Post-classical history

§ The Body Cured by Illness

I was present one day when the cavalry of Kafartab – just a few of them – made a raid against us. Wanting to take advantage of their small numbers, we rushed out against them, but a group of their men had prepared an ambush for us. The attacking horsemen made to take flight, so we pursued them until we were some distance from the town. There the men lying in ambush came out against us and the horsemen we were pursuing turned around towards us. We realized that if we routed, they would unhorse all of us, so we confronted them, seeking death, and God granted us victory over them. We unhorsed eighteen of their horsemen including those who were struck with spears and died, those who merely fell and were safe and those whose horses were speared and so became footmen. Those who were safe on the ground then drew their swords, stopped everyone who passed [59] and struck at them.

Jum’a al-Numayri (may God have mercy upon him) passed one of them, so the man stepped towards him and struck him in his head. Jum’a was wearing a cap on his head,76 but the blow cut through the cap and sliced open his forehead, from which blood poured until he was almost drained of it, leaving the wound open like a fish’s mouth. I came upon him while we were still in the midst of our fight with the Franks and said to him, ‘Jum’a, why don’t you bandage up your wound?’

‘This is no time for bandaging and dressing wounds!’ he replied.

Now, Jum’a used always to have a black rag around his face since he had ophthalmia, with red veins in his eye. But when he was wounded and all that blood poured out of him, his eye complaints ended and he was never again troubled by any ophthalmia or pain. ‘Mayhap the body is cured by illness.’77

As for the Franks, after we had killed those men of theirs, they assembled opposite us. My cousin Dhakhirat al-Dawla Hittan78 (may God have mercy upon him) came to me and said, ‘Cousin, you have two mounts being led alongside you, and here I am on this old nag!’

So I said to a servant, ‘Bring him the chestnut horse.’ And he brought it for him.

The moment Hittan was settled in his saddle, he made an attack on the Franks, single-handedly. So the Franks made room for him in order to surround him, and attacked him with spears, throwing him down and spearing his horse. They then turned their spears around and began hacking at him. But Hittan was wearing a strong mail hauberk upon which their spears had no effect. And so we began shouting, ‘Your comrade! Your comrade!’ and attacked them and forced them to flee. We delivered him from their midst and he was fine. As for the horse, it died that same day. Glory be to the Rescuer, the One who determines all fates!

Mind you, that battle did produce happiness for Jum’a, what with the curing of his eye. Glory be to Him who said, ‘You may dislike something though it is good for you.’79

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