chapter  5
6 Pages

The Crafts among the Arabs

In early Islamic times the ideas and views of pagan times still held sway in the Arab poets' world of honour and shame. This is the reason why the "blacksmith" and the "bellows" do not disappear from their list of invective vocabulary, in which it is easy to demonstrate certain stereotypes. One of the most fruitful poetic occasions of early U mayyad times is the contest between the poets Jarlr and al-Farazdaq, in the course of which Jarlr accuses his opponent:

Your father was not allowed to hold the reins of a horse, but he was allowed to work the bellows. 15

That is, he was very far from being a noble warrior, and rather was only a common craftsman. This view was dominant in society in general at that time. In al-Kiifa a family from the Asad tribP, after one of whose members even a mosque (Simak) was named, was a target for derision because one remote ancestor was a certain Halik ibn 'Amr, who was said to have been an armourer. 16 He is the eponymous hero of the trade; those who practise it are called a "Halikr', a title that is difficult to explain. 17

Kremer described in broad outlines the influences that ended the status of the crafts as trades for slaves, and led, during the further development of Islam, to their assuming a place in free society. 18 To the factors mentioned

14 Aghiinl, IX, 124. 15 ' Abd al-Qadir al-BaghdadT, Khiziinat al-adab (Bulaq, AH 1299), II, 468:3. 16 Al-Baladhuri, Futii~1 al-buldiin, ed. M.J. de Goeje (Lei den, 1866), 264. 17 Al-Hu~ay'a, Dlwiin, ed. Ignaz Goldziher in Zeitschrift der Deutschen Mor-

genliindischen Gesellschaft 46 (1892), 518-19, n. on poem 29 v. 3 (separate edition, Leipzig 1893, 154).