SIXTY-TWO -- The martyrdom of Rustam Pil-tan in the war against Ahriman Sher-e Gurdan, Ruler of Bakhtar, and the death of Qunduz Sar-e Shuban and Aljosh at Ahriman’s hands.
        Hamzah did finally marry Naushervan’s daughter Mihr Afroz, and she bore him a son, Mihr Shah.  Among other various adventures of Hamzah’s companions, Sa’d bin ‘Amr fell in love with a princess whom he saw in a picture, and set out to win her.  In the process he was overcome by her powerful brother, Hardam, ruler of Barda’.  Hamzah, going to Sa’d’s rescue, fought with Hardam, and finally conquered and converted him.  Hardam then asked Hamzah himself to marry his sister; Hamzah agreed, and did so.  Sa’d had meanwhile encountered, fought with, and married another princess, Hardam’s niece, so all were reconciled.
        Meanwhile, a physician named Mazdak went to Naushervan and offered to blind Hamzah and his companions.  Naushervan applauded the idea.  Mazdak went to Hamzah’s camp, posing as a specialist in eye remedies.  He at first provided some salve which Hamzah and his companions found most helpful against infections.  But he then substituted a poisonous compound which blinded them all.  Hamzah and his companions were in terrible straits, hard pressed by Naushervan and unable to see.x 
The narrator writes that a son of the Amir’s had been born from the womb of Hardam’s sister, and she had named him *Hashim.  And the wife of Sa’d bin ‘Amr bin Hamzah too had given birth to a son, and she had named him *Haris.  Both boys, great-uncle and great-nephew, were nine years old.  Because they were the same age, they loved each other very much, they had the greatest affection for each other.  The two used to go hunting together, and every day they ate together too.  Hashim bin Hamzah’s habit was, whenever he hunted a tiger, to roast and eat its liver; he always did this.  Thus his epithet had come to be Hashim the Tiger-eater.

When news reached their camp that the Amir was under siege, both great-uncle and great-nephew, taking a fierce army, set out for Ardabil./1/  After some days, they reached the fort of Ardabil.  They saw that the infidels were besieging the fort, the standards of their army had been raised in many places.  As a rapacious tiger enters a herd of goats, Hashim and Haris, drawing their swords, dashed into the infidel army.  They did such slaughter, they gave such full scope to their valor, that the infidels were driven senseless with panic, thousands of infidels fell prey to the crocodile of the sword.  Finally the infidels fled from beneath the walls of the fort, they camped at a distance several times more than arrow-range.

The army of Islam knew that help had come to them from the Unseen.  Opening the gate of the fort, they brought Hashim and Haris inside, they made them both enter the fort.  Both went and fell at the Amir’s feet, and told the Amir their names and origins.  The Amir felt an extraordinary joy, beyond all measure.  Seating the two boys on his knees, he began to kiss them, and people began to give gold and jewels in charity for their sakes.  Hashim petitioned, “This place is not good, the army will have the greatest difficulties.  It will be better if you come away to Barda’, for the army will be comfortable there.”  The Amir had the departure-drum sounded, and set out for Barda’.  The infidel army too followed along behind him.

When the Amir, with his family and companions, entered the fort of Barda’, the infidel army settled down to besiege it.  Night and day the Amir continually wept and prayed that his eyesight might be restored, he implored God to give his vision back.  One day Khvajah Khizr appeared; crushing a leaf, he put some drops of its sap into the Amir’s eyes with his hand.  The Amir’s eyes became as bright as stars, all obscurity and darkness were removed; his eyes were full of light.  The Amir, having been ennobled by the sight of Khvajah Khizr, said, “Thanks to you, I’m fine now.  But all my comrades are useless in their blindness, since losing their vision they have been miserably helpless and incapable.  And obviously a chief without comrades is good for nothing!”  Khvajah Khizr, giving him some leaves, commanded, “Drop the sap of these into everyone’s eyes, apply only this much medicine.  They will all regain their sight, through God’s grace their vision will be restored.”  With these words, he disappeared.  The Amir dropped the sap of those leaves into all his comrades’ eyes.  All the sightless ones regained their sight, through Hazrat Khizr’s grace they obtained their heart’s desire.

