FORTY -- [The Amir is persecuted by Asman Pari, and tricked by the White Dev.]
        After the horse finally let him dismount, Hamzah wandered amidst tilisms, having many magical adventures.  With Khizr’s aid, he conquered the tilism of Solomon’s Chessboard, and others as well.  One particularly difficult tilism he conquered only after Solomon himself appeared to him in a dream and told him how to do it.  Finally he managed to place a powerful Dev so much in his debt that the Dev, *Arna’is, agreed to convey him to the World.
Before I come back to this dastan, I’ll tell a bit about Asman Pari.  One morning, putting on red clothing, and frowning until the lines showed in her forehead, she seated herself on her throne; with supreme elegance and grace she adorned her peerless throne.  And she summoned the nobles of the realm, who were regularly in attendance at court.  Everyone who saw her in this fearsome aspect grew pale:  each one was afraid of falling victim to her wrath.  Seated there, she addressed herself to ‘Abdur Rahman:  “Khvajah, I had the Amir abandoned in the Island of Confusion; I ordered those Devs who set out with him to leave him there and come away.  Look and tell me where the Sahib-qiran is now--whether he’s alive or dead, and what he’s about, what he’s doing and saying.”

‘Abdur Rahman, with folded hands, submitted, “Oh Queen of the Universe, from geomancy it appears that the Amir is still roaming anxiously in the Island of Confusion; he is distraught and wandering in that wilderness.  But the Dev Arna’is has promised the Amir, ‘If you get my beloved *Lanisah for me, then I’ll do anything you command; I’ll take you to the World.’  Thus the Amir got Lanisah for him, and did as he had said he would.  Today is the second day that Arna’is is in the Agate-inlaid Fort absorbed in festivities; completely carefree, he is celebrating with luxury and enjoyment.  Tomorrow he will take the Amir to the World; what he has sworn to do, he will perform.”

Asman Pari, the moment she heard this, became a flame of fire; she was mad with wrath like a conflagration.  She said, “Arna’is has had the gall to think of taking my husband away from me!  He didn’t have even the slightest fear of me--just watch what punishment I give him!”  With these words, she at once mounted her throne; taking many thousands of Devs, Jinns, and Parizads with her, she set out for the Agate-inlaid Fort.  When she drew near it, her spies reported, and informed her, “Arna’is, with Lanisah in his arms, is sleeping on a bed.  In this unconscious state he can easily be captured; you can have him bound hand and foot and give him over to the Devs.”

Asman Pari, as soon as she arrived, went and bound both of them hand and foot, and took them to Garden of Iram.  Tenderizing their bones with blows, she confined them both in the #Dungeon of Solomon, the prisoners of which never emerge alive.  And she had the proclamation-drum beaten in the whole city:  “Anyone who sets out to take the Amir to the World without my order, and embarks on the path of disobedience to me, will be punished in the same way.”

Now please hear about the Amir.  When three days passed and Arna’is did not come, he said to himself, “In truth, the race of Devs is utterly treacherous, and ungrateful, and faithless!  To trust their word is an absolute error.  Hamzah, no one will take you to the world--any Dev who, for his own purposes, promises to do so, will betray you in the end.  But God the Most High and Honorable, in Whom is all power, might have mercy on your condition, and guide you again to the World.”  With this thought, he remembered Mihr Nigar, and began to weep bitterly.

Suddenly from one side came the sound of “Peace by upon you.”  When the Amir looked, it was Hazrat Khizr.  Rising, the Amir greeted him reverently and said, “Oh Messenger of God, will I have to keep wandering like this around Qaf?  How long must I live like this in the wilderness, confused and distressed?  Anyone who promises to escort me proves faithless, and never ceases from vileness and mischief!  Arna’is Dev swore so many kinds of oaths, but he didn’t fulfill his vow.”

