I'm still working through the 1,001 Nights stories at the rage of one a day. Night 617 this morning was set in Cairo and Suez. As I was reading, it struck me that the story of St Francis and the Sultan would fit seamlessly into the collection.
Briefly, Saint Francis of Assisi attended the Fifth Crusade in 1219, and was shocked by what he saw. He and a single companion decided to go to the Muslim leader of Palestine, Syria, and Egypt, al-Malik al-Kamil to attempt to convert him and bring peace. His companion was Illuminatus who had a knowledge of Arabic. Al-Malik al-Kamil welcomed Francis and Illuminatus. He was the nephew of Saladin and devout. He decided to spare the life of Saint Francis. He sensed in him a true holy man who was prepared to sacrifice himself to bring peace. Francis and Illuminatus were entertained for several days then escorted back. The few gifts the gave Saint Francis can still be seen in Assisi today.
This, I promise you, would fit the didactic and unprejudiced Nights like a glove. My edition contains a map entitled Cairo in the Fourteenth Century. I wonder if that means that the saint's meeting with the Sultan was a hundred years before the Cairo stories in the collection?
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