We’ve got a twofer today! Two of my different photoshop tropes: younger Disney characters (see previous: Young Triton) and missing Disney parents! We’ve got another missing mother, this time Jasmine’s mother, and a young Sultan. Here is their story.
Aliyah had everything she could possibly want and more. As the daughter of a powerful sultan, she had wealth, elegant clothes, sumptuous feasts, and a menagerie of exotic animals. She had never left the palace her entire life but she didn’t care–who wanted to go out into the desert anyway? The palace was an oasis of luxury that she never cared to leave.
That isn’t to say that life wasn’t hard for her from time to time. Her father the sultan was a hard man, a force to be reckoned with if you were unfortunate enough to be one of his enemies. He was strict, though never outwardly cruel, and cared little for the pampering his wife gave to Aliyah. He didn’t want her to be spoiled, often using words like “honor” and “duty” in long speeches that she endured but generally ignored until she was free once more to have servants dote upon her with peacock feather fans and plates of savory morsels.
Then there were the suitors–oh, the suitors!–with their mountains of gifts and their love letters filled with words of such passion. Aliyah’s older brother, and heir to the throne, was overprotective of her to a fault, chasing the suitors away with his sword and threatening any who dare touch his sister. That didn’t mean she didn’t steal a kiss or two from them when her brother was out of sight, or bat her eyes at them from across long feasting tables. She adored their affections, drinking them in like fine wine and imagining which would be the one to ask for her hand.
Then, one day, everything changed. Aliyah’s father informed her that he had arranged a marriage on her behalf with a prince of faraway Agrabah. She had never heard of Agrabah, nor met this young prince. He had not been one of her many suitors; what if he were ugly or, worse, boring?
Her pleas to her father fell upon deaf ears; his decision was final. Her brother, once so protective, also turned his back on her when she asked him to intercede on her behalf. Even her mother, who had always catered to her every whim, did nothing to help her daughter. In the end, Aliyah had to reluctantly accept defeat, and watched as the servants packed up her every belonging to take with her into this new, uncertain life.
The journey to Agrabah was long, the wedding brief and the wedding feast lavish. But soon enough, it was over. The guests departed and her family only stayed long enough for the two sultans to discuss such tedious matters as the new alliance their children’s marriage had created. Then she was alone.
Her new husband, Hakim, was not the dashing prince she had expected. Short and squat, he seemed to devolve into nervous mumbles every time she was in his presence. It was weeks before he said more than a sentence to her. Even now that they were married, he seemed to spend more time playing with his animal figurines or stopping in at the menagerie to gaze upon the real thing.
The palace of Agrabah was far lonelier than she had expected as well. Far from the bustling palace she had grown up in, with the lavish parties, the hordes of suitors, her father’s advisors and servants galore, there seemed to be very few people with which to socialize. There was merely the sultan, Hakim, a few servants, some guards and…him.
His name was Jafar, a tall, mysterious man who served as the Sultan’s Grand Vizier and chief advisor. This was the kind of man she had expected to marry, someone charismatic with a silken voice and silver tongue. Jafar was a flatterer, to be sure, but that was one of the things Aliyah missed the most about home, to be loved and adored more than any other.
One day, Aliyah had confided her dissatisfaction to Jafar about her new life and her disappointment in her new husband. “You want to go home, Princess,” replied Jafar, “and I want to help you to go home. But alas, that is something far beyond my power. But there is someone who can…” “Who?” “A genie…with the power to grant you any wish your heart desires. It would be able to take you away from Agrabah without damaging this new alliance your marriage has formed. But…it would require some assistance from you…”
Jafar explained that the location of the lamp was guarded by magic and that, legend says that when the two halves of an enchanted beetle medallion are joined, they will lead the way. “One of the halves is rumored to have been discovered by your great-grandfather. I have attempted to treat with your father the sultan many times over the years about the medallion, but my requests have been ignored.”
“But how am I supposed to get it?” Aliyah asked, doubtful.
Jafar merely grinned. “I thought you wanted to go home…”
Jafar explained the plan. Aliyah was married now; she could not just return home to live with her parents once more. She could, however, visit. It was only fitting, Jafar explained, that her new husband travel with her to visit the family she had left behind, to see the home that had once been hers. While there, she could investigate the matter of the talisman (“Discreetly, of course,” Jafar noted). She went about organizing the journey. Hakim jumped at the opportunity to see another land, making the arrangements with the sultan as Aliyah wrote to her parents to tell them the news.
Hakim spent the week-long journey peppering her with questions: What was the palace like? Did her family have a menagerie? Was the palace surrounded by a city, like Agrabah, or did it stand alone? Was it near the sea, or the desert? It was the most she had heard him speak since their vows on their wedding day. She found it easy to talk about her home, telling stories of bustling court life and the games and antics of her childhood, her many brothers… He hung on her every word and for the first time in her life, she felt like someone was genuinely interested in what she had to say. In her whirlwind of suitors and admirers, everything was false flattery to which she was expected to reciprocate with coy glances and secretive kisses. No one had ever simply had a conversation with her.
