FIFTY-SIX -- Qarun bin Farhad ‘Akkah and Kulliyat bin Gilim ‘Ayyar go to the Amir, capture him, and take him and Muqbil away.

The narrators of sweet speech, and the scribes who are masters of writing, urge the steed of the pen forward into the field of narrative in this way:  The news that the Amir had retired to Mihr Nigar’s tomb reached all lands and cities.  Everywhere the high-headed ones of the age raised their heads; the trouble-makers found their chance to stir up trouble, and resolved to kill the Amir.  Thus *Qarun bin Farhad ‘Akkah, who, on the strength of his own prowess, looked askance at the story of Rustam; who, not to speak of men, feared not even Devs, set out from his house with a numerous army, determined to kill the Amir.

On the way, he met *Kulliyat bin Gilim, the son of the ‘ayyar who had killed Prince Qubad.  Qarun asked, “Where are you going, why do you undertake the hardships of travel?”  Kulliyat replied, “Hamzah’s companions killed my father--it’s as though they had torn out my liver!  So lately I’ve heard that Hamzah has renounced his weapons over Mihr Nigar.  I’m on my way to kill him.  I’ll either kill him, or capture him and carry him off.”  Qarun said, “I too have left my house with this intention.  It will be better if you come with me, so that you and I together can bring this task to a conclusion.  Kulliyat agreed, and they began to travel, state after stage.

After some days, they arrived near Mecca.  Kulliyat said to Qarun, “You camp in this spot.  For if Hamzah sees you with this fierce army, he’ll be alerted; then it will be hard for us to get him in our power.  But now the task is easy.”  Qarun got down right there.

Kulliyat, in the dress of a darvesh, went to Mihr Nigar’s tomb.  He saw that the Amir was sitting, with his head bowed, at a corner of the tomb.  Kulliyat went and saluted him.  The Amir asked, “Who are you, and where do you come from, and what do you want?  Have you come here on your own, or has somebody sent you?”  Kulliyat replied, “I’m a wandering faqir,  I’ve come from Jerusalem.  I want to spend the few remaining days of my life in your service; I’ll remain here night and day.”  The Amir said, “Muqbil by himself is enough to serve me, there’s no necessity for any other.  Reverend sir, I don’t need anyone.”  Kulliyat replied, “I refuse to leave Your Excellency’s feet to go anywhere at all; now I will absolutely not stir one step away from here.”  The Amir was forced to let him remain.

In a little while, Muqbil spread the dining-cloth.  Whatever he had cooked, he placed before them. The Amir decided to eat.  All three of them began to eat together.  When the Amir asked for water, Kulliyat rose and served water mixed with a knockout drug to the Amir and Muqbil, through his trickery he made them both drowsy.  And he himself, on the pretext of going to urinate, set out from there and went to Qarun and said, “Please mount quickly, please get ready to go with me.  I’ve just given Hamzah and Muqbil a knockout drug, I’ve left them unconscious and come here.”

Qarun ‘Akkah went with Kulliyat to Mihr Nigar’s tomb; drawing his sword, he prepared to kill the Amir.  Muqbil, seeing this, rushed at him, sword in hand.  With his head spinning, he fell to the ground.  The Amir, seeing Qarun ‘Akkah, wanted to seize him by the neck.  He was just getting up, when the whirling in his head made him fall to the ground; he couldn’t find the strength to attack him.

Qarun had Muqbil and the Amir shackled together with iron chains.  Taking them to his camp, he gave them an antidote to the knockout drug and addressed harsh words to the Amir:  “Oh penniless Arab, did you have the gall to kill my father,/1/ and to kill so many of the kings of the age that by force you became Naushervan’s son-in-law, and sought to take power and brazenly rule the kingdom!  Now just wait and see what torments I’ll use to kill you, what kind of death I’ll make you die!”  The Amir said, “Oh fire-worshiper, carrion-eater, in fact I did kill, with my harsh sword, those kings of the age who came against me, and who would not turn Muslim when subdued.  And you can’t kill me!  My death depends on the command of the Lord of Might and Majesty, it’s not in the hands of a corpse-eater like you!  It’s clear that you’re sorely stupid.”

