Jamila and the Amir

Jamila and the Amir

More than 1000 years ago, Mansura was the historic capital of the Ummayyid Caliphate. It was a beautiful city and the first one to be built according to the standards of town-planning by the Arabs.  Today the ruins of Mansura can be found about 19 km away from Shahdapur in Sindh spread over 6 km.

The following story is set in Mansura. The Amir who ruled at that time was a young but conventional man. He was just, kind and would often go out at night roaming about the streets to see how his people lived.

Two Brothers

Two brothers lived there. Ahmad was a rich merchant while Ali was a simple artisan. Ahmad had only one son named Kamal, who was handsome yet very spoilt. Ali had one son Jamal who was a skilled artisan like himself and a daughter Jamila who was a beauty yet modest.

The Beautiful Jamila

Now Kamal’s mother thought that if her son got married, he would mend his ways. So she asked her acquaintances to suggest some suitable proposal. Most of them asked why she didn’t consider her husband’s beautiful niece. The vain woman was full of scorn, and said that they were no match for them; she wanted a bride with connections. So she went about looking at different girls, but no girl satisfied her. Each of them lacked something or the other. Her acquaintances once again suggested that she go see Jamila. Thereby she told her husband, who at first was reluctant, but then agreed. So she went to Ali’s house. Her first impression of their house was disappointing. Ali’s wife warmly welcomed her and took her to the sitting room which was simple yet neatly furnished. This surprised her and even more so when she laid eyes on Jamila, who was indeed beautiful and well mannered. After spending an hour she left. Later on in the evening she related her experience to her husband and son. Other than the fact that they not very well off, she thought that Jamila was most suitable. After a lengthy discussion it was decided that after 10 days she would go and give the token of betrothal. So Ali’s family was astonished as well as quite happy when she arrived with a basket of sweets, a gold embroidered duppatta and gold bracelets. It was decided that the formal ceremony would take place after a month.

The Betrothal of Jamila Comes to an End

But it so happened that two weeks later, a far richer merchant Ajmal sent the proposal of his only daughter (who of course would inherit all his fortune) for Kamal. They instantly regretted their hasty decision. However Ahmad’s wife was quite clever, so she came up with a plan and retrieved the bangles from Jamila. The following week, Kamal’s engagement to Ajmal’s daughter took place. When Ali’s family learned of this, Jamila was not affected much, however her brother was distressed and felt disgraced. So he left the house with the intent of going to another town and starting a new life. On his way he came across a man who was headed towards his city. The man greeted him, to which Jamal absentmindedly replied. The man sensed that he was perturbed, and asked what the matter was. At first Jamal was reluctant, but then something in the man’s manner prompted him to tell all what had happened. After listening the stranger asked what he wanted. Jamal said that he wanted his sister married to a decent person. The stranger thought for a while and then asked if he would consider him a suitable match for his sister. Jamal had taken an instant liking to him, and so happily accepted his proposal.

The Marriage of Jamila

The marriage took place simply, and the stranger would only come at night and leave at dawn. The first night he left a bag of 50 gold coins, the second night he left 100 gold coins, on the third night Jamila asked him why he was leaving them. He told her that it was her dower money which she could spend as she pleased. She gave this money to her father. He then purchased a grand house, hired servants and kept horses. Soon word got around, and reached Ahmad’s house too. His wife set out to see for herself, and nearly had a fit when she saw the grandeur they were living in. She returned home full of jealousy, and they decided to file a complaint with the Amir that Jamila had married someone else while being formally betrothed to Kamal.

Jamila Appears before the Amir

A summon was sent to Ali’s house. Everyone was upset, especially Jamila and so when her husband returned at night, she told him. He reassured her that the Amir was a good man, she simply had to do was answer the questions honestly and all would be well. So on the day, they all went to the durbar (court). The Amir asked her if she had been formally engaged to her cousin. Jamila told him all the events as they happened. Then he asked her where her husband was. Jamila told him he was a business man, and only came thrice a week. The Amir asked how she recognized him. She told him by his voice, his presence and his touch. To this he enquired how that could be enough, and would it not be better to marry her cousin. Jamila said she preferred her husband over all her uncle’s wealth and glory and started to cry. The Amir was touched and as he extended his hand to console her, Jamila glanced up and recognized his hand to be that of her husband’s. She was overcome with amazement and joy. The Amir then smiled at her, and answered the question in her eyes that he was indeed her husband. Then he asked her what punishment should be given to her relatives. Jamila told him that she had forgiven them. Soon Jamila came to stay in the Palace and lived happily ever after.