from Names of the Lion

translated by David Larsen

al-Asjar                       “Whose Eyes Are Bloodshot”10
al-Bāsil                        “Whose Look Is Hateful”
al-Mukhdir                 “The Lurker,” also al-Khādir and al-Khadir
Ḥabīlu Barāḥ              “Who Fights to the End”11
al-Ṣildim                     “Who Doesn’t Care What Happens”12
al-Shatīm                    “Whose Countenance Is Grim”
al-Ghaḍūb                  “The Swift to Anger”
al-Ghashūm                “The Tyrant,” also al-Ghashamsham
al-ʿAsharram              “The Trenchant,” also al-ʿUshārim
al-Qamūṣ                    “The Sportive”
al-Qamqām                “The Sublime”13
al-ʿĀdī                         “The Aggressor”
al-ʿAzzām                   “The Resolute,” also al-Muʿtazim
al-Muzaʿfur                “Whose Coat Is Yellow, Stained with Red”14
al-Sharanbath             “Big in the Paws,”15also al-Shurābith
al-Mudlif                     “Whose Speech Is Uncouth”
al-Qahim                     “Who Eats Until he’s Sick of Food”16


10Asjar describes an eye afflicted with redness, as well as the redness in a pool of muddy water mixed with clay.
11Ḥabīlu Barāḥ is an epithet of the lion, or for the hero who does not quit his place (lā yabraḥ), as if bound to the spot by cords (ḥibāl),” says Lisān art. √brḥ.
12 The root √ṣld is used for what is hard and stony; in addition to the lion, ṣildim is said for a horse with firm hooves. The gloss “Who doesn’t care what happens” comes from Kitāb al-Jīm (The Book Beginning with the Letter Jīm) II.177, by Abū ʿAmr al-Shaybānī (d. 213/828).
13Qamqām is an epithet of the sea, and a nobleman whose largesse is widely spread. A matter that is qamqām is great and terrible.
14 Muzaʿfur is one of several descriptors of the lion with blood on it. It comes out of zaʿfarān, an Arabic word for saffron.
15 For al-shurābith,it is hard to fault Ibn Fāris’s derivation from al-sharath, a word for “stoutness of hand and fingers,” even though it means dropping a consonant (bāʾ) that is nowhere acknowledged as an augmentative letter (Muʿjam Maqāyīs al-lugha 3.273).
16Al-qahim seems best explained in relation to al-iqhām as defined by Ibn al-Aʿrābī (quoted in Lisān art. √qhm): “To feel iqhām towards a meal is to desire it greatly. Iqhām from a meal is aversion to it.”

From Names of the Lion, translated by David Larsen. Copyright © 2009 and 2017 by David Larsen. Used with the permission of Wave Books.