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


SAID ‘ÍSÁ IBN HISHÁM: When wealth girded me with its flowing robe, I was suspected of being possessed of property that I had stolen, or of a treasure 5 that I had found, so the darkness of the night urged me to flee, and the horse carried me away. In my flight I traversed paths that had never been trodden before, and where a bird could not find its way, until I passed through the land of terror, crossed its frontiers, entered the protected domain of safety, and there found tranquility. I arrived at Adharbayján 6 and verily the camel's feet were abraded and the

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stages travelled had consumed their flesh. And when I reached it,

'We alighted intending the stay to be three days, 1
But it was so pleasant to us that we stopped there a month.'

Now one day while I was in one of its streets, there suddenly appeared a man with a small drinking-vessel which he had placed under his arm, with a walking-stick with which he supported himself, with a tall round cap 2 which he had donned, 3 and a waist-wrapper 4 which he had put on. 5 He raised his voice and said: 'O God who createth things and causeth them to return again, the quickener of bones and the destroyer of them, the Creator of the sun and who causeth it to revolve; the Maker of the dawn to appear 6 and its Illuminator, who sendeth us bounteous benefits 7 and upholdeth the heavens 8 that they fall not upon us; the Creator of souls, male and female; 9 who hath made the sun 10 for a light, 11 the firmament for a roof 12 and the

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earth as a carpet; 1 who hath ordained the night for rest 2 and the day for labour; 3 who formeth the pregnant clouds, 4 and sendeth in vengeance the thunderbolts; 5 who knoweth what is above the stars and what is beneath the uttermost parts of the earth, I beseech Thee to send Thy blessings upon Muḥammad, the chief of the prophets, and upon his holy family, and that Thou wilt aid me against exile, that I may rein her round 6 homeward; and against hardship that I may be delivered from its depressing shade, and that Thou wilt make it easy for me to obtain at the hands of one of pious nature and pure origin, 7 blessed with true religion, who is not blind to manifest truth, a camel to traverse this road, provision to suffice me and a travelling companion.' Said ‘Ísá ibn Hishám, I whispered to myself, 'This man is more eloquent than our al-Iskanderí, Abú’l-Fatḥ!' Then I turned a glance upon him and lo, by Heavens! it was Abú’l-Fatḥ! So I said: 'O Abú’l-Fatḥ! has thy mischief reached this land and thy hunting for game extended to this tribe?' Then he indited saying:--

'I am a mighty wanderer over the countries, 8
And a great traverser of the horizons.
I am the toy of time, 9
And am continually on the road. 10

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Blame me not--mayest thou receive right guidance!
For my mendicity, but taste it.'



50:5 a treasure--property buried in the earth.

50:6 Adharbayján: The Atropatene of the ancients the north-western and most important province of Persia. It was conquered by the Arabs under al-Mughíra in A.H. 20.

51:1 We alighted intending the stay to be three days: This is an allusion to the Tradition: Hospitality is for three days, see De Sacy, Ḥarírí, i, 177. Metre táwil.

51:2 Tall round cap: The kind of head-dress called Qalansuwah of a Qáḍí said to be like a a wine-jar, because high and round.

51:3 donned, the a kind of head-dress which, according to Dozy, was worn by the ‘Abbásid Khalífas, their ministers, and the Qáḍís, and is still used in Syria.

51:4 a waist-wrapper, a kind of striped Indian cloth unsewn. The commentator says it is arabicized from a Sindhí word.

Cf. the mediaeval Latin Calantica, tegumentum capitis ad usum mulierum. A covering for the head of women, a kind of veil.

51:5 He had put on: Literally, he attired himself with a Tailisan, a cloak or mantle. Cf. Hebrew ‏פלית‎ a cover or cloak similar to the Roman pallium, especially the Talith the cloak of honour, the scholar or officer's distinction, adorned with fringes. Also the cloak of the leader in prayer (Jastrow, Dictionary of the Targum, p. 537). It is still worn by many of the professional and learned men in Muslim countries.

51:6 The Maker of the dawn to appear: Qur’án, vi, 96.

51:7 Bounteous benefits: An allusion to Qur’án, xxxi, 19,

51:8 Who upholdeth the heavens: Qur’án, xxii, 64.

51:9 Male and female: Literally, in pairs.

51:10 The sun: Literally, a lamp or its lighted wick. The latter is the proper, though not the more usual meaning, and is the one intended in Qur’án, xxiv, 35.

51:11 Who hath made the sun for a light: An allusion to Qur’án, lxxi, 15.

Light, a lamp, apparently arabicized from the Syriac Shirágá, Persian chiragh.

51:12 The firmament for a roof: An allusion to Qur’án, xxi, 33.

52:1 The earth as a carpet: an illusion to Qur’án, ii, 20.

52:2 The night for rest: an allusion to Qur’án, vi, 96.

52:3 The day for labour: an allusion to Qur’án, lxxviii. 11.

52:4 Who formeth the pregnant clouds: an allusion to Qur’án, xiii, 13.

52:5 And sendeth in vengeance the thunderbolts: an allusion to Qur’án, xiii, 14. This prayer is composed in the style of Qur’án, lxxi, 13-19.

52:6 I may rein her round: Literally, I may turn her rope.

52:7 Of pure origin: Literally, purity hath raised him.

52:8 I am a mighty wanderer: Metre, Khafif.

52:9 Toy: A kind of whirling plaything which a boy turns round by means of a thread causing it to make a sound such as is termed a small piece of wood in the middle of which is cut a notch and which is then tied with a string which, being pulled, turns round and is heard to make a sound such as is termed Imr al-Qais likens it to a swift horse. See Lyall's edition of the Mu‘allaqát, p. 23, verse 59.

52:10 Continually on the road. Cf. The Jinn that inhabit houses.

This maqáma has been translated by De Sacy. See his Chrestomathie Arabe, iii, 253.

Next: IX. The Maqáma of Jurjan