like the wrecks of schooners spread
Along Dad's rocky torrent-bed.
Those alternations of repulse
And union, which my heart convulse,
Are as a ship some helmsman veers
To catch the wind, then forward steers.
First she was pleased a little while,
Then turned away in anger vile;
So children playing in the sands
Divide the parcels with their hands.
Her lips were smiling graciously,
But in her heart she raged at me
A double necklace, fashioned with
Gay pearls, and sombre chrysolith.
Next comes the breaking off which is occasioned by reproach on account of some fault committed by the lover. This situation involves a certain hardship; but the happiness engendered by a restoration of relations, and the joy, which the beloved's renewed approval evokes, counterbalances everything that has passed. The beloved's approval, following upon her anger, affords a delight unequalled by any other pleasure, and moves the spirit to an ecstasy of gladness far exceeding anything that mundane circumstances can occasion. Has any spectator ever witnessed, or any eye beheld, or has it entered into, the thoughts of man to conceive a more delicious and exciting situation than this? The spies have departed; all hateful influences are far away; the slanderers have vanished from the scene. The lover and the beloved are met together again; they have been parted for a time because of some fault committed by the lover, and that breaking off which ensued has lasted a little while; but now there is nothing to prevent them from enjoying a long talk. The lover begins by apologizing humbly, submitting with all diffidence his clear proofs and arguments-either boldly, or with self abasement, professing a shame over what he has done. Now he declares his innocence; now he asks for pardon and begs to be forgiven, confessing to all the faults of which he is accused even though he be entirely faultless. Meanwhile the beloved all the time fixes her eyes on the ground, occasionally stealing a furtive glance at the lover, or sometimes steadily regarding him for a long moment. At last, seeing him smile, she smiles surreptitiously; and that is the sign that she approves and is satisfied. So the atmosphere of the interview brightens up; the clouds of misunderstanding roll away; his excuses are accepted, his argument is admitted. The faults reported by the talebearers are expunged; the last traces of anger disappear. Now her answers are all " Yes ", and " Your fault would be forgiven, even if you really did act so; how much the more, seeing that you are guiltless." They conclude the whole proceedings with union more firmly joined than ever; reproaches are done with; everything is happiness again; and on this charming note they disperse. Such a scene defies description; the tongue is too halting adequately to do justice to the topic.
I have trodden the carpets of caliphs, and attended the courts of kings, and yet never have I seen reverential awe equal to that which the lover manifests to his beloved. I have observed conquerors triumphing over vanquished princes, viziers exulting in their authority, statesmen rejoicing in their power, and in all this I have beheld nothing to exceed the happiness and hilarity of the lover when he is sure that the beloved's heart is in his keeping, and is confident that she is drawn towards him and loves him truly. I have been present when subjects are excusing themselves before their sovereign, and witnessed how men charged with grave offences comport themselves in the presence of arrogant tyrants, but I have not seen anything more abject than the distracted lover confronting the enraged beloved, transported with anger and mastered by uncompromising fury.
I have myself experienced both situations. In the first I was; harder than steel, more trenchant than sword, unresponsive to abject humility, unconceding to self-abasement. In the second I was more yielding than a garment, and softer than cotton cloth, making haste to submit myself to the last degree of humiliation if it should profit me, eager to seize every opportunity of prostrating myself if that should be of avail, caressing with my tongue, plunging into every manner of deep and subtle fancy in my exposition, contriving all the tricks of eloquence, in short attempting every means of winning the beloved's favour again.
False accusation is one of the familiar features of breaking off, and this may occur both at the beginning and at the end of a love affair. In the former case it is a sign of true affection, whereas in the latter it indicates that the passion has cooled off, and is the gateway to forgetting.
In this connexion I recall that one day I was passing by the cemetery of Bab `Amir in Cordova, with a crowd of students and Traditionists; we were on our way to the class of Shaikh, Abu 'l-Qasim `Abd al-Rahman Ibn Abi Yazid al-Misri my revered teacher, in Rusafa, and with us was Abu Bakr `Abd al-Rahman Ibn Sulaiman al-Balawi of Ceuta, a most talented poet. He was reciting some verses of his own composition, describing a certain known person given to making false accusations. This was what he was saying.
He hastens down his primrose way,
Regardless what ahead may lie;
He hurries swiftly to unfray
Love's cords that took so long to tie.
A weary labour it will be
To patch affection's cloak anew,
If, fast as I am patching, he
Makes speed to rip the cloth in two.
The recitation of the first of these two stanzas coincided with the arrival on the scene of Abu `Ali al-Husain Ibn `Ali al-Fasi (God have mercy upon him!), who was also on his way to Ibn Abi Yazid's lecture. Hearing the verses, he smiled in our direction and joined us as he went along, remarking, " Nay, rather to knot Love's cords, God willing, for that would be more becoming! " This Abu 1-Husain said despite his gravity, his virtue, his saintliness, his innocence, his piety, his self-denial and his learning. Thereupon I composed the following lines.
Give up thy purposeful intent
The cords of my fond love to rend,
O cruel tyrant, and relent,
Our union's broken threads to mend.
Thou shalt assuredly return,
Whether thou wishest it or no;
Spite thy unwillingness to learn,
The prudent lawyer tells us so.
Sometimes breaking off is accompanied by reproaches; and by my life, that is a delicious situation provided it does not go too far. But if it assumes momentous proportions, then the omens are far from happy; it is a most unhealthy symptom, presaging evil to follow. In brief, it is the carrier of separation, the forerunner of severance, the consequence of false accusations, the prelude to troublesomeness, the messenger of dismissal, the provoker of hatred, and the vanguard of aversion. It is only to be approved when it comes in a gentle form, and springs out of tender anxiety. I have these verses on the subject.
When thou hast blamed me, it may be
Thou wilt be generous to me,
Forgiving all that thou didst, blame,
And adding blessings on my name.
How often has a day begun
(As we have seen) with shining sun,
Yet, ere the afternoon was o'er,
We heard the dreadful thunders roar.
And then again the weather cleared,
The clouds dispersed, the sun appeared;
And so, by that analogy,
I hope once more to look on thee!
I was inspired to compose- the above poem by some reproaches of which I was the target, upon just such a spring day as I have described; I wrote them that very time.
Once I had two friends who were brothers. The went away on a journey, and when they returned was suffering from ophthalmia. They were remiss in visiting me, and so I wrote to them in rhyme, m communication being addressed to the elder. Permit me to quote from this letter.
And I was telling to
Thy brother o'er and o'er
Things whose recitals do
Distress the hearer sore.
But if the clouds outspread
Obscure the sun at noon,
What is there to be said
About the rising moon?
Then there is the breaking off which is the result of the slanderers' activities. I have already spoken about these gentry earlier in this essay, and the foul infection spread by their poisonous tongues. This may often lead to a final rupture.
Next I must speak of that breaking off which is caused by weariness. To grow tired of a thing is an inborn human characteristic: a man afflicted by this failing deserves all the more not to receive the sincere and undiluted affection of any friend, and that none should engage himself to him in true brotherhood. For he is not constant in any covenant; he perseveres in no association; the succour he may render to the lover is of but brief duration; neither his love nor his hatred is to be trusted. The best way with such a man is not to attach him to oneself, and rather to flee from his company and his society, for one will never derive any advantage from his friendship. It is for this reason that we have excluded this quality from our analysis of lovers, and put it in the category of the beloved's attributes; for the latter are in general apt to level false accusations, to entertain dark suspicions, o address themselves to rupturing relations. The person who decks himself out with the name of love, and is easily wearied, is no true lover at all: it is right that the very taste of him should be shunned, and that he be banished from the roll of lovers, and never admitted into their society. I never saw any man so completely dominated by this quality as Abu 'Amir Muhammad Ibn 'Amir (God-have mercy upon him'!). If anyone had described to me a fraction of what I knew of him, I would never have believed him. People of such a temperament are the quickest of beings to fall in love, and the least patient with those they love, also with those they detest vice versa. They change as rapidly from adoration as they gallop into it. So never put your trust in anyone who is given to weariness, neither occupy your thoughts with him; entertain no false hopes that he will be faithful to you, and if you are constrained by necessity to love him, know him for what he is, a creature of passing fancies, and adapt yourself to suit his varying moods as you observe him to change from moment to moment, conforming in general with all his fickle whims.
Abu 'Amir, whose name I have just mentioned, whenever he clapped his eyes on a slave-girl could scarcely restrain his impatience; he was so overcome by anxiety and trepidation that he wellnigh expired, until at last he possessed her, even if a veritable forest of tragacanth bushes stood between him and his object. Yet as soon as he was certain that she was his for the having, love turned to revulsion, intimacy to aversion, agitation to be with her into agitation to be without her, longing to have her into longing to be rid of her. So he would sell her at the most ridiculous price. Such was his wont, so that he squandered in this way many tens of thousands of gold dinars. Yet for all that, God bless him, he was a man of culture, intelligent, sagacious, noble and sweet in his ways; he had a penetrating wit, and was withal a great aristocrat, of highly exalted rank, and enjoyed a position of vast prestige. His handsome features and perfect physique were beyond all definition; the imagination boggles to describe even the least part of his manly beauty, and none could adequately accomplish the task of picturing him as he was. The boulevards of the city were all deserted of promenaders, the whole population being intent to pass the door of his house, which stood in the street running up from the little river, by the gate of my own residence on the eastern side of Cordova, and leading to the avenue adjoining the palace of al-Zahira; his house was in this avenue, quite close to mine. All, as I have said, thronged his door, for no other reason than simply to catch a glimpse of him. Many a slave-girl died of a broken heart on his account; infatuated by his charm, they would deck themselves out in all their finery to attract his fancy; but he betrayed their hopes, so that they became the victims b of wasting passion, and were slain by solitude. I knew one of these girls, whose name was `Afra'; she did not trouble to conceal her love for him, in whatever company she found herself, and the tears never dried on her cheeks. She passed from his household to Abu '1-Barakat al-Khaiyali, the prefect of the royal buildings.
Abu 'Amir told me much about himself, including the fact that he was weary among other things of his own name! As for his friends, he changed them frequently during his brief lifetime. Like the finch, he never remained constant to the same fashion long; sometimes he would dress in the robes of a king, tunes he got himself up like an assassin
It behoves any man who has the misfortune to be mixed up with someone of this description, not to expend all his energies in loving him; rather should he set up despair, which he might well entertain regarding the constancy of his companion's affections, as an adversary to do battle against his heart's inclinations. As soon as the first signs of weariness on his part exhibit themselves to him, he must avoid his company for several days, until his fickle friend's mind livens up again and his ennui departs; then he may safely resume relations with him. In that way the friendship may well endure. I have summed up this counsel in a little poem.
Put not thy hopes in him
Whose love grows quickly dim;
The friend who wearies soon,
His love's a worthless boon.
Then have thou nothing of
A so inconstant love
It is a loan to lack
That must be rendered back.
Then again there is a variety of breaking off where the initiative is taken by the lover. This happens when the lover observes that the beloved has begun to treat him harshly, and is inclining away from him in favour of another fancy; or when some tedious intruder is always sticking to his side. In such a case the lover sees death standing before him; he gulps the choking draughts of despair; to bite the acid pulp of the colocynth would discomfort him less than to; look upon so hateful a spectacle. So he withdraws from his suit, though his heart is breaking. I have rendered this tragic situation very touchingly in verse.
I shunned the one I love,
Yet not because I hate
O wondrous shunning of
The lover passionate!
But that I cannot bear
To gaze (though I love well)
Upon her features fair,
My traitorous gazelle.
Death is a sweeter prize
Then vainly to desire
Her heart that opens lies
To all who may aspire.
The flames within my breast
Their fiery lances dart;
O strange, the vast unrest
Of my enduring heart!
Yet Allah has allowed
The captive, by His laws,
His secret thoughts to shroud
When in the captor's claws.
This merciful decree
Permits, in mortal fear,
To faithful hearts sincere.
I will relate an instance of breaking off in its most extraordinary and frightful form. I knew a man whose heart was distraught for one who kept far away from him, fleeing before his passionate advances. My poor friend suffered agonies of his unrequited love for a considerable time then fortune vouchsafed him a remarkable opportunity of attaining union, so that he was within; sight of realizing all his fond hopes. In the moment when he was separated by but a hair's-breadth from the goal of his ambition, the beloved broke off relations once more, and withdrew further than even before from his reach. On that subject I composed the following verses.
I had a pressing need
For Fortune to concede,
That seemed as if it were
Remote as Jupiter.
Dame Fortune so far went
Her rigours to relent
As to display my prize
Before my very eyes.
Then she removed anew
My target out of view,
As if my heart's delight
Had never been in sight.
I invented a second poem on the same theme.
My hope drew near, till I stretched out
My hand, upon, my hope to lay;
But then my object swerved about
And vanished to the Milky Way.
So suddenly I, who was thus
So certain, fell into despair;
My hope was swept to Sirius
That seemed within my grasping there.
All men had envied my good chance,
And now I envied in my turn;
Desire had cast on me its glance,
Yet I was only left to yearn.
So Fate delights eternally
To vary good with ill surprise
None puts his trust in Destiny
Who is ambitious to be wise.
Finally there is the breaking off which is the consequence of hatred. Here all fictions go astray, all ruses come to an end; it is the great and final catastrophe. This is the disaster which leaves the reason utterly bewildered. He who is smitten by this calamity, let him apply himself to discover what may be his beloved's wishes, and let him endeavour to find out what his darling will approve; he must at all costs avoid whatever he may be aware that the object of his passion abhors. If he conducts himself in this manner, it may be that this will incline her sympathies again towards him, always provided that the beloved knows the value of concord and of striving to attain it. But if she does not know the value of this, then there is no hope of turning her from her hateful attitude; all your good deeds will be crimes in her eyes. If the lover is unable to convert the beloved, then let him resolve upon oblivion; let him examine his soul, and consider the misery and privation it is suffering, and forthwith labour to gratify his desire in whatever manner he can. I have seen- a man in these straits, and wrote a ballad to illustrate his case, beginning as follows.
'Twas my misfortune to adore
One who, if I had chanced to save
Him from sure death that loomed before,
Would cry, "O were I in the grave!"
Later in the poem these stanzas occur.
'Tis not my fault if, when I drive
My camels to the bubbling spring,
The world's vicissitudes contrive
To vitiate my homecoming.
What just complaint is there to find
Against the sun at noon ablaze,
If feeble eyes are stricken blind
And cannot look upon its rays?
I also have this trifle.
It is most hateful to avoid
When union has been enjoyed;
But union seems O! divine
After avoidance has been thine.
The one is wealth that visits thee
When thou hast dwelt with poverty,
The other poverty, that on
Great wealth ensues, when it is gone.
I can quote a longer poem.
They character, I know,
Into two parts doth go,
And Fate through thee doth play
Two separate roles today
Thou art as Nu'man was
In days of old, because
As Arab legend says
He, Nu'man, had two days.
One day was bliss for men,
And all were happy then;
But one was full of hate
And malice desperate.
Thy day of grace and glee
On others dawns, not me;
My day with woe is sent
And bitter banishment.
This troth I love thee by
Does it not qualify
To win, for recompense,
Some slight beneficence?
Here is a fragment.
O thou in whom, most sweet,
All loveliness doth meet,
Like pearls in order strung
And on a necklace hung:
How comes it, death from thee
Assaults me brutally
By night, when in thy face
Shines forth my star of grace?
I have a formal ode which begins thus.
Is this sad hour of fond farewell
The Judgment Hour whereof men tell,
This night of parting and of gloom
The vigil of the Day of Doom?
My banishment, is it that woe
Believers for a season know
Who hope to meet their Lord again,
Or infidels' eternal pain?
Later I proceed as follows.
God ever bless those days gone by,
Those nights we joyed in, thou and I,
Memories that still fragrant are
And fresh as the sweet nenuphar.
The lily's petals are ablaze
With glittering beauty, like our days;
Its center is the night, whose knife
Cuts short our slender thread of life.
We passed our days and nights away
In heedless joy and folly gay,
And so they came, and so they fled,
And we knew not the way they sped.
But presently another time
Succeeded to that age sublime,
Fair promise of fidelity
Belied, alas! by perfidy.
Further on in the same poem I have these stanzas.
Yet, O my soul, do not despair:
Perchance the times will yet be fair,
And Fortune, who has turned her face
Too long, renew her former grace.
For Allah, the All-Merciful,
Hath given the 0mayyads rule,
And I, like them, may therefore wait
In fortitude for better fate.
The foregoing verses are extracted from a panegyric which I composed in honour of Abu Bakr Hisham Ibn Muhammad, the brother of the Caliph `Abd al-Rahman al-Murtada, God have mercy on his soul! Allow me to quote further from this masterpiece.
Does not the soul that in us lies
Within its consciousness comprise
Things near and far, although compressed
In the dark dungeon of the breast?
So Time a body is, and he
Time's spirit and vitality,
Comprising in his knowledge all
(Prove this, and see!) that may befall.
Lastly I will cite these two remarkable stanzas.
The nations all their tribute bring
Which he accepts, their gracious King?
And in accepting proves renewed
Regard, requiring gratitude.
So every river in the realm,
Although its waters overwhelm
Its narrow banks, impetuously
Debouches in the boundless sea
AMONG the laudable instincts, noble characteristics and virtuous habits by which men may be adorned, whether they are engaged in lovemaking or any other activity, Fidelity ranks high. It is one of the strongest proofs and clearest demonstrations of sound stock and pure breed; it differs in degree of excellence according to that variability which is inherent in all created beings. I have a short poem on this subject from which I will quote two separate stanzas: here is the first.
The deeds of every man advise
What element within him lies
The visual evidence is true
Thou needst not seek another clue.
And this is the second.
And has the oleander's root
E'er yielded raisins for its fruit,
Or do the bees so bravely strive
To treasure aloes in their hive?
The first degree of fidelity is for a man to be faithful to one who is faithful to him. This indeed is an absolute duty, an obligation binding upon lover and beloved alike: no man deviates from it, unless he be of mean extraction and devoid of every grace and virtue. Were it not for the fact that it was not my intention in this essay to discourse upon the human character in general, and the inborn and acquired qualities of man, how the innate characteristics may be increased by cultivation, and the acquired attributes disappear for want of natural aptitude, I would have added here the observations necessary to be set down upon such a subject. But it was only my purpose to speak upon this matter of Love, as you expressly desired of me; to develop the matter in its extremely manifold aspects would have taken an extremely long time indeed.
The most frightful instance of this order of fidelity that I have ever witnessed, and the most terrible in its consequences, concerns a drama which I actually saw enacted before my own eyes. A certain man of my acquaintance consented to break off relations with a person whom he loved dearly and cherished more fondly than anyone else in the world, so that he would have preferred to die rather than be parted from him a single-hour. He agreed to this appalling deprivation in order to guard a secret which had been entrusted to him. His loved one had sworn a solemn oath never to speak to him again, and to have no further commerce with him, unless he divulged that secret to him. Although the person who had committed the secret to his charge was far away, yet the lover refused to betray his trust; he continued to conceal the secret, and his loved one persisted in holding aloof from him, until time parted them forever.
The second degree of fidelity is for a man to be faithful towards one who has betrayed him. This trait appertains to the lover alone, and not to the beloved. The latter has no way here, neither is he under any such obligation; for fidelity is a course of action which can only be attempted by men who are tough, strong, broad shouldered, magnanimous, of great forbearance and infinite patience, firm in judgment, of noble character and pure intentions. The man who rewards treachery with treachery by no means deserves blame; but the conduct which we have adumbrated excels this latter procedure exceeding, and surpasses it by far. In this case the object of fidelity is to refrain from paying back injury with injury, and to abstain from matching evil against evil whether in deeds or words; to delay the fatal step of severing the cords of friendship as long as possible, while hope still remains that intimacy may be resumed and the smallest expectation may yet be cherished that relations can be restored, while the least sign of a resumption is still visible, the faintest glimmer thereof may be perceived, and its slightest symptom diagnosed. Once despair however has gripped your heart, and resentment dominates your emotions, then you should strive your utmost to ensure that the perfidious friend may for all that be safe from your petty fury, secure from your malice, delivered from the danger of your mischief; let the recollection of what is gone before prevent you from giving vent to your wrath over what has now transpired. To be faithful to old obligations is the assured duty of all intelligent men; and to yearn affectionately for the past, and not to forget the times that are finished and done with, is the surest proof of true fidelity. This is a fine quality indeed, and one which ought to be employed in all human transactions, of whatever kind and in whatever circumstances.
I call to mind a man I once knew, one of my dearest friends, who formed an attachment for a young slave girl. Their love waxed very strong; then she betrayed his trust, and broke the bonds of their affection. The story was noised widely abroad, and he suffered the most acute distress in consequence.
I once had a friend whose intentions towards me became ignoble, after we had been united in a firm affection the like of which ought not to be gainsaid. This he allowed to happen, despite the fact that each of us knew all the other's secrets, and all formalities had been dropped between us. When his feelings towards me changed, he divulged all that he had got to know about me, though I knew many times as much to his disadvantage. Then he learned that I had become aware of what he had said concerning me; he was much disturbed, and feared that I would requite him in kind for his base conduct. Hearing of this, I wrote some verses to him to comfort him, assuring him that I did not intend to take reprisals against him.
Here is another reminiscence which belongs to the same category, although in truth neither this nor the preceding paragraph is strictly relevant to the essay and the chapter now being written; all the same it is roughly parallel, in accordance with the general conditions of the discourse which I have laid down. Muhammad Ibn Walid Ibn Maksir the Civil Secretary was on friendly and indeed devoted terms with me during the viziership of my late father; but when those events took place in Cordova which do not need to be further specified, and circumstances changed, he removed to another district. There he became connected with the local ruler, and attained in due course to a position of affluence, importance and agreeable distinction. I happened to stay in that district on one of my travels, but my friend of other days did not do his duty by me; my presence was unwelcome to him, and he treated me very evilly. During that time I requested him to do me a certain service, but he did not stir a finger to help me, pretending to be otherwise occupied, although the matter on which he claimed to be engaged was nothing urgent at all. I wrote him a poem of reproach, and he replied endeavoring to appease me; but for all that I did not trouble him with any further request. On this topic, though still outside the scope of the present chapter and yet cognate with it, I wrote some verses from which I will now quote.
To hide a secret guarded well
Is no great merit, truth to tell,
But rather to conceal a thing
Which other men are whispering.
So generosity is best
And noblest, when the thing possessed
Is rare, and he who makes the gift
Is famous for his stingy thrift.
The third order of` fidelity is when a man is faithful for all that he has despaired completely and finally, death having intervened and sudden decease having unexpectedly removed all hope of further relations. Fidelity under these circumstances is even nobler and finer than during the lifetime of the beloved, when there is still the expectation of another meeting.
A woman in whom I have every confidence once told me that she had seen, in the house of Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Wahb, better known as Ibn al-Rakiza, a descendant of Badr who entered Andalusia with the Imam `Abd al-Rahman Ibn Mu'awiya (God be well satisfied with him!), a slave-girl of striking beauty. She had had a master who had died, and was sold with his estate; but she refused to have anything to do with men after him, and no man enjoyed her charms until she met Allah the Omnipotent. She had been a fine singer, but denied all knowledge of the art and was content to be an ordinary servant, and to be excluded from those ladies who are taken for procreation, pleasure and a life of comfort. This she did out of fidelity to the departed, long since committed to earth and with the tombstones cemented above him. Her afore-mentioned lord desired to take her to his bed, along with the rest of his concubines, and to bring her out of her position of menial servitude, but she refused. He beat her more than once, and administered corporal correction; but she bore it all with fortitude, persisting in her honourable refusal. This is an extremely rare instance of fidelity.
You must know that the duty of fidelity is incumbent upon the lover more than upon the beloved, and applies to him far more strictly. This is because it is the lover who initiated the attachment, and is the one who proposes the formation of the engagement; he seeks to confirm the bond of affection, and petitions for true intimacy. He is the first to stake his claim to preferment, and takes the lead in seeking for enjoyment by striving to acquire the friendship. He it is who fetters himself with the reins of love, binding his soul with the stoutest shackles and bridling it with the strongest muzzle. Who was there to compel him to do all this if he did not wish to complete his part of the bargain, or to oblige him to attract so fond affection if he had not the intention to seal it with fidelity to the one whose love he desired? The beloved, on the other hand, is a person to whom the lover feels drawn and whose affection he seeks; she is free to accept or reject his advances. If she accepts, then that is the fulfillment of all the lover's hopes; if she refuses, she deserves not to be blamed on that account. To propose union, to persist in one's suit, to dispose
oneself for anything that may attract the beloved's sympathy, such as readiness to fall in with all her wishes, and a willingness to make all things clear and straight between himself and her, whether present or absent-all this has nothing to do with fidelity. In seeking her hand it is his own pleasure that he is pursuing, his own happiness he is laboring for; love calls and drives him to this, W ether he will or no. Fidelity is only praiseworthy when a man is in a position to be unfaithful.
