FOUR -- The Amir comes to Mecca
the Great, and Naushervan’s letter reaches him.
During this boyhood period, Hamzah acquired the first members of his loyal
group of companions. He overpowered a military commander named *Suhail
of Yemen, who was collecting taxes from the Meccan bazaars on behalf of
the King of Yemen, and converted him to Islam. Later, while traveling,
on the road he met *Tauq bin Haran, a brigand with a ferocious tiger whom
he loosed on unwary travelers; Hamzah killed the tiger with his spear,
and overcame and converted Tauq himself.
The sweet-tongued narrators relate that when
the Amir arrived in Mecca, first he paid his holy visit to the Ka’bah and
gave thanks for his victory. He made ‘Adi repent of highway robbery,
and made him swear to live righteously and observe the rituals of Islam.
Afterwards he arranged to visit his father, he went to kiss the feet of
his venerable father. When Khvajah ‘Abdul Muttalib heard the news
of Hamzah’s arrival, the inhabitants of Mecca congratulated him on the
Amir’s return. Taking the nobles of the city with him, Khvajah ‘Abdul
Muttalib set out to welcome the Amir; along with all his relatives, the
Khvajah went out to meet him.
Hamzah met two other companions through a romantic tangle. He found
a young man in the woods, dressed as a faqir and pining away for love of
a princess. Hamzah undertook to win *Princess Huma for the young
man, *Sultan Bakht of #Maghrib. The princess’ brother, *Nu’man bin
Manzar Shah, challenged Hamzah to win her hand in a game of polo; but it
was the princess herself, veiled and disguised, who played against him.
She played a tricky game, but Hamzah defeated her, beat off an attack by
her brother’s army, and converted them all to Islam. When news of
his children’s conversion reached King *Manzar Shah of Yemen, he attacked
Hamzah, but was defeated in wrestling and himself converted as well.
Sultan Bakht was to marry Princess Huma, but he refused to do so until
Hamzah himself should marry.
In the meantime, Hisham bin ‘Alqamah of Khaibar had indeed attacked and
looted Ctesiphon, as Buzurchmihr had predicted eighteen years before, and
carried off the royal crown and throne; Naushervan, forewarned, had prudently
absented himself on a hunting trip. Hisham then moved on toward Mecca,
but Hamzah intercepted him, fought and killed him, freed all his prisoners,
and recovered the crown and throne. Hamzah sent Muqbil to Naushervan
with this reassuring news, and Naushervan delightedly sent off a warm letter
and splendid robe of honor to Hamzah in Mecca. The scheming Bakhtak,
however, suborned the messengers and substituted an insulting letter and
an unworthy, ragged old robe.
On the way back to Mecca, Hamzah was attacked by a giant brigand named
‘Adi Ma’dikarab, who operated from a fortress called #Tang Ravahil.
Hamzah defeated ‘Adi in wrestling, converted him to Islam, and accepted
him as a companion.
On the road, father and son met. The
Amir kissed his father’s feet. The Khvajah lifted the Amir’s head
and pressed it to his breast, and scattered gold and silver for the beggars
to pick up. The beggars and poor began to gather up the alms, and
the nobles of the city began to bless the Amir: “May the Ultimate
Victor make you always victorious, and always over vile foes triumphant
and glorious!” When the Khvajah took the Amir into the house and
seated himself in the audience hall, the nobles of the city came as well.
The Amir presented Manzar Shah of Yemen, Nu’man bin Manzar Shah, Suhail
of Yemen, Sultan Bakht of Maghrib, and Tauq bin Haran to the Khvajah;
he introduced and praised each one of them. The Khvajah was very
happy. He showed kindness to every one of them, and treated each
one with honor and respect according to his rank.
One day the Amir heard it mentioned that ‘Adi
was the son of ‘Adiyah Bano. The Amir was very happy: “He is
my brother, by the mother’s milk we have shared!” That very
day the Amir made ‘Adi general of his armies, herald of his troops, and
superintendent of his audience hall, his storehouse, and his drum-storehouse;
he gave ‘Adi a title and a robe of honor consisting of eighteen items.
