Alif Laila (The Arabian Nights, also known as The Thousand and One Nights), is a collection of original talks or stories in Arabic. Popularized during the Middle Ages; it offers an inexhaustible fund of pleasure. No other body of Asian writing, except The Bible, perhaps, has had such large readership. Most of the stories are of unknown origin, having survived with Indian and Arabian folklore. As early as the 10th century some of its 264 tales were transmitted orally by story tellers in the Muslim world. By about the middle of the 15th century the work had assumed its present form. The different stories were organized within a frame-tale in the manner of the much older Panchatantra, Boccaccio’s famous cycle of stories, or theCanterbury Tales of Chaucer.
The frame-tale recounts how the jealous sultan Shahryar convinced of the faithlessness of women, married a new wife each evening and put her to death the following morning, until his bride Scheherazade won a reprieve by starting a story on her wedding night and terminating it tantalizingly before its climax, thereby retaining its interest. Thus she kept winning a delay of execution for one thousand nights, during which time she produced three male heirs and amply demonstrated the faithfulness of the female. The sultan finally relented and granted her a pardon on the one thousand and first night.
The Arabian Nights was introduced into Europe in the 18th century by a French translation. Since then Sinbad the Sailor, Aladdin and his Magic Lamp, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves have become familiar references. The best known English translations are those by Edward W. Lane (1840) and Sir Richard Burton (1885-86). The stories inspired the Russian composer Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov to compose a symphonic suite entitled Scheherazade.
The stories make their appeal to fundamental human drives and convey the spirit of the East and Muhammadan life, its exotic settings, customs and sensuality. According to one observer, “As it figures in these tales, the fabulous, mysterious East with its spirit of adventure, its black magic, its seductive scents, its ecstatic lovers, its enchanting blossoms and enchanted princes, produces an effect unique and unforgettable”.
The Nights is very popular in Urdu, and along with the Panchatantra, forms the core of the folklore tradition. The story of “One Candle and Five Moths” included here is one of those which are traceable to their Indian sources.
Alif Laila (The Arabian Nights) is also a TV series based on the stories from The Arabain Nights. It was produced by Sagar Film. It was made in two seasons. The first season was aired on DD National and the second SAB TV. The Series starts right from the very beginning when Scheherazade ( Queen and storyteller of One Thousand and one Nights) starts telling stories to Shahryar ( King). Alif Laila contains both the well-known and the lesser-known stories from One Thousand and one Nights which are mentioned here. Actual word is “Alf Laila” meaning thousand nights.
This serial was directed by Ramanand Sagar who is well known for directing ” Ramayan”