Once they arrived and had settled in at the palace, Aliyah went about her search for the medallion, consulting with her father’s vizier, investigating old writings and making inquiries about precious artifacts discovered within the last few hundred years. She was told the same legend that Jafar had alluded to–that there once was a genie’s lamp hidden in a place called the Cave of Wonders, which had been lost for millennia. Aliyah’s great-grandfather had indeed found the beetle medallion, which matched the description of one half of the key. Where the other half was, no one knew, just rumors and speculation. The medallion was being kept in the palace vaults, but without permission from her father–unlikely–and no believable reason for her to enter even if he would agree, there was no way she could get her hands on the beetle key.
Aliyah and Hakim remained a month in her family’s palace, touring the area, catching up on recent news. Hakim tried his best to keep pace with Aliyah’s many brothers, but he was neither a good sword fighter, nor horseman, nor storyteller, nor much of anything. Her brothers mocked Hakim when he was out of earshot, questioning the sultan’s sense at making a match for Aliyah with such an unfit husband. Aliyah ignored their jibes at first, for she had long since thought the same, but as the days and weeks passed, she began to see him in a different light. So what if he couldn’t ride, or fight or tell stories? There were other qualities that he had in spades: kindness, generosity, a gentle spirit and a love of animals. Her brothers could be cruel when it suited them, much like their father, even to Aliyah; Hakim had never spoken a harsh word in his life, to Aliyah or anyone. That realization put an end to the behind-the-back taunting of her brothers, and from then on, Aliyah defended and supported her husband in all matters.
One night, Hakim confessed that he had heard her brothers mocking him and apologized for being such a poor excuse for a husband. He wasn’t handsome or eloquent or talented–if he wasn’t a prince he would never have hoped to end up with a woman like her. “If you want,” he offered, “you can stay here and I will return to Agrabah. Our alliance with you people will continue, but there doesn’t need to be a marriage to enforce it.” That’s when Aliyah realized it: she didn’t want to stay anymore. “I want to go home,” she replied, “to Agrabah.” So she returned, not with the medallion, but with her husband–not just in name but in truth, and with heart and mind, body and soul.
When Aliyah informed Jafar of what had occurred, that she hadn’t been able to access the medallion, he was vexed; when she told him that she no longer needed a genie for her happiness, he was furious. Still, he took the news with a gracious smile and a few reassuring words. “Remember, Princess,” he warned, “that a time may come when a genie’s magic might come in handy…”
The months passed, with Aliyah soon giving birth to a beautiful daughter, which she and Hakim named Jasmine. Hakim doted on her as any father would, hoping to pass on his love of animals to Jasmine with a gift of a baby tiger named Rajah for a pet. Despite Aliyah’s fears that a tiger at full size could swallow young Jasmine whole, the two became fast friends.
Things suddenly changed for the worse one day when Jafar informed her that she and Hakim had been summoned to appear before the Sultan in his chambers. As Jafar went to find the prince, Aliyah went straight to the throne room, a decision that would forever change the course of her life.
The Sultan was alone, but not seated upon the carved elephant throne as she had expected, but out upon the balcony that overlooked the palace grounds to the streets of Agrabah beyond. Despite the short stature that he had passed onto his son, the Sultan had managed to climb up onto the railing, balancing treacherously on its edge. Aliyah yet out a cry of alarm and immediately ran to his aid, trying to help him, to pull him down from the ledge. She had managed to grab him seconds before he would topple over the edge and yet he shouted furiously, “Let go of me!” over and over again, beating away her hands with his fists in hopes of breaking free. Then, with a fateful cry, the Sultan slipped from her grasp and fell to the ground below.
Aliyah gasped, turning for the door that would lead her down and out to the front of the palace, only to find her way barred. Just seconds before, Hakim had entered with Jafar at his side, having just arrived for the meeting with the Sultan that would never take place. “Thank goodness you’re here,” Aliyah began, “we have to help the Sultan! He could be hurt! He could be–” She couldn’t speak the word.
Aliyah tried to explain to Hakim what had happened, to tell him how she had found the Sultan already on the ledge, how she had tried to help him but he resisted and fell. Hakim tried to listen, to understand her side and remain impartial. Meanwhile, Jafar had disappeared to rally the palace guards and servants to tend to the Sultan. He was still alive (thankfully), but both of his legs were broken and his head had received a nasty blow. The first words out of his mouth were, “Arrest her!”
