Thursday, May 17, 2007
Back in 1099...
"On Friday 19 August 1099 he [qadi of Damascus Abu Saad al-Harawi] led his companions into the great mosques of Baghdad. In the afternoon as the faithful were converging from all over the city to pray, he began eating ostentatiously, although it was Ramadan, the month of obligatory fasting. Within a few moments an angry crowd passed around him. But al-Harawi then rose and calmly asked those surrounding him how it was that they could feel so indignant at the violation of the fast whereas the massacre of thousands of Muslims and the destruction of the holy places of Islam met with their complete indifference. Having thus silenced the crowd, he proceeded to describe in detail the evils that had overwhelmed Syria, Bilad al-Sham , and especially those that had just befallen Jerusalem. The refugees wept, and they made others weep, Ibn al-Athir writes."
"Wearing no turban, his head shaved as a sign of mourning, the vulnerable qadi Abu Sa'ad al-Harawi burst with a loud cry into the spacious diwan of the caliph al-Mustazhir Billah, a throng of companions, young and old, trailing in his wake.
'How dare you slumber in the shade of complacent safety', he began, 'leading lives as frivolous as garden flowers while your brothers in Syria have no dwelling place save the saddles of camels and the bellies of vultures? Blood has been spilled! Beautiful young girls have been shamed, and must now hide their sweet faces in their hands! Shall the valorous Arabs resign themselves to insult, and the valiant Persians accept dishonour?'
'It was a speech that brought tears to many an eye and moved men's hearts', the Arab chroniclers would later write. The entire audience broke out in wails and lamentations. But al-Harawi had not come to elicit sobs.
'Man's meanest weapon', he shouted, 'is to shed tears when rapiers stir the coals of war.' "
From Amin Maalouf's The Crusades Through Arab Eyes