Fidelity imposes certain conditions upon the lover. The first is that he should keep his troth with the beloved, and protect her secrets; her public and private transactions should be alike sacred to him; he should conceal her evil aspects, advertise her good points, cover up her faults, put her actions in the best light, and overlook her slips; he should acquiesce in whatever the beloved imposes upon him, and for his part not thrust himself upon her so immoderately as to provoke her aversion; when she is eager he should not be languid, neither in her weariness should he be impetuous. The beloved for her part is bound by the same rules, if she fully reciprocates his affection; but if her love is less than his, he must not press her to come up to his level, nor be cross with her in an endeavour to induce her by these means to love him with the same degree of intensity. In that case it is enough for him to keep their relations secret, and not to requite her with unpleasantness or threats. If a third situation should exist, namely- that she has no corresponding feelings for him whatsoever, let him be content with what he finds, and take whatever he can readily get; let him not demand any conditions, or be importunate for any rights. He can only expect what windfalls his luck may bring, or what fruits his labours may ripen.
You must know that uncomely acts never appear as such to those who perform them, and therefore their repulsiveness is doubly disgusting to others innocent of them. I do not say what I am about to say in order to boast, but simply relying upon the precept of Allah the Omnipotent, Who says, "And as for the bounty of thy Lord, proclaim it abroad" (Koran XCIII II). Now Allah has vouchsafed to me the blessing of fidelity towards every man with whom I have had any connection, even if it be only in a single meeting; He has bestowed on me the gift of protecting any man with whom I have ever entered into an engagement, be it in the conversation of but a solitary hour. For this great boon I thank God and praise Him, petitioning Him to continue and augment His beneficence towards me. There is nothing that I loathe more than treachery. By my life, I have never allowed myself to meditate harming any person with whom I have had the slightest engagement, however great may be his crimes, and however numerous his sins against me. I have suffered not a few grievous blows in this way, but I have ever repaid evil with good: Allah be praised for that!
I take pride in my fidelity in a long poem, in which I have mentioned the calamities which have stricken me, and the sufferings I have had to endure in a life of constant alighting and departing, as I shifted my tent from one encampment to another throughout all the lands. This poem opens as follows:
He went away, and was pursued
By all my noble fortitude
The tears o'erflowing from his eyes
Betrayed what in his bosom lies.
A weary body, and a heart
Affectionate; which, when to part
Irrevocably doomed, was full
Of sorrow inexpressible.
No home thereafter he possessed,
And in no country found he rest;
The couch whereon he nightly lay
Was warmed not, ere he was away.
Methinks his spirit wears for shroud
The fleecy tissue of a cloud,
By some erratic wind of heaven
To new horizons ever driven.
Or he is like the credo brief
Of unitarian belief
Which infidels so much detest,
They spew it from their miscreant breast.
Of else he is an errant star
Migrating through the heavens far,
Now setting in the west extreme,
Now rising with an orient beam.
Did she reward him (I suppose)
Or lend him succour in his woes,
The flooding tears that she would shed
Should follow him wher'er he fled.
I pride myself on my fidelity in another long ballad, which I have reproduced here, although the most of it is not relevant to the subject of this essay. The reason for my composing these verses was that certain of my antagonists, being choked in intellectual debate with me, cast foul reproaches in my face, and accused me of espousing the cause of untruth; this they did because they were unable to refute my arguments in defence of truth and its champions, and were jealous of my debating prowess. So I invented this spirited poem, and addressed it to an intelligent friend. I will quote a few selections.
Then take me for thy Moses' rod,
And bring them, one and all, by God!
Be every one a snake, among
The lote-trees flicking his forked tongue.
Their wondrous lies they bravely shout
When they perceive me not about
The lion is a cowering thing
Aye, but he bides his time to spring!
The wildest hopes they entertain
For what they surely will not gain ;
Their master, think the Rafidis,
Can do impossibilities.
If my resolve and self-control
Inhabited each timorous soul,
The eyes of beauties languishing
Would little influence on them bring
Scorning, as verbs intransitive,
In mean dependency to live,
Like prepositions, that refuse
Their verbs to govern as they choose.
My judgment pioneers its way
Through all things hidden from the day,
As pulsing arteries do all
Traverse the body physical
Detecting with a simple glance
The labyrinthine track of ants,
While it is hidden from their sight
Where elephants do crouch at night!
As Fidelity is a most lofty attribute and a truly noble quality, so Betrayal is base and detestable in the extreme. The term is only to be applied to those who take the initiative in treachery; to repay betrayal with like betrayal, though it be equal as regards the action itself, is not true treachery, and the man who so acts is not deserving of blame, for Allah Himself says, "And the recompense of an evil act is an evil act like unto it" (Koran XLII 38). Now we know of course that the second act is not evil; it is only because it appears to be of the same order as the first that the name " evil " is given to it. This shall be expounded at length in the chapter on Forgetting, if Allah wills.
Because betrayal is so common a characteristic of the beloved, fidelity' on her part has come to be regarded as extraordinary; therefore its rare occurrence in persons loved is thought to counterbalance its frequency among lovers. I have a little poem on this subject.
Small faithfulness in the beloved
Is most exceedingly approved,
While lovers' great fidelity
Is taken unremarkably.
So cowards, rarely brave in war,
Are more applauded when they are
Than heroes, who sustain all day
The heat and' fury of the fray.
A particularly base type of betrayal is when the lover sends an emissary to the beloved, entrusting all his secrets to his keeping, and then the messenger strives and contrives to convert the beloved's interest to himself, and captures her affection to the exclusion of his principal. I put this situation in rhyme as follows.
I sent an envoy unto thee,
Intending so my hopes to gain;
I trusted him too foolishly;
Now he has come between us twain.
He loosed the cords of my true love,
Then neatly tied his own instead;
He drove me out of all whereof
I might have well been tenanted.
I, who had called him to the stand,
Am now a witness to his case
I fed him at my table, and
Now hang myself upon his grace.
The cadi Yunus Ibn `Abd Allah told me once the following story. " I remember in my youth a certain slave-girl belonging to one of the great houses, who was passionately loved by a young man of high culture and princely blood. She reciprocated his feelings, and the two corresponded together, their messenger and postman being one of his companions of a like age, who had ready access to her. In due course the girl was offered for sale, and her royal lover desired to purchase her; but he was beaten to the bargain by the youth who had been his envoy. One day he entered her apartment, and found her opening a casket belonging to her, and searching for some personal effect. He came up and began turning out the box with her; and a letter fell out which was written in the hand of the youth who had been in love with her, all daubed with ambergris and treasured with tender care. He cried angrily, " Where did this come from, strumpet? " " You yourself conveyed it to me ", she answered. " Perhaps this has arrived newly, since that time ", he said. " Oh no ", she replied. " It is one of those old letters, which you know all about." The cadi concluded: " It was just as though she had popped a stone in his mouth. He was utterly confounded, and could not utter another word.
WE know well that every union must in the end disperse, and all things near some time draw apart. Such is God's wont with men as with lands, until such time as Allah inherits the earth and all that dwells thereon; and Allah is the best of inheritors
No calamity is there in the world equal to separation: if the souls of men should flow out of their bodies by reason of it-and much more the tears out of their eyes-it were but little to wonder at. A certain philosopher, on hearing a man remark that separation was the brother of death, said, "Nay, but death is the brother of separation".
Parting is divided into various kinds. The first is for a period of time which one can be sure will end, so that presently there will be a returning. Such parting is a load oppressing the heart, a lump obstructing the throat, that will not be mended save by a coming back. I know a man whose beloved was absent from his sight just one day, and he was so overcome by anxiety, fretfulness, preoccupation and successive paroxysms of anguish that he almost expired.
Next there is the separation that is due to a deliberate prevention of any meeting, a confining of the beloved so that she may not be seen by the lover. When this happens, though the person whom you love may be with you under the same roof it is still a separation, because the beloved is parted from you; and that engenders not .a little grief and regret. I have tried it myself, and found it bitter indeed. The following verses reflect my experience.
In every minute of each hour
To view her house is in my power,
But she who in the house resides
Eternally unseen abides.
What does this close propinquity
Of residences profit me,
Since spies are posted to forestall
My drawing nigh to her at all?
Alas, sweet neighbor dwelling near
Whose every footstep I can hear,
And yet am conscious that Cathay
Itself is not so far away!
So might a thirsty man espy
Deep in some well sweet waters lie,
But in his raging fever hit
Upon no way to come to it.
So too the dead within the tomb
Are hidden from us in their gloom,
With nothing else to intervene
But the cold slabs set up between.
In a long ballad of mine these stanzas occur.
When shall a soul, by grievous pain
Of passion wracked, be healed again?
When shall a house, whose inmates lie
Unseen afar, draw near and nigh?
Ah, happy days of memory
When Hind was neighbor close to me,
Yet India were a nearer goal
Then Hind, to the adventurous soul
Yea, but propinquity bestows
On neighboring lovers some repose,
As men athirst their pangs withstand
Knowing the fountain is at hand.
Then there is the separation which the lover deliberately seeks, so as to remove himself beyond the reach of slanderers, and because he fears that his continuing with the beloved may be a cause of further meetings being prevented, and an occasion for the spreading of malicious talk, thus leading to the strict seclusion of his loved one.
Separation may also be initiated by the lover because of some dreadful mischance which overtakes him. In this case his excuse is to be accepted or rejected, according to the urgency of the motive impelling him to take his departure.
I call to mind a friend of mine whose residence was in Almeria, but who was obliged by reasons of business to travel to Jativa. He lodged there in my house for the whole of his stay. Now he had an amorous attachment in Almeria which was the greatest worry and most pressing concern to him; and he was looking forward all the time to complete his arrangements and have done with his affairs, so that he could soon be on his way back and hurry home. But he had only been staying with me a trifling while, when al-Muwaffaq Abu '1 Jaish Mujahid, the master of the Balearics, mobilized his forces, moved forward his battalions, and opened hostilities against Khairan, the ruler of Almeria, intending to extirpate him. As a consequence of this war the roads were cut, all land-routes were patrolled, and the sea passages were blockaded by the fleets. My friend's anguish was thus redoubled, for he could not find any way whatever of departing; he was almost snuffed out by despair; he was unable to discover any comfort but in solitude, and took refuge in prodigious sighs and sullen grief. And upon my life, he was the kind of man I would never have supposed likely to yield his heart submissively to love; I could scarcely believe that his unsociable nature would respond to the tender call of passion.
I remember coming back to Cordova after being away on a journey, and then leaving the city once more; and on the road I was thrown together with a civil servant who had also set forth from Cordova upon important business, leaving behind him a little sweetheart. He was most exceedingly distressed about it. I know a man who formed a passionate attachment, and lived in miserable squalor, although he had vast prospects, boundless opportunities and innumerable avenues to worldly success. Yet all that meant nothing to him; he preferred to stay with his beloved. I wrote this little poem to commemorate the situation.
Vast prospects circle thy abode,
With signposts all along the road
The sword is little worth to wear,
Until it be unsheathed and bare.
Separation can be caused by a journey and a far removal of dwellings, when there is little certainty of a return, and the lovers cannot be sure of ever meeting again. That is a grievous catastrophe, a shocking anxiety, a most frightful eventuality, a stubborn sickness: greatest indeed is the ensuing fretfulness, when it is the beloved who goes away. I have a long poem on this topic, in which the following verses occur.
Ah me, the languor of her eyes,
The sickness baffling doctors' skill,
That leads me, as no doubt it will,
To waters where the drinker dies.
I am contented to be slain,
A ready victim to her love,
As one who swallows poison of
The sparkling wine he yearns to drain.
Alas, how little was their shame,
Those endless nights I sleepless lay,
Eager to steal my soul away,
Poor plaything of their ruthless game.
Some 'Abshami my fate must be,
'Uthman's revengeful kinsman, who,
Supposing me to `Ali true,
Would slay me for complicity.
In another poem I say
I think thou art a likeness true
Of Paradise, that rich reward
Assigned by loving Allah to
His saints, who labour for their Lord.
Elsewhere I say
That I may slake, in meeting thee,
This passion's thirst that burns in me,
This conflagration of desire
Inflamed like tamarisk afire.
I vanished out of human ken,
My passion patent yet to men
O strange, apparent accidents
Whose body is remote from sense !
The heavens all-encompassing
Spin ever like some giant ring
Thou, centred at the circle's heart,
Its coruscating bezel art.
Elsewhere again I have these stanzas.
Thou, with such loveliness endued,
Transcendest all similitude
The sun, resplendent in the skies,
Upon no ornament relies.
(I marvel how my soul lives on,
And did not die when he was gone
His parting meant the tomb for me,
His loss was my obituary.
I wonder at my body, yet
So tender and so delicate,
Such shocks still able to withstand,
Unwithered by Fate's cruel hand).
But to return after a separation so prolonged that the soul is filled with disquietude, and wellnigh despairs of ever coming back again-that is a joyous surprise surpassing all bounds; indeed its impact is sometimes fatal. This is how I have described it in verse.
After parting to unite
Is a wonder of delight,
Such as his, who issueth
From the very jaws of death.
This rejoices the poor heart
Languishing so long apart,
Brings to life the lover, nigh
(In his loneliness) to die.
Yet such ecstasy of joy,
When too sudden, can destroy,
And its onslaught prove his doom,
Lay the lover in the tomb.
Sometimes travellers athirst
Gulp the waters till they burst,
And the liquid that should save
From expiring, is their grave.
I know a lover who was constrained to remove far from his beloved for a time ; then he was able t return to her, but could remain no longer than the few moments necessary to fulfil thee formalities of exchanging greetings when he was obliged to depart again. On this he almost expired'. I put this drama into rhyme.
A weary while afar I spent
Till, when my time of banishment
Was done, and I stood nigh to you,
I must perforce remove anew.
For but the twinkling of an eye
My happiness, and you, were nigh,
Then I deserted you again,
To be revisited by pain.
So, when the traveller, astray
And sorely vexed to find his way,
Beholds the levin's sudden light
Illuminate the inky night
He hopes for its perpetual gleam,
But he is cheated of his dream;
And many hopes do but deceive,
And dreams exhilarate, to grieve.
On the theme of returning after separation I have these lines.
My eyes were cooled with gladness, when
I came to dwell with you again
But while you were afar, ah then
My eyes were hot with burning pain.
I offer God for what is gone
A spirit patient and resigned,
As too, for what ensued thereon,
The praises of a grateful mind.
News was brought to me of the death in a distant city of one I loved. I arose and fled to the cemetery, where I paced up and down among the graves, reciting the following verses.
I would this earth without
Were wholly turned about,
And that which lies below
Were mine wherein to go.
Would Death had ravished me,
Ere this calamity
Upon my spirit came,
And set my heart aflame.
Would all my blood were shed
To lave my dearest dead,
And in my hollow breast
His body lay at rest.
A little while later I learned that those tidings were false; and in joy I set pen to paper again and fashioned this poem.
Joy came, when desperate woe
Was now established well;
My heart was clapt below
The seven tiers of hell.
Joy clothed in living green
The heart within my breast,
This heart that long had been
In garb of mourning dressed.
The black of sullen gloom
Removed, as when the bright
Sun floods a shuttered room
And fills it all with light.
And yet I dare not look
For other union, save
The ancient oath I took,
The plight of love you gave.
So men will pray for cloud,
Not hoping for sweet rain,
But that in its spread shroud
Cool shelter they may gain.
In these two sorts of separation the leave-taking occurs, that is to say when the lover or the beloved sets forth upon a journey. That is a most moving spectacle, a very painful scene which tests to breaking-point the resolution of even the strongest will ; the power of the most perspicacious vanishes ; the driest eye is bathed in tears ; the deepest-hidden passion is exposed to the light of day. This is one of the aspects of separation requiring to be discussed, as we have spoken of reproach in the chapter on Breaking Off.
By my life, if a sensitive man should expire in the hour of leave-taking he might well be excused, when he reflects upon the situation in which he will find himself after all his hopes are shattered, and terrors grip his soul, and joy is turned to sorrow. It is an hour to soften the hardest heart, to melt the most unfeeling breast. The shaking of the head, the long unwavering stare, the sighs that follow after farewell tear aside the veil of the heart, and admit into its sanctuary disquietude as great as the agitation provoked in the contrary case by the animated countenance, the winks, the smiles, and all the other manifestations of loving harmony.
There are two kinds of leave-taking. In the first, there is no other possibility of demonstrating the emotions but by means of glances and signs; in the second, embracing and hugging are possible, which for some reason or other may not have been the case before, despite the propinquity of dwellings and the feasibility of the lovers meeting. Therefore some poets have wished for separation, and have praised the day of parting; but that is neither beautiful, right, nor well founded. The joy of one hour does not compensate for the sorrow of several; how then will it be if the separation should continue for days, months, perhaps years? That is indeed an evil speculation and a -crooked- -logic. Where I have praised parting myself in my poetry, it has only been because I yearned for the day of parting to return, so that upon everyday there might be a reunion and a farewell. The pain occasioned by this hateful name can be endured, especially if several days have elapsed in which no meeting has taken place; for then the lover actually longs for the day of separation, and wishes it might happen every day.
On the first type of leave-taking I have this stanza.
Her loveliness is deputy
For the sweet loveliness of light,
As substitute the sighs in me
For flaming embers burning bright.
I describe the second sort of leave-taking thus.
Before her face resplendent all
The lights of heaven prostrate fall,
A face of perfect loveliness
Augmenting not, nor growing less.
A grateful warmth, as when at morn
The sun is lodged in Capricorn,
A gentle coolness, when the sun
In Leo has his journey run.
Later in the same poem I have these stanzas.
Upon my life, I do not hate
The day when lovers separate,
Not fundamentally, although
My soul doth from my body go.
On such a day I took my leave
Of her I love, yet did not grieve,
Since she embraced me, which before
She would not, though I might implore.
Is it not strange and marvelous,
The lesson this can teach to us?
The hour of separation may
Be envied well by union's day!
Could anything more frightful be conceived, or could aught more painful enter into the thoughts of man, than that two lovers should break off their relations with reproaches, and then be overtaken by a sudden parting before reconciliation can be effected and the tangled knot of desertion be resolved? Imagine their feelings as they stand to bid adieu to one another: all reproaches are forgotten in the face of this catastrophe, which has overwhelmed their faculties and banished sleep from their eyes. I have been inspired to put, this situation into a poem.
Now silenced is the voice of blame,
All blotted out the old reproach
Lo, separation's troops approach
With speedy and unflinching aim.
Estrangement, scared and terrified
By separation, flees away,
And none can tell, this dreadful day,
Where it may find a place to hide.
So might some wolf, in lone delight
Stalking its prey, all suddenly
A lion in the offing see
Beside the copse, and take to flight.
If separation makes me glad
Because estrangement's at an end,
Yet it removes me from my friend,
And leaves me desolate and sad.
So, in the fearful hour of death,
The dying man wins some repose;
But then death's angel, ere he knows,
Assaults, and takes away his breath.
I know a man who came to bid farewell to his beloved upon the day of parting, and found that she was already gone. He paused in her tracks a full hour, passing to and fro over the spot where she had been; then he departed crestfallen, pale, dejected. Within a few days he fell sick and died, God rest his soul!
Separation discloses deep-hidden secrets in a most marvelous way. I once saw a man whose love was strictly concealed, and who took every pains to keep his feelings out of sight, until the event of separation occurred; then that which was hidden became apparent, and that which was secret stood forth revealed. I wrote a poem on this, from which I will cite three stanzas.
Thou gayest me the love
Thou hadst denied to me
Ere then, and didst thereof
I had no longer need
Of what thou then didst pour,
But had rejoiced indeed
To taste of it before.
Drugs may have some avail
Before the hour of doom:
The best specifics fail
To penetrate the tomb.
I have these verses also.
In this hour, when we must part,
Thou bestowest, full and free,
All the lode thy miser heart
Treasured, but refused to me.
This thy sudden kindness yet
Swells my sorrow more and more
O the pity and regret!
Why wast thou not kind before?
Now this has-reminded me that at a certain time I enjoyed the affection of one of the sovereign's viziers, during the days of his greatest glory. Then he manifested a certain reserve, and I kept away from him. In the hour when his triumph departed and his authority was at an end, he showed me not a little affection and comradeship; I countered his advances with the following well-chosen words.
When Dame Fortune smiled on thee
Thou wast good enough to frown,
But art gracious now to me,
Seeing Fate has let thee down.
Thou wouldst be my friend again
Now thy friendship has no use
Why didst thou not give me then
When it pleased thee to refuse?
Finally there is the separation which is caused by death, that final parting from which there is no hope of a return. This is indeed a shattering and backbreaking blow, a fateful catastrophe; it is a lamentable woe, overshadowing the blackness of night itself; it cuts off every hope, erases all ambition, and causes the most sanguine to despair 'of further meeting. Here all tongues are baffled; the cord of every remedy is severed; no other course remains open but patient fortitude, willing or perforce. It is the greatest affliction that can assail true -lovers; and he who is struck down by it has nothing left but to lament and weep, until either he perishes himself or wearies of his lamentations. It is the wound, which cannot heal, the anguish which never passes, the sorrow which is constantly renewed, as ever his poor body crumbles that thou hast committed to the dust. On this matter I have the following to say.
What things soe'er
May come to pass,
Cry not alas
While hope is there.
Haste not thy heart
To gloom to yield
All is not sealed
Till life depart.
But when the veil
Of death descends,
Then all hope ends,
All comforts fail.
I have seen this happen to many people, and can relate to you a personal experience of the same order; for I am also one who has been afflicted by this calamity, and surprised by this misfortune. I was deeply in love with, and passionately enamoured of, a certain, slave-girl once in my possession, whose name was Nu`m: she was a dream of desire, a paragon of physical and moral beauty, and we were in perfect harmony. She had known no other man before me, and our love for each other was mutual and perfectly satisfying. Then the fates ravished her from me, and the nights and passing days carried her away; she became one with the dust and stones. At the time of her death I was not yet twenty, and she younger than I. For seven months thereafter I never once put off my garments; my tears ceased not to flow, though I am a man not given to weeping, nor discovering relief in lamentation. And by Allah, I have not found consolation for her loss even to this day. If ransoms could have been of avail, I would have ransomed her with everything of which I stand possessed, my inheritance and all my earnings, aye, and with the most precious limb of my body, swiftly and willingly. Since her death life has never seemed sweet to me; I have never forgotten her memory, nor been intimate with any other woman. My love for her blotted out all that went before, and made anathema to me all that came after it. Here are some of the poems which I composed about her
She was a spotless maiden, bright
And lovely as the sun's first light;
Like stars all other maidens were
And faintly shone, compared with her.
Her love sent soaring from my breast
My heart, that was till then at rest,
And, like some bird upon the wing,
It swooped, and then hung hovering.
Among the elegies I wrote on her death is a poem in which the following curious lines occur.
Methinks my heart found little ease
To hear the words thy lips designed,
That blew like weird enchantresses
Upon the knots within my mind.
With such abundant hopes to choose'
Between, such chance to stake my claim,
I fear I made too little use,
And trifled with the hope that came.
This stanza comes in the same elegy.
They manifest antipathy,
Yet in their hearts fond love they bear;
They swear they will keep far from me,
But they are false in what they swear.
In another formal panegyric addressed to my cousin Abu 'l-Mughira `Abd al-Wahhab Ahmad Ibn `Abd al-Rahman Ibn Hazm Ibn Ghalib I have the following verses.
Halt, friends, and to yon ruins cry
"Where is your habitant to-day?
Has Time untimely passed you by,
Bequeathing nothing but decay?"
Ah me, how desolate and drear,
How naked stand they and apart!
Were ever people dwelling here,
Or dwell they only in my heart?
Men are divided in their opinions, which of those two disasters-separation, and breaking off-is the more cruel. Each of them is a hard ascent, a bloody death, a black calamity, a year of drought; in each there is something repellent and hostile to the instincts of us all. To the proud, noble, tender, affectionate, loyal soul nothing seems so calamitous as separation; for this comes upon a man as if of set purpose, these misfortunes seek him out deliberately and personally. And when the blow of separation falls, he cannot find any solace for his soul; he is unable to divert his thoughts in any direction, without discovering something to re-awaken his tragic passion and stimulate his grief, some new cause of pain, some new argument to emotion, some new encouragement to weep for his dear friend. Breaking off on the other hand is an invitation to oblivion, the forerunner of the pulling up of tent pegs. To the yearning, susceptible, sentimental, excitable, inconstant soul breaking off is a great sickness, and very liable to prove fatal; whereas separation is a consolation, and brings a blessed forgetfulness. For my own part death itself would be easier for me to face, than parting from my beloved; and breaking off only brings me sadness and, if it continue, may well provoke me to frenzy. On this point I have the following to offer.
"Depart!" they cried. "Begone!
Will come, and thou'lt be glad
To wish not to be sad."
"Oblivion?" I said,
"I would be rather dead
What fool takes arsenic
To see if he is sick?
I also say this.
Love ravished me
Her slave to be
She chose to part,
And slew my heart.
