Historical Tales and Anecdotes of the Time of the Early Khalifahs/What happened to el-Mansir while on Pilgrimage to Mekkah

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Historical Tales and Anecdotes of the Time of the Early Khalifahs by Muhammad Diyab al-Atlidi, translated by Alice M. Frere
What happened to el-Mansir while on Pilgrimage to Mekkah

WHAT HAPPENED TO EL-MANSUR WHILE ON PILGRIMAGE TO MEKKAH.[edit]

T^ L-GHAZALY,» and ibn-Bilydn, and others

^^^ besides them, relate that Abu-Ja*afar, el-

Manstir, being on pilgrimage at Mekkah, lodged at

the Bait-en-Nddwah.f And he was accustomed to

  • El-GhazMy was the surname of two brothers natives of

Tus (a place in Khorassin composed of two towns, Taberdn and Nawkin), both of whom were celebrated doctors of the sect of esh-Shifaiy. I imagine that he upon whose authority the follow- ing tale is given was Abu-Hamid, el-Ghazily, the more cele- brated of the brothers, who was bom a.h. 450 (a.d. 1058-9), and died A.H. 505 (a.d. i i i i). For four years he held the professor- ship in the college, built at Baghdad by Nizim-el-Mulk, the Wizir of Mdlik-Shah (the third sultan of the Seljiik dynasty), called the Nizamiyyah. His writings upon learned and scientific sub- jects are very numerous.

t Bait-en-Nddwah, In the time of the Prophet this was the building in which the infidel nobles were wont to assemble and hold discussions with the Prophet and his followers. After the banishment of infidels from Mekkah, the Bait-en-Nddwah be- came the lodging-house for nobles and great men when on pil- g^mage.


266 'ILAM-EN-NAs.


circumambulate The House * before dawn. And he went out one night at that time, and whilst he was performing his TawwAf, lo ! he heard a voice which said, " O AUclh ! I bewail to Thee the increase of cor- ruption and depravity on the earth, and on his ac- count who through covetousness comes between his people and their rights."

So el-Mans{ir quickened his pace until he had filled his ears. Then he returned to the Bait-en-Nddwah, and said to the chief of his guard, " Verily a man is performing Tawwif at The House. Bring him to me."

And the chief of the guard went out, and found a man at the el-Y6meny Corner,t and said to him, " The Commander of the Faithful wants thee." So the man went in to him, and el-Mansfir asked, " What

  • One of the most important rites performed by pilgrims to

Mekkah is the Tawwdf, or circumambulation of the Ka'abah (House of God). Seven circumambulations complete one Tawwaf, and this is incumbent upon every pilgrim. But the greater the number of times it is performed, the greater his holi- ness. The hour Sahrd, which I have translated " before dawn," is the time after the night, as reckoned by Muslims, has past, but before the morning star has risen. This is the hour gene- rally chosen by persons of high rank for performing Tawwif, as at that hour but few of the common pilgrims, who later in the day crowd to perform that rite, are present. t The comer of the Ka'abah facing the south.


EL-MANSUR AT MEKKAH, 267

was that I heard thee lamenting to Allclh a while ago, concerning the increase of corruption and wickedness in the land, and who is the man who through avarice stands between his people and their rights ? • For, by AUdh ! that wherewith thou hast filled my ears has sickened me."

The man answered, " Of a truth, O Commander of the Faithful ! he who has united himself with greed until he stands between his people and their rights, in consequence whereof the cities of God are filled with oppression and violence, — ^he is, thyself."

" Woe be to thee ! " cried el-Mansiir. " How is it possible that I should have joined myself to covetous- ness when the yellow and the white * lie at my door, and I hold the world in my grasp ?"

"The Lord be praised, O Commander of the Faithful !" the man replied ; "but has any one shown so much avarice as thou? AU^h constituted thee guardian of the affairs and possessions of the Faithful ; but thou hast neglected their concerns, and hast de- voted thyself to the accumulation of their wealth. And thou hast established between thyself and thy subjects a barrier of plaster and bricks and armed

  • Gold and silver.


268 'ILAM'EN-NAs.


guards, and hast commanded that only Such-an-one or Such-an-one should enter thy presence. These men thou hast kept entirely to thyself, and hast laid thy commands upon thy subjects through them. And thou didst never ordain that the oppressed and the starving and the naked should come to thee, though there is not one amongst them but has a right to this very wealth. And these men whom thou chosest for thyself, and didst set over thy subjects, having ob- served that thou didst amass the money without dis- tributing it, have said, ' This man betrays the trust of AUih and His messenger, so why should not we betray his trust V And they have agreed together that they will only send thee so much as they choose of the people's money. And by this means they have become sharers with thee in the empire, and thou ,art careless regarding them. And if one who has been oppressed comes to thy door seeking thee, he finds a man ap- pointed to look into the affairs of those who are injured. And if the tyrant be one of thy friends, this man excuses him to the sufferer, and puts him off from time to time. Then if he perseveres, and thou hast beheld him appealing in thy presence, thy satel- lites beat him with a terrible beating, that he may be


EL'MANSUR AT MEKKAH. 269

a warning to others. And thou, knowing of this, dost not disapprove. But verily if a wrong were brought before the Khalifahs of the Benu-'Omeyyah who pre- ceded thee, they remedied it immediately. And of a truth, O Commander of the Faithful! I journeyed once to China, and found upon my arrival that the king of the country had lost his hearing. And he wept. And his waztrs said to him, *What makes thee weep, O King ! Let not AUAh cause the eyes of the King to overflow, except for fear of Himself!* The King made answer, ' I weep not for the misfortune which has befallen me. I weep because the victim of tyranny may now cry at my door, and I cannot hear him.' Then he went on, * But if my hearing has gone, verily my sight remains. Proclaim among the people that no one shall clothe himself in red unless he be oppressed.' And he would mount his elephant every morning and evening, and ride through the city, lest perchance he might meet with one clad in red gar- ments, and knowing him to be wronged might succour him.* This man, O Commander of the Faithful, was

  • The habits of the King of the Celestial Empire must by this

account have changed more in the course of centuries than is generally supposed !