‘Amar, at the Amir’s command, requested ‘Adi, “Whatever provisions
you need for your meals, just give the order, so the chief of the kitchen
can bring them from our store every day, or cook and send the dishes to
your door every day.” ‘Adi said, “This is my own house, after all--I’ll
only ask for enough to keep body and soul together! All I want is
to do my duty as a servant at the Amir’s door.” ‘Amar said, “Please
tell me the name and quantity of everything, so the chief of the kitchen
can send it to you every day. Why speak in a roundabout way?
Showing diffidence and hesitation before your gracious master is far from
‘Adi said, “All right, brother, tell the chief
of the kitchen that in the morning, I eat twenty-one camels for breakfast.
At midday, I eat kabobs made from twenty-one deer and twenty-one fat-tailed
sheep, washed down with twenty-one bottles of wine. In the evening,
the curried meat of twenty-one camels and a like number of deer and fat-tailed
sheep and buffalo is served to me--and with both meals, twenty-one #maunds
of flour made into bread. Although this doesn’t really fill me up
as it should, at least it quiets the pangs of hunger.” When the Amir
heard this, he ordered: “Every morning let the chief of the kitchen
send twice this amount of food to ‘Adi’s kitchen, and never hesitate or
fall short in this.” Accordingly, the rations were arranged, and
the food went every single day.
After some days, the Amir heard that Naushervan’s
emissaries had come, bearing a #robe of honor and a letter. Khvajah
‘Abdul Muttalib and Amir Hamzah, with the chief men of the city, went out
to welcome the emissaries, treated them with proper honor and respect,
and brought them first to their own home. Then they appointed magnificent
mansions, furnished and decorated with carpets, glazing, glass ornaments,
etc., for their residence, and after a little while sent them many trays
of sweets. In the evening they had many kinds of food cooked and
sent to their lodgings.
When Amir Hamzah saw the robe of honor and
read the letter, he felt uneasy, upset, and disturbed at heart. The
Khvajah asked the reason for the Amir’s unhappiness, and said, “My child,
kings are like that! Sometimes when you bow down to them they frown,
and sometimes when you insult them they are pleased and bestow robes of
honor. There’s no reason to feel disturbed, there’s no cause for
grief or unhappiness.”
The next day when Nature, the chiefest of
cooks, took the freshly baked hot cake of the sun out of the oven of the
sky, and spread the glowing tablecloth of the sun’s reflected light on
the carpet of the earth, Khvajah ‘Abdul Muttalib gave a feast for Naushervan’s
emissaries, and had all the nobles and dignitaries of the city come to
the feast as well. After the eating and drinking were over, the emissaries
gave the Khvajah the letter addressed to him. When the Amir read
it, he regretted his own self-sacrificing devotion and loyalty to Naushervan,
and all the guests were astonished--for the name the emissaries used was
strange, and left them all confused. That is, in the name Bahman
Hazan, the dot over the ze had been taken as over the he,
so the word read as kharan [asses], and by the copyist’s mistake
the tashdid on the kaf of sakkan was missing, so it
read as a kaf-e Farsi, sagan [dogs]./1/
Both emissaries became famous in Mecca under their new names, they were
known far and near by those names.
When ‘Amar heard what was in the letter, he
became even angrier than the Amir. When the dining-cloth was spread,
in full public view he brought two covered dishes, tied shut with ties,
and set them before the two emissaries, and prepared to tell them both
what he thought of them. But Hamzah forbade him, and stopped him
from doing this mischief. But ‘Amar said, “This feast is given for
you both by me,” and he had the dishes placed before them with great formality
and attentiveness: “In these is food fit for you gentlemen.” Saying
this, and lifting the napkin and opening the ties, he placed a dish full
of grass before Bahman of the Asses, and a dish full of bones of the dead
he placed before Bahman of the Dogs.