Love came a guest
Within my breast;
My soul was spread;
I have seen a man deliberately employ the device of breaking off relations with his beloved, because he dreaded the bitterness of the day of separation, and the excruciating sadness that would accompany the final rupture. Now although I do not myself approve of such a manner of conduct, nevertheless it is a convincing proof that separation is harder to bear than breaking off; how indeed should it be otherwise, seeing that some men take refuge in breaking relations for fear of separation? Yet I have never discovered anyone in the world who resorted to separation because he dreaded breaking off; and men always choose the easier course, and charge themselves with the lighter burden if they can. My reason for remarking that this is not a praiseworthy manner of conduct is as follows. Those who act so, precipitate the calamity before it actually descends, and gulp the choking draught of suffering fortitude prematurely; and it may be that what they so much fear will not happen at all, and that the man who precipitates unpleasantness without being sure what it is that he is precipitating will prove not to have been so wise in the issue. On this subject I have the following poem.
The lover in his amorous heart
Resolved for passion's sake to part
We count him not as one of us
Who will desert his darling thus.
Just like a millionaire is he,
Who lives a life of penury
That he may be from want secure,
And so makes certain to be poor.
I recall some lines on this theme, namely that separation is harder to endure than shunning, which my cousin Abu 'I-Mughixa wrote in a long poem he addressed to me when he was about seventeen years old.
What, does it trouble thee
That I must now be gone,
And grievest thou to see
The lumbering beasts pricked on?
Ah yes, it is a great
Distress, from friends to part;
Ah me, to separate
Breaks the poor lover's heart.
'Tis a pretension vain
To claim, in lying rage,
That banning is a bane,
A noisome pasturage.
Such men as this assert
Know naught of passion's fire;
They have not felt the hurt
Of overcharged desire.
To separate: ah, this
Fair takes away the breath
And, when it chances, is
A certain sign of death.
On this same subject I myself have a long ode which begins after this fashion.
The day when pilgrims stand and gaze
Afar on Mecca's holy shrine
Outglories not that day of days
When I first worshipped, love, at thine.
That day of gladness was as rare
In beauty and magnificence
As when a barren womb doth bear,
Or an adulteress repents.
I do not think the lightning gleam
Of union flahes without showers,
The garden of young passion's dream
A wilderness of withered flowers
Not when I view each virgin chaste,
And seem to hear her bosom say
"Come, take me", but her girdled waist
Demurely whisper, "Lover, stay"
Each draws her in a different way,
And the red roses in her cheek
Her deep perplexity betray,
Whether to parry, or to seek.
There is not any other cure,
Except her eyes, to heal my hurt;
Naught else in all the world is sure
My final ruin to avert.
The viper, whose envenomed throat
Is mortal malice to a man,
Bears in itself the antidote
Effecting what no other can.
It is separation that has moved the poets to weep over former trysting-places, so that they shed their tears freely upon the traces of old encampments, and sprinkled the ruined abodes with the water of yearning, as they remembered the happy hours they once passed there. Loud then was their lamentation, and bitter their cries of anguish; the sight of the fading footsteps revived their buried passion, so that they gave themselves up to weeping and ululation.
A visitor from Cordova informed me, when I asked him for news of that city, that he had seen our mansion in Balat Mughith, on the western side of the metropolis; its traces were wellnigh obliterated, its waymarks effaced; vanished were its spacious patios. All had been changed by decay; the joyous pleasaunces were converted to barren deserts and howling wildernesses; its beauty lay in shattered ruins. Where peace once reigned, fearful chasms yawned; wolves resorted there, ghosts frolicked, demons sported. Wild beasts now lurked where men like lions, abounding in wealth and every luxury, once paid court to statuesque maidens; who were all now scattered and dispersed to the four corners of the earth. Those gracious halls, those richly ornamented boudoirs, that once shone like the sun, the loveliness of their panorama lifting all cares from the mind, being now entirely overwhelmed by desolation and utter destruction seemed rather like the gaping mouths of savage beasts, proclaiming the end that awaits this mortal world, and revealing visibly the final destiny of those who dwell therein, the ultimate fate of those you now see abiding here below; so that you would be moved, after so long reluctance to abandon the world, henceforth eagerly to renounce it. Then I remembered the days that I had passed in that fair mansion, the joys I had known there, the months of my ardent youth spent in the company of blooming virgins, very apt to awaken desire in the heart of the most sedate young man. I pictured those maidens now lying beneath the dust, or dispersed to distant parts and far regions, scattered by the hand of exile, torn--to -pieces by the fingers of expatriation. I saw in my mind's eye the ruin of that noble house, which I had once known so beautiful and thriving, and in the shadow of whose well-ordered establishment I had passed my childhood; empty were those courts once so densely thronged. I seemed to hear the voices of owls hooting and screeching over those passages; astir of old with the busy concourse of people in whose midst I grew to manly estate. Then night followed day with the selfsame bustle, the selfsame coming and going
of countless feet; but now day followed night there, and all was forever hushed and desolate. These sad reflections filled my eyes with tears and my heart with anguish; my soul was shattered as if by a jagged rock, and the misery in my mind waxed ever greater. So I took refuge in poetry, and uttered the following stanza.
If now our throats are parched and dry,
Yet long its waters slaked our thirst;
If evil now has done its worst,
Our happiness was slow to die.
Separation engenders deep regrets, profound emotions, and melancholy recollections, as I have remarked in these verses.
Ah, would the raven but restore
To me that inauspicious day,
And, as it drove my friends before,
Now drive my loneliness away!
I speak; and over all extend
Night's shallows, like a mighty veil;
Night swore that she would never end.
Yon star, bewildered, hangs on high
Immovable in heaven's heart;
Lost in the desert of the sky;
It knows not whither to depart,
It calls to mind a man astray,
His spirit fearful and afraid,
Or under threat, and in dismay,
Some lover lovesick for his maid.
WHEN the lover finds himself barred from attaining union, he must inevitably be content with things as he finds them. To comport oneself thus distracts the soul, occupies one's hopes, renews one's aspirations, and provides a certain measure of relief. There are various degrees of Contentment, proportionate to the success realized in striving to attain it.
The first step is the visit: which is something to look forward to, a pleasurable opportunity given by destiny despite the shyness and embarrassment which accompany it, each of the loving couple being conscious of what is passing in the other's thoughts.
The visit is of two kinds. In the first it is the lover who visits the beloved; this is a very extensive subject. In the second the beloved visits the lover; but then there is no other possibility of intercourse apart from gazing at one another and talking openly, as I have described in this poem.
If we are distant each from each,
When meeting in society
I'll be content to gaze on thee,
Since union is beyond my reach.
It will suffice me, if I may
Once daily join thy company,
Though it was not enough for me
Ere this, to meet thee twice a day.
Provincial governors aspire
To greatest heights, when fortune thrives,
Yet are content to save their lives
If they are ordered to retire.
The return of greetings, and the pleasure of a personal exchange of words, is something well worth hoping for. Certainly I have expressed the following opinion:
I keep my feelings out of view,
And feign to be contented to
Receive an affable reply
When I salute, or say goodbye.
But that in fact only applies when one is being removed to an inferior rung of the ladder of love. Creatures differ from each other in respect of all their attributes according to the relation in which they stand, towards what is above and what is below them. I know a man who used to say to his beloved, " Make me a promise, and lie to me! " He was quite content to console himself with his dear one's promise, even though he knew it was not sincere. I made up a poem on this situation.
If union, well-beloved, with thee
Is an ambition far too high,
And amorous propinquity
Denied, yet promise me, and lie!
Perchance the thought of meeting thee,
The hope that fortune may relent
Will save the dying heart in me,
Tormented so by banishment.
For men afflicted long by thirst
Find consolation, to espy
The bright, deceptive lightnings burst
Along the margin of the sky.
Relevant to this topic is a thing which I myself once witnessed, in company with another. One of my dearest friends was stabbed by his loved one with a dagger; I saw him kissing the place of the wound, and scratching the scar again and again. The scene inspired me to poetry.
They said, " He wounded thee,
The one thou lovest so";
But I replied, "Ah no,
He never wounded me.
But when my blood observed
My love approaching nigh,
To him my blood did fly,
And not a moment swerved.
"O thou who slayest me,
So cruel and so sweet,
So fair, so harsh, so meet,
Let me thy ransom be! "
It belongs to contentment that a man will be rejoiced arid- satisfied to possess some little thing belonging to the beloved: this affects the soul in a most delightful way, even if the result be no more than that restoration of his sight to Jacob which transpired, as we are told in Holy Writ, when he smelt the scent of Joseph's tunic, peace be upon them both! I have some verses on this.
I was forbidden to draw near
To my mistress dear;
She persevered most cruelly
To abandon me.
Some garment wherein she had dressed,
Something she caressed
To gaze on these, all else denied,
I was satisfied.
So likewise Prophet Jacob, who
Came with guidance true,
And over Joseph many years
Shed such bitter tears
Until his sorrow struck him blind,
Scenting on the wind
His tunic, hailed him with delight
And regained his sight.
I never saw any amorous couple who did not exchange locks of hair, perfumed with ambergris and sprinkled with rosewater, done up at the roots with mastica or clarified white wax, and wrapped about in ribbons of embroidered cloth, silk or the like, to serve as a souvenir when they are separated. As for exchanging; chewed toothpicks, or mastica after it has been used; that is a frequent practise of lovers who have been barred from meeting. I have a little poem to the point.
Her spittle, as I verily
Believe, is Life's own fount to me,
Yet she destroys my heart entire
In flames of passionate desire.
A friend informed me that he was told by Sulaiman Ibn Ahmad the poet, that he saw Ibn Sahl al-Hajib a number of times in the island of Sicily; he described; him as a supremely handsome man. One day, he said, he observed him walking in a pleasure garden, followed-I by a woman who watched him all the while. When he was gone afar off; she came to the place where; he had implanted his steps and set herself to kissing, it, embracing with her lips the traces of his feet upon the ground. I made up some verses on this, beginning as follows.
Men blame me cruelly, because
I trampled where his footfall was;
Were but the truth known, surely he
Who blames me now, would envy me!
O ye who dwell upon this earth
Whose clouds rain little on our dearth,
Receive the counsel that I give,
And free and thankful ye shall live.
Take of the blessed dust whereon
His accidental steps have gone
I guarantee, beyond all doubt,
Ye shall be never plagued with drought.
Wherever in this world at all
The impress of his foot may fall,
That dust is pure and sanctified,
Its wells of goodness never dried.
So did the Samiri indeed;
For, as in Holy Writ we read,
When he beheld the glorious trace
Of Gabriel's footsteps, of that place
He gathered up the soil, and thrust
Into his golden calf that dust,
And forthwith, from its hollow throat,
Issued a long and lowing note.
Elsewhere in the poem I have these two stanzas.
Wherever thou inhabitest,
That earth is wonderfully blest;
Blest are all they who there abide,
And there good fortune doth reside.
Its rocks are pearls bright-glistening,
And of its thistles roses spring;
All honey are its running rills,
Its soil sweet ambergris distils.
To contentment belongs the satisfaction which the lover experiences in the visitation of the nightly phantom, and the salutation of the apparition. This happens only as the result of a recollection which never deserts the mind, a faithfulness which changes not, and an unending meditation upon the beloved object. When all eyes are sleeping, and all motions stilled, then the phantom walks abroad; as I have said in this poem.
The phantom visited by night
A youth long prisoner to love;
No guardian was aware thereof,
No watcher spied upon that sight.
To joy supreme and unconfined
That night I yielded up my soul;
The apparition's pleasure stole
The joy of waking from my mind.
I also have these stanzas on the same theme.
Nu'm's phantom came to visit me
As on my quiet bed I lay;
Night reigned in universal sway,
Long shadows slept o'er land and sea.
I know her body, still and cold,
Sleeps in the dust this weary while;
But on that night I saw her smile
In all her beauty, as of old.
We knew again the lovers' kiss,
And we were happy, she and I,
As in the days so long gone by;
And joy renewed is sweeter bliss.
In explanation of the phantom's visitation the poets offer strange theories, all far-fetched and original; each poet has invented some notion of his own. Abu Ishaq Ibn Saiyar al-Nazzam, the head of the Mu`tazilites, assigned as the cause of this visitation the fear souls have of that watcher who is appointed to watch over bodies grown too familiar. Abu Tammam Habib Ibn Aus al-Ta'i explains that phantom intercourse does not corrupt love, as do carnal relations; while al-Buhturi accounts for the advent of the phantom as due to its desire to be irradiated by the fire of the lover's passion, and its retreat as provoked by the fear of being drowned in his tears. For my own part, without aspiring to compare my poetry with theirs-for they have the merit of preceding us and being our forerunners; they were the reapers, and we are but the gleaners-yet being ambitious to follow in their footsteps, to run in their arena, and to pursue the path which they pioneered and made plain, I have ventured to invent some tuneful verses in which I have set forth my understanding of this phantom visitation.
I am too jealous, love, to let
My eyes alight upon thee yet,
And fear to hold thee overmuch
Lest thou be melted by my touch.
So by such caution moved, my sweet,
I suffer not that we should meet,
Intending rather that we keep,
Our rendezvous, when I'm asleep.
For if I slumber, then my soul
Shall have thee only, have thee whole;
No body gross shall come between
Our spirits, subtle and unseen.
This spiritual unity
More sweet a thousand fold shall be,
More fine, more tender, and more fresh
Than the hot intercourse of flesh.
The situation of the lover visited in a dream is of four different kinds. First there is the jilted lover, who after 'extended affliction sees in his slumber that his beloved 'has now come to him; he is rejoiced thereat, and full of gladness; but then he awakes, and falls into despair and sighing, on realizing that he has been merely experiencing the projection of his own wishes and inner suggestions. I have illustrated this in verse.
Thou grudgest me thy grace
When daylight shines on us;
When night o'erspread all space,
Thou wert most generous.
What, choosest thou the sun
Thy substitute to be?
Ah, this thing to have done
Was little just in thee.
Thy distant "phantom came
My visitor; I lay
Asleep; thy loving aim
Fond union, and sweet play.
But ah! thou didst deny
Allowing but that I
Should breathe joy's tender scent.
I was as they who roam
In Purgatory drear;
Not Paradise my home,
Nor Hell my horrid fear.
The second kind of visitation is to the lover who enjoy. union with his beloved, but is apprehensive that some change may take place in their relations. He has see', while sleeping that his beloved is breaking off with him and is therefore exceedingly anxious; then he wake up from slumber, and realizes that his vision was quit false, being a mere figment of his fearful imagination.
The third situation is when the lover, living in close' proximity to the beloved, has a vision of being sudden.1 afflicted by far sundering from her; he is much trouble, and afraid; then he awakes, and all his cares vanish so that he is filled with joy again. I have some verse, on this.
I saw thee in a dream, as though
Thou wast about to part from me;
We bade each other tenderly
Farewell, and fast my tears did flow.
Then slumber left my weeping eyes,
And we were locked in fond embrace,
And all my fearful grief gave place
To joy renewed and glad surprise.
I took thee in my arms again,
And held thee closer to my breast,
As if by rapture repossessed
In lieu of separation's pain.
The fourth and last variety of visitation is experienced; by the lover who dwells at a distance from his beloved, and sees in a vision that the interval between them has converted to proximity, and that their apartments are now near neighbors; he is much relieved, and is feeling at ease for not being sorrowful any more, when he rises from his slumber and sees that his dream is not true; then he returns to even more violent grief than that which afflicted him before.
In one of my poems I have given the cause of sleep the lover's ardent desire to see the phantom image.
The phantom visited of late
The lover fond and desperate;
Had he not hoped the ghost might keep
His tryst, he were not then asleep.
Be not amazed, if visions walk
By night, and through the shadows stalk;
Their radiance, bright as risen day;
Frightens all darkness's away.
The lover may enjoy a certain kind of contentment by regarding the walls and viewing the battlements, which encompass the object of his affection. I have myself seen a man of this description; and Abu 'l-Walid Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ishaq al-Khazin spoke to me of a very respectable man, who informed him that he discovered satisfaction in an identical manner.
Another sort of contentment is for the lover to console himself on seeing someone who has seen the beloved, and making friends with him; or on discovering someone body who has come from the beloved's country. This is very common, and I have expressed the point in verse.
Desert is the place, and base
Of those who once resided there,
Like, to the habitations rude
Of 'Ad, succeeded by Thamud.
Here it will be appropriate to quote some stanzas which I was inspired to compose under the following circumstances. I was taking a walk in an orchard, the property of a friend of mine, accompanied by a group of comrades, all men of breeding and nobility. We promenaded for an hour, and then sat us down in a most desirable spot. There we stretched ourselves at our ease in spacious gardens; the broad panorama was a joy to the contemplative eye, a rich pasture to the ruminating spirit. Brooks ran through the meadows like silver ewers; birds chanted melodies that put to shame the inventions of Ma'bad and al-Gharid; hanging fruits leaned down to our reaching fingers, ready and eager to be gathered. Between the grateful shades we glimpsed the sun, that looked like the squares of a chessboard or gowns of gay brocade; sweet flowed the water, imparting the veritable savour of life; swift gushed the rivulets, sliding like serpents' bellies, their murmur now rising, now falling. Gay flowers of variegated hue swayed to the gentle fragrant zephyrs; the air was mild and cool; and my companions excelled all this loveliness in the beauty of their natural qualities. It was a spring day, and the submissive sun was now-' veiled in delicate vapors and light clouds, now stood revealed like a shy maiden, some modest virgin showing herself to her lover from behind the curtains, then, vanishing into them for fear of a watchful eye. One of our numbers all this while sat with downcast eyes, as if he were communing with the earth, on account of some secret he had in his heart. My attention was drawn in his direction, and my comrades and I jested, together a little while; then I was charged to speak a few verses as if by his mouth. I thereupon recited some stanzas extempore, and all that was written down' was these fragments we chanced to remember after we took our departure.
And when we lay in easeful mirth
Along the margin of a mead
O'erhung with branches, thickly tree'd
And dew-besprinkled was -the earth;
And all about us through the glade
Refulgent blossoms laughed for glee,
And shook their bracelets fragrantly
Perfuming the expansive shade;
And nightingales with throbbing throats
Revealed to us their lovely song,
And some were mourners in that throng,
And some raised high exultant notes;
And waters all among the trees
Ran as they listed; sweet delight
Awaited the appraising sight,
And joy was there for hand to seize
And all the spirit could desire
Was given to companion us
Friends highly born and chivalrous,
Artificers of glory's spire;
Yet all the grace and beauty rare
I have described did little please
My soul, or give my spirit ease,
My love not being with me there.
O let me lie in some dark cell
Close clasped against my darling's breast,
And let you in the loveliest
Of palaces together dwell!
Whoever of us then would pray
To substitute for that his lot
His brother's portion, which is not,
Or rule in everlasting sway,
Thenceforth may he in servitude,
In torment, and in misery
Live out his days, eternally
Damned to disgrace, and shame renewed!
Thereupon the downcast one, and all the company assembled, cried out, " Amen, amen!
These aspects which I have here enumerated and set down are the genuine manifestations of contentment, without exaggeration-:or understatement, and are to be found among all true lovers.
The poets however have a sort of contentment by which they desire to manifest their virtuosity and to demonstrate their mastery of obscure ideas and farfetched notions. Every poet has uttered according to the scope of his natural faculty; but it is merely a matter of verbal dexterity, volubility, and fluency of expression; what he says is not fundamentally genuine.
One poet is content that the same heavens should overshadow him and his beloved, and the same earl support them both; another is content that night an day should encompass himself and his loved one on equal terms; and so forth. Each poet strains to outstrip fellows in achieving the furthest attainable goal, and carrying off the palm for subtlety and refinement may mention here a poem of my own composition belonging to this category, which no man following after me will ever be able to rival or excel; my theme is the reason for the proximity of remoteness!
They said, " Thy love is far away "
"It is enough for me", I say,
"The time we dwell in, he and I,
Is one, and thence he cannot fly.
"The selfsame sun that shines on me
Irradiates him equally,
As every day it passes through
The skies in lustre ever new.
"Can he be said to live afar,
Seeing the distance that we are
Apart exceeds not any way
The journey of a single day?
"The One Creator in His mind
Comprises both of us combined;
I am content, nor seek to be
In closer contiguity."
Here, as you will observe, I have expressed myself as content to be combined with my beloved in the Knowledge of God, in which are comprehended the heavens; the spheres, all the worlds, and every single existing thing, yet without affinity and without particularity; nothing whatsoever escapes there from. Then I have further restricted myself, touching the Divine Knowledge, to saying that my love and I dwell within a single time. (This is even more general than what others have expressed, when they have spoken of being coin prised with the beloved in the same night and day though to be true it may appear to the listener at first caring to amount to the same thing.) For all creatures under the dominion of Time, which is a term devised signify the passing of the hours, the crossing of the firmament, and the movements of the heavenly bodies. Night and day are engendered by the rising and sinking of the sun, and somewhere come to an end in the supernal world; not so Time. Night and day are therefore but part of Time. It is true that certain philosophers have asserted that " shadow extends infinitely "; but this pretension is proved erroneous by ocular observation; the reasons for refuting their view are quite clear, but ' is not the place to set them forth. In my poem I have also explained that my beloved is in the extreme East of the cultivated world, and that I am in the extreme West, thus specifying the furthest range of, human habitation; yet the distance dividing us is but the journey of a single day, since the sun appears at the beginning of the day in the furthest East, and sets at he end of the day in the furthest West.
There exists another variety of contentment which I will now set down; and in doing so I take refuge with 'God from this, and from all those who practise it, and five Him thanks that He has inspired our souls to shun it. This contentment is only experienced when the reason goes totally astray, the intelligence is corrupted, the discretion destroyed; the hardest things then prove easy. Fond jealousy vanishes, and proper pride is lost; h man will acquiesce in sharing his beloved with other. There are people to whom this has actually appended; may God preserve us from such a calamity! But for this in truth to happen, a man must needs have currish nature, and be entirely bereft of reason, the touchstone of all that falls beneath its sway; he must insensitive in the extreme. The situation is further aggravated by a love, which is both violent and blind. When all these factors are combined together, and then fertilized by the mingling and interpenetration of the natural temperaments, the resulting issue is that vile nature of which I have spoken; this base quality is duly born, to reveal itself in such ignoble and gusting conduct. To a man possessing the least spark of honour and chivalry, all this is more remote than t Pleiades; though he should die of passion, and be torn to pieces by love. I have given voice to this sentiment in some verses in which I expressed my contempt foal man who practiced that kind of " tolerance ".
I see that thou art tolerant,
And well content with what is thine
Complaisance is the thing to want
Indulgence is a virtue fine!
To call a water-wheel thy own:
This makes thee richly satisfied,
Though it is in the mill alone
That true possession doth reside.
The camel's member doth outweigh,
Thou calculates, and by far,
The kid entire: then disobey
Thy critics, who so captious are.
The object of thy so fond love
With his two swords adroitly plays;
Where'er he turneth, do thou move,
And follow him in all his ways!
OF WASTING AWAY
EVERY lover who is sincere in his affection, if he be barred from union with his beloved either through separation, or as the result of a breaking off, or because or some reason or another he has to conceal his attachment, must necessarily fall in consequence into sickness, wasting away, and emaciation; not infrequently he, is obliged to take to his bed. This is a thing exceedingly prevalent; it is happening all the time. The accidents that befall on account of love are quite different from those maladies, which result from the sudden attack of an illness, and are readily diagnosed by the shrewd physician and the observant physiognomist. I have the following poem on this subject.
The doctor says to me
(But he does nothing know),
" Take drugs, dear So-and-so
Thou ailest grievously! "
Yea, no man knows this thing
I suffer from, but I
Do know, and God Most High,
One Lord, Almighty King.
Can I conceal my woe?
That is made all too plain
By my deep groans of pain,
My throbbing head bent low?
My face grief's signs are seen
Most clearly there, in faith;
My body-that poor wraith,
So wasted and so lean.
And naught can ever be
More sure, more free of doubt,
Than when signs point it out
I said, "Explain me what
The trouble is, I pray;
For all that thou dost say
Thou truly knowest not."
He said, "See, I have traced
A leanness most extreme;
Thy sickness, it would seem,
Is a consuming waste."
"The waste", I cried, "thou fool,
Affects the members all;
Its sign is what they call
A fever variable.
"By Allah's life, I swear
No fever is in me;
Come; touch my flesh, and see;
The heat is little there."
He said, " Ha, I discern
Thy nerves are overwrought;
All jumpy, deep in thought
Thou art, and taciturn.
I therefore speculate
Be careful! It is a
Most grave and serious state."
"That speech, if I may so
Remark, absurd appears",
I said. " What of these tears
That from my eyelids flow?
He lowered then his eyes,
Perplexed by what he viewed;
And of a certitude
'Twould baffle the most wise.
"My sickness", I did say,
"Itself provides my cure;
Aye, such a case, for sure,
Leads mightiest brains astray.
"My proof may be discerned
At once, and visibly:
The branches of a tree
Make roots, when overturned.
"The viper's antidote
Its poison will extract
Naught else can counteract
The mischief of its throat."
