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Scheherazade: The Power of Story to Change the World

Scheherazade

Once there lived a Sultan who discovered that his wife was betraying him by taking as her lover a black slave. So the Sultan and his brother (whose wife had also betrayed him) let the city and went out into the world.  There they discovered a Jinn who had stolen and imprisoned a young woman on her wedding night.  The Jinn kept this woman in a locked casket, thinking to possess her.  But as women will, she betrayed this powerful spirit too.  Because...women do not like to be owned! And men kept trying to own them.

Unfortunately, both brothers still could not see how their own possessiveness might be the cause for betrayal. 

So after returning to their kingdoms, the Sultan had his wife and servants killed and he vowed that since no woman could be trusted, he would wed one every day and have her strangled the next morning. The Sultan ordered his Vizier to provide him with a new wife every day.

This the Vizier did reluctantly, but dutifully. The people of the kingdom grew more sorrowful every day, as more of their daughters were taken from them and put to death. The Sultan, who was once much loved by his people, was now hated.

Scheherazade by Kay Neilson

Finally, the Vizier's own daughter, Scheherazade, a young woman of surpassing knowledge, wit and beauty, determined to find a way to stop the slaughter. She demanded that her father give her as a bride to the Sultan. For the Sultan had exempted the Vizier's daughters from his edict. Her father was horrified, but she insisted and he finally relented. Before the wedding, Scheherazade told her sister to come to her bedchamber in the night and ask her to tell one last story before she died.

This she did, and with the Sultan's permission, Scheherazade began to tell a story, but with the coming of the dawn, stopped at just such a place that the Sultan wished to hear what was coming next. Therefore, he let her live for one more day. And each night, her stories were never completely told and the Sultan let Scheherazade live one more day so he could hear her stories. And so for 1,001 nights, Scheherazade told stories of love and betrayal, innocence and duplicity, wonder and intrigue, secret dreams and amazing discoveries until the dawn came when she had no more stories to tell.

As she waited for her husband's decision – for now he could kill her despite their three children - the Sultan realized how loyal Scheherazade had proved to be, and he saw the injustice of his vow, because he finally understood how fragile our human consciousness is and how we all fail at some point in our lives and have to face the consequences.

However horrible the price had been, the Sultan wisely chose to learn from his mistakes. Because of Scheherazade and her stories. He understood something more about love than he had before, and after this always gave Scheherazade respect for her wisdom, and honor for her valor.

Scheherazade saved not only the women of her land but also redeemed the one who had oppressed them.


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