Adonis Diaries

Arab Humor: Omayyad period, Part 3

Posted on: July 31, 2013

Arab Humor: Omayyad period, Part 3

In this period, three poets were famous: Jarir, Farazdak and Al Akhtal. Three humorous characters stand out:

1. Abul Aswad Du3aly (605-688). He was famous for his proverbial avarice. He fought with caliph Ali against caliph Mu3awiya in the battle of Siffin. He used to say “If we had to feed all the poor, we end up quickly in a worst situation”

2. Cha3bi (640-721). He was a modern liberal and had a prodigious memory. He was a frequent companion to caliph Abdel Malik ibn Marwan

3. Ach3ab (630-727). He represented the classes avid of quick wealth and honor at any price. The classes of parasites… He was the mouthpiece of clowns and public entertainment and the preferred humorist for a long period.

Samples of humor:

1. The friend: “Thank God for your illness”. The sick man replied “I don’t dare thank Him. Didn’t he say “If you thank me I’ll give you more?” And I don’t care for a worse illness

2. Robbers emptied the house of Abu Said. He followed them, carrying a few items the robbers didn’t find worth taking. The robbers turned and said “Why are you tackling us?” Abu said replied “I’m in search of a bunk to take refuge in

3. A robber didn’t find anything worth stealing in a house. The master of the house told him: “Close the door behind you”. The robber retorted “With all I got in your house, and you want me to be your servant too?

4. A beggar asking charity to a woman standing in the balcony. She was saying “I don’t have bread, cloths, this or that…” Finally, the beggar hollered to her “What are you doing up there? Come down, join me and beg with me

5. A Syrian grabbed an apple from the basket of a traveler ahead of him and then gave the apple to a beggar. His reason was “Stealing this fruit is one bad action. Giving it to a beggar is worth ten good actions

6. A beggar shouting in front of a house “O noble and pious residents of this house…” A voice replied from the inside “They have transferred

7. A man from Hijjaz said to ibn Chubruma “The source of science is from Hijjaz” To what he retorted “Yes, but your science never returned there

8. Ugly Walid ibn Yazid (future caliph) came in to visit caliph Hisham, his uncle. Walid was wearing an intricate laced turban that cost 1,000 dinars. Hisham was flabbergasted by this expensive item. Walid said: “This turban covers the most important part of my body. You purchased a girl slave for 10 times that amount, just to satisfy the vilest of your parts…” (The Omayyad Empire reached its vastest expansion, from Afghanistan to Spain during Hisham

9. The wife heard the imam preaching: “If your husband “honors” you once, you set the foundation for your palace in Heaven. If he does it twice, you erect the walls, the third times you raise the arches…”  The husband had to be awakened several times that night to build the entire palace. At last the husband got a relief as he reminded his wife “The masons told me that if the clay is not allowed to dry and hardened, the whole palace will collapse…”

Note: Extracted from the French book “The book of Arab Humor” by Jean-Jacques Schmidt

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