FIFTY-FIVE -- [The Amir suffers three terrible bereavements.]

After Queen Asman Pari had gone, the Amir asked his companions in court, “I wonder where the infidels have gone?”  ‘Amar submitted, “I’ve heard that they’ve gone to Kashmir, and taken refuge with the ruler of Kashmir, named Ja’far; he has aided the infidels.”  ‘Amr bin Hamzah spoke up:  “If I am commanded, I’ll go to Kashmir and wipe them out--through the grace of God, I won’t leave even one infidel alive!”  The Amir said, “That’s fine.”  The Amir’s son, taking with him ‘Amar, ‘Adi, *Farhad bin Landhaur, *Istaftanosh, etc.--seven champions--and an army, set out for Kashmir.

After a time, the Amir’s son entered Kashmir.  The infidels, in terror, shut themselves up in their fort.  The Amir’s son surrounded the fort from all four sides; with his army he besieged it heavily.  It happened that one day a wild ass came out of the forest into the army of Islam, and wounded many with its teeth and hooves.  It kicked some, and attacked others with its teeth.  The Amir’s son heard about this.  He mounted, and followed the wild ass; he pursued him in order to capture him.  The wild ass reached a mountain; he ran on and climbed the mountain.

The Amir’s son too went up the mountain.  When he looked, the wild ass was gone.  He began to cast about here and there in the bushes--so long that evening came, but he couldn’t see the wild ass, he found no trace of him anywhere.  The Amir’s son dismounted under a tree, and caught a door, made kabobs, and had dinner.  He slept under that same tree.  When dawn came, the wild ass could again be seen.  Again, as on the first day, it appeared on the mountain.  The Amir’s son set out to capture it.  Eventually the world-warming sun reached its noontime height.  Again the wild ass vanished from before ‘Amr bin Hamzah’s eyes.  Although the Amir’s son searched very hard, he couldn’t find it; although he looked and looked, it was not to be seen anywhere.

Having no choice, he turned away from that place.  On the way, he saw a city; its people and atmosphere pleased him very much.  He asked people the name of the city.  They said, “It is called #Farkhar, it is said to be the envy of the eight gardens of Paradise.  Zhopin’s sister, named *Gulchahrah, lives here; all the people recognize her as their king.”  Suddenly she herself looked down from her balcony at the Amir’s son.  The moment she saw him she fell in love with him, she was beside herself with love.  She sent a eunuch to summon that young man, and bring him to her in any way possible.

The eunuch made obeisance to the Amir’s son and said, “This slave’s mistress sends for you; she is extremely eager to meet you.”  The Amir’s son refused, he gave a flat refusal.  The eunuch came a second time and brought the same message, and kissed the ground before him, and began to plead, “If Your Excellency would only be pleased to step over for just a few minutes, if you would honor her with your presence for just one moment!”  Finally, cajoling and persuading, he brought the Amir’s son with him.

Gulchahrah treated the Amir’s son most hospitably, and asked, “What is your name, and what country do you come from?  On what business have you come here?”  The Amir’s son replied, “’Amr bin Hamzah is my name.  My father’s renown is on the lips of great and small.”  She said, “For a long time I’ve been pining to meet you, I’ve been weeping and wailing and lamenting night and day, I’ve endured thousands of kinds of grief and sorrow in my passionate desire to see you!  And today the Lord has fulfilled my wish without my lifting a finger, and satisfied my longing.”

With these words, she ordered the meal.  She had the dining-cloth spread; she ate, and she fed the Amir’s son as well.  Afterwards, flagons of rosy wine began to circulate.  The Amir’s son grew inebriated, and she herself too became very intoxicated.  She asked for lovemaking.  The Amir’s son said, “A sister of yours is married to me.  I will not get involved with you, I will never by any means do a deed so contrary to religious law.”  She insisted.  Having no choice, the Amir’s son said, “All right.  My champions are besieging the fort of Kashmir.  I will send for them and ask them, and see what their opinion is about this.  If they agree to it, I’ll go to bed with you, I’ll take my pleasure with you.”  That wretched Gulchahrah at once sent a messenger, summoned the champions, and informed them of this matter.

As fate would have it, in that city lived an old man named *Farkhari Sar-e Shuban.  Everyone respected him as a venerable old man.  He heard that Hamzah’s son had come, that in some connection he had happened to arrive.  He called his two sons and said to them, “He is drinking wine with Zhopin’s sister.  Go and seize him.  If you can’t bring him alive, then cut off his head and bring it!  One way or another, show your hardihood in this matter.”  His two sons--one’s name was Mahrvar Sar-e Shuban and they called the other Dinar Sar-e Shuban/1/--took their cudgels in their hands and went to the house of Zhopin’s sister.

