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305 305 A Section from an Adab Encyclopedia: The Chapter on Stinginess fromThe Precious and Refined in Every Genre and Kind by al-Ibshīhī1012 Al-Mustaṭraf fī kull fann mustaẓraf, by the Egyptian author Bahāʾ al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Ibshīhī (sometimes called al-Abshīhī, 790/1388– ca. 850/1446), is a popular example of a genre that flourished since the ninth century, when Ibn Qutaybah (d. 276/889) provided a model with his ʿUyūn al-akhbār. Al-Mustaṭraf is one of many thematically arranged anthologies with sayings, anecdotes, stories, and poetic quotations on a wide range of topics, religious and secular, serious and jesting, mostly dealing with the humanities and ethics but also including popular science, all designed to entertain, inform, and edify: in short, adab. For almost all anecdotes and verses earlier sources can be found, which are listed here only exceptionally. A major source for anecdotes on misers, one also used by al-Ibshīhī, is the entertaining work al-Bukhalāʾ by al-Jāḥiẓ (d. 255/868–69).1013 This chapter, the thirty-fourth of eighty-four chapters, is intended to illustrate several genres—the anecdote (nādirah), the satirical epigram (hijāʾ), the sentential or gnomic epigram (ḥikmah), and of course the genre of “adab anthology” itself. It is preceded by the chapter on its opposite, generosity, and is followed by a chapter on food and table manners, a logical sequence in view of the role of food in matters relating to stinginess and generosity.1014 Chapter 34: On stinginess, avarice, and misers and their stories. God the Exalted says,1015 «… such as are niggardly, and bid other men to be niggardly , and themselves conceal the bounty that God has given them…» God’s messenger—God bless him and give him peace—said: “Beware of stinginess, for stinginess has destroyed those that lived before you.” He also is reported to have said, “Miserliness combines all the bad qualities of the heart; it is the rein by which one is led to all that is evil.” Umm al-Banīn,1016 the sister of ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz—God be pleased with them—said, “If miserliness were a shirt I would not put it on; if it were a road I would not walk on it!” 306 306 306 306 Prose It is said that there were four Arab misers: al-Ḥuṭayʾah, Ḥumayd al-Arqaṭ, Abū lAswad al-Duʾalī, and Khālid ibn Ṣafwān. Someone passed al-Ḥuṭayʾah1017 who was standing at the door of his house, holding a stick. “I am a guest,” the man said. Al-Ḥuṭayʾah pointed at the stick and said, “I have prepared this for the heels of guests!” As for Ḥumayd al-Arqaṭ,1018 he made lampoons on guests, using gross language . Once some guests stayed with him; he gave them dates and then lampooned them, claiming they had eaten them stones and all.1019 Abū l-Aswad al-Duʾalī1020 gave a beggar a date as alms; the man said to him, “May God give you a similar share in Paradise.” He would say, “If we gave the poor what they wanted of our possessions , we would be worse off than they.” Whenever Khālid ibn Ṣafwān1021 came in possession of a dirham he would say to it: “You wander with your mates: how much longer would you roam and fly? I shall confine you for a long time!” Then he would throw it into a box and lock it. People said to him, “Why don’t you spend more? Your wealth is so vast!” He replied, “Eternity is vaster still.” Someone recited: Suppose I gathered wealth and stored it all, and then ’twas time to die: could I buy yet more life with it? A miser, if he stores his money, will inherit naught but misery succeeded by a heavy burden. Jaḥẓah1022 asked permission to visit a stingy friend of his. When he was told that the friend was feverish, he said, “You must eat in his presence, so that he will sweat it out.” Sahl ibn Hārūn1023 wrote an epistle in praise of stinginess and dedicated it to al-Ḥasan ibn Sahl, who wrote on the back: “We have made your reward in accordance with what you recommend in it.” Ibn Abī Fanan1024 said: Leave me, woman, let me spend...


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