Hatim Tai and the non secular journey


Farrukh Kamrani


August 22, 2021


Hatim Tai – as a fictional character impressed by the legendary chieftain from pre-Islamic Arabia Felix – is a wierd hero. I have to confess that as a baby I discovered Hatim relatively uninteresting after I in contrast him with the immensely sturdy and invincible Amir Hamza – the protagonist of Urdu’s longest dastaan – or Hamza’s intelligence chief – the crafty and hilarious Amr Ayyar, who’s now commonly known as Umro Ayyar.

As a baby, the one second after I heartily laughed whereas studying the Araish-e-Mehfil – Haider Baksh Haideri’s 1802 Urdu translation of Persian dastaan Haft Sayr – got here when Hatim cuts certainly one of his buttocks to feed a ravenous wolf in order that the predator may spare the lifetime of a mom deer.

Hilarious or not, this episode – which seems on the very starting of the primary of his seven arduous journeys – encapsulates Hatim Tai’s character.

Hatim is an ethical hero. He is mortal and doesn’t possess superhuman energy however he’s at all times able to sacrifice even his life so as to assist not solely his fellow human beings however all creatures of God, together with animals. Sacrifice is among the predominant themes of the Araish-e-Mehfil, often known as Haft Sayr.

Munir Shami, the prince of Khwarazm, has fallen in love with Husn Banu, the daughter of Barzakh the Merchant, however the latter will solely marry the one who solutions her seven questions – that are extra like seven seemingly inconceivable duties or labours.

Hatim, the younger prince of Yemen, undertakes these herculean duties for the sake of Munir Shami simply to assist this stranger meet his beloved and spends ten years, seven months and 9 days of his life in quest of the solutions to Husn Banu’s riddles whereas additionally going through innumerable difficulties.

However, it might be fallacious to recommend that Hatim’s solely energy is his magnanimity, generosity and selflessness and immense pity. Hatim appears to have the unusual capability to speak with all orders of creation together with folks of each area, animals, fairies, giants, mermaids and even dying.

He additionally possesses an amulet – a “mohra” offered to him by his first spouse, the daughter of a bear – which miraculously protects him from all poisons and fireplace.

And he makes it some extent to assist all and remedy everybody’s issues. That is why he gives a lion to both devour him or his horse so as to fulfill its starvation; presents a chunk of his meat to a wolf and intercedes with badgers on behalf of jackals and a hunter on behalf of a fox.

In truth Hatim’s merciful and caring nature typically compels him to place his “original tasks” in abeyance to assist handle the issues of the folks and creatures that he accidently meets throughout his journeys.

While searching for the reply to Husn Banu’s second query, Hatim comes throughout one other determined lover – an itinerant service provider – who’s unable to undertake the three labours his beloved has set as a precondition to their marriage.

Upon listening to his plight, Hatim instantly units out to unravel these riddles as properly. However, these momentary deviations in his journey, which additionally present digressions from the principle narrative – typically assist the protagonist make new mates and devoted allies who later assist him in answering Husn Banu’s questions.

In truth one other main theme of Hatim’s story is that in the event you resolve to assist somebody only for the sake of God, all creatures of God – in truth your entire universe – come to your help. That is why Hatim seldom sleeps hungry even in essentially the most desolate of wildernesses as some mysterious particular person typically seems from nowhere with a platter of well-prepared meals and a pitcher of chilly, clear water on the time of a meal.

He can also be guided by saintly previous males in his desires and even Hazrat Khizer – the immortal helper of the misguided – involves his rescue in particular person greater than as soon as when Hatim is enchanted by the magic of Sham Ahmar Jadu. People of distant lands and even animals acknowledge this hero after they see him or study his devoted self-sacrifice and generosity. There is a point out of Hatim within the oral tales and legends of various cultures, folks and creatures, who typically welcome him because the savior promised by their ancestors.

However, regardless of all this, Hatim is a human with some weaknesses. According to well-known researcher and scholar Dr Muhammad Aslam Qureshi, Hatim can also be extremely vulnerable to magnificence.

“Like all the other lovers of this dastaan, Hatim [is also highly influenced by the beauty of the fair sex] and he loses his mind when he looks at Algan Pari. He [even] faints when he witnesses [the good looks] of Pari Noosh Lub and is smitten by Malka Zari Poosh and becomes a victim of love at first sight.”

In his preface to the Araish-e-Mehfil, Dr Qureshi highlights that regardless of his immense generosity, the sight of a valley made up of jewels and pearls “makes his mouth water” and he begins greedily filling his pockets with as many jewels as he can.

“Fear is also a part of human nature and Hatim also trembles with fear at times. He is so terrorized once that he cannot muster enough strength to take his mohra [amulet] out of his pocket. He at times closes his eyes and sinks to the ground out of fear. Sometimes he even starts weeping at the thought of death and sometimes he suffers from confusion and anxiety.”

However, the scholar believes that each one these shortcomings don’t mitigate Hatim’s stature as an Ideal persona relatively these weaknesses additionally make him “a human character” and “immortal persona.

According to Dr Qureshi, the Araish-e-Mehfil [Haft Sayr] is stuffed with direct or implied classes in morality. He believes that three of the “questions” of Husn Banu – Do good act and solid upon the waters; Don’t do evil, for what goes round comes round and truthfulness ensures happiness – are moral rules. Dr Qureshi additionally gleans numerous traces from the e-book which spotlight ethical values like “everyone treats his guests gently” or “good people don’t break a promise after making a commitment” or “the people who cause pain to others make their own lives difficult”.

