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The Maqámát of Badí‘ al-Zamán al-Hamadhání, tr. W.J. Prendergast [1915] at


‘ÍSÁ IBN HISHÁM related to us and said: I was appointed to the governorship of a province in Syria. There arrived there Sa'd ibn Badr 5 of the tribe of Fazára, and he was made wazír. Aḥmad ibn Walíd 6 was placed over the postal department,

p. 177

[paragraph continues] Khalaf ibn Sálim 1 was posted to the court of appeal, one of the Banú Thowába 2 was appointed to the secretariat, and the assessment office was given to a Syrian. Therefore the country became the delight of the intellectuals and their alighting-place. And they ceased not to arrive, one after the other, until they filled the eyes of the townsfolk and oppressed their minds. And among those that came, there arrived Abú’l-Nadá, the Temímite, 3 but eyes rested not upon him and hearts were not sincere towards him.

One day he came into my presence, and I appreciated him at his true worth, I seated him in the chief place of the assembly and I said: 'What hope has the Master in life and how does he find his affairs?' He looked right and left and then he said: Between loss and meanness, between baseness and contempt, and a people like donkey's dung. Prosperity smells them 4 but they are evil-smelling. They are treated with kindness, but show none, By Heavens! I have come to find them to be a people who resemble human beings only in head and dress.' And he began to recite:

'O land of Sijistán  5 may the countries be a ransom for thee!
And for the noble king the people!
And even if the days will help me,
And if mount and provisions take me there,
Still who will compensate me for what has perished of it,
And for the life which cannot be restored?' 6


176:5 Sa‘d ibn Badr. The Fazárite; I have not been able to identify this individual with any of the important persons of this tribe mentioned in the Ansáb of al-Sam‘ání, pp. 427-8.

176:6 Aḥmad ibn al-Walíd: I have not been able to identify this person and the name is probably fictitious.

177:1 Khalaf ibn Sálim: This name is probably fictitious.

177:2 Banú Thowába: The name of a family, originally Christians, not of a tribe as stated by the commentator, distinguished as official writers or secretaries of state. The most accomplished member of the family was Abú ‘Abd Alláh ibn Aḥmad ibn Thowába, secretary to the Khalífa Mu‘taḍid (A.H. 279-89). See Fehrist, p. 130.

177:3 Abú’l-Nadá, the Temímite: This is probably another fictitious name. There is no trace of any such person in the Ansab of al-Sam‘ání, p. 109.

177:4 It smells them: The commentator says it means 'to regard with favour or consideration.' It seems to signify to test by experiment which, perhaps, by an extension of meaning, may be said to connote to pay attention to, to take notice of and the like.

177:5 O land of Sijistán: Metre, wafir.

177:6 Still who will compensate me for what has perished of it (time), And for the life which cannot be restored: That is, what will make up for the time I have p. 178 lost, when absent, and for that portion of my life spent away from Sijistán, which cannot be recalled? This is a somewhat obscure passage and the commentator has understood it to refer to the death of the ruler, Khalaf ibn Aḥmad, but this cannot be as Khalaf died in A.H. 399 the year following the death of al-Hamadhání 398). It is evident this maqáma was composed before A.H. 393, the year in which Sijistán was wrested from Khalaf by Maḥmúd of Ghazna. See note on page 148, supra. Cf. the following parallel lines by ‘Ali Ḥusain, Governor of Ahwaz, brother of Sharaf al-Daula imprisoned and put to death by his uncle in A.H. 375.

Grant that time may conciliate me, and its vicissitudes regard me with favour,
That it recompense me with kindness and release (me) from captivity,
Still, who will compensate me for the days of youth that have gone,
And who will make up for me for what has been lost of my life in prison?
                                                 Ibn al-Athír, ix, 31.

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