And so, Aliyah found herself in a part of the palace she had never seen before: the dungeon. Nearly three day passed in which the only sign of life in the dungeon was the guard who slid her bread and water through a hole in the door each day. Her first and only visitor was Jafar. He explained the situation, that the Sultan had accused her of attempted assassination, that she had tried (and succeeded) to push him off the balcony. She tried to plead her case as she had that day in the throne room, that he had been already on the ledge and that she had been trying to save him, but it did not matter. “I tried to explain that to the Sultan, Princess,” Jafar replied, “but he claims that he was waiting for you and Hakim to be summoned for a meeting when you attacked him. I believe you, but think for a moment on whose story is more plausible…a foreigner, married recently into the family, whose husband is next in line for the throne and her daughter the next after that? Or the Sultan?”
Aliyah’s tears flowed uncontrollably at this. One minute, her life was perfect–a caring husband, a beautiful daughter, a blissful existence–then the next she is a prisoner accused of attempted assassination. “What’s going to happen to me?”
“The law is very clear. The sentence for the attempted assassination of the Sultan is…death.”
“Death?” she gasped, clapping a hand to her mouth.
“Never fear, Princess,” soothed Jafar. “It took a great deal of convincing, but I managed to convince the Sultan to opt for a lesser sentence…if not for you, then on behalf of the prince and your young child. Still, the Sultan believes that the punishment must still be severe in order to prevent similar attempts in the future. The Sultan has decreed that you be banished from Agrabah. For life.”
“Banished,” he echoed. “You will be allowed to return to your home. No fault will be found with your father, your people, or your land.”
“But what about Jasmine?”
“To separate a child from her mother would be a monstrous thing, I agree. But the Sultan was very clear on the matter: to allow Jasmine to leave Agrabah in the company of a convicted traitor…well…” He doesn’t explain further, but she understands. She will be going alone. “But… There is a way to fix this terrible misunderstanding…”
Jafar smiled cryptically. “The solution is just a wish away…” At first, Aliyah didn’t understand. Then, she did: the genie. She would be going home, to where the beetle medallion was still hidden safely behind locked doors. All she needed to do was get the pendant to Jafar, he could find the Cave of Wonders and use the genie’s lamp to wish everything back to the way it was: no balcony, no banishment.
Jafar goes on to explain that, because of the nature of her crime, she will not be allowed to contact the palace directly again. Instead, he will send along his personal pet parrot to carry any messages between them. She wonders if it’s safe to entrust such an important matter to a parrot. “Trust me, Princess. Iago is very well-trained.” They make the plan. Aliyah will return home, find the medallion, and send word back to Agrabah through Iago.
When the day finally comes, Aliyah has only a few short minutes with her husband and daughter. Jasmine is too young to understand her words, so Aliyah gives her daughter a gentle kiss on the forehead and a whispered, “I love you.” To Hakim, she says, “I never meant for any of this to happen. I hope you believe me. And know that I truly did love you.” She doesn’t give him time to reply. If he no longer felt the love they once shared, she did not want to know; and if he did…it would break her heart to leave him with that knowledge. Then, she was gone.
Aliyah’s father the Sultan was furious at her treatment, being accused and cast out as she had been. It took all her persuasion to keep him from declaring all-out war on Agrabah, but there was nothing she could do when he decided to call off the alliance her marriage had created. Her last tie to Agrabah (well, all but one) was broken.
It took many months, but eventually, Iago would take flight bearing a short message, just three words: “I have it.” Jafar’s arrival soon followed. She plied as much information about Hakim and Jasmine as she possibly could–how were they? Did Hakim ever speak of her? Did they miss her? Had the Sultan’s anger cooled so that she could return? The answers she received did not cheer her. Jafar claimed that the Sultan was even more furious with her after news of the alliance’s end, and Hakim had all but moved on. It was this latter piece of news that had inspired Aliyah to hand over the beetle medallion at last, a medallion she had managed to acquire from the royal vault through less than honest means. “You swear that you will use the medallion to fix things, to put them back the way they were?”
“My dear Princess,” Jafar replied in his silkiest voice, “It is you who will be able to do that. A genie grants three wishes to any that hold its lamp. I will have three wishes, then I will make sure you will have yours.” With that, and with the medallion in hand, Jafar departed just as quickly as he had appeared.
Weeks passed, then months without word from Jafar. Aliyah had no idea what had happened, whether he had been delayed or had forgotten his promise entirely. All of her letters were ignored, every messenger she sent was refused entry to the palace. As time passed, she began to think the worst, that she had been duped, used, betrayed. She began to wonder if Jafar was just as much of a pawn as her; after all, he was the royal vizier, an advisor to the Sultan. Could it have been the Sultan who had so desperately desired the genie and its lamp? He had accused her so vehemently and so falsely that it could only have been a lie to protect his own true purpose: the beetle medallion stored in her family’s vault. Perhaps he had even arranged the whole marriage to his son for this exact purpose. Now that he had the genie, the Sultan didn’t need her anymore.
