FIFTY-EIGHT -- [The Amir acquires
a wife, and discovers a son.]
One day a wild ass attacked Hamzah’s camp, and he set out alone
to pursue it. It led him into a garden, then vanished. He killed
a goat in the garden for food, which led to a fight with the garden’s owner,
*Qunduz; Hamzah conquered him and converted him to Islam. But he
gave his own name as *Sa’d of Syria, brother of Amir Hamzah.
Fatah Nosh took the Amir and went into his fort,
he was freed from all worries about his enemies. Dismounting from
his horse, he fell at the Amir’s feet; and all the booty that had been
gathered from Farang’s army, he placed before the Amir. The Amir
embraced him and said, “Divide the wealth among your army, give it to all
the soldiers as a reward, as a sign of your favor.” Qunduz, astonished,
fell silent. Fatah Nosh showed the most elaborate hospitality to
the Amir: he himself went along with the Amir and wined and dined
him. When Qunduz was overpowered by drunkenness, he began to quarrel
with a champion of Fatah Nosh’s named Ilan. The Amir forbade him--he
scolded him for saying such things. In short, the celebration went
on for a number of days.
Then he heard of a most beautiful princess, daughter of King *Fatah Nosh
of #Khursanah, who refused to marry any of the numerous kings and princes
who asked for her hand. Hamzah decided to set out for Khursanah,
and Qunduz accompanied him.
When Hamzah reached the city, the beautiful princess, *Rabi’ah the Sackcloth-dressed,
was delighted, for Hamzah resembled a small portrait of a man whom astrologers
had always told her she was destined to marry. In the meantime, however,
one of her unsuccessful suitors, King Farang,/1/
attacked the city. Hamzah and Qunduz easily defeated and plundered
the attacking army. Hamzah continued to give his name as Sa’d of
Syria, brother of the Amir.
Fatah Nosh, taking his vazir aside, said,
“If Rabi’ah agrees, we could never find a better bridegroom than this.
Go and find out her inclination. If she agrees, then I’ll speak to
this young man about it, I’ll propose this marriage to him.” The
vazir went and spoke to Rabi’ah. Rabi’ah, lowering her head, said,
“Whatever is the king’s pleasure, I am his servant; whatever the king may
command, I will have no choice but to accept.” When the king heard
this, he begged the Amir to become his son-in-law. The Amir accepted
graciously and willingly. From that very moment preparations for
the wedding began. Sending for the astrologers, the king had a day
fixed, he had the astrologers appoint a day for this auspicious event.
On the day of the wedding, the Amir thought of ‘Amar: “Alas, that
‘Amar’s not here today! If he were present, he’d be extremely delighted.”
Now please hear about ‘Amar. Since the
day the Amir had urged his horse after the wild ass, and made Ashqar race
to pursue him, ever since that day ‘Amar too had set forth in search of
the Amir, and wherever the Amir had stopped along the way, he too arrived,
inquired about the Amir, and went on. Wherever he found a trace of
the Amir’s passing, that was where he went. When he arrived in Qunduz’
garden, the herdsman, upon being interrogated, said, “I don’t know the
Amir Sahib-qiran, I’ve never met anyone by that name. But a person
named Sa’d of Syria, the brother of Hamzah, came here; he spent some time
with us. After staying for some days, he took our master with him
and went off toward the city of Khursanah. ‘Amar realized that this
was the Amir. At once he set off from there at full speed, and reached
the city of Khursanah.
Consider the power of the Lord: a little
while before the wedding, he arrived at Fatah Nosh’s door. He said
to the doorkeeper, “Go and say to your king that a slave of mine named
Sa’d of Syria has run off and come to him, he has hidden himself from me.
Bind him and send him to me, and let there be not the slightest delay--otherwise,
it will be the worse for you!” The doorkeeper told this to the king.
