Arabian and Panamanian Tales
  Layla and Majnun



Qays and Layla is a classical Arabian love story. It is based on the real story of a young man called Qays ibn al-Mullawah from the northern Arabian Peninsula, during the 7th century. There were two Arabic versions of the story at the time. In one version, he spent his youth together with Layla tending their flocks. In the other version, upon seeing Layla he fell in a most passionate love with her. In both versions, however, he went mad when her father prevented him from marrying her; for that reason he came to be called Majnun Layla, which means "Driven mad by Layla". To him were attributed a variety of incredibly passionate romantic Arabic poems.

Qays fell in love with Layla, and as a poet, he began to say poems mentioning his love for her and mentioning her name. When he asked for her hand in marriage her father refused as this would mean a scandal for Layla according to Arab traditions. Soon after, Layla married another man. When Qays heard of her marriage he fled the tribe camp and wandered in the desert around the tribe, his family left food for him in the wilderness to eat after they gave up on his return. He would sometimes be seen saying poetry to himself or writing in the sand with a stick. Layla moved to Iraq with her husband, where she got ill and eventually died. Qays was later found dead in the wilderness in 688 A.D. near an unknown woman’s grave. He had carved three verses of poetry on a rock near the grave, which are the last three verses attributed to him.
This type of love is known in Arabic culture as “Virgin Love,” because the lovers never marry or make love.

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