into Basrah from China and it was called kibrit-i-ahmar by the makers of
gold foils. I did not learn anything else from him.
Another fantastic phenomenon described in the Kitab al-Ahjar is that
the brimstone mine glitters at sunset near the ocean. This glitter can be
seen from several farsangs and continues till the brimstone is present in
it, but, as soon as it is taken out, the glitter disappears.
Allah has said:
(In beauty) like the jacynth and the coral stone. 74
God has mentioned the jacynth (ruby) first; therefore, we have accorded
precedence to it as regards description and then turned to ruby-like
stones and the stones that are passed off for it together with an account
of the kind that is the hardest and superior to the rest of the varieties.
Now we come to the description of the stone that has been described
in the Quran after the ruby: it is the coral stone.
Each object is known by different names in varieties. It is but rarely
that two languages have the same name for one thing. There are different nations in the world and each nation has its own language. As far as
languages are concerned, an object may have different names and the
tribes have their special characteristics. Even though the language of the
tribes may be one, they view the same thing differently. The people of
India usually give many names to the same thing, some names being
particular to it and others following from its specific characteristics and
attributes. Our scope relates to the Arabs and Arabic verses: we are
unconcerned here with what is in the Hindiya.
Quite often lexicographers hearing something from every people and
tribe, explain and expatiate upon what they have heard. But this is hardly of an advantage to them except to show to people that they know a
great deal and that they have a storehouse of words far exceeding that
possessed by others.' In the process they have forfeited all tenets of
honesty and, in order to prove their point, they ascribe verses coined by
themselves to the dead, and from the beginning to the end, have followed the dictum:
'Lie to your heart's fill when you feel like it. Do not quote a living
poet in support of your contention so that he may belie you. Quote
from the dead as they will remain hidden to eternity'.
Lu'lu is a genus and the generic name is applied to the big pearls and
the smaller coral stones. Abu 'Ubaydah says: "The word, durr, is applied
to the bigger grains and marjan to the smaller ones, as Allah Himself
There cometh forth from both of them the pearl and the