Iranian stories and fables (142)
Just like the previous programs because of the importance and the global status of the one thousand and one nights stories we are discussing this precious collection.
And for today we follow our program by telling the new story of the Liar servant. So keep us company until the end of the program.
In the previous programs we talked about different themes in the stories of the one thousand and one nights and we said that the most important of these themes is the issue of wonder. We also said that though the circumstances change during the course of time in these stories, the characters are stable and unchanging. People in the stories of the one thousand and one nights remain the same from the beginning to the end of the story. As you might remember in a couple of previous episodes we told you the story of a caliph called Haroun al- Rashid as a person who is after change. This character makes the characters around him be wakeful and is not the only character which does this task in the stories of the one thousand and one nights.
In the stories of the one thousand and one nights we have a poor but wise old man who suddenly appears in the story and renovates the world around. He breaks the walls which have been built through everyday life. In the stories of the one thousand and one nights such characters are Muslims. In the Holy Quran we read about such characters like Prophet Khedr who is Prophet Moses’s guide and saves the sailor of a ship by sinking the ship. In another time, this character backs a father and mother by killing their child and sometimes makes orphans rich. We also see Prophet Solomon speaking with birds and shaping a bond between the world of humans with that of plants.
Here we cut discussing the collection of the one thousand and one nights stories and continue the program with the new story of the Liar and Servant. We hope you’ll enjoy the program.
Once upon a time the caliph Haroun al-Rashid, pretending to love his subjects, told his vizier Ja’far Barmaki:
“I want to go around the city to get informed of what my people are doing these days. In this way, I want to fire the officials whom the people are not satisfied with.”
“I am at your service.”
So the caliph, his vizier and the caliph’s swordsman called Masroor set off.
They went on and on till they reached an alley. Over there, they found an old man carrying a basket on his head. He had a staff in his hand but was too weak to walk properly. So the caliph went forward and asked the old man:
“Hey man, what’s your job?”
The old man answered:
“I am a fisherman. I have a big family and unfortunately I am poor. I have been working since the early hours of morning but I haven’t found anything to eat. I wish I had died.”
Then the caliph said:
“Let’s go to the sea together. We stand there and you try to catch fish and whatever you catch I’ll buy it for one hundred dinars.”
The old man was very happy and they went to the sea. Then the old man threw his net into the sea and brought up something heavy to the surface of the water. As they looked closely, they found a box which was locked. So the caliph gave the old man one hundred dinars and the old man went away happily. Then the caliph asked Masroor to take the box to the palace and the trio went back to the palace to see what was inside the box.
In the palace Msroor unlocked the box with the caliph’s command. But surprisingly they found the blood-stained body of a girl who seemed to have been killed. As the caliph saw the corpse he started crying and said:
“Why should such murders happen during the years of my reign? By God, the one who has killed this girl should be punished. I swear that if I found the murderer of this poor girl, I’ll kill him myself.”
Then he told his vizier:
“And you have to look for the murderer. If you don’t find him, I’ll hang you and your family.”
And as Ja’far found the caliph furious, he asked the caliph to give him three days to find the murderer. Ja’far stayed at home for three days and thought but didn’t find any way to fulfill the caliph’s order. On the fourth day he went to the him and said,
“Your Majesty I am not a fortune-teller to tell you who the murderer is.”
And the caliph became angry and ordered his officials to hang Ja’far and his family at the entrance of the city.
Many thanks for being with us. For your information, it should be said that Haroun al-Rashid, like all of the Abbasid caliphs was a usurper of caliphate from its rightful and legitimate rulers, the infallible Imams of the Prophet’s progeny. And what you hear in the form of stories of One Thousand and One Nights is just fiction and has no historical document. Even if these accounts are real they do not negate the crimes of the usurper Abbasid rulers against Muslims and their killing of the infallible Imams of Ahl al-Bayt and massacring their followers.