This is the Arab story for kids. One of Abdullah’s camels was lost. He set off to look for it across the desert. A long, tiring ride over the sands brought him to a strange sight.
High walls rose around a city and rooftops and pavilions could be seen over them. Hoping to find someone in the city surrounded with fort-like walls, Abdullah tied his camel outside and walked into the city.
Perhaps someone will be able to tell me about my lost camel,” he thought. But entering the city he stopped, amazed. It was built of gold and silver bricks, decorated with rubies and other precious stones!
The floors of the large rooms were covered with pearls and under the streets lined with fruit-laden trees ran clear streams.
The city was fragrant with musk and saffron. But there was not a single living creature there.
Abdullah collected some gold bricks, jewels and musk so that people might believe him and rode back.
When Abdullah returned to his own town, he told everyone what he had seen. His story came to the ears of the Caliph.
The Caliph sent his minister to talk to Abdullah. He came back and said that Abdullah had proof of the city with him as he had brought the bricks and the jewels.
The Caliph wondered what this city was and called the Wise Man to ask for his opinion. The wise man said, “I have heard ancient stories that this city was built by Sheddad, a great King, who read many books and wanted to build a Paradise on the earth as magnificent as the one in heaven.
He had hundreds of kings, chieftains, soldiers and ministers. He called all of them and sent them across the world to fetch everything splendid and rare to build this Paradise.
While ships and caravans went out to fetch things, he set workmen to build a great fortress with a thousand pavilions on it!”
It took twenty years for the entire fort and city of Irem to be built with materials collected from everywhere.
Sheddad was also busy getting together his court, along with all the ladies and attendants, so that he might shift all the people to his new city.
He led the way with his troops, while everyone else followed in the heavily laden caravan. They travelled for many days. In the caravan, there were many people who did not believe that there was a Paradise in heaven.
This made God very angry with Sheddad and his people. So, when they were about to reach the new city after one more day, God’s anger fell on them.
Suddenly from the skies, a loud cry was heard and it destroyed everyone and everything in the caravan! No one reached the city of Irem which lay silent and deserted since then.
When Sheddad left for Irem with his court, he made his son, who was called Sheddad the Younger, the King at his old kingdom.
For a long time, there was no news of his father. Then some travellers, who saw the destruction, carried the message to Sheddad the Younger. He went to the place with his troops and mourned for the death of his father and his people.
Then he found a great cavern in which he built a magnificent tomb for Sheddad the Greater. He made a golden bed to lay him and covered him with silken robes and decorated the place with gold and jewels. He wrote an inscription there to guide people that no matter how great a King was, he must follow the right way, the way to God; or he would be destroyed. Now, there is no road to Irem. Only some travellers like Abdulla had seen it!