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1 Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi’s Introduction May God busy us both in obedience to Him, and may He hold you under His protection. You mentioned to me that you happened to hear about a party-crasher who came to converse with Nasr ibn ‘Ali al-Jahdhami, and that you wanted to study the story word for word and to examine it more closely.1 I told you that it had been related to me as well and by what chain of transmission, but we did not have enough time to fill in the details. So I was asked to write it for you and send it to you, and I thus undertake to collect what I have heard of the stories of party-crashers and accounts 1. Al-Khatib is referring to anecdote number 145, which likely proved interesting to him because it involves hadith transmission, his main area of study. The Art of Party-Crashing 2 about them, and anecdotes of their conversation and poetry. Perhaps there were more suitable topics with which I could have occupied my mind; the elaboration of some other subject could have been more appropriate and pressing. But I wanted to oblige your request and answer your questions; it is commanded and needful, a requirement and a duty, for I must ensure your esteem for me, and the purity of your friendship, and the sincerity of your love. In this book I have gathered for you instances of tatfil (party-crashing) and its meaning, the first person nicknamed and known for it, opinions about it, its praise and its condemnation, and stories about people branded as its practitioners—everything that gives the scholar’s mind a break from the heavy and the serious, so in perusing it, he can rest his thoughts from his uninterrupted study and hard work. 1 ‘Ali,2 may God be pleased with him, said: If your minds get tired, just as bodies do, seek out some entertaining information! 2. ‘Ali was the prophet Muhammad’s cousin. Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi’s Introduction 3 2 Qasama ibn Zuhayr said: Resting the mind stimulates the memory. 3 The Prophet gives similar license in a hadith told to us by Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Yahya ibn Ja‘far al-Imam of Isfahan, that Abu al-Hasan Ahmad ibn al-Qasim ibn al-Rayyan al-Misri in Basra told us, Tamtam, who is Muhammad ibn Ghalib ibn Harb al-Dabbi, related to us, Abu Hudhayfa told us, Sufyan told us on the authority of Salama ibn Kuhayl, on the authority of al-Haytham ibn Hanash, on the authority of Hanzala the scribe, who said: The Prophet, may God bless him and give him peace, was talking about Heaven and Hell, and it was as though we were seeing it with our own eyes, but then one day I left and went home to my family. We were laughing together, and I had a sudden sinking feeling. Then I met Abu Bakr, and said to him, “I’ve been a hypocrite.” “What do you mean?” he asked. “I was with the Prophet,” I replied, “and he was talking about Heaven and Hell, and it was as though I was seeing it with my own eyes, but The Art of Party-Crashing 4 then I went home to my family, and we laughed together!” “I’ve done the same thing,” said Abu Bakr. I went to the Prophet of God, and I told him what had happened. “O Hanzala,” he said, “were you the same with your family as you are with me, it’s true, the angels would bless you in your bed and abroad, but Hanzala, there’s a time for this and a time for that!” 4 The best and the greatest people never turn their noses up at a jest—they enjoy hearing it and are cheered when it is mentioned. It is rest for the soul and relaxation for the mind—the ear inclines to hear its tales, for therein lies the pleasure of conviviality. 5 Muhammad ibn al-Husayn ibn al-Fadl al-Qattan told me, Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Ziyad al-Muqri’ al-Naqqash told us that Dawud ibn Wasim told them in Bushanj, Abd al-Rahman, nephew of al-Asma‘i, told us on the authority of his uncle: Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi’s Introduction 5 I recited to Muhammad ibn ‘Imran, the judge of Medina, one of the most intelligent people...


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