A son was born to Shah Amri an Arab chieftrain. The boy was names Qais. Astrologers predicted that Qais would be wandering in wilderness at the age of 12, and would be known for the romantic saga of his life.Shah Amari produced various types of amulets, talismen and charms and offered prayers for Qais. But nothing would change the predicted destiny. As Qais grrw up, he was sent to Damuscus for education at the religious school of the aged Maulavi Shafi Ullah. It was a co-education institution.
The time for the prediction to come true had arrived. Laila, the daughter of the Najd chieftain, was also sent to the Damuscus school. Qais was enchanted at the very first sight of her and remained absorbed in thoughts of her. The teache(maulvi), fellow students, parents and all others tried to divert his mind and asked to concentrate on his studies, but he wouldn’t listen.
The love of Qais had a magnetic effect upon Laila. Soon the news about Laila and Qais reached the Najd chieftain. In order to protect his honour, he stopped his daughter from going to school and confined her to the four walls of her room.
With Laila out of his sight, Qais was grief stricken and wandered in the woods of Najd like a mad man. Laila too grew frail thinking about her lost love.She was inconsolable.
Qais had become mad with the love for Laila, so people began to call him “Manjoon” the obsessed man, and he in known by this name till this day. Majnoon has become the symbol, the synonym for pure profound love.
One day Majnoon passed unawares by the palace of the Najd chieftain sighting and crying. “Ah Laila, Oh Laila!” Laila was, at that moment, talking to her father, She kept him busy with something else and ran to the window opening on the street Majnoon was passing by .All of a sudden he looked up and fell unconscious as he had a glimpse of of his love Laila. After a while, when he recovered his consciousness, Laila consoled him ; ” My beloved Qais, Keep thy heart for a while , and don’t be impatient. I belong to you, I am inseparable from you.”
Laila was consoliing Majnoon but as she was herself losing consciousness, she fell down from the window with a loud thud. This made Majnoon unconscious once again. She was picked up by her father and confined to the inner sanctum of his palace. His men drove away Majnoon to wilderness and left him there.
After some time Shah Amari visited the Najd chieftain and asked for the hand of his daughter Laila for his son Majnoon. Laila’s father told Shah Amari aplogetically that his son was mad and he would not marry his daughter to him. Shah Amari beseeched him to see Majnoon and to personally find out if he was really mad. ” He is of course obsessed with his love Laila, but he isn’t mad,” Said the Shah.
Shah Amari then went out in search of his son. Majnoon lay unrobbed under a tree. When the Shah took him, he asked. ” Who? Laila ! my Laila!” Shah Amari pleaded with his son that if he is promised to behave normally in the presence of Laila’s father, he would be married to Laila. Majnoon agreed. A well made-up and richly attired Majnoon was taken to the palace of Najd chieftain who agreed to wed his daughter to him. In the meanwhile a dog entered the drawing room and it was introduced by the Najd chieftain as the pet of Laila. Majnoon immediately lifted the dog into his arms and kissed him passionately. Laila’s father was incensed at the scene and told Shah Amari that his son was definitely mad, otherwise he would have never kissed a dog.
The news of the Najd chieftain going back on his word to give his daughter in marriage to Majnoon spread far and near. This enraged another Arab chieftain Naufeel who laid siege of his place and arrested him . Laila’s father pleaded with his captor thus: “If you were Laila’s father, would you have given her to an insane boy in marriage? If yes , I will abide by your orders. ” Naufeel immediately released the Najd chieftain. Laila was denied to her lover who wandered in the jungles crying: ” Laila! My Laila!”
Laila was married to Bakht, son of Ameer Salim, On the honeymoon night Bakht threw his Arms around his bride to embrace her. Laila could not bear this. She slapped Bakht in his face and said, “Majnoon alone could be my husband. you dare not touch me!” Bakht was enraged and cried out : Talaq, Talaq, Talaq . this was enough under the islamic law. Laila got her divorce. She at once left for the Najd jungle in search of her lover. She found him, and both of them lay unconscious in a passionate embrace. Laila’s mother reached there right in time and took the unconscious Laila home onr her camel’s back. Upon regaining consciousnes Laila knew that she has been taken away once again. She could not bear to be once again separated form her lover. Heart broken, she died.
The new Laila’s death reached the ears of Majnoon and he too joined Laila. The people of the Najd who earlier pelted Majnoon out of their town were now shocked to hear of his death. They went out in search of his dead body, and brought it to the town. Laila and Majnoon were buried side by side. The world had parted them, but death joined them. They had become martyrs at the altar of customs and tradition of their society. The death of the dejected lovers melted the frozen social consciousness and awakened people’s hearts.
Source: Various. Edited by Elan (2013)