Thursday, 28 February 2008

Adab: The Poem of Ibn Zaydoon

This is quoted from:
with due thanks to the sister for her excellent work
The Poem of Ibn Zaydoon
Ibn Zaydoon was a 4th century Andalusian poet. He was what they call رجل عصامي - someone who started life off on a low footing (poor and of low status) but worked their way up in society until he became one of the wuzaraa’ (ministers) and was respected by even the Amir.
Because of this and his ability to compose poetry very well, he was envied by many. The Amir at that time, al-Mustakfee had a daughter named Wallaada who was the attention of all the poets, but she was beginning to show some inclination towards Ibn Zaydoon. His close companions out of jealously turned to plotting against him and lied saying to al-Mustakfee that Ibn Zaydoon was planning to marry Wallaada and take Imarah (i.e. became the Amir).
As a result, al-Mustakfee imprisoned Ibn Zaydoon and below is a breakdown of a poem that he wrote whilst in prison, to his close friend Abu Hafs:

مـا على ظنيَ باسُ يـجرح الدهر وياسوThere is no doubt in my mindThat time wounds and yet cures
ربـما أشرف بالمر ء عـلى الآمال ياسُPerhaps it is despair thatTowards hope, a person it lures

Ibn Zaydoon is saying here that sometimes, despair itself pushes a person towards hope just as fear drives a cornered animal to attack & survive.

ولـقد يُنجيك إغفا لٌ ويـرديك احتراسAnd indeed obliviousness may save youAnd cautiousness destroys you

Looking too much into details and trying to read in to what’s not there may at times be a cause for our destruction whilst innocent obliviousness sometimes saves us from trouble.

والمحـاذير سـهام والمـقاديـر قيـاسThe perils are arrows But Fate is the bow

No matter how much we try to avoid harm, perils and trouble, at the end of the day they are only arrows fired from the bow of Qadr. “…What has passed you by, was not going to befall you and what has befallen you was not going to pass you by…” [al-Tirmidhi]. In this line of the poem and the ones following, Ibn Zaydoon reflects on his imprisoned state and the ultimate fate he met - he may have held high positions, but it’s an established law that people are raised and lowered, and the Dunya is nothing but a garment of enjoyment that we wear.

وكذا الدهـر إذا مـا عـزَّ ناسٌ ذل نـاسAnd surely, that is timeIf it exalts one set of people, it only lowers another
نلبَـسُ الدنـيا ولكنْ متـعةٌ ذاك اللـباسWe clothe ourselves with the DunyaBut only an enjoyment! That is its garments
أنـا حيـران ولـلأ مـر وضوح والتباسI am in a state of confusionThe matter is clear and but yet so murky

Here, he reflects upon what happened - he’s confused because his friends were the cause of his imprisonment, people he trusted proved to be treacherous. Yet the matter is also clear because of their jealousy and confession.

ما ترى في معشر حا لوا عن العهد وخاسواWhat then do you think of such a groupWho turned back on their promise and then betrayed
أذؤبٌ هامت بلحمـي فانتهاشٌ وانتـهـاسWolves, roaming and scavenging by my fleshRipping with their teeth and biting

He describes them as wolves, eating his flesh - alluding to the backbiting and slander that they took part in. He then says فانتهاشٌ وانتـهـاس - amazing usage of language! ‘Intihaash’ means to bite with the molar teeth whilst ‘intihaas’ means to rip and bite with the front teeth and canines - a picture is formed of wild beasts really digging into their prey (Ibn Zaydoon)

كلهم يسأل عن حـا لي وللذئـب اعتساسThey all seem to ask of meAnd wolves only seek to patrol

The treacherous poets constantly ask about Ibn Zaydoon, whether he’ll be out soon or whether they’ve gotten rid of him for good. Ibn Zaydoon likens them to a pack of wolves and he uses the word i’tisaas - wolves that go out at night, patrolling the area, seeking news of further prey.

إنْ قسا الدهر فللمـا ء من الصخر انبجاسIf time proves harshThen water in stone will only gush forth

Pressure and hardship are what cause water to suddenly gush from stones, just like the pressures and hardships of life mould a person and cause him/her to flourish.

