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Arab Humor. The Abbasid period. Part 4

Four humorous characters stand out in this period:

1. Abu Dulama Zand, ibn al Jawn, was an auto derision poet and mocked himself, wife and children.

2. Bashar bin Burd (714-784) was blind. He is considered the best poet, second to Abu Nawas at the time. He was disrespectful of religions and their precepts, and lived in an ruthless society for the handicapped people

3. Abu Nawas (757-815).

4. Jahez (776-868) was the most famous author at the time and the most cultivated. He wrote “The Stingy” and “The Animal”

Samples of the humors:

1. The Abbasid caliph Mahdi (father of Harun Rashid) lost his hunting party and ended up at bedwin tent. asking to be fed. The bedwin fed him and poured date wine to the stranger. The first cup was an opportunity for the caliph to say “Do you know who I am? I accompany the Commander of the Believers“.  The second cup “I am one of the knights of the caliph”, the third cup “I am the caliph”. The bedwin closed the bottle and would not pour another cup. He said: “I am afraid in the fourth round you might claim that you are Prophet Muhammad

2. Caliph Harun Racheed told a man from Morocco (Maghreb, or the province of the setting sun) “The world is a bird whose tail is the Maghreb”. The man retorted “Correct. This bird is a peacock

3. Caliph Mutawakkel asked the blind Abul Ayn (eye) “How do you find my house?”. He replied “I have seen houses around the world, but in your case, it is the world that you built within these walls”

4. Caliph Mutawakkel was saying “The Moslems were not happy with Othman (third caliph). The first caliph Abu Bakr stepped down one step from the chair of the prophet in the Mosque. The second caliph Omar stepped down two steps. Othman stood on top of the chair. Othman was too arrogant and insensitive…” Abbad replied “You have to give thanks to Othman. Otherwise, we will be listening to you from the bottom of a pit

5. Harun Racheed told a man from the Maghreb “Aren’t you glad that we delivered you from the plague?”  The Maghribi man retorted  “Grace to the equitable Allah. Between your dominion and the plague…”

6. Caliph Ma2moun summoned a woman claiming to be a prophet by the name of Fatima. Ma2moun said “Do you believe in everything the Prophet revealed?” The woman said “Yes, I do”  The caliph said “Didn’t the prophet say “No prophet after me?” The woman retorted “Yes, he did. But never did He mentioned women prophets

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

Arab Humor. Before Islam. Part 2

Before Islam, four idiot characters stood out:

1. Ijl ibn Lujaym, the idiot of the Christian tribe of Bakr ibn Wael, which lived in Yamama in Iraq.

2. Bakil of the tribe Iyyad ibn Nizar ibn Ma3ad that lived in Mecca and on the borders of Najran in Yemen.

3. Habannaka of the tribe of Banu Kays ibn Tha3laba.

4. Maria bint Mu3anj, nicknamed Dugha (butterfly) of the same tribe of Ijl.

1. The son killed his mother instead of the man who was “honoring” her: “Otherwise, “I’d be killing a man everyday of my life”

2. Salama ibn Jandal was nonplused with the request of the tribe of Banu Tamim for “chanting a poem” to their glory. salama replied: “Do something that gives me ground to praise you…”

3. Bakil bought a sheep for 11 dirham. Unable to talk properly, he showed his 10 fingers and got out his tongue.

4. The girl proposing to a young man “Marry me. I’ll be associated to your worries and material difficulties”. The man replied “I have none of these worries”, and the girl said: “You’ll have plenty of them once you marry me…”

5. Ijl wanted to call his spirited horse the “One -eyed”, and went ahead and gouged an eye to his horse.

6. A man was overjoyed with a horse that came first in the race “I own the bridle”

7. Habanna Kaysi offered 2 camels for anyone bringing back a lost camel of his “There is so much joy finding a lost property”

8. A man swore to sell a 1,000-dirham camel for a single dirham if found. The camel was found and a cat was sold for 1,000 dirham as one lot with the camel.

9. “What have you anticipated for winter?”  The Bedouin replied “A long shiver”

10. Hajib ibn Zurata was dispatched by the prophet Muhammad to the Persian King Anu Sharwan.

He presented himself as “One of the Arabs”.  As he faced the king, he upgraded his status to “The Lord of the Arabs”. Why? He has met a king who addressed him and talked to him.

11. An old woman met the prophet as she was visiting his wife Aicha. She asked that Muhammad includes her in heaven. Muhammad replied: “Old women have no access to paradise” The woman was crying as he re-entered the house and he continued “In heaven, God transforms women to young virgins”

12. The third caliph Omar ibn Khattab was told “This person is ignorant of what is bad”. Omar replied “He risks to be the victim more than anyone else”

13. Zayd ibn Darim was in delegation to the king of Himyar (Yemen) who was on a mountain hunting trip. The kind ordered Zayd to sit down “thib”. The man jumped off the cliff. Thib in Zayd Arabic slang meant “jump”. The king concluded “Anyone entering Dhofar must learn our Himyari language”

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


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May 2020
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