Abu al-Aswad bought a native-born slave-girl, who was blind of an eye, and she pleased him; but his people decried her to him; whereat he wondered and, turning the palms of his hands upwards, 114 recited these two couplets,

    “They find me fault with her where I default ne’er find, *
         Save haply that a speck in either eye may show:
    But if her eyes have fault, of fault her form hath none, *
         Slim-built above the waist and heavily made below.”

And this is also told of

「‡114 When reciting the Fátihah (opening Koranic chapter), the hands are held in this position as if to receive a blessing falling from Heaven; after which both palms are passed down the face to distribute it over the eyes and other organs of sense.」


The Caliph Harun al-Rashid lay one night between two slave-girls, one from Al-Medinah and the other from Cufa and the Cufite rubbed his hands, whilst the Medinite rubbed his feet and made his concern 115 stand up. Quoth the Cufite, “I see thou wouldst keep the whole of the stock-in-trade to thyself; give me my share of it.” And the other answered, “I have been told by Málik, on the authority of Hishám ibn Orwah, 116 who had it of his (grand) father, that the Prophet said, ‘Whoso quickeneth the dead, the dead belongeth to him and is his.’ But the Cufite took her unawares and, pushing her away, seized it all in her own hand and said, “Al-A’amash telleth us, on the authority of Khaysamah, who had it of Abdallah bin Mas’ud, that the Prophet declared, ‘Game belongeth to him who taketh it, not to him who raiseth it.’” And this is also related of

「‡115 The word used is “bizá’at” = capital or a share in a mercantile business.」
「‡116 This and the following names are those of noted traditionists of the eighth century, who derive back to Abdallah bin Mas’úd, a “Companion of the Apostle.” The text shows the recognised formula of ascription for quoting a “Hadís” = saying of Mohammed; and sometimes it has to pass through half a dozen mouths.」


The Caliph Harun al-Rashid once slept with three slave-girls, a Meccan, a Medinite and an Irakite. The Medinah girl put her hand to his yard and handled it, whereupon it rose and the Meccan sprang up and drew it to herself. Quoth the other, “What is this unjust aggression? A tradition was related to me by Málik †117 after Al-Zuhri, after Abdallah ibn Sálim, after Sa’íd bin Zayd, that the Apostle of Allah (whom Allah bless and keep!) said: ‘Whoso enquickeneth a dead land, it is his.’ And the Meccan answered, “It is related to us by Sufyán, from Abu Zanád, from Al-A’araj, from Abu Horayrah, that the Apostle of Allah said: ‘The quarry is his who catcheth it, not his who starteth it.’” But the Irak girl pushed them both away and taking it to herself, said, “This is mine, till your contention be decided.” And they tell a tale of

「• †117 Traditionists of the seventh and eighth centuries who refer back to the “Father of the Kitten” (Abu Horayrah), an uncle of the Apostle.」

Arabian Nights

  1. Story Of King Shahryar And His Brother
  2. The Tale Of The Bull And The Ass
  3. The Fisherman And The Jinni
  4. The Tale of the Wazir and the Sage Duban
  5. King Sindibad and his Falcon
  6. The Tale of the Husband and the Parrot
  7. The Tale of the Prince and the Ogress
  8. The Tale Of The Ensorceled Prince
  9. The Porter And The Three Ladies Of Baghdad
  10. The First Kalandar's Tale
  11. The Second Kalandar's Tale
  12. The Third Kalandar's Tale
  13. The Eldest Lady's Tale
  14. Tale of the Portress
  15. The Tale Of The Three Apples
  16. The Arabian Nights: 70. ABU AL-ASWAD AND HIS SLAVE-GIRL
  17. Alaeddin; Or, The Wonderful Lamp

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Arabian Nights