Hazrat Khizr said, “Oh Father of Greatness, it depends on the time.  Don’t be anxious at heart, don’t be troubled by doubts and fears.  If God the Helper wills, you will go into the World, you will have the full joy of seeing your near and dear ones.  But there’s a bit of hardship left.  Arna’is Dev is guiltless:  there was no duplicity in his oath, he intended to fulfill his vow.  But Asman Pari, learning of the matter from ‘Abdur Rahman, took Arna’is and Lanisah away from the Agate-inlaid Fort as prisoners; conveying them to Garden of Iram, she punished them and put them both in the Dungeon of Solomon.”  With these words, Hazrat Khizr went back where he had come from.  The Amir was so astonished at hearing all this that he paid no attention to where Khizr went.

The Amir went on from there.  For seventeen days he traveled.  On the eighteenth day he arrived at the foot of a mountain; on its peak a very lofty crystal dome could be seen.  Slipping and stumbling, the Amir made his way closer to it and looked at its pinnacle.  Even the sun itself, beholding it directly, would have been dazzled.  The Amir said to himself, “I ought to look at it from close at hand, I ought to find out in full detail the state of this fort.”  When he climbed the mountain, he saw a garden with a wall around it; but the garden door was locked from the outside, and he couldn’t see anyone around.  Breaking the lock, the Amir went into the garden; with great hardihood he entered fearlessly.

He saw that in truth it rivalled the Garden of Paradise, and in the whole of Qaf he had never found such an enchanting house;  he said to himself, “Since the first day of my arrival in Qaf, my eyes have never beheld such a house and such a garden.”  And when he looked carefully at the pinnacle of the dome, he discovered that a Night-glowing Pearl had been placed atop it, a priceless jewel was mounted there.  The Amir reached out by means of the miraculous power bestowed by Hazrat Adam:/1/  he stretched out his hand and pulled down the Night-glowing Pearl from the pinnacle.  When he placed it next to the Night-glowing Pearl in his own coronet, he couldn’t find the smallest difference.  The Amir was delighted:  “This too is a special gift from Qaf--in the World, how can any king or king of kings ever have even seen such a thing!”

When the Amir went inside the dome, he saw a jewel-adorned throne.  Wherever he looked, he saw that everything was in its own proper place, costly, and rare.  He wanted to rest there for an hour or two, and allow himself a bit of repose from the fatigue of the journey.  But then the thought came to him, “It would be no surprise if this house too were in the power of some Dev.  If he should find me here, he would be enraged, and would cause me some trouble.  So it’s not proper to stay here; I ought to leave this house.”  With this thought, he came out of the dome, spread his wolfskins by a flower-bed, made his staff into a back-rest, and sat down.

Not even an hour had passed when a strong wind came from the forest, so that even the splendid big trees were on the verge of falling; they were almost flattened to the earth by the force of the wind.  After this, a Dev, white in color, five hundred yards tall in stature, entered the garden, yelling.  His roaring and tumult seemed to tower to the sky:  “Who is the thief who has taken out the Night-glowing Pearl, Hazrat Solomon’s sacred relic, from the pinnacle of the dome, and deprived the Dome of Solomon of its glory?”  The Amir, approaching him, gave his battle-cry, and challenged him with a shout of “God is great”:  “Oh you big tall ugly ball of fat, who are you looking for?  Don’t you even know me, or not?  Don’t you recognize the destroyer of Devs, the breaker of tilisms, or not?  If you recognize me, then take a good look--come before me, and know who I am!  I am the Earthquake of Qaf, the Younger Solomon, the slayer of ‘Ifrit and the killer of Ahriman!”

He replied, “Now I know that the Garden of Qaf was destroyed by you alone, it was you alone who wrought mischief in the whole of Qaf!  Son of Adam, I’ll take revenge on you for all of it, just wait and see how harshly I’ll punish you!  If you have a thousand lives, you won’t escape from me with even one of them left; now there’s no way for you to save yourself from my clutches!”  The Amir said, “Why go on jabbering?  If you miss the slaughtered Devs, and are eager to see them, I’ll send you to join them, I’ll start you off on the road right now!  Come on, how much of an attack can you make?  Come before me and show your courage!”

