© Written byand illustrated by Leanne Guenther - based on the Muslim Folktale
Once upon a time in a land long ago there lived a man, Big Abdul. He was a fervent Muslim; he had one wife, Fatima, and a son, Small Abdul. Now, Small Abdul was, of course, smaller than Big Abdul; but the most interesting thing about Small Abdul wasn't how much smaller he was in comparison to his father. Actually, Small Abdul was smaller than any other human being.
Being so small had its downsides, of course: he wasn’t as fast as other people, he was almost stepped on a number of times, and he needed assistance when getting up on a camel’s back. Having said this however, what Small Abdul lacked in size, he made up for with intelligence and wit.
One day, Big Abdul informed his family that it was time to partake in the annual Hajj, which was the pilgrimage to Mecca for the gathering of Muslims as one of the five pillars of Islam.
Since it was their religious duty, Fatima packed the annual supplies they would need for their journey and they went on their way. They travelled for hours along with a number of other Muslims on camels and in caravans.
At dusk during an evening of their travels, a gang of brigands blindsided the travellers, attacking and raiding the goods.
Along with these goods, the bandits took the women and children, leaving the men to suffer from their wounds. Of these men, Big Abdul was left behind, wounded. He watched desperately as the bandits took off with his beloved Fatima and son.
At the bandits’ encampment, the women and children were put to work: cooking and cleaning and taking care of any wounded bandit. Year after year past and Small Abdul saw his mother grow weaker and weaker with hopelessness. He knew it was time to make an escape – he just needed a way out. He knew a large group of bandits would be returning with stolen supplies as he had been spying on them, unseen because of his size. Of these supplies, Small Abdul discovered that they would be raiding a village with the fastest camels in all the land. Small Abdul knew that, once the bandits returned from the raid, it was his chance to escape with his mother, Fatima.
Sure enough, the brigands returned from their invasion with a large stock of stolen goods including a mehari, the fastest breed of racing camel in the world.
That evening, while all the brigands were fast asleep, Small Abdul woke his mother quietly and told her of his plans.
She stayed and watched guard as Small Abdul untied the camel. Using his quick wit and intelligence, Small Abdul was able to coax the animal into letting them ride it. Once the animal was compliant, Small Abdul beckoned his mother to help him on the camel and off they rode.
The camel was faster than any other animal nearby. They were safe from being caught once they started their journey.
Not knowing where they were or where they were going, Small Abdul let the mehari ride where it wanted.
Tired and hungry Small Abdul, Fatima, and the mehari approached a sheiks tent. They later found out that the mehari belonged to the sheik before the bandits had stolen it.
The sheik was a very kind man after he understood that it was not Fatima and Small Abdul who had stolen his beloved beast. He noticed that the two travellers were worn out, tired, and hungry and so he fed them, gave them time to sleep, and showed them all the civilities of kindness.
When Small Abdul and Fatima were ready to leave, they thanked the sheik for his great kindness and asked him for directions to their hometown.
The sheik was reluctant to let them go for he had grown fond of Small Abdul’s witty nature just as he had grown affectionate for Fatima’s beauty. He tried to persuade them both to stay, promising that he would treat Small Abdul as his own child and Fatima as one of his 4 wives.
Alas, he sadly let the two go after they protested; however, they remained thankful of his great humanity and graciousness. Before he let them go off on their way, however, the sheik gave Small Abdul the mehari that they had rescued from the brigands as a gift.
Small Abdul happily took the gift. Then, he and Fatima rode off following the sheik’s directions.
During their travels home, Fatima expressed her greatest worry for their future once they were back in their hometown. Even worse, Fatima worried that Big Abdul had not survived the bandits when her and Small Abdul had first been captured.
Nevertheless, as soon as Small Abdul and Fatima rode into their town they were greeted by all of their old friends and family, including Big Abdul.
He rushed out of the same home they had all lived in before the capture. With tears pouring from his eyes, Big Abdul happily greeted his long lost wife and son.
They visited for hours together in their old home, making up for lost time. Big Abdul explained that he and other men had been injured from the ambush but that, luckily, no one had died – the worst thing Big Abdul had injured was his large heart from having his family stolen from him.
Surprisingly, Big Abdul had befriended a large bird with which he called a “Peacock.” While he had been without his beloved family, the bird kept him company. Small Abdul immediately took a liking to this bird and enjoyed playing with it throughout the house.
Eventually Small Abdul discovered that this bird was as smart as his mehari was fast.
Throughout the years together, Small Abdul, his fast camel, and his large bird became the most sought after gang of heroes for solving problems. The camel grew faster as its legs grew longer and stronger; the peacock grew smarter the more it spent time with Small Abdul, who’s intelligence matched the bird’s effortlessly; and Small Abdul was as witty and charming as ever, despite his size. Soon travelers from far and wide would come to ask for guidance from the three.
