Sultan Mahmud and Ayaz: 10 tales


Tale 1

Sultan Mahmud is buying slaves. He wishes that his servant interviews every single slave in order to ask which qualities the slave possesses. Every slave then mentions one or more special qualities about himself. When he asks Ayaaz, then this slave says: “I have a virtue (honar) which is better than both the worlds”.

These words are communicated to Mahmud. He demands that this slave is brought into his presence and wants to know more about this virtue. Ayaaz gives this answer: “When you’d put your crown on my head and would place me on your throne and would put the seven climes under my command and would make me the lord of everyone in this world, then I’d still never forget that I am a slave”.

Tale 2

Sultan Mahmud secretly owns a small precious object, which comes from Solomon. A small worm lives in it, which has a leaf in its mouth and thus gets fed. The sultan wishes to make this secret object known to all and orders Ayaaz to break it in pieces. Ayaaz complies with the request of sultan Mahmud. The courtiers are offering all kinds of objection to this act of destruction, but Ayaaz defends himself by saying: “The command of the sultan is more important to me than this precious object”.

PS: It is said that the small precious object is the body, that the worm is the intellect and that the leaf is love.

Tale 3

Sultan Mahmud is boasting about his power and Ayaaz is listening to him. The sultan claims that Sind and Hind, Turkistan and Rum all belong to him. He makes it clear that 700 kings obey his commands. There is no sultan, according to him, who is so famous.

Ayaaz then asks if he is allowed to say something. He receives the permission to speak. Then the slave says: “It would not matter if you’d have soldiers all over the world, you don’t have a Mahmud like I have!”

Tale 4

Sultan Mahmud, one day, calls Ayaaz into his presence and makes him sit on the throne and puts a crown on his head. He tells him: “I give you sovereignty. The army is yours. You should act as a king”.

Every courtier immediately becomes jealous: “No sultan to his slave has ever shown this respect”. But then they notice that Ayaaz is weeping for what the king has done. Everybody tells him: “You are crazy. Since you have acceded to being a king, what is all this weeping for?”

Ayaaz gives them this answer: “How far of the mark you are! Don’t you realize that the king is casting me out, far from himself? Even if he’d give me the kingdom of the world, I would not be absent from him for a single moment. My kingdom is solely seeing him”.

Tale 5

Ayaaz gets ill. Mahmud learns about this illness and gives a command to one of his servants to visit his slave and to tell him how worried the sultan is about the illness of his beloved Ayaaz. Although he may be far from him, in spirit he is with him. He tells his servant to go as fast as he can to Ayaaz and to stop nowhere on his way.

The servant enters the bedroom of Ayaaz a short time after having received the command of the sultan, but he is startled to see the sultan sitting next to the bed of Ayaaz. He is very much afraid that the sultan will punish him as he has not been fast enough.

Sultan Mahmud, however, puts him at ease by saying: “I have a secret way to Ayaaz, so that I can see him at all times. Although outwardly I have asked about his health, I’m quite aware of what happens behind the curtain. My soul is always with him”.

Tale 6

Sultan Mahmud allows his soldiers to enrich themselves with the treasures to be found in a palace they have just conquered. Ayaaz, however, keeps standing in front of the sultan and does not leave this spot. He is asked why he does not participate in the plundering of the palace, as he could get rich thereby. He laughs and tells this: “Such a thing is not allowed to me. To see the face of the sultan is enough for me”.

Mahmud is delighted by this answer then wishes to present him by means of his own hand all kinds of jewels, but the slave takes hold of the finger of the sultan and says: “I pity this hand, because jewels and treasures are nothing but wind. As long as you are here, I’ve got everything. May that day never take place, which separates me from you!

Tale 7

One day the Huma is flying over the army of sultan Mahmud. Everyone who sees his bird tries to get under its shade as it is said that you will become a king when this happens. Ayaaz is the only one who is not interested in the Huma and steps forward in order to stand in the shade of Mahmud.

Someone says to him: “The shade of the Huma cannot be found at that spot!” He replies: “The Sultan is enough for me as for a Huma… I’ll never leave his door!”

Tale 8

Sultan Mahmud has another slave than Ayaaz. This slave claims he loves him just like Ayaaz. Mahmud tests this slave when a delegation of a far province comes to visit him. The members of this delegation complain about the governor of their province. They say he is corrupt. Mahmud is willing to give them a new governor and suggests that his slave could be their new governor.

Mahmud asks his slave if he is willing to accept the new position. The slave then remains silent and thus acknowledges that he accepts this offer. Mahmud then knows that the slave doesn’t love him. He sends him with a letter to the governor of this province and in the letter he commands the governor to poison this slave as a punishment.

Tale 9

Sultan Mahmud becomes angry with his slave Ayaaz. He calls his grandvizier Hasan in order to consult him if he should put his slave into prison, kill him or drive him away. Hasan tells him to sell Ayaaz, as that is surely the most severe punishment. Ayaaz then is taken to the slave market and someone buys him for a thousand pieces of gold.

A few days later Mahmud is feeling sorry for what he has done. He asks the buyer to come to him and says to him in a reproachful way: “How is it possible that you have bought the beloved of the king. You should be put to death!”

Ayaaz then says: “The one who buys the beloved should be put to death, but tell me, o sultan, what is the punishment for someone who sells the beloved?”

Tale 10

A woman who lives near the palace of sultan Mahmud has fallen in love with his slave Ayaaz. She always sits near her window in order to see the favourite of the sultan. One day Mahmud passes the house of the woman, who suddenly gives a loud sigh. As Mahmud hears this sigh he asks her what is the matter. She answers: “Please give me something to drink in order to rejoice my heart. It is however necessary that Ayaaz hands over this drink personally to me”.

Mahmud tells her that he is willing to give her something to drink, but he’ll not allow her to receive it from the hands of Ayaaz. He tells her that he has bought Ayaaz with his gold. The woman responds that she has chosen him at the price of her life.

“If you have given your life for Ayaaz”, the sultan asks, “why are you still alive?” She then says that she is still alive because of love. Mahmud tells her that he doesn’t understand what she is saying. The woman now says: “O Mahmud, I was thinking that you were a lover yourself, but your love is not sincere. You and I are not similar. You are weaker than the weakest of women. What can I do now? When the king of the universe behaves like this, what can be expected of me?” She then veils herself and gives up her soul. Sultan Mahmud is shocked by what has happened, but because he is a just king he calls for Ayaaz and orders him to put her himself in a grave.