He struck a blow at the Amir’s head, using his whole strength, with a cypress-tree staff in which several millstones were embedded.  The Amir used the Scorpion of Solomon to cut the staff in two.  Then, grabbing the Dev’s belt, he lifted him up by main force and hurled him to the ground.  Mounting his breast, he placed the dagger of Rustam against his throat.  Then the Dev’s eyes filled with tears and he said, “Oh Earthquake of Qaf, don’t kill me!  I’ll be very useful to you--any order you give, I’ll obey with my whole heart and soul.”  The Amir replied, “If you become a Muslim, then why not?  Otherwise, I’ll kill you right now with this dagger.”

The Dev replied, “Under this mountain are some enemies of mine.  If you kill them, then I’ll become a Muslim, I’ll be your true-hearted and faithful servant.”  The Sahib-qiran said, “Who are they?  Tell me all about them, and give me a full account of them.”  The Dev said, “Under this mountain is the pleasure-park of Hazrat Solomon.  At the end of the day he always used to sit and enjoy the saffron field, and freely take pleasure in this fragrant spot.  In this saffron field live the monstrous Seven Apes of Solomon.  All the Devs speak of them as extremely powerful.  Oh Sahib-qiran, it’s not confined to me--all the Devs fear them, and obey them faithfully.  If you will please kill them, it will be a great kindness to me.”

The Amir said, “Take me there.”  The Dev took the Amir beneath the mountain, and showed him their dwelling.  The Amir saw that the saffron field extended for many miles, and in its midst was a river which was two hundred yards wide and immeasurably long.  Its water was clear and pleasant, and in the midst of this river was a platform of crystal, fifty yards square and fifty yards high.  Topaz railings surrounded it; in those railings too jewels had been inlaid with great craftsmanship.  And in the center of the platform was a throne decorated with diamonds; it too was of peerless sophistication.  The reflection of the Saffron-field Mountain shimmered on the platform, as though grass was waving in the wind.

The Amir, with a bound, leaped to the platform, stood there, and looked all around.  He asked the *White Dev, “Where are those enemies of yours?”  The Dev said, “They’re in this very saffron field.  Please call out and say, ‘Oh seven monstrous apes, what do you eat?’  They’ll answer you, and will appear before you; they’ll never delay in coming.”  The Amir called out and said, “Oh monstrous apes, what do you eat, and where are you?  I am eager to meet you!  Come out and meet me, show me your faces.”  A voice came, “We eat saffron.  Please wait a minute, we’re coming.”

Finally the seven monstrous apes came before the Amir, and stood before him in a line.  The Amir saw that they were of strange form:  their bodies were like men’s, and their front teeth were like spears--so sharp that if even a fly should light on one of them, he would be pierced through!  The Amir, drawing the Scorpion of Solomon, leaped among them, and slaughtered all seven with his well-tempered sword.  Then he said to the White Dev, “Now your enemies have been killed.  All your grief and sorrow has been removed; your heart’s desire has been achieved.”

The White Dev was delighted; putting one hand on his head and the other on his buttocks, he began to dance.  And he replied, “Oh son of Adam, you’ve killed my enemies, but I, your enemy, am still here!  It’s the custom of our race to return evil for good; we aren’t worried about the consequences.”  With these words, he lifted up a heavy slab of stone and flung it at the Amir.  The Amir warded it off and, drawing his sword, flung himself at the Dev.  The Dev ran desperately away, he didn’t stop for even a moment.  Although the Amir called to him, he wouldn’t approach the Amir.  He said, “I’m not such a fool as to deliberately come near you and lose my life, and purposely get myself slaughtered!  When sometime I find you with your guard down, then I’ll give you a taste of what you deserve!”  With these words, he flew away.

