The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad
After my return from my sixth voyage, which brought me a fine profit, I returned to my old life of enjoyment and fun. I continued this way for some time until I began to long once again to sail the seas, visit foreign countries, make friends among like-minded merchants, and experience new things.
So having made up my mind, I packed up my merchandise and had it taken down to the port of Basrah. I found a company of merchants with a ship ready for sea. I set sail with them, made friends, and travelled in health and safety with a fair wind in our sails.
Eventually we came to a city called Madinat-al-Sin, where we did good business. After we sailed on from the city, a violent head wind blew up, and rain started to drench our ship and our goods. We covered everything with canvas and prayed to the Almighty Allah to save us from danger.
When the storm had passed, the captain climbed up to the top of the mast. He looked right and left and then began beating his own forehead with his fist.
We cried up to him: “Captain, what is the matter?”
And he replied saying:
“Say goodbye to one another and recite the prayer for those who are about to die! The wind has got the better of us and has driven us to the furthest corner of the world.”
Then he climbed down, opened his sea chest and took out a book which he read for a while with tears in his eyes. Eventually he said to us:
“This book describes exactly where we have come to. It is a place from which there is no escape and we shall surely die here!
It is called ‘The Sea of the King’, for here Solomon, Son of David (peace be on them both) is buried beneath the waves. Great sea serpents live here, so massive that they can eat a ship whole!”
On hearing the captain’s words we were filled with wonder and dread and began to commit our souls to Allah. Before long, we heard a terrible roar, like thunder, and we were struck with terror. A huge fish came up to us, as tall as a mountain and we became wild with fright and made ready for death.
Then a second later, another still more monstrous fish reared its head.
Neither serpent made a move to attack us, though we might have died of fright. Finally a third fish appeared out of the water and soon there were three fishes circling around our ship. We were stupefied and lost the power of reason. The third and biggest fish opened his mouth. We looked into its jaws that were wider than the gate of a city! We beseeched the Almighty for help, when suddenly a violent squall of wind hit the ship which rose up out of the water and landed on a reef. It broke into pieces and everyone and everything on board was plunged into the sea. I rode on a plank with my legs astride it like a horse. The winds and waters played sport with me, and threw me up and down.
Then I cried out to myself: “Oh Sinbad, Oh Seaman, you have not learned the lessons of your sufferings and hardships! You have not given up sea travel. You have sworn to give it up, but you lied, and now you deserve this suffering and you must endure it with patience! All this is decreed by Allah (whose name be exalted!), to turn me from my greed of gain.
This greed is the cause of all I suffer. There is no need for I have wealth galore.”
I soon returned to my senses and said: “In truth, this time I most sincerely repent to the Most High of my lust for gain and venture; and never again shall I travel – not even in my thoughts and dreams.”
I continued like this for two days, until at last I landed on an island where I ate fruit and drank fresh water. And it was here I said to myself:
“He who ties the knot of fate can untie it equally well.”
And so I walked about, until I found a great river of sweet water. As I had done once before, I tied together some logs of balsa wood and made myself a raft. For several days I lay on my boat, not eating or drinking, until I was as weak and giddy as a chicken. Eventually I passed through a valley, at the end of which I could hear the sound of water crashing down a great fall and I feared that I would be carried over its edge and smashed to pieces on the rapids.
“There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!”
I was in such despair that this was my end, that I did not notice a fisherman cast down his net. He caught me in it, and hauled me up onto the bank.
I found myself looking up at a crowd of people who had come down to the river from a great city. One of these, an elderly gentleman, richly dressed, helped me to my feet and led me to the city. He bought me a fine set of clothes and paid for me to visit the steam baths. Then he invited me to his house and set rich food before me. At the end of the evening, I retired to a set of rooms, and servants were told to bring me anything I wished for. I stayed in my rooms for three days, eating and drinking well, and restoring my health and mind.
On the fourth day, my host came to me and said: “Praise be to Allah for your safety. Will you come to the market with me and sell your goods and take their price?”
I was puzzled, and asked what these words meant, for I had lost all my goods in the shipwreck. He told me not to worry, and so we went together to the market. There I found his servants had brought my raft and put it up for sale. One man offered 100 silver pieces for it, and my host offered me 150. He pressed me to accept his offer, which I did, most gratefully, for it was not worth one silver piece in my mind.
When we returned home, he said to me: “I am a very old man and have no son, but I have a daughter who is young and ready to marry. The Most High has smiled on you by saving you seven times from the sea. In all my long life I have not heard of another man who has survived more than three shipwrecks. Would you do me the honour of taking her to be your wife?”
I was silent and made no answer, for his generosity was great. But he continued to press me and say that he wished for nothing greater than this, and so at last I accepted.
I was married to his daughter and her father arranged for a noble wedding feast. I found her perfect in beauty and character, and she was dressed in rich clothes, covered with precious ornaments and gems worth a mint of money. We lived happily together for some years until her father passed to another world… Peace be upon him.
After I became the head of the household, I began to know the other city folk more closely, and I discovered that they had a secret. Once a month their forms altered and they changed into birds. I asked a man who was a friend to me: “Next time this happens, carry me upon your back so that I too may know what it feels like to fly?”
“This cannot be,” he replied, but I did not cease to ask him until at last he agreed to do as I wished. I climbed on his back and he took me so high that I heard the angels glorifying God in the heavens. I was greatly thrilled and called out: “Praise be to Allah in his perfection!” No sooner as I said these words than a great fire came from heaven and the birds scattered this way and that. My carrier cursed my name and dropped me on top of a mountain. Here I met two young men carrying rods of gold. I saluted and salamed them and asked who they might be.
“We are the servants of Allah most High!” they replied. They gave me a rod of gold and walked by my side along a ridge on the edge of the mountain.
We heard the cries of a man:
“Save me, and Allah will save you from all your troubles!” he called out.
The next moment a great serpent came into a view. The monster had already half swallowed the man. His head and the top part of his body were still sticking out of his mouth and he was calling out to me. I rushed down and beat the serpent’s head with my golden rod until it released its victim and fled. We continued along our way together until at last we found a group of men-birds. One of these agreed to carry me back to the city.
My wife met me, rejoicing in my safety and told me to beware of flying with the bird-folk, for they were related to devils and did not know how to mention the name of Allah the Almighty, which was why the fire had come down against us.
I did not wish to remain any longer in this city, and so we sold all our property for a fine sum of money and boarded a ship back to Basrah from where we travelled safely to Baghdad. When my friends and family heard of my return, they welcomed me and marvelled with great joy for I had been away for an entire 27 years. Then I foreswore travel before Allah the most High and I will journey no more for this seventh and last voyage had shown me enough of Earth and the skies.
I thanked the Lord (may He be praised and glorified) for bringing me back to my family, friends and home country.
Sinbad the Sailor spoke to Sinbad the Porter and said: “So now you have heard what dangers and hardships I went through to become a man of wealth and leisure.”
“Allah bless you, my Lord,” replied the porter. “Pardon me for my words that wronged you.”
And the two Sinbads remained friends and enjoyed the delights of life until their last days on Earth.
And that was the story of the final voyage of Sinbad. You might be interested to know that there’s an alternative version of this story in which Sinbad visits the place where elephants go to die.
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