I was told the following story by Abu Bakr Ibn Muhammad Ibn Baqi al-Hajari, a man naturally wise, intelligent and understanding. A certain shaikh of ours, whose name I cannot mention, was lodging in a caravanserai in Baghdad. There he saw a daughter of the manageress of the inn; he fell in love with her, and married her. When he was privily with her, he covered himself for a certain purpose. Her eyes fell upon him and, being a virgin, she took fright at his virility; she fled to her mother, and would have nothing more to do with him. All those about her besought her to return to her husband, but she refused, and almost died at the thought. He therefore put her away; then he repented, and sought to win her back, but that proved impossible. He consulted al-Abhari and other men of like eminence, but none of them could devise any solution of his problem. His mind became deranged, and, he remained under treatment in hospital for a long time, until at last he recovered, and forgot his troubles, though even then with great difficulty. Whenever he mentioned her, he would sigh most deeply.
The detailed description of emaciation which I have already given in my verses quoted above exempts me from the necessity of citing anything further on the subject here; for I fear to make my discourse too prolonged. God is my help, and to Him I pray for succour. Sometimes indeed the condition progresses to such a point that the victim is no longer in possession of his senses; he is deprived of all his reason, and becomes the prey of insane fancies.
I know a young lady of rank, beauty and nobility, a general's daughter, who fell most violently in love with a youthful friend of mine; he happened to be the son of a high civil servant. Her passion was so extreme that she became most melancholic, and wellnigh lost her mind entirely. The affair became notorious, an was bruited far and wide, so that it came even to my, ears, and total strangers were familiar with the details; At last she responded to treatment, and made a good recovery.
All this happens only as the result of mental obsession. When an idée fixe gets the upper hand of a person, and the melancholy humour is in full control, the affair passes beyond the bounds of love, and enters the confine of folly and madness. If at the beginning of the disorder the proper treatment is neglected, the lover's condition becomes exceedingly serious; the derangement gets deep-seated, and cannot be cured except by' union with the beloved. I will quote one of the many' poems which I have written in illustration of this topic
Thou hast robbed her of her heart
Using all deceitful art;
And can any creature thrive
Having not a heart alive?
Succour her with loving ways,
And live honoured all thy days;
Thou shalt win a rich reward
At the Judgment of the Lord.
I believe, if she obtains
No relief from present pains,
She'll exchange, for anklets sweet,
Chains of steel upon her feet.
Verily, thou hast the sun
For thy slavish lover won,
And in every human breast
Is that love made manifest.
Ja'far, the freedman of Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Hudair, better known as al-Balansi, informed me that he reason why Marwan Ibn Yahya Ibn Ahmad Ibn Hudair became deranged and lost his reason was that he fell hopelessly in love with a slave-girl belonging to; his brother; he refused to let him have her, and sold her to another; yet there was none among his brothers who could hold a candle to him, he was a man of such perfect culture.
Abu 'l-`Afiya, the freedman of Muhammad Ibn `Abbas Ibn Abi 'Abda, told me that the reason why Yahya Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn `Abbas Ibn Abi 'Abda went mad was that a slave-girl to whom he was passionately attached was sold by his mother's instructions, she having in mind to marry her son to a daughter of the 'Amirid family.
There you have two most respectable and eminent gentlemen who lost their reasons and became deranged, so that they found themselves in chains and fetters. As for Marwan, he was struck by a stray shot on the day the Berbers entered and sacked Cordova so he died, God have mercy on his soul. Yahya Ibn Muhammad for his part is living yet, still languishing in the condition I have described, at the time of writing this essay; I have seen him on many occasions, and before he was tried with this terrible affliction I often sat with him in the Palace. We shared the same teacher, the eminent jurist Abu 'l-Khiyar al-Lughawi; and by my life, Yahya was at that time entirely free of metal disturbance, a most distinguished young man. Persons of a lower social order than these I have seen in plenty, but forbear to name them because of their obscurity.
When the infatuated lover comes to this pass, all hope is cut off, and all expectation of a recovery must be abandoned; there is no remedy for him any more, neither in union with the beloved nor any other way. The corruption is firmly established in his brain; his consciousness is completely destroyed; the mischief has got the upper hand of him. May Allah in His almighty power defend us from such a calamity, and of His bounty protect us from such chastisement!
WE know well that everything which has a beginning must also have an end, save for those delights of Paradise which Allah has reserved for those He loves, and the torments of Hell that await His enemies. As for mundane accidents, these all pass away and perish; they are annihilated, and cease to be. Every love comes finally to one or other conclusion: either it is cut off by death, or ends in oblivion. We find from time to time that the soul is dominated by one or other of the faculties, which with it control the body. Similarly we may observe a soul refusing all comforts and pleasures, being dedicated to obedience to the will of Allah, or hypocritically seeking a reputation in this world for holy abstinence. In like manner we will come upon a soul that turns away from the desire to meet its kind, on account of a deeply-seated pride that shuns betrayal, or the bitter, ineradicable memory of an evil requital of its love. This is the truer sort of forgetting; whatever oblivion arises from other motives than these two, merits the utmost condemnation. Forgetting engendered by long-continued spurning of the lover's advances is merely the despair that enters into the soul, when it realizes that it can never attain its cherished hope; this has the effect of weakening the ardour, not of strengthening the desire. I have a long poem in condemnation of forgetting, from which the following stanzas are extracted.
Her glance, where'er she turns her head,
Strikes every living creature dead;
Her words, when she addresses me,
Are dates upon a thorny tree.
It seems that passion is a guest
Installed in my receptive breast,
And takes my flesh to be its food,
And for refreshment drinks my blood.
Later in the ballad these verses occur.
He suffers rigour patiently
For sake of glory yet to be,
Nor flinches in his high desire
Though heaven rain on him with fire.
He spurns all comforts as a shame
That bring diminishment of fame;
And there are blessings, well I know,
That lead to torment and to woe.
In a general analysis, oblivion may be divided into two kinds. The first is natural, being what is commonly called forgetting. In this state the heart is completely free, and the mind exempt of all preoccupation; it is as though one had never been in love at all. It may be that a man who behaves in this way will be liable to reproach, because such a manner of oblivion springs out of reprehensible qualities of character, and is engendered by causes that by no means justify the act of forgetting; we shall expound these causes at length elsewhere, God willing. Sometimes however blame does not attach to a man in such a case, since he has a good and sufficient excuse.
The second kind of oblivion is artificial; in this the soul is constrained to forget. This is what is generally known as conscious fortitude. You will see a man displaying the most resolute impassivity, though in his heart there is a pricking anguish more painful than the stab of a stiletto; but he reckons some evils to be more bearable than others, and in accounting with his soul uses arguments which can neither be deflected nor shattered. This sort of forgetting involves a man so comporting himself in no reproach or blame, because it does not arise save as the result of a terrible calamity, nor happens except in consequence of a shocking blow, having as its cause either some circumstance which no self-respecting man could stomach, or some catastrophe, some turn of destiny against which resistance is vain. It is enough to reflect that such a man as I have here described does not in fact forget; on the contrary, he remembers everything, and is full of fond yearning; he remains faithful to his covenant, as he gulps down the bitter draughts of patient endurance.
The universal difference between the man who endures consciously, and the one who forgets, is that the former, although he manifests the last degree of impassivity, and makes a great show of reviling and attacking his beloved, will not tolerate such conduct in any other. I have put this in rhyme.
Now leave me to revile my love;
For truly, though I seek to prove
She shall have nothing more of me,
I harbour no hostility.
Know rather, that if I revile
My darling, it is all the while
As when men say, " He did his best
God sent him ill, his love to test."
The man who actually forgets is entirely opposite. All this of course depends upon the individual temperament, and the degree to which it submits or refuses, as well as upon the extent to which love has the mastery of the lover's heart, or is still but feebly established there. This also I have illustrated in some verses, in which I have spoken of forgetfulness as conscious fortitude.
To will forgetting friends is not
The same as having friends forgot;
"I can, but I decline to do"
Is not" I am unable to."
The man submissive to his soul
Ranks not with him who keeps control;
A nature patiently endued
Is not like conscious fortitude.
The causes producing these two kinds of oblivion are numerous; it is according to the nature of those causes, and the extent of their impact, that the lover who forgets is to be excused or condemned.
First there is weariness: we have already spoken of this. The lover who forgets through becoming weary is no true lover at all, and one stamped with this mark is rather to be counted as a false pretender: all that he is seeking is pleasure, and the gratification of carnal lust. Oblivion of this type is reprehensible forgetfulness.
Then there is the desire for change: though this bears a certain resemblance to weariness, there is an additional motive involved which renders it still more disgusting than the other, and the man so acting is more richly deserving of blame.
Thirdly, there is that constitutional modesty which will prevent a lover from making any allusion to his feelings; consequently the affair drags on far a prodigious time, the first fresh bloom of affection fades, and oblivion ensues. In such a case if the lover seeking oblivion does in fact forget, he acts unjustly in that he was himself the cause of his own deprivation; but if he comports himself with what we have called conscious fortitude, then he is not to be condemned, since he has promoted modesty above personal enjoyment. It has been reported of the Prophet of Allah that he said, " Modesty belongs to faith, and shamelessness belongs to hypocrisy." Ahmad Ibn Muhammad informed me, on the authority of Ahmad Ibn Mutarrif, who quoted from `Abd Allah Ibn Yahya, from the latter's father, from Malik, from Salama Ibn Safwan al-Zargi, from Zaid Ibn Talha Ibn Rakana, by direct transmission, that the Prophet of Allah said, " Every religion has its characteristic, and the characteristic of Islam is modesty."
The foregoing three causes have their root and origin in the lover; blame attaches to him if, and only if, he in fact forgets the object of his affection.
Then there are four causes of oblivion, which derive from and have their origin in the beloved. The first is breaking off: we have already expounded the various aspects of this, but must nevertheless set down some account of it in this chapter, as suits the present context.
When breaking off is prolonged, and accompanied by numerous reproaches and continued separation, it proves to be the gateway to forgetting. But if a person who formerly kept your company ends the association in order to resort with another that does not come under the heading of breaking off at all; it is plain perfidy. Similarly if a person inclines in his affections towards someone else, without there
having been any previous link between you and him, that is also not an instance of breaking off; it is simple aversion. I shall discourse on these two subjects later, if Allah wills. True breaking off occurs when someone keeps company with you and then ends the association, either because of some tale brought by a slanderer, or owing to some fault that has been committed, or as the result of some conviction on the other's part that it is so; in every case without the person concerned inclining towards another, or putting someone else in your place. In this situation the lover who forgets is certainly to be blamed--contrary to what is true in the other instances where the causes for oblivion derive from the beloved's initiative. For here no valid grounds for excuse exist, if the lover forgets the beloved; the beloved simply no longer has any desire for your company, and he is certainly under no obligation in the matter. The bonds of former association, and the loyalty due to those happy days of yore, require the lover to remember, and oblige him to respect the memory of their ancient comradeship. If however the lover forgets by way of conscious fortitude and deliberate impassivity, then he is indeed to be excused; for he sees that the break is continuing indefinitely, and observes no sign of renewed union, no indication of restored relationship. It is true that many men have thought fit to apply the term treason to this sort of behaviour, because outwardly the two manifestations appear to be the same; but their causes are quite different, and it is for this reason that we have distinguished between them as regards their actual nature. I have a poem on this, from which I will allow myself to quote two stanzas.
So henceforth be as men whom I
Have never known at all; and why?
Because I am as one whom you
Have never known, nor wanted to.
I am Sir Echo, answering
What any man may say or sing;
Whatever then you wish to day,
Deliberate it every way!
Here is a curious little poem of four stanzas: I composed the first three while I was asleep, and added the fourth on waking.
O happy days of yore,
The time when you were more
Than life and family,
And dearer far to me
The hand of banishment
Would after not relent
Until its fingers roll
You from me like a scroll.
Your banning filled right up
With patience my heart's cup,
As union once poured love
To slake my thirst thereof.
In union then I knew
The source of passion true,
As now long banishing
Doth consolation bring.
In another poem I say this.
If any man should say
Ere this occurred,
"Thou wilt forget one day
Thy heart's preferred "
A thousand oaths I would
Have sworn, would I"
Ah no, I never could,
Not though I die! "
But to! Long banishment
Has brought perforce
Forgetfulness: love went
Its destined course.
Ah, banishment! How kind,
How sweet thou art,
Who labourest to bind
And heal my heart.
I used to marvel how
I suffered yet
Love's pains: I wonder now
That I forget.
And I suppose desire
Is like a coal,
That feeds upon the fire
Still in my soul.
I also have the following stanza.
My bowels raged with your desire
As if engulfed in hellish fire
Now I discover that I am
Immune to flames as Abraham.
Let us now consider the three remaining causes o oblivion in which the beloved furnishes the occasion, and where the lover who behaves with conscious fortitude is not in the least blameworthy, for reasons which I hope to set forth in each several instance, God willing.
There is (as the second of this group of four) the case of aversion on the part of the beloved, when she retires from the scene, and in doing so puts an end to all the lover's fond hopes.
I can tell you with regard to myself, that in my youth I enjoyed the loving friendship of a certain slave-girl who grew up in our house, and who at the time of my story was sixteen years of age. She had an extremely pretty face, and was moreover intelligent, chaste, pure, shy, and of the sweetest disposition; she was not given to jesting, and most sparing of her favours; She had a wonderful complexion, which she always kept closely veiled; innocent of every vice, and of very few words, she kept her eyes modestly cast down. Moreover she was extremely cautious, and guiltless of all faults, ever maintaining a serious mien; charming in her withdrawal, she was naturally reserved, and most graceful in repelling unwelcome advances. She seated herself with becoming dignity, and was most sedate in her behaviour; the way she fled from masculine attentions like a startled bird was delightful to behold. No hopes of easy conquest were to be entertained so far as she was concerned; none could look to succeed in his ambitions if these were aimed in her direction; eager expectation found no resting-place in her. Her lovely face attracted all hearts, but her manner kept at arm's length all who came seeking her; she was far more glamorous in her refusals and rejections than those other girls, who rely upon easy compliance and the ready lavishing of their favours to make them interesting to men. In short, she was dedicated to earnestness in all matters, and had no desire for amusement of any kind; for all that she played the lute most beautifully. I found myself irresistibly drawn towards her, and loved her with all the violent passion of my youthful heart. For two years or thereabouts I laboured to the utmost of my powers to win one syllable of response from her, to hear from her lips a single word, other than the usual kind of banalities that may be heard by everyone; but all my efforts proved in vain.
Now I remember a party that was held in our residence, on one of those occasions that are commonly made the excuse for such festivities in the houses of persons, of rank. The ladies of our household and of my brother's also (God have mercy on his soul!) were assembled together, as well as the womenfolk of our retainers and faithful servants, all thoroughly nice and jolly folk. The ladies remained in the house for the earlier part of the day, and then betook themselves to a belvedere that was attached to our mansion, overlooking the garden and giving a magnificent view of the whole of Cordova; the bays were constructed with large open windows. They passed their time enjoying the panorama through the lattice openings, myself being among them. I recall that I was endeavoring to reach the bay where she was standing; to enjoy her proximity and to sidle up close to her. But no sooner did she observe me in the offing, than she left that bay and sought another,
moving with consummate grace. I endeavored to come to the bay to which she had departed, and she repeated her performance and passed on to another. She was well aware of my infatuation, while the other ladies were entirely unconscious of what was passing between us; for there was a large company of them, and they were all the time moving from one alcove to another to enjoy the variety of prospects, each bay affording a different view from the rest. You must realize, my friend, that women have keener eyes to detect admiration in a man's heart, than any benighted traveller has to discover a track in the desert. Well, at last the ladies went down into the garden; and the dowagers and duchesses among them entreated the mistress of the girl to let them hear her sing. She commanded her to do so; and she thereupon took up her lute, and tuned it with a pretty shyness and modesty the like of which I had never seen; though it is true of course that things are doubly beautiful in the eyes of their admirers. Then she began to sing those famous verses of al-'Abbas Ibn al-Ahnaf:
My heart leapt up, when I espied
A sun sinks slowly in the west,
Its beauty in that bower to hide
Where lovely ladies lie at rest
A sun embodied in the guise
Of a sweet maiden of delight,
The ripple of her rounded thighs
A scroll of parchment, soft and white.
No creature she of human kind,
Though human fair and beautiful,
And neither sprite, although designed
In faery grace ineffable.
Her body was a jasmine rare,
Her perfume sweet as amber scent,
Her face a pearl beyond compare,
Her all, pure light's embodiment.
All shrouded in her pettigown
I watched her delicately pass,
Stepping as light as thistledown
That dances on a crystal glass.
And by my life, it was as though her plectrum: was 'plucking at the strings of my heart. I have never forgotten that day, nor shall forget it until the time comes for me to leave this transient world. That was the most I was ever given to see her, or to hear her voice. On this I have the following verses.
Nay, blame her not, if she
Shuns thy approach
And will not yield to thee
'Tis no reproach.
Does crescent moon not well
To ride so high?
Was ever-sweet gazelle
Aught else but shy?
I may also quote these stanzas.
Thou grudgest me the grace
To see thy lovely face;
Thou wilt not let me hear
Thy voice, so soft and clear.
I think that, fasting, thou
Hast made with God a vow,
And therefore all this day
Refusest aught to say.
Yet thou hast deigned to sing
Of 'Abbas' fashioning
A song: I wish thee joy,
Friend `Abbas, lucky boy.
Did `Abbas have the chance
To meet thy magic-glance,
Poor Fauz his hate had won,
With thee to dote upon!
Then my father the vizier (God rest his soul) moved from our new mansion in Rabad al-Zahira on the" eastern side of Cordova, to our old residence on the western side, in the quarter of Balat Mughith; this was on the third day of the accession of Muhammad al-Mahdi to the Caliphate. I followed him in February 1009; but the girl did not come with us, for reason that obliged her to remain behind. Thereafter, when Hisham al-Mu'aiyad succeeded to the throne, we were, sufficiently preoccupied with the misfortunes which came upon us, thanks to the hostility of his ministers, we were sorely tried by imprisonment, surveillance and crushing fines,' and were finally obliged to go into hiding. Civil war raged far and wide; all classes suffered from its dire effects, and ourselves in particular. At last my father the vizier died (God have mercy on his soul!), our situation being still as I have described, on the afternoon of Saturday, 22 June 1012. Things remained unchanged with us thereafter, until presently the day came when we again had a funeral in the house, one of our relatives having deceased. I saw her standing
there amid the clamour of mourning, all among the weeping and wailing women. She revived that passion long buried in my heart, and, stirred my now still ardour, reminding me of an ancient troth, an old love, an epoch gone by, a vanished time, departed months, faded memories, periods perished,' days forever past, obliterated traces. She renewed my griefs, and reawakened my sorrows; and though upon that day I was afflicted and cast down for many reasons, yet I had indeed not forgotten her; only my anguish was intensified, the fire smouldering in my heart blazed into flame, my unhappiness was exacerbated, my despair was multiplied. Passion drew forth from my breast all that lay hidden within it; soul answered the call, and I broke out into plaintive rhyme.
They weep for one now dead,
High honoured in his tomb;
Those tears were better shed
For him who lives in gloom.
O wonder that they sigh
For him who is at rest,
Yet mourn not me, who die
Most cruelly oppressed.
Then destiny struck its heaviest blows, and we were banished from our loved abodes; the armies of the Berbers triumphed over us. I set forth from Cordova on 13 July 1013, and after that one glimpse of her she vanished from my sight for six long years and more. Then I came again into Cordova in February 1019 and lodged with one of our womenfolk; and there I saw her. I could scarcely recognize her, until someone said to me, "This is So-and-so"; her charms were so greatly changed. Gone was her radiant beauty, vanished her wondrous loveliness; faded now was that lustrous completion which once gleamed like a polished sword or an Indian mirror; withered was the bloom on which the eye once gazed transfixed seeking avidly to feast upon its dazzling splendor only to turn away bewildered. Only a fragment of the whole remained, to tell the tale and testify to what the complete picture had been. All this had come to pass because she took too little case of herself, and lacked the guardian hand which had nourished her during the days of our prosperity, when our shadow was long in the land; as also because she had been obliged to besmirch herself in those inevitable excursions to which her circumstances had driven her, and from which she had formerly been sheltered and exempted.
For women are as aromatic herbs, which if not I tended soon lose their fragrance; they are as edifices, which, if not constantly cared for, quickly fall into ruin. Therefore it has been said that manly beauty is the truer, the more solidly established, and of higher excellence, since it can endure, and that without shelter, onslaughts the merest fraction of which would transform the loveliness of a woman's face beyond recognition: such enemies as the burning heat of noonday, the scorching wind of the desert, every air of heaven, and 'all the changing moods of the seasons.
If I had enjoyed the least degree of intimacy with her, if she had been only a little kind to me, I would have been beside myself with happiness; I verily believe that I would have died for joy. But it was her unremitting aloofness which schooled me patience, and taught me to find consolation. This then was one of those cases in which both parties ma excusably forget, and not be blamed for doing so: there has been no firm engagement that should require their loyalty, no covenant has been entered into obliging them to keep faith, no ancient compact exists no solemn plighting of troths, the breaking and from getting of which should expose them to justified reproach.
The third cause of oblivion, in this second category is cruelty on the part of the beloved. When this is: excessive and extravagant, and encounters in the lover a soul that has some pride and dignity, the lover will find consolation in oblivion. But if the beloved's cruelty is slight and occasional or continuous; or if it is severe but only occasional, then it can be endured and overlooked; only if the time comes when the cruelty is both intense and perpetual, in that eventuality it may no longer be supported, and the lover who forgets under those circumstances is not deserving of reproach.
Fourthly there is treason: this none can endure, and no man of honour will overlook. Treason is true justification for forgetting; and the lover who seeks oblivion then is not to be blamed on any count, whether it be that he actually forgets, or practices conscious fortitude. On the contrary, reproach rather attaches to the lover who endures such treatment at the hands of the beloved. Moreover were it not for the fact that all hearts are in the hand of Him. Who disposes and governs them-and He only is God so that no man is responsible for the management of his heart, or for changing its likes and dislikes, were it not for this I would have said that even the lover who acts with conscious fortitude in seeking oblivion when betrayed by his beloved is almost deserving of reproach and harsh reproval. But with men of high spirits and noble parts, who are jealous to defend their honour, nothing justifies the act of forgetting so much as treason; which is tolerated only by those whose manhood is debased, whose spirits are ignoble, and who lack all proper pride, all sense of decency and honour. I have a poem on this topic, which it will be appropriate to quote here
Thy love's a cheat, and I
Would sooner far have none:
Thou art a bed, whereon
Whoever comes may lie.
To be by one pursued,
To have one lover true,
No, that would never do
Hence all thy multitude.
Did thrones to me belong,
I would not dare draw near
To pay thee court, for fear
Of thy attendant throng.
Methinks like hopes thou art
However many share,
None needeth to despair
That he shall have his part
Though Heaven's trumpet sound
To summon all mankind,
None shall be pushed behind
Or cheated of his round.
There is an eighth cause of forgetting, in addition to the seven already enumerated, which has its origin not in the lover or the beloved, but in God Himself this is despair, whereof there are three varieties. Either it is death, or a separation from which there is no hope of returning, or some accident, which befalls the devoted couple, effecting a fatal change in the lover's circumstances on account of which the beloved had first confided in him. In all these cases a good and sufficient reason exists for seeking oblivion and practising conscious fortitude. But the lover who actually forgets the beloved in such a situation, to whichever of the three divisions it may belong, is deserving of the utmost scorn and condemnation; he fully merits the name of villain and traitor.
Despair has a truly astonishing effect on the soul: it chills the heart's ardour in a remarkable way. In all three cases, which we have mentioned, the prime requisite is to procrastinate, and to watch and wait with all patience; that is, if procrastination is possible, and watching and waiting is a proper course. When all hopes are finally shattered, and all expectations at an end, then there is a completely valid excuse for seeking to forget.
The poets have a style of composition in which they reproach those who weep over the traces of abandoned encampments, and applaud the man who gives himself up to the earnest pursuit of enjoyment. This topic also comes under the heading of oblivion. Al-Hasan Ibn Hani' wrote much on this theme, and boasted of so acting; he frequently describes himself in his poetry as an avowed traitor, exhibiting a wonderful mastery of language and a superb power of self-expression.
I also have a poem of this sort.
Have done with dumps and dull despair
Come, race with fortune, and repair
To grassy hillocks, there to line
The stepping mules with jars of wine.
Attune, to hasten the pursuit,
New melodies upon the lute,
And let the pace enlivened be
With dulcet pipe and psaltery.
Far better, than to sit and mope
At home, with little joy or hope,
That we should give ambition wings
With fingers plucking at the strings.
Behold, the sweet narcissus' bloom,
A lover in delirium,
Looks on with wide, bewildered glance
And sways as in a drunken dance.
How faint, how pallid is his hue!
Ah yes, he is a lover too,
Distraught and passionate to hold
The tender tulip's cup of gold.
