TWENTY-FIVE -- Directing the reins of the steed of the pen toward writing about the Sahib-qiran, the World-conqueror, Amir Hamzah of great magnificence, the possessor of generosity and kindness.

The narrators who cherish speech say that when the Parizads presented white wine, Shahpal with his own hands served a cup of white wine to the Sahib-qiran, and refreshed the bud of the Sahib-qiran’s nature with this heart-pleasing spring breeze of delightful wine.  The Sahib-qiran, having drunk that cup, kissed Shahpal’s throne, and expressed much gratitude for his benevolence and affection.  From the hands of the moon-faced cupbearers he drank a good deal of white wine, and his heart attained a certain state of elevation.  Rose-colored lines flashed within his eyes, he felt joyful--he was perfectly intoxicated.

When he raised his eyes and looked here and there, all around in that court pavilion he saw multicolored canopies of velvet and satin which would completely daze and dazzle the beholder; they had been made with such artifice that on beholding them the mind was stupefied.  On one canopy, which was hung in the center, pictures of Hazrat Solomon and of the nobles of his court had been painted, all encrusted with jewels; whoever saw them believed with full conviction that Hazrat Solomon was seated in open court. Four thousand four hundred forty-four couches and seats of gold, silver, ivory, ebony, and sandalwood, and high steel chairs plated with gold and drowned in jewels, were arranged in that court pavilion for the champions of Qaf to sit on.  And in the center of them all, a throne, extremely large and elegant--Hazrat Solomon used to sit on it, and now Shahpal sat on it--was arranged.  The Sahib-qiran, seeing the atmosphere of the palace, was beside himself with delight, and felt the greatest enjoyment.

Let it be noted that Shahpal had a daughter named Asman Pari; in beauty and splendor she was most truly a Pari.  She was seated on her own throne, behind Shahpal’s throne.  Although a jewelled screen stood before her throne, and made a curtain between them, when from behind the screen she peeked out at the Sahib-qiran, and saw such a peerless young man, she was ravished with love, she adored him with her whole heart and soul, she began to feel more restless and anxious with every hour that passed.

In short, when a night and a day had passed in this gathering, ‘Abdur Rahman said to Shahpal, “The Sahib-qiran is very much pressed for time.  I have brought him with this promise:  ‘Three days to come and three days to go, one day to be feasted, one day to kill ‘Ifrit, and one day for a farewell feast--altogether you will need to spend nine days, and all these tasks will be satisfactorily concluded.  If beyond this a tenth day should be needed, then I am in the wrong, and deserve to be punished by your anger.’”

Shahpal, addressing the Sahib-qiran, said, “Oh Sahib-qiran, what can I say!  I’ve been harassed at the hands of these Devs, and have suffered from their evil conduct.  If you will be so kind as to finish them off, I’ll be indebted to you as long as I live; I’ll remain your obedient servant.”  The Sahib-qiran said, “This is nothing!  God’s help is with me.  God willing, if I don’t cut off the head of every single high-headed one, and return your land to your control as before, then my name isn’t Hamzah, and there’s no point in expecting anything at all from me.  Please have the war-drum sounded, and behold the wonders of God.”

Shahpal, pleased by this speech of the Amir’s, said to ‘Abdur Rahman, “Bring all four of those swords which hung by Hazrat Solomon’s side, and place them before the Sahib-qiran, so that he can choose whichever one of them he pleases, and can satisfy himself.”  ‘Abdur Rahman at once presented the swords.  Shahpal laid them before the Amir and said, “This one is called Samsam, that one is called Qamqam,/1/ this one is called #Scorpion, and that one is called Spine-cleaver.  Please take any one of them that you choose.”  The Amir picked out the Scorpion of Solomon, and made it the adornment of his waist.

All the Parizads who were standing there burst into an uncontrollable clamor of joy, and began to congratulate the king of kings, and with utter delight began to make the gesture of warding off evil from the Amir onto themselves.  The Amir asked ‘Abdur Rahman, “What is all this?”  ‘Abdur Rahman answered, “Oh Sahib-qiran, all four of these swords were worn by Hazrat Solomon at his side, and Hazrat Solomon often said, ‘After my time the heads of the high-headed Devs will be cut off with the Scorpion, and those wretches will be punished with this sword for their baseness.’  For this reason all were happy that, although unaware, you took the Scorpion, and chose it by divine inspiration.”  The Amir, hearing this, was very pleased.

‘Abdur Rahman said to the Amir, “One proof more remains; please listen to it also, and have faith in it in your heart.”  He said, “What is that?”  ‘Abdur Rahman said, “There is a poplar tree, and the Parizads reckon it to be equal in girth and height to ‘Ifrit’s body.  The saying is well-known throughout Qaf, and everyone has great faith in it, that whoever slashes through this tree with one blow of the Scorpion of Solomon, will send ‘Ifrit off as well to the land of Nothingness.”

When the Amir, going up to the tree, said “In the name of God” and struck one blow with the Scorpion on its trunk, the sword passed through it like a wire through soap, but the tree did not fall to earth.  The Amir thought the tree had not been cut at all, and was utterly downcast, so that his eyes filled with tears.  ‘Abdur Rahman, congratulating the Amir, said, “The tree has been cut entirely through--push on it and see.”  Completely joyful, he embraced the Amir.  When the Amir put one hand on its trunk and gave a shove, the tree crashed to the ground.

