Click to View



I was told by al-'Anazi abu-'Ali on the authority of 'Ali ibn-al-Sabbah that Hisham ibn-Muhammad abu-al-Mundhir once related: I was told by abu-Basil al Ta'i,' on the authority of his uncle 'Antarah ibn-al-Akhras[1], that the Tayyi' had an idol called al-Fals[2]. It was a red [rock], in the form of a man[3], projecting in the center of their mountain, Aja[4] which was black. They were wont to worship [this rock], present their offerings unto it, and slaughter their sacrifices before its [ascent]. No man who was afraid and was seeking refuge would come to it without finding safety, and no stray beast would enter its confines without finding protection. The Beast would also become the property of the idol, sacred and taboo.

Its custody was in the hands of banu-Bawlan[5] while Bawlan himself was the first to institute its worship. The last of the banu-Bawlan to hold its custody was one called Sayfi[6]. One day he caught a milch-camel which belonged to a certain woman of the banu-'Ulaym[7] of the Kalb [tribe] a neighbor of a nobleman, Malik ibn-Kulthum al-Shamaji[8], and drove it




along until he brought it to the confines of al-Fals. Thereupon the neighbor of Malik called upon him and told him how [Sayfi] had taken away her milch-camel. On hearing her story he jumped upon the bare back of an unsaddled horse, took his spear, and followed after Sayfi. He overtook him by al-Fals and found the milch-camel tied within its enclosure. Addressing [Sayfi], he said, "Let go the milch-camel of my neighbor." [Sayfi] replied, "But it is the property of thy Lord!" [Malik] again said, "Let it go." [Sayfi] replied, "Wilt thou violate the sanctity of thy Lord?" Exasperated, Malik threatened Sayfi by pointing his spear against him. Thereupon, the latter untied the camel and set it free. Malik took it back and delivered it to the woman, his neighbor. Then the custodian approached al-Fals and, pointing to Malik, addressed it saying:

"O Lord, Malik ibn-Kulthum hath this day
Violated the sanctity of thy shrine;
But yesterday, thou wert inviolate."

Sayfi said this in an attempt to incite the idol against Malik so that it might vent its wrath upon him. it so happened that 'Adi ibn-Hatim[9] had, at that same day, offered a sacrifice before al-Fals, and saw what Malik had done. As he sat with a few companions discussing the incident, he trembled with fear and said, "Watch what will befall Malik this day." But several days passed and nothing happened to Malik. Consequently ['Adi] renounced the worship of al-Fals as well as that of the other idols and embraced Christianity, a devotee of which he remained until the advent of Islam, when he became a Muslim.

['Adi] was, therefore, the first to violate the sanctity of al-Fals. Henceforth whenever the custodian took in a stray beast [he was not allowed to keep it as the property of the idol]; on the contrary, it was taken away from him. Al-Fals continued to be worshipped until the advent of the Prophet,




at which time 'Ali ibn-abi-Talib was dispatched to destroy it. 'Ali destroyed the idol and carried away therefrom two swords called Mikhdham and Rasub (the same two swords which 'Alqamah ibn-'Abadah[10] had mentioned in his poetry), which al-Harith ibn-abi-Shamir, king of Ghassan, had presented al-Fals[11]. 'Ali brought them to the Prophet who wore one of them and gave it back to him. It was the sword which 'Ali was always wont to wear.

Here ends The Book of Idols.



1. Al-Afghani, vol. x, p. 155.

2. ibid., vol. x, p.155; abu-Tammam, Ash'ar al-Hamasah, ed. G.G. Freytag, Bonn, 1828, pp. 108, 784; Ishiqaq,p 232.

3. Wellhausen, pp. 51-53.

4. cf. Buldan, vol, III, p. 912, line 12.

5. Sifah, pp.125, 126, t37, 144; Buldan, vol. I, pp. 122-130.

6. Ishtiqaq, p. 237.

7. cf. Ishtiqaq, p. 237, line 5.

8. Ishtiqaq, p.316.

9. ibid., p. 235.

10. cf. al-Maarif, p.160; Sirah, pp. 947-950.

11. Al-Shi'r w-al-Shu'ara, pp. 107-110; al-Aghani, vol. xxi, pp. 171-175; see above, p. 13.

12. cf. above, p. 51.




Click to View