270 'ilAm-en-nAs.


an idolater, whose benevolence entirely overcame him in his zeal for the good of idolaters ; whilst thou art a true believer in God and His messenger, and art cousin to the messenger of AllAh. O Commander of the Faithful ! there can be but three reasons for which thou dost accumulate money. If thou sayest, ' I amass wealth solely for the good of the kingdom,' verily AUclh will set before thee the example of kings in ages preceding thee. All that they had heaped up of wealth and men and provisions, availed not what time Allih willed upon them that He willed. And if thou sayest, ' I only collect it for my son/ verily AllAh will show thee an example amongst those who have been before thee, that whoso accumulated riches for his child, did not in any way increase his wealth ; but, contrariwise, he sometimes died poor and wretched and despised. And dost thou say, * I only gather treasure together to raise my position,' that is the highest position in which thou art already, and by Alldh ! there is but one station above thy station, and to this thou canst attain solely through practising holiness."

Then el-Mansiir wept bitterly, and cried, " But what can I do, when of a truth the pious flee me.


EL'MANSUR AT MEKKAH. 271

and the virtuous draw not nigh me nor enter my presence?*'

The man replied, " O Commander of the Faithful ! open thy door, and cast down the barrier, and succour the oppressed, and exact only such money as i^ right and proper, and distribute it with justice and equity ; and I will be surety that he who has fled will return to thee."

Then said el-MansClr, " We will do this if it please the Most High God."

And at this moment came the Muazh-zhin calling to prayers. So el-Mans6r rose and prayed ; and when his prayer was ended, he sought the man, but found him not. So he said to the chief of his guard, " Bring the man instantly to me."

And the chief of the guard went out seeking him, and found him at the el-Y6meny comer, and said to him, "The Commander of the Faithful requires thee."

" It is impossible for me to come," he replied.

" If thou dost not," said the other, " he will cut off my head."

But the man answered, " It is also impossible that he should cut off thy head."

Then he drew a piece of inscribed parcKtxvexNl csssJ^


272 'ILAM'EN-NAs.


of a traveller's provision-bag that he had with him, and said, " Take this. Verily it contains a prayer of deliverance. Whoso prays it in the morning and dies that day, dies a martyr ; and whoso prays it in the evening, and dies that night, dies a martyr."* And he added further of its great excellence and rich reward.

So the chief of the guard took it and came with it to el-Mansiir. And when the latter saw him, he cried, *'Woe upon thee! Dost thou understand

magic ?"t

He replied, " No, by AUdh ! O Commander of the


  • According to Muhammadan belief, there are two kinds of

martyrs, viz., martyrs of this world, and martyrs of the world to come. The former are those who die in battle, or are slain for the truth's sake. Their souls depart at once to Paradise, where they inhabit the crops of green birds. The soul itself enjoys not, but as the bird eats, and drinks, and enjoys, the soul partakes of and feels enjoyment. The latter are saints and holy men who through purity of life are exempted from the terrors and torments of the tomb. Their souls also go direct to Paradise, where they exist in a state of calm though negative enjoyment ; that is to say, they wander amongst the trees and shrubs of the beautiful gardens, but taste not of their fruits, and drink not of the limpid streams.

t It is to be understood (so my Sheikh informed me) that el-Mansur had wished to kill him, but found himself unable to do so.

Faithful ! And then he told his tale, and el-Mansiir ordered a thousand dinars to be given to him, and commanded that the prayer should be published ; and this is it :

    • O Alldh ! like as Thou in Thy greatness hast

shown mercy above all who are merciful, and hast raised Thy might above all who are mighty ; and as Thy knowledge of what is beneath the earth is as Thy knowledge of what is above Thy throne ; and as the unuttered words of the heart are unto Thee as those which are proclaimed, and spoken words as those which are secret ; and as all things submit to Thy power, and all having dominion humble themselves under Thy dominion ; and as the ordering of all things in this world and in the world to come is in Thy hands,— cause that I may be brought in gladness out of all the grief and misery which I have borne at morn and at eve. O AUih ! if Thou pardonest my sins, and overlookest my transgressions, and coverest my evil deeds, inspire me to ask of Thee what through my shortcomings I am not worthy to ask. I pray to Thee in confidence, and I ask of Thee without fear. For Thou art my Benefactor, and I am my own undoer in what is between me and Thee. Thou hast stLCiVNw Thy love to me by happiness when I should have made Thee hate me by disobedience. But my trust in Thee produced in me rashness toward Thee. Restore me therefore to Thy grace and Thy mercies, for Thou art the Compassionate, the Pitiful."