All those present said to ‘Amar in astonishment,
“What kind of behavior is this, what kind of impertinent and inappropriate
mischief is this?” ‘Amar said, “What food is more suitable for asses
and dogs than this? This food is always given to animals! So
since it fell to me to give them a feast, I didn’t neglect my duty.”
Both emissaries inwardly gnashed their teeth at ‘Amar for what had occurred,
but prudently said not a word.
When the dinner was over and everyone had
eaten his fill, ‘Amar ordered two trays containing robes of honor, and
put them before the two emissaries. He lifted off the tray-cover
from one, picked up a gold-decorated pack-saddle, and put it on Bahman
of the Asses’ back; from the other he pulled out a gold-embroidered dog-blanket
and covered Bahman of the Dogs. Then they couldn’t bear it any more--they
both fell on ‘Amar, daggers drawn, determined to attack him. Tauq
bin Haran took the daggers out of their hands, and tenderized their hands
and feet with blows. At once both emissaries took to their heels
and fled; they entirely lost their heads.
The Amir wrote a petition to the king and
sent it off in the hands of his servant. Its message was this:
“For the service and sacrifice this humble one has afforded, through Your
Majesty’s grace this lowly servant was well rewarded; for the faithfulness
with which this lowly one served, the honors you gave him were well deserved.
An honorable letter ought to have been bestowed, not a wrathful one made
to fall on us!” He sent the petition and the king’s letter and the
robe off with *Mahtar ‘Aqiq, and whatever word he wanted to send, he sent
it orally with him.
The emissaries presented themselves to attend
upon the king, and with much weeping and lamenting told the whole story
of their humiliation, and uttered many lies and calumnies. Naushervan,
when he heard this, became extremely angry; addressing Buzurchmihr, he
said, “The Arabs are thoroughly refractory, they are very discourteous!
From the emissaries’ reports, it seems that they are planning a rebellion.”
Buzurchmihr said, “Your Majesty, in courtesy and humanity, in perfect idealism,
generosity, respect, and understanding of men, no one like Hamzah has been
born in the world; there is no other man of such intelligence, perception,
wisdom, and knowledge. If the emissaries’ words are true, and not
suspect because of their evil dispositions, then we will see, and time
This conversation was just taking place, when
Muqbil appeared bearing the Amir’s petition, and the robe of honor and
letter which had come to the Amir from Naushervan. The king, having
looked at the contents of the Amir’s petition, and the style of his own
letter, and that unworthy robe which the king would not have given even
to his own latrine-sweeper, began to rage at Bakhtak: “Oh you petty
creature, what wickedness you’ve done, what baseness and mischief you’ve
perpetrated!” Instantly he fined him a thousand #tumans of bright
gold, and banished him from the court for a number of days.
And he wrote a letter of apology to the Amir
with his own hand: “The letter and robe which you received were basely
changed and sent by Bakhtak. Dutiful good behavior demands that you not
permit dust to settle on the mirror of your heart toward us, and that you
remove the turbidness of your heart. With this intent this letter
and robe are being sent with Khvajah *Buzurg Ummid, the virtuous son of
Khvajah Buzurchmihr, so that Bakhtak should have no chance to act basely,
or to manage any mischief. And you too come back with Khvajah Buzurg
Ummid and present yourself before me, and present me the throne and crown
with your own hands.” Giving the letter and a royal robe of honor
even more valuable than the former one to Khvajah Buzurchmihr, he commanded,
“Send this by the hand of Buzurg Ummid to Amir Hamzah. And look,
take care: let there be no negligence, and no meddling by anyone
Khvajah Buzurchmihr went home and, at an auspicious
hour, made a magic banner in the shape of a serpent, such that when the
wind blew through its mouth into its stomach, the cry “Ya *Sahib-qiran!”