God forbid that it should be in our nature to forget what time has effaced, or that it should be our habit to disobey Allah, by drinking wine, or that dullness and want of zeal should be our constant attributes. But we have taken into account the words of Allah and who speaks more truly than He? -where He says concerning poets, " Seest thou not how they wander distraught in every valley, and how they say that which they do not? " (Koran XXVI 225-6). This is Almighty God's testimony concerning them but it is an error for one who composes rhyme to depart from the customary usages of poetry. Let me' therefore explain the circumstances under which I invented the stanzas just quoted. I was commissioned' to write them by Dana al-'Amiriya, one of the royal daughters of al-Muzaffar `Abd al-Malik Ibn Abi `Amin I obeyed her command, for I had a high regard for her ladyship. She composed a most charming melody for my lines, a sweet and simple air. When I recited the stanzas to one of my very cultured companions, he was so delighted with them that he exclaimed, " These ought to be reckoned among the wonders of the world! "
The total number of sections in the present chapter, as you will observe, is eight; Three have to do with those instances where the initiative rests with the lover; in two of these, namely weariness and the desire for a change, the forgetful lover is to be condemned on all counts, while in the third, modesty, if he in fact forgets he is certainly blameworthy, whereas if he acts with conscious fortitude he is not to be reproached, as we have already explained. There are four cases in which it is the beloved who is the motivating cause; in one, continued breaking off, the lover who forgets is to be condemned but not the lover who acts with conscious fortitude, while in the other three-aversion, cruelty and treason-the lover is not to be blamed under any circumstances, whether he actually forgets or acts with conscious fortitude. The eighth occasion is despair, deriving from Almighty God, and arising out of either death, separation or chronic misfortune; in all these the lover who acts with conscious fortitude is to be excused.
I may tell you with regard to myself, that I have been endowed with two conflicting dispositions, which conspire to allow me no joy in life whatsoever; their combination in me disgusts me with living entirely. Sometimes I wish that I could escape out of myself, that I may be free of the torments I suffer on account of them. The first is loyalty, true and unwavering, that makes no distinction between presence and absence, secret thoughts and outward appearances; it springs of a friendliness, which does not permit my soul to turn away from anything to which it has grown accustomed, nor allows me to contemplate the loss of those whose companionship I have enjoyed. The second is a fierce and noble pride, which cannot stomach injustice, and makes me sensitive to the least change in the attitude of my acquaintances, so that I would rather die than submit. Each of these contrary natures seeks to have the mastery of me. Let me be unjustly treated, and I will endure with exemplary forbearance a long while, holding myself in and hanging on in a way very few other men would be able to do. But when the injury passes all bounds, when my soul blazes with anger, then I practise my conscious fortitude, whatever my heart may be feeling. I have expressed all this in a brief poem.
There are two qualities in me
That fill with bitterness my cup;
They use my strength and patience up,
And turn my joy to misery.
Each of these twain has ever sought
To draw me after its own way,
And I am like a helpless prey
Betwixt a wolf and lion caught.
The first is loyalty sublime
I never parted from a friend
And found my sorrow after end,
Not even to the last of time.
The second is a noble pride
That will not stomach injury,
But sooner wealth and family,
If need dictate, would lay aside.
Here is a personal anecdote, which has a general relevance to the topic under discussion, even though it does not strictly belong to this context. I had a friend whom I loved as dearly as life itself; I had dropped -all formalities in my relations with him, and counted him as my precious hoard and treasure. But he was apt to lend a ready ear to every man who had a tale to tell; and backbiters wormed their way in between us, and contrived to get under his skin. Their efforts were completely successful, and he held himself back from me, in a way I had never known him do before. I watched and waited for him a while, amply long enough for a wanderer to return and a chider to be reconciled. But he only showed himself more withdrawn from me than ever. I therefore left him to it.
SOMETIMES the affair becomes so aggravated, the lover's nature is so sensitive, and his anxiety so extreme, that the combined circumstances result in his demise and departure out of this transient world. The well-known dictum of the Fathers declares that " He who loves, and controls himself, and so dies, the same is a martyr." I have referred to this in the following verses.
If I perish of desire
As a martyr I'll expire,
But if thou art kind to me
I'll survive rejoicingly.
Men most worth our confidence
Have informed us in this sense,
Fathers who were true and wise,
Innocent of guile and lies.
My friend Abu '1-Sari 'Ammar Ibn Ziyad has informed me, quoting a reliable source, that Chief Secretary Ibn Quzman was so sorely smitten with love for Aslam Ibn `Abd al-'Aziz, the brother of Grand Chamberlain Hashim Ibn `Abd al-'Aziz-and Aslam was an exceedingly handsome man-that he was laid prostrate by `his sufferings and affected with mortal sickness. Aslam attended his sickbed a frequent visitor, having no knowledge that himself was the source of his malady; until at last Abu '1-Sari succumbed of grief and long wasting. The informant continued: Then I informed Aslam, after the tragic event had come to pass, of the true cause of Abu '1-Sari's illness and death. He was very sorry, and said, " Why did you not let me know? " " Why should I? " I replied. " Because ", he said, " in that case I swear I would have kept myself even more closely in touch with him, and would scarcely have left his bedside; that could have done me no harm." Now this Aslam was a most brilliant and cultured man; he was expert in many branches of knowledge, as well as being a considerable lawyer and a penetrating critic of poetry; he had himself written some excellent verses. He was besides well informed on songs and the art of singing, being the author of a book on the vocal technique and biography of Ziryab, which forms a most wonderful anthology of poetry. Of the finest physical and moral qualities, he was the father of Abu 'l--Ja`d who used to live in the western quarter of Cordova.
I know a slave-girl who was at one time the property of an exalted personage. He turned against her on hearing some story relating to her-and in truth it was no matter that should have so greatly enraged him and therefore he sold her. She was vastly desolated by this, and wasting and despair became her constant companions; her eyes were always swimming with tears; she fell into a decline, and so died, within not many months of leaving his household. I was informed by a woman in whom I have every confidence, 'that she met her and found she had become as thin and wasted as a ghost. She said to her," I fancy that the cause of your present sufferings is your love for So-and-so." On this she heaved a deep sigh and said, " By Allah, I shall never forget him, for all that he treated me so cruelly without cause." She survived this remark but a very brief while.
I can inform you as to my brother Abu Bakr (God have mercy on his soul) that he was married to 'Atika, the daughter of Qand who commanded the Upper Marches in the days of al-Mansur Abu `Amer Muhammad Ibn `Amin; she was a very aragon of beauty and nobility of character; the word does not produce her virtuous like every day. They were both in the prime of their youth, and under the complete domination of its foolish ardors; each of them would fly into a rage at the slightest provocation. So they continued to quarrel and nag at each other for eight long years; meanwhile she had become quite wasted by love and worn out with passion for him; her infatuation on his account was so extreme that it reduced her until she looked as pale and sick as a ghost. No mundane amusements would divert her; she found no pleasure whatsoever in her ample and abundant riches, having' lost his absolute concord and the purity of his affections. Matters continued thus with her until my brother died of the plague which swept Cordova in June 1011, he being then but twenty-two years old, God rest his soul! So parted from him, she ceased not to waste away of the internal malady, sickness, and the decline, until she died precisely one year after him, on the very anniversary of his interment. Her mother, as well as all her slave-girls, informed me that she would often say after he was gone, " Since his death there is nothing to fortify my endurance and keep my last I breath in my body, except my joyous certainty that he will never share a bed with any other woman. Now my mind is at rest about the one and only thing I feared. My fondest hope to-day is to rejoin him" My brother had known no other woman before her or while he lived with her, and she too never knew another man: so it fell out as she had calculated, God forgive her and be well pleased with her!
Here is the story of our friend Abu `Abd Allah Muhammad Ibn Yahya Ibn Muhammad Ibn al-Husain al-Tamimi, better known as Ibn al-Tubni, God rest his soul! It might have been said that beauty itself was created in his likeness, or fashioned out of the sighs of those who looked upon him: I have never seen his equal in beauty, comeliness, physique, temperance, self-restraint, culture, understanding, magnanimity, loyalty, nobility, purity, generosity, tenderness, sweetness, dexterity, patience, forbearance, intelligence, chivalry, piety, learning, knowledge of the Koran and the Traditions, grammar and lexicography. He was a fine poet, a splendid calligrapher, and an eloquent and accomplished speaker; he had besides a very decent capacity in scholasticism and dialectic. He was a pensioner of Abu 'l-Qasim `Abd al-Rahman Ibn Abi Yazid al-Azdi, my own preceptor in these subjects; there was a difference of twelve years between his age and his brother's, and he and I were almost exact contemporaries. We were inseparable companions and bosom friends, and our relations were marked by perfect understanding and concord, until the troubles broke over us, and let k loose their flood of misery. The Berber soldiery pillaged our dwellings in Balat Mughith on the western side of Cordova, and barracked themselves there. Abu `Abd Allah's residence was on the eastern side. The vicissitudes of fortune obliged me to quit Cordova and take up my abode in Almeria; but we continued to exchange frequent missives, in verse as well as prose. The last communication I ever received from him was a letter containing the following lines.
Alas, I would I knew
If thy affection's bond
Is still unfrayed and new,
Thy love yet fresh and fond.
O shall I ever win
Thy features to behold,
And speak with thee, as in
Balat Mughith of old?
If yearning had the power
Whole buildings to uproot,
Balat this very hour
Would leap to thy pursuit.
If human hearts indeed
Might ever travel free,
My heart with eager speed
Would hasten unto thee.
Be as thou wilt: by me
Thou shalt be still adored,
Since in my memory
Thy love alone is stored.
Thy troth within my heart,
What though thy mind forget,
Is kept a thing apart,
Deep down, unbroken yet.
So we continued, until the rule of the Banu Marwan came to an end, and the Caliph Sulaiman al-Zafir w slain. Then the dynasty of the Talibis seized power, and `Ali Ibn Hammud al-Hasani, styling himself al-Nasir, was proclaimed Caliph. He conquered and possessed himself of Cordova, and pursued his hostile operations against the city with the assistance of -the victorious armies and the rebel detachments scattered all over Andalusia. Immediately after this I found myself in serious trouble with Khairan, the mayor of Almeria; wicked persons who feared not God in their hearts-and God has since avenged me and my friend, Muhammad Ibn Ishaq upon them-reported to him'` that we were conspiring to make propaganda in favour of the Umaiyad house. Khairan arrested us and kept us under his personal surveillance for some months, after which we were expelled and banished from Almeria. We proceeded to Aznalcazar, where we were received by the governor of that city, Abu 'l-Qasim `Abd Allah Ibn Muhammad Ibn Hudhail al-Tujibi, better known as Ibn al-Mugaffal. We remained in his most hospitable home for several months, enjoying the friendship of his delightful family and admirable neighbours, all men of the most ardent spirit, the truest kindliness, and the most perfect noblesse. Then we took ship and sailed to Valencia, just when the Caliph al-Murtada '' `Abd al-Rahman Ibn Muhammad emerged on the scene and took up residence there.
At Valencia I found our old friend Abu Shakir `Abd al-Rahman Ibn Muhammad Ibn Mauhib al-Qabri, who brought me the sad news that Abu `Abd Allah Ibn al-Tubni was dead, God rest his soul. Then a little while later judge Abu 'l-Walid Yunus Ibn Muhammad al-Muradi and Abu `Amr Ahmad Ibn Mahriz informed me that Abu Bakr al-Mus'ab Ibn `Abd Allah al-Azdi, better known as Ibn al-Faradi, had told them-and al-Mus'ab's father had been cadi of Valencia during the Caliphate of al-Mahdi, while al-Mus'ab himself had been a dear friend and brother to us in the days when we were studying Traditions at his father's feet, and under the other leading Traditionists of Cordova--these two men, I say, stated that they had been told by al-Mus'ab :that he had enquired of Abu `Abd' Allah Ibn al-Tubni as to the cause of his illness. For he had indeed become terribly emaciated, and the wasting sickness had entirely destroyed his once handsome features, so that nothing remained but their very essence to bear testimony to their former beauty; he had so fallen away that a mere breath almost sufficed to send him flying; he was bent wellnigh to the ground, and anguish was evident in every line of his face. He explained that he was alone with Ibn al-Tubni at the time of their conversation. Ibn al-Tubni answered him, " Yes, I will tell you. I was standing at the door of my house in Ghadir Ibn al-Shammas at the time that `Ali Ibn Hammud entered Cordova, and his armies were pouring into the city from all directions. I saw among them a youth of such striking appearance, that I would never have believed until that moment that beauty could be so embodied in a living form. He mastered my reason, and my mind was wholly enraptured with him. I enquired after him, and was told that he was So-and-so, the son of So-and-so, and that he inhabited such-and-such district-a province far distant from Cordova, and virtually inaccessible. I despaired of ever seeing him again; and by my life, 0 Abu Bakr, I shall never give up loving him, until I am laid in the tomb." And so indeed it was. For my part, I knew the youth in question, and was personally ally acquainted with him, having seen him with my own eyes;
but I have forborne to mention his name, because he is now dead, and the two have met at last in the presence of the Almighty: may Allah forgive us all! Yet this same Abu `Abd Allah (may God accord him an honoured seat in Paradise!) was a man who never in his life went astray or wandered from the straight and narrow path; not once did he transgress against God's holy laws, or commit any abominable act, or do any forbidden deed such as might have corrupted his faith and tainted his virtue; he never repaid evil with evil; there was none other his like, not in all our generation.
Then I entered Cordova once more, al-Qasim Ibn Hammud al-Ma'mun having succeeded to the Caliphate, and my first care was to seek out Abu `Amr al-Qasiui Ibn Yahya al-Tamimi, Abu `Abd Allah's brother. After enquiring concerning his own health, I offered him my, sympathies in his sad bereavement; though indeed I. was no less deserving condolence than he. Then I; questioned him about my friend's poetry and epistles, for all that I had possessed of these had perished during the sack of Cordova, in circumstances which I have mentioned at the beginning of this story. He told me that when his brother was near his death, and convinced that his time was at hand and his end undoubtedly come, he called for all his poetry, and all the letters which I had written to him, to be brought to him; he tore every sheet into pieces, and gave instructions that the fragments should be buried. Abu `Amr continued I said to him, " O my brother, let them remain! " But he answered, "See, I am tearing them up; I know that in doing so I am destroying much fine literature. If Abu Muhammad "-he meant myself, Ibn Hazm" had been present, I would have given them over to him as a souvenir of my love; but I do not know in what country he lies concealed, nor even whether he is alive or dead."-He had indeed heard news of my misfortunes, but was not aware of where I was then lodging, or of what had become of me. Among the elegies which I composed in his memory is a poem from which these three couplets are extracted.
Though the dark tomb thy broken body hides,
Still true, still manifest my love abides.
I sought thy dwelling, passionate for thee,
When Destiny had done its worst with me,
But it was desolate, and thou wast dead,
And ah, the bitter tears for thee I shed!
Abu 'l-Qasim al-Hamdani (God rest his soul) related to me the following story. There was with us (he said) in Baghdad a brother of `Abd Allah Ibn Yahya Ibn Ahmad Ibn Dahhun the famous jurist, Grand Mufti of Cordova; he was more learned and even more distinguished than his eminent kinsman, and none other of our companions in the great city was in any way his equal. One day he happened to be passing along a cul-de-sac in the district of Darb Qutna, when he saw at the farthest end of the street a slave-girl standing with her face uncovered. She called to him, "Hi, mister, this is a blind alley! " He looked at her, and at once fell in love with her. When he returned to us, his passion for the girl became ever more violent, so that he feared he might fall into temptation. He therefore departed to Basra, and there died of love, God have mercy on his soul ! By all accounts' he was a most saintly man.
Here is a story, which I have often heard told concerning a certain Berber king. An Andalusian' gentleman, finding himself in financial difficulties, had sold a female slave whom he loved passionately; she was bought by a man of the Berber country. The poor fellow who sold her never imagined that his heart would follow her in the way it did. When she reached her purchaser's home, her former owner almost expired. So he searched out the man to whom he had sold her, and offered him all his possessions, and himself to boot, if he would restore her to him; but the Berber refused. The Andalusian then besought the inhabitants of the town to prevail upon him; but not one of them came to his assistance. Almost out of his mind, he bethought himself of appealing to the king; he therefore stood without the palace, and uttered a loud cry. The king, who was seated in a lofty upper chamber overlooking the courtyard, heard his shout and ordered him to be admitted. The Andalusian entered the royal presence, and standing before his Berber majesty he told his story, and implored and supplicated him to have compassion. The king, much touched by his plight, commanded that the man who had bought the girl should be summoned to court. He duly came; and the king said, This poor fellow is a stranger; you see what a state he is in intercede with you personally on his behalf." But the purchaser refused, saying, " I am more deeply' in love with her than he is, and I fear that if you return her to him I myself shall be standing here to-morrow imploring your aid, and in an even worse case." The king and all his courtiers offered him of their own riches to let her go; but he persisted in his refusal, pleading as his excuse the affection he bore her.
The audience having by now dragged on a long time, and there being no sign whatsoever that the purchaser would give way and consent, the king said to the Andalusian, " My good sir, I can do nothing more for you than this. I have striven to the utmost of my powers on your behalf; and you see how he excuses himself on the grounds that he loves her more than you do, and fears he may come to even greater evil than yourself. You had best endure patiently what Allah has decreed for you." The Andalusian thereupon exclaimed, " Have you no means at all then of helping me? " The king answered, " Can I do anything more for you than; entreat him, and offer him money? " The Andalusian, being in despair, bent himself double, and with his hands clutching his feet he threw himself down from the topmost height of the audience-chamber to the earth. The king cried out in alarm, and his slaves below ran to where the man was lying. It was his fate not to be greatly injured by the fall, and he was brought up to the king again. The king said to him, " What did you intend by doing that? " " O king ", the man replied, " I cannot live any longer, now that I have lost her." Then he would have thrown himself down a second time, but he was prevented.
The king thereupon exclaimed, " Allah is great! I have hit upon the just arbitrament of this problem." Turning to the purchaser he said, " Good sir, do you claim that your love for the girl is greater than his, and do you state that you fear to come to the same pass as he is in? " " Yes," replied the Berber. " Very well ", went on the king. " Your friend here has given us a clear indication of his love; he hurled himself down, and would have died, but that Almighty God preserved him. Now do you stand up and prove your love is true; cast yourself down from the topmost point of this pavilion, as your friend did. If you die, it will mean that your appointed time has come; if you live, you will have the better right to the girl, seeing that she is at present your property; and your companion in distress shall then go away. But if you refuse to jump, I will take the girl from you, whether you like it or not, and will hand her over-to him." At first the Berber held back, but then he said, " I will cast myself down." But when he came near the opening, and looked into the yawning void below him, he drew himself back again. " By Allah ", cried the king, " it shall be as I have said." The man tried again, but shrunk away once more. When he would not take the plunge, the king shouted to him, " Do not make sport of us! Ho, slaves, seize his hands and pitch him to the ground!" The Berber, seeing the king thus resolved, exclaimed, " O king, I am content: let him have the girl." The king replied, " Allah give thee a good recompense!" So saying, he bought the girl from him and gave her over to her former owner; and the two departed.
OF THE VILENESS OF SINNING
THUS spoke the author of this book, God have mercy upon him:
Many men obey their carnal souls, and disobey their reasons; they follow after their random desires, rejecting the ordinances of religion, and scouting God's commandments. For Allah has put it into all healthy minds to be decent and self-controlled, to abstain from sin and fight against temptation; but they oppose the Lord 1 their God, and take the Devil's part, assisting him in his evil work by indulging in all deadly lusts; so they`'` commit grievous sins in their amours.
We know that Allah has implanted in every man two opposed natures. The first of these counsels only good; and incites to what is fair and seemly, so that nothing that is not pleasing to God is conceived therein: this - is reason, which is guided and led by justice. The second is opposite to the first, in that it advises solely the gratification of the lusts, and leads the way to all, that is evil and vicious: this is the soul; whose guide and mentor is carnal passion. God says, " Verily the soul commands to evil " (Koran XII 53). Elsewhere Allah refers to reason, calling it the heart, and says, " Verily therein is a reminder to every man possessing a heart or lending an ear to hear, who beareth witness (Koran L 36); He also says, " And He has made Faith a thing to be loved by you, and has made it comely in your hearts " (Koran XLIX 7); in another place He addresses " those that are possessed of minds " (Koran XXXIX 22).
These two contrary natures are the poles in a man; they are two of the body's various faculties, by means of which the body acts; they are so to speak a pair of screens, upon which fall the rays emanating from those two wonderful, lofty, sublime substances. Every body has its share in these two natures, according to the degree to which it responds to them, its receptiveness being determined by the eternal will of the One Everlasting God (Holy be His Names), at the time that He created it and gave it shape. The two natures are forever and habitually in opposition and conflict one with the other. When the reason prevails over the soul, a man will refrain, and rein his corrupt impulses; he will seek to be illumined by the light of God, and will follow after justice. But when the soul dominates the reason, his inward eye is so blinded that he cannot truly discriminate between what is seemly and what is vile; great is his confusion, and he falls into the pit of ruin and the bottomless abyss of destruction. Therefore are God's commands and prohibitions most excellent, and obedience to them man's bounden duty, upon the fulfillment of which depends his fitting reward or punishment, his well-merited recompense.
The spirit unites these contrary natures, and acts as a link and meeting-point between them. To stand always within the confines of obedience is a thing outside the bounds of actuality, except it be achieved by long self-discipline, right knowledge, and penetrating decimation; and only then may it be attained if a man deliberately avoids exposing himself to seduction, and abstains from human intercourse entirely, sitting not within the tents of temptation. Without doubt perfect and absolute purity can be secured, if a man were to be castrated and thus have no desire for woman, and no organ to assist him to traffic with them. It was said of old, " He who is preserved from the evil of his clacker, his rumbler and his dangler, is saved from the evil of the whole sublunary world." The clacker is the tongue, the rumbler is the belly, an the dangler is the privy parts. On the other hand I was told by Abu Hafs the civil secretary, a descendant of Rauh Ibn Zinba' al udhami, that he asked a noted jurist, who was also an eminent Traditionist, to explain the foregoing saying to him; and he told him that the word which I have glossed as " belly " actually means "melon".
Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ahmad informed me, transmitting from Wahb Ibn Masarra and Muhammad Ibn Abi Dulaim, from Muhammad Ibn Waddah, from Yahya Ibn Yahya, from Malik Ibn Anas, from Zaid Ibn Aslam, from 'Ata' Ibn Yasar, that the Prophet of Allah said (I extract this from a long Tradition), " He whore Allah preserves from the evil of two things shall surely enter Paradise." When asked to explain this saying, he added, " That which lies between his moustache and beard, and that which lies between his two legs." I hear many people say, " Complete subjugation of the passions is found only among men, and not among women." I never cease to wonder at this assertion. My own unwavering opinion is, that men and women are exactly equal in their inclination towards these two things. The man does not exist who, having been offered the love of a pretty woman a long time, and there being no obstacle to prevent him, will not fall into Satan's net, will not be seduced by sin, and will not be excited by desire and led astray by concupiscence. Similarly there is no woman who, if invited by a man in the selfsame circumstances, will not surrender to him in the end; it is the absolute law and inescapable decree of destiny.
I have been informed by a most truthful and trustworthy friend-I may add that he has a perfect acquaintance with jurisprudence, scholastic theology and science, and is firm in his observance of the faith-that he once loved a superior and cultured girl of dazzling beauty. " I made a proposal to her ", he told me, " and she refused in horror. I repeated my proposal, and she again declined. So matters went on for a long time, and all the while my love for her waxed stronger; but she was not one of the kind that submits to solicitations. Finally I was so carried away by my excessive passion for her, that being a blind and headstrong youth, I made a vow that if I succeeded in having my way with her, I would thereafter turn to Allah in true and -contrite penitence. As the days and nights went by, after all her stubborn refusal and aversion she at last gave in to me." I said to my friend, " O father of one who shall be unnamed, did you fulfill your engagement? " " Yes, by Allah " he replied. Thereupon I laughed, being reminded by his action of a report commonly noised among us, that in the Berber country adjacent to Andalusia fornicators repent of their sins on condition that they attain gratification of their immediate desires. Nothing is done to prevent this curious conduct; on the contrary, they disapprove strongly in that country if any man ventures to utter even one word of protest, saying, " What, would you make it impossible for a Mussulman to repent? " My friend continued, I well recall how she wept, saying, 'By Allah, you have brought me to a pass I never in my life thought to come to, nor supposed that I would concede it to any man.'"
I do not consider it utterly remote from all possibility that righteousness should exist among men, and women too: God forbid, that I should have any such thoughts!
