Wednesday, February 21, 2024 | Sha'ban 10, 1445 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Honey flowing from Ibri

A Window into Contemporary Omani Literature The following is an English translation of an excerpt from “A Soldier from Oman: Memory’s Nectar” by (ret.) Inspector-General Said bin Rashid al Kalbani
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The Barghash Tree


An important feature of Miskan is the Barghis Tree. “Barghis”, as an epithet, has persisted through generations, albeit with no clear understanding as to how the tree was selected and who it was named after. I have been told by the ret. Brig Gen Ibrahim bin Saliyam al Kalbani that he stumbled upon a book in a library in the UK. Its English author asserts that he was in the company of HH Barghash when he visited Miskan. Hospitable as they were, the Miskan people received him with all manner of meat and honey. On his departure, HH Barghash got his robe entangled in the tree, thus it became to be named after him. Nonetheless, we don’t know for sure who exactly Barghash was.


This tree is where we learnt the Quran. Nowadays people get-together under the tree, in its shadow, for social occasions such as paying condolences. (A mosque has been built there recently).


Historic Occasion


Less than four years after late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos ascended the throne, he visited Miskan on his way from Al Khabourah to Ibri. Historic occasion as it was, everybody from the area, the elders, the children and the women, headed by the tribal leaders of Bani Kalban from Miskan, Maqniyaat, Aridh and Najed jubilantly flocked to see HM.


Though away in Britain on work, I was overjoyed. What made me all the more ecstatic was what I heard. When the guard began to take positions in and around the mountains, HM told them, “Relax; it’s safe here”. Many people heard him say this, and it was emphasised further to me by the ret. Brig Gen Yusuf bin Khalfan al Busaidy from the Royal Guard, who was in HM’s company. He also said that HM had kahwa (1) and conversation under the Barghash tree.


Renewing their loyalty to HM, people received the royal words with jubilation. It was such a noble gesture from HM towards the Miskan people, who had wished and waited for the royal visit with eagerness.


Honey Flows in “Yabt”


It would be no news to say that people in our village, like other Omanis, are particularly kind and hospitable. I remember Sayyid (2) Saud bin Harib al Busaidy (May God bless him) visiting Miskan on an official mission when he was the wali (3) of Ibri. He was accompanied by Shaikh (4) Hamad bin Saif al Kalbani, Shaikh Mohammed bin Abdullah al Yaqoobi and many others.


Upon finishing his official task, he was warmly welcomed in the then fertile Yabt valley by a number of people from Miskan and the neighbouring valleys. Traditional songs were sung, and a huge amount of meat and honey was served to him. Seeing the abundance of the honey, Shaikh Abdullah al Yaqoobi commented jokingly: "O God, you, the Miskan people, where do you bring so much honey from? From the wells?" There was so much honey that he thought it flowed like water.


The matter of fact is that there were no honey wells. It was but the hospitality of the Miskan people that made honey flow from Yabt and its neighbouring Wadi (5) Kabir. (The whole of the Hajar Mountain was famous for both the quality and the quantity of its honey).


People were generous not only to their guests, but also to their animals. They would dutifully feed them as and when they felt they were hungry or exhausted from long distance. Relieving the animals from the hardship of travel was a moral obligation upon their owners.


To be continued...


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1 Traditional Arabic “bitter” coffee (the translator).


2 An Arabic word somewhat equivalent to “His Highness”; it is exclusively used in Oman for the members of ruling family (the translator).


3 An Arabic word equivalent to “governor” (the translator).


4 An Arabic word for the tribe leader or for any man who assumes social importance; it is also used sometimes for an old man as a form of respect (the translator).


5 “Wadi” is the Arabic word for “valley” (the translator).


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