March 24, 2020

Stay inside

One springtime, Rabi‘a was in her house with her head bowed low. Her servant said to her: "Come out, my lady, and look what God created!"
    Rabi‘a said: "Why don't you come inside to see the Creator, instead? My job is to observe Him, not scrutinize His creation."

From the Memorial of the Saints of Farid al-Din ‘Attar

March 15, 2020

At Wadi ‘Abqar

‘Abqar means "hail," which is the fall of frozen water from a cloud. They say that ‘Abqar is a land inhabited by demonic spirits (jinn), as in the proverbial expression "like the jinns of ‘Abqar."
    Al-Marrār al-‘Adawī said (meter: ramal):

    Do you recognize the abode, or do you not know it
        between Tibrāk and the stonefields of ‘Abaqurr?

It is explained [by al-Azharī that the place-name in this verse is altered]: The vowel after the b in ‘Abqar is inserted for metrical reasons, and the final is redoubled for these same reasons. The vocalic shift of a > u in the last syllable is to avoid the form *‘Abaqarr, which corresponds to no existing morphological template in Arabic. So the poet devised an analogy to words like qarabūs (the pommel of a saddle), which poets are licensed to shorten to qarabus; and the redoubled r is a fine compensation for this imaginary shortening of the vowel.
    Al-A‘shā (sic) said (meter: ṭawīl):

    ...young and old fighting men, like jinns of ‘Abqar

And Imru’ al-Qays said (meter: ṭawīl):

    The sound of the gravel kicked up [by my camel]
        is like the clink of coins subject to scrutiny at ‘Abqar

And Kuthayyir said (meter: ṭawīl):

    May your stars repay your kindness to your friend with a happy life.
        May my Lord rank you with His highest and His nearest.
    On whatever day you come upon [a certain foe]
        you'll find their ingrained quality superior to other people's.
    They are like the wild jinn haunting the sands
        at ‘Abqar, who, when confronted, do not disappear.

Commentators on these verses say that ‘Abqar is a place in Yemen, which would make it an inhabited area, known apparently for its money-changers. And where there are money-changers, there must be people involved in other trades. Perhaps it was an ancient town, since destroyed, and colorful textiles of unknown make have subsequently been attributed to the jinn of the place? God knows best.
    Genealogists say that Hind bt. Mālik b. Ghāfiq b. al-Shāhid b. ‘Akk was married to Anmār b. Arāsh b. ‘Amr b. al-Ghawth b. Nabat b. Mālik b. Zayd b. Kahlān b. Sabā’ b. Yashjub b. Ya‘rub b. Qahṭān, and bore him a son named Aftal, who came to be called Khath‘am. Khath‘am went on to marry Bajīla bt. Ṣa‘b b. Sa‘d, and the son she bore him was named Sa‘d - but was nicknamed ‘Abqar, because he was born near a mountain called ‘Abqar, somewhere in Arabia where patterned cloth was woven.
    ‘Abqar is also said to be a location in central Arabia. Those who say it is a land of jinns point to the verse by Zuhayr (meter: ṭawīl):

    On horses ridden by ‘Abqarī demons, they are
        prepared to seize the day of battle, and overcome.

    One opinion has it that ‘Abqarī is, at bottom, a descriptor for anything the describer is fascinated by. It derives from ‘Abqar, where carpets and other things were once woven, and consequently any well-made thing was said to be from there. Al-Farrā’ said: ‘Abqarī is a kind of velveteen with a thick pile. Mujāhid said: ‘Abqarī is brocade. Qatāda said: ‘Abqarī is carpet for lying down on, and Sa‘īd b. Jubayr concurs, adding that it is carpet of ancient make. Not one of these definitions is in reference to a particular place. But God knows best.

From The Dictionary of Countries by Yāqūt

March 6, 2020

October memories

Barkhamsted, CT, 2019. Music by Windhand