Historical Tales and Anecdotes of the Time of the Early Khalifahs/How Saudah the daughter of 'Ammarah obtained redress from Muawiyah

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HOW SAUDAH DAUGHTER OF 'AMMARAH OBTAINED REDRESS FROM MUAWIYAH.[edit]

TRANSLATOR'S PREFATORY NOTE.[edit]

'Ammir-ibn-Yastr, surnamed el-Asad, was one of the first to profess el-Isldm, and was held in high esteem among the Associates of the Prophet. It is said that, being taken prisoner and condemned to be burnt on account of his religion by the idolatrous Mekkans, a miracle was wrought on his behalf by Muhammad, who, passing by the place of execution, stretched out his hand and commanded the fir^ "to become for him a refreshment, as it had been to Abraham in the furnace of Nimrod." * 'Ammir attached himself to 'Aly's faction, and fell in the engagement which took place between 'Aly and Muiwiyah at Sifftn, a tract of

  • It is evident that Muhammad was indebted to the Jews for

many of the stories and traditions contained in the Kurin. The following is a coildensed account of the tale alluded to in the above note, as given by the Commentators on the Kurin. The . Ka'abah was given to Abraham by God as a place of religious worship ; so one day when the Chaldeans were abroad in the fields celebrating a great festival, Abraham broke all the idols then set up in the Ka'abah, except the biggest of them, round the neck of which he hung his axe, that the people might lay the blame upon the idol. When Terah (Abraham's father) returned, finding that he could not insist upon the impossibihty of Abraham's story without confessing the impotence of his gods,


HOW SAUDAH OBTAINED REDRESS, 103


land situated on the Syrian side of the Euphrates, A.H. 37, aged 93 years. A mosque containing the tombs of 'Ammir and the other Associates who fell in this action, was erected at Siffin.

T^SH-^SHFABY relates that Saudah, daughter of

— ' 'Amm^rah-ibn-el-Asad, demanded an audience

of Mudwiyah-ibn-Abu-SufyS;n, who granted it, but

said to her as soon as she entered his presence, '* O

daughter of el-Asad ! wert not thou the reciter of

this poem ?

Gird thee like thy sire, O son of 'Ammirah !

On the day of battle when warriors meet.

'Aly, Husein,.and their people support,

But look upon Hind and her son with contempt*

The Imim is of kin to the prophet Muhammad,

The Standard of Truth, and Steeple of Faith I

Be in front of the banners ! Lead on in advance !

Cleave thro' with the sharp-cutting sword and the lance V*

  • Miiiwiyah himself and his mother.

he fell into a violent passion, and carried him for punishment to Nimrod. By order of the latter, a large space was enclosed at el-Kuthah, and filled with wood, which, being set on fire, burnt so fiercely that none dared venture near it. Then they bound Abraham, and putting him into an engine (invented some say by the devil), shot him into the midst of the fire, from which he was preserved by the angel Gabriel, the fire burning only the cords with which he was bound. They add, that the fire having miraculously lost its heat in respect to Abraham, became an odoriferous air, while the pile changed to a pleasant meadow. But otherwise the fire raged so fiiriously that some maintain about two thousand of the idolaters to have been consumed by it.


104 'ILAM'EN^nAs,


" Yes, O Miidwiyah ! " she replied. " But one should be held excused who only did as I did for the sake of right."

" But what moved thee to it } " he asked. And upon her answering, "Love for 'Aly, and following after truth," he exclaimed, " By AUdh ! thou dost not appear to have received much favour from 'Aly." Whereupon she cried, "God be my witness before thee, O Mu^wiyah ! Do not recall days gone by."

"Go to! "sard Miidwiyah, "I suffered nothing at the hands of thy brother, for it was impossible for such as thou, or one in his position, to harm me."

" Thou speakest truly, O Mudwiyah," she replied ;

  • ' yet was my brother's estate neither mean nor blush-

worthy. And, by Alldh ! he resembles that saying of

el-Khansd,

Sakhri is a beacon to the leaders of caravans. As were he a mountain crowned with fire.*

And I crave pardon, O Mudwiyah, if I have done

anything requiring forgiveness."

  • That is, that his hospitality attracted strangers to him from

all quarters.

el-Khansi was a celebrated poetess of the tribe of Sulaim. Sakhri was her brother, in whose praise she composed many poems. She professed el-Isldm in the early days of Muham- madism, and was much esteemed by the Prophet,


HOW SAUDAH OBTAINED REDRESS. 105

"Verily I have granted it," he said. "And now what is it thou dost want ? "

" O Mudwiyah ! " she cried, " surely thou hast risen as a ruler over men, and as a governor to give them laws. And thou must answer to God ccmceming our affairs, and what He has imposed upon you with regard to our rights. Yet thou dost continually appoint over us one who deceives thee, and who commits violence in the name of the Sultan. And he mows us down like as the harvest is mown, and causes his roller to pass over us even as cardamums are rolled, and he subjects us to degradation, and lays violent hands upon our cattle. This is the son of 'Urtah ! He came down upon us, slew my men and seized my goods ; and, but for Obedience' sake, in good truth there is amongst us both strength and power. Now, if thou wilt depose him, we will show thee our gratitude ; but if thou main- tainest him in his post, verily thou shalt know what


we are."


" Dost thou mean to threaten me by these words } *' asked Mudwiyah. " I am minded to bind thee upon the pack of a vicious camel, and send thee to him that he may do what he pleases with thee ! "


ip6 'ILAM'EN'NAs,


At this she cast down her eyes and wept, and recited, saying :

May Allah save the soul of him who is entombed, For with him has justice been laid in the grave. He allied himself with right, accepting nought in its

stead ; And with right and with religion one has he grown.

" Whom dost thou mean by that } " asked Mud- wiyah.

She replied, "The Commander of the Faithful, 'Aly, son of Abu-Tdlib [may God make gracious his countenance]."

" And wherefore dost thou praise him } " he asked.

" I brought before 'Aly," she replied, " a man whom he had made ruler over us ; and betwixt whom and us there was no more difference than between the lean and the fat (of meat). And I found *Aly standing praying. But when he saw me he ceased from his devotions, and asked gently and kindly, * What dost thou want } ' And when I told him, he wept. And, he cried, ' O* Allah ! be witness be- tween me and them ! I do not govern thy creatures tyrannously, nor. rule over them contrary to thy law.* Then he drew from his pocket a piece of leather.


HOW SAUDAH OBTAINED REDRESS. 107

shaped like the side of a travelling bag ; and he wrote

thereon, ' In the name of God the Most Merciful, the

Compassionate. * Verily an admonition from your

Lord has been brought unto you. Be faithful in

measure and in weight, and deprive no man of his due,

and sow not the seeds of wickedness upon the earth.

Obedience to God will bring its reward to you if ye

be true believers, but I am not your keeper.* When

thou hast read this my epistle thou shalt hold what is

in thine hand until one shall appear who will take over

charge from thee. Farewell' — So I took the letter from

him, and brought it to the governor, and he obeyed

and acted according to what was written therein.'*

Then said Miidwiyah to his scribes, " Write, order- ing the restoration of her goods, and compensation for

what she has suffered." And when she asked, " Will

that be for myself alone, or for me and my people ? "

he replied, " Certainly for thee alone."

" Then," she exclaimed, " if justice is not for every one, and if I am not to be like the rest of my people, by All^h ! it is an abomination and a disgrace ! "

Then said Mudwiyah, " Write for her what she wants, both for herself and for her people.*'

  • to * Quotation from the Kurin, Sur. vi., V. 153.