Qarun, that eunuch, began to use a whip on the Amir with his own hands.  The Amir said, “Come on, fire-worshiper, whip me as much as you yourself can bear to be whipped!”  That rebellious one replied, “Who can whip me?”  With these words, he lacerated the Amir’s whole body with the whip, he caused him terrible injury.  And skinning a camel, he sprinkled salt inside it, and for a day and a night kept the Amir wrapped up in it.  The next day, as he had done the day before, he whipped the Amir, sprinkled salt into a fresh hide, and wrapped the Amir in it.

He had a pillar one hundred twenty yards high built, and attached little bells to it here and there, and hung the Amir at the top of the pillar.  And he kept up his custom:  every day he had the Amir taken down and wounded with whips; and sprinkling salt in a fresh hide, he wrapped the Amir in it, and hung him from a scaffold atop the pillar.  In this way he took revenge on the Amir for killing his father.

After some days, he reported this state of affairs to Naushervan.  Naushervan asked his companions, “What do you advise?  Should I have the Amir killed, or have him released?”  They all said with one voice, “Now even Mihr Nigar is not alive, so that Your Majesty would have to show regard for her feelings!  In our opinion it’s proper that Your Majesty go there and have this Arab punished before your eyes.  As he has humiliated you, so you too should humiliate him.”  The impious Naushervan, considering the advice of these short-sighted ones correct, set out toward Mecca with an army.  After some days, he arrived at his destination.  He treated Qarun ‘Akkah most graciously, and every day before his own eyes had the Amir whipped, wrapped up in a fresh salt-sprinkled hide, and hung at the top of the pillar--he treated him this badly.  He extended the reach of his tyranny over the people of Mecca; every day he began to oppress them in new ways.

This news reached ‘Amar, who was traveling in a ship, through some merchant.  Hearing of the Amir’s wretched plight, he was extremely anxious, or rather almost mad.  For his part, Khvajah ‘Abdul Muttalib had written letters to Hamzah’s champions and old companions, telling them of the Amir’s plight and summoning them.  All of them, hearing that the Amir was in such a state, were very much astonished.  And one letter he gave to Umayyah Zamiri, the father of ‘Amar ‘Ayyar, and sent him off toward Mount Karab, so that ‘Adi too should be informed, and everyone should come to the Amir’s aid.

Suddenly, on the way, Kulliyat bin Gilim the ‘ayyar saw Umayyah Zamiri traveling at full speed, alert and attentive in every way.  He thought, “Umayyah’s fast pace is not without meaning, his urgency is certainly not without some intent. ‘There’s something black in the porridge!’  And even if not, I’ll take revenge for my father, I’ll gladden my spirit by killing an enemy.”  Capturing Umayyah Zamiri, he took him before Naushervan.  Naushervan threatened him with a flogging, and asked, “Tell the truth--where are you going, and who has sent you?”  Life is a very precious thing.  Umayyah believed that if he told them, he would be released, and would escape from the clutches of these tyrants.  That letter, which he had been carrying in his shoe, he turned over to Naushervan; without thought or hesitation he gave it to him.  Naushervan, having read the letter, killed Umayyah Zamiri; he took the burden of his murder upon his own shoulders.

Bakhtak said to Kulliyat, “Oh Kulliyat, you know that Umayyah Zamiri is ‘Amar’s father.  You have caused Umayyah Zamiri to be killed:  this evil deed took place because of you.  Now just watch out for ‘Amar, be very vigilant against his anger!”  Kulliyat replied, “I’ve taught ‘ayyari to many such as ‘Amar!  His ‘ayyari won’t work on me.  I’ll give him too a dose of the same medicine, I’ll send him where his father is!  Just let him come, let him show up here!”

