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Classics

The Generous Deeds of the Tribal Chief

From the legendary figure of Hātim (a poet-knight of pre-Islamic Arabia mentioned even by Boccaccio and Goethe) to the sayings of the Prophet, hospitality has been made a keystone of the Islamic ethical system. And yet Islam was also, with great practicality, to define its limits: three days, the first with a special banquet and the other two with normal treatment. “Anything after that is charity.”

[This article is published in Oasis no. 24. To read all the contents buy a copy or subscribe] Hātim, son of ‘Abd Allāh son of Sa‘d son of al-Hashraj, from the Tā’ī tribe; his mother was called ‘Inaba, daughter of ‘Afīf, from the Tā’ī. Generous and an excellent poet, his fame accompanied him wherever he stopped. Whenever he fought, he triumphed and if he gathered up booty he left it to pillage; he would give to everyone who asked; he was always the first to play the game of arrows and if he took prisoners, he would set them free. During a journey, he passed by the ‘Anaza tribe: a prisoner asked him for help but Hātim did not have the wherewithal to ransom him. He bought his freedom nonetheless and put himself in chains in his place until he could pay the ransom. He divided his wealth more than ten times and swore by God that he would kill no brother. [This article is published in Oasis no. 24. To read all the contents buy a copy or subscribe]

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