Now during this time, a large ogress lived nearby in a large castle built with taller towers than even the highest of mountain peaks. She was evil, ruthless and wreaked havoc on nearby villages.
Her hair was long, black, and matted so badly that not even the finest of swords could slice through it. Her eyes were bloodshot with thousands of veiny red webs that came to the center of her cold, dark pupils. Her breath was the most awful stench that wafted miles and miles all around her castle. And she had long, sharp nails that were accented evilly by her long, sharp teeth.
News spread throughout Small Abdul’s village that the ogress had captured the powerful Caliph’s daughter. Being the ruler of the community, the Caliph ordered anyone and everyone – who thought they were fit for the job of rescuing his poor daughter – to step forward.
Small Abdul, his mehari, and the great azure and green bird made their way to the Caliph’s large house. Small Abdul presented himself to the Caliph; then he introduced his bird and camel. The Caliph stared at all three up and down and told them that they were surely not fit for the task of rescuing his daughter.
Disappointed, the peacock and the camel left the Caliph’s abode discouraged. But Small Abdul grinned kindly and bowed his head to the Caliph; he walked charmingly out of the house and, with assistance from the peacock, saddled up on his camel. Then, he ordered the camel to ride to the ogress’ palace.
The peacock and camel were uplifted by Small Abdul’s bravery and motivation, and the three rode off together on their journey to save the Caliph’s daughter.
Quickly, the camel – with Small Abdul on top – raced to the palace with the peacock following after. When they approached the tall tower, they discovered a large wooden door – larger than any other door they’d ever come across. Remains of soldiers and travelers, who thought they were capable of rescuing the Caliph’s daughter, were strewn in front of this large door.
Suddenly, the three could hear the sounds of snoring coming from inside the ogress’ castle. The peacock slyly looked at Small Abdul and Small Abdul smirked charmingly back at the bird. They hatched a plan immediately.
The peacock approached the door and let out a loud. CRAAAAAAAUUUK!!
The snoring stopped.
Small Abdul and the mehari hid behind the edge of the castle while Small Abdul explained the plan to the camel. As the large wooden door creaked open wide, the peacock stood at the door proudly. Puzzled at the sight of such an odd looking animal, the ogress came slowly walking out. All of a sudden, with a gleam in its eye, the peacock showed its brilliant blue and green feathers. As the ogress stood stunned at such a sight, Small Abdul quietly entered the palace. He knew he had little time before the ogress grew suspicious so he ran around as fast as he could desperately searching for the Caliph’s daughter.
As he was climbing up the last set of stairs in the highest tower of the palace, he could hear the Caliph’s daughter weeping softly behind a door, trapped by a large boulder. Small Abdul was happy to see his plan working out perfectly.
The room the Caliph’s daughter had been captured in was directly above the ogress who was caught in a trance at the sight of the peacock. Small Abdul used all his strength to push the giant boulder away from the door. When Small Abdul opened the door, the Caliph’s daughter happily helped him with his plan. With help from her, Small Abdul pushed the giant rock that had been in front of the door towards the window.
With a loud CRAAAAAAAUUUK!!!! Small Abdul pushed the rock out the window. Hearing the signal, the ogress looked above her to see the giant boulder headed straight for her. The peacock was pushed out of harm’s way by the camel who had also heard the signal. The boulder plummeted down so quickly that the slow ogress had no time to move.
The evil ogress was gone for good. Small Abdul, the fast mehari, and the peacock had saved the day once again.
Upon arrival at the Caliph’s house, the three heroes delivered the Caliph’s poor daughter. They were greeted by cheering crowds of townspeople and travelers.
Though the Caliph was not apologetic for not believing in the abilities of such a strange group of individuals, he offered his daughter’s hand in marriage as a reward for Small Abdul.
Of course, Small Abdul would have loved such a reward if he didn’t already have to great companions and a loving mother and father to spend time with. Also, he didn’t much like the idea of living in such a large house being served by others. So he respectfully declined the Caliph’s offer.
The Caliph was shocked at Small Abdul’s decline but perhaps because he saw newfound respect in the small man, or perhaps because he was embarrassed for not believing that Small Abdul could fulfill the task, the Caliph offered both his weight as well as Big Abdul, Fatima, the peacock’s, and the mehari’s weight in gold combined as a reward, instead.
With this, Small Abdul happily accepted.
He lived the rest of his days happily in a life of comfort and wealth with his loving mother, Fatima, father, Big Abdul along with his great companions the mehari and the peacock.