January 25, 2011

The source of the verse quoted lately

Abu 'l-Aswad al-Du'ali sent a messenger to al-Husayn ibn Abi 'l-Hurr al-'Anbari (grandfather of the judge 'Ubayd Allah ibn al-Hasan) and Nu'aym ibn Mas'ud al-Nahshali, who were revenue officers under Ziyad [ibn Abihi]. His hopes for the courtesy of an answer were gratified by al-Nu'aym, but al-Husayn tossed Abu 'l-Aswad's letter over his shoulder. On his return, the messenger informed Abu 'l-Aswad, who said:

        "When my letter came, you thought it was asking
             for charity, but my hopes lay in a different direction.
         My messenger informs me that
             your left hand took the letter,
         and with one look at the address you cast it aside
             like the cast-off, worn-out sole of your shoe.
         Nu'aym ibn Mas'ud is worthy of what came to him
             and you are worthy of what's already yours.
         It attacks and advances without awareness or knowledge:
             what else is stupidity, if not that?"

Muhammad ibn Sallam [al-Jumahi] said: "When a litigant got confused in his speech before [the above mentioned grandson,] 'Ubayd Allah ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Husayn ibn Abi 'l-Hurr the judge of Basra, 'Ubayd Allah quoted to him the verse:

        'He attacks and advances without awareness or knowledge.
             What else is stupidity, if not that?'

The man said: 'If Your Honor will allow me to approach, I have something to say.' 'You may approach,' said 'Ubayd Allah.
         "The man said: 'Of all people, it is you who have the most reason to keep quiet about that poem, for you know about whom it was spoken.' 'Ubayd Allah smiled, and said: 'It is evident to me that you are the wronged party in this case. Return to your home.' He then ordered the man's adversary to approach, and said: 'You are to pay him the full amount demanded.' "

From the Book of Songs of Abu 'l-Faraj al-Iṣbahani