As fate would have it, the very next day ‘Amar arrived in Mecca, and learned the whole story of how his father had been killed.  Kulliyat, becoming aware of ‘Amar’s arrival, ordered his ‘ayyars, “Wherever you find ‘Amar, bind him and bring him here.”  They all set out in pursuit of ‘Amar.  One night Kulliyat saw ‘Amar going along the street.  At once he ran after him.  It was a moonlit night.  Ahead, ‘Amar moved along at full speed; behind him, Kulliyat went at a very fast pace.  ‘Amar pulled out from Zanbil a flower soaked with a knockout drug, and threw it down along the way.  Kulliyat picked up this flower from the ground and smelled it.  The moment he smelled it, he fell unconscious.  ‘Amar came and cut off his head, and went on from there to the base of the pillar.

‘Amar saw that Muqbil lay by the pillar, bound.  ‘Amar said, “Peace be upon you.”  Muqbil, hearing ‘Amar’s voice, was very happy, and returned his salutation.  And he said, “Oh lamp of the Arab camp, it’s only because of your absence that the Amir and I have been ensnared in this disaster, and are so helpless and defenceless!”  ‘Amar replied, “Don’t be grieved any longer, I’ll release you and the Amir, I’ll free you from this calamity.”  With these words, he removed the shackles from Muqbil’s body.  And he hung Kulliyat the ‘Ayyar’s head on the base of the pillar.  He climbed the pillar.  Wherever there were bells, he stuffed them with cotton, so they wouldn’t ring.

When ‘Amar reached the top and saluted the Amir, the Amir was very happy.  He said, “Take care that the bells don’t ring, that their sound doesn’t reach the guards!”  ‘Amar said, “I’ve closed up the mouths of the bells with cotton, I’ve made them all mute.”  But one bell, that was on the Amir’s head, ‘Amar hadn’t seen; its mouth was free.  When ‘Amar began to bring the Amir down, that bell struck ‘Amar’s head and rang.  The infidels, hearing the sound, came running from all sides, and began shooting arrows.  ‘Amar leaped down from the pillar and disappeared.

When the infidels reached the base of the pillar, they saw that the head of Kulliyat the ‘Ayyar was tied to it;  they informed Qarun, and reported to him that Kulliyat had been murdered.  Bakhtak said, “This is the work of no one but ‘Amar.”  Qarun ‘Akkah replied, “If you wish, I’ll kill Hamzah.”  Bakhtak, trembling, said, “As long as ‘Amar is on the loose, you ought not at all to do that, you ought to be very much afraid of ‘Amar!  ‘Amar would never leave you or Naushervan or Buzurchmihr alive, he would tear off everyone’s heads!”  Buzurchmihr said to Bakhtak, “Oh you vile one, what have I ever done to him, that he should kill me?  He will kill whomever does him evil!”

Please hear about ‘Amar.  Entering Mecca, he wrote letters to the Amir’s champions and comrades in various places, saying, “The Amir has been kept for many days in harsh bondage by Qarun ‘Akkah.  You people, if you eat dinner there, must not wash your hands until you’ve reached here, you must not by any means be negligent!”  King Landhaur was still on his way, when, receiving ‘Amar’s letter, he turned back toward Mecca.  In short, whoever heard the news set out for Mecca, and champions began arriving every day, brave warriors began arriving.

Qarun said to Naushervan, “Now ‘Amar has come.  Undoubtedly he will collect an army, and then our task will become difficult; he will bring down a great disaster upon us.  In my opinion, the best counsel is to kill Hamzah, or take him away to my city; in any case, you should not stay here.”  Naushervan said, “To kill Hamzah is in no way advisable, this misdeed will never at all bring good results.  But there’s no harm in taking him to your city.”  Qarun ‘Akkah at once set out from there, and took Hamzah with him as well.  And after some days, arriving in his own city, he began to whip and torment the Amir every day even more than before.

One day the Amir again said to the accursed Qarun, “It’s well known that a man should eat only as much as he can digest.  You should only whip me as much as you yourself can bear to be whipped.”  Qarun laughed and said, “Even now you hope to be freed--you plan to take revenge upon me, to punish me for this!”  With these words, he hung the Amir from the door-frame and ordered the attendant, “Every day let him be given one piece of barley-bread and one cup of water, so I can comfort myself with this Arab’s sufferings.  Let him continue to endure this kind of torment forever:  this is my intention.”