‘Amar bin Umayyah said to the Amir, “It seems that all this mischief was the work of that benighted Bakhtak.  If you command, I’ll punish him, I’ll take revenge upon him for this misdeed.”  The Amir replied, “He will inevitably receive the punishment he has earned.  What’s the point of causing anyone pain?”  ‘Amar was poisonously bitter against Bakhtak, how could he rest?  At that time he kept silent, for fear of the Amir he said nothing.  That night, he took on the appearance of a cook, and went to Bakhtak’s tent.  He said to the door-keeper, “Tell the vazir, inform him at once, that a cook has come from Byzantium.  Although he makes all main dishes and sweets very well, he cooks meat stew so excellently that he has no equal in the world.”

Bakhtak called him into the tent, he ordered him brought before him.  But he was afraid that this might be ‘Amar.  Then he said to himself that ‘Amar was blind, so this must surely be a real cook.  But even so, he sent some ‘ayyars to see whether ‘Amar was with Hamzah or not.  The ‘ayyars, leaving the tent, took counsel together:  “If by any chance this person is indeed ‘Amar, then if we betray him he’ll hold a grudge against us in the future.”  With this thought, they went off a little way, then returned and said to Bakhtak, “’Amar is with Hamzah.”  Bakhtak was reassured.  He ordered ‘Amar to cook meat stew, he at once provided him with all that he needed for it.  ‘Amar cooked an extremely fine meat stew.

Bakhtak went to Naushervan and told him, with great praise and admiration, about this cook, and informed him of his excellence.  Naushervan made him the chief of his kitchen, he gave him every kind of authority.  ‘Amar began to cook new kinds of food every day and serve them to him.  One night he put a hundred-and-fifty-pound pot on the cooking fire, but he put no meat, etc., in it--only water to boil.  When half the night had passed, he made the cooks unconscious and went into Bakhtak’s tent.  He saw that Bakhtak was snoring like a trumpet, and all those around him were deep in slumber.  He put several pinches of knockout powder in Bakhtak’s nose.  Bakhtak sneezed, and lost consciousness.

‘Amar, wrapping him up in a blanket, brought him into the kitchen, and put him into that pot of boiling water.  When he had been scalded, ‘Amar buried his head and skin in the ground, with ingenuity and prudence he put them under the earth.  With the remaining parts of his body ‘Amar cooked meat stew, and in the morning he placed it on the king’s dining-cloth.  The king bestowed portions of it on a number of nobles, and himself began to eat it, with much approval; he began to praise ‘Amar’s cooking skills to everyone.

It happened that a finger was found in the stew, and on that finger was a ring bestowed by the king.  Naushervan, seeing the finger, withdrew his hand from the dish.  He asked the cook, “Whose finger is this?  How has it gotten into the food?  Why have you cooked it?”  The cook said nothing, but the king recognized the ring as Bakhtak’s.  He commanded, “See what Bakhtak is doing; call him, bring him to me at once.”  When people went into Bakhtak’s tent, they found his bed empty.  They didn’t know what had happened, what misfortune had overtaken him.  They searched here and there, and submitted, “Bakhtak has disappeared from his tent.”  The king realized that the stew had been made of Bakhtak’s flesh.  He vomited and vomited until he made himself ill, from this terrible trouble he was in a very bad state.  ‘Amar, vanishing from there, went back and stayed with the Amir.

Meanwhile, Buzurchmihr arrived.  Naushervan first commanded Buzurchmihr, “Your portion of the meat stew has been put aside for you.  Have some, you too should savor this delicate dish.”  Buzurchmihr excused himself:  “I’ve just eaten, and having one meal right after another causes flatulence.”  At this Naushervan said, “I know the reason you don’t eat.  Beyond doubt you have discovered it all by means of geomancy, but you didn’t inform me, you deliberately told me nothing!”  Buzurchmihr said, “It’s not the custom of wise men either to speak without being asked, or to refuse to speak when asked; nor do wise men volunteer information.”  Naushervan, when he heard this proof, when this speech of Buzurchmihr’s confirmed his guess, was enraged, and had poisoned needles passed over Buzurchmihr’s eyes, he had him blinded.  And leaving Hurmuz in charge as his deputy, he himself went off to Ctesiphon.

