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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: 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

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

Delicious jokes: From Jeha the Arab, Abul Hosn, Khodja the Turkish, Mullah Nasr Din of Iran, Jahan of Malta, Jourka of Sicily… Part 2

Almost every culture has its own Jeha, representing the common people attitudes and social behavior. These practical jokes and naïve adventure immortalize the spirit of the people.

The Arab Empire civilization had its Jeha, who probably was named Dujayn ibn Thabit Yarbu3i and was born in Basra from the tribe of Fazara.

Jeha was the contemporary of caliphs Abu Jaafar, Mahdi and Harun Rashid.

1. A man farted visiting Jeha and banged on the chair to tone down the sound of it. Jeha said “And what about the odor?”

2. Jeha’s mother-in-law was carried away in the river current. Jeha ascended to the source saying “I know her pretty well: She is of  the contrarian kind

3. Jeha is taking a night walk “I am looking for my sleep”

4. Jeha’s two spouses are harassing him “Who do you love best? If we were drowning, who will you save first…?” Jeha looked at his oldest wife and said “You can swim. Can’t you?”

5. Jeha bought a dead hawk for a single dinar “It would cost me 100 dinars if it were alive”

6. “How the moon is pretty. Particularly at night”

7. The helper hawking Jeha’s bag of flour run away with the bag. Jeha saw the helper the next day and hides from him “I didn’t want him to remind me to pay for his services

8. The dead man woke up in the coffin and said to Jeha “I am alive”, and Jeha to reply “And you want me to believe you, while everyone else believe otherwise?”

9. “The moon is more useful than the sun: It illuminates the nights

10. Jeha bought 2 kilos of meat and was expecting a delicious supper when back home. The wife said: “The cat ate the meat”. Jeha weighted the cat and finds it unchanged. Jeha says: “I got 2 kilos. Where is the cat

11. Jeha maintained that he was 40 years old, no matter how older he got “A well bred person never recant on his word”

12. Two complained to jeha separately and told each one: “I give you reason”. Jeha’s wife was obfuscated and treated him of hypocrisy. Jeha replied “And you wife, I give you reason too”

13.Jeha was invited to dinner and arrived in tattered garment. He was kicked out. Jeha returned wearing his best attire and was welcomed. Sitting to eat, Jeha advanced his right sleeve to the dish saying: “Eat. You are the one welcomed here

14. A beggar knocked at jeha’s door saying “I am God’s host”  Jeha led the beggar to the nearest Mosque and said: “Buddy, you had lost your way and forgot the address.”

15. Jeha misplaced his hatch in the forest and the night was not helping find his tool. He paid a visit to the shrine of saint Abdel Qadir al Jilani, known to aid people find misplaced items. “Let me find my hatch and I’ll contribute 20 dinars to your shrine”  Jeha recovered his hatch and returned to the shrine “Now, help me find the 20 dinars…”

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

“The Book of Arab Humor” by Jean-Jacques Schmidt, Part 1

1. 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)

2. Abu Harith was cooking meat with friends. One retrieved a piece of meat saying “It lacks salt”, another “It lacks pepper”, “It lacks onion”… Abu Harith checked the pot and exclaimed “It lacks meat

3. I married a woman in Harran and she gave birth within 40 days. She explained “You built the walls on the foundation of another one…”

4. 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…”

5. The bereaved daughter was crying “Where are they taking you father? To a place where there is not light, no food, no drink, no joy, no conversation…?” The kid accompanying his father said “Dad? Are they sending this body to our home?”

6. The Abbasid caliph Mahdi (father of Harun Rashid) lost his hunting party and visited a 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


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October 2020
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