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religious rites of their ancestors, which continued to animate the disciples of pyrolatry, until repeated discomfitures, massacre and expulsion, succeeded in blending at length, with a very trifling exception, the vanquished with their oppressors, under the united and powerful sway of the Korân," P. 147.
Passing, however, this eventful reign, we proceed to extract a passage delineating the character of Othman.
« To the virtues of this prince, when he was no more, his enemies appeared to have done ample justice; the bitterest of whom, even Ayaishah, so strongly suspected of having hastened his destruction, and Saud e Wekauss, seem to have mourned his death with unfeigned sorrow. But if his character were to be estimated from the recorded testimony of his own party, there is scarcely a human excellence in which he will be found wanting. Of surpassing clemency, beneficence and piety; in integrity of mind and purity of manners most eminent; an exemplar to the orthodox, and a most upright and incorruptible judge, he was an inflexible enemy to every species of vice; in vigilance so persevering, and of such patient devotion, that he not unfrequently repeated the whole Korân in the course of one genuflexion. And lastly, though, during the period of a long life, he had exhibited repeated proofs of the most undaunted courage, yet so fixed was his repugnance to the effusion of Mahommedan blood, that even when he saw his life at stake, he persisted to the last moment in forbidding his friends to combat in his defence.”
« Othman derived his name of Zul Nurein, the possessor of the two stars, from enjoying the envied distinction of having been the husband of two of the prophet's daughters, Rukkeiah and Omme Kelthum, by whom, and six other wives, he was the father of eleven sons and six daughters." P. 184.
Notwithstanding the panegyrics which we have, from among many others, extracted from the work before us on the three successful rivals of Ally in the succession to the Khelafet, the character of that illustrious prince still rises above them in our estimation : and indeed on the whole, above that of any exalted individual offered to our contemplation in the copious chronicles of Islàm. His name awakens in our minds the most respectful remembrance ; and the sad fate of his family cannot but excite the deepest sympathy and compassion. He was the fourth, and, as the transient authority exercised by Imam Hussun scarcely entitles him to be included among them, the last of the Kholfa rashedein, the orthodox or legitimate successors of Mahommed.
The actions of a person so dear to all of the Sheiah sect, are of course recorded with commensurate enthusiasm by writers of that party : but, while making due allowance for the feeling which describes Ally as killing in one night five hundred and
twenty-three, or, according to another authority, more than nine hundred, of his enemies, we easily recognise in him the most heroic valour, as well as exemplary generosity and disinterestedness. In the sanguinary proceeding alluded to, in which upwards of thirty thousand combatants were slain, Ally is stated to have repeated the rekbeir at each mortal sweep of his celebrated double-edged sword zulfekar; which, committed to memory by an attendant, was considered as competent proof of the extent of the execution. On such slight grounds do oriental historians record as facts, statements of a highly improbable nature. The tekbeir consists in uttering Allah Akhbàr!-God is great an exclamation very common in the mouth of Mussulmans, and which served sometimes as a sort of war-whoop, and parole, among the early converts to the faith.
On his death-bed, Ally is said to have acknowledged that, including infidels, and those of his own persuasion against whom the cause of justice had unsheathed his sword, not less than ten thousand individuals had on different occasions fallen by his hand : an acknowledgment that we may also be permitted to receive with much qualification. Still the inference evidently deducible militates against the received impressions of the magnanimity, and generosity, and mildness of his character; opposed to which, however, no reproach of cruelty is exhibited, even by his political or religious antagonists. Whatever numbers he may have slain, fell fairly, it is averred, in fight, and in contests not sought by him; but provoked by what he might reasonably consider as rebellions against his, and other legitimate authority.
“ He died at the age of sixty-three, after a turbulent and unsettled reign of four years and nine months. His virtues and extraordinary qualifications have been the subject of voluminous panesyrics; and his warlike exploits, from his youth upwards, have been particularly celebrated in the *Khawernamah, a poem well known in the east, and which may, perhaps, contend in extravagance with the wildest effusions of European romance.
With his acknowledged talents and magnanimity, it is, however, difficult to account for that train of civil mischief and perpetual discontent, which continued to disturb him through the whole of his reign. His gallant spirit was probably incapable of bending to the ordinary shifts of political craft; and it is perhaps true, that the Arabian chiefs were not yet sufficiently disciplined to quietly see the sovereign authority monopolized by any particular fainily."
This hero was, like his two immediate predecessors in the
" This work, illuminated by numerous paintings, is, or ought to be, in the EastIndia Company's Oriental Library."
Khelàfet, destined to fall by the dagger of an assassin, whose zeal was whetted in this instance by the persuasions of a beautiful woman, of whose person he could obtain possession only by the murder of Ally. Her rancour sprang from a feeling of revenge for the loss of her father, brother, and husband, in a recent conflict with the Khalif, whose head, together with a male and female slave, and three thousand dirhems, was the price fixed by this sanguinary and mercenary woman for her person, which is thus noticed in the characteristic phraseology of the original.
“On his arrival at Kufah, Eben Maljûm became acquainted with, and violently enamoured of, a woman whose uncommon beauty and attractions he was unable to resist; whose name was Kettaumah, and of whom, adds our author, might justly be said, that her face was like the glorious reward of the virtuous, and the tresses which adorned her cheek, like the black record of the villain's guilt." P. 357.