But I have observed that many men err gravely as to the true meaning of the word " righteousness ". Its correct interpretation is as follows. The " righteous " woman is one who, when duly restrained, restrains herself; when temptations are
kept out of her way, she keeps herself under control. The "wicked" woman on the other hand is one who, when duly restrained, does not restrain herself, and when barred from all facilities for committing licence, nevertheless herself contrives by some ruse or other to discover the means of behaving badly. The "righteous" man is he who has no traffic with adulterers, and does not expose himself to sights exciting the passions; who does not raise his eyes to look upon ravishing shapes and forms. The
"wicked" man however is he who consorts with depraved people, who allows his gaze to wander freely and stares avidly at beautiful faces, who seeks out harmful spectacles and delights in deadly privacies. The "righteous" man and the" righteous woman are like a fire that lies hidden within the ashes, and does not burn any who is within range of it unless it be stirred into flame. But "wicked" men and women are like a blazing, all-consuming conflagration. As for the abandoned woman and the adventurous man, they are surely doomed to everlasting destruction. For this reason it is forbidden to a Moslem to take delight in listening to a foreign woman sing: "the first glance is for you, the second glance is against you". T he Prophet of Allah said, " Whoever looks upon a women when he is fasting, so as to see the bulk of her bones, the same has broken the fast." The clear texts set down in Holy Writ forbidding the indulgence of passion are surely amply convincing. The wide variety of meaning attaching to this word " passion ", and the derivation assigned to it by the Arabs, prove well enough the inclination and the aspiration of the carnal soul towards these situations; and the man who holds himself back from them must needs struggle and fight against his lower self.
I will describe something to you which you ma readily enough observe with your own eyes. I have never seen the woman who, happening to be in some place where she senses that a man is looking at her or listening to her voice, does not make some wholly superfluous gesture, remote from her usual habit, or offer some entirely gratuitous remark with which she would otherwise have dispensed, in either case quite at variance with have she was talking or behaving immediately before. I have noticed-and indeed the matter is only too apparent and obvious, and there is no concealing it-that she will take great pains how she articulates her words, and will pay elaborate attention to the manner in which she varies her postures. It is the same with men, as soon as they sense the presence of ladies. As for showing off one's finery, and studying one's deportment, and engaging in pleasantries when woman is approaching a man, or a man is passing by a woman, that is more evident than the sun in heaven, and happens everywhere. Allah the Almighty says, " Say unto the believers, that they lower their eyes and conceal their private parts " (Koran XXIV 30); He also says, "And let the women not tap with their feet, that their hidden ornaments may be made known" (Koran XXIV 3I). Were it not that Allah is aware of the delicate way in which women droop their eyelids when striving to win the affection of men's hearts, and the subtle ruses they employ in contriving to attract men's desires, never would He have revealed a notion so infinitely remote and abstruse. This is the limit beyond which one may not prudently expose oneself to danger: how then shall it be with a man if he adventure further?
I tell you that I have penetrated most deeply into the secret thoughts of men and women in this matter, the fact is that I never had a very good opinion of anyone where these things are concerned; besides, I must confess that I am
constitutionally a very jealous man. Abu `Umar Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ahmad informed me, transmitting from Ahmad, from Muhammad Ibn `Ali Ibn Rafa` a from `Ali Ibn `Abd al-`Aziz, from Abu 'Ubaid al-Qasim Ibn Sallam, from his teachers, that the Prophet of Allah said, "Jealousy is a part of faith." That is why I have never ceased to pry into stories about women, and to lay bare their secrets. They have known well my discretion, and have therefore not hesitated to apprise me of their most hidden affairs. But for the fear of exposing their shames from which may God preserve me! I would have set down such marvels illustrating their lively awareness of evil, and their cunning in contriving naughtiness, as would confound the most intelligent of men. I know this well, and am perfectly informed of the true facts yet for all that Allah knows-and it is enough that He should know that I am a man of spotless innocence, pure, clean and undefiled. I swear most solemnly by Allah's name that I have never loosed my girdle to commit unlawful acts; the Lord shall not call me to account on the Day of Reckoning touching the deadly sin of fornication, not since I became a man even unto the present day. I praise God, and give Him grateful thanks for His past mercies, and I pray that He may continue so to preserve me through all the days I yet shall live.
Judge Abu 'Abd al-Rahman 'Abd Allah Ibn 'Abd al-Rahman Ibn Jahhaf al-Ma'afiri informed me-and; he is the most excellent cadi I have ever met-that b was told by Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim al-Tulaitili that the Egyptian cadi Bakr Ibn al- `Ana' interpreted Allah's words "And as for the bounty of thy Lord, proclaim" it abroad " (Koran XCIII II) as follows, reporting view held by an ancient authority: the Moslem ought to declare the personal blessings which Allah I t conferred on him in keeping him obedient to the commands of his Lord, which is indeed the greatest bounties, especially in regard to those matters the avoidance or pursuit of which is a prescription binding upon all Moslems.
Now my reason for speaking of myself as I have is that while the fires of youth were blazing within me, while the ardour of puberty and the reckless folly of early manhood possessed my soul, I was cloistered and enclosed among watchful guardians of both sexes. As soon as I became my own master and could reason for myself I had the good fortune to make friends with Abu 'Ali al-Husain Ibn `Ali al-Fasi, with whom I attended the classes of our teacher and my dear preceptor for Abu 'l-Qasim `Abd al-Rahman Ibn Abi Yalid e al-Azdi, God be well pleased with him! Abu `Ali wad most prudent, full of good works and pious learning; he was one who had reached the forefront in righteous ness, true devotion, strict abstinence from worldly things, and zealous labours for the heavenly reward. I fancy that he was naturally continent, for there had never been a woman in his life; and indeed I never saw his like altogether, whether in learning, practical charity; religious observance, or godliness of life. Allah gave me great profit of him, for he taught me to know the dire effects of evil conduct, and the beastliness of sin. He died on the Mecca pilgrimage, God rest his soul.
Once I was passing the night in the house of a female acquaintance, a lady renowned for her righteousness her charity and her prudence. With her was a young girl of her own kindred we had all been brought up together, then I had lost sight of her for many years, having left her when she reached puberty. I found that the waters of youth had flowed like a rushing exuberant river over her countenance; the fountains of grace and charm gushed over her. I was confounded and amazed. Into the firmament of her face the stars of beauty had climbed, to shine and glitter there; in her cheeks the flowers of loveliness had budded, and were now in full bloom. How she appeared before me that memorable evening, I have striven to describe in these verses.
She was a pearl most pure and white,
By Allah fashioned out of light;
Her beauty was a wondrous thing
Beyond all human reckoning.
If on the Day of Judgement, when
The trumpets sound for sinful men,
I find, before the Throne of Grace,
My deeds as lovely as her face;
Of all the creatures Allah made
I shall most fully be repaid,
A double Eden to reside,
And dark-eyed virgins by my side.
She came of a family in which good looks were hereditary, and had now herself developed into a shape that beggared description; the tale of her youth loveliness ran through Cordova. I passed three successive nights under the same roof with her, and following the customs with persons who have been brought up together she was not veiled from my view. Upon my life, my heart was well-nigh ravished, the passion which I had so rigorously banished almost repossessed my bosom, the forgotten dalliance of youth was within an ace of returning to seduce me. Thereafter I forbade myself to enter that house, for I feared that my mind might be too violently excited by the admiration of such beauty. Certainly, she and all the members of the household were ladies upon whose respectability amorous ambitions might not hope to trespass; but, as I have remarked in the little poem, which follows, no man is secure from the vexations of Satan.
Suffer not thy soul
Passion to pursue,
And, to keep it whole,
No temptations woo.
Satan liveth yet,
He will never die,
And seduction's net
Is the human eye.
I also have these verses.
How many say
"This thing is naught
But a dark thought
To make thee stray."
"Blame me not, pray!"
I answer. "What,
Is Satan not
Alive to day?"
Allah has not set down for us the stories of Joseph the son of Jacob, and David the son of Jesse, all prophets of God, save to make us aware of our own shortcomings and the dire need we have of His protection, and to teach us how corrupt and frail is our human constitution. Those two were prophets and messengers of God, the sons of prophets and Divine messengers; they were of a household wherein prophecy and apostleship were hereditary; they were wrapped about in God's safe keeping, immersed in the ocean of His love, encompassed by His tender care, fortified by His mighty protection, so that Satan had no way of coming unto them, and no road was open for his temptations to draw nigh them. Yet for all that Joseph and David came to the pass which Allah has described for us in His revealed Koran, by reason of that natural disposition within them, that human character and original constitution which were implanted in their souls, and by no means because of any deliberate will and intent on their part to sin; for the prophets are exempt from all that is at variance with obedience to the Divine Will. What passed in them was a natural admiration for lovely forms, common to every human soul; and who among us would be so bold as to claim the mastery of his soul, or who will engage to control its wayward impulses, save with Allah's strength and power assisting him? The first blood shed upon the earth was the blood of one of Adam's sons, all on account of rivalry for the possession of women. The Messenger of Allah himself says, "Keep a distance between the breaths of men and women." There was once a Bedouin woman who became pregnant of a kinsman. She was asked, " What is this inside of you, Hind?" She answered, " The fruit of pillows much too near, and of a night too long and drear! " I have a poem on this subject.
Reprove him not who courts afflictions such!
As others, proving, like not overmuch.
Bring not the thorn bush overnear where lies
The blaze, for if thou dost, the smoke will rise!
Trust not in any man, howe'er sublime
For men are all depraved-and so is time.
Women are made as surely for the male
As man is made for women, without fail.
All things are passionate for their own kind
Suppose not any otherwise designed.
The righteous man is he who, when a fence
Rings him from wrong, shows fair obedience
The other, whom you discipline with pain,
Tries every trick to rid him of the rein.
I know a young man of the strictest morals who fell madly in love. One of his friends passed him by and, found him sitting with his beloved. He invited him to his home and the young man accepted, adding that he would be with him presently. His friend proceeded "home, and there waited for him a very long time, but he never came. Some while afterwards the two met, and the friend remonstrated with him and reproached him bitterly for breaking his promise. The young man excused himself, but concealed his real reason. I said to his friend, " I will discover a perfectly valid excuse for him from the Book of God, where it is written, We did not break our engagement with thee, of our own willing, but we were charged with heavy burdens, the'; ornament of the people.' (Koran XX go)."
All who were present burst out laughing, and I was requested to make up a poem on the subject: this is what I composed.
The wound wherewith thou soundest me
Is quickly healed: I blame not thee
But ah! The sword thrust passion deals
Inflicts a wound that nothing heals.
The moles adorning with such grace
The tender whiteness of his face
Are water lilies in a bower,
Hedged round with snowy gillyflower.
How often he, whom I so love
That I am lief to die thereof,
Has spoken words so glib to me,
So full of scorn and raillery!
What urgent prayers I have addressed.
To him, what fond petitions pressed,
Now peremptory, and awhile
A masterpiece of wheedling guile!
"Do not my turns and twistings, fool,
Suffice thy ardent thirst to cool,
To drive away the hot desire
That burns thy bosom like a fire? "
He speaks. "Ah, no!" I make reply
If that were practicable, why,
Neighbours to neighbours the world o'er
Would' not be foemen any more.
"But see, the armies stand and stare
Against each other; both prepare
For battle; and a mortal tide
Of ruin marks the great divide."
I have two poems, which I composed, alluding gently, no indeed, but making specific reference to a man of our circle whom we formerly all knew for an earnest student, of great zeal and piety; he passed his nights in prayer, and in all things followed in the footsteps of the ascetics and trod in the paths of the ancient Sufis, searching and labouring ever after true learning and righteousness. We always abstained from jesting and pleasantries in his presence. But the time came when he gave Satan power over his soul; he who had worn the garb of the godly suddenly kicked over the traces, putting into the Devil's hands the leading-rein of his spirit. Beelzebub duly deluded him, representing misery and perdition to him in the fairest colours; he who had so long refused yielded him his halter to drag; he who had been so stubborn gave him his forelock to pull; he jogged along amiably after him, completely submissive. After all that I have mentioned above, he became notorious for a certain foul and filthy vice. I reproached him long and rebuked him severely when, not content to hide his sin, he committed his abominations publicly. This had the effect of turning him against me; his intentions towards me became most malevolent, and he lay in wait to do me an evil turn. One of my friends aided and abetted him, speaking to him in such a way that he took him into his confidence and declared to him his hostility for me. Thus in His good time Allah revealed his secret, and it was known to all and sundry; so he fell in the estimation of all his fellows, after he had been eagerly sought by scholars and frequented by the learned; he was despised by every one of his former friends-may God deliver us from all evil, and cover us with His sure shield; may He not take away from us the blessings He has showered upon us. Woe and alas for him, who began by following the straight and narrow path, not knowing that Allah would presently abandon him, and that the Divine protection would be his no more: there is no God but Allah! How shocking and disgraceful, to be struck down thus by sudden calamity, and smitten by unforeseen disaster to belong at first to God, and finally to become a creature of Satan! Here then is one of my two effusions on his downfall.
The time has come our likely lad
Must be exposed to shame;
A decent covering he had,
But now has lost his name.
He used to jeer and hugely mock
At lovers; now, by God,
He has become a laughing-stock
For every stupid clod.
But stay, my friend; do not reprove
Yon swain so wan and worn,
Who thinks it piety, for love
To be a thing of scorn.
He purposed long with labour vast
For godliness to strive,
Until in goodness he surpassed
The holiest man alive.
Equipped with inkhorn, and with book
In hand, he searched around
For every cranny, every nook
Where scholars might be found.
The tawny pens forgotten quite,
Behold them now replaced
By fingers of a youth, as white
As silver cast and chased.
"Spare me they folly; do not bleat
Reproaches, critic mine;
Thou hast not seen, when lovers meet,
How fondly they entwine.
"Leave me in my dark wells to lave,
My fevered brow to cool;
Begone from me; I do not crave
For thy poor, shallow pool."
"When thou art abstinent from love,
Love will abstain from thee;
They day thou nothing hast thereof,
Thou shalt thereof be free."
"Thou canst not break the knotted noose
Of exile all too chaste,
Until thy fingers boldly loose
The band about thy waist! "
"The Sultan's power proves not so
Established in the land,
Till couriers on the highways go
Fulfilling his command."
"To take away the ingrained rust
From ingots cast of steel
No other course avails; they must
Be rubbed, until they peel."
Our aforesaid companion had acquired a perfect mastery of the variant readings of the Koran. He had digested al-Anbari's treatise " On Intoning the Scriptures ", and had made of it a fine epitome, which won the admiration of all cantors who looked into it. He was constant in the quest and registration of Traditions he applied the greater part of his splendid intellect to repeating the information he gathered from the lips of learned Traditionists, to transcribing which he devoted himself with assiduous zeal. But when he was smitten by this affliction I refer to his association with a boy he abandoned all that had been his constant care; he sold most of his books; he changed his habits completely. May Allah preserve us from a like abandonment! I composed a second poem about him as a sequel to the one I have quoted above, but decided on second thoughts not to quote it here.
Abu 'l-Husain Ahmad Ibn Yahya Ibn Ishaq al-Rawandi in his book entitled " Pronunciation and Correction " mentions that Ibrahim Ibn Saiyar al-Nazzam, the head of the Mu'tazili sect, for all his eminence in scholastic theology and his supreme mastery of the higher knowledge, in order to enjoy forbidden relations with a certain Christian boy whom he loved to madness went so far as to compose a treatise extolling the merits of the Trinity over Monotheism. Good Lord, preserve us from the machinations of Satan, and suffer, us not to be abandoned by Thy loving protection!
Sometimes it happens that the trial becomes so great, and the lusts are so voracious, that abomination seems a mere trifle, and religion proves a poor and feeble thing; in order to achieve his desires a man will then: consent to the filthiest and most outrageous acts. Such was the catastrophe which overwhelmed 'Ubaid All Ibn Yahya al-Azdi, better known as Ibn al-Jaziri. He was content to abandon his household, to suffer his harem to be violated, and to expose his family to dishonour, all for the sake of gratifying his amorous whim for a boy. Allah preserve us from such error! We pray that He may ever encompass us in His safe keeping, so that we shall leave a fair record behind us, and deserve, a wholesome reputation. That wretched man became the talk of the town; the rumour of his escapade was the amusement of all gatherings; he was pilloried in popular songs. He was what the Arabs call a daayuth or cuckold; the term is derived from tadyith, a word meaning "to facilitate"; and indeed what further is there for a man to " facilitate ", when he has become complacent to such a degree? One speaks of a camel as mudaiyath, meaning that it has been rendered completely abject. By my life, jealousy is an innate instinct even in animals; how much the more should it be in men, seeing that it has the sanction of our religious law. There can be no greater misfortune than what befell Ibn al Jaziri. I used to know him for a discreet man, until Satan seduced him: we take refuge with Allah, that He may never so abandon us. `Isa Ibn Muhammad' Ibn Muhammad al-Khaulani composed these verses on, the subject.
O thou who makest of thy women's shame
A net, to snare young roebucks in the same,
I see thy net is torn to pieces, and
Thou holdest but dishonour in thy hand.
I also have a poem on this theme.
Abu Marwan let all make free
With his good ladies' chastity
That he might gratify his whim;
A buck was what attracted him.
I taxed him with indecency,
And rated him for cuckoldry;
These lines he quoted in reply
To prove him impudent and sly
"I got, if I must answer true,
Exactly what I wanted to
What makes the other fellows rue so,
I was the only one to do so!"
I once heard Ibn al Jaziri praying in the Cathedral Mosque of Cordova to be delivered from God's protection, as other men will pray to be delivered from God's abandonment.
Here is another story of a similar kind. I remember that I was at a reception with some friends; the party was being given by one of our wealthiest burghers. I observed one of the guests, and a member of our host's family who was also present, behaving in a manner of which I strongly disapproved; they were ogling each other quite disgustingly, and withdrawing into privacy time and time again. The host might just as well have been absent, or asleep. I sought to attract his attention to what was going on by discreet allusions, but he, was quite unmoved. I strove to arouse him with plain and unequivocal hints, but he remained impervious to my efforts. Then I addressed myself to quoting over and over again to him a couple of ancient jingles, in the hope that he might understand what I was trying to tell him.
His friends so fine and hearty
Who graced his evening party
Came not to hear the music
But for what should make you sick!
They got what they were after,
And you're an ass, or dafter,
You simpleton, you stupid,
You clumsy-footed Cupid!
I kept on repeating these lines to him, until at least, my host said, " You have made me tired of listening to them. Do please stop repeating them, or quo something else! " So I held my peace, not knowing whether he really did not grasp my meaning, or whether he was only pretending to be stupid. I do not remember ever going to his parties again. I composed the following little poem in his honour.
I have no doubt, of all mankind
You have the least suspicious mind,
Secure, as all good Moslems ought
To be, in faith, intention, thought.
Wake from your daydreams! Don't you know
This very evening So-and-so,
A guest whom you invited in,
Committed a most grievous sin?
I think you ought to be aware
Men bend for other things than prayer,
And you have certainly taught me,
Not every one with eyes can see!
Tha'lab Ibn Musa al-Kaladhani told me the following' anecdote which he heard from Sulaiman Ibn Ahmad the poet, who added that the woman who related it to him was named Hind, and that he had seen her in the East; she had performed the pilgrimage five times and was a most pious and zealous old lady. " My dear nephew ", she told Sulaiman, "never have too good an opinion of any woman. I will tell you some about myself, which Allah knows is true. I took ship many years ago now, returning from the pilgrimage, for I had already renounced the world; with me on the same vessel were fourteen other women, all of whom had likewise been to Mecca. We were sailing through the Red Sea. Now one of the crew was a fine upstanding fellow, tall, slim, with broad shoulders and a splendid physique. On the first night out I saw him come up to one of my companions and show off his virility to her. She surrendered to his embraces on the spot. On the following nights each of the rest accepted his advances in turn, until only I was left. I said to myself, 'I will punish you for this, you scoundrel.' With that I took a razor, and grasped it firmly in my hand. He came along as usual that evening, and behaved precisely as he had done on the preceding nights. When he approached me I brandished my razor, and he was so scared that he would have run off. I felt very sorry for him then, and grasping him with my hands I said, 'You shall not go until I have had my share of you.' So ", the old lady concluded, "he got what he wanted, God forgive me!"
The poets have wonderful skill in inventing metaphorical allusions. Allow me to quote a stanza or two of mine in this vein.
The clouds were shooting from on high
Their slender arrows through the sky;
Like drawn and molten silver thread
The rains were falling overhead.
A crescent moon in blackest night
Stooped from his firmament of light;
Proclaim the lover who attained
The inconceivable he gained;
So inconceivable, that should
You ask, " What have you there? " I could
No words discover, and no wile
Devise for answer, but a smile;
A smile so joyous, it might seem
My happiness was but a dream,
My joy so overwhelming, too,
I doubted if it could be true.
This is another poem I wrote in the same mood.
You came to me, that witching time
The crescent moon climbed up on high,
Ere yet the sweet and clamorous chime
Of Christian bells rang through the sky.
My crescent moon was like the brow
Of some grave scholar, white as snow,
The instep delicate, I trow,
Of lovely maid its graceful bow.
And suddenly God's rainbow drew
Its arc across the heavens pale,
Apparelled in each dazzling hue
That glitters from the peacock's tail.
It seems to me indeed that the enmity which divides those who have enjoyed illicit and godless union, following upon their brief intimacy, that turning of backs upon each other so soon after they have been joined in the closest of relations, their breaking with each other, so suddenly after they have been loving, the hatred between them that succeeds their fond affection, the bitter rancour and malevolence that now dominate and overmaster their hearts-all this seems to me a terrible revelation and an urgent warning to minds that are sane, to judgments that are penetrating, to purposes that are true. How much more should we then be moved by the contemplation of that dire punishment which Allah has prepared for those who disobey Him, upon the Day of Reckoning and in the world of retribution; that dreadful unveiling before the faces of all created beings, " upon the day when every suckling mother shall forget her suckled, and every pregnant mother shall cast down the fruit of her womb, and thou shalt see all men reeling as if they were drunk, yet not drunk are they, but the chastisement of God is very terrible " (Koran XXII 2). I pray that Allah may place us among those who attain His good pleasure, and merit His compassion.
I once saw a woman who had bestowed her affections in ways not pleasing to Almighty God. I had known her before, when she was more limpid than running water, subtler than the ether, more solid than mountains, stronger than steel, more firmly compounded than colour in the object that is coloured, deeper established than accidents in their substances, more effulgent than the sun, truer than ocular vision, more glittering than the stars, sincerer than the love of the dusky sand-grouse, more amazing than fate, fairer than piety, lovelier than the countenance of Abu 'Amir, more delightful than health, sweeter than fond hope, more intimate than the soul, closer than kinship, more constant than a carving in stone. But a little while, and I saw that love changed to enmity more trenchant than death, more penetrating than a bowshot, bitterer than sickness, more desolating than the loss of Divine favours, more frightful than the descent of God's chastisement, sharper than desiccating winds, more noisome than mad rage, more calamitous than the triumph of one's enemy, more oppressive than bondage, harder than rock, more hateful than the revelation of guilty secrets, more distant than the Gemini, more difficult of access than the heights of heaven, more terrible than the aspect of disaster, more horrible than the violation of cherished habits, more shocking than sudden catastrophe, more distasteful than deadly poison an enmity the like of which is not engendered either the carrying into captivity of a mother. Such Allah's wont with all those who practice abomination, who seek after and direct their steps towards other than Him, for so He has spoken in His Holy Book: " Would that I had never taken such an one to be my friend, for he has led me astray from the Remembrance, after it had come unto me" (Koran XXV 30-31). It truly behoves every intelligent man to implore God's protection, lest passion cause him to fall into the pit of ruin.
Then there is the story of Khalaf, the freedman of the famous general Yusuf Ibn Qamqam, who participated in the revolt of Hisham Ibn Sulaiman Ibn al-Nasir. When Hisham was taken prisoner and killed, and his fellow-conspirators fled, Khalaf took to his heels with the rest and got away. On reaching Kastalat however he found himself unable to endure being parted from a slave-girl he possessed in Cordova; accordingly he returned to the capital, and was there captured by the Caliph al-Mahdi who ordered him to be crucified. I well remember seeing him hanging on the cross in the meadows fringing the Guadalquivir; he was so riddled with arrows that one would have said he was a hedgehog. Moreover Abu Bakr Muhammad, the son of Minister `Abd al-Rahman Ibn al-Laith, informed me': that the reason he fled to the Berber camp, at the time when they transferred their allegiance to Sulaiman al-Zafir, was that a slave-girl with whom he was in love l' had fallen into the possession of a man living in that province; he almost perished on the journey.
The two foregoing instances, though not strictly relevant to the present discussion, furnish striking proof of the way in which passion will lead a man into imminent and obvious disaster, recognizable as such alike by the most sensible and the most stupid of beings. How, can anyone hope to enjoy in such circumstances that Divinely accorded immunity, which surpasses the understanding of the feeble vision? Let no man say, " I was in privacy." Even if he be entirely alone, yet he is within the sight and hearing of " the Knower of all secrets" (Koran V 108), "Who knoweth
the perfidious eye, and what the breasts conceal " (Koran XL 20)" I " and knoweth the secret and that which is even more hidden" (Koran XX 6), "so that there shall not be three whispering together but He is the fourth of them, nor five but He is the sixth of them, nor fewer than that nor more but that He is with them wherever they may be "(Koran LVIII 8)." He knoweth all that is in the breasts " (Koran LVII 6), " and he knoweth alike I the unseen and the visible " (Koran VI 73);" and I they conceal themselves from men, but they conceal not themselves from God, for He is with them "(Koran IV 107). Allah says," And verily We have created man, and know all that his soul whispers within him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein; when two meet together, one sitting on the right and the other sitting on the left, neither uttereth a word, but beside him is a watcher waiting "(Koran L 15-17).
