The Fisherman and the Jinni
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There was an old, poor fisherman who cast his net four times a day and only four times. One day he went to the shore and cast his net. When he tried to pull it up, he found it to be heavy. When he dove in and pulled up the net, he found a dead donkey in it. Then he cast his net again and netted a pitcher full of dirt. Then he cast his net for a third time and netted shards of pottery and glass. On his fourth and final try, he called upon the name of God and cast his net. When he pulled it up he found a copper jar with a cap that had the seal of Solomon on it. The fisherman was overjoyed, since he could sell the jar for money. He was curious of what was inside the jar, and removed the cap with his knife. A plume of smoke came out of the jar and condensed into an Ifrit (a more powerful, malevolent jinni). The fisherman was frightened, although initially the jinni did not notice him. The jinni thought that Solomon had come to kill him. When the fisherman told him that Solomon had been dead for many centuries, the Jinni was overjoyed and granted the fisherman a choice of the manner of his death.
The jinni explained that for the first hundred years of his imprisonment, he swore to enrich the person who freed him forever, but nobody freed him. For the second century of his imprisonment, he swore to grant his liberator great wealth, but nobody freed him. After another century, he swore to grant three wishes to the person who freed him, yet nobody did so. After four hundred years of imprisonment, the jinni became enraged and swore to grant the person who freed him a choice of deaths.
The fisherman pleaded for his life, but the jinni would not concede. The fisherman decided to trick the jinni. He asked the jinni how he managed to fit into the bottle. The jinni, eager to show off, shrank and placed himself back into the bottle to demonstrate his abilities. The fisherman quickly put the cap back on and threatened to throw it back to the sea. The jinni pleaded with the fisherman, who began to tell the story of "The Wazir and the Sage Duban" as an example of why the jinni should have spared him.
After the story, the jinni pleaded for mercy, and swore to help him in return for being released. The fisherman accepted the bargain, and released the jinni. The jinni then led the fisherman to a pond with many exotic fish, and the fisherman caught four. Before disappearing, the jinni told the fisherman to give the fish to the Sultan. The fisherman did so and was rewarded with money for presenting the fishes. Every time a fish was fried, a person would appear and question them, and the fish answered. When the fish would be flipped in the pan, it would be charred. Awed by the sight, the Sultan asked the fisherman where he got the fish and went to the pond to uncover their mystery. When he reached his destination, the Sultan found a young man who was half man and half stone. The young man recounted his story, as the story of "The Ensorcelled Prince". The Sultan then assisted the Prince in his liberation and revenge. They became close friends, and the fisherman who first found the fish was rewarded with his son being appointed the Sultan's treasurer, and the Sultan and the Prince married the fisherman's two beautiful daughters.
- The 1940 film The Thief of Baghdad borrows elements of this story.
- In the Disneyland TV series, this story was animated for the 1957 episode Our Friend the Atom, as seen here.
- (1955) The Arabian Nights Entertainments, New York: Heritage Press
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