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248 248 The Debate of Pen and Sword, by Aḥmad Ibn Burd al-Aṣghar704 The “literary debate” in which objects or concepts are personified and boast of their superiority is already found in Sumerian literature. In Arabic it occurs sometimes in verse but mostly in ornate prose, in a style not unlike that of the maqāmah, with sajʿ and the inclusion of some verse.705 The most common of several terms for the genre is munāẓarah (which is also used for the scholarly or religious dispute). A popular theme is the debate of pen and sword, which stand metonymically for civil administration and military rule, respectively, or civil servants and soldiers, literature and warfare, civilization and brute force, peace and war, rhetoric and physical power, words and deeds, and so on. The first fully developed literary debate of pen and sword appears in Spain, written by Abū Ḥafṣ Aḥmad ibn Burd al-Aṣghar (d. 445/1053–54), who dedicated it to al-Muwaffaq Abū l-Jaysh Mujāhid ibn ʿAbd Allāh al- ʿĀmirī, the ruler of Denia from 400/1009 until 436/1044; the concluding part of the epistle is an illustration of eulogy in prose, with a final short poem.706 In my translation I have not attempted to imitate the rhyme. ‫ق‬ � �‫�ب‬�‫س�ا‬�� ‫ت‬ ��‫ل‬� � ‫ا‬ ‫ن‬ � ‫أ‬ ��‫ف‬� � � ‫٭‬ ‫ه‬�‫ئ‬ ��‫�ا‬ ‫ي‬ � ‫ب‬ ��‫ن‬ �� ‫أ‬ � ‫م‬ � ‫ت‬ �‫�خ�ا‬ � ‫ى‬ � ‫ل‬��‫ع‬ � ‫م‬ �‫ا‬� ‫ل‬�‫س‬��‫ل‬� � ‫ا‬‫و‬�� ‫ة‬ �‫ا‬� ‫ل‬�‫ص‬� � ‫ل‬� � ‫ا‬‫و‬�� ‫٭‬ ‫ه‬�‫ئ‬ �� ‫ا‬ � ‫ل‬ � �‫آ‬ �‫و‬�� ‫م�ده‬�‫�ا‬‫ح‬ � ‫م‬� ‫ع‬ �‫ي‬ �‫�م‬ ‫�ج‬ �‫ب‬ � ‫ه‬‫لل‬‫ا‬ ‫�م�د‬‫ح‬ � ‫ع�د‬ �‫ب‬ �� ‫�ا‬‫م‬� ‫أ‬ � ‫٭‬ ‫ق‬ � � ‫�ف‬ � � ‫أ‬ � ‫ي‬ � � ‫�ف‬ � � ‫ا‬‫ر‬ ‫�ا‬‫ن‬�� ‫أ‬ � ‫ن‬ � ْ ‫ي‬ ��‫م‬� ‫�ج‬ � ‫ن‬ � ‫ن‬ �‫م‬� ‫��س�د‬‫�ا‬‫ح‬ � ‫�ت‬‫ل‬��� ‫ا‬‫و‬�� ‫٭‬ ‫ة‬ ��‫ب‬ ��‫ر‬ ‫�ت‬ ‫ي‬ � � ‫�ف‬ � � ‫�ق�ا‬�‫س‬�� ُ‫ن‬ � ‫ن‬ � ْ ‫ي‬ ��‫ب‬ �‫ي‬ �� ‫ض‬ �� � ‫�ق‬ � �‫و‬�� ‫٭‬ ‫ة‬ ��‫ب‬ �‫ل‬��‫ح‬ � ‫ي‬ � � ‫�ف‬ � � ‫�ق�ا‬� ‫ب‬ �‫�س‬� ‫ن‬ � ْ ‫ي‬ �‫د‬‫ا‬‫و‬� ‫ج‬ � � ‫ن‬ �‫م‬� ‫ة‬ ��‫م‬�‫�ا‬‫�م‬ ‫�غ‬ � ‫ن‬ �‫م‬� ‫ت�ا‬ �‫ح‬ � ّ ‫�ض‬ �� � ‫و‬� ‫�ت‬� ‫ن‬ � ْ ‫ي‬ ��‫ت‬ � ‫ق‬ � � �‫ر‬ ‫ب�ا‬ ��‫و‬�� ‫٭‬ ‫ة‬ ��‫م‬�‫ا‬� ‫م‬� ‫ك‬ ��‫ن‬ �‫م‬� ‫ت�ا‬ �‫ح‬ � ّ‫ف�ت‬ ���‫ت‬ �� ‫ن‬ � ْ ‫ي‬ ��‫ت‬ ��‫ر‬‫ه‬� ‫�ز‬ ‫ن‬ �‫م‬�‫ر‬ ‫خ‬ � �‫�ف�ا‬�‫ت‬ �‫ل‬� � ‫ا‬‫و‬�� ‫٭‬ ‫ق‬ � � ‫س‬�� ‫ن‬ � ‫ى‬ � ‫ل‬��‫ع‬ � ‫ا‬‫ر‬ ‫ص�ا‬� � ‫ن‬ � ْ ‫ي‬ ��‫م‬�‫ه‬ �‫�س‬�‫و‬�� ‫٭‬ ‫�د‬‫ب‬ �� ‫أ‬� � ‫ل‬ � � ‫ا‬ ‫ع‬ �‫م‬� ‫ً�ا‬ ‫م‬�‫و‬�‫م‬� ‫�ذ‬ �‫م‬� ‫ن‬ �‫�ا‬‫ك‬ � �� ‫ن‬ � ‫�إ‬‫و‬�� ‫٭‬ ‫ح��س�د‬ � ‫ل‬�� ‫ا‬ ‫ه‬‫و‬� ‫ج‬ � �‫و‬�� ُ ‫�م�د‬‫ح‬ � ‫أ‬� � ‫ل‬ � �َ ‫٭‬ ammā baʿda ḥamdi llāhi bi-jamīʿi maḥāmidihī wa-ālāʾih * waṣ-ṣalāti ʿalā khātami anbiyāʾih * fa-inna t-tasābuqa min jawādayni sabaqā fī ḥalbah * wa-qaḍībayni nusiqā fī turbah * wat-taḥāsuda min najmayni anārā fī ufuq * wa-sahmayni ṣārā ʿalā nasaq * wat-tafākhura min zahratayni tafattaḥatā min kimāmah * wa- 249 249 249 249 Aḥmad Ibn Burd al-Aṣghar bāriqatayni tawaḍḍaḥatā min ghamāmah * la-aḥmadu wujūhi l-ḥasad * wa-in kāna madhmūman maʿa l-abad * The long, stately periods of the opening make place for shorter and livelier sentences in the course of the debate. Here is the passage where the sword says, “The crunching sound of a millstone but no flour!”: ‫٭‬ ‫م‬ �‫ي‬ �‫�ئ‬‫ل‬� � ٌ ‫ه‬�‫�ج‬ �‫و‬�� ‫ه‬�‫ت‬ ��‫ر‬ َ ‫م‬� ‫أ‬ � ‫ف‬ � � � ‫ر‬‫ع‬ �‫ت‬ �� ‫ك‬��‫ل‬� � ‫�ا‬‫م‬� ‫ه‬�‫�ج‬ �‫و‬�� ‫ي‬ � � ‫�ف‬ � � ‫٭‬ ‫ن‬ � ْ‫�ز‬ُ ‫م‬� ‫�ا‬‫ه‬ �‫ي‬ �‫ل‬��‫ي‬ �� ‫ا‬ � ‫ل‬ � � ‫ع�د‬ �‫ر‬ ‫ة‬ ��‫ل‬��‫�ج‬ � ‫ل‬��‫�ج‬ � ‫و‬�� ‫٭‬ ‫ن‬ � ْ ‫ح‬ �ِ ‫ط‬ �� � ‫�ا‬‫ه‬ � ‫ع‬ � ‫ب‬ � ‫ت‬ ��‫ي‬ �� ‫ا‬ � ‫ل‬ � � ‫ى‬ � ‫ح‬ �‫ر‬ ‫ة‬ ��‫ع‬ � ‫ج‬ � � ‫ع‬ � ‫ج‬ � � ‫ل‬� ‫ق‬ ���‫ل‬��‫�ق‬�‫ت‬ �‫ي‬ �� ‫م‬ � ‫ل‬ �� ‫س‬�� ‫أ‬ �‫ور‬�� ‫٭‬ ‫م‬ �‫�خ�ا‬ � ُ ‫س‬��� ‫ن‬ �‫ه‬ � ‫ن‬ �� ‫أ‬ ��‫ك‬ � �� ‫٭‬ ‫م‬ �‫�ج�ا‬ �ِ ‫س‬��� ‫ع‬ ‫و‬�‫م‬�‫د‬‫و‬�� ‫٭‬ ّ ‫ل‬� َ ‫�ط‬ �� � ُ ‫ي‬ �� ‫م‬ �‫د‬‫و‬�� ‫٭‬ ّ ‫ل‬� ‫ق‬ ��� ُ ‫ي‬ �� ‫ب‬ �‫ر‬ ‫غ‬ � �‫و‬�� ‫٭‬ ‫م‬ �‫ي‬ � ‫ق‬ ��‫س‬�� ‫م‬ � ‫س‬�� ‫�ج‬ �‫و‬�� ‫ر‬ ْ ‫و‬� ‫ج‬ � � ‫ل‬�� ‫ا‬ ‫ة‬ �‫ر‬ ‫ث‬ ��‫ك‬ � ��‫ه‬�‫ي‬ �‫ل‬��‫ع‬ � ‫ا‬‫و‬��‫ه�د‬ � ‫ش‬ ���‫ي‬ � ‫٭‬ ‫ر‬‫ي‬ �� َ ‫ع‬ �‫ل‬� � ‫ا‬ ‫ف‬ � � �‫و‬� ‫ج‬ � � ‫ن‬ �‫م‬� ‫ش‬ ���‫ح‬ �‫و‬�� ‫أ‬ � ‫٭‬ ‫ب‬ �‫ل‬�� ‫ق‬ � � � ‫ه‬�‫ي‬ � ‫ف‬ � � � ‫ض‬ �� �‫خ‬ � �‫�ض‬ �� � ‫خ‬ � � ‫�ت‬ ‫ي‬ �� ‫م‬ � ‫ل‬ �� ‫ف‬ � � �‫و‬� ‫ج‬ � �‫و‬�� ‫٭‬ ّ ‫ب‬ �‫ل‬� � ‫ه‬�‫ي‬ � ‫ف‬ � � � ‫٭‬ ‫ك‬��‫م‬�‫و‬�‫ص‬� � ‫ن‬ �‫م‬� ْ ‫ر‬ ِ ‫ط‬ �� � ‫�ف‬ � � ‫أ‬ �‫و‬�� ‫٭‬ ‫ك‬��‫م‬�‫و‬� ‫ن‬ �� ‫ن‬ �‫م‬� َّ ‫ب‬ � ُ ‫ه‬ � ‫�ف‬ � � ‫٭‬ ‫ر‬‫ي‬ ��‫�خ‬ � ‫ة‬ �� ّ ‫ل‬��‫�ق‬�‫ب‬ �� ‫٭‬ jaʿjaʿatu raḥan lā yatbaʿuhā ṭiḥn * wa-jaljalatu raʿdin lā yalīhā