The Amir asked, “What is his aspect and appearance and dress, how does
The doorkeeper said, “He is thirteen yards
tall. A red broadcloth hat five yards high is on his head, and on
it are two plumes, which constantly bob up and down even when there’s no
wind. He has a felt cloak about him, and a big bag hangs around his
neck, with a bow mended in several places, and some arrows without heads
or feathers at his waist, a paper shield at his back, a four-hundred-pound
staff in his hand. Over his felt cloak he wears a black robe so loose
that--not to exaggerate--a tiger-cub could live in its sleeve! Who
could stand against him, and who could say a word to him?” The Amir,
hearing the description, went out of the court. Everyone was very
‘Amar ran and fell at the Amir’s feet.
The Amir embraced him, he showed him much love and affection. Seizing
his hand, he brought him into the court and presented him to the king.
He told the king the whole story of his ‘ayyari and trickery and love.
The king said, “Please tell me his name--who is he?” The Amir said,
“This is Naushervan’s jester.” ‘Amar replied, “It’s usually Amirs
and kings who are the jesters--jesters are people of great honor and dignity!
How can a poor man like me claim such a station?” The whole gathering
burst out laughing.
When the time for the marriage drew near,
the Amir said to ‘Amar, “Go at once and bring some judge to perform the
marriage ceremony, do this without the slightest delay. But he must
be a Muslim, he must be a pious believer.” ‘Amar went out of the
court, and changed his appearance. He attached to his face a dazzlingly
beard two yards long; he took on the aspect of a holy man. He put
on a long shirt so loose that in its sleeve one of the Simurgh’s chicks
could live, he wrapped around his head a turban the size of a dome.
Taking in his hand a staff a number of yards long, and limping a bit, he
entered the court.
All those present, including the Amir and
Fatah Nosh, treated him with honor and respect. The whole assembly
with one voice said, “Before today we have never seen such a venerable
man in our city. Who knows where the Hazrat has come from to adorn
our city, to bless us all with the chance to serve him!” The Amir
seated the judge in a position of honor above him, and ordered that the
marriage ceremony should begin. ‘Amar carried out his command, and
read out the ceremony so mellifluously and correctly that the hearers were
moved to tears, they all felt a state of religious ecstasy come over them.
The king placed a thousand dirhams before
‘Amar. ‘Amar said, “I will take nothing but five thousand dinars,
I will never accept less than this.” Qunduz replied, “Oh Maulvi Sahib,
if you have no use for the thousand dirhams, please bestow them on me--if
they have no value in your eyes, give them to me instead!” ‘Amar
then took up two dirhams and placed them in his shoe. And he struck
such a blow at Qunduz with his staff that Qunduz began to cry out for help.
‘Amar disappeared from there. Qunduz began to grumble, “What’s the
harm, if I meet that noble judge sometime on the road, and take revenge
on him for this! I’ll humiliate him so thoroughly that he’ll remember
it his whole life!” The king asked the Amir, “After all, where did
that person come from?” The Amir said, “He came from the Unseen--God
sent him to this servant of His.”
Then Qunduz asked, “That jester who was here--where
can he have gone? He brought the sort of judge who would strike an
innocent person like me with his staff! My body still aches, he struck
me so violently. If I can’t get hold of the judge, I’ll take it out
on that jester, I’ll treat him very badly!” ‘Amar, after a little
while, returned to the court, and played a new trick: placing his
head on Qunduz’ head, he raised his feet into the air, and danced in such
a way that the whole gathering fell to the floor with laughter, they were
astonished at his trickery and pranks. The king too was very much
delighted with ‘Amar’s pranks, and said to the vazir, “I’ve never seen
such an incomparable man! Really, this man is a master of the skills
of ‘ayyari, he has acquired every kind of expertise!”
Afterwards, the flasks of colorful wine began
to be passed around, and the members of the gathering became thoroughly
intoxicated and began dancing about. The king gave a large reward
to ‘Amar, he contented everyone in every way. And for seven days
and nights the celebration continued. On the eighth day, the Amir
said to ‘Amar, “You go back to the army. I’ll come too, after some
days; I’ll stay and enjoy myself a bit here.” ‘Amar set out for the
camp. The Amir retired to the palace, and began to enjoy himself
night and day with Rabi’ah the Sackcloth-dressed.
After a few days, the attendants presented
themselves and gave the Amir the good news that the princess was pregnant.
