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Story No 50-1/2

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50-1 - The Mock Caliph (1 of 2) :
The Caliph Meets the Second Caliph

One night the Caliph Haaroon al-Rasheed was restless, so he called his Vazeer, Zaafar, and said to him - "I desire to walk on the streets of Baghdaad and look into our folks affairs, but I wish to go in disguise. We will guise as a merchant so nobody will know us." They took one swordsman with them, got ready in merchants' guise and came out of the palace to walk on the streets of Baghdaad.

They came to the Tigris river and saw an old man sitting in a boat. They said to him - "We want a favor from you.  Take us down the river in this boat. Take this Deenaar for this favor." He replied - "Who are you to want to go on Tigris in the boat at this hour. Didn't you hear our Caliph crying out aloud that "whoever, great or small, men or boys, is found in the boat on the Tigris; his head will be cut and hung on the mast of his craft. See one of them is coming now." But the Caliph and Zaafar said to him - "Take these two Deenaar and take us under one of that bridge arches to hide us till the Caliph's barge has passed." The boatman said - "OK, Give me the money and sit in the boat and take the name of Allaah."

So he took the two Deenaar, had them sit in the boat, rowed the boat soon, but the barge came there with lights on. The boatman said to him - "Didn't I tell you that the Caliph passes along the river every night?" He muttered some prayers. He took the boat under an arch and threw a black cloth over the Caliph and his companions. From under the cloth they peeped outside and saw a man on the barge wearing red satin robe, holding a lamp of red gold. They saw another man like the first one along with 200 white slaves standing. In the middle was a throne of red gold and on that was a young handsome man clad in black dress embroidered with yellow gold. In front of him was a man as if he was Zaafar Vazeer and behind him was an eunuch like Masaroor with a drawn sword.

When Caliph saw this he said - "O Zaafar?" "Yes, Sir." "He looks like one my sons - Al-Ameen or Al-Maamoon." Then he examined the mock Caliph and said to Zaafar - "This team looks like as if the Caliph, Vazeer and the eunuch are standing. I am just confounded am amazed at this." Zaafar said - "Me too." Then the barge passed and got out of the sight. The boatman got relieved - "Oh, We are saved today." The Caliph asked the boatman - "Does this Caliph come down the Tigris River every night?" The boatman answered - "Yes, My Lord, He has been coming every night for the past year." Caliph Al-Rasheed said - "O Sheikh, We want another favor from you. You wait for us tomorrow night also, we will give you five Deenaar, for we are strangers here and are living in Al-Khandak." "With pleasure."

The Caliph and his team left the boatman and returned to their palace. Next day when the day had ended and all folks were dispersed, the Caliph asked his Vazeer and the eunuch to go to the Tigris River again to see that second Caliph. Thus they again went to the same boatman who was waiting for them. They hardly sat down in the boat that they saw the second Caliph's barge coming towards them. This time they saw different 200 men from yesterday. The Caliph said to his Vazeer - "I had heard people telling about this but today I have seen it with my own eyes." Then he gave 10 Deenaar to the boatman and asked him to take his boat as near to the barge as possible, - "Because we are in the shade and they are in the light, so we can see them but they cannot see us."

The boatman took them near the barge under its shadow, till they came towards the gardens that were alongside of them where they saw a large walled enclosure. The barge had cast its anchor and some servants were standing with a mule. The second Caliph landed, mounted on the mule, and went away with his people. Seeing this the Caliph and his party also landed there and made their way through the people and walked in front of them. The second Caliph's people saw three stranger merchants so they took offense to them. They caught them and brought them to the second Caliph. The second Caliph asked them - "How did you come here and who brought you here?"

They said - "O Lord, We are foreign merchants and are far from our homes. We have arrived here today and have come out for a walk tonight. These men came up and brought us to your presence, and this is our story." The second Caliph said - "Since you are a stranger, no harm will fall on you, but if you had come from Baghdaad, I would have cut your heads." Then he said to his Vazeer, "Take these men with you, for they are our guests tonight."

They came to a magnificent palace. No Sultaan might have possessed such a palace. Its door was of Indian teak wood inlaid with gold. Its tapestry was of brocade and silk. The second Caliph also entered and sat on a throne of gold studded with costly jewels. Then the tables were laid and they ate, then the dishes were removed, they washed their hands and wine was served in due order. The cup came to the Caliph also who refused to drink. The second caliph asked Zaafar - "What is the matter? Why doesn't your friend drink?" Zaafar replied - "My Lord, It is long time that he has left drinking this." The second Caliph said - "I have another drink, that is a kind of apple wine, your friend may like that one." So he asked one of his servants to bring Apple Cider, which he brought immediately. The second Caliph came to the Caliph and said to him - "Whenever your turn comes you may drink from this wine."

Then they drank and enjoyed for a long time. The Caliph said to Zaafar - "O Zaafar, By Allaah, We have  no such vessels in our palace. What kind of man is this?" Although they were just whispering, the second Caliph heard it, so he said to the Vazeer, "Whispering is rude." The Vazeer replied - "We did not mean to be rude. He was just saying to me that we have been to several countries and have had the company of many great kings but we have never had such pleasant night like this before. The people of Baghdaad say that wine without music often leaves you sick."

Hearing this the second Caliph hit the rod he had in his hand, and out came an eunuch carrying an ivory chair inlaid with red gold and a beautiful girl. He set down the chair and the girl sat on it. She had a lute in her hands, she started playing it and singing beautifully. Then came an eunuch once again, this time with a golden chair and a girl fairer than the first one; she sat down on that golden chair and started singing. The second Caliph cried with pleasure and took off his upper cloth. His servants put the curtain on him and gave him another dress to wear. 

In this process the cord of the curtain got stuck, so the Caliph could see his bare body. He noticed the marks of palm-rods on his body and said to Zaafar - "By Allaah, He is a handsome youth, but he is a foul thief." "When did you see it?" "Didn't you see the scars on his body?" In the meantime his servants had brought the new dress and he had put it on and sat on his throne again. He saw them whispering again so he asked them - "What is the matter, Sirs?" Zaafar said - "This my comrade, who has been in many countries, says that he has never enjoyed a night like this, so extravagant with so rich clothes, maybe worth of 1,000 Deenaar each."

The second Caliph said - "This money is my money, this stuff is my stuff, and each suit belongs to one of my servants and I assign to them with each suit of clothes the sum of 500 Deenaar." The he ordered to give them 1,000 Deenaar and a dress of honor.

After a while the Caliph asked Zaafar to ask him about the marks on his body, as what does he say about them. Zaafar said - "My Lord, Be patient, do  not make haste." The Caliph said to him, "If you will not ask him, I will kill you." The second Caliph again asked them - "What is the matter with you? What ails your friend that he always whispers?" Zaafar replied - "It is nothing, except that we are talking good about you." The second Caliph said - "Tell me truly what you are talking about." Zaafar said - "My friend saw the marks of beating with whips and palm-rods on your body, so he asked me "How come that the Caliph has to be beaten?" 

When the second Caliph heard this, he smiled and said - "My story is very strange. I am  not the Caliph. I just style in that way to win my will of people of the city." And then he told his story.

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Created by Sushma Gupta on January 15, 2002
Modified on 09/27/13