Buzurchmihr said to the Amir, “Oh son, I’ve heard that the Seal of the Prophets, God’s peace and blessing be upon him and his family, has appeared on earth.  So send me to Mecca, that I may be blessed by meeting him, and have the good fortune to kiss his feet.”  The Amir, sending people with him, had Buzurchmihr conveyed in great state to Mecca, he sent him off most willingly.  Khvajah ‘Abdul Muttalib, meeting Buzurchmihr, showed him the greatest respect and honor.  And he caused him to kiss the feet of the Last Prophet of the Age, God’s peace and blessing be upon him and his family.

When Buzurchmihr sensed the perfect radiance of the Prophet, God’s peace and blessing be upon him and his family, he picked up the dust from under the shoes of the Prophet of God, God’s peace and blessing be upon him and his family, and put it in his eyes.  Immediately Buzurchmihr’s eyes became illumined--from the power of that dust light filled his eyes, and mystical knowledge of God filled his heart.  And this miracle of the Prophet, God’s peace and blessing be upon him and his family, became famous in every land.
.    .    .    .    .    .    .

        Hurmuz and Bakhtyarak persuaded Naushervan to incite the people of #Bakhtar, who were known to be cannibals, to attack Hamzah.  A letter full of lies and slanders against Hamzah was sent to King *Ga’olangi of the city of Alabaster.  Ga’olangi sent his son-in-law, Marzban Zardhusht, to fetch Hamzah, but Hamzah overpowered and converted him.  Next Hurmuz went to another cannibal king, Saryal bin Salsal, who was 140 yards high and ruled a region called Fate and Destiny.  But Saryal was offended when Hurmuz vomited after tasting a morsel of pig’s flesh at his table; in revenge he ordered his followers to fall on Hurmuz’s army and devour them.  Hurmuz, in dire straits, accepted Islam in order to win Hamzah’s help.  Hamzah overcame and converted Saryal. 
        Saryal told Hamzah of a tilism called Jamshediyah, inhabited by the White Dev, and Hamzah set out to conquer it.  He succeeded in breaking the tilism.  After he gave the White Dev a mortal wound with his sword, the Dev begged for a final merciful blow to put him out of his misery.  Hamzah shrewdly refused, and the White Dev died.  In the meantime, however, Rustam grew restless and sought an adventure of his own.  He decided to strike at another powerful cannibal king.
Rustam said to his comrades and brothers, “The Amir has gone to kill the White Dev.  And on the way back he will certainly go to Bakhtar, he will definitely stop off at that city too.  If before the Amir returns we go and subdue *Ahriman Sher-e Gurdan, then what fair renown we will gain!  Our names too will be entered as those of heroes.”  They all said, “The wish of our master is superior to all wishes.  We are under your orders; what you command, we will do.  We will never turn aside from obedience to you.”  Rustam set out at once, and after some days arrived near Bakhtar.

Marzban was already there.  He reported to Ahriman Sher-e Gurdan that Rustam had come, he informed him of his arrival.  That petty creature laughed a great deal.  Taking Marzban with him, he approached Rustam’s army and challenged, “Oh goats, whoever is eager to have his throat cut, let him come before me, let him come into the field and be slaughtered!”  Qunduz Sar-e Shuban, obtaining Rustam’s permission, fought with him, and was martyred.  The cannibals rushed to divide up every morsel of his flesh; they chewed up his bones, rib-cage and all.

Aljosh went and struck Ahriman so forceful a blow in the stomach, that his long dagger and even his hand sank into Ahriman’s stomach, but Ahriman was not injured at all, he never even felt the blow at all.  Ahriman Sher-e gurdan, seizing Aljosh, wanted to crunch him up also.  But Aljosh, with the greatest difficulty, got free and began to attack him.  Finally, as they fought and fought, that cannibal seized Aljosh and ate him raw.