The Amir said, “I will stay here until the baby is born, I will not plan
to go anywhere. Rabi’ah replied, “Oh Sa’d of Syria, I too want you
to stay, for I have worn sackcloth in my love for you--now it’s about time
I should spend a few days in enjoyment!”
. . .
. . . .
When the baby was born, Hamzah named him ‘Alam Sher of Rum, and admitted
his own true identity. He then went back to rejoin his own army.
The narrator writes that in the space of two
watches, one hundred and some-odd champions of the ‘Adi tribe had been
killed in this way at the prince’s hands. Naushervan’s whole army
lost heart, the fighters’ spirits collapsed in fear. For a time,
the prince continued to challenge them to battle, but no one came forth
from the infidel army to confront him, no one dared to encounter him.
Having no choice, he turned his horse’s head toward the army of Islam and
challenged them; he called out in a loud voice, “Oh Arabs, whoever among
you has a heart for battle, let him come before me, let him show me his
prowess and martial skills!” Farhad, obtaining the Amir’s permission,
urged his elephant forward.
One day a strange champion appeared before Naushervan’s army, and challenged
them to battle. He was known as the Prince of Rum, and no one could
stand against him.
The prince asked, “Oh you long tall fellow,
tell me your name, so you won’t be nameless when you’re killed, and no
one will grieve over your anonymity!” Farhad replied, “My name is
Farhad bin Landhaur, I have an absolutely unique style of fighting!”
The Prince of Rum said, “Attack me with whatever weapon in which you’re
most skilled.” Farhad replied, “It is not my custom to make the first
attack on an enemy. You make your attack, and if I am still alive,
I will make my attack, you’ll see what a shock I’ll give you!” The
Prince of Rum said, “In the name of God,” and struck a blow with his mace
at Farhad. Farhad, sliding back onto his elephant’s hindquarters,
warded off the blow. But the mace fell on the elephant’s head.
The elephant’s brains came out through its ear. Farhad leaped to
the ground. The elephant instantly fell dead, it at once took leave
of this world.
Farhad wanted to unhorse the Prince of Rum,
but the Prince got down from his horse and confronted him. Farhad
mounted another elephant, and prepared to fight. The prince too went
and remounted his horse. They both began to fight, mace against mace.
The prince saw that Farhad too was very skilled in mace-fighting.
Leaping down from his horse, he picked up Farhad together with his elephant
and, giving a battle-cry, hurled them both to the ground, and said, “Now
go, and send someone else at once, for there’s no strength left in you,
you have no further power to fight.”
The narrator writes that if Farhad had not
hastily leaped down from the elephant, his bones too would have been smashed
like those of the elephant, his skull would have burst from the impact.
But even as it was, Farhad was somewhat wounded, he suffered much pain
from the shock. From both armies came the sound of admiration and
praise. The Amir said, “We have heard it said of Rustam, that he
used to lift up his opponent along with his elephant and throw them to
the ground. But I’ve seen this prince with my own eyes!” People
replied, “’How can hearing be like seeing?’/3/
That is a mere tale and story, this happened right before our eyes!”
Farhad petitioned to the Amir, “The prince told me to go and send someone
else to encounter him.”
The Amir made a sign to King Landhaur, he
commanded him to fight. Landhaur, seizing Shabrang’s reins, went
before the Prince of Rum. The prince, spurring his horse, rode over
until he was stirrup-to-stirrup with Landhaur. Seizing Landhaur by
the waist, he picked him up from the horse’s back, lifted him a number
of hands-breadths above his head, hurled him to the ground, and said, “Go,
send someone else from your army.”
Sa’d bin ‘Amr bin Hamzah, spurring his horse,
went to encounter the prince. Both seized each other’s belts and
began to exert their strength. Both exerted so much strength that
their horses gradually sank into the ground up to their knees; they were
trapped like this a number of times. The Prince of Rum, releasing
Sa’d, said, “Go, and send Hamzah. I’ll see how strong he is!