Shahpal kissed the Amir’s sword-arm and hand, and in complete happiness embraced him and said, “Oh Hamzah, truly Hazrat Solomon has looked on you with favor, and that is the reason your body is so powerful and strong.  Who besides you would be capable of killing ‘Ifrit, and of setting foot so bravely in such a mortally terrifying arena?”  The Amir said, “If God Most High wills, what can ‘Ifrit do against the ascendant fortune of the king of kings of Qaf?  I’ll cut off the heads of all the high-headed ones, I’ll pave the battlefield with the corpses of these insolent Devs!  But now please order the army to come out of Garden of Iram and encamp in the field, and have the war-drum sounded; have your army show the enemy their awesome power of smashing through ranks of troops.”

The moment the king of kings so ordered, the whole army began to equip themselves, and went out of Garden of Iram.  The king of kings too had the Pavilion of Solomon pitched in the field, and entered it, and stayed in the midst of his military escort.  This news reached ‘Ifrit as well:  “Shahpal has summoned a son of Adam from the Realm of the World to help him; that man has come with great pomp and grandeur and pretensions.  Relying on him, Shahpal has taken his army and come out of his city to fight you, and has drawn up his battle-array in the field.”

‘Ifrit burst into roars of laughter:  “How can a man challenge a Dev?  All right, it’s for the best:  it has brought King Shahpal out of the city.”  With these words, he ordered the war-drum sounded, and prepared the whole army for war and combat.  King Shahpal too had the war-drum sounded in his army, and thus made his martial boasts and challenges before the enemy.  Twelve hundred pairs of gold and silver kettledrums began to be beaten incessantly, as though the clouds were thundering.  In ‘Ifrit’s camp, instead of drums the Devs slapped their own rumps, and clashed huge stones together.  In short, throughout the night tumult and commotion reigned in both camps.

When morning came, ‘Ifrit, bringing many hundreds of thousands of Devs, came into the field.  Some Devs wore tiger-skins around their bodies, others serpent-skins, others elephant-skins, and they had put iron covers over the horns on their heads.  Chains and strips of steel were wound around their throats, arms, waists, and thighs, and they wore garlands of skulls around their necks.  Bearing spears, maces, shields of flint, millstones, cypress-tree staves, and crocodile-back saws in their hands, they prepared for battle.

But they were thunderstruck at Shahpal’s appearance.  Shahpal himself mounted a throne, and mounted the Sahib-qiran on another throne.  Taking his army with him, he drew up the battle-array to confront ‘Ifrit’s army, so that the Devs, seeing all this, would be fearful in their hearts, and would be terrified at having been so bold.

When the Devs saw the Sahib-qiran, they began to behave in strange and bizarre ways.  Some of them, coming into the center of the battlefield, danced around, beating their buttocks.  Others, giggling and squealing, jumped up and down.  Others, clutching their beards, did gymnastic exercises.  Others bounded upward toward the sky, and flung themselves into the air, and came somersaulting down to earth.  Others, baring their teeth, tried to frighten the Sahib-qiran.  Others, taking their tails in their hands, spun round and round.  Others, mounting on each other, rode around in circles.  The Amir, seeing these antics of theirs, could not help laughing, and their clownish brazenness convinced him of their worthlessness and pettiness.

First of all *Ahriman, the father of ‘Ifrit, whose height was five hundred yards, took his cypress-tree spear in hand, emerged from the ranks, and came forward in challenge.  With great power and force he called out, “Where is that *Earthquake of Qaf, that *Younger Solomon, who prides himself on his bravery and courage?  Let him come and encounter me, so I can make him taste the flavor of death, and give him his just deserts for his rashness in coming to Qaf and fighting with the Devs!”

The Amir, obtaining Shahpal’s permission, came into the field, and did not permit any hesitation or doubt to enter his heart; he gave the battle-cry “God is great!” so forcefully that the whole field trembled.  Ahriman said, “Oh Earthquake of Qaf, with such a tiny stature, do you try to frighten us with such a voice?  Come on, show me the force of your blow!”  The Sahib-qiran said, “It is not my custom to take precedence, or to transgress the bounds of my family tradition.  First you make an attack, then I will make an attack and will show you my prowess.”

Ahriman said, “If I make the first attack on a tiny weakling like you, what will the Devs say about me?  They’ll all be astonished, and will consider me contemptible.  How could you possibly survive my attack, so that you could make an attack on me?”  The Sahib-qiran said, “When height and stature were apportioned, you were there; when strength and power were allotted, I was there.  Furthermore, you don’t know that I’m the Angel of Death!  I’ve come from the Realm of the World to seize your soul; I have brought you the cup of death.”

Ahriman attacked the Sahib-qiran with his cypress-tree staff.  The Sahib-qiran evaded the blow, and drawing the Scorpion of Solomon from its scabbard said, “Oh you unclean one, don’t say that I struck you unawares!  Be warned--I am about to attack, and I’ll bathe my glistening sword in your impure blood!”  Even as he finished this sentence, he struck such a blow on Ahriman’s head that the corpse-eater was split in two and fell to the ground, half on this side, half on that.  Shahpal gave thanks, and ordered the Parizads to sound the drum of celebration.

‘Ifrit groaned and said, “Oh son of Adam, you have done a terrible deed in killing a champion like my father, and separating his head from his body!  But you won’t manage to escape alive either--just wait and see what blows I inflict on you!”  With these words, he sent a Dev who was even more powerful than Ahriman to encounter the Sahib-qiran.  The Sahib-qiran dispatched him too to Hell, and sent him to join the dead.

In short, in a brief interval the Sahib-qiran laid lifeless nine powerful Devs who were renowned among ‘Ifrit’s army, as he had done to Ahriman.  He made ‘Ifrit feel stupefied and distraught.  Then ‘Ifrit, trembling, groaning, ordered the retiring-drum sounded, and had his father’s body lifted up.  With weeping and wailing, with utter despair and terror, he set out for his own encampment.

/1/ These two swords of Solomon’s were given to Hamzah by Gabriel in Chapter 3.

== on to Chapter 26 ==

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