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Myths and Legends

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> The legend of Jaber Yassein
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> Miriamiya, "Sage of Virtue," and other aromatic herbs
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> A covenant between brother and sister
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A covenant between brother and sister
   
submitted by Arab Educational Institute
17.03.2006

Once a pregnant Bedouin woman fell unconscious after an accident. Her relatives thought that she was dead. In accordance with Bedouin custom she was buried in a cave closed off by a stone.

When the woman woke up she delivered. God was good for her and on her prayers she was able to feed the baby. However, she did not know where she was and shouted for help. A Bedouin shepherd passed by. After hearing her cries, he rolled the stone away from the opening of the cave. When she explained what happened, he said: "What can I do for you? It is forbidden for a man to help and touch a woman whom he does not know." He decided to make 'brotherhood' and 'sisterhood' with her. With this custom a Bedouin man and woman can stay with each other even though they are not married. Both have to say a formula with the one hand on the Koran and the other on a sword. However, in emergency cases it is possible to say the formula only. So he told her: "You are my sister in God's book. If you betray me, may God betray you." And the woman said: "You are my brother in God's book. If you betray me, may God betray you."

Then the man slaughtered two sheep from his neighbour's flock to buy her and the baby some clothes. She joined her saviour in his wanderings through the desert. However, since Bedouin always return to places where they had been before, there came a moment that the father of the woman saw her. He shouted: "It is you and it isn't you!" He rewarded the Bedouin man with a great many camels and sheep. Then he gave the woman back to her husband, who also rewarded the shepherd. Even though he became rich, the shepherd never forgot his 'sister'. At each 'Eid al-Kbir he sent her a sheep or a leg of a sheep.


Arab Educational Institute, Moral Stories from Palestine. Culture and Palestine Series, Bethlehem 1999. For more information: aei@p-ol.com

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