The Sahib-qiran said to himself, “It’s not good to stay here any longer; it’s proper to get away from this place.  The White Dev has become my enemy--God knows when he’ll see his chance and harm me, and take his revenge on me.”  He set out at that very moment.  The narrator writes that the Amir went on for seven days and nights together through fear of the White Dev, in order to escape from his clutches, and not suffer harm at the hands of that vile creature; he didn’t pause to rest for even a moment.

On the eighth day, he saw a settlement, and found it a bizarre place.  The people there had only half a body; when two of them came and stood together, they made up one complete person.  Thus these people are called the Half-bodies, and they exist in this very condition.  Their king’s name was Futuh the Half-bodied; he was extremely courteous, and widely renowned for his kindness.  As it happened, this king was informed of the Sahib-qiran’s arrival.  Welcoming him, the king brought him with the greatest honor into his city, and insisted on seating him on the throne; he treated him with extreme hospitality and respect.

Kissing his feet, the king said, “Ever since I heard from Hazrat Solomon that a son of Adam would come here and overthrow the Devs of Qaf, and wound thousands and cut thousands of heads off, and would be a Younger Solomon with the Medallion of Solomon/2/ in his possession--ever since then I’ve been eager to see you, I’ve been absolutely longing to meet you.  Thanks to God the Most High and Honorable, who has guided your feet in this direction, so that you’ve arrived here safe and well.”  In short, the king feasted the Amir for a number of days.  The Amir said to the king, “Can you manage to send me to the World?”  He replied, “We are half-bodied.  We cannot set foot outside our borders; we cannot by any means go from this place to another.”  The Amir, taking leave of him, went on.

The narrator writes that the Sahib-qiran, through the greatest exertion and effort, crossed that calamitous wilderness in ten days.  On the eleventh day, he arrived at the bank of a river.  He saw that the river was full of high waves, and there was no trace at all of a ship or boat.  It was not possible to cross the river without a boat.  Astonished, he said, “Hamzah, in Qaf there are so many rivers like this, with waves immeasurably high!  Not to speak of a man, even a bird couldn’t cross them!  Thus your going to the World is out of the question, it seems to be your fate to stay right here.”  Sitting down on a boulder, he began to weep bitterly at being separated from Mihr Nigar and missing his friends.  Remembering them all, he grew distraught with grief.

As he wept, his eyes gradually closed, and he entered the oblivion of sleep; after many days of fatigue, he was dead to the world.  The White Dev was on the alert:  seeing the Amir unconscious, he picked him up together with the boulder, and took to the air.  He had gone about four miles high, when the strong wind caused the Amir’s eyes to open.  He saw that the White Dev was flying away with him, carrying him like a bundle on his back.  The Amir said, “Oh White Dev, I did good to you, and you are doing evil to me--evil in return for good!  Don’t you have any fear of God?”  The Dev replied, “I’ve already told you that we return evil for good, that’s our habit.  Now tell me this:  shall I throw you down on a mountain, or in the river?”

The Amir reflected, “Devs have perverse natures.  Whatever I say, he’ll do the opposite.”  The Amir said, “Throw me down on a mountain; if you are taking revenge on me, take it like that.”  The White Dev replied, “Oh son of Adam, I’ll throw you into the river, so you’ll drown, and will never oppress or tyrannize us again!”  With these words, the Dev threw him, together with the boulder, into the river, and flew off; he immediately did the opposite of what the Amir had said./3/

Hazrats Khizr and Elias, by the order of God Most High, took the Amir in their arms and put him down, standing, on the riverbank.  The Amir saluted both Prophets, and said, with a thousand tears and lamentations, “Oh Hazrats, Asman Pari has tormented me cruelly, and caused me the greatest grief!  She doesn’t allow me to go to the World; she gives me no peace from my sufferings.”  Hazrat Khizr said, “Oh Amir, there’s no cause for anxiety.  You are fated to eat the food and drink the water of Qaf for a little longer.  When that time is over, then you’ll leave this place, and return to your homeland, and be at peace.  A few more hard days remain; they too, if the Lord wills, will pass.  Trust in God and show fortitude; your good days are at hand.”

