Though he was so ignorant still of eastern lore, that he hardly knew the meaning of the word mihrab, the arched recess looking towards Mecca, in the Mosque of the lawyer-saint Aboul Hassan, held him captive for many moments with its beauty. Its ornamentation was like the spread tail of Nevill's white peacock, or the spokes of a silver wheel incrusted with an intricate pattern in jewels.
When Aboul Hacem came to the throne in 1466, the Mohammedan power was already tottering; but there were troubles in Castile which emboldened the king to such an extent that, in 1476, when the regular demand for tribute money was presented, he is said to have made answer: "Those who coined gold for you are dead. Nothing is made at Granada for the Christians but sword-blades and lance-points."
These different observations were afterwards confirmed, and other astronomers profited by them. Ptolemy in the second century, and the Arabian Aboul Wefa in the tenth, completed the remarks of Hipparchus on the inequalities that the moon undergoes whilst following the undulating line of its orbit under the action of the sun.
Several Arab historians, and amongst them Ibn-el-Athir, Aboul- Faradje, and Aboul-Feda confirm the statement of conditions.
Then they sailed on, till they came to an island, wherein was much people; so they moored thereto and the merchants went ashore, to buy thence precious metals and pearls and jewels and so forth. Presently, Aboul Muzeffer saw a man seated, with many apes before him, and amongst them one whose hair had been plucked off.
Accordingly, she brought them and I said, "Put them on my feet." She put them on my feet and I said, "Lift me up." So she lifted me up and I said, "Support me, that I may walk." So she supported me and I went along thus, still stumbling in my skirts, till we came to the river-bank, where we saluted the Sheikh and I said to him, "O uncle, art thou Aboul Muzeffer?"
Averroes, in quality of commentator on Aristotle, became his rival in the minds of the mediaeval schoolmen; Avicenna, in quality of commentator on Hippocrates and Galen, was for centuries the text-book of all European physicians; while Albatani and Aboul Wefa, as astronomers, commented on Ptolemy, not however without making a few important additions to his knowledge; for Aboul Wefa discovered a third inequality of the moon's motion, in addition to the two mentioned by Ptolemy, which he did, according to Professor Whewell, in a truly philosophic manner an apparently solitary instance, and one which, in its own day, had no effect; for the fact was forgotten, and rediscovered centuries after by Tycho Brahe.
We looked at each other, grieving mutually that we had not at that moment the power to dip into the treasury of Aboul Casem. But we saw a splendid lobster and a crab fastened to a string which the fisherman was dangling in his right hand, while with the left he held his tackle and his net.
"Yes," answered I; and behold, Aboul Muzeffer appeared behind them. So I went up to him and kissed his hands; and he said to me, "Come with me to my house." Then the slaves laid the treasure in chests, which they set on their heads, and Aboul Muzeffer gave me the keys of the chests, saying, "Go before the slaves to thy house; for all this wealth is thine."
Aboul Abbas took possession of three stately palaces and delicious gardens, and founded the powerful dynasty of the Abbassides, which, for several centuries, maintained dominion in the east. "Blessed be God!" again exclaims the Arabian historian; "it was written in His eternal decrees that, notwithstanding the fury of the Abbassides, the noble stock of Omeya should not be destroyed.