In the ancient city of Baghdad, there was an extremely rich merchant who traded in diamonds and other precious stones. He had numberless mansions, shops, yards, sites, and orchards besides hundreds of slaves. When the merchant died all this enormous wealth came into the possession of his son Mahammad Ali.


One day, as Mahammad Ali was doing business in his main shop, a lday of rare grace and beauty entered the shop, accompanied by several maids. She wanted to see some necklaces.


Mahammad Ali who fell in love with this lady the moment he saw her, displayed before her a hundred beautiful necklaces of excellent designs and workmanship.

“Have you nothing better than these?” the lady asked him.

Ali’s father had once bought a very rare necklace, paying a price of hundreds of thousand dinars. Unhesitatingly Ali brought it forth and showed it to the beautiful customer.


“This is lovely,” the lady said overjoyed. “I am ready to pay whatever you ask for it.”

“Madam,” said Ali, “it is of no value to me. Accept it as my gift and I am paid.”


However the lady insisted on paying for it a lakh dinars and five thousand more as interest.


She requested Ali to go with her to her house and collect the money.

They reached her quarters and she permitted Ali to fix the necklace around her neck with his own hands. She looked even more lovely with the necklace and Ali fell on his knees and implored her, “Madam, the necklace is yours. So am I! Accept both of us and make me happy.11”


The lady smiled. “My friend” , she said, “I am equally in love with you. The necklace was only a pretext. What I really wanted was to see you and talk to you. But I am not a common woman. My mother is Jafar, the well-known wazir of Khalifa. So you cannot make confessions of love to me till we are married.”

Ali’s face fell the moment he learned that she was the sister of the Vazir. Marriage between them was not in the realm of possibility.


The lady smiled at his disappontment. “Because I am highly placed,” she said, “dont think I am not free or independent.”

That very moment she sent for Kazi who performed their marriage at once.

A month went by. During this time Ali lived in his wife’s house feasting and listening to music and never away from his wife for a minute. Not even once did he think of his home or his shop.

Then, one morning, while Ali’s wife had been to her bath, an old woman came and told Ali that Zubeda, the wife of the Khalifa wanted to see him. Ali was reluctant to go without telling his wife who would feel for his separation even for a short time.

On the other hand it would not be proper to disobey the Kahlifa’s wife!

Ali decided to follow the old women and see Zubeda. He would explain things to his wife later. He did not know that Zubeda was the mortal enemy of his wife!


Zubedda received him with warmth and said, “I wanted to see for myself what sort of man our Vazir sister fell in love with. You are really a match for her.”

After some chitchat, Zubeda permitted him to return back to his wife.

On his return Ali found his wife raging and fuming like a tigress.

“How dare you leave me, you wretch, to see that hag, Zubeda!Having gone, why did you come back? She shouted.

Then she clapped her hands and a tall man entered bearing a huge sword. “Cut off his head!”, the mistress ordered him.

Ali was saved from instantaneous death by the entreaties of the servants of the house who respected him. So the indignant mistress contented herself with having her husband whipped severely. Then Ali was thrown out of the house.

Having paid for his unequal marriage, Ali somehow managed to reach home. He was in bed for two months before his wounds healed. Then he went to his shop and sold everything in it for whatever he could get and got a lot of cash.


With this money Ali started to spend his time in a certain manner which he thought would help to heal the wounds sustained by his mind. He started by buying 400 slaves and dressed all of them gorgeously. From among them he selected one which resembled Jafar, the Vazir and another who resembled Masrur, the Kahlifa’s sword bearer. He got for himself a dress identical with that of the khalifa and engaged a boar. Every night Ali would sit in the boat dressed liked Khalifa with pseudo Jafar and pseudo Masrur on his either side and go down the Tigris. As the illuminated boar went along Ali’s slaves shouted, “Make way for the Khalifa’s boat! Make way!”


No one ever doubted that it was the Khalifa’s boat and all other crafts used to hug the banks as Ali’s boar went on.