They said to ‘Amr bin Hamzah, “Oh you thief, what right do you have to come and hunt within our borders, to enter our country and flaunt your valor?”  The Amir’s son gave them no answer, he said absolutely nothing at all.  One of them struck at the Amir’s son with his cudgel.  The Amir’s son seized the cudgel and wrenched it, so that he fell on his face.  The Amir’s son slapped him so hard on the neck that he was stretched out on the ground; he had no more strength for fighting, he was not at all capable of any assault.  When the second brother too swung his cudgel, the same thing happened to him.  When they regained consciousness, both went and told their father what had happened to them.  Farkhari Sar-e Shuban, hearing their words, laughed:  “My quarrel is with Hamzah, what do I have against his son?  But to subdue Hamzah--this is my wild dream!”

The next day ‘Adi, etc., presented themselves in the service of the Amir’s son.  Gulchahrah behaved toward them with respect and dignity; they all enjoyed her company very much.  She entertained them elegantly, and revealed to them her love for the Amir’s son:  she made known to them the wish of her heart.  ‘Adi said to the Amir’s son, “Why do you make this poor thing die a living death?  Do people torment their lovers like this, do they harass them beyond endurance?”  The Amir’s son, hearing these words, laughed and replied, “Oh ‘Adi, when something is simply not to be done, how should I do it?  Should I set foot on a path where I will lose my way?”  ‘Adi said, “Do it or don’t do it, it’s up to you.  I only took pity on her lamentations, I was sorry to see her so restless, so I spoke to you as I did.”

In short, that night, when the Amir’s son had become intoxicated with wine and passed out, Gulchahrah, extremely intoxicated, wrapped herself around him, from her extreme passion she lost control of herself and held him tight.  The Amir’s son said, “Oh you shameless creature, what impudence is this, what immodest thoughts do you cherish in your heart?  I will not commit such a dirty deed!”  And, a bit playfully, he gave her a slap as well.

Gulchahrah was disappointed in her hope for enjoyment.  She said to herself, “He is in love with my sister--and I burn in the fire of love for him, night and day I wring my hands with grief and longing!  It’s better if, as someone put it, ‘Neither yours nor mine--here, go throw it in the fire!’”  Suddenly and forcefully she drew her sword and struck one blow at his neck.  ‘Amr bin Hamzah’s head was separated from his body.  She realized that his champions would kill her.  She began to make noise and raise a tumult, she began to shriek to them all, “Alas, alas, what enemy has killed the Amir’s son?”

His comrades came running.  When they saw the Amir’s son lying dead, they began to rend their garments and scatter dust on their heads, they were very much grieved by his murder.  ‘Adi said, “No outsider has come here at all, no enemy has managed to enter at all, to kill the Amir’s son.  Say what you will, this devilish bitch, angry at being denied his love, has killed him under the sway of intoxication--it’s all the mischief of this bitch!”  The other companions agreed with ‘Adi’s opinion.  Binding that whore’s arms, they asked her, “Why did you kill the Amir’s son?”  She replied, “I was in the grip of love--I couldn’t bear it, I was helpless.  I committed this crime.  Now punish me however you wish, murder me too in revenge for him!”

The companions said to each other, “A man must not lift his hand against a woman--if we are to kill her, then how can we do it?  We’re sorely perplexed in this matter, we’re very much troubled and concerned.”  The Amir suddenly dreamed that he saw ‘Amr writhing in a pool of blood.  Fearful, he awoke with a start, and repeated his dream to ‘Amar.  ‘Amar left that very instant for Kashmir.  Eventually he arrived in Kashmir.  He learned that the Amir’s son was in the city of Farkhar, in Zhopin’s house with his sister.  At once he went there, traveling like the wind, and arrived at that wretch’s palace.  ‘Adi, etc., fell at his feet and told him the whole state of affairs.

‘Amar, flinging dust on his head and beating his breast, left that place and came to the Amir, and said, “It seems that the Prince lies wounded in Farkhar, in Zhopin’s house, and has sent for you very urgently.  This servant has come to take you there.”  The Amir at once mounted Ashqar Devzad and prepared to go there--and he went, and arrived in Farkhar.  ‘Amar said to himself, “If the Amir is informed suddenly, all at once, that his son is dead, God knows what it will do to him; he’ll be grieved beyond all bounds.  I ought to give him something to eat and drink, then take him there.”