Rustam saw that two renowned champions had been martyred.  Enraged, he seized his horse’s reins and went to confront him, he showed his valor.  Ahriman Sher-e Gurdan struck at Rustam with his mace.  Rustam blocked the blow with his shield, and struck such a sword-blow that if it had fallen on him, he would have been cut in two, nothing would have been left of him.  But he warded it off.  Rustam, leaping down from his horse, seized both Ahriman’s arms and exerted so much strength that the wall of his stomach burst.

Qasim of Khavar saw that Rustam had grown weak, and feared that he might be killed.  Spurring his horse, he gave a battle-cry and, placing his father behind him, himself began to fight; they took Rustam away to the camp.  Ahriman Sher-e Gurdan asked Qasim, “Who was he, and who are you?”  Qasim said, “That was my father, and Hamzah’s son.”  Ahriman replied, “If Hamzah is here, then why did that one give his life?  Why didn’t his father help him?”  Qasim replied, “The Amir has gone to kill the White Dev, he is not here with the army.”  Ahriman replied, “If Hamzah is not with the army, why should I fight with you little boys?  There’s no point in my confronting you!”  With these words, he went to his house.

As Ahriman went back that way, Qasim, with the army, went back to the camp.  He saw that Rustam had rendered up his soul to God, he had died from the shock.  There was extraordinary mourning in the camp of Islam, such that the heart of the pen cracks when writing of it, and those who hear of it turn pale with grief.  In short, after shrouding and burying Rustam, they all began awaiting the Amir.

When the Amir, after his hunting trip, came to Jamshediyah and saw signs that an army had camped there, he said to ‘Amar, “It seems that Rustam has come here, undoubtedly he has passed through this way.  He has left Jamshediyah topsy-turvy, and gone on toward Bakhtar.  May the Lord protect him from anyone’s evil eye, and show him to me safe and sound!  My heart keeps sinking for no reason, my heart is in my mouth.”  With these words, the Amir set out for Bakhtar.  When he drew near it, all his comrades and sons, bareheaded and barefooted, weeping, fell at his feet.  When the Amir heard of the deaths of Rustam and Qunduz and Aljosh, he fell from his horse to the ground, and began to roll in the dust.  He was utterly distraught, he suffered the greatest grief and pain.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .

In the morning, Ahriman Sher-e Gurdan, having the battle-drum sounded, came into the field, he brought many proud boasts to his lips.  The Amir too, arraying his ranks, confronted Ahriman Sher-e Gurdan.  He struck at the Amir with his mace.  The Amir, warding off the blow, said, “Make two more attacks!”  He, growing angry, struck such a forceful blow with his mace that Ashqar cried out in pain.  In short, when he had made the third attack as well, the Amir first of all laid his horse lifeless; and himself leaping down from Ashqar, he confronted him.  For a little while they fought with maces, then with swords.  Then, after a spear-battle, they threw nooses of rope at each other, but neither of them could bind the other.  When evening came, both armies turned back to their camps.  The next day as well, they fought and fought until it was evening, and neither overpowered the other.  The third day too, the same thing happened.

On the fourth day the Amir, giving a battle-cry, lifted him above his head, spun him around, and hurled him to the ground.  He said to ‘Amar, “Bind him.”  ‘Amar bound Ahriman and took him away.  And the Amir, drawing his sword, penetrated the enemy ranks.  Those who became Muslims were reprieved, the rest were slain by the harsh sword.  All the champions said to ‘Amar, “The Amir won’t kill Ahriman either!  You must take due revenge for Rustam’s death.”  ‘Amar at once heated lead and poured it into Ahriman’s ears.  That petty creature was sent to Hell.  The Amir came back and commanded ‘Amar, “Bring Ahriman before me.”  ‘Amar said, “Due vengeance has been taken upon him for Rustam’s death.”  The Amir fell silent.

The next day the Amir commanded, “Dig tunnels, place explosives, and blow up the cannibals who have shut themselves up in their fort.”  ‘Amar at once dug tunnels, placed explosives, and blew up the fort, he did as the Amir had said.  All the cannibals went into the flames of Hell.  The Amir, having won the war against Ahriman Sher-e Gurdan, set out.

/1/ Ardabil [aardabiil] is ruled by one of Hamzah’s champions.

== on to Chapter 63 ==

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