The Story of the Lady and the Ball of Yarn


This story was originally done in Arabic by Safeer, of Egypt. It is a story, taken from the Qur’an (Surat al-Khaf 'the Cave': 18: 71 & 79), done in a new way. I loved this version. I read it to Fatimah, my daughter, and explained as well as possible. Since I had to literally translate the whole story for her. I decided to write it down for her so she can read it at a later time at her leisure. She had grown out of it. I place it here before you in hope that it might be of some benefit to you or your children. It is one of those best loved tales. I kept the same division as the pages in the original Arabic. Also the original has a color painting on each page.


For Fatimah, with Love…


A long time ago in a land far away there lived three brothers who were poor and owned nothing but a small boat which they inherited from their father. Their father was a righteous man and the brothers were thankful to Allah for the goodness He provided for them even though they were poor. One day the ship was about to depart on a new voyage the passengers were busy bringing their goods on board the ship.


During the loading the boat owners saw an old man carrying his belongings on his back standing far away. One of them said: "Maybe this old man wants to depart with us." He hurried to him and asked: "Old man do you want to travel with us?" The old man replied: "Yes, my son… but I have no money now! Your father -May Allah have mercy upon him- used to take me to the other side and I would pay him for the fare when I come back." Then the youth said: "We welcome you without charge as an honor to our father" and the youth then carried the old man’s belongings onto the boat.


The ship started sailing through the sea … everyone of the passengers had sat in his place… the old man sat in one of the spots… after a while the old man started to build a small wooden box to place his belongings in, as the old man was a carpenter… Suddenly the hammer fell to the to the wall of the boat which made a small hole in the boat… Water started to leak into the boat and the old man was trying hard to seal the hole but it did no good.

One of the passengers saw the water leaking into the boat and screamed: "Help! Help! The boat is about to sink… than all the passengers gathered and their voices grew louder and louder. They tried to seal the hole but it was too late… the water continued to leak into the boat and the passengers were getting more fearful and desperate… they started to blame the old man… they said to him: "You are the reason for this disaster and we are all going to drown because of you!"


Suddenly a passenger on deck screamed: "I see boats coming close to us… Allah had sent them to save us" All the passenger sighed in relief "All praise to Allah, Alhumdulillah!, Alhumdulillah!" They started to wave with their hands towards the ships. When the ships came closer the passengers were immediately disappointed… They were pirates, ones that take over ships, they had come to steal the ship.


When the pirates saw that the boat had a hole in the bottom they said: "This ship will sink soon and it is an old boat, why should we take it?" They left the boat to sink, the passengers were happy to see that the pirates had left and they were saved from the evil, they turned to the old man and thanked him. It was because of him that they were saved… The old man said to them: "All praise to Allah for every situation and we should now help each other to seal the hole before the ship drowns… we should pray to Allah for help and Allah is most truthful when He says: "And it is may be that you hate something and it is good for you" Everyone started to help getting water out of the ship and throwing back into the sea all the while praying to Allah to save them.


While the passengers were busy removing water from the boat they saw a bird flying high above them who had a ball of yarn in its mouth. Around the bird were other birds fighting it for the yarn… The birds were in a vicious fight… Suddenly the ball of yarn fell into the boat! One of the passengers yelled: "Allah Akbar! Allah has answered our prayers the strings of yarn are the best thing to seal the hole" He quickly took the ball of yarn and sealed the hole with it and the water stopped leaking into the boat.


Everyone stood up and were very happy to be saved from the danger of sinking… The old man said: "Allah be praised… We were about to be die except that Allah had answered our prayers… We should prostate in thanks to Allah." The old man also added: "I suggest that everyone of us donate whatever amount he can to spend in the way of Allah, as thanks to Allah for saving us with out any of our efforts" One of the passengers had said: "This is a good suggestion and I am the first of donators!"


One of the passengers had collected the moneys from the passengers until it reached 10 Dinars…and presented it to the old man and said: "What should we do with all this money?" The old man said: "I think we should hold on to it till we reach the shore Allah willing, where we can give it to the needy and the poor or we can spend it in the way of Allah."


When the ship had landed and the passengers went a shore the old man went down with them… They saw a strange sight. A women crying very hard… The old man went to her and asked her: "Lady why are you crying!"


The Lady said: "I have very young children and I work just to raise them. We have a small spindle which I use to spin wool yarn which I sell in the market." The old man then asked her: "Then why are you crying? What has happened?" The women said while still crying: "I was walking on the shore… and I felt thirsty. I found a small well and I went down in it to get a drink after I placed the ball of yarn by my side. Then suddenly out of the sky a bird comes down and steals the ball of yarn and flies far away!" The old man was amused and said: "The bird!!… the ball of yarn!! O’ Allah be praised."


The old man smiled, turned to the lady and said: "How much did you used to sell the ball of yarn in the market?" The lady answered: "I used to sell it for one dinar which lasted us for a whole week." The old man told her: "Enough crying and come with me… He went toward the ship… he went to the owners of the ship and said to them: "This women is more deserving of the money we collected…" They were surprised and asked: "Why!"


The old man turned to everyone and said: "This lady is the owner of ball of Yarn!" Everyone said in one voice: "The Owner of the Yarn!!?" The old man pointed to the lady and said to her: "Tell them what had happened to you today by the well!" When the lady told them her story all were surprised and they said: "You were the reason for saving us all from drowning.." the lady replied: "All praise to Allah no matter what the situation!"


The Ship owners brought the money that they collected and gave it to the lady… and all of them thanked her… The lady was saying: "No, this is too much…Ten dinars?!! All praise to Allah." Then all laughed and happiness filled their faces. The owners of the ship returned back home. The old man waved good-bye to them. He said good-bye and wished them: "In the Care and Mercy of Allah."


All praise is to Allah! Completed on the day of Saturday 14th of June, 1996 - Muharam 28, 1417

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