came from its stomach three times without a break, and reached the ear
of every friend and foe; and all the soldiers’ noses were overpowered by
its perfume, musk and ambergris were put to shame by its perfume; and when
it came before the eyes of the enemy, fear of the Amir’s army stole over
them. Together with this banner he also sent the pavilion of Hazrat
*Daniel for Hamzah’s use. Having added four hundred forty-four pieces
of weaponry in the art of #’ayyari for ‘Amar, he confided them all to Buzurg
Ummid’s care and commanded, “Take these to ‘Amar from me.” Teaching
Buzurg Ummid the way to put on the garments, he said, “Put them on ‘Amar
with your own hands in just the same way.” After explaining this,
he sent Buzurg Ummid off with a brigade of soldiers, having instructed
him all about the ups and downs of the road, the stages and stopping-places.
When Khvajah Buzurg Ummid was eight miles
from Mecca, he halted. As fate would have it, that day ‘Amar passed that
way on a tour of inspection. Buzurg Ummid recognized him by his appearance:
“Undoubtedly this is ‘Amar!” Calling him over, he embraced him and
said, “You and I are brothers, we are seekers of each other’s love.
In the name of God, get down here and stay a while! My revered father
has bestowed some gifts. For you he has sent an ‘ayyari outfit; take
off your Arab dress, so that I can put it on you and tell you its method.”
‘Amar took off his clothing. Buzurg Ummid gave the clothing into
his men’s custody, kept ‘Amar naked for a whole hour, and said, “Never
again become naked out of foolish covetousness! Now you must continue
to wear this dress of nakedness--accept the will of God, and stay naked
like a child!”
Then ‘Amar became distraught: he began to
weep and plead violently, “Give my clothes back to me, don’t keep me naked
among so many men! I’ll be grateful and bless you forever.
I renounce your robe and gifts--I’ll set out for home!” Buzurg Ummid
laughed and said, “Oh Father of the Runners of the World, you’ll make many
people naked and anxious, and take off the clothes of many! Therefore
I’ve made you naked, so you’ll remember this time in the future.”
‘Amar said, “I am Your Excellency’s pupil.”
Buzurg Ummid sent for the gifts from the storeroom.
First he put on ‘Amar a pair of drawers without a codpiece; the moment
he pulled them up, ‘Amar’s private parts were exposed. ‘Amar said,
“My dear father, you are marvelously generous--you haven’t even provided
a hand’s breadth of codpiece in the drawers!” Buzurg Ummid pulled
out an afat-band; ‘Amar saw that there was a small velvet bag also: roses
and sprigs had been embroidered on it with seven colors of silk, and a
ruby button had been fixed on its cord, so that it was most expensive and
priceless. Buzurg Ummid, having put ‘Amar’s private parts in this
and wrapped it up like a loincloth, said, “This is called an afat-band,/2/
have even your elders seen or heard of such garments?” And he told
its benefits: “First, while running and leaping around no injury
will be done to the testicles, and second, when swimming in water there
will be no need to loosen the drawstring of the drawers.” ‘Amar said,
“May God bless your worthy father, for if he has sent a robe for me, he
has also robed my private parts!”
Buzurg Ummid put two robes on ‘Amar, one of
silk and one of fine light linen, and told him their benefits, and said,
“The soft one is for bodily comfort, and the other is for moderation of
the wind.” He put on him a green vest embroidered in gold; and a
gold-embroidered turban, on which was a parrot made of emerald with its
stomach full of musk and ambergris for the delight of the nose; and a gold
turban-ornament with a plume, and a jewelled aigrette. He put over
his forehead an umbrella made of the skin of a Chinese deer, to keep out
the heat of the sun. He attached to ‘Amar’s waist a sling wrapped
with seven colors of silk and worked with various kinds of gold embroidery;
and nooses and snares for trickery, in every loop of which were clusters
of emeralds and rubies, which outshone the full light of the sun with their
brilliance; and five daggers with jewel-studded hand-grips, and forty-four
He taught him twelve musical tones, twenty-eight
ways to improvise, six high-pitched notes, twenty-four melodies, and six
ways of wearing a false beard and of putting on socks to hide footprints.