I hear that he’s a man of valor and hardihood.” Sa’d returned and
gave his message to the Amir, he informed the Amir of his intention and
his claim. Landhaur said to the Amir, “Oh Sahib-qiran, this prince
seems to me to be of your blood. The Amir said, “If he were of my
blood, he wouldn’t fight with my comrades!” Landhaur said, “’Amr
too fought with you. He must want to test himself.”
Finally, the Amir galloped Ashqar into the
field like a master rider. Bakhtak said to Naushervan, “This prince,
without any doubt or question, is of Hamzah’s blood. The Amir’s sons
normally act just like this. Please enjoy the show--a battle between
father and son, a peerless combat, like the combat of Rustam and Suhrab!”/4/
Naushervan replied, “It wouldn’t be so surprising.” In short, the
Amir brought his horse over within reach of the prince’s horse, he came
to encounter him. The prince put his hand to the Amir’s waist; the
Amir too gripped the prince’s leather belt. Father and son began
to exert their strength.
Finally the Amir, giving a battle-cry, picked
up the prince and lifted him off his horse. He was about to hurl
him to the ground, when a voice came from the Unseen, an angel told him
the good news, “Be warned, Hamzah, don’t hurl him down with force!
He is your son!” The Amir, hearing the angel from the Unseen, gently
put him down on the ground and asked, “What is your name?” He replied,
“’Alam Sher of Rum.” With these words, he fell at the Amir’s feet.
The Amir embraced him and kissed his mouth repeatedly. Sounding the
celebration-drums, they entered the camp. The Amir, having found
him, felt very much at peace. He named the prince *Rustam Pil-tan,
the Lion who Overthrows Ranks.
The Amir said, “You’ve behaved very disrespectfully!
You overthrew my comrades’ battle-lines, and stood against even me.”
The prince petitioned, “My brother ‘Amr also did such mischief, and I have
committed the same offense.” The Amir introduced him to all his comrades,
and obtained their pardon for the prince. Since he was the Amir’s
beloved son, everyone treated him most affectionately, and the celebrations
went on for seven days and nights. On the eighth day the sound of
the attack-drum came from the infidels’ camp. The Amir had the war-drum
sounded, and entering the field, arrayed his army in ranks. From
Naushervan’s army a champion of the ‘Adi tribe entered the field and challenged
them to battle.
Rustam Pil-tan, taking leave of the Amir,
went forward. Parrying three blows, Rustam struck a single blow with
his sword that cut his one opponent into two halves. The narrator
writes that on that day Rustam Pil-tan killed fifty champions, with his
well-tempered sword he killed the pick of their young men. And for
some time he stood in the field, challenging them to battle, but from the
infidel army no one came forth. Having no choice, he spurred his
horse and fell on the infidel army. The Amir said to his comrades,
“Rustam, all alone, has entered the infidel army. All of you go and
assist him, don’t leave him alone in such circumstances.”
The moment he gave the order, the champions
of the Amir’s army fell on the infidel camp like carnivorous tigers.
They did such slaughter that the slain were piled in heaps, and the survivors
ran head over heels away. Rustam Pil-tan, having pursued them for
eight miles, returned victorious and triumphant. That day so much
loot fell into the hands of the Amir’s army, that they couldn’t lift it,
they couldn’t carry it to their tents. They had the money and goods
carried by porters, they conveyed it to their tents however they could.
Rustam came and fell at the Amir’s feet. The Amir embraced him, he
gave money and jewels beyond all counting to the poor for his sake.
They became absorbed in celebrating, all other work was abandoned.
. . .
. . . .
A powerful champion, *Qimaz Shah of Khavar, came to Naushervan’s aid.
His sister, *Khurshid of Khavar, was also a powerful warrior, but she was
overthrown and captured by Rustam; Rustam then married her. Qimaz
Shah challenged Hamzah’s army to fight. Neither Rustam not Landhaur
could defeat him.
Qimaz Shah, entering the field, challenged, “Hamzah,
why don’t you yourself do battle with me, why do you send boys to fight
me?” The Amir, spurring Ashqar to a gallop like lightning, came forth.
