Historical Tales and Anecdotes of the Time of the Early Khalifahs/Another sad Love-Story


A ND resembling the foregoing tale concerning love -^ ^ and the concealment of passion, together with the plain proof of its discovery, is the following story, which a certain person of those who are well-to-do used to relate.

One day while sitting in my house, behold ! a servant came in bringing a letter, and said, " A man at the door gave me this." So I opened it, And behold ! it contained the following lines :

Grief is far from thee, and thou hast attained happiness, And the King of all has withdrawn thee from sorrows. And in thy hands, wouldst thou bestow it, is the bahn For my soul, and members sick through wounds.

So I exclaimed, " A lover, by Alldh ! " and said to the servant, " Go out and bring him to me." And he went out, but saw no one : and this behaviour astonished me.

So I summoned all the slave-girls, both those who went out of doors and those who stayed at home, and questioned them about it. But as they all vowed that they knew nothing whatever of the history of the letter, I said, " I am not making this inquiry through jealousy of him who loves one amongst you ; but that she who knows anything of his case may be a gift from me to him, with all that she has and a hundred dinars." Then I wrote an answer, thanking the writer for his letter, and begging his acceptance of his beloved, which letter I placed beside the house with a hundred dindrs. And I proclaimed, " Whoso knoweth aught of this, let him take it."

But the letter and the money remained for days, and no one took them away. And I was vexed about it, and said, " He has been satisfied by the sight of her whom he loves." So I forbade those of the slavegirls whose business took them abroad from leaving the house.

And only a day or so had passed, when lo ! the servant came to me bringing with him a letter. And he said, " This has been sent to you by one of your friends." So I said, " Go out, and bring him in to me;" and he went out, but found no one. Then I opened the letter, and behold ! it contained these lines :

What is this thou hast wrought on a departing soul ?

A soul whereon the Angel of Death attends.*

Thy tyranny forced his presence, and in journeying

They wrestled till the soul burst its bonds.

And, by All^ ! wer't said to me, Commit iniquity,

And the world and what it holds shall reward thee ;

Surely I had said. No, for I fear retribution ;

And, No, wer't to bring me the same twice-told.

But for bashfulness I had shown who filled that dwelling —

My heart ; and had discovered the wishes of the beloved.

And I was grieved at his conduct, and said to the servant, " Let no one who brings another letter to you escape from your hands."

Now the time for the pilgrimage was near, and whilst I was descending from Mount Arafat,[1] behold !

Muhammadans believe that a tree grows in Heaven upon every leaf of which a man's name is written. When death is at hand, the leaf on which the dying man's name is inscribed falls to the ground, and is picked up by Azrael, the Angel of Death, who then proceeds to the abode of the sick man and awaits the parting of soul and body. The soul is supposed to come from the feet, upwards : the last spot where it rests, ere making its final exit through the mouth, being the clavicular bones. The words which I have rendered respectively " departing soul " and " burst its bonds " are, literally, " soul hanging upon the clavicle," and " broke " or " burst away from the clavicle."

When the soul leaves the body and is taken by Azrael, if it has belonged to a good man the Angel takes it in his hand up to Heaven ; but if to a bad man, he receives it upon the point of his spear.

A Muslim who looks upon the face of a woman not of kin to him commits a grievous sin. Should the wind blow aside her veil, or should she through coquetry or vanity remove it, he is ordered to cast down his eyes. If the sight be forced upon him, he must at the first opportunity confess the same to her husband or master. If the latter forgives him, he will also obey.


a young man, of whom but a shadow remained, rode at my side on a dromedary. And he saluted me, and I returned his salutation and welcomed him. Then he asked, " Dost thou know me } " And upon my replying, " It was not through ill-will that I failed to recognize thee," he said, " I am the writer of those two letters."

So I bowed myself before him, and said, *' O my brother ! verily thy behaviour has distressed me, and thy concealment of thyself has disquieted me, for I would have given thee thy desire and a hundred dinars."

"May God recompense thee!" he cried. ** Verily I am come to thee confessing the sight. My look was contrary to the laws of the Book and of tradi- tion." *


"Allah pardon both thee and the girl!" said I. " But journey with me to my house, that I may bestow her upon thee, together with a hundred dinars, which sum thou shalt receive every year."

But he answered, " I do not want it." And though I pressed it upon him, he would not have it Then I said to him, " If thou refusest this, at least tell me which she is amongst the slave-girls, that while I live I may deal kindly with her for thy sake."

But he replied, ** I will not name her to any one," and took leave of me and departed.

And that was the last I ever saw of him.

forgiveness when after his death he appears before AMh. But should he die suddenly, or should he postpone asking pardon, he and the man he has wronged will at the Last Judgment be confronted, and sentence upon him will be passed according to the forgiveness or otherwise of the injured man.

  1. One of the ceremonies observed by those performing the pilgrimage to Mekkah, is a visit to Arafat, a mountain near the city. Muslims have a great respect for this mountain, believing that when Adam and Eve were banished from Paradise they were separated for a hundred and twenty years ; but at last, wandering through the world seeking one another, they met and recognized each other on the summit of Mount Arafat.