THE DEVOUT WOMAN AND THE TWO WICKED ELDERS [FN#138]



There was in times of yore and in ages long gone before, a virtuous woman among the children of Israel, who was pious and devout and used every day to go out to the place of prayer, first entering a garden, which adjoined thereto, and there making the minor ablution.  Now there were in this garden two old men, its keepers, and both Shaykhs fell in love with her and sought her favours; but she refused, whereupon said they, “Unless thou yield thy body to us, we will bear witness against thee of fornication.”  Quoth she, “Allah will preserve me from your frowardness!”  Then they opened the garden-gate and cried out, and the folk came to them from all places, saying “What aileth you?”  Quoth they, “We found this damsel in company with a youth who was doing lewdness with her; but he escaped from our hands.”  Now it was the wont of the people in those days to expose adulterer and adulteress to public reproach for three days, and after stone them.  So they cried her name in the public streets for three days, while the two elders came up to her daily and, laying their hands on her head, said, “Praised be Allah who hath sent down on thee His righteous indignation!”  Now on the fourth day, when they bore her away to stone her, they were followed by a lad named Daniel, who was then only twelve years old, and this was to be the first of his miracles (upon our Prophet and upon him the blessing and peace!).  And he ceased not following them to the place of execution, till he came up with them and said to them, “Hasten not to stone her, till I judge between them.”  So they set him a chair and he sat down and summoned the old men separately.  (Now he was the first ever separated witnesses.)  Then said he to the first, “What sawest thou?” [FN#139]  So he repeated to him his story, and Daniel asked, “In what part of the garden did this befal?” and he answered, “On the eastern side, under a pear-tree.”  Then he called the other old man and asked him the same question, and he replied, “On the western side of the garden, under an apple-tree.”  Meanwhile the damsel stood by, with her hands and eyes raised heavenwards, imploring the Lord for deliverance.  Then Allah Almighty sent down His blasting leven-fire upon the elders and consumed them, and on this wise the Lord made manifest the innocence of the damsel.  Such was the first of the miracles of the Prophet Daniel, on whom be blessing and peace!  And they relate a tale of




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