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