‘Amar said to the Amir, “Please pause a little while in some garden, please rest a bit, then go on to Gulchahrah’s house.”  The Amir, at ‘Amar’s advice, got down in a garden.  In that garden a herd of goats were grazing.  ‘Amar, slaughtering a goat, began to prepare kabobs; with this excuse he began to divert the Amir.  When the goatherd saw smoke rising from within the garden, he ran and arrived where the Amir and ‘Amar were; when he saw how things were, he was very worried and troubled, and entered the garden quickly.  He saw that two young men were roasting kabobs made from his master’s goats.  He at once ran and informed Farkhari Sar-e Shuban, who owned the garden and the goats.  He went and reported to him that two persons from somewhere had entered the garden, slaughtered his goats, and started to make kabobs out of them--they behaved strangely, as though the goats were their own property.

Farkhari Sar-e Shuban, the moment he heard this, ran like a deer to the garden and saw that indeed two persons were sitting there, roasting and eating kabobs, making themselves quite at home.  He ordered his sons, “Seize those two persons, go and capture them quickly.”  They both went up to the Amir and struck at him with their cudgels.  The Amir, without getting up, snatched away their cudgels and hurled them both to the ground so forcefully that they became unconscious, they lost their senses.  Farkhari roasted in the fire of anger like a kabob.  He at once took up a mace with a striking power of seventeen thousand pounds, and rushed at the Amir, and said, “Oh boors, it seems that Death brought you here, and made you slaughter and eat the goats of the Angel of Death!”

With these words, he struck with his mace at the Amir.  The Amir seized the mace, he did not allow the blow to fall on him.  Although Farkhari tried, he couldn’t free his mace from the Amir’s grip.  Having no choice, he released the mace, seized the Amir’s belt, and began to exert force.  The Amir, without getting up, lifted Farkhari, whirled him around his head, and hurled him to the ground, so that his body was stunned by the shock; he had no more strength for fighting, he was helpless.

Then Farkhari asked, “Oh champion, who are you, and what is your name?  Tell me truly where you are from.”  He replied, “People call me Hamzah bin ‘Abdul Muttalib, and all men obey me.”  Farkhari replied, “Who else besides Hamzah has the strength to throw me to the ground, or to stand against me?”  The Amir made him a Muslim, with his graciousness he placed Farkhari in his debt.  Farkhari was about to tell the Amir of his son’s death, it was on his lips to mention that ‘Amr had been killed.  ‘Amar made gestures to forbid him.  The Amir rose from there and went on.  Farkhari too, with his two sons, walked along with the Amir.

When they entered the city, his companions saw the Amir, and began to weep and wail.  The Amir asked, “Is everything all right?  Why this weeping and wailing?”  They submitted, “Your son has been killed at the hands of Zhopin’s sister.”  The Amir commanded, “Take her to ‘Amr’s mother,/2/ take this whore to her.  And tell her, ‘She has killed your son.’”  ‘Amar took Gulchahrah before the mother of the Amir’s son and said, “This is the murderer of your beloved son.  The moment she heard these words, she said, “Alas, my son!” and died; the moment the news reached her her life departed.

The Amir was doubly bereaved and grief-stricken.  For forty days he mourned for his son.  He sent his son’s body, together with Gulchahrah, to Sa’dan in Fort #Ka’us.  Sa’dan killed his sister Gulchahrah with his own hands, he took revenge in this way for ‘Amr bin Hamzah’s blood.

The Amir commanded, “This ill-omened place/3/ should be laid waste, for here my son was killed; I will surely destroy it, I’ll never by any means let this house stand.”  With these words, he smashed in the doors with his mace.  Entering the fort, he began to massacre everyone.  Hurmuz escaped through a small secret gate, and set out for Ctesiphon.  Most of Hurmuz’s companions were slain by the Amir, and some became Muslims.  Finally the Amir turned his sword on the Kashmiris, he drew his sword to slaughter them all.  Their ruler sought mercy from the Amir.  The Amir granted him peace:  out of mercy he granted him his life, and set out for Fort Ka’us.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .
After some time, Mihr Angez begged Hamzah to rescue Naushervan from the cage in which Shaddad had imprisoned him.  ‘Amar urged Hamzah not to agree, but Hamzah did; he and Muqbil set out for Abyssinia.  But Shaddad and Naushervan became reconciled, and set out for Hamzah’s camp.  Shaddad planned to kidnap Mihr Nigar and marry her, with Naushervan’s consent.

