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The Maqámát of Badí‘ al-Zamán al-Hamadhání, tr. W.J. Prendergast [1915] at


‘ÍSÁ IBN HISHÁM related to me and said: 'While we were at Jurján in a meeting-place of ours discussing, there was with us

p. 47

that chief scholar and narrator of the Arabs, ‘Ismat ibn Badr, the Fazárite'. 1 The conversation finally led us to discuss those who pardon their enemies out of gentleness and those who forgive them out of contempt, till we mentioned As-Ṣalatan, al-‘Abdí, 2 and al-Ba‘ith, 3 and the contempt of Jarír and al-Farazdaq for them.

Said ‘Ismat: 'I will relate to you what mine eyes have seen and not what I have got from another. When I was journeying in the country of Tamím, mounted on a noble camel and leading a spare mount, there appeared before me a rider on a dusky camel, frothing thickly at the mouth. He continued to advance towards me till our bodies collided, 4 when he shouted: "Peace be unto you!" I said, "And upon thee peace and the mercy and blessing of God! Who is the loud-voiced rider who salutes with the salutation of Islám?" He answered: "I am Ghailan, ibn ‘Uqba." So I said: Welcome to him of fair renown and famous lineage whose diction is well-known." He replied: "Broad be thy valley and powerful thy associates! but who art thou? I answered, "I am ‘Ismat ibn Badr, the Fazárite." He said, "May God prolong thy life! What an excellent friend, associate and companion!" Then we travelled together. When we had journeyed on till noon, 5 he said: "Ísmat, shall we not take a nap, for the sun has melted our brain? I said: "As thou wilt." Se we moved in the direction of

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some āla trees as though they were maidens 1 with their hair down, displaying their charms, and to a collection of tamarisk trees opposite to them. Then we unsaddled and partook of some food. Now Dhú'l-Rumma was a small eater. After that we prayed. Then each of us betook himself to the shade of a tamarisk tree, intending to take the noonday nap. Dhú’l-Rumma lay down and I desired to do as he did. So I lay on my back, but no sleep took possession of my eyes. I looked and saw a short distance of a large-humped camel, jaded by the sun, with her saddle thrown off, and behold a man like a hireling, or slave was standing guarding her. But I turned away from them, for what had I to do with enquiring about that which did not concern me? Dhú’l-Rumma slept for a little 2 while and then awoke. Now this was in the days of his satirizing the tribe of Murrí, so he raised his voice, 3 and recited saying:--

"Are the traces of Maiya 4 to be found on the obliterated surface of the sand dune
Which the gale has persistently covered up?
Nought remains but a battered tent-peg,
And a fireplace without a fire-taker,
A cistern with both sides broken,

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And an assembly whose traces have been removed and effaced.
But I remember it with its inhabitants,
Maiya and the sociable friend.
My relations with Maiya were like those of one who scares,
Gazelles when they appear to him at the dawn; 1
When I would come to her, there turned me away a sulky-faced watcher, her guardian and keeper.
There will soon reach Imr al-Qais 2 a widely circulated poem
Which traveller and stay-at-home will sing.
Dost thou not see that to Imr al-Qais
Clings his chronic complaint?
They are a people insensible to satire,
But can the dry stone feel pain? 3
In eminence no knight have they, in war no horseman.
Besmeared and saturated are they in the cisterns of reproach,
As the hide is saturated by the tanner.
When men look to them for the performance of generous deeds,
Downcast and heavy are their eyes.
The noble abhor marrying their women,
And therefore all their spinsters 4 "remain old maids."

p. 50

When he got as far as this verse, the sleeper awoke, began to rub his eyes and to say: "Does little Dhú al-Rumma 1 deprive me of sleep with an incorrect 2 and unpopular poem?" I said: "O Ghailan, who is this?" He replied: "al-Farazdaq?" Then Dhú al-Rumma waxed hot and said:--

"As for the base men of Majásh‘a 3
Never has the thunder-cloud watered their pastures.
Soon they will be fettered and restrained from noble enterprises,
And the restrainer shall restrain them!"

Then I said: "Now he will choke and fret and thoroughly lampoon him and his tribe."

But by Heavens! al-Farazdaq only said: "Fie on thee little Dhú al-Rumma dost thou oppose one like me with stolen verses?" 4 Then he went to sleep again, as though he had not heard anything. Dhú al-Rumma went away and I went with him, and verily I perceived in him humiliation until we parted.'


46:6 Abú’l-Ḥaríth Ghailan Ibn ‘Uqba Ibn Buhaish, generally known by the surname of Dhú’l-Rumma (the old-rope man) is regarded as the last of the Bedawín poets. He died in A.H. 117 (A.D. 735-6) and was therefore a contemporary of Jarír and Farazdaq, see Ibn Khallikan, ii, 447, and Ibn Qutaiba, Kitáb al-Sh‘ir wa’l-Shu‘ará (De Geoje), p. 333. (The University Press of Cambridge is publishing for the first time an edition of this poet's work. The editor is Mr. C. H. H. Macartney of Clare College, Cambridge.)

