A weaver, closing his shop for the night, left a long needle sticking in his work on the loom. A thief got in with a false key, and, as he was stumbling about in the dark, the needle put out one of his eyes. He went out again and locked the door behind him.
Next morning he told his story to Karakash, the impartial judge, who sent for the weaver, and eyeing him sternly, asked, "Did you leave a packing needle in the cloth on your loom when you shut your shop last night?"
"Well, this poor thief has lost his eye through your carelessness. He was going to rob your shop, he stumbled, and the needle pierced his eye. Am I not Karakash, the impartial judge? This poor thief has lost an eye through your fault, so you shall lose an eye in like manner."
"But, my lord," said the weaver, "he came to rob me. He had no right there."
"We are not concerned with what this robber came to do, but with what he did. Was your shop door broken open or damaged this morning, or was anything missing?"
"He has done you no harm then, and you do but add insult to injury by throwing up his way of life against him. Justice demands that you lose an eye."
The weaver offered money to the robber, to the Kadi, but in vain. The impartial judge would not be moved. At last a bright thought struck him, and he said, "An eye for an eye is justice, O my lord the Kadi; yet in this case it is not quite fair on me. You are the impartial judge, and I submit to you that I, being a married man with children, shall suffer more damage in the loss of an eye than this poor robber, who has no one dependent on him. How could I go on weaving with but one eye? But I have a good neighbor, a gunsmith, who is a single man. Let one of his eyes be put out. What does he want with two eyes for looking along gun barrels?"
The impartial judge, struck with the justice of these arguments, sent for the gunsmith and had his eye put out.
A carpenter was fitting the doors and lattice-work to a house newly built, when a stone over a window fell and broke one of his legs. He complained to Karakash, the impartial judge, who called the lord of the house and charged him wit culpable negligence.
"It is not my fault, but the builder's," pleaded the lord of the house. So the builder was sent for.
The builder said that it was not his fault, because at the moment he was laying that particular stone a girl passed by in a dress of so bright a red that he could not see what he was doing.
The impartial judge caused search to be made for that girl. She was found and brought before him.
"O veiled one," he said, "the red dress which you wore on such a day has cost this carpenter a broken leg, and so you must pay the damages."
"It was not my fault, but the draper's," said the girl, "because when I went to buy stuff for a dress, he had none but that particular bright red."
The draper was forthwith summoned. He said it was not his fault, because the English manufacturer had sent him only this bright red material, though he had ordered others.
"What! You dog!" cried Karakash, "Do you deal with the heathen?" And he ordered the draper to be hanged from the lintel of his own door.
The servants of justice took him and were going to hang him, but he was a tall man, and the door of his house was low. So they returned to Karakash, who inquired, "Is the dog dead?"
They replied, "He is tall, and the door of his house is very low. He will not hang there."
"Then hang the first short man you can find," said Karakash.
- Source: J. E. Hanauer, Folk-Lore of the Holy Land: Moslem,
Christian, and Jewish (London: The Sheldon Press, 1935), pp. 93-95.
First published 1907.
- A kadi (also spelled qadi) is a Muslim judge who renders decisions according to the canon law of Islam.