Whoso makes light of his sins, and relying upon a postponement of God's reckoning turns away from obedience to his Lord, let him know that Beelzebub was once in Paradise with all the angels who are brought nigh to God, but on account of a single sin he committed, he richly deserved the everlasting curse and eternal chastisement; he became a devil stoned, and was far removed from the supernal habitation. Adam for a single wrongdoing was driven out of Eden into the trouble and misery of this lower world; and but that he received a message from his Lord, and turned unto, Him again, he would have been counted among the lost. Think you that the man who is deluded by Allah and His longsuffering forbearance so that he sins even more grievously against Him, imagining that he is held in higher regard by his Creator than his father Adam, whom He created with His own hands, and breathed into him of His own spirit, and commanded the angels, the noblest of all creatures in the sight of God, to bow down before him-think you that it is a more arduous task for Allah to punish him than to chastise Adam? No indeed; but the sweetness a man finds in hoping and the comfort he discovers in being borne along on the back of his own weak and feeble Judgement, these lead him on to ruin and disgrace. If, when he commits a sin, he were not checked already by the knowledge that God has forbidden it, nor held back by the thought of the severe punishment, which He will visit upon him. Yet the evil reputation his sins must bring upon him, and the great Injury his own soul suffers by reason of his committing them this is the greatest barrier and strongest restraint that a sinner might wish for, if only he saw with the eyes of truth and followed the path of guidance. How much the more should he hold back from evil-doing, seeing that Allah declares, "And they slay not the soul which God hath made sacrosanct, save for right cause, neither commit they adultery, and whoso doeth those things, the same shall incur a penalty; doubled shall be his chastisement on the Day of Resurrection, and he shall abide therein forever, cast forth and despised " (Koran XXV 68-69).
I was informed by al-Hamdani in the mosque called al-Qamari, that lies in the western quarter of Cordova, in the year 1010, he having received the same from Ibn Sibuya and Abu Ishaq al-Balkhi in Khorasan in 985, from Muhammad Ibn Yusuf, from Muhammad Ibn Ismail, from Qutaiba Ibn Sa'id, from Jarir, from al-A'mash, from Abu Wa'il, from `Amr Ibn Shurahbil, from `Abd Allah (that is to say Ibn Mas'ud), that a certain man said to the Apostle of Allah, " O Apostle of Allah, which is the greatest sin in the eyes of God ? " The Prophet replied, " That thou shouldst invoke another as equal to Allah, Who alone created thee." The man said, "And what next? " The Prophet answered, " That thou shouldst kill thy child for fear that he partake of thy food." The man persisted, "And what after that?" The Prophet said, "That thou shouldst commit adultery with thy neighbor's wife." Allah revealed in confirmation of this, "And those who call not upon any other God beside Allah, and slay not the soul which God hath made sacrosanct, save for right cause, neither commit they adultery" (Koran XXV 68-69). Allah has also declared, "And the fornicating woman, and the fornicating man-flog each one of them with a hundred stripes; ye shall not be moved with compassion for them in the religion of Allah, if ye truly believe in Allah " (Koran XXIV 2).
The same al-Hamdani informed me on the authority of Abu Ishaq al-Balkhi and Ibn Sibuya, who received it from Muhammad Ibn Yusuf, from Muhammad Ibn Ismail, from al-Laith, from 'Aqil, from Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri, from Abu Bakr Ibn `Abd al-Rahman Ibn al-Harith Ibn Hisham al-Makhzumi, Sa'id Ibn al-Musaiyib al-Makhzumi, and Abu Salama Ibn `Abd al-Rahman Ibn `Auf al-Zuhri, that the Prophet of Allah said, " No man fornicates, when he fornicates, and in doing so remains a believer." Al-Hamdani informed me by the same chain of authorities as far as Muhammad Ibn Ismail, who heard it from Yahya Ibn Bukair, from al-Laith, from 'Aqil, from Ibn Shihab, from Abu Salama and Sa'id Ibn al-Musaiyib, from Abu Huraira, that a man came to the Apostle of Allah while he was in the mosque and said to him, " O Apostle of Allah, I have 'committed adultery." The Prophet turned away from him, but the man returned to him four times; and when he had borne witness against himself four times the Prophet of Allah called to him and said, " Is there insanity in thee?" "No", the man replied. "And art thou married by the rites of Islam?" "Yes." Then the Prophet said, " Take him out and stone him." Ibn Shihab added, "I was also informed by a man who heard Jabir Ibn `Abd Allah declare, 'I was among those who stoned him. We stoned him in the Field of Prayer; when the stones struck him he fled, but we caught him in the rocky waste and stoned him there.'"
Abu Said, the freedman of Chief Chamberlain Jafar, told me in the Cathedral Mosque of Cordova that he heard Abu Bakr al-Muqri' relate, on the authority of Abu Jafar Ibn al-Nahhas, transmitting from Said Ibn Bishr, from `Umar Ibn Rafi`, from Mansur, from al-Hasan, from Hattan Ibn `Abd Allah al-Raqashi, from `Ubada Ibn al-Samit, that the Messenger of Allah said, "Hear me, and hearken to what I say! God has appointed a way of dealing with women: for the virgin who fornicates with a virgin, flogging and banishment for a year, but for a woman not virgin who fornicates with a man not virgin, a hundred stripes and stoning." How horrible is this offence, concerning which Allah has clearly declared in His revelation that the one guilty thereof shall be exposed to shame, and treated with severity and all rigour! He has made the punishment even more severe, in that the sentence of stoning shall only be carried out in the presence of the offender's kinsmen.
It is the unanimous opinion of all Moslems, which only a heretic would impugn, that the married fornicator shall be stoned until he expires. What a terrible manner of death, what a frightful penalty involving what dreadful torment, and how far removed from an easeful and swift death! Certain schools of thought among the learned, including al-Hasan Ibn Abi'l-Hasan, Ibn Rahuya, and Dawud and his followers, take the view that in addition to stoning the adulterer shall also receive a hundred lashes, supporting their opinion by reference to the text of the Koran and the firm Sunna of the Prophet's own practice; as well as the precedent established by `Ali when he stoned a married woman found in fornication after inflicting on her a hundred stripes, and said, " I whipped her in accordance with the Book of Allah, and stoned her following the Sunna of Allah's Messenger." This doctrine is binding upon the followers of al-Shafi'i, because with them any addition based upon a Tradition guaranteed by an indisputably truthful transmitter is to be accepted into the, sacred canon of the Law.
According to the consensus of the whole community I of the faithful, transmitted by universal agreement, and accompanied by the practice of every rite and the followers of every sect of Islam with the solitary exception of a small and negligible group of Kharijis, it is not lawful to shed the blood of any Moslem save for the following causes, infidelity after belief, retaliation for murder, armed insurrection against Allah and His Messenger leading to grave and continuing disorder in, the earth, and fornication after honourable wedlock. The lawful penalty sanctioned by Allah, and equivalent to the punishment prescribed for infidelity, insurrection against God, the destruction of His proof on earth, and warring against His religion, corresponds to the enormity of the crime and the frightfulness of the sin. Allah says, " If ye avoid the deadly sins which ye have been forbidden, We shall remit to you your wicked deeds." (Koran IV 35);"And those who avoid the deadly crimes and abominations, and commit only the venial sins-surely God's forgiveness is wide " (Koran LIII 33). While it is true that the learned authorities differ in their understanding of what the "deadly" sins are, they are unanimous that adultery is in the forefront of them; no difference exists between them on that score. Moreover Allah in His Book has only threatened hellfire as the punishment for seven crimes in addition to infidelity; these are the Deadly Sins, and fornication is one of them, as also the false imputation of adultery to respectable matrons; all this is supported by chapter and verse in the Book of Allah the Almighty.
We have stated above that it is not right for any child of Adam to be put to death, save for the four crimes, which we have enumerated. In the case of infidelity, if the guilty party returns to the fold of Islam, or if he enters the status of a protected person without having apostatized, his position is regarded as acceptable and f the death penalty is not enforced. With murder, if the next-of-kin is agreeable to the payment of a blood wit (according to some jurisprudents), or if he pardons the offence (according to the unanimous view of all), the k penalty of death by reprisal is no longer operative. As for "committing disorder in the earth", if the offender repents before being overpowered he is spared the penalty of execution. There are however no grounds y a whatsoever, in the view of any single authority whether he be conforming or nonconformist, for giving up the penalty of stoning when the fornicator is lawfully married, neither can any reason be found for lifting the death sentence. The frightful nature of fornication is further indicated by the following narrative which we received from judge Abu `Abd al-Rahman, transmitting from judge Abu `Isa, from `Abd Allah Ibn Yahya, from his father Yahya Ibn Yahya, from al-Laith, from al-Zuhri, from al-Qasim Ibn Muhammad Ibn Abi Bakr, from 'Ubaid Ibn 'Umair. `Umar Ibn al-Khattab (God be well pleased with him!) in his time encountered some members of the Hudhail tribe. A young girl ran out from them, and she was followed by a man who desired her for his own purposes. She threw a stone pat him, which pierced his liver. `Umar said, "This man was slain by Allah, and Allah pays no blood wit."
Allah has prescribed the necessity of four eyewitnesses to charges of adultery, whereas in all other cases two y witnesses are sufficient: this is a precautionary measure, to prevent the abomination becoming widespread among, His servants, since it is an offence so serious, so shocking sand so horrible. How indeed should it be otherwise, seeing that anyone accusing his Moslem brother or sister of adultery without having certain knowledge absolutely sure information is held guilty of a Deadly Sin meriting hellfire hereafter? Holy Writ itself lays it down that such an offender is to receive on his body, eighty lashes of the whip. Malik is of the opinion that no penalty is exacted in any other case but the imputation of adultery for an implied suggestion, as against a direct accusation. I have received by the same chain of authorities as that quoted just above, mounting to al-Laith-the narrative is of some length-he receiving", from Sa'd, from Yahya Ibn Sa'id, from Muhammad Ibn `Abd al-Rahman, from his mother `Umara bint `Abd' al-Rahman, that `Umar Ibn al-Khattab ordered the whipping of a man who said to another, " My father is not an adulterer and my mother is not an adulteress." It is the consensus of the whole community, without any divergence of opinion whatsoever so far as I am aware, that if one man says to another, " O infidel! or "O slayer of a soul made sacrosanct by Allah! " no! penalty is to be exacted from him. This again is a measure of precaution on Allah's part, in order that the heinous sin of fornication may be properly established in the case of any Moslem, man or woman, accused of it. Malik again declares that there is no penalty in Islam which is not rendered superfluous and annulled by the death sentence, with the exception of the penalty for false accusation of adultery; if a man who has earned the death penalty also has outstanding against him the penalty for this crime, that penalty is exacted before r the death sentence is carried out. Allah says, "And those who accuse respectable matrons and then bring`,' not forward eye-witnesses-lash them with eighty lashes, and do not ever accept any testimony of theirs again; for they are profligates; except those who repent" (Koran XXIV 4).
Allah also says, "And those who accuse respectably married women, negligent but believers, shall be cursed in this world and the next, and shall receive a severe chastisement " (Koran XXIV 23). It is reported of the Messenger of Allah that he declared that the wrath and curse mentioned in the formula of execration (cf. Koran XXIV 7-9) involve the legal penalty.
I was informed by al-Hamdani, transmitting from Abu ' shag, from Muhammad Ibn Yusuf, from Muhammad Ibn Ismail, from `Abd al-'Aziz Ibn `Abd Allah, from
Sulaiman, from Thaur Ibn Yazid, from Abu 'l-Ghaith, from Abu Huraira, that the Prophet of Allah said, '` Eschew the seven mortal sins." He was asked, "And which are they, O Messenger of Allah? " He answered "Associating other Gods with Allah, sorcery, slaying the soul which Allah has made sacrosanct save for just cause usury, embezzling the property of orphans, turning the sack on the day of battle, and libelling married women who are negligent but believers."
Adultery violates the sanctity of the harem, confuses the lawful offspring of wedlock, and separates husband and wife; which last God has declared to be a most "grievous offence, and is not lightly regarded by any man of intelligence or with the least sense of morality. Were it not for this element in man, and the fact that he is never secure from the violent impulse of his sexual instinct, Allah would not have lightened the penalty in the case of virgins, or prescribed so severe a punishment for married offenders. This is the law with us and the same prescription is to be found in all the ancient codes deriving from Divine revelation it remains in full force, and has not been abrogated, neither has it ever been abolished. Blessed be God, Who looks upon all His servants, and is not preoccupied by the mighty things in His creation, neither is His omnipotence limited by the great things in His universe, that He should be debarred from regarding the inconsiderable things therein. He is as He Himself has said, " The Living, the Self-subsistent, Whom neither slumber toucheth nor sleep " (Koran II 256) He knoweth all that goeth down into the earth, and all that cometh out of it, and what descendeth from heaven, and what mounteth up therein" (Koran XXXIV 2); "He knoweth all secrets"(Koran VI 73);" There escapeth from Him not so much as an atom's weight in the earth or in the heaven" (Koran X 62).
The gravest offence that a servant of God can commit is to violate the veil, which God extends over His servants. The sentence of beating passed by Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (God be well pleased with him!) upon the man who embraced a youth indecently, so that he died of his chastisement, and the admiration expressed by Malik (God rest his soul!) for the zeal of the prince who bead 'a youth that allowed a man to kiss him, until he died of the whipping-these two instances furnish a clear indication of the seriousness of the motives and cause leading up to this sort of action. Though we do no ourselves approve of excessive zeal in the exercise of jurisdiction, nevertheless the doctrine is held by many learned authorities, and accepted by a vast number of people. Our own view is based upon a Tradition which we received from al-Hamdani, transmitting from al-Balkhi, from al-Farabri, from al-Bukhari, from Yahya Ibn Sulaiman, from Ibn Wahb, from Amr, from Buknir, from Sulaiman Ibn Yasir, from `Abd al-Rahman Ibn Jabir, from his father, from Abu Burda al-Ansari, that the Messenger of Allah said, " No man shall be beaten-, with more than ten lashes, save in the case of a penalty sanctioned by Allah." This is the view also of Abu Jafar Muhammad Ibn `Ali al-Nasa'i al-Shafi'i, God have mercy on his soul.
As for conduct like that of the people of Lot, that is horrible and disgusting. Allah says, "Will ye commit an abomination which no living creature ever committed before you? (Koran VII 78). Allah hurled at the offenders stones of clay stamped with a mark (cf. Koran XI 84). Malik is of the opinion that both parties of this offence are to be stoned, whether they are married or not. Some of his followers cite in support of this doctrine the words of God, touching the stoning of the Sodomites, "And stones are not far away from those who commit iniquity" (Koran VI 84): accordingly the stones are near to those who commit iniquity after a like manner to-day. This is not however the place to enter into a discussion of the divergence of opinions held concerning this question. Abu Ishaq Ibrahim Ibn al-Sari informs us that Abu Bakr burnt alive a man convicted of this offence; Abu 'Ubaida Ma`mar Ibn Muthanna relates that the name of the man so burnt was Shuja' Ibn Warqa' al-Asadi; Abu Bakr burnt him alive because he allowed himself to be used in sodomy.
The intelligent man has ample diversions to escape from the commission of sins. Allah has forbidden nothing, without having provided for His servants lawful substitutes, which are seemlier and more excellent than the thing prohibited. There is no God but He!
I have composed the following lines by way of solemn counsel against the indulging of the passion.
I tell my soul, " Thy case is clear
Naught else doth half so plain appear,
For every man is born to die
As did his sires in days gone by."
Preserve thy soul from all that may
Disgrace it; passion cast away;
For passion is the fatal key
That opes the gate to misery.
Passion is easy at the start,
And sweet enjoyment doth impart;
Its end is bitter to the throat,
Its exits narrow and remote.
Life holds no pleasure known to man
But death is waiting in the van,
Though he a double measure won
Compared with Noah, Lamech's son.
Seek, not a dwelling to secure
That doth so little time endure,
And giveth warning clear and strong
That it shall pass away ere long;
Which none may leave, except he be
Possessed thereof most solidly,
And many yield, yet in their mind
Wish ardently to stay behind.
Hopes are so easy to deny
Whose paps are withered and run dry,
So difficult to quit, whose breast
Abounds with joys yet unexpressed.
That servant of the Lord, who turns
Towards the thing for which he yearns
With passion of a lover true
And reason wisely to eschew,
Of all the creatures Allah made
Is likeliest, at the Last Parade,
To win to Paradise, to own
A private and eternal throne.
And he who fullest knows and best
The proper object of his quest,
Regards as trash the treasured things
Prized jealously by worldly kings;
And he who knows the Merciful
Would ne'er contend against His rule,
Though his inheritance at birth
Were all the kingdoms of the earth.
The best of ways in life for thee
Is godly fear and piety,
And whoso prudently prefers
That road is best of wayfarers.
But he who from that pathway strays
Will be in trouble all his days;
Life holds no pleasure for the soul
Unqualified in self-control.
Blessed are they, who truly seek
With joyous hearts and spirits meek
To win that heavenly reward,
The holy presence of the Lord.
For they have lost that bitter spite
Wherein ignoble souls delight,
To gain, full measure and increase,
The Sultan's power, the beggar's peace.
They live as they desire, until
They die the manner that they will,
To reach, in their eternal home,
Green pastures they may freely roam.
They disobey the body's call,
Reject all pleasures physical,
To walk forever in the light
That rends the veil of error's night.
But that the flesh requires its poor
Replenishment, I am most sure
They would deny what needs must give
And live the life that angel's life.
Grant these, O Lord, the foremost place
And constant augment of Thy grace;
Where'er they dwell, upon them pour
Thy loving favour evermore.
And, O my soul, strive earnestly;
Allow no weariness in thee,
But gird thyself, that joy to gain
Which shall eternally remain.
When thou appraisest as is just
Thy labours in the cause of lust,
Thou knowest that it is not thus
Truth shall be realized in us
For God reveals His holy plan
Of Law before the sight of man,
More evident to watchful eyes
Than the stars' network in the skies.
My soul, while yet thou art alive,
Betimes for thy salvation strive
Be resolute to serve thy Lord
With zeal fine-tempered as a sword.
Did men reflect, as they should do,
What noble purpose to pursue
They were created, none on earth
Would pass a single thought in mirth.
OF THE VIRTUE OF CONTINENCE
THE finest quality that a man can display in Love is continence: to abstain from sin and all indecency. For so he will prove himself to be not indifferent to the heavenly reward, that eternal bliss reserved by God for those who dwell in His everlasting kingdom, neither will he disobey his Master Who has been so gracious to him, in appointing him to be a creature worthy to receive His commandments and prohibitions, Who sent unto him His Messengers, and caused His Word to be immovably established with him-all this as a mark of His care for us, and His benevolence towards us.
The man whose heart is distraught and his mind preoccupied, whose yearning waxes so violent that it overmasters him, whose passion desires to conquer his reason, and whose lust would vanquish his religion such a man, if he sets up self-reproach to be his strong tower of defence, is aware that the soul indeed " commands ' unto evil " (Koran XII 53). He therefore reminds his soul of the punishment of God, and meditates upon his boldness towards his Creator, Who sees all that he does; he warns his soul of the day when it must return to Allah, and stand before the mighty King terrible in vengeance, yet compassionate and merciful, Who requires no proof of His Being. He will consider with his inward eye that day when he stands alone, with none to defend him, in the presence of Him " Who knoweth all secrets " (Koran V io8), " the day when neither wealth nor offspring shall be of avail, except a man cometh unto God with a pure heart " (Koran XXVI 88-89); " the day when the earth shall be changed, and the heavens "(Koran XIV 49)," the day when every soul shall find the good that it has done summoned before him, and the evil it has done, and shall wish that there lay between itself and that thing a far distance" (Koran III 28) ; "the day when all faces shall be turned towards the Living, the Everlasting, and he shall fail who is laden with wickedness " (Koran XX I Io) ; " the day whereon they shall find all that they have done present before them, and thy Lord shall do no man wrong " (Koran XVIII 48) ; the day of " the greatest calamity, the day when a man shall remember all that he has laboured, and Hell shall come forth unto all that have eyes to see ; as for him who has committed iniquity, and preferred the life of this world, Hell shall be his resort ; but as for him who feared the Majesty of his Lord, and denied the soul' its desires, Paradise shall be his resort " (Koran LXXIX 34-41); that day of which Allah says, "And to the neck of every man We shall attach his fate, and We shall bring forth unto him on the Day of Resurrection a book, which he shall find outspread Read thy book, to-day thou art a sufficient reckoner against thyself" (Koran XVII 14) ; then shall the disobedient say, " Woe is me, what manner of thing is this book, that leaves aside neither small offence nor great but numbers all?" (Koran XVIII 47).
How then shall it be with a man whose breast enfolds a passion hotter than blazing tamarisk, whose flanks convulse with a rage keener than the edge of a sword, who has swallowed the draughts of patience more bitter than colocynth, and converted his, soul by force from grasping at the things it desired and was sure it could reach, for which it was well prepared, and there was no obstacle preventing its attainment of them? Surely he is worthy to rejoice tomorrow on the Day of Resurrection, and to stand among those brought near to God's throne in the abode of recompense and the world of everlasting life; surely he has right to be secure from the terrors of the Great Uprising, and the awful dread of the Last Judgement, and that Allah shall compensate him on the Day of Resurrection with peace, for the anguish he suffers here below!
I was informed of the following story by Abu Musa Harun Ibn Musa the Physician. "I saw a handsome youth, a Cordovan, who had lived a devout life, having rejected the world. He had a brother in God, and the two had dropped all formalities and reserve in their relations together. He visited him one evening, and was invited to pass the night with him. The master of the house chanced to require to betake himself to an acquaintance living at some distance, and he rose up and hastily departed
thither. The youth remained to lodge in his house, together with his friend's wife who was exceedingly beautiful, and of a like age with the young guest. The master of the household prolonged his sojourn with that acquaintance until the watch was on the streets, and he could not depart to his own dwelling. When the wife realized that the time was now past and that her husband could not return that night, her soul yearned after the youth; she came out to him, and summoned him to join her, where no third person should be with them, saving Almighty God. The youth was tempted to consort with her, but then his reason returned to him; thinking upon Almighty God, he laid his forefinger against the lamp until it was scorched, and said, O my soul, taste thou this: and what is this to compare with the fire of Hell? ' The woman was deeply moved by this spectacle; but she solicited him once more, and that lust which is innate in every man revisited him; but he acted again as on the first occasion. Then dawn broke; and lo! his finger was all maimed with the fire. Now think you the youth would have come to this pass in his struggle, with his soul, but for the inordinate raging of lust within him? Or do you suppose that Allah will suffer him to lase the reward of a stand so firm? By no means; Allah is far too gracious and knowing."
A woman in whom I have every confidence informed me that she was loved by a youth her equal in comeliness, and whose attachment she reciprocated. Their romance became the subject of malicious gossip everywhere. One day they were met together privily, and he said, " Come, let us prove what is being said concerning us." But she answered, "No, by Allah! This can never be, so long as I read the words of God, `Upon that day friends shall be enemies one to another, except for the god fearing' (Koran XLIII 67)." The woman added that not long after they were united in lawful wedlock.
A trustworthy friend of mane informed me that one day he was alone with a maiden whose youth exactly matched his. She made a certain proposal to him,' but he answered her, " No! I owe it to God in gratitude for His favour, which permitted me to be, united with you, that was my fondest and seemed my remotest hope, to abstain from desiring you, in obedience to His command." By my life, such behaviour was sufficiently rare in the days gone by; how much' more uncommon it is in times like these, when good is all departed, and evil is all triumphant.
When I consider the foregoing stories, which are entirely authentic, I can find only two undoubted explanations of them. On the one hand we must be dealing with a character that has inclined after other occupations being possessed of a sure and certain knowledge that the things it seeks after are superior to those it rejects; therefore it will not respond to the solicitations of coquetry, be they expressed but in a single word or two words, and upon a single day or two days. If those so tried had been put long to the test, surely their instincts would have complied, and they would have obeyed the voice of temptation; but Allah granted them immunity by eliminating the motivating cause of sin, having regard for them and knowing how in their hearts they implored His protection from wickedness and prayed for right guidance; there is no God but Allah! This is the first explanation; the second is that in the very hour of temptation some inward eye was opened in the heart, some thought of renunciation filled the mind, so that the surge of lust was subdued, Allah desiring some better thing for His servant. May Allah set us likewise among those who fear Him, and place all their hopes in Him, Amen!