47:1 ‘Ismat ibn Badr the Fazárite: I think this character may be identified with Abú ‘Abdu’lláh Marwán ibn Mu‘awiyah ibn Badr al-Fazárí (d. 193 or A.H. 194). Among those who learned traditions from him was Ibn Ḥanbal (A.H. 164-241) Ansab of al-Sam‘áni, p. 427, Gibb Memorial Series.

47:2 As-Ṣalatan, al-‘Abdí was a contemporary of al-Farazdaq and Jarír as the following incident shows: 'When as-Salatan, al-‘Abdí pronounced al-Farazdaq superior to Jarír in point of lineage, and Jarír superior to al-Farazdaq as poet, Jarír reported with this proverb:

'When was God's wisdom in husbandmen and possessors of palm trees?' (Freytag, Arab Proverb, ii, 628; Lane, p. 2602 art ) The point of this lies in the fact that the region of as-Ṣalatan's tribe abounded in palm trees.

47:3 Al-Ba’ith: a contemporary of Jarír. He was one of those who had the temerity to satire the great poet's tribe, the Kulayb. Aghání, vii, 41.

47:4 Bodies collided: Literally, form with form.

47:5 We journeyed on till morn: From noon when the heat is fiercest.

48:1 As though they were maidens: Cf. Text, p. 26.

48:2 A little: Literally, paucity of milk of a camel and then applied to paucity of sleep in which latter sense it is used by al-Farazdaq, Their sleep is little (Lane, p. 2239, art ) Cf. Arab Proverbs, i, 613: His abundant milk flow preceded his paucity thereof.

48:3 He raised his voice: Perhaps originally connected with Heb. ‏קרר‎. For similar examples of transposition Cf. Arabic = Heb. ‏רקע‎; Arabic = Heb. ‏קרע‎.

48:4 In the days of his satirizing the tribe of Murrí: The occasion of this bitter satire was the inhospitable treatment of Dhú’l-Rumma by Hishám al-Murr‘í at the village at Mar’at. See Aghání, vii, 57.

Are the traces of Maiya to be found. Metre, mutaqárib. Maiya--The beloved of Dhú’l-Rumma whose beauty he often extolled in his poems, see Ibn Qutaibas Sh‘ir wa Shu‘ará, p. 334. Mr. Macartney, the editor of Dhú’l-Rumma's Diwán, to whose courtesy I am indebted for much useful information regarding this poet, says, 'although these verses put into the mouth of Dhú’l-Rumma do not exist in the MSS. of the Diwán, still they have a genuine ring and the ideas have their correspondences in the Diwán.'

49:1 dawn: Literally, the sneezer; also a gazelle coming before one.

49:2 Soon there will reach Imr al-Qais: This refers to the tribe of Imr al-Qais, a branch of the Tamím descended from Imr al-Qais ibn Sa‘ad ibn Manát ibn Tamím, and not to the poet of the tribe of Kindeh.

This Qaṣída begins with the conventional erotic prologue over the deserted encampment of the beloved, a prelude which was condemned in the poet's own day. It is related that, as Dhú al-Rumma was reciting his verses in the camel market, he said to al-Farazdaq who stopped to hear him: 'Well, Abú Firás! what dost thou think of that which thou hast heard?' Al-Farazdaq replied: 'What thou hast uttered is really admirable.' 'Why then ', said the other, 'is my name not mentioned with those of the first-rate poets?' 'Thou hast been prevented from attaining their eminence' answered al-Farazdaq 'by thy lamentations over dunghills, and thy descriptions of the excrements of cattle and their pinfolds.' Ibn Khallikan, ii, 447.

49:3 Can the dry stone feel pain: A rather poor pun on a stone and the name of the tribal ancestor.

49:4 Spinsters: pl. of a spinster or a widow. Another reading their women.

50:1 Little Dhú al-Rumma: The diminutive is used to express contempt.

50:2 incorrect: Literally crooked, from lit., a spear straightened or made even.

50:3 And the base men of Majásh'a: Metre mutaqárib; Majásh’a: The name of one of al-Farazdaq's ancestors.

50:4 Stolen verses. This was no libel: Dhú al-Rumma was notorious for appropriating the verses of others, See Ibn Qutaiba, Sh‘ir wa’l Shu‘ará, p. 338.

This was not the only rebuke administered to Dhúal-Rumma by al-Farazdaq. See note on the condemnation of the conventional prelude, p. 49, supra.

Next: VIII. The Maqama of Adharbayján