The Diwan of Zeb-un-Nissa, by Magan Lal and Jessie Duncan Westbrook, , at sacred-texts.com
Alexander: in Persian poetry the type of the most fortunate one, as is Darius of the most unfortunate.
Diwan: a Diwan consists of a series of groups of ghazals (q.v.), the first collection rhyming with the first letter of the alphabet, the second with the second, and so on through the alphabet.
Ferhad: a lover famous in Eastern story. He loved Shirin (the sweet one), who was the wife of King Khosru, about the end of the sixth century. He was a sculptor, and renowned throughout Persia. The King, fearing his rivalry, tried to divert his mind from his passion, and sought to find for him some impossible task. As Shirin had demanded a "river of milk," he was bidden to clear away the rocks obstructing the passage of the great mountain of Beysitoun, and to cause the rivers on the opposite sides of the mountain to join. Ferhad agreed on condition that, if he were successful, Shirin should be given to him. For years he laboured, and carved out wonderful caverns, which can be seen to this day; and the Joui-shir (stream of milk) still flows from the mountain between Hamadân and Hulwân. Only a few days' work remained to be done, when the King heard reports that the project was succeeding: he thereupon sent a messenger to tell Ferhad that Shirin was dead. On hearing this, Ferhad died, some say by killing himself with his axe, others say by throwing himself over a precipice.
Ghazal, or gazel: a form of verse written in a succession of couplets. The first two lines rhyme, and of the succeeding couplets the first line is unrhymed, the second rhymes with the first couplet, and so on, throughout the poem; so that, in the whole poem, all the words which rhyme, rhyme with one another. When this form of verse consists of only four lines, it is called a Rubai. The
length of a ghazal varies, but it is not supposed to be longer than eighteen couplets. Often the couplets within a ghazal have no apparent connection, and are complete in themselves. The last couplet usually contains the name of the poet.
Hatim, or Hatim Tai: an Arabian chief famed for his generosity: he never refused a request. He was born in Yemen, in Arabia Felix, in pre-Musulman times. Some one asked for his head, and he gave it, and so died.
Hedjaz: the greatest desert in Arabia; along its length pass the principal caravan routes.
Jamshid: the type of the magnificent king. He belonged to the mythical Peshdadian dynasty, and flourished about 800 B.C. He was reputed to be the builder of Persepolis. His reign was a kind of golden age, when sickness and death were unknown. The angel Siroush descended from Heaven to visit him, and left him a robe and an enchanted girdle. He was gifted, like Moses, with a ray of divine light; so that once, when he was descending Mount Alborz, the crowd imagined that there were two suns in the world. His ring and throne had magic powers: when he looked into his seven-ringed goblet he could see what was passing in all the worlds. But pride came into his heart, and he forgot God; his subjects revolted against him and drove him from his kingdom; and he roamed the earth an outcast for a hundred years. He repented, and was restored, with undiminished youth, to his kingdom and power.
Kaaba: the chief sanctuary of Mecca, the holy city of the Musulmans. The Kaaba was revered before the time of Muhammad, and was then a rude stone building; its name came from a word meaning an astralagus, or die, because of its roughly cubical shape. It has been several times rebuilt, but the old form has been preserved except in secondary details. Into its wall is built an ancient black stone, possibly an aerolite, said to have been given by the angel Gabriel to Abraham.
Kafir: an unbeliever; one who is not a Musulman.
Kaikobad: a Sultan of the Seljukian dynasty, renowned not only for his successful wars, but as a great builder of palaces.
Kerbela: the place of the massacre of Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet, and his children, by the Ommeyyades. It is situated in Mesopotamia, near the western bank of the Tigris, twenty-eight miles from the ruins of Babylon. It is a great place of pilgrimage for the Shiahs, who hold that the spiritual leadership of Islam devolved upon Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad, and his descendants. The tomb of Hussain is in a large mosque; and each year two hundred thousand pilgrims from all parts of the Musulman world visit it, sometimes carrying the bones of their ancestors to be buried there. The story of the death of Hussain is annually read, and sometimes enacted as a miracle-play, in Shiah communities, with much wailing and sorrow, on the tenth day of the Mohurrum celebrations.
Khizr: the angel-guardian of the spring of immortality.
Kiblah: the direction in which Mecca lies, indicated by the mehrab, or niche, in the wall of a mosque, to which the worshippers turn in prayer.
Leila and Majnun: the heroine and hero of the celebrated Arabian love-story told by many poets, of whom the most famous are Jami, Nizami, and Hatifi. Kaïs was the son of an Arabian chief, but, madly loving Leila, the daughter of a neighbouring chief, he was called Majnun, or the mad one. Leila was married to a more powerful suitor, and Majnun wandered for years in the desert, where he taught the secrets of love to the birds and beasts.
Mahmoud: the praised one, a name of the Prophet.
Majnun: the lover of Leila (q.v.).
Makhfi: the hidden one.
Mansur: Mansur al-Hallaj, a Persian saint of the ninth century, who was crucified at Baghdad for declaring that he was one with God.
Masiha: Messiah. Jesus is known in Musulman tradition as the Healer.
Phœnix: a fabulous bird of great size and beauty, habitually dwelling in the Caucasus Mountains, but appearing at very rare intervals. If it spreads its wings over the head of a man, he becomes a king. It was supposed to live for seventeen hundred years, and only one existed in the world at a time.
Rustum: son of Zal, Prince of Seistan: a traditional hero of Persia, famous for his indomitable strength and bravery. He conquered the Dives, or evil spirits, and performed other miraculous deeds, comparable to the labours of Hercules. He is the hero of the Shah-Nameh of Firdausi.
Saki: the cupbearer.
Shirin: the beloved of Ferhad (q.v.). The name means "sweet."
Suleiman: King Solomon; in Musulman legend lord over angels and demons, of great wisdom and power, understanding the language, not only of all men, but of the beasts and birds. His power lay in his possessing the seal with the name of God.
Surma: kohl, or collyriurn, a black powder used in Egypt and the East for darkening the eyelids and thus giving lustre to the eyes.
Turks: the Turcomans from Turkestan, who ravaged Central Asia from Persia to India and east to China, the Great Wall of which was built as a protection against them.
Yaqub: Jacob, who in Musulman tradition became blind by weeping for the loss of his son Joseph, who had been sold by his brothers as a slave into Egypt; he regained his sight when he smelt the garment of his son which had been brought to him.
Yusuf: Joseph, who is regarded as of superhuman loveliness, surrounded by celestial light, the emblem of divine perfection. He possessed nine-tenths of the beauty allotted to the whole world.
Zuleikha: daughter of Taimus, King of Mauretania. In a dream she saw and fell in love with the image of Yusuf; she was not told his name, but only that his abode was Egypt. She went to Memphis to marry Asiz Potiphar, the Grand Vizier of Pharaoh, imagining her future husband was the vision of her dream. Yusuf was sold as a slave, and was purchased by her; but, being warned by the angel Gabriel in the likeness of his father Jacob, he fled from her. She is represented as always brooding over her lost happiness.
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