Historical Tales and Anecdotes of the Time of the Early Khalifahs/How Abu-Dulamah gained all he wanted

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HOW ABU-DULAMAH GAINED ALL HE WANTED.[edit]

T T is related that one day, when the poet Abu- Duldmah * was standing in the presence of es- Saffdh, the latter said to him, " Ask of me whatever thou desirest."

" I want a sporting dog/' he replied.

" Give him one/' said es-Saffdh.

" And a horse upon which to hunt/' he added.

" Give him a horse/' said es-Saffclh.

" And a slave to lead the dog and carry the game/' proceeded Abu-Dul^mah.

" Give him a slave/' said es-Saffdh.

  • Abu-Dulimah-Zand-ibn-el-Jaun was, according to Abu-1-

Fdraj, a black slave from Abyssinia. Ibn-Khalikin records many anecdotes of his ready wit, and remarks that he was cele- brated for his wit, amusing adventures, acquaintance with general literature, and talent for poetry. He died A.H. i6i (A.D. 777-8), though some say that he lived to the reign of er-Rashid, who succeeded to the Khalifate a.h. 170.


ABU-DULAmAH, 241


" And a slave-girl to prepare the game, and cook it for us," continued the other.

" Give him a slave-girl," said es-Saffdh.

Then Abu-Duldmah said, " These, O Commander of the Faithful ! form a family, and without question they must have a house to live in."

  • ' Give him a house which will hold them all," said

es-SaffUh.

Presently Abu-Duldmah added, " But though they have a house, whence are the means of living to come ?"

Es-Saffclh made answer, " Verily I bestow upon thee ten gliamtrdt villages in the plains of the children of Israel."

"What is the meaning of ghamtrdt^ O Commander of the Faithful ?" asked Abu-Duldmah.

" That which is uncultivated," answered es-Saffah.

"Then," said Abu-Duldmah, " I bestow upon thee, O Commander of the Faithful ! a hundred gltamtrdt villages in the plains of the Benu-Sa'ad." *


  • I am unable to explain the point of this repartee. My

sheikh, who was however more apt to give any answer which he thought would satisfy me than to trouble himself with research, told me that there was no such tribe as the Benu-Sa'ad ; and I therefore imagined that the answer was much as \C 9. '^x'a^^'^ x:^


242 'ILAM'EN'NAs.


And es-Saffihy hearing this, laughed, and said, '^ I will give them all in cultivated land/'

And the narrator of this tale remarks, " Observe his adroitness and cunning in asking ; how he began with the sporting dog, which it was easy to grant, and made one demand lead to another, in order and amusingly, until he had gained everything he wanted. Whereas had he asked for all at once, verily jt would have been refused him. May AUsth prosper him !"

the present day were to say, " 111 ^ive you a hundred castles in Spain." But I find that there were three different tribes of that name, though there seems to be nothing in their histoiy or locality to give point to the expression in the tale. One of these tribes appears to have been connected with the Benu-Tamim (see Note *, p. 54), and it may be that at the epoch referred ta it would have been a difficult matter for the Khalifah to decive any benefit from the gift thus jocosely made.