Representing religious diversity, especially in Western legend and folklore, is something that either happens very rarely, or when it does, happens in very stereotypical ways (such as "Moors" or "Jews" being mentioned in German or Italian folktales with negative connotations). For today's post, I wanted to pick some tales that feature positive encounters, and even collaboration, between people of different religious backgrounds.
Ogier the Dane
I talked about this epic last year, but I am bringing it up because it features friendship and collaboration between a Christian knight and a Muslim knight, who save each other's lives and fight shoulder to shoulder for honor (without either of them converting to the other's religion).
(I wrote about the story in detail here)
Also mentioned this one earlier in the Challenge, but putting it on this list took, because it features a Norse, Christian princess falling in love with a young Muslim sultan.
(Read about the story here)
I know I know, I am repeating myself, and also, Palomides eventually converts to Christianity. And yet, I find it endlessly cool that King Arthur's court accepted a Muslim knight in the first place. Somehow a lot of sources don't talk about this part.
(Read about him here)
The honest neighbor
This Jewish folktale features a Christian and a Jewish merchant who are friends. When the Jews are banished for the kingdom, the Christian promises to take care of his friend's money until the law is overturned and he can return. Years later, when the new king invites the Jews back, the merchant finds his Chirstian friend in poverty - his shop burnt down, but he refused to use the money to help himself. They open shop together in the end.
(Read this tale in Stories for the gathering)
There is an Ottoman era türbe in Obrochiste, Bulgaria that is a place of pilgrimage both for Christians and Muslims - it is said to be the resting place of both Muslim saint Akyazili Baba, and Chirstian saint Athanasius. Local legend claims that they were great friends in life. One of them (depending on the version) fell in love with a girl from the other religion, and since it was forbidden, they got executed for it. Before they died, however, they asked their friend to build a grave site for them in one night, and the surviving friend fulfilled the wish with the help of magical powers (in some cases, they had to lie and say it was to be their own grave, since burying the executed would not have been allowed).
(Read about the story in this book, and this article)
Kanchil, the Mouse-Deer
Okay, so Kanchil stories are from Southeast Asia (mostly Malaysia and Indonesia), and since Indonesia hosts 12% of the world's Muslim population alone, it makes sense that Kanchil is usually portrayed as Muslim as well. Nothing out of context. BUT I am putting him on the list anyway, because as a storyteller, I want to pay attention to likable folktale characters that just happen to be Muslim, and Kanchil is a rock star. I have had parents in the US clutch their pearls when Kanchil happened to say "Allah" instead of "God" in a folktale. That is exactly the reaction why we should pay attention to these stories. For less pearl-clutching.
In addition, check out amazing storyteller Pam Faro's story CD "Andalusian Trilogy: Stories of Jews, Christians, and Muslims of Medieval Spain"
What other tales of religious coexistence should I add to the list?