February 16, 2019

On the eve of al-Waqit

Abu ‘Ubayda said: This is what I was told by Firas ibn Khandaq.

        Al-Lahazim ("The Middle Ranks") were [a tribal subgroup of Bakr ibn Wa’il, comprising the clans of] Qays and Taym Allah ibn Tha‘laba ibn ‘Ukaba, ‘Ijl ibn Lujaym, and ‘Anaza ibn Asad ibn Rabi‘a ibn Nizar.
        On some pretext, the Lahazim held a gathering whose true purpose was to launch a raid on the Banu Tamim. Their movements were spotted by a man of Tamim held captive by the Banu Sa‘d of Qays ibn Tha‘laba. The captive hostage's name was Nashib ibn Bashama al-‘Anbari, called the One-Eyed (al-A‘war). He said to his captors: "Bring me a messenger, that I may instruct my family concerning some affairs of mine."

        The Banu Sa‘d (who had purchased Nashib from the Banu Abi Rabi‘a ibn Dhahl ibn Shayban) feared that he would alert his tribe, and told him, "You may dispatch your message in our presence."
       "Okay," he said. But when they brought him a lad belonging to no tribe of the Arabs, he objected: "You've brought me a simpleton!"
       "By God," said the lad, "I am no simpleton."
       "You're an idiot," said the One-Eyed, "I can tell."
       "By God, there is nothing idiotic about me!" the lad said.
       "Then which are there more of," the One-Eyed said, "stars or moons?"
       "Stars," said the lad, "by a lot."
        The One-Eyed filled his hand with grains of sand, and said, "What is the quantity in my hand?"
       "I don't know," said the lad, "but I reckon it's a great many."
        The One-Eyed pointed at the sun and said, "What is that?"
        The lad said, "That's the sun."

       "I see now that you are bright and clever," said Nashib. "Go to my family and communicate my greetings. Tell them to treat their hostage with kindness and generosity, since that is how my captors are treating me." (At this time, Hanzala ibn Tufayl al-Marthadi was in the hands of the ‘Anbaris.) "Tell them to unsaddle my red stallion and eqiuip my white mare, and see to my affairs among Malik's kids. Tell them the boxthorn is in leaf, and that the women are complaining. And tell them to ignore the commands of Hammam ibn Bashama, who is a no-good, marginal person, and to obey instead Hudhayl ibn al-Akhnas who is felicitous in judgement."
       "Who are the kids of Malik?" asked the Banu Sa‘d.
       "My nephews," said Nashib.

        When the messenger reached Nashib's people and relayed to them the message, they were nonplussed. "This discourse is unknown to us," they said. "The One-Eyed must have lost his mind. We don't know anything about a mare belonging to him, nor a stallion. His whole herd is with him, as far as we know."
        Then Hudhayl ibn al-Akhnas said to the messenger, "Tell it to me from the beginning," and the lad related all that the One-Eyed had said from beginning to end. "Go back and convey our greetings to him, and tell him we'll carry out his instructions." And the messenger departed.

        "O ‘Anbar!" Hudhayl then cried, summoning the people. "Your comrade has expressed everything to you clearly. The sands in his hand are to make you know that a host of incalculable numbers is on its way. By pointing to the sun, he says that the danger is clearer than daylight. The red stallion he orders you to 'unsaddle' is the area of al-Summan, which he orders you to evacuate, and the white mare is al-Dahna’, which you are to fortify. And he orders you to warn the Banu Malik, and to bind them with an oath of mutual protection.
        "The enemy host bristles with weapons, and those are the 'leaves on the boxthorn.' And the women's ishtika’ is [not 'complaint,' but] their crafting of shika’ - meaning 'water-skins' for the men to take on their raid!"

         Nashib's people heeded the warning, and rode to al-Dahna’. They tried to alert the Banu Malik ibn Hanzala ibn Malik ibn Zayd Manah, who said, "We don't know what the Banu 'l-Ja‘ra’ are talking about." (This was their nickname for the Banu ‘Anbar. Ja‘ra’, like ja‘ari and jay‘ar, is the hyena.) "Their comrade's say-so is no cause for us to withdraw."
         The Lahazim showed up the next morning to find the settlement abandoned, its people having fled. So they went to seek them out at al-Waqit.

From The Flytings of Jarir and al-Farazdaq by Abu ‘Ubayda