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This is the first top level tale told by Shahrazad herself in The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night.

A wealthy merchant, resting along his journey, eats some dates and throws away the stones. A fearsome jinni appears in a rage, saying that one of the date stones struck and killed the jinni's son. Although the merchant protests that he didn't do it on purpose, the jinni is intent on killing him. Finally the merchant swears to return to this place in one year, if he can have that time to set his affairs in order and say goodbye to his loved ones.

One year later, he returns to the same spot to wait for death. There he meets three old sheikhs, one with a gazelle, one with two dogs, and one with a she-mule. The jinni arrives, and the sheikhs offer that each of them will tell a story to convince him to spare the merchant.

After hearing these stories, the jinni spares the merchant.


This story appears in the oldest preserved manuscript and is one of the core stories of the Arabian Nights.

Translator Antoine Galland questioned how a date stone could kill a jinni. Duncan B. MacDonald said that jinni are made of fire with a very thin skin that can be easily pierced.