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[The Fihrist of al-Nadim: A Tenth-Century Survey of Muslim Culture. Bayard Dodge, editor and translator, Volume 1, New York: Columbia University Press, 1970, pp. 307, 332-336. The selected footnotes given are from Dodge.]

Abu al-Faraj Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Muhammad ibn Ishaq (known as "al-Nadhim")


Chapter III, Section 3

[p. 307]

In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate

The Third Section of the Third Chapter

of the book Al-Fihrist, with accounts of the scholars and the names of the books which they composed, including accounts of the court companions, associates, men of letters, singers, bufoons, slap-takers, and jesters, with the names of their books.[1]

[footnote 1:] This passage gives a good idea of the men who provided companionship, counsel, culture, music, and amusement for the ruler. For these categories of persons attending at the court, see the Glossary.


[p. 332]

Another Group, Different from Those Already Mentioned

Abu al-'Anbas al-Saymari

His origin was from al-Kafah, but he became judge of al-Saymarah. He was Abu al-'Anbas Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Abi al-'Anbas. Although he was one of the jesters and clowns, he was also a man of letters, familiar with the stars, about which he wrote a book; I have observed that it was praised by the leading astrologers. AI-Mutawakkil included him in the group of his court companions, giving him special attention. Because of his position he had a well-known connection with al-Buhturi. He lived until the days of al-Mu'tamid, entering also into the group of his intimates. He satirized the cook of al-Mu'tamid:

Oh, delicious of my days, and what is passionately desired,
Though far from the market are we,
If for bread from Fars I make request,
Salih blows the trumpet for me.

Among his books there were:

Hindering (Postponing) Knowledge; The Lover and the Beloved; Refutation of the Astrologers; The Tanbur Players; Kur Ibla'; Long-Bearded; Refutation of the Perfumed; 'Anqa' Mughrib; Relaxation and the Advantages of Running Away; The Excellencies of the Nature of the Head; The Structure of the Mind; Unusual Stories; The Excellencies ...

[p. 333]

... of the Wine Flask; Refutation of Abu Mikha'il al-Saydanani in Connection with Alchemy; Reproaches (Errors) of the Common People and Traditions about the Barbarous Populace (Traditions about the Careless in Speech); Wonders of the Sea; Silenced Replies; Aids to Digestion and Treacles; Preference of the Ladder to the Stairway; The Two Dynasties, about preference between the two caliphates [the Umayyad and the 'Abbasid]; Al-Fas ibn al-Ha'ik.

Destroying (Inciting) of Minds; Al-Sahhaqat wa-al-Baghayun [women used for unnatural sexual intercourse (or lesbians?) and whores]; Stirring (Al-Khadkhadah), about masturbation; Traditions about Abd Far'un Kandar ibn Jahdar; Interpretation of Dreams; Rare Forms of al-Husa;[139] his [Abu al-'Anbas's] controversy with al-Buhturi; Transcribers (Al-Nuqala) (or Heavy-Hearted [Al-Thuqala]); Rare Anecdotes about Pimps (or Procuresses); Convocation (Pretension) of the Common People; Brothers and Friends; The Surnames of Animals; Judgments of the Stars; Introduction to the Art of Foretelling the Stars; Sahib al-Zaman; Repudiated (Al-Khalu'in); The Camel Seeking Aid from Its Master; Superiority of the Rectum over the Mouth; his rare anecdotes and poems.

[footnote 139:] This title is in the Flügel edition alone, being given as al-husa, which cannot be identified. It may be meant for a certain desert, see al-Hawda in Yaqut, Geog., II 363. It may be a mistaken or slang form from khasi ("castrated"), in which case the translation would be Rare Anecdotes about Eunuchs.

[p. 334:]

Abu Hassan al-Namali

He was Abu Hassan Muhammad ibn Hassan, one of the men of good spirits and culture. He lived during the days of al-Mutawakkil, about whom and himself there are numerous anecdotes. Among his books there were:

The large book, Burjan and Hubahib, with stories of women and sexual intercourse; a small book about the same subject; Adultery; Al-Suhq;[141] Address of the Muleteer to the Slave Girl of the Vegetable Vendor.

[footnote 141:] The Flügel edition gives what might be al-suhq ("remoteness"), or al-sahq ("tearing," as of an old garment). The word is not written clearly in the Beatty manuscript, but the most reasonable way by which to decipher it there is as al-sanjaq. In former times this might mean "banner," "cornet," or "waistband," usually the first meaning, But as this author wrote books about sex, the word may imply homosexual practice, as sahhaqah was used for a Lesbian; see Lane, Lexicon, IV, 1319.

[p. 335:]

Ibn al-Shah al-Tahiri

Abu al-Qasim 'Ali ibn Muhammad ibn al-Shah al-Tahiri was one of the descendants of al-Shah ibn Mikal, who was a man of letters, refined, and witty, with extreme beauty and purity of literary style. Among his books there were:

Summons of the Seas; The Glory of Combing at the Mirror; The Dream; The War of Cheese and Olives; The War of Meat and Fish; Wonders of the Sea; Adultery and Its Enjoyment; his poetry, with a selection from "Ya Makanis"; Traditions about al-Ghilman;[156] Traditions about the Women; Masturbation (Al-Khadkhadah);[157] The Food Vendor.

[footnote 156:] Here al-ghilman obviously refers to boys used for homosexual purposes.

[footnote 157:] This word means "stirring," but here is used for "masturbation." This and the title which follows are only in the Flügel edition.


[p. 336:]

A Man Known as al-Mubaraki

His name was ___________. Among his books there were:

The Uncultivated, the Rabble, and the Characters of the Common People; Rare Anecdotes about Slave Boys (al-Ghilman) and Eunuchs.