Post-classical history

§ An Aged Retainer Strikes a Devastating Blow

One of the most amazing spear-thrusts occurred with a Kurdish soldier called Hamadat, a long-time comrade who had travelled with my father (may God have mercy upon him) to Isfahan to the court of the sultan Malikshah.50 But now he had grown old, raised children, and his eyesight was weak.

My uncle Sultan (may God have mercy upon him) said to him, ‘Hamadat, you have become old and feeble, and we owe you many favours as you have served us well. If you retire to your mosque (for he had a mosque by the door to his house) and let us register your children in the stipend-list, then you will get two dinars every month and a load of flour, so long as you stick to your mosque.’

‘I’ll do it, sir,’ he said.

But the deal only lasted a short time. For he later came to my uncle and said, ‘Sir, by God, I can’t get used to just sitting [50] around the house. I would rather be killed on my horse than die in my bed.’

‘It’s up to you,’ my uncle replied, and gave orders that his name be registered like it used to be.

Only a few days passed before the Cerdagnais,51 the lord of Tripoli attacked us. The soldiers rushed to confront them, and Hamadat was among the most courageous group. He positioned himself on some raised ground, facing south, but a Frankish horseman attacked him from the west. One of our comrades shouted at him, ‘Hamadat!’ so he turned and saw the horseman headed for him. He pointed the head of his horse northward, hefted his spear in his hand and thrust it straight into the chest of the Frank, the spear piercing him right through. The Frank retreated clasping his horse’s neck, breathing his last.

When the fighting ended, Hamadat said to my uncle, ‘Tell me, sir: if Hamadat had kept to his mosque, who would have struck that blow?’

This reminds me of the verse of al-Find al-Zimmani:52

Behold the blow of an old man, ground down and worn,

While my peers shun weapons, this makes me feel reborn!

This al-Find was already an old man when he went to battle and struck with his spear two approaching horsemen and killed them both together.

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