She had been only half right. Her marriage had been arranged as a ploy for the medallion, but not by the Sultan. It had been Jafar all along. Jafar, who had become obsessed with the legend of the Cave of Wonders, who discovered the truth about Aliyah’s great-grandfather and his discovery of the medallion, who had arranged the marriage to gain access where once he was barred… Jafar, who had hypnotized the Sultan into balancing on the balcony railing in order to frame Aliyah once she no longer sought the medallion, who had convinced the Sultan to lessen her sentence to banishment so that she could try to retrieve it once more… Jafar, who had lied, who had made Aliyah believe that he already possessed one half of the medallion when in fact he had none. Jafar, who would spend another dozen years or so searching for the Cave of Wonders before a thief named Gazeem would find the missing medallion and would pay far more dearly for it than Aliyah had.
Aliyah grew more bitter as time went on. No longer did she pine for Hakim, nor long to return to Agrabah. As long as the Sultan, the man who had falsely accused her of a crime she hadn’t committed, still lived, she could never go back. Aliyah’s father wasted very little time in arranging another marriage for her, the taint of her alleged crime in Agrabah notwithstanding. She was still a princess, and in her father’s mind, that meant that she could still be useful in making alliances through marriage.
Her new husband was handsome and strong, sharp-witted and a master horseman, the kind of husband she had longed for what seemed like a lifetime ago. Together, they had four sons, just as strong and handsome as their father, but never another daughter. Still, she was happy and content, and most importantly, loved.
As the years passed, the sting of her time in Agrabah lessened, and she hardly thought about the treacherous Sultan, the conniving Jafar or her kind Hakim. But every now and then, she would stare across the desert to where Agrabah stood unseen, think of her darling Jasmine left behind, and wonder.
Bonus: Before and after!
Artist’s notes: The sultan (in this story, Hakim) is a little skinnier than he is in the movies, his beard a little more tamed and his hair no longer white. Aliyah, on the other hand, was a much different story. She is based on Jasmine, of course, so that I can justify their familial relationship as well as save myself some grief, but despite the amount of changes I made (the nose, lips, eyes, and eyebrows are all different, plus the hair is free whereas Jasmine always had it ponytailed, plus some added accessories), she still ended up looking like Jasmine a lot. (That’s the main reason for the veil, as contrast. I don’t know a ton about the culture but I’m pretty sure veils were mostly for concubines and harem women, but I don’t want to imply that with her. It’s strictly a design choice). I kept their necklaces the same because I wanted there to be some tie between Jasmine and her mother, even though I didn’t mention it specifically in the story. Aliyah is wearing an altered version of the outfit Jasmine was wearing right before Jafar uses Genie to take over the palace, with a color change. I wanted to make sure the clothing seemed stylistically similar to the original but in the end I decided to steal it instead.
Author’s notes: This took a long time for me to hash out in my head. Those who actually read my blog regularly might realize that this is the story that I’ve been working on and postponing over and over again. The story practically wrote itself at the beginning, but then I needed a reason for Aliyah to not be in Jasmine’s life anymore. The whole mother-dying-in-childbirth is too obvious a trope (I have thus far managed to avoid it with Aladdin’s mom, Ariel’s mom and in the as-yet-unwritten Belle’s mom), so I decided to go deeper. Jasmine can be a little self-centered at times, and she didn’t get that from the Sultan, so where did she get it from? Also, I love tie-ins to the established storyline (for example, making Triton’s hatred for humans being based in his person history in my Little Mermaid what-if), so I thought I’d throw in some of Jafar’s backstory as well. It got a little convoluted in my head for a while, trying to figure out how to get Aliyah out of the picture while keeping it vaguely Disney-esque (yeah, I know it gets a little dark there with the assassination attempt, but seriously, go watch the first two Aladdin movies again. Jafar is DARK.) There was even a bit in there with Jafar using his magic to try to turn Jasmine’s father into an animal for some reason (again, convoluted), and having this as an explanation of how Iago manages to talk when other animals can’t–i.e. that he got caught in the crossfire and got turned into a parrot. Maybe I’ll do his backstory later. In any case, I’m pretty happy with this version, and though it’s sad for Jasmine and Hakim having their family torn apart by Jafar’s machinations, I wanted to give Aliyah a happy ending. She really did love Hakim, and she really did love Jasmine, but she also really does love the man she ended up with. She is a product of circumstances, but I tried to make her grow a little bit and not stay bitter forever. I hope it worked, and that you enjoyed it.
Obligatory copyright notice: Aladdin is owned by Disney, as are the characters Jasmine, Jafar, the Sultan (whom I have named Hakim), Iago and Rajah. The original images are Disney’s, the altered work is mine. The characters Aliyah and the two unnamed Sultans are my creations, as is the story. It is a work of fan fiction and fan art and no copyright infringement is intended.