“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”(Matthew 6:14-15, NIV) Husain Haddawy’s The Arabian Nights discusses many situations in which individuals learn to forgive others for the wrong that they have done against them. The Bible refers to the idea of forgiveness as an act not only for the person that has wronged you but for yourself; in order to grow, we have to forgive because if we do not, God will not forgive us. Haddawy’s literary work emphasizes the importance of forgiveness through the stories relating to the Demon and King Shahrayar.
King Shahrayar and the Demon both feel as if shedding blood is the right path to getting even with the ones that has done wrong against them. There are similarities in the ways that King Shahrayar and the Demon’s mentality changes and how the idea of being able to forgive others is a better approach rather than bloodshed.
The Arabian Nights begins with King Shahrayar’s story. King Shahrayar’s brother King Shahzaman, informs King Shahrayar that his wife, the Queen, is cheating on him. Upon seeing this for himself, King Shahrayar kills his wife due to her disloyalty towards him. He then vows to marry a new woman each night and have her killed the next day. However, the King does not kill these women himself, he appoints his vizier to kill the women. What makes this story much more interesting is that the vizier has a daughter named Shahrazad, and she tells her father about her plan: “I would like you to marry me to King Shahrayar, so that I may either succeed in saving the people or perish and die like the rest.” (p.13) Shahrazad holds no responsibility for the infidelity of the King’s first wife, yet she plans on bringing about a newer idea of justice and forgiveness. Shahrazad does so through storytelling.
Shahrazad’s first story is “The Story of the Merchant and the Demon”. The Demon, similar to the King believes that one should suffer for their mistakes. In this first story, a demon approaches a merchant who was eating dates. The demon claims that the merchant has killed his son by throwing a dates seed accidentally. The demon now claims that he has to kill the merchant because of this. “I must kill you as you killed him—blood for blood.” (p.19) Similar to the King, the demon feels as if he has been betrayed and is hurt by the careless actions of the merchant, therefore he must kill the merchant in order to feel as if his revenge is worthy of the pain that he has endured. Just like how Shahrazad heard of what happened to the King, three old men heard about the merchant’s situation with the Demon. In the same way, they decided to tell the Demon a story to spare the merchants life, just like how Shahrazad is telling the King the stories of them.
The first old man tells a tale of how he married his cousin, who is now transformed into a deer. The reason why she...