The Banquet Of Caliph

Mutawakkil, the tyrant Abbasside Caliph, was afraid of the spiritual attachment of the people to Imam Hadi (A.S), the Eleventh Imam of Shi’ites; and the fact that they were voluntarily prepared to obey the Imam, perturbed his mind. Adding to his worries some back-biters told him that possibly the Imam has an intention of staging a revolution; and probably the weapons, or at least letters suggestive of his dangerous plans, might be found in his house. One day he, therefore, without informing anyone beforehand, sent a party of his officials and policemen at dead of night when people were fast asleep in their houses to search the house of the Imam (A.S) and also to produce him in Person. He issued this order while drinking at a banquet. Anyhow, the officials entered the house of the Imam (A.S) and found the Imam engrossed in prayers on the sandy and stony floor of the room without any carpet or mat. They searched the house thoroughly but could find nothing which they were looking for. At last, they took the Imam to see Mutawakkil. When the Imam entered, Mutawakkil was drinking wine, ordering him to sit by his side, he offered him his cup of wine. The Imam refused and said:

“By God, liquor has never entered my blood and flesh. Excuse me”

“Then recite some lyric-poems and entertain the gathering”

“I am not a poet and I remember little of the poems of past poets”

“There is no way out. You will have to recite some poems.”

Then Imam recited a poem, the gist of which is as follows:

“They made the high mountain-peaks their abode, and always were armed men around guarding them. But none could hold back the death or safe-guard them from the turmoil of the world.
“And they were pulled down from those lofty summits and the strong and secured fortresses to the pits (of the grave), and what a bad place they came down to.
“A Proclaimer called out to them, when they were buried: “Where are those ornaments, those crowns and those robes?”
“Where are those faces which radiated the riches and wealth and which were kept hidden from the sight of people behind the curtains of colours?
“Consequently the grave disgraced them, those faces preserved with riches became the hippodrome on which worms are crawling.
“For a long long time, they, ate and drank but today the same eaters are being eaten away.”

The Imam’s voice with captivating tingle and tune penetrated the souls of the audience including Mutawakkil himself. The intoxication went off the heads of the drunkards. Mutawakkil threw the cup on the ground and broke it. Tears flowed on his cheeks like rain. So ended the banquet. The light of truth did remove the drunkenness of pride and forgetfullness, though for a short time, from the stony hearts.

Note: These are selected Islamic stories extracted from the books “Dastane Rastan” volume one and two written in Persian by Mortaza Motahheri and published by A Group of Muslim Brothers in Tehran, Iran.