One day Dham al-Hadi al-Jarba the Shaykh of the Shammar tribe went hunting with one of the men from his tribe, a Bedouin known as Wati al-Ghishm (as an aside: Wati means lowly and vile, and it was a Bedouin habit to give their children rough or negatively connotated first names to draw the evil eye away from them ; they would keep positively connotated first names to their slaves, for example Mas’ud or Marzuq). Wati was riding a pretty mare of the Kuhaylan strain; Dham liked the mare so much that he asked for her; when Wati politely turned his request down, Dham was so irritated that he resolved to acquire the mare at any cost, even if he had to resort to force.
When Wati felt that Dham was up to something, he rode his Kuhaylah mare, and went off to the Sba’ah tribe, seeking protection with them ; but Dham wanted to show Wati that he could reach him and the mare wherever they went, so he sent two men to the Sba’ah encampments to steal the mare. Wati woke up one morning and saw that the mare was missing, so he went to the Shaykh of the Sba’ah and told him : « I left my tribe and my people and came all the way to you so you protect the mare, and look what happened »; the Shaykh of the Sba’ah told him : «Hope for the best ; lets perform the morning prayer first, and then we’ll examine the situation» ; upon hearing these words, Wati realized that the mare was lost and gave up on ever getting her back.
When the morning prayer was over, the five sons of the Sba’ah Shaykh came to check on their father; the latter stood before his chidlren and looked at each one for a long time, then he asked the eldest son to follow him. The Shaykh of the Sba’ah owned four mares and a stallion, all of them of the ‘Ubayyan Sharrak strain ; he went to his horses, sat in front of them, and started mumbling as he counted the beads in his hand ; then he asked his eldest son to jump on the stallion’s back, follow the thieves, and come back with the Kuhaylah mare.
And so it was. By the time of the evening prayer, the son was back with the Kuhaylah. Wati could not hide his amazement ; after thanking the Shaykh, he asked him for the reason why he stared at his children for such a long time before selecting the eldest for the mission of retrieving the mare. The Shaykh’s answer was : « all my sons are strong, but the maternal uncles of the eldest are from my kin »; by this the Shaykh meant that he was aware of his eldest son’s origins from his mother’s side, and hence he was certain of his performance. Wati then asked him about his mumbling as he was playing with the string of beads, and the Shaykh replied : « I was counting the paternal ancestors of the horses, and I found out that the fifth paternal ancestor of the stallion (that is, the sire of the stallion’s maternal great-great-great-granddam) was better than those of the mares, and that’s why I selected him».
When Dham learned the details of what had happened, he came to Wati to seek peace with him and asked him to return to the tribe, telling him he had no interest in the Kuhaylah mare anymore. Dham added : « Kuhaylat al-Wati may be strong, but the ‘Ubayyan Sharrak is much stronger, therefore the Kuhaylah does not deserve to be taken by force».