One Thousand and One Nights

collection of Middle Eastern folk stories

One Thousand and One Nights is a medieval Middle-Eastern literary work that consists of a number of stories being told by Queen Scheherazade to her mad husband, King Shahryar.

Each pleasure that does not forward the soul to God is not so much as a pleasure as a calamity.

Frame story

Scheherazade … had read much, and had so admirable a memory, that she never forgot any thing she had read. She had successfully applied herself to philosophy, medicine, history, and the liberal arts; and her poetry excelled the compositions of the best writers of her time.
  • "Who will change old lamps for new ones? New lamps for old?"
  • "Open Sesame!"

Tale of Zummurud and Ali-Shar

  • When I was alive
    I was dust which was,
    But now I am dust in dust
    I am dust which never was.
  • On the black road of life think not to find
    Either a friend or lover to your mind;
    If you must love, oh then, love solitude,
    For solitude alone is true and kind.

Tale of King Umar al-Numan

  • Maslamah ibn Dinar said: "Each pleasure that does not forward the soul to God is not so much as a pleasure as a calamity."
  • I hope that Allah will not make me immortal, for death is his greatest gift to any true believer.
  • Each man envies, the strong openly, the weak in secret.

Quotes about One Thousand and One Nights

  • I discovered fantasy and eroticism in One Thousand and One Nights, which I read in Lebanon at age fourteen. At that time and in that place, girls didn't have much social life aside from school and family; we didn't even go to the movies. My only escape from a troublesome family life was reading. My stepfather had four mysterious leather volumes in his locked closet, forbidden books that I was not supposed to see because they were “erotic.” Of course I found a way to copy the key and get in the closet when he was not around. I used a flashlight, could not mark the pages, and read quickly, skipping pages and looking for the dirty parts. My hormones were raging and my imagination went wild with those fantastic tales. When critics call me a Latin America Sheherazade I feel very flattered!
  • my auntie, Tití, who was the reader in the family, gave me a picture book version of “The Arabian Nights,” and I was smitten. Scheherazade, the young heroine, was a girl who looked Dominican, dark eyed, dark hair, olive skin. Then, the whole idea of a girl saving her life and that of all women in the kingdom and transforming a cruel sultan by telling stories. That book put a luminous bit of information in my head: that stories have power, that they can transform you and save you.
  • It is a book so vast that it is not necessary to have read it, for it is a part of our memory.
  • Another book that was very important for me was A Thousand and One Nights. I used to read that when I was around ten or younger.
    • Rosario Ferré interview in Backtalk: Women Writers Speak Out by Donna Marie Perry (1993)
  • I'd like every single Arab to read One Thousand and One Nights. They [would] learn a lot from them, especially [because] these stories were written away from the influence of religion. It's interesting to see how we were open, how we had a dialogue with each other, how we wanted to understand, how we respected each other. There was a great dignity, and I'd like this to be restored again.