He placed at his waist a glass flask full of naphtha and tied it very tightly;
and a bit of prepared medicinal silk-cotton that had been soaked in wine
and then dried, so that if it was soaked in water, the water would become
wine, would give the effect of rose-red wine. He gave him a small
box of wax-and-oil for disguises; a perfume-vessel, extremely elaborately
worked and full of the essence of mischief; a little box full of a sovereign
antidote; a wonderfully attractive fly-whisk made from a peacock’s tail-feathers;
a water-skin full of water; a finely-tempered sword that flashed lightning
all around it; a round shield equal to the disk of the sun; a quiver; a
curved bow which put the rainbow to shame; Khurasani and Isfahani/3/
hunting-knives, incomparable, unrivalled, peerless.
He gave him an ‘ayyari-cloak, long and wide,
reticulated like a fish-net from head to foot, so that no one wrapped in
it would be suffocated, or anxious, or in danger of death; a pair of slippers
for the feet, softer, lighter, and more delicate than cotton, fitted with
double broadcloth tassels; two shells plaited in silk to be tied to the
shoes, such that even after running thousands of miles, the feet would
not grow tired or refuse to move. In this way ‘Amar was fitted out
from head to foot with four hundred forty-four novel weapons of ‘ayyari
designed by Buzurchmihr, and his body was adorned and equipped with every
sort of the most choice, sophisticated, valuable, and jewel-adorned weapons.
‘Amar took leave of Buzurg Ummid, and in this
dress went and waited upon the Amir. He told his whole story in detail,
and said, “Naushervan has sent, in answer to your letter, by the hand of
Khvajah Buzurchmihr’s son--whose name is Khvajah Buzurg Ummid and who is
camped four miles outside the city--a letter of apology and a resplendent
robe of honor. Khvajah Buzurchmihr has also sent a banner in the
shape of a serpent, and the pavilion of Daniel, as a gift for you.
And he has bestowed on me a set of clothing, together with four hundred
forty-four pieces of ‘ayyari weaponry that I am wearing and have on my
body right now, and his noble son put all the items on me and told me the
properties of each item!”
When the Amir heard this good news he was
very happy; with his companions and soldiers and all his horsemen, most
ceremoniously, he rode outside the city to welcome Khvajah Buzurg Ummid.
Buzurg Ummid treated the Amir with respectful honor, caused him to read
Naushervan’s letter of apology, and presented the robe of honor which Naushervan
had sent him. When the Amir read the royal letter, he was joyful,
and at that very moment put on some of the garments of the robe of honor.
After this Buzurg Ummid presented to the Amir the banner in the shape of
a serpent, and the pavilion of Daniel, and said most respectfully, “My
father has sent you his blessing, and has sent you this gift; and in truth
this gift, a wonder of the age and a marvel of the world, is suitable only
for you.” The Amir was thoroughly delighted and grateful to the Khvajah
for this, and entrusted the banner to Tauq bin Haran and the pavilion to
‘Adi. Buzurg Ummid with his victorious-appearing army went toward
the city. When they arrived there, the Amir introduced him to Khvajah
‘Abdul Muttalib and the nobles of the city, and for many days arranged
festive gatherings for Buzurg Ummid.
is a somewhat labored calligraphic pun based on a deliberate misreading
of the diacritical marks on the words in Persian/Urdu script. [;hazaan]
is read as [;xaraan], and [sakkaan] is read as [sagaan].
nature of an afat-band [aafat-band] never becomes very clear from the description,
and I have been unable to find any other references to such a garment.
Since Buzurg Ummid boasts about its uniqueness, perhaps this is not surprising.
is a region, and Isfahan a city, in Iran.
== on to Chapter