Historical Tales and Anecdotes of the Time of the Early Khalifahs/The account of how el-Hajjaj became Governor of 'Iijik

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THE ACCOUNT OF HOW EL-HAJjAj BECAME GOVERNOR OF IRAk.[edit]

T ET us now returit to the account of what hap-

^-^ pened in the days of 'Abd-el-Mdlik-ibn-Marwan.

El-Hajj^j* was appointed ruler over the two sacred

  • El-Hajjij-ibn-Yiisuf of the tribe of Thakif, and Farigha

daughter of el-Hamim, appears by all accounts to have been one of the most tyrannical and bloodthirsty monsters that ever held the Uves of others in their power. Arabian historians relate that at his birth he was deformed, and that he refused to all6w either his mother or any other woman to suckle him. Then the devil took upon himself the form of el-Hdrith-ibn-Kaldah, a celebrated Arab physician, who died soon after the promulgation of el-Isldm, and came to the parents of el-Hajj4j in their distress and perplexity, and, prescribed for the child as follows ; " Slay '• for him a black goat, and let him lick its blood. Then slay for him a black serpent, and let him lap its blood, and also anoint his face with it for three days." On the fourth day, they say the child accepted his natural food. But the consequence of this treatment was that he could not refrain from blood-shedding. He even said of himself, that his greatest enjoyment was to kill and to commit actions which no other could. He died after for fifteen days suffering agonies from an internal cancer, in A. H. 95, at the age oi fifty-three or fifty-four. He was buried at el-Wisit, a city which he had built between el-Bdsrah and el-KCifah, and wherein he had died ; but his tomb was afer«^x^s^\^N^^^\»

152 'ilAm-en-nAs,

and holy cities, Mekkah and el-Medinah ; and it is said that he held in high esteem a certain man named Ibrah!m-ibn-Muhammad-ibn-Talhah, by whom he was accompanied to Damascus, on his return thither to visit *Abd-el-Mdlik, and of whom he said to the Amir, " I have brought thee, O Commander of the Faithful ! a noble, well-born, learned, and humane man from the Hijdz, with his knowledge of the divine laws and excellence in counsel. And by AMh! there is not his equal in the Hijdz. And upon thy head be it, O Commander of the ^ Faithful ! if thou dealest not with him according to his merit."

Who is he } O Abu-Muhammad !'* inquired 'Abd- el-Mdlik. And when el-Hajj^j told him, " Ibrahtm- ibn-Muhammad-ibn-Talhah," he exclaimed, " O Abu- Muhammad ! of a truth thou hast recalled to our mind an imperative duty. Give him leave to enter."

And when he came in, the Amir commanded him to sit down in the most honourable place in the Council, and said to him, "Verily, el-Hajj4j has

llie ground, and a current of water turned over it. One historian states that el-H^san,el-Bdsry,on hearing of the death of el-Hajjaj, made a prostration in thanksgiving to God, saying, " O my God ! Thou hast qau$ed him to die ; let also his example die from among us."

HOW EL'HAJjAj BECAME GOVERNOR OF' IRAK, 153

reminded us of what we already knew concerning the greatness of thy benevolence and the excellence of thy advice. Now, therefore, let no desire have place in thy breast without making it known to us, that we may accomplish it for thee, and that el- Hajjclj-abu-Muhammad's praise of thee may not have been in vain/'

So Ibrahim answered, " O Commander of the Faithful! I will make known what I desire for the well-pleasing of the Most High, and union with the Prophet at the Day of Judgment, and sincere advising of the Commander of the Faithful."

" Speak," said the Amir.

" I cannot reveal it," answered Ibrahim, " if there be present another beside thee and me."

"Not even thy friend el-Hajjdj ?" asked 'Abd-eL Mdlik.

" No, said Ibrahim.

" Leave us," said 'Abd-el-MMik to el-Hajjslj. And the latter went out, reddening with anger, and not knowing whither he walked. And when he was gone 'Abd-el-Mdlik said, Declare thy advice."

Then Ibrahim began : " O Commander of the Faithful ! Thou — knowing of his tyranny^ ^xvd

154 'ILAM'EN-NAs,

cruelty, and oppression, and neglect of right and following after wrong — hast appointed el-Hajjdj as ruler over the two sacred and holy cities ; and dwelling therein, as thou art aware, are certain of the children of the Muhajartn, and of the Ansdry,* and the Associates t of the Prophet of AllAh. And el- HajjAj subjects them to degradation, and through his cruelty causes them to desert their country. And would to God I knew what reply thou couldst make to the Messenger of Alldh when in the Halls of Judg- ment he has asked thee concerning this. And by Allih [ O Commander of the Faithful ! upon thy head be it, if thou deposest him not, nor layest up for thyself proximity to the Most High/'

  • The Muhajartn, or refugees, v^tx^ those Mekkans who in the

early days of el-Isldm fled from their home on account of their rehgion. The Ansiry, oraj^/>/^«/j',(seeNote*, p. 1 37) were those who received the Prophet at el-Medinah. At the end of the first year of the Hijrah, the Prophet,^ in order to attach both these bodies more closely to his interests, and also to prevent rivalry as to priority of belief, and consequent consideration, between them, established a fraternity among them, the principal maxim of which society was that they should not only treat one another like brethren, but also most cordially love and cherish one an- other to the utmost of their power. And lest even this should prove an insufficient bond, he also coupled in a loving union the individuals of either party.^

t See Note f. Author's Preface, p. 3.

HOW EL'HAJjAj BECAME GOVERNOR OF'IRAk, 155

Then said 'Abd-el-Mdlik, " Verily el-Hajjdj thought well of thee without thy deserving it." And a moment afterwards he added, " Rise, O Ibrahim !"

So I, Ibrahim, rose with a troubled mind and left the council-chamber, and verily the world appeared black in my sight. And the Chamberlain followed me and laid hold of my elbow, and sat down with me in the entrance. Then 'Abd-el-Milik sent for el-Hajj4j, who went in and remained a long while. And I had no doubt but that they were plotting my death between themselves. Presently the Amtr summoned me. So I got up, and as I went in I met el-Hajj4j coming away, who embraced me and cried, " May Allih reward thee on my account by reason of this advice ! Surely, by Allih ! if I live I will indeed increase thy power." Then he turned from me and went out And I entered, saying to myself, " He is mocking me, and with good reason." And I stood before 'Abd-el-Malik, who made me sit in the place I had occupied before, and then said to me :

" Verily I have discovered thy sincerity, and I have deposed him from governing the two holy cities, and have appointed him ruler over *Ir4k,* giving him to

  • For 'Irik, see Prefatory Not^,^. "^v.

156 'ILAM-EN'NAs.

understand that thou deemedst the Hijdz too small for him, and drdst demand *Irdk for him, and that the increase of his government was thy wish. And he believes that his appointment as ruler of 'Irdk is thy doing, and verily this thought has made his countenance radiant with joy. Journey therefore with him wherever he may go. May good attend thee r and do not deprive us of thy advice." Allah is all-knowing ![1]

  1. These words are used when the narrator does not vouch for the truth of a tale, but relates it as he has heard it