Please hear about the Amir’s army.  Sa’d bin ‘Amr bin Hamzah arrived in Mecca, and from day to day champions and kings and princes began to come--so much so that a camp was established in the old style.  When the accursed Qarun saw the Amir’s camp, his liver quaked in his body, his half-baked delusions went entirely out of his brainless head.  He said to Naushervan, “Hamzah’s friends and supporters have arrived in great numbers.  I cannot by any means confront them; I have no choice but to shut myself up in a fort.”  With these words, he shut himself up in a fort with his army.  Preparing the Fort of the Twelve Battlements, he settled in it, he carefully arranged all the requisites for defense and settled there.

It happened that one night Khvajah ‘Amar bin Umayyah, who had been spying night and day, slipped past the watchmen and entered the fort.  Taking on the appearance of a merchant, he made friends with a cloth-seller, he claimed an old and dear friendship with him.  Becoming his partner, he began to run a shop.  He searched for the Amir everywhere; he couldn’t find out where the Amir was confined.

Now consider the power of the Lord:  One night Qarun’s sister, named *Farzanah, saw Hazrat Abraham, the Friend of God, in a dream.  Teaching her the profession of faith, he told her the good news, “Oh Farzanah, Hamzah will be your husband, and the Creator will bestow on you, from Hamzah’s seed, a noble son./2/  Go quickly and release him from captivity--do this task at once, don’t delay at all!”  Farzanah, waking from her dream, at once went to her brother’s house.  Giving the Amir’s guards much wealth and property, she brought the Amir out of captivity and took him to her own house, and began to serve him with her whole heart and soul.

In the morning, Qarun heard that Hamzah had disappeared.  He sent many people to search here and there, but they found no trace of him.  He said to his vazir, “If Hamzah had gone to his camp, then the celebration-drums would have sounded.  We ought to inquire through geomancy where Hamzah is.”  The vazir, performing geomancy, began to laugh.  Qarun asked, “What’s the cause of your laughter?  Tell me truly what it is.”  The vazir replied, “Farzanah Bano has freed Hamzah and taken him away, and she’s enjoying luxury and pleasure with him.”  Qarun sent a maidservant of his to Farzanah’s house, to discover whether Hamzah was with Farzanah or had gone somewhere else, and who had released him from captivity.  The maidservant went and asked Farzanah, “Did you free Hamzah and bring him here?  The vazir, performing geomancy, has told your brother that Hamzah is with you.”

Farzanah raised a great tumult, and grew very angry.  She tore out her hair, and wept.  She began to say, “That’s wonderful!  My honor is held in such high esteem that the vazir can accuse me of harlotry!  He has really overreached himself!  Since I didn’t give up my honor to him, and didn’t do his pleasure, he is dishonoring me like this--that’s the reason the worthless wretch is causing all this trouble.  What in the world could there be between me and Hamzah?  After all, the house is here.  Let anyone who wishes, come and search it.  If Hamzah is found with me, then you can accuse me!”  The maidservant went and told Qarun everything she had seen and heard.  Qarun at once, in a state of fury, killed the vazir; out of regard for Farzanah he killed that shameless mischief-maker.  And he continued to search for the Amir.

The Amir said to Farzanah, “I don’t know whether ‘Amar has arrived in the fort or not.”  Having said this, he described ‘Amar’s appearance to a clever maidservant of Farzanah’s, and told her all the identifying features of his face, and commanded, “Look in the fort’s bazaar, and see whether there’s any man of this appearance or not.  If there is, summon him here in your mistress’ name, bring him back here with you quickly.”  As the maidservant wandered around in the bazaar, she arrived at ‘Amar’s shop, she reached the place where he was sitting.  Looking carefully at ‘Amar, she concluded, “This is the very man whom Hamzah is seeking.”

