Historical Tales and Anecdotes of the Time of the Early Khalifahs/The way in which el-Mahdy was entertained by the Arab
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The way in which el-Mahdy was entertained by the Arab
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THE WAY IN WHICH EL-MAHDY WAS ENTERTAINED BY THE ARAB.
TRANSLATOR'S PREFATORY NOTE.
El-Mdhdy, the third Khalffah of the Abbasside dynasty, suc- ceeded his father, Abu-Ja'afar, el-Mansiir, a.h. 158 (a.d. 774). He died A.H. 169 (a.d. 786), in the forty-second year of his age, having reigned ten years, one month, and fifteen days. Some writers affirm that his death was caused by an accident while hunting ; but the more received opinion is that it was in consequence of eating a poisoned pear which was given to him by one of his favourite mistresses, for whom it had been prepared by a rival. He was a liberal and munificent, not to say prodigal, prince, as he dissipated in a short time the immense treasures left him by his father. He applied himself diligently to affairs of state ; and was greatly beloved by his subjects on account of his impartial administration of justice and aversion to bloodshed.
IT is recorded that one day el-Mdhdy went out ^ hunting, and his horse ran away with him until he came to the hut of an Arab. And el-Mahdy cried, " O Arab ! hast thou wherewith to feast a guest } "
The Arab replied, " Yes," and produced for him a barley loaf, which el-Mahdy ate. Then he brought out the remains of some milk, and gave him to drink ; after which he brought some wine in a bottle, and poured him out a glass. And when el-Mdhdy had drank it, he said, *' O brother of the Arabs ! dost thou know who I am ? "
No,by Allah! " he replied
I am one of the personal attendants of the Commander of the Faithful, said el-Mahdy.
" May AUdh prosper thee in thy situation ! " returned the Arab. Then he poured out a second glass; and when el-Mahdy had drank it, he cried, " O Arab ! dost thou know who I am ? "
He answered, ^ Thou hast stated that thou art cme of the personal attendants of the Commander of the Faithful"
" No," said el-Mahdy ; *' but I am one of the chief officers of the Commander of the Faithful"
" May thy country be enlarged, and thy wishes fulfilled ! " exclaimed the Arab. Then he poured out a third glass for him ; and when el-Mahdy had drained it, he said, ** O Arab ! dost thou know who I am ? "
The man replied, "Thou hast made me believe thou art one of the chief officers of the Commander Faithful"
"Not SO," said el-Mdhdy; "but I am the Commander of the Faithful himself."
Then the Arab took the bottle and put it away, and said, " By AUdh ! wert thou to drink the fourth, thou wouldst declare thyself to be the Messenger of AU^h ! "
Then el-Mdhdy laughed until he lost his senses. And lo! the horsemen surrounded them, and the princes and nobles dismounted before him, and the heart of the Arab stood still. But el-Mdhdy said to him, " Fear not : thou hast done no wrong." And he ordered a robe and a sum of money to be given to him.