        Meanwhile Hamzah, during the rescue attempt, lost his way in the desert.  ‘Amar dreamed of his plight and went to his aid, but by the time Hamzah was reunited with Muqbil and Ashqar, Shaddad had a long head start. 
        When Shaddad and Naushervan reached Hamzah’s camp, they challenged his army to battle.  Shaddad fought and wounded Landhaur, Farhad bin Landhaur, and a number of other champions.  Then he began a prolonged single combat with Farkhari.
        At the same time, Naushervan launched a fresh intrigue against Hamzah’s camp.
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
It happened that an ‘ayyar whose name was *Gilim-posh said to Naushervan, “If you command, I’ll cut off the heads of all the Arab chiefs, one by one, and bring them to you--I’ll pack them all off to the land of Nothingness!”  Naushervan said, “What could be better?”  That very night at midnight, that ‘ayyar reached the Arab camp and approached the tent of Prince Qubad.  He saw that two ‘ayyars named Zafar and Fatah/4/ were standing guard beside Qubad’s tent.  Gilim, staying out of their sight, pulled up a tent-peg and went into the tent.  Finding Qubad sound asleep, he cut off his head with a dagger and left the tent.

‘Amar’s ‘ayyars, who were on guard, captured him, they didn’t let him escape.  Seeing Qubad’s head in his hand, they began to weep and lament.  The Arab officers, coming out of their own tents, entered Qubad’s tent; they all came and gathered there.  They saw that Qubad was lying headless on his bed.  In the camp of Islam it was all at once as though Doomsday had come.  On all sides was tumult and lamentation and mourning.  All, great and small, were extremely grieved.  When Mihr Nigar heard, she was in such a dreadful state, her heart was so charred in the fire of grief, that very few can have felt such grief over their sons.  In the morning, Gilim was torn to pieces.  When Naushervan heard this bad news, he too mourned for his grandson, he grieved beyond measure.  For forty days there was mourning for Qubad in both camps, there was great grief and sorrow.

After the fortieth-day ceremony, both armies arrayed their ranks, and a great battle took place.  That day too, Shaddad and Farkhari had begun to fight, when from the forest a cloud of dust appeared.  The ‘ayyars brought word that the Amir and ‘Amar were coming, they were returning with a great army.  Farkhari suspended the fight; with the other officers, he went to welcome the Amir.  As for Shaddad, he saw his chance and ran off, he didn’t want to stay there any longer.  The Amir, after exchanging greetings with his companions, asked Farkhari, “Where is Shaddad, why is he not giving his battle-cry today?”  Farkhari said, “I left him in the field when I came to meet you; I found him on the battlefield.”

However much the Amir cast his eyes over the battlefield, he didn’t see Shaddad; he found no trace of him anywhere.  He said, “It seems that he’s run off at my arrival!”  Mounting, he rode after him.  Shaddad had gone quite far.  The Amir said to Ashqar in the language of the Jinns, “My son, take me to that sinner quickly!”  When Ashqar took wing, in a single breath he reached Shaddad.  Shaddad saw that Hamzah was upon him, there was no longer any chance to flee.  He realized that death had come upon him; darkness spread before his eyes.  He saw an idol-temple, and started to enter it, to save his life--to be free from Hamzah’s clutches, and so escape somehow with his life.

The Amir, gripping his horse with his thighs, threw a loop of his noose over Shaddad’s head.  Landhaur too arrived.  The Amir, putting the end of the rope into Landhaur’s hand, commanded, “Oh King of Hind, pull on this.”  When Landhaur pulled, Shaddad’s soul traveled to Hell; the noose of the rope was drawn so tight around his neck that his life was ended that very moment, the pull of the noose became the snare of death for him.  The Amir bestowed Shaddad’s horse Midnight on Landhaur.  Landhaur said, “In truth, that horse is fit for you yourself to ride.”  In the meantime ‘Amar too arrived.  Cutting off Shaddad’s head, he mounted it on the end of a spear.  And the Amir, victorious and triumphant, chatting with his comrades, came back from there at a leisurely pace, for no one else came to challenge him.

Meanwhile, Zhopin realized, “The coast is clear--except for Mihr Nigar, there’s nobody in the camp.  Come on, I’ll carry off Mihr Nigar, I’ll use this chance to get her in my power!”  With this plan in mind, he slipped into the camp of Islam.  Killing some guards who were at the gate of the camp, he reached Mihr Nigar’s quarters, he entered her private apartments.  Mihr Nigar shot so many arrows into his malicious breast, that his breast became full of holes like a wasps’ nest.  Zhopin realized that she would not accept him.  Feeling irritated and slighted, he struck a blow with his sword at Mihr Nigar’s beautiful body.

