Ghaelan bin Salamah - Diplomacy and Flattery
Arabian Knights - Volume 1

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Kaan Ya Makaan, Fee Qadeem Al-Zamaan…
There was a Place, in Times of Old…

In the middle of an Arabian desert, where a great Qurashi caravan weighted down with many precious goods was making its ponderous way north. The merchants, led by a man named Abu Sufyan, were eager to make as much profit as humanly possible. To that end, they were travelling to distant lands in the north where they rarely ventured.

Several weeks into their journey, Abu Sufyan took aside his fellow merchants and in low tones informed them that they had come across the lands of the powerful Persian king, Kisra.

“He has not given us leave to cross his lands and we did not set out to trade here,” Abu Sufyan said, “But since we are already here, and it is a rich kingdom, someone should take the goods in and sell them. If whoever does this is caught and killed, then we are not responsible for his death. If whoever does this manages to safely sell all the merchandise, then he gets half of whatever profit we make on this journey.”

Ghaelan bin Salamah immediately lifted his hand and said confidently, “I'll do it!”

Relieved not to be travelling further into such perilous lands, the rest of the caravan's men stayed behind while Ghaelan pushed forward alone, perhaps never to be seen again.

Ghaelan arrived in the Persian king's capital, bought the finest clothes he could find, liberally applied expensive perfumes, and then planted himself outside the palace doors. There he announced who he was to all and sundry and insistently asked to see Kisra, the king of the Persians.

Eventually, he was allowed into the palace and an interpreter was brought to speak to him. The man immediately addressed himself to Ghaelan, “The king demands to know what has brought you to his lands without his permission.”

Ghaelan replied, “Tell him, I am not his enemy and I am not a spy sent by an enemy of his. I have come and brought with me wares he may wish to see. If he likes my wares, then they are his. If he doesn't like my wares, and if he gives me his permission, then I will sell them to his people. If he does not permit me to sell them to his people, then I will leave and take all of my wares with me.”

As Ghaelan was talking, he suddenly heard a loud voice. Without hesitation, he threw himself on the floor in an attitude of abject obeisance, face pressed to the floor.

The interpreter spoke hurriedly to Ghaelan, “The king says: What made you do that?”

Ghaelan lifted his head and answered in the humblest manner he could muster, “I heard a loud voice in a place where no one would raise their voice out of their reverence for their king. So I knew the person whose voice I heard must be the king, and so I genuflected in honor of the king.”

Kisra was greatly pleased by his guest’s flattery. As a reward, he gave his permission for Ghaelan to come and sit before him and he ordered a cushion be brought for Ghaelan’s comfort.

Once the cushion was presented to Ghaelan, he glanced down at it and beheld a picture of Kisra embroidered on it. Unblushingly, Ghaelan placed the cushion atop his head.

Kisra could not help but curl his lip in disdain at Ghaelan’s apparent foolishness and ignorance.

“Tell him,” the king said scornfully to his interpreter, “that we have given him the cushion to sit on.”

The interpreter relayed the king's disapproving words to Ghaelan whereupon the diplomatic young man replied with a beaming smile, “I know, but when I saw that it had a picture of the king upon it, I realized that one such as I did not have the right to sit on it, but must instead treat it with reverence. So I placed it atop my head, the most noble and valued part of my being.”

Flattered and amused, Kisra again smiled benevolently on his silver-tongued visitor.

“Do you have children?” inquired the king conversationally.

“Yes,” replied Ghaelan.

“Which of them is your favorite?” the king continued.

“The young until he grows up, the ill until he recovers, the absent until he returns,” Ghaelan said thoughtfully.

“Hmm,” Kisra mused, “It is your luck that has brought you here to me and made you say and do what you did. Your words and actions are those of a wise man, yet you are from a rough people who lack wisdom. What is your daily diet?”

“Wheat bread,” the king's visitor declared with equanimity.

“Then your wisdom must come from the wheat you consume, not from milk and dates,” concluded Kisra with a satisfied nod.

The king then ordered that all of the goods Ghaelan had brought with him be bought at many times their value. He also had Ghaelan fitted out with the best clothes a kingly purse could buy.

After some time spent as Kisra's honored guest, Ghaelan took his leave and set out on his journey home, guarded by a grand delegation Kisra sent to accompany him. Ghaelan soon met up with Abu Sufyan and the other merchants who were pleasantly surprised by his safe return, and thoroughly delighted by the wealth he brought with him.

Months later, when Ghaelan reached his hometown of Taif, the Persian delegation built a beautiful palace for him because of the lasting impression his diplomatic words had made on Kisra, the king of the Persians.

*Written by © 2011. Care to read or leave Comments?

  1. Names, Translations and Aliases:
    • Ghaelan bin Salamah: غيلان بن سلمة الثقفي
    • Abu Sufyan: أبو سفيان بن حرب
    • Kisra (aka Khosrau II aka Khosrow II aka Chosroes II aka Xosrov II): كسرى.

  1. Ibrahim, M., Al-Mowla, M., Al-Bajawi, A. (2011 AD, 1432 H). قصص العرب [Stories of the Arabs]. Beirut: Al-Maktaba Al-Assrya. Volume 1. Page 16-17.
  2. Langer, William L. (1980 AD). An Encyclopedia of World History. 5th Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company Boston. Page 140.
  3. Wikipedia contributors. "Khosrau II". Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 28 April 2011. Accessed 1 May 2011.

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May 06, 2011 - 21:21
Subject: diplomacy is a craft

its a shame the only aspect us Arabs are capable of now is the rear kissing ...

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