Honest Myth:Arabian/Islamic- The Tale of the Trader and the Jinni

For this one, I was not sure how to categorize it. This is a story in the One Thousand and One Nights so I put it as Arabian, but it also mentions Allah quite a lot so I included Islam. Anyways, here is the story.

One Thousand and One Nights. Not sure who the artist is. Please tell me if you know.

One Thousand and One Nights. Not sure who the artist is. Please tell me if you know.

One day, a wealthy merchant traveling through many towns stopped to eat breakfast in a garden. After eating a date, he threw the pit onto the ground and a great ifrit (infernal Jinni that are  known for being cunning and being able to fly) appeared with a sword in his hand. He told the merchant that he had to kill him for murdering his son with the date pit. The merchant tried to say that it was an accident, but the Jinni would not listen. So, the merchant begged that the Jinni not kill him till the New Year, and in that time he would fix everything to make sure that he leaves with no dept and with his family well looked after. The Jinni accepted, since the merchant made an oath to Allah that he would come back. On New Years day, after finishing what he needed, the merchant went to the garden and sat waiting. As he sobbed in fear, a Shaykh (honorific title for scholars of Islamic sciences) walked by. the old man had a gazelle with him and asked the merchant why he was weeping. The merchant shared his story and the old man stayed with him talking. After some time, a second Shakyh with two grey hounds appeared, and he too decided to stay with the merchant. Again, a third Shakyh appeared with a she-mule, and the same occurred with him. Finally, the Jinni appeared ready to kill the merchant. the first Shakyh asked the Jinni, “If I tell you the story of my gazelle and it amazes you, then give me 1/3 of this man’s blood.” And the Jinni agreed. The man told his story: He married his cousin, but she was unable to have children. So he got a concubine that bore him a beautiful boy. After many years, he left to work for a year and on his return his concubine and son were gone. His wife, who practiced dark magic, had turned them into a heifer and a calf, but lied that they had passed. When the Great Festival for Allah came around, he asked his herdsman to bring in a fat heifer for sacrifice. He brought in the concubine who cried and wept. The Shakyh refused to kill the crying cow, but the wife insisted, and it had no meat  just skin and bones. So he asked the herdsman to bring a calf, and the son was brought out. The calf ran to him and began weeping. Again, he refused to kill it, and again the wife insisted. this time (regretting the heifer), the man put his foot down and told teh herdsman to take the calf home. Once home, the herdsman’s daughter began to laugh and cry, “Why do you bring a strange man into our home?” she asked. And she explained who the calf was to her father (since she also practiced dark magic). The herdsman told his master, and the girl changed the calf back in exchange for the son’s hand in marriage and the ability to turn the evil step mother into a gazelle (for she feared she would target her next for seeing through her magic). After many years, the girl died and the son left to travel. now the old man traveled with his gazelle in search of his son. The Jinni was amazed and accepted that 1/3 of the merchant was the first Shakyh’s. The second Shakyh asked for the same opportunity and promised that his story was more amazing. His story went like this: He and his two brothers each owned a shop. Both elder brothers chose to sell their shops to travel and make more money. Each time they did, they would come back broke, and he would give them money to start over. For 6 years, they tried to persuade him to travel with them. Finally, he accepted, but found that both brothers had squandered all their money. So he gave them his, and they were off. While traveling, he was able to make 10 times more money, but they became broke quickly. He also found a ragged maiden who asked him to marry her (which he did). His brothers, jealous of his money and his new wife, decided to kill them. But the wife (who was a Jinni) flew away with her husband. She told him, she was a believer of Allah and felt compelled to marry and be with him, and now she had to kill his brothers. He begged her not to, so instead she flew him home. After fixing his store, he came home to find two grey hounds and knew instantly that they were his brothers. His wife explained that her sister had cast the spell for her, and that after 10 years she would be able to change them back for him. And so that now he was traveling to his sister-in-law’s home to change his brothers back to men. Again the Jinni was amazed and awarded the second old man a third  of the merchants blood. The third asked for the same chance and his story went thus: After traveling for a year, he came home to find his wife in bed with a slave. When she saw her husband, she cast a spell that changed him into a dog. He ran from the home and wandered until he came upon a butcher who fed him and took him in. The butcher’s daughter yelled, “Why do you bring a strange man before me?” Then she explained to her father the story of the dog (it seems these witch/magic ladies just know). She quickly changed him back into a man and taught him how to cast the same smell onto his wife. And as she slept, he changed her into a mule. And again the Jinni was amazed. Having given away all of the merchant, he could no longer kill him, and he was saved.

Hope you enjoyed!

-Blog Barista

*squeal of joy*

*squeal of joy*

Check it out here:

Translated by Burton, R. Francis. Tales from Arabian Nights. New York: Fall River press, 2012, pp. 21-31. Print.


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