Qimaz Shah struck a mace-blow with all his strength at the Amir; the Amir
parried it with his own mace, and himself struck a mace-blow at him in
return. Qimaz Shah blocked it with his head, but all four of his
horse’s legs were broken, and sweat dripped from the root of every hair
on his body. Qimaz Shah, leaping down from his horse, wanted to bring
down Ashqar as well. The Amir at once got down from Ashqar’s back
and contronted him. Until midday, they fought with maces. Then
a sword-fight began; even in this neither could achieve anything.
Qimaz Shah began to praise the Amir.
The Amir said, “We’ve already fought with
weapons. There’s only one thing left.” Qimaz Shah replied,
“What is that? Please mention it, and tell me what it is.”
The Amir said, “You seize my waist and exert your strength, I will seize
your belt and exert my strength. Whichever one is dislodged from
his wrestling-stance will obey the other, he will never cease to serve
him as long as he lives.” Qimaz Shah consented, and said, “Hamzah,
you made a big mistake when you set up that condition! Really, you
made a major error, you’ve brought down a great disaster on your head.”
With these words, he put his hand to the Amir’s
waist. The Amir too seized his belt. Qimaz Shah used all his
strength, but the Amir’s wrestling stance could not be broken. Then
he was absolutely defeated, all his pride vanished. He said to the
Amir, “I used all the strength that was in me. Now it’s your turn,
now you try your strength. Put a hand to my waist.” The Amir,
giving a battle-cry, lifted him above his head, spun him around seven times,
and hurled him to the ground. Binding him hand and foot, he gave
him into ‘Amar’s custody.
Sounding the celebration-drums, the Amir returned
to his camp, and ordered them to bring the Khavaris and present them all
before him. ‘Amar brought them. The Amir said to Qimaz Shah,
“I won the wager, you lost it. So accept Islam.” He replied,
“If you kill me, then I agree to that, but I won’t agree to become a Muslim,
to abandon the religion of my forefathers. This is not the custom
of our family.” The Amir, growing angry, said to Landhaur and ‘Adi,
“Strike him with your maces and slaughter him, send this infidel to Hell!”
Both champions began to strike him with their maces, but he didn’t even
feel it at all!
The Amir, seeing this, felt the greatest regret
that such a powerful champion was slipping out of his hands to no purpose,
and unfortunately would not do as he said. He commanded, “Give him
into ‘Adi’s custody.” Qimaz Shah said, “How long will you keep me
captive, what’s the point of confining me?” The Amir said, “As long
as you live, I won’t release you from captivity, I’ll never cease to torment
you.” Meanwhile, Qimaz Shah said to the Amir, “I’m thirsty.”
The Amir had sherbet prepared, then recited some verses from the book of
and blew the words over it, and gave it to him. As soon as Qimaz
Shah had drunk the sherbet, his stony heart turned to wax, he realized
that the faith of Islam was the truth.
He said to the Amir, “Why don’t you kill me?”
The Amir said, “I feel regret, I feel very sorry at heart over your situation--that
a man of your power, hardihood, and chivalry should be killed, that you
shouldn’t give a thought to your own interests.” Qimaz Shah laughed
and replied, “Hamzah, I am now convinced that you are courageous and a
judge of merit, most gracious to the servants of the Lord. Come what
may, I agree to serve you. Tell me, what do you say?” The Amir
said, “Accept the religion of Islam.” Qimaz Shah at once, with his
father and sons and brothers, was ennobled by Islam. The Amir bestowed
on every one of them a resplendent robe of honor. And putting on
Qimaz Shah the Robe of Jamshed, he seated him in a chair at his side.
He arranged a celebration worthy of Jamshed, he provided all the requisites
word [farang] is often used for Europe, but here the possibility is not
developed in any way.
actual phrase is “as white as Buraq,” the horse-like creature the Prophet
rode on his Night Journey to Jerusalem and Heaven. Buraq is supposed
to have been of an exceedingly pure white.
line of Persian verse has become proverbially famous in both Persian and
reference to the famous combat described in the Shah namah (Levy 71-80).
Matthew Arnold has also written a long poem, “Sohrab and Rustam,” on this
book of Abraham is mentioned in general terms in the Qur’an, 87:18-19.
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