- Subject: History
- Topic: Shahrazád Mollifies a Murderous King
- Style: MLA
- Number of pages: 1 pages/double spaced (275 words)
- PowerPoint slides: 0
- Number of source/references: 1
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Order instructions:Shahrazád Mollifies a Murderous King
In the West, the best-known Muslim literary work is The Arabian Nights, also called The Thousand and One Nights, which is set in the ninth-century court of Harun al-Rashid. This collection of tales circulated for centuries and was probably recorded in its present form in the fifteenth century. The story tells of a jealous king who marries a virgin each night and kills her in the morning so that his wives can never be unfaithful. The lovely Shahrazád escapes this fate by weaving a compelling story for the king every evening for a thousand and one nights. This excerpt explains what happened to Shahrazád after her years of storytelling.
SHAHRAZÁD, during this period, had borne the King three male children; and when she had ended these tales, she rose up on her feet, and kissed the ground before the King, and said to him, O King of the time, and incomparable one of the age and period, verily I am thy slave, and during a thousand and one nights I have related to thee the history of the preceding generations, and the admonitions of the people of former times: then have I any claim upon thy majesty so that I may request of thee to grant me a wish? And the King answered her, Request: thou shalt receive, O Shahrazád. So thereupon she called out to the nurses and the eunuchs, and said to them, Bring ye, my children. Accordingly, they brought them to her quickly; and they were three male children: one of them walked, and one crawled, and one was at the breast.
And when they brought them, she took them and placed them before the King, and, having kissed the ground, said, O King of the age, these are thy children, and I request of thee that thou exempt me from slaughter, as a favour to these infants; for if thou slay me, these infants will become without a mother, and will not find among women one who will rear them well. And thereupon the King wept, and pressed his children to his bosom, and said, O Shahrazád, by Allah, I pardoned thee before the coming of these children, because I saw thee be chaste, pure, ingenuous, pious. May God bless thee, and thy father and thy mother, and thy root and thy branch! I call God to witness against me that I have exempted thee from everything that might injure thee.—So she kissed his hands and his feet, and rejoiced with exceeding joy; and she said to him, May God prolong thy life, and increase thy dignity and majesty! …
So they decorated the city in a magnificent manner, the like of which had not been seen before, and the drums were beaten and the pipes were sounded, and all the performers of sports exhibited their arts, and the King rewarded them munificently with gifts and presents. He bestowed alms also upon the poor and needy and extended his generosity to all his subjects, and all the people of his dominions. And he and the people of his empire continued in prosperity and joy and delight and happiness until they were visited by the terminator of delights and the separator of companions.
from: Edward William Lane, trans., The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments—or The Thousand and One Nights (New York: Tudor Publishing, 1927), pp. 962–963.
Analyze the Source
How might works of literature not only entertain but also reveal the values of the society that produce them?
What does this text say about the early Muslim views of women?