Story 50: The Sharp Tongue

In the middle of the third century of Hijrah, Ali ibn Abbas, better known as Ibn al-Rumi, the famous poet, satirist and eulogist of the Abbasid era, was sitting in a meeting organised by Qasim ibn Ubaydullah, the minister of al-Mu'atazid, the Abbasid Caliph. He was always proud of his prowess in logic and eloquence, as well as his incisive language.

Qasim ibn Ubaydullah always dreaded Ibn al-Rumi’s sharp tongue, but he did not express his anger or displeasure. On the contrary, he behaved in such a manner that, despite all Ibn Al-Rumi’s bad intentions, evil thoughts, precautions, and taking everything as a bad omen, Qasim did not refrain from consorting with him.

Qasim then secretly issued an order to put poison into Ibn al-Rumi’s food. After eating it, he realised what had happened and stood up quickly and took leave from Qasim.

Qasim asked, “Where are you going?”

“I am going to where you have sent me.”

“Then, convey my regards to my parents.”

“But, I am not going to hell.”

Ibn al-Rumi went back to his house and began treating himself, but the treatment was to no avail. He finally succumbed to his own caustic words.1

  • 1. Tatimmat Al-Muntaha Fi Waqayi' Ayyam Al-Khulafa, Muhaddith al-Qummi, v. 2, p. 400 and The History of Ibn Khalkan, v. 3, p. 44.