Friday, June 09, 2023 | Dhu al-Qaadah 19, 1444 H
clear sky
36°C / 36°C

More of ancient Arabic proverbs


23) Of a Blamed without Guilt: this was said by Al Ahnaf ibn Qais (619-691 A.D) the leader of Tameem tribe and a man known for his patience that it was said: “More Patient than Al Ahnaf ibn Qais”.

Al Ahnaf was sitting with some people when someone claimed that there is nothing he hates as much as dates and butter, to which Al Ahnaf replied: “Of a blamed without guilt”. It became a proverb that indicates the importance of putting the blame on the right person or thing.

24) Of a Shot without an Archer: There was a man who lived during Al Jahiliya period called Hakeem al Manqari who was an excellent archer. He swore to sacrifice an oryx for the idol he worshiped and went hunting.

He came across an oryx and missed shooting it more than once. Returning home with a great disappointment, his brother suggested to sacrifice 10 camels instead to fulfil his promise. But Hakeem was worried that something bad would happen if he didn’t keep his word and decided to go back hunting.

His son – a boy called Al Mutt’im - insisted on going with him to help despite his father’s argument of him being young and coward. How would a boy fulfil a task that a grown man had failed to complete? The two went together and were met by two oryx that Hakeem managed to miss again.

After a long argument, Hakeem agreed to give Al Mutt’im his bow and to his surprise the boy caught one instantly. The father exclaimed: “Of a shot without an archer!” which indicates being lucky or successful without a real effort.

25) Of a Bad Thing Turning Good: Arabs are strong believers that whatever happen in life happens for a reason, known now or later. And when bad things happen, there is always a good outcome awaiting those who persevere and have patience.

26) Of a Word that Took Away a Blessing: words are more powerful than weapons as they cause more damage when spoken without much thinking. Some people would add to this proverb: “... and brought in scorn”.

27) Of a Word that Begged its Speaker to Renounce it: this is similar to the proverb above. The story behind this proverb dates back to one of the Lakhmid kings Of Iraq (268-633 A.D) who suspected his maternal uncle of wanting to overthrow him. One day they went out hunting and came upon a hill.

The uncle wondered loudly: “If a man was slaughtered here where would his blood reach?”. Taking advantage of the situation, the king ordered his killing as a mean of finding out the answer.

Other resources mention a similar story of a king from the Himyarite Kingdom of Yemen (110 B.C-570 A.D) who executed his companion over a smooth rock after asking the same question.

28) Of an Excuse Worse than Guilt: Harun al Rashid the great Abbasid Caliph (766-809 A.D) asked the poet Abu Nuwas to show him how an excuse could be worse than guilt. Abu Nuwas asked for a few days to think and came back while the Caliph was standing in the balcony admiring his garden.

Not noticing his presence, Abu Nuwas slapped the Caliph lightly on the nape and the Caliph almost drew out his sword wondering loudly about the audacity of the act! Abu Nuwas answered coolly that he’d mistook the Caliph for his wife the queen, which infuriated the Caliph even further. That was when the poet pointed out that he was just demonstrating the proverb as was asked of him and the Caliph laughed.

(To be continued...)

Rasha al Raisi is a certified skills trainer and the author of: The World According to Bahja.

arrow up
home icon