Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 1.djvu/450

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Tale of King Omar bin al-Nrfuinan and his Sons. 411 Islam." Sharrkan replied, " By Allah ! were a Kazi to swear me, even though he were a Kazi of the Kazis, 1 he would not impose upon me such an oath as this ! " Then he sware to her by all she named and tied his steed to a tree ; but he was drowned in the sea of thought, saying in himself, " Praise be to Him who fashioned her from dirty water. 2 " Then he girt himself and made ready for wrestling, and said to her, " Cross the stream to me " ; but she replied, " It is not for me to come over to thee; if thou wilt, pass thou over here to me." " I cannot do that," quoth he. And quoth she, " O boy, I will come across to thee." So she tucked up her skirts and leaping, landed on the other side of the stream by his side; whereupon he drew near to her and bent him forwards and clapped palms. 3 But he was confounded by her beauty and loveliness, for he saw a shape which the Hand of Power had tanned with the dye-leaves of the Jann, which had been fostered by the Hand of Beneficence and fanned by the Zephyrs of fair fortune, and whose birth a propitious ascendant had greeted. Then she called out to him, " O Moslem, come on and let us wrestle ere the break of morning," and tucked up her sleeves from a forearm like fresh curd, which illumined the whole place with its whiteness ; and Sharrkan was dazzled by it. Then he bent forwards and clapped his palms by way of challenge, she doing the like, and caught hold %

Arab. " Kazi al-Kuzat," a kind of Chief Justice or Chancellor. The office was 

established under the rule of Harun al-Rashid, who so entitled Abu Yusuf Ya'kub al-Ansari : therefore the allusion is anachronistic. The same Caliph also caused the Olema to dress as they do still.

The allusion is Koranic : " O men, if ye be in doubt concerning the resur- 

rection, consider that he first created you of the dust of the ground (Adam) ; afterwards of seed" (chapt. xxii.). But the physiological ideas of the Koran are curious. It supposes that the Mani or male seed is in the loins and that of women in the breast-bone (chapt. Ixxxvi.) ; that the mingled seed of the two (chapt. Ixxvi.) fructifies the ovary. Barzoi (Kalilah and Dimnah) says : " Man's seed, falling into the woman's womb, is mixed with her seed and her blocd : when it thickens and curdles, the Spirit moves it, and it turns about like liquid cheese ; then it solidifies, its arteries are formed, its limbs constructed, and its joints distinguished. If the babe is a male, his face is placed towards his mother's back ; if a female, towards her belly "(p. 262, Mr. I. G. N. Keith-Falconer's translation). But there is a curious prolepsis of the spermatozoa-theory. We read (Koran, chapt. vii. v. 171), "Thy Lord drew forth their posterity from the loins of the sons of Adam " ; and the commentators say that Allah stroked Adam's back and extracted from his loins all his posterity which shall ever be, in the shape of small ants ; these confessed their dependence on God and were dismissed to return whence they came. From this fiction it appears (says Sale) that the doctrine of pre-existence is not unknown to the Mohammedans ; and there is some little conformity between it and the modern theory of generatio ex animalculis in semine marium. The poets call this Yaum-i-Alast = the Day of Am-I-not (-your Lord)? which Sir William Jones most unhappily translated, " Art thou not with thy Lord ? " (Alasta bi Rabbi - kum); and they produce a grand vision of unembodied spirits appearing in countless millions before their Creator.

The usual preliminary of a wrestling bout.