1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Arabic
  4. >
  5. The Reward of Cinimar


The Reward of Cinimar

  • 1460

Many ideas have been racing in my mind today but since I'm tired, I think I will keep the heavy work for later. I picked today a short proverb, with a story. I have to admit though, not much can be benefited from I guess except a look into the past and the joy of reading history, I guess? So, let's begin.

جَزاءُ سِنِّمار

Translation: The reward of Cinimar (Cenmar).

Transliteration: Jazá'u Sinnimar (also: Sinimmár, Sinmár).

Moral: Said when a person is expecting a good reward, but turns the other way around.


جَزاءُ: Reward (could come also as "punishment, penalty").
سِنّمار: Sinnimár (male's name).


The story of this proverb takes us back to the days before Islam when most of the Arab population were composed and regulated by tribal ties. Few kingdoms, however, were established, in Yemen, in the Levant (the Ghassanid kingdom), and in Iraq, and specifically in Hira, where the Lakhmid dynasty ruled and where our story takes place. Lakhmids اللخميون (a.k.a. Al-Manáðirah المناذرة in Arabic resources) were immigrants from Yemen after the devastating collapse of Ma'rib dam in ancient times there. They established themselves in Iraq and mainly in the Hira region Mid-Southern Iraq) and became a vassal state under the Sassanid empire in Persia (meanwhile, the Ghassanids الغساسنة became a vassal state under the Romans).
At one time, the king of Lakhmids (who was dubbed by his subjects as the king of Arabs as well), one named Al-Nu3mán النعمان decided to build one astonishing palace and prepare it for the Persian emperor for his visit at any time. After searching, he concluded that the best man to do this was a Roman architect (probably from Byzantium itself) named Sinnimár (or Sinimmár, sources differ in spelling his name).
It didn't take long, and Sinnimár was already on the go with his plans to build this palace (which was to be called later Al-Khawarnaq الخَوَرْنَق), and his dreams took him away. Some resources mention that it took him 20 years and some even say 60 years but other resources think this is just a mere exaggeration. I agree with that. However it is, the construction of the palace took years.
Upon finishing the palace, the proud Sinnimár invited the king to check Al-Khawarnaq. The king was amazed at such beauty. At one point, there had been a conversation between Sinnimár and the king, after which the king ordered his men to throw Sinnimár from the top of the palace immediately, while poor Sinnimár was cursing hopelessly.
Stories varied as to what was the conversation about between the two. There are mainly 2 versions:
1. It is said that Sinnimár told the king that he knows this palace stone by stone, and he knows one stone that if removed, the whole palace would collapse. He said that with pride, and the king then asked him: Does anyone else other than you know about this stone? Sinnimár denied, and right after that the king ordered him to be killed by pushing him off from the top of the palace.
2. Other resources mention that Sinnimár said to the king: I could have even make a palace for you which rotates along the sun's direction. The king asked: And were you able to do that? When Sinnimár said yes, the king ordered him to be killed; Because he did not do his best as required from him.
In anyway, I think the first version of the story is the more popular part about the reason for killing Sinnimár. Since then, his story became an adage and a word of wisdom to not take pride about one's deeds as this might lash back. On the other hand, the saying had been taken as an analogy and an idiom to describe someone who is rewarded with evil despite the good job they have done!


Well, there is not much grammar to go through nor much to explain about these two words. Probably you've noticed the differences in the name of the Architect and this is something common really. As the name is not an Arabic one, you might hear Arabs say it differently. Normal.
Here, however, I would like to emphasize one fact about the sound of the letter Jeem ج. Many people in the forum asked about this sound and many were wondering if it is a "G" or is it like the Russian "Ж". I have to say, it is neither. What is unfortunate, is to see some people putting on tutorials on Youtube and teaching non-Arabs that ALL sounds are OK and acceptable. Unless you are trying to learn a dialect, the sound of ج in standard Arabic is defined; It is not "G" and not "Ж". It is a clear "J" sound like "J" in Jacket, in English. The irony is, most of my Arabic teachers in high school were from Egypt (where this letter is pronounced "G") and from Syria (where this letter presumable spelled as "Ж") and I cannot remember, ever, any of them, ever, claiming that the sound of this letter is freely defined by the speaker according to region. Never.

Time to hit the sack and tickle some Zzz's. تصبحون بخير!

July 29, 2019


Learn Arabic in just 5 minutes a day. For free.