Al-Jahiz

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[pp. 53-55]

AL-JĀHIZ

(776 - 869 A.D.)

Abū ‘Uthmān ‘Amrū b. Bahr al-Jāhiz, a versatile writer from Basra. Quotations from: K. al-Hayyāwan (Ed. Abdel Salam Harun, Maktabah al-Jāhiz, 7 vols. Cairo 1943) K. an-nār wa-'ajā'ib al-buldān (lost), quoted by some geographers of the 10th century.

T.: 1. Harun

2. MC 533 v (Mas’ūdī, K. at-Tanbīh, p. 55) A:0


Abū ‘Uthmān b. Bahr al-Jāhiz said that Mahrān, the Sind and the Nile all rise from the same source. His argument was the fact that the flood season occurs at the same time, in all these rivers, all are infested by [p. 54] crocodiles and the crops are the same on the river banks. I wonder whether he has carefully enquired about this. In fact, crocodiles are found also in many other rivers of India. (Murūj I, p. 206 - 207; Tanbīh, p. 55).

Solomon asked his Lord: "O my Lord, give me such a kingdom that nobody will have the equal after me. God granted him the request ... Today, our kings are not comparable to Solomon in power. They are aware (of the power) of the Lord (sāhib) of Khazar, the Lord of Rum, the Lord of the Turks and the Lord (sāhib) of the Nūba; (Maktabah al-Jāhiz IV, p. 86).

How the Ḥabasha and the Nūba cure disease with the teeth and guts of hippos.

Some people who travelled extensively and spent some time in the country of the Blacks (sūdān) tell that the Ḥabasha and the Nūba who dwell on the banks of the Nile in al-Ḥabasha, often suffer from diseases of the spleen (tuhāl) as they use to drink dirty water and eat raw fish. Sometimes, they can cure them by pressing the molar teeth of a hippo (khayl al-māʾ) against their stomach, and actually they find relief, in some cases. They also claim that the guts (a’fāj) of this beast is a cure against a fit of insanity which may occur at the beginning of the lunar month (as-sirā’ allādhī yakūn fī-ahilla)<ref>A slightly different reading (sūdaʾ al-ahilla) could be translated "monthly pains" as MC actually did. Ibn Roste (q.v.), however, quoting the same passage, wrote junūn (folly, lunacy), instead of sirāʾ (epilepsy). Therefore, it seems that this reading (sirāʾ) is the original one.</ref>(Maktabah VII, p. 138).

It is said that the giraffe is found only in the Nuba country. Its name in Persian is "ushtur-kaw-palenk" as if it were [the cross-breed of] camel-cow-leopard. In fact, "kaw" means "cow", "ushtur" stands for "camel" (jamal) and "palenk" is "leopard". It is said that the giraffe is the offspring (wūld) of the she-leopard and the camel. It is said that in the upper parts of the [p. 55] country of the Nūba, during the hottest summer season, the lions (sibāʾ) and many wild beasts (wūhūsh) and beasts of burden (dawābb) meet along the streams of water and there they mate (between different species), and some of them conceive while some others do not. The result is that animals of different species (sūra) and features (shakl) and size (qadr) are born, one of which is the giraffe. (Maktabah VII, p. 241).

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