Now please hear a little about King Shahpal and Asman Pari.  One day King Shahpal was seated on his throne, holding court, when Asman Pari, wearing red clothing, came in, with her face like a blazing fire.  Seating herself on her throne, she summoned Khvajah ‘Abdur Rahman, and ordered that he attend upon her.  At that time there were eighteen hundred thousand chiefs of the Devs and Parizads in attendance at the royal court.  All of them who saw Asman Pari in this dress and aspect began to tremble; out of fear, they all covered their faces:  “Today Asman Pari has come to court looking like the red planet Mars, she has come to court in great rage!  Let’s see whose heads fate will play with, and who will lose their lives, and on whom her anger will bring disaster!”

In the meantime ‘Abdur Rahman came in, and made obeisance to the king and princess.  The princess, addressing him, asked, “Tell me, Khvajah, where is the Amir now--is he alive or dead, miserable or joyous?”  The Khvajah, looking at his divining-diagrams, struck his brow, and shed tears.  He spoke to Shahpal, and said, “What evil has Hamzah done to you, that you avenge yourself like this, and give him such pain?”  The king asked anxiously, “Khvajah, is everything all right?  How is he?  Tell me the truth, in what difficulty is he trapped--tell me quick!”  He replied, “Where there is evil, how can there be any good?  The White Dev has thrown Hamzah into the Green River; we ought to see whether he’s still alive or not.”

The king, when he heard this ominous news, pulled the crown off his head and threw it on the floor; after hearing this, he was overpowered by great grief and sorrow.  Asman Pari too tore the hair from her head, and screamed “Alas!”, and in her anxiety brought groans and laments to her lips.  At once the king, together with great and small, set out for the Green River.  The Devs picked up his throne, and brought him to the river in the space of a single breath.

The Sahib-qiran, with Khvajas Khizr and Elias, were just finishing their prayers, when the king, with Asman Pari, arrived.  When, while finishing his prayer, the Amir turned his face to the right, he saw Shahpal and frowned; when he turned to the left, on that side Asman Pari was standing.  The Amir turned his face away from her too, and paid absolutely no attention to either of them.  Asman Pari and the king fell at Hazrat Khizr’s feet and said, “Oh Hazrat, this time we swear before you that in six months we’ll send the Amir to the World, we absolutely won’t prove false to our vow!  If we prove false, we are sinners in your eyes and the eyes of the Lord.  This one time, please cause the Sahib-qiran to pardon our sin.”

Hazrat Khizr reasoned with the Amir, and said with the greatest affection, “You’ve already stayed there for nine years--stay there six months more, for my sake!  Whatever comes to you through the workings of Divine Providence, endure it whether you wish to or not.  Asman Pari and Shahpal have sworn oaths; test their oaths too.”  The Amir, with his head bowed, said, “Oh Hazrat, you are a Prophet of God; you are a good servant, accepted in the Presence of the Great Lord.  Apart from submission and obedience, what choice do I have?  Very well, I’ll stay for six months more.”  Asman Pari and King Shahpal both fell at the Amir’s feet and begged forgiveness, and made many excuses for their harsh behavior, and made him promise to pardon them.  The Amir, having no choice, took leave of Hazrats Khizr and Elias; seating himself on the throne with King Shahpal and Asman Pari, he set out for Garden of Iram.

/1/ This power seems to be the same one that permits Hamzah’s sword to reach upwards to the head of even the tallest enemy.
/2/ The text does not tell us what the Medallion of Solomon is, or how and when Hamzah obtained it.
/3/ This encounter with the White Dev closely parallels Rustam’s encounter with a Dev named Akvan in the Shah namah (Levy 148-149).

== on to Chapter 41 ==

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