Part II, Chapter XVIII = XLIII: On the Propriety of Silence and Speech.
f161a f215a 1454 Introduction. The excellence of man over the animal kingdom owing to his power of speech, illustrated from the Verses of the Qur’án and the lines of al-Mutanabbí; and the superiority of silence to speech at times. A story taken from the old Hindú books about the weaver of brocades who exceedingly feared his own tongue, and the amazing experience of the robber who saved him from the punishment of death at the hands of the ruler, for whom the fine cloth of gold was being made.
f161b f215b 1455 Buzurjmihr’s alternative choice of the best things which Providence can bestow on mankind: natural wisdom, or good breeding or good nature, failing these silence, otherwíse death. (Anec. repeated.)
f161b f215b 1456 A young man’s clever appeal to Muḥammad b. ‘Abdu’l-Malik to redress the wrongs done to him by one of his governors.
f162a 1457 ‘Iyás b. Mu‘áwiya’s retort to a Qádhí on his rash judgment and his sub­sequent emolument at the court of ‘Abdu’l-Malik.
1458 An anecdote illustrating how eloquence fails a needy person: Fadhl b. Rabí‘ in the days of his decline goes to Abú ‘Abbád, the favourite of al-Ma’mún, to ask his help and finds himself inarticulate.
1459 One of the captured horsemen of ‘Abdu’r-Raḥmán b. Ash‘ath laughs scorn­fully before the gibbet at the folly of his intercessor Zayd b. Aslam, the secretary of Ḥajjáj b. Yúsuf, and at the obdurateness of his master.
f216a 1460 A condemned partisan of al-Mukhtár asks Muṣ‘ab b. Zubayr to look at his beautiful face in the mirror, and begs him not to pollute it with the sin of assassination, and saves his life.
f162b 1461 A profligate youth of Baghdád in despondency thinks of suicide, a ferry-man dissuades him and wishes him good luck; the youth, by chance, enters the palace of Hárúnu’r-Rashíd uninvited, and when caught, tickles the fancy of the great Caliph, and obtains immense rewards.
f163a 1462 The experience of Ibráhím b. Adham, the Ṣúfí saint of Balkh, with the Syrian hermits, hence his taciturnity and his firm conviction, that ”Gnosis is nearer to Silence than to Speech”.
1463 A prince is brought to grief through neglecting the lesson of silence taught to him by his tutor.
f216b 1464 Fadhl b. Sahl invites his doom by spreading incautious and unwise state­ments about his efforts for the installation of al-Ma’mún, and by per­suading al-Ma’mún to acknowledge the apostolical succession of ‘Alí b. Músá ar-Ridhá. (The Ta’ríkh-i-Khulafá-i-Baní’l-‘Abbás as the source, see above, p. 47—8).
f163b 1465 Aḥmad b. Yúsuf relates the story of al-Ma’mún’s machinations against Ibráhím (b. Mahdí, his uncle), on account of a heedless expression, and how Ibráhím saved himself by giving a satisfactory explanation. (Cf. T. F. S., pt. II, ch. viii, pp. 46—7).
      The chapter ends with a panegyric on the Wazír, the patron of the author.