This went on for a year and then, one night , the Khalifa himself came to the banks of the Tigris accompanied , as always by Jafar and Masrur. All the three of them were disguised as merchants. The Khalifa was in the habit of walking the streets of Baghdad in disguise on such nights as when he could not sleep.

On reaching the banks of Tigris, the Kahlifa and his companions found a boat and asked its owner if he would take them on the river for a dinar.

“Friend, you appear to be stranger to this city,” the boatman said. “That is why you do not know that every day the Khalifa’s boat comes along at this time of the night.”

The three men looked at one another. They were sure that the man was lying. But , just at that moment, a boat blazing with lights appeared in the distance and came towards them. They could hear the shouts, “Make way for Khalifa’s boar!” As it came nearer they could see a young man, dressed like Khalifa, sitting in the middle of the boat and on his either side were two men who could be easily mistaken for Jafar and MAsrur.

After the boat passed, the three men in disguise offered the boatman ten dinars if he could take them in his boat and follow the khalifa’s boat. The boatmen agreed after some hesitation.

The illuminated boat went some distance and then touched the bank where there were some gardens. The real Khalifa and his companions got out of their boat and entered these gardens. As they went through the gardens some slaves came from behind the trees and surrounded them asking “Who are you? Where are you from? Are you invited to the Khalifa’s feast?”

“We are strangers”, said the real Khalifa. “We are also hungry and if the Khalifa should be kind enough to permit us we shall be glad to eat and drink with him.”

The slaves took the three intruders to Ali to whom Khalifa said the same thing.

: Friends,” said Ali, “guests are welcome to Khalifa’s table. Eat and drink with me.”

“We are strangers”, said the real Khalifa. “We are also hungry and if the Khalifa should be kind enough to permit us we shall be glad to eat and drink with him.”

The slaves took the three intruders to Ali to whom Khalifa said the same thing.

Friends,” said Ali, “guests are welcome to Khalifa’s table. Eat and drink with me.”

The Khalifa himself was astounded at the illumination and splendor of the dining hall and the richness of the fare awaiting them. While they were eating and drinking a girl sang a sad and sweet song of love and separation.

As he heard to this singing Ali became excited. He tore his clothes and wept like a mad man. The real Khalifa was surprised at the carelessness with which the young man tore such costly dresses. But he was still more surprised to see numberless scars all over the fair body of the young man.

“Is it not strange,” he whispered to his companions that this pseudo-Khalifa bears scars that are common to prisoners?”

Ali noticed that his guests were whispering among themselves. “Guest should not exclude the host from their intimacies,” he said. If you want to learn anything you can ask me.”

“It is nothing of importance,” said the guests. “Seeing the scars on the body of the Khalifa,we were wondering what cruel experience he passed through,”.


“Since you are strangers,” said Ali, “I do not hesitate to recount my strange experiences if you would care to listen then he recited his tale.


Having listened to the end, the Khalifa said, “Allah has all powers!” Then he thanked Alo for his hospitality and departed with his companions.

Now, the Khalifa and his Vazir, Jafar felt that both of them had a share in the responsibility for the painful experiences of the young man, since it was the feud between the Khalifa’s wife and Jafar’s sister that was the root cause for Ali’s misery.

Next morning, the Khalifa sent for Ali and asked him to recite his tale before the entire court. Having obtained the Khalifa’s guarantee for his safety, Ali did do.

“After all that you have suffered at your wife’s hands are you still prepared to take her back?” the Kahlifa asked Ali.

“I am willing,” replied Ali, “to receive anything from Khalifa’s hand.”

“Vazir,” said the Khalifa to Jafar, “call your sister here”.

“Do you know this man?” the Khalifa asked her when she came.

“Why should I know a stranger?” the lady replied.

“Well, his name is Mahammad Ali. He was once your husband. Forget all that has happened because I am thinking of giving you to him for a wife,” the Khalifa said.

“As you wish!” the lady replied.

The Kazi was called for and the pair was married in the court of Khalifa. Later, the Khalifa engaged Ali as one of his companions which raised his status considerably. Ali lived happily for a great many years with his wife.