The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

Ibn Al-Sammak and Al-Rashid280

It is related that Ibn al-Sammák281 went in one day to Al-Rashid, and the Caliph, being athirst, called for drink. So his cup was brought him, and when he took it, Ibn al-Sammak said to him, “Softly, O Prince of True Believers! An thou wert denied this draught, with how much wouldst thou buy it?” He replied, “With the half of my reign;” and Ibn al-Sammak said, “Drink and Allah make it grateful to thee!” Then, when he had drunken; he asked him, “An thou wert denied the issuing forth of the draught from thy body, with what wouldst thou buy its issue?” Answered Al-Rashid, “With the whole of my reign;” and Ibn al-Sammak said, “O Commander of the Faithful, verily, a realm that weighteth not in the balance against a draught of water or a voiding of urine is not worth the striving for.” And Harun wept.

280 Bresl. Edit., vol. vii. pp. 260-1, Night dlxviii.

281 Ibn al-Sammák (Son of the fisherman or fishmonger), whose name was Abú al-Abbás Mohammed bin Sabíh, surnamed Al-Mazkúr (Ibn al-Athir says Al-Muzakkar), was a native of Kufah (where he died in A.H. 183 = 799-80), a preacher and professional tale-teller famed as a stylist and a man of piety. Al-Siyuti (p. 292) relates of him that when honoured by the Caliph with courteous reception he said to him, “Thy humility in thy greatness is nobler than thy greatness.” He is known to have been the only theologician who, ex cathedrâ, promised Al-Rashid a place in Paradise.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52