Post-classical history

§ An Example of Reason: A Soldier Fends off a Lion

A contrasting example.150 One day we rode out from Shayzar on the hunt. My uncle (may God have mercy upon him) and a body of troops accompanied us. As we went into a cane-brake in pursuit of a francolin, a lion emerged to attack us. A man from the group of Kurdish troops called Zahr al-Dawla Bakhti-yar the Cypriot, so named because of his elegant frame,151charged at the lion. He was (may God have mercy upon him) one of the real cavaliers of the Muslims. The lion confronted him, but the man’s horse shied away from it and threw its rider. The lion came at him while he was lying flat on the ground. So, Zahr al-Dawla raised his lower leg and the lion began chewing it. We rushed the lion and killed it, [87] delivering our comrade safe and sound.

We asked him, ‘Zahr al-Dawla, why did you lift your leg right up to the mouth of the lion?’

He replied, ‘As you can see, my body is lean and lanky, and I’m only wearing a cloth garment and a tunic. There is nothing on me better covered than my lower leg, with its gaiter, boots and leggings. So I said to myself, “I’ll use my leg to distract him from my ribs or my hand or my head until God (may He be exalted) brings me relief.”’

And so, reason was surely present in this man, in a situation where minds are often lost. But with those other examples, reason was not present. Humanity, therefore, requires reason above all things. It is praised by the rational and the ignorant alike.

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