She said to ‘Amar, “My mistress needs fine cloth of such-and-such patterns.  Bring it and come along, it will be very much to your advantage; you will get for your goods whatever price you wish.”  ‘Amar, tying up the cloth in a bundle, placed it under his arm and went with her to Farzanah Bano’s palace.  He began to show the fabrics, and tell their prices.  The Amir, hearing ‘Amar’s voice, came out of a corner.  ‘Amar kissed the Amir’s feet, and began to weep bitterly; seeing the Amir’s condition, he wept uncontrollably.  The Amir embraced him and asked, “What’s the news of our camp, what condition is the army in?”  ‘Amar replied, “The army is ready:  all, great and small, are waiting for you.”

The Amir said, “What plan can we devise to get out of here?”  ‘Amar said, “Come and stay in my shop, some means or other will surely turn up.”  The Amir said, “At your shop there are only fabrics, and no weapons--what’s the point of my going there?  Without weapons, how can I succeed?  Instead, take me to the shop of some blacksmith.”  ‘Amar took the Amir to a blacksmith’s shop, he brought him to the quarters of an iron-worker.  The Amir sat down, lifted the hammer, and began to beat the iron.

Suddenly then Qarun said to Bakhtak, “Perform geomancy and tell me where Hamzah is.”  Bakhtak, performing geomancy, said, “Hamzah is in the fort bazaar!”  Qarun, with Bakhtak, mounted, and began to examine the shops of the bazaar, they began to look at every house in the bazaar.  Qarun arrived by and by at the blacksmith’s shop where Hamzah was sitting.  Raising a battle-cry, he called out, “Hamzah, now where can you go to escape me?  Tell me, how can you save your life from me now?”  The Amir, taking that same hammer, rose and said, “Oh infidel, what are you jabbering about?  What can you do against me?  Make your attack!”  Qarun drew his sword against the Amir.  The Amir, reaching out his hand, snatched the sword away in the middle of the stroke.  And he drove the hammer with such force against Qarun’s breast, that Qarun was prostrated and fell to the ground.  The Amir bound him, and instantly took him captive.

Bakhtak ran off from there and went before Naushervan.  Describing Qarun’s capture, he said, “Please leave the fort by the secret door and flee!  Otherwise, in a few minutes you’ll be killed--you’ll never escape from the clutches of the Amir and ‘Amar!”  Naushervan, with Bakhtak, left the fort and fled.  The Amir, standing there, gave a battle-cry so forceful that the fort shook.  The fort-dwellers thought the sky had split open and fallen onto the earth.  Eventually the sound reached the Amir’s army.  They all realized, and knew from this sound, that the Amir had been freed from captivity.  All, great and small, broke down the gate and entered the fort, and began to kill and loot the infidels.  That day the army of Islam had so much wealth and property fall into their hands, that they couldn’t even carry it all away on their pack-animals.  When the survivors from the fort accepted Islam, there was peace, all their lives were spared.

The Amir seated himself on the throne.  Having Qarun brought before him, he said, “Well, Qarun, didn’t I say not to whip me any more than you could bear to be whipped yourself?  What do you say now--tell me, what should I do to you, should I take revenge on you for the whippings?”  Qarun began to weep and cry.  The Amir said, “If you accept Islam, I will spare your life, I won’t have you killed.”  That gallows-bait replied, “I will never do this.  I may live or die, but I won’t forsake the religion of my ancestors, I won’t turn aside from my faith.”  The Amir gave him into ‘Adi’s custody and commanded, “Hit him with your mace and send him off to Hell, give him the punishment for his deeds.”  ‘Adi struck him such a blow with his mace, that Qarun was laid flat on the ground.  The Amir, cutting off his head, hung it above the main gate of the fort, and had his body burned in a fire.  And he himself became absorbed in merry-making; all the desires of his heart had been fulfilled.

/1/ Actually it was Hamzah’s grandson Sa‘d bin ‘Amr who killed Farhad ‘Akkah in personal combat, quite fairly.
/2/ The text never tells us any more about this son.

== on to Chapter 57 ==

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