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  • Writer's pictureFolkloristan

The Adventures of Hatim Tayi

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

Once upon a time, in the magical kingdom of Khorasan, there reigned a courageous and fair-hearted monarch named Kurdan Shah. His kingdom was filled with wonder and enchantment, and its people adored their wise ruler. Within this realm, there lived a renowned merchant named Burzakh, whose fame stretched far and wide.

When Burzakh passed away, his inheritance was bestowed upon his beloved daughter. But this young maiden, named Husn Banu, had no desire to be wedded off to just anyone. Following the advice of her trusted nurse, she devised a clever plan. She set forth a series of propositions that any suitor must answer correctly in order to win her hand in marriage.

First, what is signified by “What I have seen once, I yearn to see again. Second, perform acts of kindness and cast them upon the waters. Third, refrain from evil, for what you give is what you shall receive. Fourth, those who speak the truth find eternal tranquility. Fifth, bring to me tales of the mighty mountain of Nida. Sixth, present me with a pearl as large as a duck's egg. And lastly, reveal the secrets of the wondrous bath of Badgard.

Husn Banu inherited her father's vast fortune, but she was soon deceived by a deceitful Dervish who she had invited into her home for a meal. When she sought justice from King Kurdan Shah, the monarch became infuriated, for the Dervish held great respect in the kingdom. In his anger, the king expelled poor Husn Banu from the city.

Left hungry and thirsty, she found solace beneath the shade of a towering tree just outside the city gates. It was there, in her moment of despair, that a mysterious figure appeared to her in a dream. The ethereal presence urged her to dig beneath the tree, promising a hidden treasure.

Determined, Husn Banu and her nurse began to dig with a wooden stick. And to their astonishment, a pit brimming with shimmering yellow gold unveiled itself before their eyes. It was as if seven grand houses filled with pure gold and chests adorned with precious jewels emerged from the earth. Among the treasures, there were even four cups overflowing with rubies and pearls as large as ducks' eggs. Overwhelmed with joy and gratitude, Husn Banu humbly thanked the Almighty for this miraculous discovery.

With a portion of the gold, she instructed her nurse to return to the city and seek assistance. They needed people to aid in their endeavours, food to nourish their bodies, and clothes to protect them from the elements. Moreover, they required skilled labourers and architects to help construct a grand edifice upon the very spot of their newfound fortune.

It so happened that Husn Banu's foster brother passed by and recognized her. Trusting him completely, she confided in him about her extraordinary fate. In no time, her foster brother arranged for a skilled builder to commence the construction of a magnificent mansion on the treasure-laden land.

Emboldened by her newfound wealth and resolute in her purpose, Husn Banu disguised herself as a young man named Behram and ventured into the city once more. She presented herself at King Kurdan Shah's court, bearing precious gifts of rubies from her treasure trove.

With grace and eloquence, she shared her tale with the king, speaking of her deceased merchant father and her desire to serve him. Impressed by her sincerity and generosity, King Kurdan Shah extended his kindness and offered to adopt her as his own. He granted her permission to build a splendid city known as Shahabad.

Not only that, but Husn Banu also managed to reclaim her father's confiscated house with the king's benevolent support. Justice was finally served, and the deceitful Dervish and his companions were captured and punished for their misdeeds. At last, Husn Banu revealed her true identity to the king, who forgave her for her earlier deception and permitted her to reside in Shahabad.

Meanwhile, in a distant land called Khwarzem, a young prince named Munir Shah caught sight of Husn Banu's enchanting portrait and instantly fell under her spell. Determined to win her hand, Munir Shah bravely accepted the challenge of solving the seven mysterious questions she had set forth.

Fate brought him to the legendary Hatim Tayi, a renowned adventurer known for his courage and wisdom. Hatim graciously welcomed Munir Shah as his guest in the land of Yemen for three days before embarking on a perilous journey to meet Husn Banu.

Together, Hatim and Munir Shah faced thrilling adventures and encountered mythical creatures along their path. Hatim's vivid encounters with a she-wolf, a graceful doe, a pack of mischievous jackals, cunning hyenas, mighty bears, and even a fearsome dragon, all held the key to Husn Banu's first question.

As they ventured further, Hatim and Munir Shah delved into the mystical realm of Koh-e-Kaaf, where ancient secrets awaited their discovery. Guided by the writings on the door of Harith, they unlocked the meaning behind Husn Banu's second question.

The epic journey continued to the Red Desert and the vibrant city of Himyar, where they encountered enchanting fae sovereigns, treacherous serpents, and the fearsome deozaat. In their quest, they stumbled upon a magical flower that possessed the power to restore the eyesight of an elderly desert dweller—a living answer to Husn Banu's third question.

Undeterred by the challenges, Hatim pressed forward to the city of Karam. There, he rescued a magician's daughter from a dreadful fate, battled menacing demons, and ultimately obtained the treasured stone known as the Shahmuhra. Along the way, he crossed paths with the wise Hazrat Khizar (R.A) and even confronted the cunning Iblis. With the Shahmuhra in hand, Hatim triumphantly returned to Shahabad to face his next trial.

Their final destination took Hatim to the majestic mountain of Nida. It was here that the intricate love story of a fairy prince from the island of Tuman and the daughter of the king of Barzakh unfolded. Hatim and the prince embarked on a perilous quest to defeat the powerful demons, their wings carrying them across the vast sea. In the end, Hatim successfully negotiated with the king of Barzakh, acquiring the fabled pearl known as the Murghab pearl—a pearl that Husn Banu longed to possess.

Overwhelmed with delight, Husn Banu celebrated the arrival of the pearl, and the court resounded with praise for the noble Hatim. In the serene Mihmanseraï, Hatim encountered Prince Munir once again and reassured him that his happiness was within reach. After a brief respite, Hatim approached Husn Banu, eager to face her final question.

With a smile, Husn Banu revealed her seventh and last question to Hatim. She asked him to bring her an account of the enchanted bath of Badgard. Understanding the gravity of the task at hand, Hatim bid farewell to Husn Banu and Prince Munir, readying himself for yet another extraordinary adventure.

His path led him to encounters with magical beings and harrowing trials. Hatim was forewarned about the enchantment that surrounded the bath of Badgard, but his determination remained unshaken. Through his cunning and bravery, he managed to break the spell and uncover the secrets of the mystical bath.

As Hatim triumphantly returned to Shahabad, accompanied by a newfound friend, the King of Katan, joy filled the air. Husn Banu and Munir Shah were joined together in matrimony, their love and happiness blooming like the most beautiful flowers in the kingdom. And so, they lived happily ever after, in a city built upon dreams and adventures, a testament to the power of courage, wisdom, and true love.


Source: The Adventures of Hatim Tayi, a Romance, translated by Duncan Forbes

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