Mohammed with the Magic Finger begins with a mother who wants to take her family to a place “where there is no death" (Lang, 1900). Although this is technically true, when someone becomes sick, they are killed, and this is what happens to the mother. Her daughter is frightened and leaves the town and marries a sorcerer of sorts. The mother’s son comes back and sees what has happened and leaves to find his sister. The sister and the demon husband have a son whom they name Mohammed. He is able to predict the future because of his magic finger. He is able to warn his uncle that his mother wants to kill him. Eventually, Mohammed and his uncle kill both his mother and her sorcerer husband.
Mohammed and his uncle leave and part ways. Mohammed warns his uncle not to take a job from a red haired man with blue eyes. The uncle is starving and does take a job from a red haired man after all. He signs a contract saying that he will do all sorts of impossible tasks on a daily basis. Whomever breaks the contract has to give the other a strip of flesh. Mohammed intuits that his uncle is in trouble so he finds him and trades places. Mohammed then proceeds to kill the red haired man’s mother and six of his seven sons, and he then steals his cattle. The red haired man breaks the contract because he has lost everything. He is then obligated by law to give up a strip of flesh.
Mohammed takes the strip of flesh and finds his uncle. They go to a series of Bedouin camps where Mohammed fakes a series of bargains that allow him to trade for better and better animals. Eventually, he even trades for a young woman at one of the camps. He and his uncle leave. Mohammed gives the young woman to his uncle to be his wife and a cow to help them begin their life together. Mohammed and his uncle separate and never see each other again.
Mohammed with the Magic Finger fulfills six of the seven typical characteristics of a fairy tale, lacking only the royalty and/or castle characteristic.
It begins with "once upon a time" (Lang, 1900) and a good character in this fairy tale is represented by Mohammed's uncle, the only character in the story who is good by nature. The uncle states, "I can no longer stay in this horrible town. I go to seek my sister"(Lang, 1900).
Mohammed's mother and father represent evil characters in this tale. His mother says, "you must kill my brother..." (Lang, 1900). The father is misguided by the mother saying, "Okay, I will kill him" (Lang, 1900). Mohammed is seen to be evil during the latter half of the story. As the master says, "He has killed my children and my old mother, he has stolen my sheep, he has drowned my cows in the sea" (Lang, 1900).
Mohammed's finger is magical. He is "able to see anything that was happening as far as two days distance" (Lang, 1900).
Mohammed's uncle's problems of being penniless and alone are solved in a very convoluted manner by Mohammed. He arranges things so that his uncle has money (after selling the sheep and cows) and has a wife (after they are given an Arab's daughter).
The rule of seven is fulfilled in this story as well. First Mohammed killed the red haired master's mother. He then killed the master's children and then his animals. After Mohammed and his uncle enter the Bedouin encampments, the greyhound supposedly ate the master's flesh. The ram supposedly killed the greyhound. the Arab's daughter supposedly killed the ram. Finally, the mare supposedly killed the Arab's daughter.
Another reference to seven occurs when the red-haired master instructs the uncle, "Every day you must take the sheep out to pasture, and carry my old mother on your shoulders, taking great care her feet shall never touch the ground. And, besides that, you must catch, every evening, seven singing birds for my seven sons" (Lang, 1900).
In Mohammed with the Magic Finger, there are many connections to Libya. When the mother first tries to kill her brother, she tries to get him to fetch dates from a date barrel. Dates are ubiquitous in the Libyan diet. She then prepares a meal for Mohammed and her brother. As is tradition in Libya, she prepares a single communal bowl. They eat from the side that is not poisoned while she mistakenly eats the poisoned side. Later in the fairytale, Mohammed goes to the seashore where he says that the cows disappear. The seashore is meant to be the Mediterranean Sea. Finally, the boy and his uncle go through a series of Bedouin encampments. Historically, much of Libya was organized into centers by Bedouin nomads.