ولئن أمسيتُ محـبو سـاً فللغيث احتبـاسIf I continue to be a mere prisonerThen the rain does remain imprisoned

He further consoles his friend (and himself) by saying that imprisonment is virtuous and sometimes only the best are imprisoned (when it’s done wrongly), just like the rain (ghayth) is with-held. Ibn Zaydoon uses the word ‘ghayth’ which is the rain that comes after a very long period, mostly after a drought and harsh seasons.

فتأمل كيف يغشـى مقـلةَ المجدِ النـعاسُContemplate then, how sleep seems to weakenAnd cover over the very eye of glory

Indirectly, Ibn Zaydoon calls himself ‘muqla al-majd’ i.e. core of honour and glory, and ’sleep’ in this context is the imprisonment. Hence, the Amir and those responsible for his imprisonment only bring humiliation upon themselves by covering over (imprisoning) the glory of their land (i.e. Ibn Zaydoon)

لا يكن عـهدُك وَرْدَاً إن عـهـدي لك آسُDon’t let your trust become a mere flowerIndeed my trust in you is as a myrtle

Very few people proved loyal to Ibn Zaydoon, one of them is Abu Hafs to whom this letter was addressed. He reminds him of the trust of friendship and tells him to strengthen it and make it like a myrtle which is a flower known to last long unlike other flowers.

واغتنم صفوَ الليالـي إنما العيش اختـلاسTake advantage of the clear nightsIndeed life is only a short instant

By clear nights, Ibn Zaydoon alludes to happiness and clarity of affairs, when people don’t betray and when matters are clear without confusion.

وعسى أن يسمحَ الدهرُ فقـد طال الشـِـماسPerhaps time will soon permitFor imprisonment has drawn long…

Sunday, 10 February 2008

An Interesting an Blessed Journey to Egypt

From 23rd of January till the 5th of February, I was in a journey to Egypt to visit my family and more importantly my Shuyukh. Blessed more than what I thought, the journey was a big addition to me in many ways. Beside visiting the Cairo International Book Fair and getting quite nice and rare books from there, I had the chance of meeting my teacher Sheikh Shebl Matar (78 years old) and reading the narration of Qalun to him as well as the recitation of Hamzah Al-Kufi through Khalaf and Khallad all from Ash-Shatibiyyah. I have got Ijazahas from the Sheikh in these ways of recitation.

Besides, I met some of the eldest scholars of Tajweed and Qiraat in Egypt whose Isnad is considered to be of the highest; Sheikh Ali An-Nahhas who has read to `Amir `Uthman and Abder-Raziq Ahmed Al-Bakri and also narrates from his father Sheikh Muhammad Tawfiq An-Nahhas. I have got an Ijazah in Hafs from Asim and another Ijazah in Hadith from him.

I have also met Sheikh Abdel-Basit Hashim (Born 1928) and got Ijazah in Hafs from Asim and and in Al-Jazariyyah and At-Tuhfah from him. Sheikh Abdel-Basit is one of the highest Isnads in Egypt.

I have also met the blessed Sheikh Abdel-Fattah Madkoor (born 1932) who is the highest and strongest Isnad in Egypt nowadays. He read to Sheikh Ali Ad-Daba' Sheikh of Egyptian Qurra and Sheikh Ad-Daba' narrates from Ash-Sha`aar from Imam Al-Mutawalli. He also narrates highly from `Uthman ibn Sulayman Murad who narrates from Al-Jareesi Al-Kabeer.

I have got Ijazahs from the Sheikh in Hafs from Ash-Shatibiyyah and At-Tayyibah and an Ijazah in Matn As-Salsabeel Ash-Shafi which he narrates from the author directly and got an Ijazah in Manzoomat Qasr Al-Munfasil of Sheikh `Uthman Murad as well and Al-Jazariyyah as well.

With all these blessings, I have also had the chance to meet my brother and friend Sheikh Abu Shifaa Suhaib Webb whom I enjoyed the company of very much, he read to me Al-Jazariyyah and I gave him Ijazah in it as well as a general Ijazah. We also got an Ijazah from him in Shama'il At-Tirmidhi.

I have also met, by mere conincidence, Sheikh Yahya Hawwa one day when I was in the fair and it was a very nice and pleasant thing.

I also enjoyed the company of Br. Suhaib Saeed from Scotland who is studying Arabic at the moment in Egypt. May Allah bless all our Shuyukh and give them long life and benefit us with their knowledge.

Abu Muhammad