I was told by Abu `Abd Allah Muhammad Ibn `Umar Ibn Mada', who derived his information from certain trustworthy men, members of the House of Marwan, relying upon Abu l-Abbas al-Walid Ibn Ghanim, that Imam Abd al-Rahman Ibn al-Hakam, being absent for several months upon an expedition, entrusted his palace to his son and successor in the Caliphate, Muhammad. He appointed a place for him upon the roof, where he should sleep by night and be seated through the day, not permitting him to leave that post at all. He likewise appointed for him every night a vizier to keep him company, and one of the chief palace-guards, to pass the hours of darkness with him on the roof. Abu l-Abbas continued that Muhammad remained thus a long while, during which he saw nothing of the other members of his family; he was at that time twenty or thereabouts. His own turn to act as watch- coincided with the posting of a young and particularly handsome guard; and he related that he said within himself, " I am afraid this ' night for Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Rahman, that he may perish before the onslaught of sin, and the blandishments of Beelzebub and his crew." Abu 'l-`Abbas went on, " Then I took my bed on the outer roof, while Muhammad was on the inner roof overlooking the Caliph's harem; the young guard was on the other side, close to the stairway. I remained watching him, without relaxing my vigilance for a moment, while he for his part thought that I was asleep, and was unconscious that I was observing all his movements. When some portion of the night was gone by, I noticed that he had risen from his bed and was seated upright upon it for a brief space of time; then he took refuge, with Allah against the temptations of Satan, and fell asleep again. After a while he arose once more, slipped on his tunic, and made ready to leap from his bed; then he took off his tunic and returned to his slumbers. Presently he got up a third time, put on his tunic, dangled his feet over the side of the bed, and continued in this posture for some while; then he called the youth by his name, and the youth answered. He said to him, Descend from the roof, and remain in the enclosure below. The youth rose up as bidden; and when he had gone down Muhammad jumped out of bed and bolted the door from the inside; then he returned to his couch. I knew from that time", Abu 'I-Abbas concluded, " that Allah purposed his good."
Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn al-Jasur informed me on the authority of Ahmad Ibn Mutarrif, transmitting from 'Ubaid Allah Ibn Yahya, from his father, from Malik Ibn Habib, from `Abd al-Rahman al-Ansari, from Hafs Ibn 'Asim, from Abu Huraira that the Prophet of Allah said, " There are seven sorts of men whom Allah shall shelter in His shadow, on the day when there is no shadow but His shadow': a just imam a youth who has been brought up in the service of God; a man whose heart is attached to the mosque, from the moment he goes out of it until he returns to it; two men who love each other in God, and who meet together and part in that spirit only a man who remembers God when he is alone, so that his eyes overflow with tears; a man who is solicited by a woman of rank and beauty, and replies, I fear Allah; and a man who bestows alms on the poor, and conceals his charity, so that his left hand knows not what his right hand is expending."
I remember that I was once invited to a, party, at which there was to be present one whose form was a delight to look upon, and whose manners gladdened the heart; it was a joy to converse and consort with him, no unseemly or improper thought or act ever marring the proceedings. I hastened to accept the invitation. It was morning; and after I had prayed the matutinal prayer and robed myself for the occasion a thought came into my- mind, and I found myself inspired to poetry. I had with me a companion, who said to me, " Why this silence and lowered head? " I did not reply to him until I had finished my verses; then I wrote them down and passed them over to him, refraining thereafter from going whither I had intended. The following are some of the stanzas from that poem.
Say, does a beauty charm thee so
Whose absence robs thee of thy sleep,
The coolness in those arms to creep
Whose secret sets thy heart aglow?
Is it such comfort to thy heart
To dwell so nigh, so presently
To sunder, which proximity
Alone condemned thee so to part?
Delights it thee, such sweets to taste
As bitter colocynth thereon
Succeeds, such ease to lie upon
By what distress to be displaced?
Even were there no reckoning hereafter, no punishment and no reward in the world to come, yet would it be incumbent upon us to use up all our lives, to weary our bodies, to put forth all our powers, to consume all our means, and to expend all our strength in grateful thanks to the Creator, Who from the beginning was gracious unto us before ever we deserved His favours; Who bestowed on us the great gift of reason whereby we have known Him, and imparted to us the perception of the senses, learning, knowledge, and skill in the subtle mysteries of the arts ; Who ordained the heavens to flow upon us with all its benefactions, and disposed us in such fashion that had we ourselves the power to create ourselves, we had never discovered so wise and wonderful provision, neither would we have managed for ourselves as He has done with such loving care ; Who promoted us above the most part of His creation, making us to be the repository of His Word and the abode of His religion ; Who created for us Paradise, without that we deserved it, and then permitted His servants not to enter therein save in accordance with their works, that it might be a recompense due to them for their virtue, for Allah has said, "As a reward for that they did " (Koran XXXII 17) ; Who guided our steps into its path, and opened our eyes to behold the direction of its shadow, appointing Paradise to be the crown of His goodness and favour towards us, a right that we might claim of Him, and a debt binding upon Himself ; for that He is grateful to us for that obedience which He himself gave us, and bestowed on us the power to practise it, rewarding us of His bounty for that wherein He was bountiful. This is a generosity, which indeed surpasses the reach of the intelligence; neither can the reason conceive of its magnitude. What man knoweth his Lord, and the full measure of His pleasure and His wrath, to him all transient joys and ephemeral vanities are of small account;
how indeed should it be otherwise, seeing that Allah has threatened him with such torments the very hearing of which maketh the flesh to creep, and the soul to melt within him? For He hath revealed to us such dire descriptions of His chastisement as transcend the furthest range of the anxious imagination. Whither then should we depart from obedience to this generous King, or how shall we desire fleeting pleasures accompanied only by regret, and bringing in their train everlasting punishment, and eternal shame to him who indulges therein? How long shall we continue in our heedless folly, seeing that the warning voice has sounded in our ears, and we are being urged as it were by the chant of the cameleer unto that abode wherein we shall dwell hereafter, whether it be Paradise or Hell? Truly, to linger and tarry where we now are is manifest error. In this sense I have composed the following verses.
From pleasures and amusements he refrained,
His appetite for love and liquor reined,
Devoted not his energies to wine,
To hunt gazelles made not his only line.
For it was time the heart arose from sleep,
Not evermore its shrouding veil to keep;
The fearful day that shall all secrets prove
Diverted him from his accustomed love.
Be strong, my soul ! Thy labours do not spend
Pursuing passion to its bitter end.
Make haste to thy salvation ; purpose still
To win deliverance from passion's ill.
Perchance, triumphant in my holiest aim,
I shall escape the torment and the flame.
O trifler, Fate is grimly purposing
Thy ruin: dread'st thou not misfortune's sting?
It should suffice thee, for all counsel taught,
To look upon the wonders Time has wrought.
Leave that abode whose splendour soon must fade,
That task which ever with the toiler played,
That jousting-yard where never knight struck blow
But that his sword rebounded to his woe;
What man knows Allah as He should be known
Withdraws, and lives unto Himself alone.
Not one is watered piety with pure,
The temporal realm with that which doth endure;
Not like the sinner and the godly wise,
The word of truth and circumstantial lies.
For though we were secure from chastisement
Nor feared the wrath of God may not relent,
Did we not dread that hell, prepared for each
Who perpetrates the crime of lying speech,
Yet would it be our duty to obey
His will, and send lust's embassy away,
Sincerely to renounce this life below,
Condemning all who yet delay to go.
For we have witnessed how Time serves her own
Like flaming sparks among the brushwood blown;
Some wearying their hearts to serve the Lord
And find repose in what they most abhorred,
Some labouring to gather this world's bloom
And be diverted from their quest by doom.
And some have reached the hope they fondly nursed
To fall into the pit they dreaded worst,
And some have diligently sought their goal
And only gained destruction of the soul.
Anon some mighty monarch thou wilt see
Flung down from triumph into misery,
As springing wheat is trampled into dust
When from its stalk the swelling ears upthrust.
How many struggle to their souls' despite
In chase of luck that presses more its flight
Surely a lesson wonderful is there
To school the wise to wisdom yet more fair!
Still more, with Hell the ultimate abode
Of all who leave the straight and narrow road,
When Allah, on the day of reckoning,
Their shameful secrets to the light shall bring.
What then of him, whom Allah has pursued
With mercy, and augmenting grace renewed,
But in his folly turns the gifts conferred
To purposes forbidden by God's Word?
Deserves he not the most, of all men born,
God's chastisement on resurrection's morn?
Then thank the Lord, Whose gracious potency
Is nigh to us as our heart's artery,
Who feedeth all the peoples known to Time,
Be Barbary or Arabia their clime
Praise be to God, Whose bounty is so great,
Who overmasters all the tricks of Fate,
And to our service earth and heaven turns,
All vapours of the air, each star that burns.
Give ear, and leave the sinner to his sin
For none shall bear but what he gathers in.
I also composed this poem.
This mortal world, whose gifts to men
Are loans demanded back again,
A life of ease has lent to thee
Whose green fades all too suddenly;
And shall the prudent man aspire
To such brief comfort, or desire
A life so quickly out of breath,
So surely visited by death?
How can the contemplative eye,
Long tutored to take warning by
The passing show, one-hour delight
To sleep, and shut it out of sight?
How can the soul be pleased so well
In this so transient world to dwell,
When it is sure and satisfied
It shall not ever here abide?
Can it a moment's thought bestow
Upon this fleeting earth below,
Not knowing, when it comes to die,
In what last lodging it shall lie?
What, is it not sufficient care
To labour for salvation there,
And to be anxiously intent
To flee eternal chastisement?
For many spirits, led astray
By a brief hour of trifling play,
Have stumbled in that furnace dire
Of unextinguishable fire
The cameleer with urgent song
Sped them enticingly along
To bring them home, at journeys end,
Whither they never thought to wend.
There is a purpose for the soul,
But it pursues another goal,
A journey to a blest abode,
But it prefers a different road.
What, hastens it along a way
That on the resurrection day
Shall bring it ruin, though it knows
Its target is eternal woes?
It spurns the feast to it assigned,
Content its wretched scrap to find,
Condemned to misery immense
By pride and disobedience.
It is complacent to remain
In what shall prove its direst pain,
And flees in horror from the thing
That would its sweetest triumph bring;
Turning its back upon the Lord,
Who calls to virtue and reward,
It takes this world to be its friend,
To be deserted in the end.
Then, O deluded one, relent
Thy folly! With all speed repent
God has prepared a place of ire
Whose awful flames shall ne'er expire.
Choose not the joy that mortal is
In lieu of everlasting bliss
The choice of pleasures men elect
Proves well their power of intellect.
Knowest thou, truth is found the best
In what thou most abandonest,
And that the path that is thy aim
Abounds in base and secret shame?
Leaving the white and shining way
As if resolved to go astray,
Thou stridest on that path of gloom
Where stumbling brings to certain doom.
On foolish sports thy heart is set
That have no issue but regret,
Amusements over soon, for sure,
Whose consequences aye endure.
For pleasures all are quickly done,
Joys ended almost ere begun,
But folly's wages, sin's disgrace
Outreach the bounds of time and space.
But thou, poor silly dupe, art thou
In truth awake? Already now
The secrets of those dire events
Stand forth revealed, God's evidence.
Rise up betimes, and hasten to
The pleasure of thy Lord: eschew
The things He has forbidden thee,
Whose warning light shines brilliantly.
Thou art a counter in Time's play
That flings thee carelessly away;
The world allures thee with her guile,
But there is malice in her smile.
How many peoples, long ere we
Were born to trouble, Destiny
Deceived, for us in turn to stare
Upon their dwellings empty, bare!
Remember them, and ponder o'er
The things that were, and are no more;
For pondering; as thou wilt find,
Is a fine sharpener of the mind.
Adventurer and tyrant vied
To scale those summits fortified
Possessing which, as men suppose,
Secures a monarch from his foes;
But now their heights are overthrown,
Their battlements in ruin strewn,
And that they had on loan at last
Again to its true owner passed.
Many have slumbered all t heir days
Unwary of the fate that slays,
Unheeding Destiny, loin-girt
And ready to their instant hurt.
And many, terrible and strong,
Have lifted up their hands to wrong,
Too arrogant to be aware
God would avenge their victims' prayer.
I see thee eager to pursue
The would, that thou aspirest to
Although thou seest clear as day
Too languid to obey His will
Who would forgive thee all they ill,
To dilatory to produce
An even passable excuse;
I see thee anxious and afraid
Of sorrows that shall swiftly fade,
Oblivious to that great care
It is thy duty to beware.
Methinks I see thee, in the hour
The fates in their majestic power
Strike, as they must, thy heart imbued
With impotent disquietude,
When men lament, "Ah, who will give
Me back again those years to live,
Those precious moments to dispose
As once, precisely as I chose?"
Bethink thee of that day of fear
Whose shadow draws already near,
That dreadful day thy soul shall be
Assailed by its last agony;
Deserted and disowned by those
Whose friendship was thy heart's repose,
Thou watchest all thy edifice
Of hopes crash down to the abyss;
Thy bones shall be deposited
In the dark quarters of the dead,
A narrow and a dusty room
To those who see thee to thy tomb.
Then thou shalt hear a voice proclaim,
But wilt not know who calls thy name,
And see in that deserted place
The veil is lifted from life's face;
Thou shalt be summoned to a day
Of, awful terror and dismay,
That famous hour of mustering
When all shall rise to meet their King.
Then every beast from den and lair
Shall spring, to be assembled there;
And all the pages of our sin
About our heads shall whirl and spin;
And Paradise shall be displayed
In fair and intimate parade,
The raging fires of Hell below
Be stoked to an intenser glow.
The sun, that fills the noon with light,
Shall darken, as if wrapped in night;
The stars, so radiant on high,
Shall scatter swiftly from the sky,
And as by heavenly command
Arrayed in order due they stand,
So at the word celestial
In wide dispersion they shall fall.
And then shall every mountain range
Be shaken, and earth's contours change;
The dromedaries great with child
Shall roam deserted through the wild.
Then every man shall be endued
With infinite beatitude,
Or to imprisonment assigned
Whose chains are never to unbind.
Before a mighty, gracious Lord
Just in reprisal and reward
The trespasses of men shall all
Be reckoned up, both great and small;
And those who were of small offence
Shall save themselves by penitence,
And those whose sins were great shall be
Condemned to all eternity.
What joy their bodies shall obtain
Whose souls are brought to life again,
When secret thought, put to the test,
Proves one with action manifest!
Encompassed in that dreadful place
By God's forgiveness and His grace
They shall be made at last to dwell
Where wine is lawful, and all well;
Which happiness licentious men
Shall win in equal measure, when
The donkey and the noble horse
Are judged joint winners in the course.
The world lings all shall flee away
With their loved world in dire dismay,
Whose transient pleasures seemed so true,
Reserved to the so favoured few.
The world's a mother, whom her son
Best honours, strickliest to shun,
And whom to save from mortal hurt
Is most devoutly to desert;
None wins abiding pleasure there
Except that he despises her,
And they who cultivate her charms
Go down to ruin in her arms.
Suitor to suitor doth succeed
Pursuing her with breathless greed,
Though to the wise experiment
Has proved long since her ill intent.
Live tranquil, and untroubled be
By fortune's fluctuating sea;
Plunge not into the tumbling wave
That waits to suck thee to thy grave.
Be not deceived or led astray
By luck's illusory display;
The touchstone of unclouded wit
Reveals the falsity of it.
I have observed how worldly kings
Desired the pomp that power brings,
Those pleasures of the appetite
Whose tasting is such sweet delight;
They wandered far from rectitude
To grasp the glitter they pursued,
As with her trail of lambs the ewe
Will quest for pastures ever new;
Yet all their struggle and their strife
Was to attain a span of life
Which those who for salvation make
Do find most easy to forsake.
For what is glory, but to keep
The honour from ambition's steep,
And what is honour, but the will
To stifle every thought of ill?
And who shall final profit find
Except the man with heart resigned,
Rich in contentment of the soul,
Majestic in his self-control?
But those promoted to great power
In fear and trepidation cower,
Unequal to support the cares
That by high privilege are theirs.
All this we plainly see; and yet
Are by such drunkenness beset
That, with the fumes of folly blind,
We cannot grasp the truth to mind.
Reflect on Him Who o'er the earth
Raised up yon roof of massive girth,
Within Whose knowledge are embraced
The fertile field, the arid waste;
Who holds the stars in His wide hand,
And earth, obeying His command,
Without foundations keeps her place
In the vast firmament of space.
He did determine and devise
According to His purpose wise
This ordered world, wherever new
Night follows day in sequence due.
He loosed the flooding waters, so
That over all the land they flow,
Providing nourishment to root
Of swelling grain and shining fruit.
He fashioned all the hues revealed
By all the lilies of the field,
The gold that in the tulip glows,
The crimson glory of the rose,
The ferns so delicately green
That hold enchantment in their sheen,
The jacarandas that amaze
The vision with their fiery blaze.
He channeled out with utmost ease
The rivers running to the seas,
So that the fountains' sudden shock
Split through the hard and granite rock.
Who gave the sun its ball of light
That in the morning shineth white,
But when the day is nigh to close
In golden emanation glows?
Who made the spinning spheres to run
On their far orbits, every one
So firmly on its axis set
That all rotate serenely yet?
And when calamities do vex
And try the wisest intellects,
What living thing but He is there
To whom the needy may repair?
Each creature, as thou canst discern,
To its Creator doth return,
Whose sovereign, eternal sway
All things submissively obey.
And through His prophets He has shown
His wondrous signs, which they have known,
Who formerly were powerless,
To master in new blessedness.
He opened mouths that they might preach
The wisdom He would have them teach,
In toothless infancy as sage
As uninhibited by age.
Out of the stony rock hewed He
A camel, shaped so cunningly
That with no instant of delay
Its bellow echoed far away,
That many through that miracle
Might win to faith; some, infidel,
Led by the sin Qudar there wrought,
Were unto dire perdition brought.
He likewise clove the mighty seas
For Moses with amazing ease,
So that the waves before his rod
Rolled back, to prove the power of God,
And Abram, whom He called His friend,
He rescued from the fiery end
That Nimrod plotted, and the flame
Was impotent his flesh to maim.
And He delivered from the Flood
His servant Noah, of whose blood
A righteous progeny was spared
The ruin all those sinners shared.
And David, and his son beside,
With mighty gifts He fortified,
According them, as He might please,
In all their difficulties ease;
The mighty tyrant of the land
Bowed to King Solomon's command,
And he was taught the airy speech
Of birds, and how each calls to each.
But on Mohammed's people He
Bestowed, His greatest grace to be,
The Holy Book, and power to ride
Through all the countries far and wide;
He clove for him the shining moon
In heaven, and for special boon
Revealed to him those verses true
Whose strength no shaking can undo;
Its sacred truth delivered us
When unbelief most ruinous
Possessed our minds, and every man
Upon the pole of ruin span.
Alas for us! Then why do we
Forsake not our stupidity,
To save our souls from that dread fire
Whose leaping sparks draw ever nigher?
Here ends-may Allah exalt you! -all that I have brought to mind in answer to your request, in pursuit of your pleasure, and in obedience to your command. I have not refrained from setting down in this epistle things which the poets love to mention and constantly to repeat, all being exposed in full according to their various aspects, and detailed under their several headings; I have furnished them likewise with ample commentaries. Such themes these are as the poet's exaggerated description of the lover's wasting, his likening of tears to falling rains that slake thirsty eyelashes, the total loss of sleep, and the eschewing of all nourishment. These things are all without reality they are all unfounded lies. Every thing has its bound, and God has assigned a measure to all matters. Wasting may sometimes become very serious; but if it proceeded to the point which poets allege, the lover would shrink to the stature of an ant or less, and the phenomenon would transcend the bounds of reason. Sleeplessness may sometimes continue for several nights on end; if a man were deprived of all nourishment for a fortnight he would surely perish. We have taken the view that loss of sleep is harder to endure than lack of food: this is because sleep is the nourishment of the soul, whereas food is the nourishment of the body, though it is true that soul and body share alike in both: what we have related however applies to the majority of cases. As for the question of drinking, I have myself seen Maisur the mason, our neighbour in Cordova; do without water for a fortnight in the very heat of midsummer, contenting himself with what moisture he could find in his ordinary nourishment. The cadi Abu Abd al-Rahman Ibn Jahhaf informed me that he knew of a man who drank no water for a month. But I have confined myself in this essay to known facts, beyond which it is absolutely impossible for anything to exist; apart, that is, from setting down a sufficient number of things belonging to the categories mentioned above, so as not to depart from the custom and usage of poets.
Many of our friends will see in this treatise anecdotes relating to themselves. In every instance I have referred to them under pseudonyms, as we proposed at the beginning. I beg Allah's forgiveness for whatever the recording angels may note down, and the guardian angels enumerate against me, of this and the like; and I entreat His pardon as one who knows that his words shall be reckoned even as his deeds. If what I have said is not mere idle talk, for which no man shall be taken to task, yet my observations, God willing, shall prove to be pardonable peccadilloes; in any case they are hardly likely to rank as grave offences and abominations incurring Divine chastisement, nor do they count among those deadly sins specified in Holy Writ.
I am aware that certain of my fanatical enemies will be shocked by my having composed a book of this kind. They will say, " He has acted contrary to his professions, and deviated from his chosen path." But I permit no man the privilege of ascribing to me motives, which were never mine. Allah has said, " O ye who believe, abstain from many suspicions, for some suspicions are a sin (Koran XLIX 12). Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn al Jasur informed me on the authority of Ibn Abi Dulaim, transmitting from Ibn Waddah, from Yahya, from Malik Ibn Anas, from Abu 'I-Zubair al-Makki, from Abu Shuraih al-Ka'bi, that the Messenger of Allah declared, "Beware of suspicion, for it is the falsest of falsehoods." I have also received a Tradition from the same chain of authorities as far as Malik, who transmitted from Sa'id Ibn Abi Sa'id al-Maqbari, from al-A'raj, from Abu Huraira, that the. Prophet of Allah said, " Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him speak good, or be silent." My friend Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Ishaq related to me on the authority of `Abd Allah Ibn Yusuf al-Azdi, transmitting from Yahya Ibn 'A'idh, from Abu 'Adi `Abd al-'Aziz Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ishaq Ibn al-Faraj the Imam in Egypt, from Abu `Ali al-Hasan Ibn Qasim Ibn Duhaim al-Misri, from Muhammad Ibn Zakariya' al-'Allani, from Abu 'l-`Abbas, from Abu Bakr, from Qatada, from Sa'id Ibn al-Musaiyib, that `Umar Ibn al-Khattab (God be well pleased with him) invented eighteen wise maxims for the people, among them the following : " Put thy brother's affairs in the best light, that he may not act towards thee in a manner obliging thee to take a contrary opinion. Think not evil of any word that has proceeded out of the mouth of a Moslem, if thou art able to find a good construction for it." Such-may Allah exalt you-is the manner of conduct enjoined by Allah, the Messenger of Allah, and the Commander of the Faithful.
In brief, I neither hold by hypocrisy, nor follow the Persian fashion of rigorous austerity. Whosoever performs the religious duties all are commanded to observe, and eschews those forbidden things prohibited by Allah, and forgets not to be noble and generous in his dealings with other men, to that man truly belongs the attribute of benevolence. As for the rest, I beg you to spare me
God is my sufficiency.
To speak on matters such as these requires a breast unencumbered by cares, and a heart free from anxieties. To remember anything at all, to preserve a faint trace of former joys, to recollect happy events long past, is indeed a miracle for a mind like mine, considering all that has happened, and the heavy calamities that have befallen me. You know how restless my brain is, and how broken my spirit, on account of the situation in which we now are: remote from our loved habitations, exiled far from our motherland, assailed by the treacheries of time and the cruel wrongs of authority, betrayed by the fickleness of friends, oppressed by malignant circumstances, by change of fortune and loss of plenty, by deprivation of patrimony and personal winnings, by confiscation of earnings of fathers and grandfathers, a stranger in a strange land, robbed alike of wealth and position, beset by anxious thoughts to protect my family and children, despairing ever to return to the bosom of my people, condemned to struggle against fate, and awaiting the further blows of destiny. Nevertheless I pray that Allah may so grant that we shall never complain, save only unto Him: may He restore us yet to the best that we have ever known. Verily, what He has spared to us is more than what He has taken away, and that which He has left to us is greater than that He has deprived us of. Infinite are the gifts of God that encompass us, unbounded the graces of God that overwhelm us words can never express, thanks equal to His benefactions. All these things spring from His abounding generosity. We have no authority over ourselves, for from Him we come and to Him we return: every loan must revert to the lender. Praise be to Him first and last, at the ending as at the beginning.
Lo, I have made despair
My tower and shield to be
I ever scorned to wear
The garb of tyranny.
More than the rallying
Of all men, to my mind,
Is this so little thing
That saved me from mankind.
If my belief is true
And my repute is fair,
For what is past and through
I do not have a care.
Since yesterday is gone,
Tomorrow naught I know
If I shall look upon,
Why should I trouble so?
May Allah count us and you among the steadfast, the thankful, those who praise Him and extol His Name, Amen, Amen. Thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and may His blessings and His peace rest upon our Master Mohammed, and upon his family and companions, forever and ever.
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