To observe and lament the wanton effusion of human blood is as common as the pérusal of history---and no history exhibits a greater prodigality of life than the rise and establishment of Islàm, nor more instances of inexorable inhumanity. The massacre at Kerbela of upwards of seventy of the sons, grandsons, or intimate connexions of the illustrious Ally, is one of the greatest atrocities on record. It is detailed at considerable length, and in an affecting manner, in the work before us, and we had marked some passages for transcription; but as the necessity of abridging it would deprive the recital of part of its interest, we shall altogether omit it. The mind sickens at the contemplation of such turpitude; feels debased at being forced to acknowledge a fellowship of being with the actors in such scenes; and in the record of the particulars, deeply deplores the desolations of our nature. But there is no piece of history better authenticated, or more amply detailed ; and scarcely any historical incident more pathetic. One can scarcely wish to restrain a feeling of satisfaction in knowing that most, if not all, of the perpetrators of this horrid and accursed deed, were, as far as this world can witness, condignly punished-all suffered most ignominiously.
Nor doth the justice of this world thus terminate. The memory of all, and the names of many of the murderers, are handed down to these times in denouncing anathemas. Hymns and canticles of various sorts are gotten by heart by every Shiàh, and are publicly chanted in buildings set apart for the purpose, at the annual commemoration of the martyrdom of Kerbela. This mourning, which is, we believe, very uni
VOL. J. New Series.
formly observed in most Mahommedan countries, continues through the first ten days of the month Moherrem. The mourners issue from the Imàmbareh, or buildings above mentioned, with torn garments and dishevelled hair, and run in frantic procession through the streets of their towns, vociferating Hassan and Hussein, the revered names of Ally's sons, the principal martyrs of Kerbela, with suitable execrations on the Khalif Yezzid, and his murderous abettors. Two slight fabrics, domed, like Mahommedan tombs, highly ornamented with gilding, &c. are carried about by the crowd. Bloody clothes are sometimes placed in these tombs; and other fictions of pantomimic sorrow are introduced to excite a more lively remembrance, and a stronger feeling of resentment. To such a pitch of phrensy are these fanatics sometimes wrought, that it is not safe for a Sunneh to encounter them. The writer of this article has had opportunities of witnessing these wild processions, and has seen blood shed and lives lost in such encounters.
We are strongly impelled to remark the frequency of challenges to individual combat, which are recorded in the volume before us, and the avidity with which they were accepted, between parties in the ranks opposed to each other. They forcibly remind us of the candidates for this heroic distinction in the Iliad. The taunting speeches of the duellists, and the unfeeling insolence of the victors, are also similar; and, indeed, substituting Mahommedan and Pagan, or Christian, for Greek and Trojan ; and Khaled or Ally, and Kerreib or Gherraur, for Hector and Ajax, and other heroes, the result is truly Homeric. Nay, we have (p. 111.) a warrior spreading dismay and ruin through the enemy's ranks disguised in the armour of one still more celebrated. The Mahommedan Patroclus is not, indeed, slain; nor the armour of the Achilles of the faith lost, or the similarity would have been too complete for accidental coincidence. A reference to pages 44, 110, 119, 280, and others of this first volume, will evince the accuracy of this comparison in a very amusing manner.
Nor were these challenges and combats confined to men of inferior note. Generals and commanders in chief, and even sovereigns, among the early Mahommedans and their opponents, as well as among the Greeks and Trojans, gave and accepted challenges, and contended for mastery in the presence of their armies. Foremost on these occasions were the Khalif Ally, and the general of cavalry, the heroic and generous Khaled. A poet has immortalized the name and exploits of the latter ; and that the reader may form some judgment of
the strain of the work, our author has selected and translated these four lines :
“ Thy irresistible valour bath hushed the raging tempest; in battle thou hast been armed with the tusks of the elephant, and the jaws of the alligator; thy mace hath hurled the terrors of the day of judgment through the Roman provinces; and the lightning of thy cimeter hath spread wretchedness and mourning among the cities of the Franks." P. 89.
This fierce and intractable man was, like his apparent prototype Achilles, alive to the potency of female blandishments”; and Khaled also persisted, to an extent involving the deep displeasure of the Agamemnon of Islàm, in his attachment to his bright Briseis.
Tiresome and disgusting it would be to collect half the instances of atrocity detailed in this volume. We shall briefly notice two or three ; premising that we are willing to hope, for the sake of humanity, that a little oriental exaggeration is mixed with the details. A villain " armed with a little brief authority” finished his bloody career consistently. While in the agonies of dissolution, it was made known to him that certain obnoxious persons, to the number of several hundreds, were in his power. Speechless, and equal only to one slight effort, he passed his hand across his throat, indicating significantly and sufficiently, by this departing act, the fate of his prisoners. This is told of Yezzid, the author of the tragedy at Kerbela. On a par almost with this, in point of feeling, is the relation of another writer, that eastern despots have been known, without interrupting the conversation or amusement in which they may, at the moment, have been engaged, to notify their will as to an execution, by a slight horizontal motion to and fro of the hand. This would be at once understood, and acted on as a sufficient death warrant. Executions in the east are generally by decapitation.
Of another ferocious tyrant, it is related in the work before us, on the authorities enumerated in the early part of this arti
“ Exclusive of those who perished in battle, the amount of whom can be estimated by Him alone who knows all things, there fell by the arbitrary mandates of Hejauje not less than one hundred and twenty thousand persons. In a dream in which he appeared to some one soon after his death, he is made to declare that although for each of this numerous list of victims of his fury, Divine Justice was satisfied with inflicting on him the punishment of a single death; yet that for the execution of Sauid alone" (one oi his more illustrious victims)“ he was condemned to suffer seventy times the agony of dissolution. There were after all found in the different