The conversation, at Farach’s home, passed from the incomparable virtues of the governor to those of his brother the emir; later, in the garden, they spoke of roses. Abulcasim, who had not looked at them, swore there were no roses like those adorning the Andalusian country villas. Farach would not be bought with flattery; he observed that the learned Ibn Qutaiba describes an excellent variety of the perpetual rose, which is found in the gardens of Hindustan and whose petals, of a blood red, exhibit characters which read: “There is no god but the God, Mohammed is the Apostle of God.” He added that surely Abulcasim would know of those roses. Abulcasim looked at him with alarm. If he answered yes, all would judge him, justifiably, the readiest and most gratuitous of impostors; if he answered no, he would be judged an infidel. He elected to muse that the Lord possesses the key to all hidden things and that there is not a green or withered thing on earth which is not recorded in His Book. These words belong to one of the first chapters of the Koran; they were received with a reverent murmur. Swelled with vanity by this dialectical victory, Abulcasim was about to announce that the Lord is perfect in His works and inscrutable. Then Averroes, prefiguring the remote arguments of an as yet problematical Hume, declared:

“It is less difficult for me to admit an error in the learned Ibn Qutaiba, or in the copyists, than to admit that the earth has roses with the profession of the faith.”

“So it is. Great and truthful words,” said Abulcasim.

“One traveler,” recalled Abdalmalik the poet, “speaks of a tree whose fruit are green birds. It is less painful for me to believe in it than in roses with letters.”

“The color of the birds,” said Averroes, “seems to facilitate the portent. Besides, fruit and birds belong to the world of nature, but writing is an art. Going from leaves to birds is easier than from roses to letters.”

Jorge Luis Borges – Averroes’s Search


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