In the city of Baghdad, during the reign of Caliph Harun Al-Rashid, a wealthy man named Abu Hasan was living a life of extravagance. His days were filled with feasting on fine foods, dividing his wealth in gold, silver, and jewels, and indulging in endless laughter and entertainment with his maids, who sang to him and received lavish gifts. This opulent lifestyle persisted until he squandered all his wealth, losing everything he once possessed. Only one thing remained: his maidservant, a woman he inherited from his father.

This maidservant was unlike any other, possessing extraordinary beauty, intelligence, and a sweet, persuasive manner of speaking. She outshone her peers in knowledge and the art of captivating people’s attention. Her charm knew no bounds. She was skilled at charming her lover, and when people beheld her, they could only think of the month of Sha’ban, for her eyes shone as bright as crystals, reminiscent of lightning or a sharp sword. Her presence was accompanied by a delightful fragrance and soft, tender allure. Her figure was that of an apple, her lips were medium-sized like a seal, and her perfectly aligned teeth resembled an archer’s arrows. Her captivating beauty was beloved by all who saw her, and her charm, intelligence, and graceful speech enchanted those who met her. Especially endearing were her radiant white eyes.

As Abu Hasan’s fortune dwindled, he had been with her for three days, during which they shared neither sleep nor rest, lost in each other’s company. She said to him, “My master, now is the time for you to present me to the Sultan of Islam, Khalifa Harun Al-Rashid. Ask for ten thousand dinars for my services, which you can keep to alleviate your concerns and enter into the Sultan’s favor. If he objects to the price, tell him, ‘O Sultan of Islam, this maid is worth even more. Test her yourself to comprehend her knowledge and wisdom, for she is peerless and tailored for none but you.’ I implore you not to undervalue my worth.”

Abu Hasan, unaware of her true value, and without knowing her worth, eventually agreed to present her to Khalifa. They appeared before Khalifa, who inquired, “What is your name?” She answered, “My name is Tawaddud.” Khalifa continued, “Tawaddud, what fields of knowledge are you proficient in?” She responded, “O King, I possess knowledge of Arabic grammar, poetry, interpretation, arithmetic, and stories of ancient times. I have memorized much of the Quran, reciting it to the end, including its chapters, verses, letters, and words. I am well-acquainted with the chapters that require prostration and those that do not, distinguishing between Makiyya and Madaniyya chapters and knowing any new revelation of verses or chapters. I have extensive knowledge of the Prophet’s hadiths, history, and the reliability of various accounts. I am well-versed in spiritual sciences, Hindu and Persian wisdom, and modern and ancient philosophy. I have delved deeply into semantics and explanations, and I am well-versed in medicine, demonstrating my ability to heal the wounded by beating them with knowledge. I also know how to dance and where to do so; when I appear in beautiful attire, adorned with perfume, I become irresistible. Nobody can resist me except for a person who possesses profound knowledge and insight.”

Khalifa, astonished by her extensive knowledge and the wisdom of her speech, sought the counsel of Abu Hasan. “Let me summon the most knowledgeable people in our kingdom, who can ask her a series of challenging questions to assess her education and wisdom. If she answers all their questions, I will buy her at the price you requested and even add to it. However, if she fails to answer their inquiries, no one will acquire her except you.”

Abu Hasan accepted the Khalifa’s proposition with joy and gratitude. Khalifa dispatched a letter to Basra, summoning Ibrahim ibn Siyyari, an accomplished scholar known for his mature wisdom and understanding. Accompanying him were scholars of the Quran, wise men, rhetoricians, astrologers, administrators, scholars versed in Hindu and Persian sciences, and accountants. Ibrahim was the most knowledgeable among all of them. These scholars traveled to Baghdad and gathered at the palace, where Khalifa explained the purpose of their summons and asked them to pose challenging questions to test Tawaddud’s education and wisdom.

Tawaddud appeared before the gathering, her beauty shining like a star as she graced a golden chair. Her voice was soft and her eloquence impressive as she greeted those present. She began to speak, her words enchanting those who listened.

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