muzn * fī wajhi mālika taʿrifu amaratahū wajhun laʾīm * wa-jismun saqīm * wa-gharbun yuqill * wa-damun yuṭall * wa-dumūʿun sijām * ka-annahunna sukhām * wa-raʾsun lam yataqalqal fīhi lubb * wa-jawfun lam yatakhaḍkhaḍ fīhi qalb * awḥashu min jawf al-ʿayr * yashhadū ʿalayhi kathratu l-jawr * bi-qillati l-khayr * fa-hubba min nawmik * wa-afṭir min ṣawmik * Having praised God for all His praiseworthy qualities and favors, and having blessed the Seal of His Prophets, we say: The rivalry between two noble steeds in a race, or two sapling trees planted side by side in a plot of earth, or the mutual envy between two stars that shine at the horizon, or two arrows shot together, or the mutual boasting between two flowers opening from their calyces, or two flashes that light up in a cloud: these are surely the most laudable forms of envy, even if, ultimately, rivalry must be condemned. One of the two horses may be one step ahead, one of the two saplings may rise higher, one of the two arrows may penetrate further, one of the two stars may be brighter, one of the two flowers may be fresher and lusher, and one of the two flashes may be more intensely brilliant. But the one that falls short will look forward to catching up and the closeness of their positions will kindle the fire of 250 250 250 250 Prose competition, even though they are separated by the calumny of critics and the envy of antagonists. The Pen and the Sword—which are two lamps that guide those who strive for glory toward their goal; two ladders that cause those who want to attain high ranks to join the stars; two roads that cause those who seek it to arrive at the path of nobility and that garner proud honor for those who jostle for it; two tools that cause the mouth of him who loves sublime acts to kiss their lips and that cause the hand of him who has desires to extend to them; two mediators whose intercession is never too late; and two instruments that join what cannot be separated—trailed the trains of...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780814745113
Related ISBN
9780814770276
MARC Record
OCLC
859687281
Pages
496
Launched on MUSE
2013-05-20
Language
English
Open Access
No
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