While Dr Qureshi views the Araish-e-Mehfil [or Haft Sayr] as a didactic story, highlighting the ethical values as properly social and cultural life and beliefs of a folks in mediaeval or conventional communities, Duncan Forbes, the person who in 1830 translated Hatim’s story into English, believes that the “one merit” that the dastaan “certainly possesses” is its “humane and heroic tendency”.

Otherwise, to Duncan Forbes, the dastaan may be very a lot just like European romances of “the chivalrous ages” submit crusades in its perception in “demons, fairies, magicians with their enchanted palaces, and talismans and charms.”

According to Forbes, the unknown author of Haft Sayr has spurned “the bounds of reality” and “has created an ideal world of his own, with that wildness and extravagance of fancy which characterize an eastern imagination.”

But is the Araish-e-Mehfil or the Haft Sayr only a didactic story or a fantasy created by some primitive and superstitious artist? I’ve no definitive reply to this query however I at all times really feel that the story of Hatim hides a secret and delicate which means.

The identify of Husn Banu’s father “Barzakh” is fairly significant as this Arabic phrase refers to “limbo” – the place the place human spirits dwell previous to the Day of Judgment, in accordance with Islamic metaphysics. Barzakh shouldn’t be a typical identify amongst Muslims.

In his first journey, Hatim finally reaches Dasht-e-Huwaida, which accurately means the world of manifestations or the fabric world. It can also be aworld of gorgeous photos. You can watch these photos and exquisite kinds however in the event you tried to pay money for them they’d disappear.

Sohail Ahmed Khan, a scholar and educational, additionally hints at the potential of Hatim’s seven journeys representing the seven levels of Rah-e-Salook, the non secular path.

He has resembled these seven journeys to the journey of the birds in Farid Uddin Attar’s Mantiq-ut-Tayr – the Conference of the Bird – which is considered a textual content e-book of Islamic mysticism.

He enumerates names of the seven valleys – valleys of Desire, Love, Knowledge, Detachment, Unity, Wonderment and Poverty and Annihilation – that the birds in Attar’s e-book cross to reach their legendary king after which attracts parallels between the birds’ tribulations in every valley and Hatim’s journey’s.

“[The first step of Rah-e-Sulook is Desire and Husun Banu’s] first query can also be about want: What I as soon as noticed, I lengthy for a second time. In the primary journey Hatim frequently meets animals and weds the bear’s daughter. Probably it signifies that this journey is going down throughout the physique.

“[The second question is] “do good and cast it upon the waters”. In this journey, Hatim kills Huluqa – a monster with 9 heads by exhibiting it the mirror. If it’s the Valley of Love then this monster represents pleasure and conceitedness, which [in Islamic Sufism] is the foundation reason behind all sins.

“The third question is “do no evil; if you do, such shall you meet with”. In this journey Hatim meets fairies and the Angel of Death tells him that he’ll reach an previous age.

“[Husn Banu’s fourth question is] “he who speaks the truth is always happy”. In this journey, essentially the most important [symbol] is the river of blood on the financial institution of which there’s a tree with human human heads dangling from it and laughing. In this episode, Hatim can also be thrown into fireplace.”

According to Sohail Ahmed Khan, Hatim’s final activity is “to bring an account of the Bath of Badgard”, which can characterize annihilation of a Sufi’s self. I are likely to agree with Khan.

Haft Sayr or Araish-e-Mehfil?

The Haft Sayr is the Persian dastaan about Hatim Tai. According to Duncan Forbes, the manuscript of “Haft Sayr” that he translated into his “Adventures of Hatim Tai” was “procured in the East in 1824” and it didn’t point out the time and place of its writing.

While translating ‘Haft Sayr”, he got here throughout eight different manuscripts with slight variations in narrative.

The Araish-e-Mehfil is the Urdu translation of the Haft Sayr, by Haider Baksh Haideri, an worker of Calcutta’s Fort-William College. The Araishe-e-Mehfil appeared for the primary time in 1801.

In his preface, Haideri writes that he translated the e-book written by “someone” in Persian into “Zuban-e-Rekhta” – that’s Urdu – whereas additionally making some additions to make the story longer and attention-grabbing.

Duncan Forbes, nonetheless, writes that the manuscript of the Haft Sayr on the Fort-William College – which Haideri apparently relied on – was “greatly abridged”. “The adventures and scenes that remain [in the Fort-William] manuscript are altered and the language rendered more flowery and artificial.”

Interestingly, Forbes’s translation additionally censors many scenes or dialogues in all probability in an try to not harm the ethical sensibilities of the Victorian Age. For instance, he has translated “buttocks” as “thigh” within the first journey.

He additionally adjustments the dialogues within the sequence when the King of Bears tries to influence Hatim to marry his daughter and tells him that: “Men and animal are the same when it comes to sexual urge [shehwat]”.

“For particular reasons, the whole truth of the original is not given here,” Duncan Forbes writes within the footnote to a passage the place the consummation of the bear’s daughter and Hatim is described.

Husn Banu’s seven questions or labours

1. What I as soon as noticed, I lengthy for a second time

2. Do good and solid it upon the waters

3. Do no evil; in the event you do such shall you meet with

4. He who speaks the reality is at all times joyful

5. Let him carry an account of the Mount of Nida

6. Let him produce a pearl of the scale of a duck’s egg

7. Let him carry an account of the Bath of Badgard

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