He was about to strike a second blow--when the Amir was suddenly upon him.  Zhopin had no chance to flee; having no choice, he struck a blow at the Amir too.  The Amir parried his attack and struck him, as he tried to flee, with a blow that cleaved through his skull, his neckbone, and his backbone, ending at his pelvic bones.  He fell on the spot, all in a heap.  The Amir, approaching Mihr Nigar, saw that she lay at death’s door.  At once he sent ‘Amar to bring Khvajah Buzurchmihr, and have him see to Mihr Nigar.  ‘Amar went to bring the Khvajah.  Meanwhile, Mihr Nigar submitted her life to God, she went to live among the Houris in Paradise.  The Amir, with a loud groan, fainted.

After a time, when the Amir regained consciousness, he was like a madman:  sometimes he laughed, sometimes he wept, he was almost dying of sorrow.  ‘Amar, who came bringing Buzurchmihr, saw that life had left Mihr Nigar and the Amir had gone mad with grief.  He said anxiously to Buzurchmihr, “Oh Hazrat, what’s all this?  We must somehow cure the Amir of his madness, we must restore him to his true self.”  Buzurchmihr said, “Oh ‘Amar, on the twenty-first day from today the Amir will spontaneously recover, he will be restored to health on his own, don’t you worry.”  The Amir had one coffin made for Mihr Nigar, a second for Prince Qubad, and a third for ‘Amr, and set out for Mecca; he accompanied the coffins, along with a large number of mourners, both relatives and strangers.  Eventually he arrived near Mecca.  The Amir had three graves dug in a pleasant meadow, and buried the three coffins, and stayed there for the night.  He did not feel like going into the city, so he camped in the forest.

The narrator writes that the twenty-first day passed.  It was the night of the twenty-second day when the Amir saw Hazrat Abraham in a dream, and drank a glass of wine from his hands.  The Hazrat gave the Amir this counsel:  “Oh son, to get yourself in such a bad condition over one woman is very far from wisdom!  If you live, you’ll get thousands like her, better and higher-ranking women than Mihr Nigar will enter your service.”  When the Amir’s eyes opened, he began asking ‘Amar bin Umayyah, “Where am I, and what has happened to me?  Tell me truly, in what condition have I been?”  ‘Amar told him the whole state of affairs, he reported everything that had befallen him.  The Amir described to them all what he had seen in the dream.  His comrades said, “Oh Hazrat, you are his son--if he didn’t come to console you, then who would come?  Is it possible that anyone wouldn’t feel his child’s grief?”

The Amir said, “Come what may, I have made a vow to Mihr Nigar; in order to fulfill it, I will certainly live here as the devoted attendant at her tomb, I’ll stay here at her tomb until I die.  You people go off to your homes; for the Lord’s sake, don’t torment me.”  Although ‘Amar reasoned with him a great deal, the Amir paid no attention to his persuasions.  Sending them all off, he seated his grandson, Sa’d bin ‘Amr, on the throne,/5/ and sent him off to Egypt.  ‘Amar said, “Oh Amir, don’t make me leave you, don’t make me suffer the grief of parting from you!”  The Amir commanded, “It’s quite sufficient for Muqbil to stay with me, I don’t need anyone else; there’s no necessity for you to stay.”

When they had all left, the Amir had his head shaved, and assumed the dress of a faqir.  Wearing an ascetic’s loose robe, night and day he began to sweep out and care for Mihr Nigar’s tomb.  He began to live right there.  Whenever sleep overpowered him, he lay down at the foot of Mihr Nigar’s tomb.

/1/ They have extraordinary names:  Mahrvar [mahrvaar] means “Lovingly,” and Dinar [diinaar] is the name of a gold coin.
/2/ “’Amr’s mother” is of course Nahid Maryam, Hamzah’s first wife; this is a respectful way of referring to her.
/3/ Presumably the fortress of Ja’far, King of Kashmir, who has allied himself with Naushervan.
/4/ They are ironically named:  Zafar [:zafar] means “Victory” and Fatah [fat;h], “Triumph.”
/5/ What seems to be meant is that Hamzah is now separating the area of his own conquests and de facto rule from Naushervan’s realm, and declaring Sa’d bin ‘Amr king of this territory.

== on to Chapter 56==

 -- Amir Hamzah index page -- fwp's main page --