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The Story Of Aloeswood Of Ubayd Allah

Discussion in 'History of Oud' started by Yawar ibn Saeed Al-Hindi, Sep 30, 2017.

By Yawar ibn Saeed Al-Hindi on Sep 30, 2017 at 12:02 PM
  1. Yawar ibn Saeed Al-Hindi

    Yawar ibn Saeed Al-Hindi Resident Artisan


    One very famous incident involving aloeswood of Hind (India) occurred during the reign of al-Mutawakkil ‘ala-Allah who was an Abbasid caliph and ruled between 847 to 861 AD. The incident is recorded in Kitab al-Hadaya wa al-Tuhaf (Book of Gifts and Rarities). Given here is its translation in English. Read it and enjoy it!

    Ali b. al-Munajjim says:

    One night we were sitting before al-Mutawakkil ‘ala-Allah, together with ‘Ubayd-Allah b. al-Hasan b. Sahl, who was a cultured and charming person and who was sociable with people and met with their notables. On that day al-Mutawakkil had been cupped (ihtajama) and had become weak. The doctors advised him to fumigate himself with good, fresh (nayy) aloeswood (ud), and so he did. Everyone who was at that gathering swore that he had never smelled anything like that aloeswood. Then ‘Ubayd-Allah b. al-Hasan b. Sahl said, “This is from the aloeswood offered to my father by the King of India for the wedding of my sister Buran with al-Ma’mun.” Al-Mutawakkil said he was mistaken and asked for the [scent] basket from which the piece of [aloeswood] had been taken out. A piece of this aloeswood, less than one ounce, was found along with a slip of paper on which was written, “This aloeswood is the gift of the King of India to al-Hasan b. Sahl for the wedding of Buran to al-Ma’mun.” Al-Mutawakkil felt ashamed at not believing him and therefore ordered a gift for him. Al-Mutawakkil summoned his minister, ‘Ubayd-Allah b. Yahya b. Khaqan, and said to him, “Fetch immediately one of your trustworthy colleagues, give him a thousand dinars for his [personal] expenses, and let him take [various] gifts [of things] that do not exist in India, to the value of ten thousand dinars. Tell the envoy to notify the king of India that we expect no reward from him other than whatever he has of this aloeswood.” The envoy went for that purpose and returned to Samarra on the night in which al-Mutawakkil ala Allah was murdered. He adhered to the aloeswood that he had brought with him, until al-Mutamid ala Allah ascended [the throne] and ordered the return of ‘Ubayd-Allah b. Yahya to his [ministerial] office. The [envoy] said,

    When ‘Ubayd-Allah returned to his office, I came into his [room], and when he looked at me he said, “Are you our envoy to the King of India?” I said, “Yes, I am. I departed from Samarra for the mission you ordered me [to accomplish], and I arrived in Baghdad from Qutrabbul, carrying with me three hundred large bottles (khumasiyyah) of its wines.

    “As the sea water became [too] salty for me [to drink], I began to mix it with this wine. By the time I reached India, I had consumed a hundred large bottles (khumasiyyah). I came to the king, delivered the gift, and he was pleased with it. I informed him of [my mission] regarding the aloeswood. He said, “That [aloeswood] was sent by my father, and by God, I have not more than a hundred mann of it in my treasuries; so take half of it and leave the other half.” I kept on being friendly with him until he allowed me a hundred and fifty ratls. One day he invited me for a meal. When we had eaten, coconut wine (nabidh al-narajjil) was brought. So I said to him, “I do not drink this,” and I brought out some of the Qutrabbuli wine that I carried with me. When the King saw it, smelled it, and tasted it, he said, “What is this [drink]?” I said, “Grape juice.” He said, “Do you die if you drink it?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Because you dilute it with little water and continue drinking it all night.”

    The envoy [continued his story and] said [to the minister],

    I handed him over a hundred khumasiyyah, and he ordered a hundred thousand dirhams for me, along with fabrics (thiyab), scents, and other things of similar value. I left his residence, drank what was left on me on the way [back], and when I reached Samarra the incident of al-Mutawakkil’s [murder] had already happened. Now this very aloeswood is kept at my house. ‘Ubayd-Allah said to him, “Whatever you have got, keep it with my blessings, except for the aloeswood; bring that as it is.”

    [The envoy] did so, and ‘Ubayd-Allah took it all.

    The people used to describe to each other the pleasant smell of ‘Ubayd-Allah’s scent; it was from that very aloeswood with which he used to fumigate himself, and he never used anything else.”

    • Kitab al-Hadaya wa al-Tuhaf (Book of Gifts and Rarities) by Ahmad ibn al-Rasheed ibn al-Zubayr, translated and annotated by Ghaada al Hijjaawi al-Qaddumi

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 15, 2018


Discussion in 'History of Oud' started by Yawar ibn Saeed Al-Hindi, Sep 30, 2017.

