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
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
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
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
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
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.
it was Hamzah’s grandson Sa‘d bin ‘Amr who killed Farhad ‘Akkah in personal
combat, quite fairly.
text never tells us any more about this son.
== on to Chapter