    1. Alkhadra
      An enjoyable read, Thank you for the time and effort you put into this post!
      sami, Nikhil S, Ouddict and 1 other person like this.
    2. jalil
      Very nice thanks
    3. Nikhil S
      Nikhil S
      Lovely thank you
    4. AbasFrag
      Very interesting thank you!
    5. Ouddict
      One of the best posts I’ve seen for a while

    6. ParadiseofOils
    7. Yawar ibn Saeed Al-Hindi
      Yawar ibn Saeed Al-Hindi
      Al-Masʿūdī, in full Abū al-Ḥasan ʿAlī ibn al-Ḥusayn al-Masʿūdī (born before 893 AD, Baghdad, Iraq—died September 956 AD, Al-Fusṭāṭ, Egypt [now part of Cairo]), historian and traveler, known as the “Herodotus of the Arabs.” He was the first Arab to combine history and scientific geography in a large-scale work, Murūj al-dhahab wa maʿādin al-jawāhir (“The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems”), a world history. Here are few excerpts from his book -
      Hakim, Royalbengalouds and Habz786 like this.
    8. Yawar ibn Saeed Al-Hindi
      Yawar ibn Saeed Al-Hindi
      On page 59 while talking about the story of Adam (A.S.) and Eve, he says

      “They began to inhabit the Paradise when three hours of that day had elapsed, and they remained there for three hours, which is one fourth of a day, and this is equal to 250 years of the world. God now discarded Adam from the Paradise, and he placed him on Serendib (Ceylon), Eve at Jiddah, Iblis at Baisan and the serpent at Isfahan. Adam was placed on mount ez-Zahun in Ceylon; there were leaves with which he covered his body, and as they were dry, the wind carried them off, and dispersed them throughout India. It is said that the frequency of perfumes in India arises from these leaves, but some have a different opinion: God knows best. They say, hence are, aloes wood, the clove, madder (?), musk and other perfumes particular to India. In this mountain sparkle diamonds and other precious stones. In the islands of India is the smyris and in the bottom of the sea are pearls.”
      Habz786 likes this.
    9. Yawar ibn Saeed Al-Hindi
      Yawar ibn Saeed Al-Hindi
      On page 186 he writes

      "One of the most curious stories of the kings of the Hindus, and a strange (yet characteristic) example of the line of conduct of the most ancient Hindu kings, and their institutions., is (exhibited in the following narration) of a king of el-Komar. From this kingdom and tract of India the Komari aloes has its name. This country is not an island of the sea, but it belongs to the continent, and is very mountainous. Few parts of India are more populous than this, and the inhabitants distinguish themselves before the other Hindus by their agreeable breath, which they acquire by rubbing their teeth with aloes-wood, as it is the habit amongst the Mohammedans......"
      Habz786 likes this.
    10. Ouddict

      I have a copy of this book - excellent text.
    11. Yawar ibn Saeed Al-Hindi
      Yawar ibn Saeed Al-Hindi
      Yes the book itself is a gem!
    12. Muhammed Patel
      Muhammed Patel
      I thoroughly enjoyed that. Reading that, I found my imagination drifting to what the agarwood of the past must have smelled like. Imagine farmers or people travelling through the jungles stumbling upon a thoroughly resinated chunk of agarwood. What good times those must have been for agarwood!
    13. Gamal Al-Azhari
      Gamal Al-Azhari
      Indeed, the book Muruj al-Dhahab, by Al-Mas'udi is an excellent history text. And I also share the same thoughts with Muhammed Patel: how those pure scents of Oud must have been in those times.
    14. Al Shareef Oudh
      Al Shareef Oudh
      As an Amanah of knowledge, the book has many weak/fabricated narrations.
      Mohammed Nadeem likes this.
    15. Ouddict
      It’s a book of history not of Hadith. The standards applied to tareekh are not the same as Hadith. An example in point is ibn Ishaq’s famous and celebrated Seerah of the Prophet (sallahu alayhi was sallam) which compiled all sorts of narrations regardless of their veracity... hence the story of the “Satanic Verses”.

      There is a time and a place for everything and this forum is not a place for academic discussions. Having said that, to be clear, the narration of Prophet Adam (alahi Salaam) given in the text is NOT one that is agreed upon by most Islamic scholars.
      Mandeel AlMandeel likes this.
    16. Ouddict
      One can only imagine what the Oud wood must have smelled like... imagine throwing a 10g chunk of Kyara onto burning charcoal.... that would cost $10,000 for the privilege today, but back then, maybe $100-200 equivalent. Still not cheap, but affordable for a special occasion.
    17. Al Shareef Oudh
      Al Shareef Oudh
      As an Amanah of knowledge, the book has many weak/fabricated narrations. My comment remains as a note to members not an invitation for academic discussion. However the comments you make with regards to Ahaadith in books of Tareekh vs books of Hadith now that is an invitation for academic discussion :) haha
    18. Mellifluence
      Masha Allah, what an interesting story, i would love to know how that smelled, they seem like they were more happy with this than any other riches they may acquire. One can see why people get so into oud, it charms the mind and eases the soul.
    19. Sinensisoud
      very nice , thanks

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